CA 1880 MODEL OF CA 1849-1853 VERY EARLY CORLISS WALKING BEAM STEAM ENGINE WITH UNUSUAL VALVE GEAR

CA 1880 MODEL OF CA 1849-1853 VERY EARLY CORLISS WALKING BEAM STEAM ENGINE WITH UNUSUAL VALVE GEAR

Stock Number: FG13

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Iron and brass construction, sitting on an ornate cast iron base. This model, apparently made in the 19th century, depicts a very early beam engine produced by the Corliss Steam Engine Co. in Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1849-1853, in the early years of the company when George H. Corliss was introducing his most innovative steam inventions. Its features resemble closely in many respects the Corliss engine "Enterprise" exhibited at the 1853-1854 Crystal Palace International Exhibition in New York City, and the Corliss engine built to power the Corliss factory in Providence, circa 1849.

Dimensions

15 1/2

Circa

1880

Country of manufacture

North America

Categories: Technology, Engineering antiques

Description

A FINE RARE MODEL OF A VERY EARLY CORLISS STEAM BEAM ENGINE WITH UNUSUAL VALVE GEAR

Techantiques has been commissioned to offer this fine steam engine as a consignment from a prominent collection. We have not cleaned the engine in any way . It has been lightly oiled at friction surfaces.

Additional photos will be added.

Description/Provenance

Iron and brass construction, sitting on an ornate cast iron base. This model, apparently made in the 19th century, depicts a very early beam engine produced by the Corliss Steam Engine Co. in Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1849-1853, in the early years of the company when George H. Corliss was introducing his most innovative steam inventions. Its features resemble closely in many respects the Corliss engine “Enterprise” exhibited at the 1853-1854 Crystal Palace International Exhibition in New York City, and the Corliss engine built to power the Corliss factory in Providence, circa 1849. The latter engine was used to help machine the turret for the ironclad ship USS Monitor in the Civil War. Corliss features of the model include the classic Corliss beam engine frame with beam supported on vertical standards with flared bases and and lozenge shaped holes at the top, the standards held in place by tension brass rods connected to the engine bed, the crosshead supports with flared sides, the rectangular cylinder, and the shapes of the beam, bearing blocks and water pumps. The features and advantages of this type of beam engine frame are discussed at length in George H. Corliss’s first steam engine patent No 6162 of March 10, 1849. The valve gear of the model, however, is an unusual design not previously identified, based on a shaped cam that accentuates the valves remotely, and not known to be associated with George H. Corliss or the Corliss company. While early Corliss engine used slide valves rather than rotary valves – the design on this model does not resemble any of the known Corliss slide valve configurations. 

The model was probably created by a member of the Collamore family of Warren, Rhode Island, a coastal town about 10 miles from Providence, reportedly by James S. Collamore (1864-1939) a partner in the Warren machine shop of Potter and Collamore that advertised it produced custom models. His cousin William L. Collamore (1839-1918) was heavily involved in steam engineering – he manufactured steam engines and was chief engineer at the Warren Manufacturing Company, a textile mill powered by an early Corliss steam engine that was one of the largest manufacturing complexes in Rhode Island. 

Corliss steam engines were one of the most important technological innovations of the mid-nineteenth century, and an early instance where American technology was well in advance of Europe. Many of Corliss’s inventions were first applied in Corliss beam engines, and Corliss chose to showcase his firm by exhibiting the beam engine “Enterprise” at the 1853-54 Crystal Palace International Exhibition in New York City. Almost a quarter of a century later, when his firm was well-established and his name world-famous, Corliss would again choose to exhibit a beam engine, the famous Corliss double beam engine used in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.

To our knowledge, no Corliss Engine Company beam engines are left in existence. As a 19th century model of an early Corliss beam engine, probably created by people in Rhode Island, Corliss’s home state, who were in close physical proximity to many of these engines and so probably saw them first-hand, this model is an extremely rare, if not unique, three dimensional depiction of one of the most important technological innovations of the 19th century. A model of a later design Corliss beam water pumping engine, circa 1880, is in the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian Institute. 

Fine details include: a single cylinder of approximately 1″ bore x 3 1/2 stroke, the cylinder vertically mounted with detailed cylinder head, adjustable brass packing gland, removable front cover with cylinder-mounted ornate crosshead guides, brass crosshead with double tapered keyed and strapped connecting rod to an ornate pierced 9″ long beam supported on an ornate cast frame with center ornate decorative star cut-outs, four base-mounted frame support rods. 

Other fine details include: twin beam drop rods to base-mounted pumps each rod section with double turned polished steel rods, each rod double tapered with brass pump rod connector and provision for oiling, double tapered connecting rod with wedged keyed and strapped ends, 2 1/2″ tapered crank arm with 1/2″ diameter crankshaft incorporating a 7 3/8″ diameter six-spoke ornate flywheel with a 1″ polished face and 1/2″ polished rim, twin pedestal-mounted maine bearings, ecah with removable cap, each pedestal with base molding, brass crankshaft-driven eccentric strap with rod to base-mounted pivot lever and double tapered lift-off rod to reciprocating unique V-design valve plate supported between twin brass tapered and turned columns with integral valve plate crosshead and top-mounted 3″ plinth.

Final details include: under-mounted rods to 2″ pivoting beam, valve mechanism with linkage through base-mounted twin brass pillars to reciprocating valve plate, exhaust piping from cylinder assembly to underside of base. All in unpolished free-turning “as found” condition. Constructed of iron and brass, believed to have been made circa-1880 in the very design of the early beam engines produced by the Corliss Steam Engine Co., circa 1849-53.

Dimensions: overall height – 15 1/2″; overall length of engine – 13 1/2″; overall width of engine over shaft – 8″; height of cylinder assembly – 4 1/2″; width – 2 7/8″; overall height from base to top of main bearing – 8 1/2″ to top of walking beam – 11 1/2″; overall height to top of flywheel – 8″; flywheel diameter – approximately 7 3/4″; all mounted on an original heavy cast iron 16 1/2″ x 10″ x 3″ base with original dark red paint and bedplate of steel with handsome aged patina. Weight approximately 50lbs. This no doubt is a rare opportunity to acquire one of the most historic America-built Corliss engine models. Included with sale: numerous research and documentation.

For a detailed description and history of early Corliss beam engines, see Corliss, Man and Engine: The Life and Work of George H. Corliss by William D. Sawyer, Volume 1, 1994, published by the International Steam Engine Society.  

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