Pictured here is what I call my “Annotated Steam Engine.” It is a Model G Peerless Portable engine, No. 6156, that I exhibited at the Alley Park Engine Show at Lancaster, Ohio, in August 2001. The portable engine was not yet ready to be steamed up for the show, so I looked for a way to present it that would be interesting and, hopefully, educational. The white tags you see hanging off the portable engine are attached, via a piece of heavy cord, to individual components on the engine, such as the pressure gauge, sight glass and crosshead pump. Each tag gives the name and a brief description of the function of that component. I was fortunate to have taken the time to laminate the tags, as the plastic covering protected them from rain so that I can use them again next year. I was pleased to see the number of families who took the time to read the tags, talk about what they meant and sometimes ask questions.
The Annotated Steam Engine Cards Read as Follows:
Peerless portable engine. This engine was built in 1898 or 1899 and could have been used to power a small grain separator, a sawmill, a shingle mill or other belt-driven equipment. This engine is not self-propelled and would have been moved from one location to another by a team of horses.
Pressure gauge. Indicates how much pressure is in the boiler at any time.
Sight glass. Indicates how much water is in the boiler. This is the most important device on any steam engine.
Try cocks. Used to verify that the water level shown in the sight glass is correct.
Injector. A special valve that uses the pressure of the steam to force water into the boiler.
Crosshead pump. Pumps water into the boiler with each stroke of the engine. It is important to have two ways to add water to the boiler so that if one fails the other can be used.
Feed water heater. Uses exhaust steam from the engine to heat the water from the crosshead pump before it enters the boiler. An energy conservation device.
Boiler tubes. The heat from the firebox goes through these tubes and heats the water surrounding them to create steam.
Whistle. Used to signal when work is to start or stop, when water is needed, etc. An early wireless communication device.
Throttle valve. Used to start and stop the engine.
Governor. Keeps the speed of the engine constant as the load increases and decreases (just like cruise control).
Mechanical oilier. Pumps a small amount of special steam cylinder oil into the steam line so the steam can carry it through the engine and lubricate it.
Safety “pop-off” valve. Releases excess steam from the boiler to control the pressure to a safe level.
Steam dome. Provides a high point on the boiler where the steam can be withdrawn without getting any water along with it.
Exhaust nozzle. Blows the exhaust steam from the engine up through the smoke stack. This draws air through the firebox and makes the fire burn hotter when the engine is running.
Blower. Used to create a draft through the firebox when the engine is not running. It works by blowing a small amount of steam up the smoke stack which draws air along with it.
Firebox. Where wood or coal is burned to heat the water to create the steam to run the engine.
Seat. Because this engine is not self-propelled, a person would sit here to drive the horses as they pulled the engine from one location to another.
Bruce E. Babcock is a regular contributor to Iron-Men Album. Contact him at: (740) 969-2096, 11155 Stout Rd., Amanda, OH 43102