RUINS OF A VERY OLD ENGINE

1 / 6
The Hub of the flywheel and eccentric. Note the fastener between the flywheel sections.
2 / 6
1804 Manchester stationary steam engine remains at Port Orange, Florida.
3 / 6
Close-up of the 1804 steam engine Cylinder and Bedplates.
4 / 6
Close-up of the Cane Rollers and Gearing resting on the original timbers.
5 / 6
Boiler of the 1793 engine described by R. L. Johnson. The boiler was originally upright.
6 / 6
The flywheel and main drive gear. Bricks are taken from the roof of the building itself and were made in 1624. Note bearing and square axle coupling.

164 S. Crest Rd., Chattanooga 4, Tennessee

I’m enclosing a few pictures for your files of an engine,
that I took last summer. The oldest stationary engine I have yet
come across, a 1793 English slide-valve mill engine, which I ran
across in Florida, near Port Orange, last year.

The old stationary has a rather interesting history. The Spanish
built a mission in the early 1600’s, in fact, they built a
great number of missions over Florida, before the Seminole Indians
pushed them out, burned their towns, and raided their trading
posts. Then when the English came over in 1770, they took over many
of these old missions, removed roofs, and built elaborate furnaces
under them, and converted them into sugar and indigo mills. The
engine in the picture was manufactured in 1793, and ran a pump in
Leeds, England until 1799 when it was dissembled and shipped to the
new colonies in America, where it was installed on a foundation of
bricks from the roof of the old mission where it remains today.

The engine itself is 10′ bore x 40′ stroke, made of pure
cast iron. The flywheel is made in 6 sections and weighs 3 tons you
can see in one of the photos I am enclosing, the link between two
sections of it. The sugar cane rollers are 42′ long and 13′
in diameter and 24′ long. It had no feed pump and held 1200
gallons of water. After steam had been raised to full 25 lbs.
working pressure, the flywheel was turned about fifty times to
properly heat all moving parts and free the joints and bearings,
and only then could the engine work up sufficient power to turn the
mill. The boiler was fired by dried bamboo and husks. The wood
timbering under the engine and rollers is the original timber put
there in 1804 when the engine was set up for operation. In 1843 the
accident occurred which reduced the mill to its present state while
cleaning the boiling pans in the mill building, with alcohol, fumes
from the furnaces set the alcohol vapors off and the explosion
removed parts of the walls, knocked the boiler over, and stripped
down the engine. The cylinder head, bolts and nuts, piston, piston
rod, slide valve, slide valve cover plate, and a bearing are
missing, and although I searched around the area, they probably
have been buried over the 111 years since the explosion, somewhere
very nearby.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment