When Westinghouse Meant Steam, Not Electric
Not long ago, I came across a copy of the 1886 catalog put out by the Westinghouse Company of Schenectady, N.Y. The title page reads in part: 'We present herewith our Annual Catalogue, containing illustrations and descriptive articles of improved labor-saving machines, manufactured by us, and invite the careful attention of those who may be desirous of purchasing such machinery.
'Our specialties are Grain and Clover Threshing Machines. Portable and Traction Engines ranging from Six to Fifteen Horse-power, horse-powers of various sizes and patterns, and Portable Saw Mills.
'The present organization of our company is a continuation of the business commenced in 1836, and all connected with it have had unusual experience in the manufacture and operation of machinery of the kind we now offer. We have, therefore, the most thoroughly tested articles, and those of established reputation, and nothing whatever of an experimental nature to offer our customers.
'Our facilities for manufacturing are of the best, consisting of abundant buildings, machinery and material, so that we are prepared to supply a large demand, and we respectfully solicit continued favors from former customers and correspondence with all who are interested in machinery of the kind we manufacture.'
Westinghouse steam engines of the era had vertical boilers, the tapered top of which was designed to be 'the nearest to a perfect spark arrester of all the many plans and devices that have been brought to our notice.' The engine was said to have a short, quick stroke to make it lighter, while the cylinder, steam chest, cross-head guide, and the boxes for the crank shaft bearings were all cast in a single piece to assure mechanical exactness and perfect alignment of piston and crank. The design 'brings the greater part of the weight below the center and removes all danger of turning over when on difficult roads.' The engines were equipped with 'every needed and desirable appliance for rendering the Engine efficient, durable and convenient, ... including Adjustable Governor, Pop Safety Valve, Steam Gauge, Feed Water Heater, Direct Acting Pump, Whistle, Blower, Brake, and a full supply of wrenches and fire tools.'
The description of the 6, 10, and 15 horsepower traction engines is especially interesting and is quoted here;
'The engravings illustrate quite fully the plan employed for applying traction to our engine. It consists of large and strong Driving Wheels, Open Cog Main Gear Wheels, a Three Pinion Compensating or Differential Gear, and our improved Friction Belt Attachment. In the Friction Belt we claim to have made a decided improvement, and extended use has proven its efficiency. The following advantages result from it, viz.: The belt is a V shape, and runs upon pulleys with corresponding grooves. The pulleys are so arranged that they may be drawn apart by a tightener, and as much strain given to the belt as the work may require. The power communicated from the engine is therefore dependent upon the friction of the belt, and any unusual obstruction encountered while traveling will cause the belt to slip, and thereby prevent breaking up the gearing; and it also affords the means for starting gradually and of getting out of difficult places. These features will receive ready appreciation from anyone who has had experience with tight geared engines. When the belt is released by the tightener, the driven pulley may be brought in contact with a brake of the most powerful kind. Another important advantage gained by the use of the belt, is that of using two sizes of cone pulleys, by which means a change of speed can be quickly made. On smooth level roads a fast speed may be had, and on rough or hilly roads where more power and less speed is desired, the required change can be made. The two speed plan is adopted on the Ten and Fifteen Horse sizes. For the Six Horse size, only one size of pulley is used, furnishing speed in proportion to the lighter power. All of these engines are provided with a simple and reliable reversing apparatus, and are so arranged that the handling may be performed by one person upon the fireman's platform. A steering apparatus may also be applied to any engine, although we do not recommend its use while running upon public highways. It is better and safer to depend upon a team (of horses) to guide (apparently Westinghouse didn't have a lot of faith in the steering gear). The weights of the several sizes is so much less than the average run of engines that this of itself should commend them, when it is considered that weak bridges and soft ground are frequently encountered. Also the form of boiler we use makes it entirely safe in going up or down hill without carrying an excessive amount of water.'
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