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Stanley Steamer Engine on F/B Des Moines $3,500

Hudsy Wudsy

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There are a couple of types of engines, some are internal combustion and some are external combustion.  What they have in common is they convert some type of fuel into rotating or jet propulsion.  If it was a device that directly converted electricity to rotating power it would be a motor. 


The Stanley is an EC (External Combustion) engine, the combustion heats a boiler to produce high pressure steam that acts on a purely mechanical piston to produce power.  A typical IC (Internal Combustion) engine produces high pressure gas in a cylinder that acts on a purely mechanical piston by burning gasoline or diesel fuel inside that cylinder.  There are other engines such as a gas turbine or rocket engine that would be considered IC engines.  There is at least one notable other EC engine, Hero's Engine was a sphere suspended in a couple of pivots with 2 nozzles built into the sphere.  The sphere was partially filled with water and a fire was built outside it under the sphere.  When the water boiled it produced steam which exited the 2 nozzles causing the sphere to rotate.


The Stanley IS NOT an IC engine as there is no combustion inside the cylinder, the high pressure gas that acts on the piston is produced in a boiler outside the engine which makes it an EC engine.   

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The Stanley engine from what I can see in the pictures appears to be a 2 cylinder engine.  It is also likely double acting meaning steam forces the piston down in one slide valve position, then steam acts on the the bottom of the piston forcing it back up in the cylinder.  Note that one cylinder appears to be smaller than the other which indicates the engine is probably double expanding.  High pressure steam is fed to the small cylinder and the exhaust from the small cylinder feeds the larger cylinder to get the last measure of power out of the expanding steam.  In summary then it is a double expansion double acting engine.


When I was a kid my mother used to take me on the Bob-lo boat, Columbia or Ste Claire  cruises on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair and to Bob-Lo island amusement park.  As soon as I could escape her I was on the engine deck watching the massive 3 cylinder marine engine whirring over at about 400 rpm.  It was a triple expanding double acting engine and for all the machinery flying around was very quiet and smooth.



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I want to again emphasize the joy of attending a threshing meet for even the most urban of you fellas. In addition to all of the fun sights, the air is filled with the great smell of burning oak and coal (from the steam powered tractors and such). The sounds of hit and miss one cylinder motors is also a great delight. It's a particularly fun thing to do as the weather begins to chill a little. They almost always have parades featuring vintage tractors, equipment and cars.

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