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A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine

The engine is usually attached to the boiler


[Illustration:

FIG. 115.--Semi-Portable Engine, 1878.]

Another illustration of this form of engine, as built in small sizes, is seen below. The peculiarity of this engine is, that the cylinder is placed in the top of the boiler, which is upright. By this arrangement the engine is constantly drawing from the boiler the hottest and driest steam, and there is thus no liability of serious loss by condensation, which is rapid, even in a short pipe, when the engine is separate from the boiler.

The engine illustrated is rated at 10 horse-power, and makers are always expected to guarantee their machines to work up to the rated power. The cylinder is 7 by 7 inches, and the main shaft is directly over it. On this shaft are three eccentrics, one working the pump, one moving the valves, and the third one operating the cut-off. The driving-pulley is 20 inches in diameter, and the balance-wheel 30 inches. The boiler has 15 1-1/4-inch flues. It is furnished with a heater in its lower portion. The boiler of this engine is tested up to 200 pounds, and is calculated to carry 100 pounds working pressure, though that is not necessary to develop the full power of the engine. The compactness of the whole machine is exceptional. It can be set up in a space 5 feet square and 8 feet high. The weight of the 10 horse-power engine is 1,540 pounds, and of the whole machine 4,890 pounds, boxed for shipment. Every part of the mechanism usually fits and

works with the exactness of a gun-lock, as each piece is carefully made to gauge.

Portable engines are those which are especially intended to be moved conveniently from place to place. The engine is usually attached to the boiler, and the feed-pump is generally attached to the engine. The whole machine is carried on wheels, and is moved from one place to another, usually by horses, but sometimes by its own engine, which is coupled by an engaging and disengaging apparatus to the rear-wheels. English builders have usually excelled in the construction of this class of steam-engine, although it is probable that the best American engines are fully equal to them in design, material, and construction.

The later work of the best-known English builders has given economical results that have surprised engineers. The annual "shows" of the Royal Agricultural Society have elicited good evidence of skill in management as well as of excellence of design and construction. Some little portable engines have exhibited an economical efficiency superior to that of the largest marine engines of any but the compound type, and even closely competing with that form. The causes of this remarkable economy are readily learned by an inspection of these engines, and by observation of the method of managing them at the test-trial. The engines are usually very carefully designed. The cylinders are nicely proportioned to their work, and their pistons travel at high speed. Their valve-gear consists usually of a plain slide-valve, supplemented by a separate expansion-slide, driven by an independent eccentric, and capable of considerable variation in the point of cut-off. This form of expansion-gear is very effective--almost as much so as a drop cut-off--at the usual grade of expansion, which is not far from four times. The governor is usually attached to a throttle-valve in the steam-pipe, an arrangement which is not the best possible under variable loads, but which produces no serious loss of efficiency when the engine is driven, as at competitive trials, under the very uniform load of a Prony strap-brake and at very nearly the maximum capacity of the machine. The most successful engines have had steam-jacketed cylinders--always an essential to maximum economy--with high steam and a considerable expansion. The boilers are strongly made, and are, as are also all other heated surfaces, carefully clothed with non-conducting material, and well lagged over all. The details are carefully proportioned, the rods and frames are strong and well secured together, and the bearings have large rubbing-surfaces. The connecting-rods are long and easy-working, and every part is capable of doing its work without straining and with the least friction.


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