Farm Collector

J. C. Hoadley & Co.

By Staff

Several years ago, IMA purchased a beautiful 1870 catalog of
portable steam engines manufactured by J. C. Hoadley & Company
of Lawrence, Massachusetts. We thought some further investigation
into the company’s history and the life of its founder might be
of interest to our readers, since Hoadley is not included in Jack
Norbeck’s Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines, or
Floyd Clymer’s Album, and is mentioned only in passing in
Reynold Wik’s Steam Power on the American Farm. These are three
of our most frequently used references on American steam engine
manufacturers. With the assistance of Robert Lovett of the Beverly
Historical Society in Lawrence, we were able to obtain copies of
original documents from the Baker Library of Harvard
University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and the
Museum of American Textile History, which helped to tell the story
presented below.

John Chipman Hoadley was born December 10, 1818 in Turin, New
York, the son of a farmer. At the age of 18, he began working for
an engineering party doing preliminary surveys for the enlargement
of the Erie Canal. He soon became a draftsman and continued in this
occupation until 1844.

At the end of 1844, Hoadley went to Lancaster, Massachusetts to
work for Horatio and Erastus Bigelow who were engaged in
constructing the extensive works of Lancaster Mills.

In 1848, accepting an offer of partnership with Gordon McKay, he
went to Pittsfield and began manufacturing steam engines (for
locomotives) and other machinery under the company name McKay and
Hoadley. Business continued in Pittsfield for about four years.

Early in 1852, the two disposed of their firm and went to take
charge of the large machine shop owned by Essex Company in
Lawrence, Massachusetts. By 1858 this Lawrence Machine Shop, a
separate entity, had failed apparently through fiscal difficulties,
and Hoadley turned to the manufacture of portable and semi-portable
steam enginesa class of engines little known in this country at the

Hoadley’s engines were apparently so well designed and
constructed that on the West coast where they were very popular,
the name ‘The Hoadley’ became something of a generic term
for portable steam engines.

During the Civil War, Hoadley went to New Bedford,
Massachusetts, to run the New Bedford Copper Company, while the
affairs of the steam engine company were left to associates. Soon
after, the Lawrence firm was revived under the name J. C. Hoadley
& Company, but he did not personally return to it until after
1866. Under his renewed attention, the business expanded and for
several years was highly successful, selling many engines to
Californians. By 1870 nearly 800 engines had been sold.

1873 brought a great decline in business and the company closed.
However, another ‘J. C. Hoadley Company’ was organized,
with $100,000 in capital derived from J. C. Hoadley (60%), George
D. Cabot (20%) and Pardon Armington (20%). The purpose of the
corporation was the ‘manufacture and sale of portable steam
engines and other machinery.’

Seventy engines were sold in 1873, 89 in 1975, 59 in 1875, and
only 29 in 1876.

By early 1877, the company was apparently failing. At a March
board meeting, a committee representing the company’s creditors
assumed management of the firm with J. C. Hoadley. In April of
1878, the committee of creditors was authorized to dispose of the
property of both the J. C. Hoadley Co. and J. C. Hoadley. By May of
1879, the company had all but completed liquidation.

Hoadley was involved in endeavors other than his engine
manufacturing business. In 1858 with Erastus and Horatio Bigelow,
he organized The Clinton Wire Cloth Company of Clinton,
Massachusetts. He was also a founder and president of the Archibald
Wheel Company in Lawrence. He was one of the original trustees of
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a member of the
state legislature, and in 1872 was one of the Electors of President
of the United States.

He published two noteworthy pamphlets on steam power, one in
1863, The Portable Steam Engine, and one in 1884 which was
delivered as a paper at the British Association for the Advancement
of Science meeting in Montreal, titled, Steam Engine Practice in
the United States in 1884. In addition, he wrote numerous papers
for the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, of which he was
a founder.

Late in life, he worked as a consultant, and according to the
Dictionary of American Biography, ‘represented manufacturers or
purchasers the tests of some of the most important mill machinery
and water-works acceptance tests in New England and was a respected
expert witness in many patent and damage litigations.’

The same Dictionary claims that Hoadley’s engine was the
first of the single-valve automatics with the governor at the side
of the driving pulley and was noted for ‘lightness, simplicity,
durability and efficiency,’ qualities which Hoadley himself
claims in his introduction to the 1870 catalog.

John Chipman Hoadley died on October 21, 1886.

The following Description of the Portable Steam-Engine
Cinderella is taken directly from out 1870 Hoadley catalog. The
engine described was exhibited at the Fair of the Massachsuetts
Charitable Mechanic Association in October 1869, where it received
a gold medal, the highest award.


1. An attempt is made in this engine to superheat the steam
mildly, yet effectually, and to secure all the advantages of a
steam-jacket around the cylinder, with the utmost simplicity and
increased economy. The principal means employed are,

First, Surrounding the cylinder by the waste gases, the products
of combustion, on their passage from the smoke-box to the
smoke-pipe; securing thus a ‘smoke-jacket’ instead of the
well known ‘steam-jacket.’

Second, Placing the feed-water heater in the smoke-box, below
the cylinder, so as to reduce the temperature of the gases to a
safe point before they reach the cylinder.

Third, Conveying the steam from the governor-valve, which is
located within the steam-dome, through the steam-space, the whole
length of the boiler, to the flue-sheet, and thence by a curved
pipe through the smoke-box to the steam-chest; by which means it is
safely yet thoroughly dried and slightly superheated.

2. In working out the details of the engine embodying the
above leading ideas, several modifications, more or less novel, of
existing forms have been introduced with good results. Some of them
will be noticed in the following description.


3.  The boiler is of the ordinary straight-top locomotive
form, having a fire-box 36 inches long, 23 inches wide, and 28
inches high, from the bottom of the hoop to the under side of

The sides and crown of fire-box are formed of a single

The roof of the fire-box casing, and the upper half of the
barrel, are formed of a single plate, extending from the door-plate
of fire-box casing to the extreme end of smoke-box,* and double
riveted the whole length, on each side, to the undersheet of the
barrel, and to the side-plates of the fire-box casing. The diameter
of the barrel is 27 inches, and its length, from the fire-box
casing to the end of the smoke-box, 66 inches. The water-space
around the fire-box is 1 inches; length over fire-box casing, 41
inches; and the whole length of boiler, including smoke-box, 107
inches. The flue-sheets are inch, and all the other plates, inch

The flues, 78 in number, are 1 inches diameter outside, and 4
feet, 6 inches long; and are arranged in squares, or in vertical
and horizontal rows, inch apart: five horizontal rows containing 12
flues each, one row contianing 10, and the lower row 8.

4. The external circumference of these 1 inch flues is 3.927
inches, =0.327 feet, which, multiplied by 4.5 feet, gives the
external surface-area of each flue, = 1.47 square feet; and the
total area of heating-surface in the flues, 1.47×78 = 114.66 square

The heating-surface in fire-box, above the top of bottom hoop,
deducting the area of fire-door, 9 inches x 15 inches, and the area
of the external diameter of the 78 flues, is 25.65 square feet.

The area of the front flue-sheet, inside of its flanges, after
deducting the area of the external diameter of the flues, is 3.14
square feet.

The total heating-surface of the boiler, then, reckoning the
external surface of the flues, is,

Fire-box …………… 25.65 square feet

Flues ………………… 114.6 square feet

Smoke-box …………. 3.14 square feet

Total ……………….. 143.45 square feet

5. It is usual to reckon the external diameter of the
flues, as I have done above.

If we take the internal surface, the internal diameter being 1
1/16 inches, the area of the flues will be 17 square feet less;
that is, 97.66 square feet, instead of 114.66 square feet; and the
total heating-surface of the boiler, reckoning the internal surface
of the flues, will be,

Fire-box …………… 25.65 square feet

Flues ………………… 97.66 square feet

Smoke-box …………. 3.14 square feet

126.45 square feet

Add difference between internal and external diameter of

3/16 in.xpix4H ft.x78=………. 17.00 square feet

Total, as before ………………. 143.45 square feet

6.  The area of grate is

(36×23)/144 =5.75 square feet

The engine will not consume above 5 pounds of coal per
horsepower per hour (a liberal allowance, as we shall see); so that
there will be developed one horse-power for each pound of coal
burned per hour on each square foot of grate. Having a good
steam-blast, 15 pounds of coal per hour per square foot of grate is
very moderate; 20 pounds not a rapid rate, and 30 pounds easily
attainable. These rates of combustion correspond respectively to
15, 20, and 30 horse-power.

7. At the lower rate, there are 9.56 square feet of
heating-surface per horse-power; at the medium rate, 7.14 square
feet, and at higher rate, 4.78 square feet. The higher rate,
namely, 30 pounds of coal per square foot of grate per hour, =172.5
pounds per hour in the fire-box; giving 30 horsepower, approaches
the confines of ordinary locomotive practice, and may easily be
maintained with good attendance. The lower rate, namely, 15 pounds
of coal per hour per square foot of grate, =86.25 pounds per hour
in the fire-box, is about the usual stationary-engine practice,
making the engine 15 horse-power.

These computations relate to the boiler only; and the
consumption of coal per horse-power per hour (5.75 pounds) is
intentionally assumed high enough to show clearly that the boiler
is quite sufficient for the duty required of it.

8. The internal diameter of the flues is 11/16 inches, and the
corresponding area x 0.887 square inch. But, as a slight degree of
sootiness would reduce the effective diameter 1/16 inch, I assume
the clear area to be that due to 1 inch internal diameter, = 0.7854
square inch, which multiplied by the number of flues, 78 = 61.26
square inches, equal to the area of a pipe
87/8 inches diameter. This gives ample area
for the discharge of smoke and gases, and insures a free

9.  The kind of fuel burned, however, is an important
element in this question.

The boiler above described was designed to burn pure,
free-burning anthracite coal.

Bituminous or semi-bituminous coal would more rapidly obstruct
the flue with ashes. Wood, requiring for the evaporation of a given
quantity of water a larger volume of air, would demand greater area
of aggregate cross-section in the flues for the passage of smoke.
To meet these several conditions, flues of 1, 1, 2, and 2 inches
diameter outside may sometimes be employed; and the corresponding
heating-surface, and other particulars of the boiler, so modified,
will be found in the following table:


Diameter of flues outside .

1 inches

1 inches

1 inches

2 inches

2 inches

Number of flues . . . .







Fire-box . . . . . . .






Flues. . . . . . . . . .






Smoke-box. . . . .






Total . . . . . . . . . .






Diameter of flues inside,

available for smoke .

1 inch

1 inches

1 inches

1 inches

2 inches

Aggregate area, sq. in. . .






Equivalent diameter

87/8 inches

91/4 inches

103/8 in.

10 in.

11 in.

Arrangement of flues . .



















It is probable that 1 inches will do best for anthracite coal; 1
inches for bituminous coal; and 2 inches, or 2 inches, for

10. Arrangement of Engine. The cylinder is located over the
smoke-box, and is formed with a flue, or passage for the products
of combustion to pass around the cylinder on their way from the
smoke-box to the smoke-pipe. The steam-chest being on one side, the
gases envelop the bottom of steam-chest, about two-thirds of the
circumference of the cylinder, and the top of the steam-chest. The
remainder of the cylinder is in contact with the high-pressure
steam in the steam-chest; and only the steam-chest cover, the ends
of steam-chest, and the cylinder-heads, are exposed to the air.

11.  The blast-pipe is on top of the cylinder, and is very
short, so that back pressure on the piston is avoided. As the
exhaust steam is thus discharged directly into the chimney,
compensation is found for its loss from the feed-water heater in a
coil of water-pipe placed in the smoke-box, through which the
products of combustion pass, after leaving the boiler-flues, and
before reaching the cylinder. This makes a very efficient heater,
and, at the same time, lowers the temperature of the smoke, so as
to guard against heating the cylinder too hot.

Further protection is provided for, if required, by a shield of
boiler-plate, of cast-iron, or even of fire-tile, around the
exposed parts of the cylinder.

Nothing of the sort is found to be required in practice; an
arrangement to be described further on having proved

12.  Each pound of coal may be assumed to evaporate 8
pounds of water in the boiler, and to produce 14 pounds of mixed
gases, carbonic acid, nitrogen, watery vapor, free atmospheric air;
and, in cases of imperfect combustion, carbonic oxide and pure
carbon, the mixture known as ‘smoke.’ The specific heat of
this mixture, that of water being 1.00, is about 0.24; so that the
heating power of the 14 pounds of gases will be sufficient to raise
3 pounds of water one degree for each degree lost by these gases.
But only about 1/6 of the 8 pounds of exhaust steam would be
condensed in raising the temperature of the same weight of water
from 50° to 200°; and the same effect will be produced by lowering
the temperature of the 14 pounds of gases 85°.

The temperature of water corresponding to 100 pounds pressure
per square inch above the atmosphere, is, say, 340°. The gases,
then, on emerging from the flues, must be at or above 340°, with
usual working pressure of steam in the boiler; and will generally
be about 400°.

To raise the feed-water from 50° up to 200°, will, therefore,
reduce the temperature of the gases to about 315°; or, to take a
safe range, from 300° to 400°, which corresponds with observed

13. Steam is taken from the boiler at the top of a steam-dome
placed at the end of the boiler opposite the cylinder, over the
fire-box. It is admitted to the steam-chest by a sliding
starting-valve near the base of the dome, inside, operated by a
hand-lever over the fire-door, and a rod passing through a stuffing
box in the fire-box casing. But to reach this starting-valve, the
steam must first pass through the governor-valve, a balanced
Judson-valve, located within the dome, at the top, and controlled
by a governor standing on the dome. From the chamber of the
starting-valve, a pipe conducts the steam, reduced in pressure, and
consequently in temperature at the governor-valve, through the
steam-space above the flues to the smoke-box flue-sheet, whence it
is conducted by an ‘oxhorn pipe’ to the under side of the
steam-chest. This pipe is 2 inches diameter, and in all about 10
feet long, from the governor valve to the steam-chest.

14.  The reduction of pressure at the governor-valve of
course varies constantly under the action of the governor; but will
usually be about 30 pounds, corresponding to a reduction of
temperature at the pressures ordinarily used, of about 20°.

The steam, then, on its passage to the cylinder, passes about 9
feet through an atmosphere of steam 20° hotter than itself, and
about 1 foot through the smoke-box, at or above its own
temperature, into a cylinder which is maintained at a temperature
considerably above the mean of the working and exhaust steam, and
little, if any, below the temperature of the thoroughly dried,
slightly superheated initial steam. In so far as concerns that
portion of the heat drawn from the surrounding steam in the boiler,
the degree of economy resulting from this arrangement is exactly
equal to that arising from steam-jacketed cylinders, without
increase of radiating-surface; but it is believed that further
economy is obtained by surrounding the cylinder with the escaping
gases of combustion, otherwise wasted.

15.  To guard against injury to the cylinder or piston,
from overheating, the following apparatus, referred to in Section
11, is introduced.

From the chamber of the slide starting-valve at the base of the
dome, a small pipe extends down nearly to the crown-sheet of the
firebox, so that its lower end is always immersed in the water. A
small cock, inch diameter, is inserted in this pipe, with its plug
parallel to the axis of the boiler; and a rod coupled to this plug
extends through a stuffing-box in the fire-box casing above the
fire-door, and below the rod of the slide starting-valve. A small
handle, like a gimlet handle, on this rod, serves to turn it by,
and to indicate the state of the -inch cock. When the handle is
vertical, the cock is open, and a jet of water forced through the
-inch pipe enters the valve-chamber under the whole difference of
pressure caused by the action of the governor-valve. Entering the
steam-pipe at a higher temperature than that of the steam inside,
it speedily evaporates, so that no water appeared at the cylinder
petcocks when this injection-cock was opened for experiment.

When the handle is horizontal, the cock is shut, and no water
enters the steam-pipe.

*16. With considerable effort, a brisk fire, good draught, and
the engine at rest, the cylinder was in one instance intentionally
heated, in the course of an hour, to such a degree that a squeaking
noise was produced by the friction of the piston on starting.

This noise almost instantly ceased on opening the
injection-cock; and, after keeping it open three or four minutes,
giving time for the current of steam to reduce slightly the
temperature of the cylinder, the engine ran smoothly with the
injection-cock permanently closed.

In this manner, by introducing a slight degree of moisture into
the steam-pipe and cylinder, when required for lubrication,
superheated steam may be safely and conveniently used almost all
the while, and all danger of excessive heating obviated.

17.  The steam-gauge (a Bourdon gauge, made by the American
Steam-Gauge Company, Boston), is arranged to indicate either the
pressure in the steam-dome or that in the steam-pipe below the
governor-valve, as required; thus showing at any time the extent of
‘throttling’ produced by the governor. This is managed by a
two-way cock, admitting steam to the pressure-gauge from either one
of two pipes, one entering the dome and passing down to the
starting valve chamber, and the other opening into the dome

18.  The safety-valve is placed at the top of a chamber on
the side of the fire-box casing, and held down by a spiral spring
pressed upon by the base of the whistle, which serves as a
set-screw to regulate the pressure required to lift the
safety-valve. When lifted, the escaping steam blows the whistle. To
blow the whistle, the safety-valve is lifted by the whistle-lever.
To the chamber above mentioned are attached the glass water-gauge,
three gauge-cocks, and the steam-pressure gauge; so that all the
indications required about the state of water and steam in the
boiler are combined in this apparatus, which might be called with
some propriety, a Pantaphane.

19. Two windows, dead-lights, or ‘clear views,’ are
introduced into the door-plate of fire-box casing, one on each
side, with their centres at the height of the normal water-line.
Placed like eyes, these windows are eyes indeed to engine and
engineer, showing at all times the exact condition of the water,
not only as to height, but the rapidity of ebullition, priming,
disturbance of level, transparency or turbidness,all with far more
clearness than in an open vessel; as the steam-space is perfectly
unclouded, and the glass entirely free from moisture of

Two thicknesses of plate glass, each inch thick, with a space
between them, at once prevent condensation within, and provide
against danger of fracture by cooling without. Placed in an oblique
line, one above another, three or four of these high-pressure
dead-lights would form a perfect water-gauge, showing all desirable
facts concerning the state of the water, by no remote or secondary
indications, but by direct inspection.

It is, perhaps, not too much to hope that similar
‘clearviews’ may yet be seen in every important boiler in
the world.

20. The feed-pump is placed under the steam-chest, and driven by
an arm extending down vertically from the side of the cross-head
outside of the slides. The stuffing-box is, therefore, nearly under
that of the steam-chest or valve-rod; and the valve-chambers and
air-chambers are in front, at one side of the cylinder-head, which
can be removed for inspection of piston without disturbing other
parts, and with the utmost convenience.

The engine is set low on the boiler, only 5 inches from top of
waist of boiler to centre of cylinder. When the boiler is lagged
with wood, as in the present case, this is rather too low for
convenience, and may be increased in future to 6 or 6 inches.

21. For the sake of simplicity, and in order to ascertain what
degree of advantage was secured by the arrangement of boiler,
steam-pipe, governor, and smoke-jacket above described, the
steam-valve ordinarily used with our portable engines of the same
size was employed.

This is a single-slide valve, with such lap and lead as to cut
off steam at stroke (mean of the two ends of cylinder), and to
close the exhaust at about 9 inches, or 7/8
of the stroke.

Much as this valve has in its favor, as its general use in the
locomotive proves, there is no doubt that economy of steam may be
obtained by other arrangements, though not without increased cost,
and more or less complexity, for the most part fatal in portable
engines. Sometimes, however, a sliding-valve on the back of the
main steam-valve, driven by a separate eccentric, which may be
adjusted with ease when the engine is at rest, to adapt the cut-off
to varying conditions of use, may be introduced with considerable

Provision is made to introduce such riding cut-off valve, or to
omit it, as may be desired; and if put in, it may be thrown out of
use or brought into action at will.

22. The engine above described, having a cylinder 7 inches
diameter and 10 inches stroke, was used, experimentally, for
several weeks, to drive the machine-shop of J. C. Hoadley &
Co., in Lawrence, Mass., which, with other work done by the same
water-wheel, requires from 25 to 33 horsepower.

This work it performed, running at two hundred and seventy
revolutions per minute without difficulty with careful firing and
with a considerable degree of economy; but the data as to
consumption of fuel are defective. It is believed, however, that it
did not exceed 4 pounds of coal per horse-power per hour; and that,
when running at 12 to 15 horse-power, this might be reduced to 4

Still better results can doubtless be obtained with the improved
valve-gear above mentioned.

23. The portable engines we have made during the twelve years
since 1857, and sent (at the present writing, Feb. 3, 1870), to the
number of 762, all over the continent, and to remote parts of the
world, have gained a good reputation for efficiency, safety,
durability, convenience, and general utility, combined with
reasonable economy of fuel. It is hoped that no one of the good
qualities of our engines, as hitherto constructed, has been lost or
impaired in this new design. If this hope shall prove well founded,
we shall expect to see this new engine eclipse its older rivals as
much as its namesake in the fairy tale outshone her unnatural
sisters. For many purposes the earlier type may always be
preferred; but, in other cases, improved economy of fuel, and
efficiency compared with weight, must give the preference to the

24. The subject of efficiency compared with weight deserves,
perhaps, a little more elaboration. Referring to the ‘Table of
Portable Steam Engines manufactured by J. C. Hoadley & Co.,
Lawrence, Mass.,’ and dividing the weight in pounds in the 18th
column by the effective power in the 19th column, we find the
weight in pounds per horsepower to be as follows:






per HP


per HP





























No engines hitherto made have greater effective power in
proportion to weight.

The weight of the ‘Cinderella’ is 4,500 lbs. The
effective power, rated at 15 H.P., gives 300 lbs. weight per

The importance of this consideration in engines for agricultural
purposes must be obvious to all. An engine which can be moved from
place to place on the farm with a single pair of horses, and which
is able to do as much threshing, or other work, as another engine
requiring two pairs of horses to move it about, must be preferred,
if equal in all other respects.

Time, and the experience of our friends and patrons, can alone
determine the relative merits of the two classes of engines. As all
our engines are warranted satisfactory, or no sale, it is no less
important to us than to the purchaser that the best engines should
always be selected for the work it is to do; and we earnestly
solicit the candid criticism, whether favorable or adverse, of all
who may become interested in engines of our manufacture, either as
owners, users, or engineers.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1986
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