Model Stationary Steam Engine

Stationary steam engines are the engines that revolutionized the industrial revolution. The first application of steam engines was in the pumping of water from coal mines. They averted a severe energy shortage after forests in England and Europe had been virtually denuded for heating and cooking fuel. Coal was mined as a powerful substitute but as mines deepened, the need for pumping machinery grew and stimulated the development of improved engines. Naturally, efforts to apply the steam engine in a self-propelled vehicle evolved. The model described here is typical of those engines that powered line shafts that drove machinery in factories all over the industrialized world. These engines were used to pump water for cities, turn dynamos to provide electricity to cities, turn grain mills, pump air for blast furnaces, run elevators, run saw mills, run hoisting machinery and in dozens of other applications. These practical engines were made in all sizes with flywheels ranging from one foot to over 30 feet in diameter, and weighing from 20 pounds to 60 tons. The flywheel on my model is 4-1/4″ in diameter and weighs about one pound.

I have been interested in stationary steam engines since I was a kid and have always wanted to build a working model. Recently I have done some research on the design and development of the steam engine that covers a history of some 300 years. The result is this original design which is based on portions of several antique designs. Included here are some of the design sketches for the project, an animation of the concept drawing and photos taken while milling the parts. The engine itself is finished and runs beautifully on compressed air. The next item will be to build a successful boiler. I have made a couple of attempts–one did not provide enough steam and the second one sent too much “entrained” water with the steam. Progress updates will be posted from time to time. –Merv


Steam Engine Design, International Correspondence Schools reprinted, from a volume first published in 1896 , copyright 1983 by Lindsy Publications.

New Catechism of the Steam Engine, N. Hawkins M.E., reprinted from a volume first published in 1904 ., copyright 1987 by Lindsy Publications.

A History of the Growth of the Steam Engine, Robert Henry Thurston, republished by Elibron Classics from a volume first published in 1883

Building a 19th Century Steam Engine Victoria, Andrew Smith, 1987

Building Simple Model Steam Engines book 2, Tubal Cain, 1988

Steam Its Generation and Use, The Babcock and Wilcox Company, 1963

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