Full Head of Steam at Maumee Valley
In 1954 the Old Time Threshers and Sawmill Operators Association held its first show in a field north of Fort Wayne, Ind. In 1978 the club moved to Jefferson Township Park east of New Haven, Ind., and reorganized as the Maumee Valley Antique Steam & Gas Engine Association.
By 2007 the Maumee Valley group had 300 members and a 50-acre show ground … and big plans for restoration of nine stationary steam engines and a virtually new boiler. “This is the year of steam,” says club President Dave Pence. “I want to stir everyone’s interest and bring the big boiler and these steam engines back to life. Everyone should be able to see how these things used to work!”
Club members will restore the steam engines, which are housed in a building on the show grounds. Some are already mounted on cement pedestals but require mechanical work and connection to a steam line from the boiler. “I am realistic,” Dave says. “I know that it won’t happen as fast as I want. It’ll be a huge task.” The boiler is the first project on deck. Club members began work on that in late April 2007. Next up: a 1910 50 hp Troy engine, a 1902 50 hp Skinner engine and a 50 hp Worthington steam air compressor dating to the 1920s.
Maumee Valley club members are accustomed to work. They’ve erected several buildings at the show grounds and restored various pieces of vintage machinery. Their shows regularly feature threshing and plowing demonstrations using steam and gas; a steam-powered sawmill, corn shelling and shredding, grinding corn with a hammer mill and baling. Club members also put a 1928 125 hp Buckeye oil engine through its paces during shows.
The stationary steam exhibit, once complete, will include:
1910 50 hp Troy steam engineThe center-crank, enclosed, self-lubricating mill engine (see the Image Gallery) has a 10-by-10-inch bore and stroke. A reciprocating oil pump is driven off the valve crosshead and provides lubrication to the engine bearings.
Unfortunately, the cylinder lubricator pump is missing. “It has to pump against the pressure of the steam and provides the special steam cylinder oil for the cylinder,” Dave says. Steam cylinder oil is blended with tallow, which makes the lubricant emulsify into the steam. “We will find another pump,” Dave says. “They used to show up at auctions but they are no longer easy to find.” The Troy was built in Troy, Pa.
1902 50 hp Skinner steam engineThis double-acting, single-cylinder steam engine (no. 10372) has a 9-by-12-inch bore and stroke. The governor is built into the flywheel. Equipped with automatic lubrication, the engine was designed for heavy industrial use with heavy-duty bearings and frame.
The Skinner is a center-crank engine. There are two heavy counter weights on the crankshaft with the connecting rod between them. These counter weights work in conjunction with the flywheel to help keep engine operation smooth.
It is a basic “D” valve steam engine. The crosshead is held in a level plane and prevents all vibration. A packing gland seals pressure on the back of the piston where the rod comes in. A crosshead, packing gland and crosshead pin are common to all double-acting steam engines.
The engine’s origin is unknown; it was donated to Maumee Valley five years ago.
1910 175 hp Chuse Corliss valve engine“There are nine engines we want to hook up and display,” Dave says, “but I would really like to start with this one.” The 18-by-20-inch bore-and-stroke engine has been mounted on a cement base but needs engine work and a steam line from the boiler.
Instead of a throttle valve, the engine uses a Corliss-type valve assembly to control engine speed. Corliss valves were used in heavy industrial engines to make them more efficient. The valve assembly consists of four shafts that go through the engine housing: Two are inlet valves and two are exhaust valves with slits to control the steam as the valves are rotated to the open or closed position.
The valves are driven by two eccentrics on the crankshaft connected to each valve with a piece similar to a connecting rod. The eccentric for the exhaust valve is fixed to the crankshaft, but the governor mounted in the flywheel controls the inlet valve eccentric. That allows the input valves to open more or less, which controls the amount of steam entering the piston as determined by the flywheel speed and the governor.
The Crook-Miller Co., Hicksville, Ohio, donated the Chuse Corliss and generator to the club in 1989. The club has not determined if the generator and control panel are safe to operate.
100 hp Nagel steam engineThe Nagel Engine & Boiler Works, Erie, Pa., built the Nagel steam engine in about 1900. The 14-by-16-inch bore-and-stroke basic “D” valve engine has a Waters governor and automatic lubrication.
The engine’s history is unknown. It is a foundation mill-type engine and probably powered a mill. It is in running condition, but needs to be mounted on a cement base. There is a crack in a spoke of one of the flywheels, Dave notes. “That probably happened when the engine was moved sometime in the past.”
1955 Kewanee double-pass boilerIn a unique process, smoke and heat make two passes through this boiler’s tubes before exiting through the smokestack. Smoke and heat enter the boiler’s firebox through 85 7-foot-long-by-3-inch diameter flues, and exit through 88 15-1/2-foot-long-by-3-inch diameter flues. Water covers all of the boiler flues; steam gathers at the top of the boiler where pressure forces it out into the steam line.
The boiler (see the Image Gallery) has been placed in a permanent location. The next step is installation of a pump or injector to keep the water level constant. “I think we’ll use an electric pump and get the water from our well,” Dave says. The boiler’s smokestack is in place but has not been connected.
The boiler has more than 2,000 square feet of heating surface, making it more than adequate to produce 300 hp at 150 pounds of pressure. In excellent to very good condition, the boiler was removed from the nearby Casad Military Depot when that installation was dismantled about 12 years ago. The unit is one of two that had never been used (the other went to an Illinois club where it also will provide power to stationary equipment). The boiler burns coal or wood; at Maumee Valley, wood will probably be used. Club members are excited about the opportunities the boiler offers.
“Steam from this boiler can be used to do other things, like cook sweet corn and run a steam hammer in the blacksmith shop,” Dave says. “I hope later this year we will be able to do a whistle blow. We need a manifold pipe hooked up so people can actually hear the steam whistles they’ve collected.”
Steam pumpThe club’s steam pump has a small steam engine on one end and water pump on the other. “This one has a 6-by-8-inch bore and stroke and probably produces about 10 hp,” Dave says. Thousands of similar pumps in all sizes were produced from 1880 to 1930. “They were used extensively on ships (including World War II Liberty ships) and in factories,” Dave notes.
50 hp Worthington steam air compressorThe 12-by-12-inch bore-and-stroke engine (in the Image Gallery) owned by a club member dates to the 1920s. It has a Gardner governor and automatic lubrication. “Decades ago, every factory had steam for heat or electric power generation, so it was a simple matter to add a steam air compressor,” Dave says. Worthington units were quite common and came in various sizes. This is a medium-size and can generate at least 150 pounds of air pressure.
The compressor cylinder is directly connected to the steam cylinder by a rod that comes out the head of the steam piston. It has a 250-pound steam-reducing valve attached in line on the steam input to the engine, indicating it was a high pressure steam line that needed the pressure reduced to the 150-pound operating pressure needed by the engine.
The compressor came from the White Motor Plant, Cleveland.
10 hp Bessemer
The Bessemer (in the Image Gallery) is a hot tube 2-cycle engine. The back of the cylinder is closed off and has a crosshead behind it. The cylinder has the compressor section on the back with the connecting rod running through the packing gland. During the back stroke the air/fuel mixture is forced into the front of the piston. When the piston goes forward again, it brings more fuel to the back.
While that’s happening, the piston reaches maximum compression and the mixture is ignited. The cycle keeps repeating and there is a power stroke with every turn of the crankshaft, just as with a 2-cycle engine. A steam engine has two power strokes for every crankshaft turn and a 4-cycle engine has one power stroke for every two turns.
The Maumee Valley club traded a Baker separator threshing machine to Sauder Village Museum, Archibald, Ohio, for the Bessemer.
100 hp Burnell
The club’s Burnell, dating to about 1900, came out of a local sawmill. “This is a huge piece of machinery,” Dave Pence says. “It has a 4-1/2-inch Gardner governor, a 14-by-18-inch bore and stroke and the crankshaft is 6 inches in diameter!” The engine was taken apart to remove it from the mill building and never re-assembled. “It looks bad and the cylinder is probably stuck,” Dave says, “but I think it can be restored to operating condition. You just start taking bolts out, take everything apart that you can and see what can be done. Most rust looks bad but it can be cleaned up.”
Continental gin engineThis engine (no. 2675) was manufactured between 1880 and 1930. “It’s kind of uncommon, as it is a side-crank engine with an outboard bearing at the end of the crankshaft,” Dave says. There’s a Baker valve on the 3-inch inlet pipe and a flywheel governor controls the opening and closing of the steam inlet valve, thereby controlling the engine speed. “With the additional mounting and alignment problems,” Dave says, “it would take quite a bit of work to make this engine operational.” FC
For more information:
– Dave Pence, 4761 S. County Home Road, Bluffton, IN 46714.– Maumee Valley Antique Steam & Gas Association summer show: 1720 S. Webster Road, New Haven, IN 46774; www.maumeevalley.org
Don Voelker is a freelance photographer and writer in Fort Wayne, Ind., specializing in tractors, farm equipment, historic sites, museums, barns and covered bridges.
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