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Help identify steam engine

Patsdeere

Registered
Friend has a steam engine that he came by and was asking me for help since I enjoy playing with these things. It's only about 2' tall and has a small bore stroke, something in the 3" by 4" range. It has a funky brass thing on top and most of a reversing lever. Any idea on age, hp and maker? He is keeping it (i.e. not for sale) and just needs some info since there are no plates/tags of any type.
 

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MalteseHunter

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/12/2019
I believe that "funky brass thing" you are referring to is a tallow lubricator. Some close ups of that lubricator would be nice. Is there a make on it?
 

Mikechoochoo

Registered
It may have been for a small boat, the boat ones I have seen pictures of look like that one with the reversing valve gear.
The lubricator also looks like something that you would use on a boat or where you would be constantly close to it to keep it lubed.
 

Joe K

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/09/2019
The top thingy IS a cylinder lubricator. So called "plain lubricator style." The upper valve is used to fill it, usually with steam cylinder oil, although tallow could be used in a pinch (either kept warm in a pour pot placed on the cylinder head) The lower valve is used periodically to "slug shot" the cylinder, although some operators who are familiar and don't mind a frequent re-fill will try to "crack" the quarter turn valve and thus measure out supply.

More elaborate "sight feed" type lubricators would usually be placed on the steam chest because the varying pressures seen in the cylinder tend to upset a sight feeder.

Definitely a small launch engine. Examining the engine you may find one of the bearings (likely the one closer to the propeller) is given a sort of "thrust ring" or other mechanical arrangement to resist the forward push of the propeller shaft.

On marine type engines the flywheel is typically fairly small diameter, and a lot of the necessary flywheel effect taken from the large size propeller. The small flywheel was convenient for the operator to give it a "tug" when reversing direction as the engine will not self-start from perhaps half the of the complete revolution where it may stop.

An engine of your reported size is good for a launch in the 17' to 24' size. A 3" diameter launch type engine can be relied to give horsepower in the 3**2/4 horsepower or perhaps between 2 and 3 horsepower. Launches in this size were typically designed as streamlined as possible, more along the lines of a canoe underwater, and totally displacement in action through the water, the optimal speed of which exists in formula and for this size boat perhaps on the order of 6 or 7 knots.

A typical outboard motor for a 20' boat today runs in the 40 plus horsepower, but then our age is defined by boats that "plane" over the water, and get to where one wants to go in less than one hour so one can relax at the destination. In the Victorian Age from whence this engine comes, simply "going" was the relaxation part, and while it might take you two or three hours to get to the destination, the trip WAS the relaxation.

Especially without rowing.

Several good books are available on the subject. One "The Steam Boat and Modern Steam Launches" by Bill Durham, another "The Steam Launch." by Richard N. Mitchell. If your friend does not have one of these, he probably has the other.

Dick Mitchell was a friend and standard bearer for the annual Lake Winnipesaukee Steam Boat meet (Lees Mills, NH)

Joe K
 

Patsdeere

Registered
The top thingy IS a cylinder lubricator. So called "plain lubricator style." The upper valve is used to fill it, usually with steam cylinder oil, although tallow could be used in a pinch (either kept warm in a pour pot placed on the cylinder head) The lower valve is used periodically to "slug shot" the cylinder, although some operators who are familiar and don't mind a frequent re-fill will try to "crack" the quarter turn valve and thus measure out supply.

More elaborate "sight feed" type lubricators would usually be placed on the steam chest because the varying pressures seen in the cylinder tend to upset a sight feeder.

Definitely a small launch engine. Examining the engine you may find one of the bearings (likely the one closer to the propeller) is given a sort of "thrust ring" or other mechanical arrangement to resist the forward push of the propeller shaft.

On marine type engines the flywheel is typically fairly small diameter, and a lot of the necessary flywheel effect taken from the large size propeller. The small flywheel was convenient for the operator to give it a "tug" when reversing direction as the engine will not self-start from perhaps half the of the complete revolution where it may stop.

An engine of your reported size is good for a launch in the 17' to 24' size. A 3" diameter launch type engine can be relied to give horsepower in the 3**2/4 horsepower or perhaps between 2 and 3 horsepower. Launches in this size were typically designed as streamlined as possible, more along the lines of a canoe underwater, and totally displacement in action through the water, the optimal speed of which exists in formula and for this size boat perhaps on the order of 6 or 7 knots.

A typical outboard motor for a 20' boat today runs in the 40 plus horsepower, but then our age is defined by boats that "plane" over the water, and get to where one wants to go in less than one hour so one can relax at the destination. In the Victorian Age from whence this engine comes, simply "going" was the relaxation part, and while it might take you two or three hours to get to the destination, the trip WAS the relaxation.

Especially without rowing.

Several good books are available on the subject. One "The Steam Boat and Modern Steam Launches" by Bill Durham, another "The Steam Launch." by Richard N. Mitchell. If your friend does not have one of these, he probably has the other.

Dick Mitchell was a friend and standard bearer for the annual Lake Winnipesaukee Steam Boat meet (Lees Mills, NH)

Joe K
Thank you for the information! I assume that these were relatively "generic" and not able to be tied to a mfr or production year?
 

Joe K

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/09/2019
Possibly tied to a manufacturer but probably not for a relatively common (and compared to larger) cheap engine. They were available from MANY makers such as Lunkenheimer, Essex Brass, Harlin & McNab. The pattern you show on this engine would be more commonly seen on an English engine (see https://prestonservices.co.uk/category/parts-and-fittings/lubricators/displacement-lubricators/ for similar) but might have been imported for use in the US, or something that someone had in a drawer and thought would look nice on this engine.
 

MalteseHunter

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/12/2019
Possibly tied to a manufacturer but probably not for a relatively common (and compared to larger) cheap engine. They were available from MANY makers such as Lunkenheimer, Essex Brass, Harlin & McNab. The pattern you show on this engine would be more commonly seen on an English engine (see https://prestonservices.co.uk/category/parts-and-fittings/lubricators/displacement-lubricators/ for similar) but might have been imported for use in the US, or something that someone had in a drawer and thought would look nice on this engine.
Similar cups made in the USA. Here is their catalog: https://books.google.com/books?id=JmvwAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA31&dq="tallow+cup"+brass+supplies&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjc-I_fs5fnAhU5CTQIHdZdCV0Q6AEwAHoECAEQAg#v=onepage&q="tallow cup" brass supplies&f=false

 
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