One Small Steam Engine

Daniel Azro Ashley Buck made a small steam engine; small enough that it was mounted on top of a coin.

| September/October 1983

  • Model of a watch

  • Model of a watch

Sometime before 1876 a watchmaker, Daniel Azro Ashley Buck, who was in his thirties, designed and built a very small steam engine. Made of silver and gold, it contained all of the parts of a full size engine: boiler, cylinder, piston, crank, flywheel, and valves. Mounted on a gold coin, it contains about 150 parts, held together by about fifty small screws, one-eighth inch and shorter. It weighs about 18 grains.

This engine was exhibited along side of the mammoth Corliss steam plant that operated the generators at the 1876 Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. After this it was displayed in the show window of Mr. Buck's watch repair store in Worcester, Massachusetts. A Boston patent solicitor, Mr. Edward Locke, who was interested in finding an inexpensive watch to manufacture for sale and for less than $4.00, saw the engine and asked Mr. Buck to design and make a model of a watch.

This model was crude and did not satisfy Mr. Locke and Mr. George Merritt, who was the financier. After further study Mr. Buck built an improved design which met with approval. This model became the Waterbury watch which was manufactured by Mr. Bennedict, Merritt, Locke, and Buck at a new factory beginning in 1888 and employed about 600 people making 1000 watches a day. IMA

Story submitted by Albert B. Buck 37 Colonial Drive, Snyder, New York 14226, grandson of Daniel A. A. Buck.


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