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    Default Engines with Altitude

    im1869env27-p217.jpg im1869env27-p222a.jpg

    Flicking through an 1869 copy of The Engineer magazine (via Grace's Guide), this odd-looking steam engine caught my attention. Several hundred rivets featured in its construction, being several hundred more than are normally found in a steam engine. Each of the two 15" bore cylinders was made in three sections, plus the steam chests.

    The engine was made by Kitson and Co of Leeds. It developed 40 HP nominal, 80 HP max, and was supplied with steam by two boilers by Galloways of Manchester.

    The engine's strange construction is explained by its destination - the Cerro de Pasco silver mine in Peru, at an elevation of 14,000 ft. The weight of individual parts was limited to 275lb, as they had to be carried on mules' backs. The preferred maximum weight of individual components was actually 150 lbs, as two of these packs could be carried as panniers. The mine was 150 miles from Lima, and the caravan of components had to cross the Andes at 18,000 ft, with narrow precipitous paths in the mountains. Not so much oxygen up there. Cruel to mules, 'challenging' to people, scary to all with two legs or four.

    The boilers were sent as kits of accurately punched or drilled iron plates and rivets, presumably accompanied by a riveter from Manchester (elevation 170 ft). He couldn't look forward to a decent cup of tea, as water boils at just 186 degF at 14,000 ft.

    Intrigued, I found that this venture just represented one episode in a long story of determination and endurance, fuelled by greed on the part of capitalists who saw the Cerro de Pasco silver mines as El Dorado.

    The first person to contemplate using steam power there was Fransisco Uville, who went to England in 1811 to see about buying engines from Boulton & Watt. They told him that they couldn't help, as the atmospheric pressure there was too low for the practical application of their low pressure engines. By chance, Uville then learned of the work of Richard Trevithick, who was the leading exponent of the new high pressure steam engines. Long story short, Trevithick went out there in 1816, and left penniless and bedraggled 11 years later. The known parts of his adventures have been well told by historians.

    At some point Trevithick's engines were supplemented by a beam engine made by Blyth of London.

    Shortly after the 152 packages of Kitson's engine were sent out, another Leeds firm had a strange commission. Manning, Wardle and Co made two 3 ft. 6 in. gauge locomotives for a railway at Cerro de Pasco. The maximum weight allowed for any one piece or package was 300 lb., and no object was to exceed 7 ft. in length. The cylinders and steam chests, usually cast in one, were made in five pieces. Manning, Wardle, and Co also constructed a fixed workshop engine and boiler, together with a wheel lathe, drilling machine, lathes, blowing fan, and smiths' hearths and tools. In this case the maximum weight allowed was only 150 lb. for each package. The headstock of the wheel lathe was made in no less than fourteen pieces, 'and yet these are so contrived that an ordinary observer would not notice anything special about it. A staff of boiler makers and fitters in charge of a leading erector have been engaged to go out to Peru to erect the engines on their arrival. So far as we know these are the first locomotive engines which have been sent out from this country in such small pieces.'

    In 1871 Harvey & Co of Cornwall supplied the Cerro de Pasco mines with 'four steam pumping-engines, six boilers, four iron main beams, four balance ditto, and also a sufficient quantity of 24-in. pitwork for both shafts. No single piece of all this cumbrous machinery must weigh more than 300 lbs., in consequence of its having to be transported on the backs of mules from the coast to this mountainous region. Although the main distance be no more than 160 miles, those beasts with their burdens have to climb an altitude of 15,000 feet before they reach their destination. Moreover, the passes in ascending the Andes and Cordillera can only be correctly imagined by experienced travellers. Some of the defiles are not much wider than a sheep-path, and with a thousand feet below you a roaring cataract, and thousands of feet above you snow-capped over-hanging mountains, looking so dreadful that the awe-struck stranger in the pass fears that the next peal of thunder will cause them to topple. The conditions were onerous. No part of the engines was to exceed 300 lbs. weight, to be more than 2 ft. 6 in. broad, or 5 feet long. The engines had to carried to their destination on mule back through mountain passes, where the path frequently consists of mere shelf in the mountain side, little more than a yard wide. Messrs. Harvey undertook the work, and from Mr. Husband's designs four engines were made, condensing, with 37-inch cylinders and 7 feet stroke. Each of the cylinders is in 22 pieces, made up of 11 rings, each divided into two. Each piston-rod is in two pieces, and each cylinder cover in four. Every joint is metal to metal, and so truly is everything finished that they have never had a single leak. A man in the employ of the firm, named Hodge, was sent out with these engines.'

    Source of most of the above information:-

    Cerro De Pasco Mines, Peru - Graces Guide

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    Quote Originally Posted by Asquith View Post
    im1869env27-p217.jpg im1869env27-p222a.jpg

    Flicking through an 1869 copy of The Engineer magazine (via Grace's Guide), this odd-looking steam engine caught my attention. Several hundred rivets featured in its construction, being several hundred more than are normally found in a steam engine. Each of the two 15" bore cylinders was made in three sections, plus the steam chests.

    The engine was made by Kitson and Co of Leeds. It developed 40 HP nominal, 80 HP max, and was supplied with steam by two boilers by Galloways of Manchester.

    The engine's strange construction is explained by its destination - the Cerro de Pasco silver mine in Peru, at an elevation of 14,000 ft. The weight of individual parts was limited to 275lb, as they had to be carried on mules' backs. The preferred maximum weight of individual components was actually 150 lbs, as two of these packs could be carried as panniers. The mine was 150 miles from Lima, and the caravan of components had to cross the Andes at 18,000 ft, with narrow precipitous paths in the mountains. Not so much oxygen up there. Cruel to mules, 'challenging' to people, scary to all with two legs or four.

    The boilers were sent as kits of accurately punched or drilled iron plates and rivets, presumably accompanied by a riveter from Manchester (elevation 170 ft). He couldn't look forward to a decent cup of tea, as water boils at just 186 degF at 14,000 ft.

    Intrigued, I found that this venture just represented one episode in a long story of determination and endurance, fuelled by greed on the part of capitalists who saw the Cerro de Pasco silver mines as El Dorado.

    The first person to contemplate using steam power there was Fransisco Uville, who went to England in 1811 to see about buying engines from Boulton & Watt. They told him that they couldn't help, as the atmospheric pressure there was too low for the practical application of their low pressure engines. By chance, Uville then learned of the work of Richard Trevithick, who was the leading exponent of the new high pressure steam engines. Long story short, Trevithick went out there in 1816, and left penniless and bedraggled 11 years later. The known parts of his adventures have been well told by historians.

    At some point Trevithick's engines were supplemented by a beam engine made by Blyth of London.

    Shortly after the 152 packages of Kitson's engine were sent out, another Leeds firm had a strange commission. Manning, Wardle and Co made two 3 ft. 6 in. gauge locomotives for a railway at Cerro de Pasco. The maximum weight allowed for any one piece or package was 300 lb., and no object was to exceed 7 ft. in length. The cylinders and steam chests, usually cast in one, were made in five pieces. Manning, Wardle, and Co also constructed a fixed workshop engine and boiler, together with a wheel lathe, drilling machine, lathes, blowing fan, and smiths' hearths and tools. In this case the maximum weight allowed was only 150 lb. for each package. The headstock of the wheel lathe was made in no less than fourteen pieces, 'and yet these are so contrived that an ordinary observer would not notice anything special about it. A staff of boiler makers and fitters in charge of a leading erector have been engaged to go out to Peru to erect the engines on their arrival. So far as we know these are the first locomotive engines which have been sent out from this country in such small pieces.'

    In 1871 Harvey & Co of Cornwall supplied the Cerro de Pasco mines with 'four steam pumping-engines, six boilers, four iron main beams, four balance ditto, and also a sufficient quantity of 24-in. pitwork for both shafts. No single piece of all this cumbrous machinery must weigh more than 300 lbs., in consequence of its having to be transported on the backs of mules from the coast to this mountainous region. Although the main distance be no more than 160 miles, those beasts with their burdens have to climb an altitude of 15,000 feet before they reach their destination. Moreover, the passes in ascending the Andes and Cordillera can only be correctly imagined by experienced travellers. Some of the defiles are not much wider than a sheep-path, and with a thousand feet below you a roaring cataract, and thousands of feet above you snow-capped over-hanging mountains, looking so dreadful that the awe-struck stranger in the pass fears that the next peal of thunder will cause them to topple. The conditions were onerous. No part of the engines was to exceed 300 lbs. weight, to be more than 2 ft. 6 in. broad, or 5 feet long. The engines had to carried to their destination on mule back through mountain passes, where the path frequently consists of mere shelf in the mountain side, little more than a yard wide. Messrs. Harvey undertook the work, and from Mr. Husband's designs four engines were made, condensing, with 37-inch cylinders and 7 feet stroke. Each of the cylinders is in 22 pieces, made up of 11 rings, each divided into two. Each piston-rod is in two pieces, and each cylinder cover in four. Every joint is metal to metal, and so truly is everything finished that they have never had a single leak. A man in the employ of the firm, named Hodge, was sent out with these engines.'

    Source of most of the above information:-

    Cerro De Pasco Mines, Peru - Graces Guide
    That's a fascinating read Asquith. Nothing daunted our forefathers.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Asquith ,
    Great story .
    Thanks for sharing .
    Jim

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    Awesome read, plenty of determination and yeah we can do that. :-)

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    well, that was an interesting rabbit hole to go down! thanks for posting. wound up on Wikipedia searching Trevithick, George and Robert Stevenson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Thomas Telford. the Menai suspension bridge is still one of the most beautiful structures ever built, and tho re-chained, is still standing. the Britannia tubular bridge lasted from 1850 to 1970, until a fire critically compromised it.

    933px-britannia_bridge_wrought_iron_section.jpg

    that is a piece of the original riveted wrought iron tube. quite a few rivets!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyanidekid View Post
    ... the Menai suspension bridge is still one of the most beautiful structures ever built
    Quote Originally Posted by menaibridges.co.uk
    Sixteen huge chains held up 579 feet of deck, allowing 100 feet of clear space beneath. This allowed tall sailing ships navigating the seaway to pass underneath
    How times change ! 100 feet clearance would wack Larry Ellison's daysailor right about the middle of the mast

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    This thread reminds me of another great engineer, Sir Harry Ricardo. Ricardo is best known for his work in the development of internal combustion engines, with many patents and published papers to his name. Early in Harry Ricardo's career, as a young mechanical engineer, he was working for a civil engineering firm established by his grandfather (if I remember correctly). It was the era when British engineering was being exported the world over. The civil engineering firm had designed some steel railway bridges to be erected in India, and was overseeing the actual construction work at the job sites. Steel for the bridges was fabricated in England and shipped to India. Field construction work included putting down caissons under air pressure to allow excavation of river beds for the footings for the bridge piers. It also included field reaming and riveting of the connections on the steel bridge structures. Bear in mind this was in the era before reliable and easily portable air compressors and portable hydraulic power units existed. Harry Ricardo's grandfather refused to allow Harry Ricardo to go to the jobsites in India. Instead, he asked Harry Ricardo to design portable steam engines, compressors and other equipment for the field construction work at the jobsites. One of the requirements was that the equipment be easily dismantled or reassembled, with the parts being able to be carried on mules, donkeys, or on porters' shoulders.

    Harry Ricardo designed a steam engine which used structural steel channels for the bedframe. He described the design as "going back to the designs of our fathers, an open frame steam engine." The tailrod of the engine's cylinder could be coupled to a high pressure air compressor (for running pneumatic tools); a low pressure/large displacement air compressor (for pressurizing the caissons), and possibly water pumps. The frame of the engine utilized "spade feet" to dig into the ground to keep the engine from moving around when running. The work would be best done if hydraulic riveters could be used, but at the time, there were no readily portable hydraulic power units. Harry Ricardo designed an "intensifier" which used compressed air to drive a smaller diameter piston to build up fluid pressure high enough to run the riveters. The overall designs for the portable engine with its various compressor and pump cylinders, as well as the "intensifier" were a huge success and quite a number were made and put into use. I have never seen any drawings or photos of those engines and their interchangeable compressor and pump cylinders.

    Seeing this thread with the riveted bedframe and even a riveted flywheel reminded me of Sir Harry Ricardo's early work of a similar nature. The engine cylinder, built in sections with spigotted fits is a clue as to how small the parts had to be to allow transport by mules. It was a golden era for British engineering, and British engineering was taken to the furthest corners of the globe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Michaels View Post
    This thread reminds me of another great engineer, Sir Harry Ricardo. Ricardo is best known for his work in the development of internal combustion engines, with many patents and published papers to his name. Early in Harry Ricardo's career, as a young mechanical engineer, he was working for a civil engineering firm established by his grandfather (if I remember correctly). It was the era when British engineering was being exported the world over. The civil engineering firm had designed some steel railway bridges to be erected in India, and was overseeing the actual construction work at the job sites. Steel for the bridges was fabricated in England and shipped to India. Field construction work included putting down caissons under air pressure to allow excavation of river beds for the footings for the bridge piers. It also included field reaming and riveting of the connections on the steel bridge structures. Bear in mind this was in the era before reliable and easily portable air compressors and portable hydraulic power units existed. Harry Ricardo's grandfather refused to allow Harry Ricardo to go to the jobsites in India. Instead, he asked Harry Ricardo to design portable steam engines, compressors and other equipment for the field construction work at the jobsites. One of the requirements was that the equipment be easily dismantled or reassembled, with the parts being able to be carried on mules, donkeys, or on porters' shoulders.

    Harry Ricardo designed a steam engine which used structural steel channels for the bedframe. He described the design as "going back to the designs of our fathers, an open frame steam engine." The tailrod of the engine's cylinder could be coupled to a high pressure air compressor (for running pneumatic tools); a low pressure/large displacement air compressor (for pressurizing the caissons), and possibly water pumps. The frame of the engine utilized "spade feet" to dig into the ground to keep the engine from moving around when running. The work would be best done if hydraulic riveters could be used, but at the time, there were no readily portable hydraulic power units. Harry Ricardo designed an "intensifier" which used compressed air to drive a smaller diameter piston to build up fluid pressure high enough to run the riveters. The overall designs for the portable engine with its various compressor and pump cylinders, as well as the "intensifier" were a huge success and quite a number were made and put into use. I have never seen any drawings or photos of those engines and their interchangeable compressor and pump cylinders.

    Seeing this thread with the riveted bedframe and even a riveted flywheel reminded me of Sir Harry Ricardo's early work of a similar nature. The engine cylinder, built in sections with spigotted fits is a clue as to how small the parts had to be to allow transport by mules. It was a golden era for British engineering, and British engineering was taken to the furthest corners of the globe.
    Ricardo's book, the high speed internal combustion engine printed in the early 30s is one of my all time favorites.

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    Ricardo is the man... first person to have any grasp of unsteady gas dynamics.

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    Thanks to Joe for his typically enlightening post. I haven’t read Ricardo’s autobiography, but I do have The High Speed Internal-Combustion Engine by Harry Ricardo, revised by H. S. Glyde. It's a text book example of a text book. Numerous drawings, graphs, very few formulae, and lots of personal insight into aspects of engine development. The story of the development of the engines for the first tanks in WW1 is particularly interesting. The Men from the Ministry laid down stringent requirements, like zero exhaust smoke under all circumstances, while Men from the Other Ministry withheld the designers' preferred materials. There's an interesting photo in the book showing an engine bolted to a lathe 'faceplate' for its tilting test (at +/- 35 degrees). I think the faceplate is actually from a vertical boring mill.

    On the subject of I.C. engines, and of high altitude, I came across a 1934 article about equipment made by GEC of Erith, England, for a gold mine in the Peruvian Andes at an elevation of 12,000 ft. 1400 tons were involved, of which 350 tons were too heavy for mules. It was proposed to fly those parts up there. 'Tests are already being carried out to make sure that the engines are capable of maintaining a height of at least 15,000 feet’. I hadn’t appreciated that, although planes had flown much higher, regular services were much lower, due to the unpleasantness of flying at 10,000 ft or more, even with oxygen. Hence the introduction of sick bags to passenger planes.

    Talking of which, I came across a photo of a Sentinel steam passenger railcar which operated from Huancayo in the Peruvian Andes at about 12,000 ft. The photographer pointed out by ‘the results of mountain sickness’ streaking the otherwise smart external paintwork below the open windows.

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    High flying: The first person to fly over the Andes was Chilean Lt. Dagoberto Godoy, in an open cockpit Bristol monoplane powered by a Le Rhone rotary engine, in December 1918. He reached 20,700 ft. Brave.

    High water: I’ve been reading about various steam vessels taken up in fragments to Lake Titicaca, 12,500 ft. The earliest were probably the Yavari and Yapura. Built in 1861 by the Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Co in London, with machinery by James Watt & Co of Birmingham. Dismantled and reassembled in Peru in 1862. The modified and restored Yavari survives today. History here:-

    History | Yavari

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    " The Route, though only 350 kms in length ". That sounds a bloody long way to me.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    I came across another long trek with pieces of boat. In 1882 John I. Thornycroft & Co of Chiswick made a steamboat for missionary work in the Congo. The vessel was to have a draft of no more than 12" and to be capable of 12 mph (to outpace cannibals’ canoes!). No part was supposed to exceeed 64 lbs, as they had to be carried a distance of 250 miles by local porters. The recipient was to be the missionary and explorer Rev. George Grenfell. He was recalled from the Congo to watch the construction, so as to be in a position to superintend its assembly in Africa. All the parts arrived at their destination, but not one of the four British men sent to assemble the boat made it: they all went down with fever and died. Distressed, Grenfell refused to allow anyone to be sent out to replace them, and he trained local labour who successfully carried out the work. (From '100 Years of Specialized Shipbuilding and Engineering' by K C Barnaby, 1964).

    Another firm which made numerous flat pack steam boats was Yarrow & Hedley, later Yarrow & Co. An early example, the Ilala, was built in 1875 for anti-slavery duties on Lake Nyasa. The weight of components was limited to 50 lbs. 800 porters were hired. '…at the end of the 60 miles we had everything delivered to us unmolested, untampered with, and unhurt, and every man merry and content with his well-earned wages of unbleached calico.'

    Less happy were the men who had to carry parts of a Yarrow ship over the Andes. The engineer in charge wrote: 'Since the revolution there is neither money, mules, nor labourers. An arrangement was made to hire 35 prisoners, most of whom were murderers. Having arrived at the foot of the mountains, it was impossible to ascend except by carrying the [propeller] shaft on the men’s shoulders. I thus got to the highest point on the road, which is said to be the highest pass in the world. The spectacle was indeed horrible. Most of the poor fellows had their shoulders swollen black and blue, and in some instances the skin was cut and the wounds open to the bone. I enclose you a photograph of the scene representing the paddle-shaft being carried by the convicts. In the rear are ten soldiers with loaded guns; …. The next person on horseback is the jailer, with a whip in his hand, of which he makes use when the prisoners do not walk to his liking. Lastly you see myself on horseback.’

    The Yarrow information is from 'Yarrow and Company Limited 1865-1965' by Alastair Borthwick.
    Last edited by Asquith; 03-17-2020 at 03:49 PM.


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