The Steam Engines of the Henry Ford Museum

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8 HP Huber "Buckeye" portable steam engine built in 1882. Huber had only been in business a few years when this engine was built.
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Boilers used for heat and electricity at Henry Ford's estate "Fairlane." President Hoover, while visiting the estate, was caught in a rainstorm and was able to dry his hat by placing it on a spotlessly clean boiler steam pipe.
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10 HP Upton steam traction engine, serial  no. 401,built in 1887 at Battle Creek, Mich. Upton moved in 1890, changing its name to Port Huron Engine & Thresher Co.
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"Iron Slave" return flue portable steam engine was built in 1875 by the L. Sweet Co. of Wellsville, New York. This engine was used to power a cream separator.
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Early Russell traction steam engine. It was equipped with a driver's seat and foot rest on the cylinder side of the engine.
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1885 Birdsall 12 HP. The valve eccentric is reversed by a sliding rack instead of link motion.
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12 HP ''Jumbo'' steam traction engine, serial no. 1486, built in 1895 by Harrison Machine Works, Belleville, Ill.
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10 HP Ypsilanti portable steam engine built by Ypsilanti Machine Works of Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1890.
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10 HP Chillicothe portable steam engine built in 1878 by Chillicothe Foundry & Machine Works of Chillicothe, Ohio. The valve gear is operated by a very unusual eccentric operated off the crank disc.
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16-30 Baker steam tractor built in 1925. Powered by a cross compound double-acting steam engine and a high pressure boiler with "U" shaped water tubes, vertical header and steam condenser. Inexpensive slack coal was automatically fed to the firebox.

The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, contains more than 30 traction and portable steam engines; many of them are one of a kind. Few people realize the affection that Henry Ford had for steam engines. This affection developed at an early age as he showed an interest in mechanical things and a dislike for chores on the family farm.

When he was 16, Henry left to work in nearby Detroit as an apprentice machinist. He remained an apprentice for three years and returned to the farm. For the next few years, Henry divided his time between operating or repairing steam engines, overhauling his father’s farm implements and occasional factory work in Detroit. Henry was married in 1888, he supported himself and his wife by running a sawmill. In 1891 Ford became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company after fixing a bearing problem with one of their engines.

The museum contains not only small engines but also some very old walking beam engines on exhibit and some very large Corliss engines. One of the Corliss engines was used in Ford’s Rouge River Plant which was at one time the world’s largest industrial complex, containing a steel mill, glass factory and an automobile assembly line.

The Henry Ford Museum, which was founded in 1929, receives over one million visitors annually. I would recommend that a full day’s visit be allowed to see the museum and a full day to tour Greenfield Village which is next to the museum. The museum is not air conditioned so it would be best to visit during the cooler seasons. Both the Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Enjoy my pictorial catalog of the museum’s engines: 8 HP Huber “Buckeye” portable steam engine, 10 HP Upton steam traction engine, Russell traction steam engine, “Iron Slave” return flue portable steam engine, 1885 12 HP Birdsall steam engine, 12 HP “Jumbo” Harrison Machine Works steam traction engine, 10 HP Ypsilanti portable steam engine, 10 HP Cillicothe portable steam engine, 16-30 Baker steam tractor, and steam boilers from Henry Ford’s “Fairlane” estate. IMA

Larry G. Creed is from Brazil, Ind.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
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