THE STEAM ENGINE STILL LIVES ON


| November/December 1981



Steam engine

108 Garfield Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940.

There is a mail slot in my door and through it pass varied pieces of mail. Some are addressed to Occupant and some to Current Resident. I don't know either of these, but they do get interesting mail. One day my dachshund announced the arrival of our mail personours is a lady carrier. There among the usual bills and all was my copy of McGraw Hill's prestigious Electrical World. In it I noticed an advertisement for the Skinner Universal Uniflow engine. It seems the reciprocating steam engine is more than just another item in an industrial museum.

Although Heron of Alexandria, or Hero, the Egyptian mathematician, is credited with inventing the reaction steam turbine, it took the simple reciprocating engine to turn the world around in an industrial revolution. The wheels of industry were driven by the steam engine for a hundred years before the electric motor took over. This electrical work horse of industry is so complete in its victory that we forget that there are still work places that depend upon the steam engine and it would seem that they continue to be manufactured.

These facts have suggested that perhaps in our changing world there again might be a future for the faithful, reliable and simple steam engine. With this in mind I began the search to find where they were in active productive use today. At the same time a brief look was taken at their future potential.

One of the first places that I came across the continuing use of the steam engine was at the B. F. Clyde Cider Mill in Old Mystic, Connecticut. (IMA Nov. 1979). Here, Jack Bucklyn has installed an Ames Iron Works 15 horsepower engine to power the line shaft supplying power to various parts of the mill. It is an 8' by 8' engine with the governor set at about 220 rpm.

Now, in a way, this is almost an action museum in that it is operational only during the fall season. On the other hand, it is a profit making enterprise in which the use of steam for power is in direct contrast to otherwise using electric motors.