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Can Anyone Identify This Steam Car Engine
Posted by: (
Date: June 2, 2010 07:09PM

I purchased a steam car engine at an auction last winter and have been trying to track down its history ever since.

A lenghty discussion with many photos of the engine in question can be found here: Practical Machinist

Here are my latest discoveries:

While on vacation last month, we stopped at the Pioneer Village museum in Minden, NE. There, they had an 1897 Milwaukee steam car on display, as well as this Milwaukee engine.

At first glance, there are huge differences between the Milwaukee engine and my engine. But in details, there are definite family resemblances. Note how the valve gear is virtually identical, right down to the location and orientation of the reverse shaft, and its connection to a vertical actuating rod.

Note how the crankshafts are virtually identical.

Note how the Milwaukee engine is mounted snug against the front of the vertical boiler…

… and how the frame of my engine is concave on the back side as if to fit up against the side of a vertical boiler.

So, is my engine a compound prototype Milwaukee made? The reason I say “prototype” is due to the rather large automatic cylinder drains on the LP cylinder. They were missing on the HP cylinder, and I had assumed that someone had removed and lost them, until I cleaned up the engine, and found that no passages had ever been drilled into the HP cylinder from the large threaded bosses. They went to the trouble to cast and machine the bosses for the cylinder drains, but then decided not to use them.

An interior inspection of the cylinder block with a bore scope shows that its rather bulky proportions were for a good reason as well. The HP cylinder is equipped with a steam jacket surrounding it to keep it constantly hot, increasing its efficiency and removing the need for HP cylinder drains. I had never heard of a steam jacketed cylinder in such a small engine.

No thought was given to interchangeability in this engine. Every part is machined a little off the nearest fraction, and a little different from any other of the same parts as though all of the measurement was done with spring calipers, each part being made one at a time.

More exhaust lap is allowed on the bottom ports in good vertical engine practice, and the cutoff is 55% on the HP and 60% on the LP.

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 06/02/10 07:19PM by Kelly Anderson.

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