Steam Engine Info Needed - Peanut Roaster?
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    Default Steam Engine Info Needed - Peanut Roaster?

    Ran across this steam engine this morning. The seller in his mid 70's said it had always belonged to his father and that he played with it as a kid. He did not know where it cam from or when his dad got it. Have always been interested in steam engines and seem to remember seeing one of these size/type engines at the Ederville show in Carthage NC that was a part of an original peanut roaster.

    Overall it is about 23 inches long and the flywheel is about 8 1/2 inches in diameter. Needs cleaning up but don't want to hurt the finish if I can help it. (I do have a very talented friend that can recreate the pin striping, etc. if necessary) The valve that came with it has a wooden handle. Have not seen any marking on it as to who made it. It does not seem to show any ware and moves freely. It is missing one of the small oilers and several nuts from the valve cover. The pin striping and decorations are in generally very good condition but beginning to chip off in the back and on the bottom of the base. The wood it is mounted on looks original. Have done some looking online but don't see any pictures of steam engines like it.

    So, who made it, when, where, etc., and was it used on a peanut roaster or?? and any other details to round out the story!! My plans would be to run it on air and not a boiler just as show and tell. Also, is there any way to stabilize the decorations or is it better to get them redone?? Am attaching some pictures.

    Some time back, posted some pictures of a smaller steam engine and you all helped me out a lot on identifying it. Lester, are you there?? Thanks as always.. Ed

    20210803_145134-1-ld.jpg20210803_145206-ld.jpg20210803_145223-ld.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Hobbs View Post
    So, who made it, when, where, etc., and was it used on a peanut roaster or?? and any other details to round out the story!!
    No idea if this one is, but Cretor's was a big name in that line. It's a place to start, anyhow.

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    That is a VERY nice steam engine indeed. I've never seen a Popcorn engine which resembles this one. There were many manufacturer's of Peanut Roasters and Popcorn popper's back in the day building their own engines but this particular engine seems to be earlier. What is significant ( if my eyes are not deceiving me ) is the amount of Nickel plating hiding beneath those layers of dust and grime.

    I may be wrong but it appears the outboard bearing, the crosshead and a few other parts are Nickeled. If this is the case then it is more likely a commercially built engine.. one lined out and decorated in magnificent pin stripe and daintily painted flowers and such. The lagging looks either plated or perhaps German Silver. With the cast Crank arm and beefy connecting rod I'm leaning toward it being an engine built for small power requirements.

    Even the wooden handled control valve lends itself to that impression fitting that engine perfectly and protecting ones fingers. Early style Boxbed following the general design of thousands of larger engines made anywhere from roughly 1870 to the 1890's or so. Model steam engine casting sets were available in this time frame resembling this one. But this one... is different because it shows strength in design and wonderful workmanship. Models usually have some weakness you can spot... but not this one. This one was built by a master workman and is extraordinary in its execution.

    Beautiful thing ! Don't do much to it. Don't even polish the early oilers. I would use John Deere Multi purpose Lube ( Part # TY6350 ) to clean it up. It will remove the grime if you soak a rag and just "wash" the engine. It won't hurt the paint but will add luster while cleaning. Might need to take some fine Scotch Brite to the rusty crankshaft and flywheel rim/face. Whatever you do preserve the original paint and look of a fine survivor from another age.

    Clean the wooden base with a damp cloth with your favorite dishwashing soap. After it dries give it a couple coats of mineral oil. You can also give the engine a coat of mineral oil. Its a lovely old engine Made my day to see it. Let me know if you ever decide to get rid of it. Its a keeper for sure !

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    Like Lester says, gentle cleaning and a coat of light oil to protect the paint. Do not paint it, it is perfect the way it is. You will likely never know who made it, hundreds of small manufacturers made engines very similar to that one. It also could have been used for anything from running a small lathe to making soda water.

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    looks like it could use some steam! ;-)

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    Bit of a hike for you, but the premier place to go for steam engines is Rollag, MN over labor day weekend every year. They also host steam engine "college" training in the spring every year. Most every exhibit has the guy who restored it there. 1000's and 1000's of engines, buildings full of stationary units like yours.

    Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion - Rollag, MN

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    If the angle between the crank and excentric is 90Dgr it is not a expansion machine
    Non expansion machines were common for machines which saw little use as they used a lott of steam for their power output
    Nice machine

    Peter

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    Ed:

    You have a very fine example of a small 'working' steam engine. I bought a center crank engine of similar overall design in terms of 'box bd', crosshead, and other features a good 30 years ago. The seller was an older gentleman. He told me that the engine had originally been built to drive an exhibition of miniature industrial machinery at some World's Fair or similar exposition. The purpose of the display was to show off guards on industrial machinery. Over the years from the time the engine had been at that exposition, it had passed through a number of hands. Mis-matched fasteners and a missing flywheel and badly worn bearing and journals were what I found.

    Your engine could have been any of several things:

    -a salesman's sample
    -a working engine built for some use such as running sewing machines or other very light uses

    I kind of doubt it was a 'popcorn' engine. Popcorn engines were built a good bit lighter and were often more ornate. My guess is your engine was a 'working engine' and was built for driving something not needing not much power. A tailor/cleaning shop having a boiler for steam for pressing would have steam enough to run a small engine to drive a sewing machine or two. Just an imaginative guess on my part, from an old dinosaur of an engineer.

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    Ed, Nice score! I recall seeing the one at Ken's show in years past. Unfortunately he passed away a few years back and is not available to query about it.

    Do you know Jack Johnson? He is based in Silk hope and is heavily involved with steam. He runs the Corliss at the Silk Hope show at Memorial Day. You might want to see if he can steer you in any direction.

    Regards,

    Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Michaels View Post
    I kind of doubt it was a 'popcorn' engine. Popcorn engines were built a good bit lighter and were often more ornate.
    Likely you are right, but some cool photos here :

    C. Cretors & Co., est. 1885 - Made-in-Chicago Museum

    Is that a Hardinge DV-59 ancestor in the one photo ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    Likely you are right, but some cool photos here :

    C. Cretors & Co., est. 1885 - Made-in-Chicago Museum

    Is that a Hardinge DV-59 ancestor in the one photo ?
    No, that is not a Hardinge Brothers Cataract turret lathe at the C. Cretors factory.. And the Made in Chicago Museum website has no mention of Hardinge Brothers, who were in Chicago from 1890 to 1930. Bummer.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by L Vanice View Post
    No, that is not a Hardinge Brothers Cataract turret lathe at the C. Cretors factory..
    Figgerred that, was just trying to lure a few suckers over to an interesting page.

    And the Made in Chicago Museum website has no mention of Hardinge Brothers, who were in Chicago from 1890 to 1930. Bummer.
    That's an interesting thing ! I always thought they were one of them Olde Newe Englande tool builders. Cool, and thanks. Maybe can answer an obscure Jeopardy question some day

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    Cretors had one serious competitor in the field of building steam powered popcorn equipment. That firm's name was Dunbar. Their engine looked remarkably similar to the Cretors engine with the 'fixed' cylinder (non oscillating) engine. When I got the old center crank engine I posted about in this thread, there was the remains of a nickel plated flyball governor laying loose, and some odds-and-ends of mis matched piping. At the time that I got that steam engine, there were no personal computers and no internet to research stuff on. Once the internet came into being, at some point, I stumbled on the fact I had the governor off a Dunbar 'Popcorn" engine.

    The little steam engines were built with a high degree of finishing, many parts being polished and nickel plated. A spinning nickel plated governor added to the attraction. The flywheels had curved spokes to add to the ornamentation. At a time when steam engines of all shapes, sizes and applications were as common as dirt, it is interesting to think that people would find a small nickel-plated steam engine on a popcorn wagon as something to catch their eye. Different times. How many people in the general public, nowadays, would be drawn to look at a small working engine ? How much of the general public nowadays has any knowledge of things like engines and machinery ? Back in the day when the popcorn wagons had steam engines, I am sure men who worked in places with steam engines enjoyed seeing the little popcorn engines and maybe showed their girlfriends, wives, kids, grandchildren the little engines and told them about engines they might have worked around. People had more familiarity with machinery 'back in the day'. Think of the women who did the laundry by starting a Maytag gasoline engine, or the householders who relied on hand fired boilers burning coal to heat their homes, to name a few things people did back then and took for granted. Knowing how to split kindling for a kitchen range or heating boiler and knowing how to maintain a coal fire, or start a gasoline engine to wash clothes or pump water for the house- and knowing how to prime a pump- were all part of routine things people did to get through their daily lives. Seeing a popcorn engine when taking an outing to a park or other recreation was sure to produce a chuckle and get attention from a public which had a lot more familiarity with machinery and could appreciate a neat little engine.

    As for the Hardinge Brothers, they were an interesting family. One of the Hardinge brothers was an inventor and patented a home oil burner. This was in the 20's or thereabouts and was to be used to convert home heating boilers and furnaces from coal to oil fuel. This same Hardinge brother was a bit of a character, and 'made the papers' a few times for carryings-on in his personal life.

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    Thanks to everyone for all the information and thoughts on this steam engine!! My next steps are to do some very gentle and targeted cleaning. Then will take some more closeup pictures of some of the parts of the engine and post them here. Also some measurements as I would love to get some idea about how much power it puts out. And them connect up some compressed air and see how she runs.

    Another question just for my info and to fill in some of the blanks in the story is what size and type boiler perhaps would have been used to power it. Pictures or links to some examples would be nice to have.

    Thanks Ed

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    Ed:

    If the engine had a 'stand alone boiler' (i.e., not taking steam from piping in a building coming off a much larger boiler), the likely type of boiler would have been Vertical Fire Tube, or "VFT". The VFT is a simple, self-contained boiler. If you post the bore & stroke of your engine, I can do a rough calculation of steam consumption at 250 rpm (which would seem about right for that size of side=crank type engine). Having the steam consumption (based on an assumed working steam pressure of 100 psig saturated steam, and exhaust to atmosphere), I can then figure the required heating surface area for a firetube boiler. This is based on type of fuel (solid/hand fired, liquid or gaseous fuel fired with a burner). After that, it's pretty straightforward to give the basic dimensions of a VFT (or other type of firetube boiler).

    I'd go with the VFT as it does not need any sort of 'setting' nor is it anywhere near the complexity of a 'locomotive' or 'Scotch Marine' type of boiler. A properly designed VFT will provide steam for the engine and be able to handle changing steam demand (such as when you are running the engine, hopefully under load, vs having the throttle valve closed/engine stopped).

    As to power the engine would develop, again, this is a function of bore x stroke and a WAG (wild ass guess- a solid engineering term) as to rpm. As I wrote, above, a side crank engine was inherently a slower turning type of steam engine. Without any sort of counterweighting on the crank shaft, and the type of construction of the engine, I'd keep the speed down to 250 rpm or a bit less.

    I take another WAG as to the cutoff (the point at which the slide valve closes and no more steam is admitted to the cylinder), and run the basic calculation using the formula:

    HP = (P x L x A x N) /33000 where P = Mean Effective Pressure (MEP), which is a function where the cutoff occurs. You do NOT use the steam pressure in the boiler or
    "at the throttle" valve on the engine. Once the piston begins its stroke, steam is admitted for only a portion of the stroke.
    At the 'cutoff point', the slide valve closes the port and no more steam is admitted to the cylinder. The steam within the
    cylinder then EXPANDS on its own, moving the piston thru the rest of the stroke. This part of the stroke is known as
    EXPANSION. As Expansion occurs, the steam pressure drops off. The result is the pressure within the cylinder is not constant
    through the entire stroke. Hence we use MEP for calculating what is known as "Indicated Horsepower" or IHP
    L = length of stroke
    A = area of piston
    N = rpm

    33300 is a function of: (1) Horsepower = 550 ft-lbs per second, x 60 seconds per minute = 33000 ft-lbs/min
    The trick in using this formula is to be mindful about "units". Namely, since the formula uses a constant based on foot-lbs per minute, you convert the MEP to pounds per square foot, L is converted from inches to feet, A is converted from square inches to square feet.

    Once you have calculated the horsepower, you multiply it by 2, since your engine is double-acting. Indicated Horsepower, or IHP is a theoretical value, call it 'horsepower at the cylinder'. Horsepower at the crankshaft or flywheel is another matter, somewhat less than IHP due to frictional losses. Horsepower at the flywheel is sometimes referred to as Brake Horsepower or BHP, and was- in its simplest method- determined by using a band brake on the engine flywheel with a reaction arm bearing on a weighing scale. This was known as a "Prony Brake".

    Before Covid-19 arrived, I used to put on a course at Hanford Mills Museum in NY State called "Steam Power 101". I wrote a course text and put this course on every year over one weekend for quite a few years. The course was a combination of classroom and 'hands on' in the Hanford Mills steam plant (which has a horizontal return tube boiler fired on wood, and two stationary steam engines which can be belted up to run the mill). I do not know when we will put Steam Power 101 on again, but the kind of questions you are asking are the stuff which we covered in theory and in the hands-on portions. The course was prepared with the idea that persons who are interested in learning about steam engines, boilers, and steam power might not initially know a 'pound' from a 'pound per square inch' or how steam engines and boilers work. We always had a good time putting on that course, so hopefully, one day COvid-19 will ease to the point we can put it on again. The course text I prepares is about 100 pages long, and covers enough of the theoretical and practical sides to give a person some grounding in basic steam power as applied to fire tube boilers and steam engines. I've suggested to Hanford Mills that they offer the course text for sale, to benefit the Hanford Mills Museum. Not sure if that is going to happen, but the text might be a good thing for someone like yourself to study. We always had one or two people who had acquired a steam engine, and wanted to learn about boilers to run their engines, so we'd go thru the calculations to determine the approximate sizing of the boiler needed. Possibly, if you contact Hanford Mills Museum and ask about getting a copy of the Steam Power 101 course manual, they can help you out. That will answer a lot of your questions and get you more familiar with steam engines, firetube boilers, piping and other aspects of steam plants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    Is that a Hardinge DV-59 ancestor in the one photo ?
    That is a Pratt & Whitney hand screw machine.

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    Had a little time and decided to take some measurements.

    The bore is 1.75 and the stroke almost 3 inches.

    Did take a good look and some measurements of the studs in the head holding the ends on. First the hex nuts vary somewhat in size but are about 1/2 inch. The threads mic at .223 and 20 threads per inch. A 1/4 x 20 modern nut will go on but wiggles a lot. A 1/4 x 20 new machine screw will not go into the old nuts.

    Possibly all hand made or??

    Thanks Ed

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Hobbs View Post
    Had a little time and decided to take some measurements.

    The bore is 1.75 and the stroke almost 3 inches.

    Did take a good look and some measurements of the studs in the head holding the ends on. First the hex nuts vary somewhat in size but are about 1/2 inch. The threads mic at .223 and 20 threads per inch. A 1/4 x 20 modern nut will go on but wiggles a lot. A 1/4 x 20 new machine screw will not go into the old nuts.

    Possibly all hand made or??

    Thanks Ed
    Check into #14-20

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    Thanks for all the input!!

    Will be honest, had never heard of a #14 x 20 machine screw. Did look at an old 1948 Machinist Handbook and did find them listed! Said it was an ASME Standard where the OD was .242 and also found you can still get taps and dies that size so made a new stud and that fixed the missing head stud issue. An old 1/4 x 20 carriage bolt where the threads were bigger than the shaft became the blank for it.

    The broken off stud for the steam valve was between a #10 and #12 - however a #12 would not go through the holes. So decided to use a #10 and had to clean up the other 5 studs some for new, freshly "rusted" nuts as the original nuts were all missing.

    Also began to clean her up very slowly and carefully! Have been taking pictures as I would like to make a video explaining how all these parts and pieces work on this engine! Have a good idea but was always curious exactly what all the parts really looked like. As a part of this, am attaching some shots of the crankshaft ends and how they attach. Does that shed any light on when/where it might have been made??

    Am sure I will have more questions. Thanks Ed

    crankshaft-5-ld-.jpgcrankshaft-1-ld.jpgcrankshaft-2-ld.jpg

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    This is something of a WAG on my part as to age of the engine. Square-headed bolts used to hold the bearing caps and main bearing support point towards and engine built in the mid 1800's to maybe the 1870's. After that approximate time period, hex head bolts became pretty much standard for machinery construction. The kind of cast box-bed main frame and crosshead design also points to the mid 1800's-1870's.

    The connecting rod "big end" uses a 'strap and gib' or 'strap and cotter' type of construction to hold the big end 'brasses'. On steam engines, the plain bearings, whether they were babbitted or made of a bronze (or brass) bearing alloy were referred to as "brasses". Gib and strip or Gib and cotter construction to hold connecting rod brasses was commonplace in the mid 1800's and persisted into the 1920's on some steam engine designs.

    Playing with some numbers, based on 1.75" bore x 3" stroke, estimated rpm = 200, and estimated Mean Effective Pressure = 20 psig and using HP = (P x L x A x N)/33000

    I get an approximate horsepower of 0.145 HP at 200 rpm. This is about enough to run a sewing machine or similar. I doubt that a 'popcorn engine' would be built so heavily as the engine in this thread. An engine having 1.75" x 3" for bore x stroke was going to use a lot of steam for something like a small boiler on a popcorn cart or wagon to produce. The alternative was to run the engine slowly for something like churning popcorn, and get away with a smaller boiler. In the photos, the engine had a good bit of nickel plating on the connecting rod and strap and crank (or at least the remains of nickel plating). This engine was built to be displayed for some purpose or other. A 'Working' engine of this size and design would likely not have had the nickel plating, just nicely finished parts. The nickel plating combined with the design and size of the engine could point to it having been a salesman's sample, or a large model engine built for display purposes (apprentice machinists' or trade school students' project). Not quite powerful enough for much 'real work' other than running a sewing machine or possibly something like ceiling fans in a business or restaurant, or perhaps small food processing equipment. Put on a shelf or brackets and belted up to run a line of ceiling fans in a business or hotel or restaurant seems like the kind of application a highly finished small steam engine would be used for. Kind of heavy to be a popcorn engine.


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