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Kempton Great Engines

Click here to see movie of engine running

From 1928 until 1980 24 hours a day both of these huge triple expansion engines pumped water to London. At 62ft high and weighing in excess of 800 tons, engine number 6 produced 1008 horse power.
It is know to be the largest engine in the World in steam today.

The two ‘Great Engines’ at Kempton Park, No's 6 and 7, are of the inverted vertical triple expansion type. The three cylinders, in which the steam is expanded in succession before passing to a condenser, are arranged in line directly over the crankshaft, with the plunger pumps below it. The layout originated though ships’ engines on a similar plan which had been used many years earlier. The Kempton examples are thought to be the biggest ever built in the UK and date from 1926-1929. Efficiency and reliability of engines of this type were hard to beat though the initial cost, including the tall engine house, was high. At one time about a third of all waterworks pumping engines in the UK were of this type though the Kempton engines were the last working survivors when they stopped in 1980. These engineering wonders are part of a line of succession of technology that not only provides for public service, but also allows the manufacture
of consumer goods cheaper utilities in general. Mechanically the arrangement is attractive by virtue of the 120 degree crank setting, which not only helps to balance the moving parts but provides a steady input of power from the engine and a steady discharge of water into the pressure main. There are never less than two steam cylinders driving and one plunger pumping at any time. Each engine stands 62 ft tall from basement to top of the valve casings and weighs over 800 tons. They were supplied with steam by a battery of water-tube boilers at a pressure of 200 psi, superheated to 150°F superheat. The engines were designed for 24-hour, 7 days-a-week operation, though in practice they were run alternately. Coal consumed amounted to only about 1 and 1/4 lb per water horsepower per hour, equal to the best electricity generating stations of the day.

Engine number 7, not running yet

One of the many control panels

One of the many lubricators on each engine

Valve removed for service (note my shoe to show size)

Now this is what you call a "Pump Pit"

Another view of engine number six

Looking at engine six, from the top of engine number seven

And finally the building which houses the engines.
In 1963, 114 men were on site maintaining the engines and general running of the site. With both engines running, a maximum of 86 million gallons could be pumped into London each day Today only 14 men are on site, the modern pumps, can pump up to 75 million gallons per day.

Click here to see movie of engine running

Arnoud and Nita Carp sent in this interesting information on large engines and boilers (Click here)


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