Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Preserves Skinner Engine

| May/June 1999

47 Clinton Avenue Westport, Connecticut 06880

For collectors and preservers of old machinery, what a wonderful world it would be if mass, money and manpower were of no consequence when gathering treasures. Alas, in the engine hobby, and particularly for those of us in the non-profit museum arena, machinery is usually large, funding is limited, and our workforce is primarily volunteer.

Disassembly is under way. John Stauffer and Ray Dewley are removing the eccentric straps (note the ear protectors; it was noisy in the powerhouse!).

It's my hope that those of you familiar with these obstacles might be encouraged by this article to undertake saving the larger engines. It can be done! I know it can, because here at Connecticut Antique Machinery Association (CAMA), we've done it.

We are proud to have among our displays a fully-operable Skinner Universal Unaflow steam engine, along with the alternating current generator it powered. The engine is a right handed side crank engine, with an 82 inch diameter flywheel. Normal operating speed is 225 rpm, and alternator capacity suggests that the engine is probably about 250 horsepower. The 187 kVA, 2300 volt, 60 hz three phase alternator was built by Crocker-Wheeler in Ampere, New Jersey. The 7.5 kW 125 volt direct current Crocker-Wheeler excitor dynamo is driven from a pulley located on a section of the engine crankshaft that extends beyond the pedestal bearing. The entire set takes up 12 x 16 feet of exhibit space.

Until 1994, the engine and generator were housed on the second floor of the powerhouse of the Rocky Hill Veterans Hospital here in Connecticut, under ownership of the Veterans Administration. Installed new in 1938, the engine was last used regularly in 1975, but had been maintained for standby service to back up the hospital's Terry steam turbine driven generator set.