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Thread: Locomobile steam engine
05-31-2012, 12:19 PM #1
05-31-2012, 12:34 PM #2
No but i am jealous!
05-31-2012, 05:03 PM #3
It is interesting some how i have over the years seen quite a few of those engines pop up on eBay and they usually don't bring too much either. Maybe a $1000 or so if memory is correct. None the less what I always wonder is why so many of the engines exist when the cars are gone. I wonder if they were re-purposed for something back in the day? I suppose you could find a bunch of engines in a scrap yard minus a car, but I would think when one was scrapping an old steam car with an engine that never quite panned out the engine would go with the car? Otherwise why wouldn't the whole car get saved? Anyone care to guess why it is so much easier to find old steam car engines than the steam cars themselves?
05-31-2012, 05:28 PM #4
I had one once and sold it for $3000. It was running that was an offer I could not refuse. I think these are pretty desirable just for the fun of having a small easy to run double cylinder steam engine. They have many hobby applications such as little paddle wheel boats and many other uses. Being a double, they dont get stuck on center and are great basis for model traction engines.
I was just looking for pictures and sadly did not keep any. Think it was the same engine. Had fancy script Locomobile" cast in valve cover.
Although in fairness to adamil, I have seen a few Locomobile and Stanley engines sell around $1000 at local engine shows. But - I think they sold fast and were an easy resell for profit if the buyer was so motivated. Seems like 2-3k more typical of ebay /internet pricing.
The old steam cars were mostly wood and rotted out after they outlived usefulness as cars. The engines are iron and very cool (and small to store in a barn), hence the survival (IMHO)
There is enough value, that you got to want it pretty bad to pay full price or I assume like collector luck out and find a deal. A lot of potential fun there if a small boiler can be found.
05-31-2012, 06:54 PM #5
Peter 2K may have been the prices I wasn't really in the market for an engine like this. I guess the key thing is they do come available, and when they do come up they come up far more often than the cars. So I guess maybe the car rotted out but the engine was cool and was kept, that would make sense I suppose.
05-31-2012, 07:22 PM #6
In the very early '70's I went to my first steam show, and saw one of these on a table listed as "gas station air compressor $75". I knew what it was, but did not have the cash. Damn.
06-02-2012, 12:54 AM #7
I BELIEVE, but someone else would have to verify... that Locomobile made about 3x as many engines as they did cars.
Reason why I say this... is because I have seen the engines in old mills and manufacturing plants... mounted to walls and on machines, for operating hoists, conveyors, feed augers, and all sorts of other stuff... I saw one operating a hoisting drum in a restored steamshovel... Many of the industrial shop applications were running the engines on main shop compressed air, rather than steam.
Considering their size and abilities, it would be pretty obvious for Locomobile to market those neat little machines in as many different applications as possible.
06-02-2012, 05:10 AM #8
Dave, that could well be true,but; I have not heard of Locomobile marketing the engine for industry. I would expect a belt drive and a governor on such an engine. Did those engines you saw have governors and belt drive?
One big plus for the survival of Locomobile vs. other builders, was that Locomobile cast a name on the engine. Many other old steam vehicle engines turn up with no-name.
I will grant there seem to be a disproportionate number of Locomobile engines out there and the above would be a logical reason. Maybe some else can find catalog (or internet) evidence.
Something else that maybe just my limited experience, but it seems on/average these Locomobile engines are in pretty good condition. Thats as opposed to dug up rusted hulks.
06-02-2012, 06:44 AM #9
George Woodbury in his classic "The Story of a Stanley Steamer" (must read for anyone interested in steam) describes going (in the 1950s) to a local quarry near his house at Goffstown, NH and seeing several Stanley type engines being used on the hoists/derricks. He bought one of these from the quarry owner just to bring home and dissect for examination.
On hearing this previously on this board, someone PM'ed me and indicated they knew where this quarry was - although the engines described were long gone.
Wouldn't'cha love to have George's parts and pieces today.
06-02-2012, 09:02 AM #10
I appears that some day the question will be: "Why are there so many Cummins 6-cylinder diesels around, but not many Dodge pickups that used them?" The engines are simply longer lived than the vehicles they powered. No knock on the vehicles, just well-designed powerplants. Regards, Clark
06-02-2012, 10:58 AM #11
I've never seen any period advertising offering just the engines and I have looked a quite a bit of it. The Loco steam car was very successful. I think it was the 2nd largest selling car around 1901-1902, only beaten out by the curved dash Oldsmobile. But, the cars of those first five or six years... 1899-1905 became hopelessly obsolete very very quickly. I doubt anyone was using a Loco steamer after about 1908 unless they were short of money and a mechanic by trade or inclination. So, the cars were obsolete while the engines were, at most, only 5 or 6 years old. They were extremely well made, Loco was always a top end manufacturer, and readily available 2nd hand in a market where a huge number of mechanics understood steam - many more than understood internal combustion. It wouldn't surprise me if almost 100% of the engines were saved when the cars were scrapped and it would probably be another 20 or 30 years before the cohort of "steam" oriented mechanics were getting too old to make use of them.
RE the reference to George Woodbury above... I think he described at least half a dozen Stanley engines powering lifting equipment in the quarry... all running on compressed air. The one he got was broken and turned out to be an extremely early non-condenser, 1900 if I remember correctly. Of course, Woodbury was restoring a Stanley in the early 50s with the help of Fred Marriott who had been the service manager for the Stanley Brothers and, at one time, held the land speed record in a Stanley. The Loco engine was the original Stanley engine... the Stanley bothers designed and built it and made a few cars. They then sold the whole package to A.L. Riker (who I believe was the publisher of Cosmopolitan Magazine). Riker went into the steam car business and when the Stanley's decided to go back in, they had to re design their car to circumvent all of the patents they'd sold. Locomobile quit the steam car business around 03 or 04 (I forget the exact date) and the Stanley's bought all their steam patents back for about 10% of the price they'd been paid 4 or 5 years earlier. Locomobile went on to build a really superb gas car - arguably the best American car of the pre-WWI era. In 1906 they built "Old 16", the racing car that won the Vanderbilt Cup in 1908. Many years ago I met Larry Riker, the son of A.L. Riker. He told me that his father sold "Old 16" right about the time he was old enough to drive... go figure!
06-03-2012, 01:58 PM #12
The Locomobile type steam engine was ideal for a variety of industrial applications. It was a simple twin, so would not stick on dead center, and were a self-contained unit with reverse gear. This made them ideally suited for many applications such as driving conveyors, stokers, hoists, and feeding sawmill carriages. By way of comparison, take a look at the Soule' Steam Feed Works "Speed D Twin" engine. It is a bit heavier than the Locomobile, but was specifically made for feeding sawmill carriages.
My guess is the Locomobile engines were too good to throw in the scrap heap and were something most mechanics and mill owners understood and could see another use for. "Standard Stoker" made a fully enclosed simple twin steam engine. It was intially developed to drive auger feed stokers on steam locomotives. The Standard Stoker engines wound up being ordered and installed on Skinner Marine Steam engines as "jacking engines". They turned up in other applications once the railroads got rid of the steam locomotives. In one wierd twist of fate, I saw a "Standard Stoker Engine" being used as a winch in a locomotive shop. It was mounted to a column, and run on compressed air. As a winch, it was used to pull dead locomotives into the shop. Maybe it might have been used for pulling steam locomotives for valve setting, but when I saw it, it was pulling in dead diesel locomotives. A small simple twin steam engine with reverse motion is something that is readily applied to many applications. The Locomobile engines were light in weight, so could be easily mounted in some new application. A "Standard Stoker" engine or a "Speed D Twin" engine is probably nearer a half a ton in weight, while a Locomobile engine looks like something a man could pick up and carry, sized for a light "buggy" type vehicle.
As a parallel to the comment about the CUmmins diesels vs surviving Dodge trucks; the Model T engine was one engine that saw a lot of re-use powering a lot of things other than vehicles. I have no idea of the statistics as how many Model T's were made vs how many engines outlived the cars as power units. In years past, people took old truck engines and used them as "power units" more frequently than nowadays. A local sawmill near me had been powered for years with the engine from wrecked Mercedes truck. The "power unit" consisted of the engine, bell housing and transmission, still on the frame rails with the radiator. The truck's driveshaft was modified and coupled to the drive shaft of the sawmill. It was quite common a few years back to see the radiator shell of some old truck and the engine and transmission powering something else. I've seen an old Mack radiator shell and diesel engine grafted into a Northwestern crane, and a number of other old truck engines grafted into sawmills. With the move to hydraulic excavators and band saw mills with hydraulic feed, it seems like very few people are grafting truck engines into heavy equipment or sawmills.
The Locomobile engines were well built, a versatile design, and light enough to be lugged off and re-mounted somewhere else without too much effort. Re-applying a diesel truck engine is a lot more work, and today's equipment does not lend itself to this sort of adaptation. My guess is today's diesel truck engine will wind up as scrap, replaced by more fuel efficient engines or more emissions-compliant engines, or else remanufactured for re-installation in trucks.
06-03-2012, 08:53 PM #13
I have always assumed that this is an engine for a steam car.
Can someone tell me who made it, and how old it might be?
Are the two spindles between the cylinder heads, that are connected with the small chain, part of a Meyer's riding cut-off?
Bruce E. Babcock
06-04-2012, 06:45 AM #14
Possibly a riding cutoff, although it would have been more usual to have a riding cutoff with it's own set of eccentrics.
These may be a way to get a reverse. Valve may be a piston valve and turning the spools may bring in another set of steam admission ports entirely. Check for two eccentrics per cylinder if this is a true stephensen link reverse (I only see one.) If only one eccentric/strap per cylinder, the link/slot may be simply for controlling "throw" of the valve. A throttle of sorts.
There were a lot of ingenious setups - some so ingenious that their use/application is not immediately obvious!
06-04-2012, 09:28 PM #15
I have rebuilt about 8 Stanley engines, and done repairs on about that many more.
Stephenson valve gear, and the lack of any built in flywheel make Stanley engines VERY poor performers on air. Even in "full gear" the admission is cut off far too soon for air. Steam will expand once the valve closes--on air the cylinder pressure drops as soon as the valve closes, and the piston moves. Plus the lack of a flywheel (in the car the wheels perform this function) gives very jerky running, even at speed.
Steam cars tended to get used only a couple years--the owners would get tired of waiting to build up steam pressure to go somewhere, or run the boiler dry - an expensive replacement even back then, or find that the draining of the boiler, and all the piping before freezing weather to store the car over the winter just not worth the hassle--and would go buy a gas car.
I can't think of another piece of machinery where the ratio of time spent maintaining VS the time spent using is so lopsided.
06-04-2012, 11:06 PM #16
That is an interesting observation. I've only worked on one Stanley, a very early (1900?) non-condenser and I have to say it was a lot of work to get it going... and a lot of work to keep it going compared to an equally early gas car. But, I attributed most of that to may lack of "steam" knowledge and presumed that around the beginning of the 20th century, answers I had to find were common knowledge. Still... time is time. I'm not surprised that the average Doctor or Lawyer or hardware store owner - people who were likely able to afford a new steam car, were just as likely to be unfamiliar with how it worked and not all that enamored of the extra effort they had to put in compared to their neighbor with the single cylinder Cadillac or two cylinder REO.
I will say, that with a full head of steam, the Stanley was startling quick. It really shocked us the first and only time we drove it.
Last edited by 99Panhard; 06-05-2012 at 04:10 PM.