LIKE THE STEAM ENgine itself, the throttling governor was invented and first used in England. Watts first governor made in that country, was of crude type without valve and valve chamber being built integral with the revolving ball assembly, as American governors were made. It was of the plain, gravity-type head, usually mounted on the engine frame and was connected to a butterfly valve which might be placed anywhere on the steam line leading to the engine, by a rod with suitable linkage to fit the engine to which it was attached.
It might be said, that a Watt engine was governed by remote control, as often the governor was located several feet distant from the butterfly valve. American governor 'builders discarded the old butterfly valve and substituted a valve of the dual-disc type and placed this valve in a chamber directly connected with the governor head itself.
In this country about the first attempt to make a throttling governor was made by Judson in 1848 at Rochester, New York.
This governor used the gravity-type of ball head, the balls were of large size and of sufficient weight to pull the governor valve wide open (whenever the engine throttle was closed) by the force of gravity alone, no springs were employed in its design to raise the valve from its seat.
In 1859 Robert Gardner designed a gravity-type governor quite similar to the old 'Judson' and his governor, known to the trade as the 'Gardner Standard Governor' was built and sold by The Gardner Governor Co., of Quincy, Illinois, for many years.
The two governors named above, were the leaders for years, on the American market, or until the 'spring type' governor was developed.
The first 'spring' governor was invented by Thomas Pickering in Connecticut in the year 1861. Mr. Pickering was a stationary engineer, running the power plant at a factory in which steady speed was very desirable. He was not satisfied with the slow and sluggish action of the 'gravity' governor on his engine, so he decided' do something about it.
He conceived the idea of using springs to 'spark' the movement of a governor valve, his first governor used three wooden springs (of hickory) about sixteen inches long passed through rectangular slots cut through the center of three wooden croquet balls, the lower ends of these springs were securely fastened to the revolving, gear driven spindle of the governor, while the upper ends were attached rigidly, to a loose sleeve surrounding the spindle which was free to move vertically on same in obedience to the inward and outward movement of the governor balls, the valve stem passed up through the spindle and made contact with the loose, sliding sleeve near top of the governor, by this means, as the balls moved outward from center, the valve stem was lowered and the valve pushed toward its seat.
The valve was held open by an adjustable 'wind-up' spring attachment, coupled to the valve stem just above the stuffing box, the tension of this spring was adjusted by means of a thumb-screw and worm gear. By its use, the engine's speed was regulated.
On each Saturday night, when the plant shut down for the week end, Mr. Pickering removed the old governor and put his invention in its place, called in a few friends to see the test made. These boys were somewhat fearful of the results and carefully chose safe spots from which they could see well but not be liable to injury from flying pieces of this 'wooden wonder' when it went into action.
The engine started up well, ran smoothly and after a few 'speeder' adjustments, he had the proper engine speed, nobody was injured and the governor was pronounced a grand success by all observers. When the load was put on, Monday morning, it was perfect, the power was good and the speed was steady.
'The Pickering Governor was born'. This governor was patented in the U. S. A., Canada, England and France in the year 1862 and became a very popular governor the world over.
Its design was unique in that it produced a mechanical movement without a single joint in its construction, it was direct in action, very quick and sensitive to slight changes in the engine's load.
The next governor to enter the field was the 'Waters', invented and patented by Mr. C. Waters of Boston, Mass., in the year 1872. This, like the 'Pickering' was a high speed, spring type governor which became very popular and had a large, world wide sale for many years. This governor differed from all the others in respect to its valve. The 'Waters' valve was placed in a valve-cage made with four (instead of two) valve seats, as used in other governors. This four ported valve gave a large port opening with a very short travel. It gave the engine a 'sharp boost' when a sudden, heavy load was thrown upon it.
After the spring-type governor was produced and perfected no one wanted a gravity type governor. So, the older builders had to come through with springs to stay in business.
'Judson' rebuilt their old 'Standard governor' by putting on a new spring supporting device to hold the valve wide open at all times when the engine was at rest, reduced the weight of governor balls, by changing their form from spherical to disc shape and by placing two light coil springs (one on each side of the balls) across from ball to ball, to complete their spring type governor. They built and sold this governor for many years but in later years however, this company found the demand for a 'wide range' governor to be quite important so they bought out the 'Eclipse' three ball governor, made at Vicksburg, Michigan and sold it for years as the 'New Judson Governor'.
The Gardner governor Company brought out a new spring type governor of their own design and it was very satisfactory. It differed from all other governors in one respect, its valve was closed by an upward movement of the valve stem. In all other governors this took place on the 'down beat.'
The 'Monarch' governor made for a few years at Indianapolis, Indiana, was a good one but the production and sale of this governor was halted by injunction proceedings on the grounds of alleged infringement of patent rights owned by the Pickering Governor Company. This claim was later sustained and its production was permanently prohibited by court order.
All throttling governors applied the use of centrifugal force as their prime moving agent.
This is the tendency of a weighted object to fly outward from its point of support or axis when revolved at high speed. This force was counteracted by another force whose main objective was to return the flying weights or balls to their original position that assumed by them when the governor was at rest. This force is called centrifugal action.
This action was accomplished either by the force of gravity or by spring resistance.
In the gravity type of governor the centrifugal action was also powered by a natural force, that of gravitation, while in the spring type, this inward movement of the governor balls was 'sparked' by spring action.
It was the constant struggle for supremacy between these two opposing forces that maintained regular and steady engine motion regardless of fluctuation in the load, by regulating the flow of steam to the engine to fit the load it had to handle.
There were a few other governors built in this country such as the 'King' and the 'Watson', to name two of the most widely known of this group.
However, the ones popularly known as the 'Standard-governors' or the 'Big Four', were built by these concerns The Judson Governor Co., Rochester, N. Y., 1848; The Gardner Governor Co., Quincy, Ill., 1859; The Pickering Governor Co., Portland, Conn., 1861; The Waters Governor Co., Boston, Mass., 1872,
Although a steam engine would run without a governor, (the first farm engines built in this country did it without one) when threshing with these engines the speed of the machine was controlled by a 'hand on the throttle' or by 'the man who was feeding the thresher', or both.
This method of speed control was difficult and not too satisfactory, hence my hat is off to these boys, who gave the world the throttling governor. They deserve much credit for this great invention, without it, the steam engine would never have attained the popularity it once held in the world-wide field of power
Even though these good men have gone to their reward, we are still deeply indebted to them for their excellent contribution to the success of the steam engine.
Now that 'the chips are down' for the reciprocating type of steam engine, let us remember that it was the world's first great mechanical power, the one that started progress, promoted prosperity and played a major role in the growth and development of our great country.
Finally, in solemn recognition of these facts, let us all give to this 'mighty machine' an everlasting vote of confidence and approval.