Here is a picture of Miss Susan Hill, oldest daughter of the late Tom Hill, builder of the engine. This lady has just passed her 98th. birthday and as you can see, is very hale and hearty at that age.
This company was widely known in the territory surrounding Quincy, Illinois in the period following 1880 at which time they built freight and passenger elevators, heavy iron castings such as store fronts, etc.
Along about 1892 this company entered the light duty steam engine field, producing a ROCKER valve engine, the engine concerning which this article is written about. As you can note it is a double cylinder opposed type engine. There are of course no piston rods in the pistons proper similar to ordinary gas engines.
This freak among steam engines surely must have been built as an experiment.
The writer of this article in later years became acquainted with the man who was chief mechanic at the of its building. This party was none other than the late A. H. Wiebmer, Sr., who later started the Wiebmer Machine Shop which is still operating under that name but under different ownership.
In assembling this information which, of course, could vary slightly as to time, the writer is indebted very greatly to the following people; Mr. A. H, Wiebmer, Jr., son of the designer, Mr. Elmer Becker, a retired machinist of Quincy, Illinois, Mr. Edward Long, a retired steam engineer of Quincy, Illinois, Mrs. Rhodia Davis, Mrs. Piggott, also daughters of Tom Hill and a Mrs. Marian Newman.
The company who made this engine was the SMITH-HILL Elevator Co. Along about 1898 these people merged with the OTIS Elevator Co. and their headquarters was moved to Chicago, Illinois and Mr. Hill moved to that city as an official. Soon after the turn of the century Mr. Hill returned to Quincy and was instrumental in forming the Quincy Engine Works about 1903 which specialized in heavy duty stationary steam engines of the CORLISS type. This company operated about ten years, then sold out to the OTIS Elevator Company, which came back to Quincy, Illinois with its plant.
This about covers the history of SMITH-HILL and Quincy Engine Co., but during the early part of this period they put out quite a number of lighter duty rocker valve engines. One of their engines was in the Adams County Home and continued to operate up into late autumn of 1961 and then was sold as an antique. Two of their engines operated beaters in the Quincy plant of the American Straw Board Co.
Now back to the freak engine. The writer really wonders if it ever saw much, if any, active duty, but about ten years ago it showed up in a junk yard near Hanibel, Missouri and was purchased by our well known friend and collector of steam engines, Milford Rees of Franklin, Illinois. This engine was still workable but was very loose when the writer saw it at the Illinois State Fair. Later Mr. Rees had it rebuilt in the Hunsley Shop at Edin burg, Illinois. It has since been on exhibit at every State Fair in Springfield, Illinois.
Ralph Hussong, Camp Point, Illinois
Concerning a query about Wolfe Valve Gear as asked by Mr. Jacob P. D. Tiessen, a valve gear, be it a Wolfe, Marshall, Marsh or a Hielman Stepanson Link or what have you, has just one function and that is to change rotary motion to reciprocating motion and thereby effect back and forth action to the valve proper. A Valve driven by a Wolfe mechanism, if it is accurately adjusted and centered, makes no difference whether the valve movement is actuated by an eccentric and block as on the Wolfe or on the Marshall (Reeves) which is an eccentric operating a bell crank, or the Marsh (Advance) which is gear driven from crankshaft to a small counter shaft with small disc wheel on crank pin which actuates the forward and backward motion of the valve stem.
Naturally there are four functions or steps that the Dee type must perform. It must open the port to admit steam to the forward end of the cylinder. It also must perform this same function on the back end of the cylinder. On a double action cylinder it must open and close exhaust parts in their proper sequence. However, on another type of engine with a uniform cylinder the valve has only the function of admitting the steam and of cutting off the steam since the exhaust parts of the uniflow engine are automatically opened and closed by the piston travel.
Any valve used on any make of engine, regardless of type of valve motion, if improperly set, will be late either on one end or the other. This also holds true with Corliss, with Rocking or with Poppet type valves. There are many kinds of valves and there also are many kinds and types of valve operating mechanisms but the sole function of all of these devices is to admit and exhaust steam to and from the cylinder and if properly synchronized will neither be late or early on these duties.
I have been a steam engineer for 50 years and have operated from 10 HP to 50 HP. I have had lots of valve experience and I could name at least 25 different types of valve gears and am familiar with all of them. I have built 2 steam engines of my own, 2' to foot scale, that is. On one engine I used the piston valve and on the other engine I used the rocking valve. I would like to hear from old time engineers and threshermen, also model makers.
H. F. Carlstrom, Chief Engineer, Gateway, Inc. P.O. Box 485, Barnesville, Minn.