Saturday, August 13, 2016

1920 Vilter 250 HP Tandem Compound Steam Engine

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Most of the Founder's Building at the 2016 Sycamore Steam Show is used to replace the "Ladies Tent" with a building, but one end of the building is a permanent home for their 40-ton steam engine and ammonia compressor that was built for the refrigeration plant of the United States Glue Company, Corrollville, WI. (So now I have the question: why does glue manufacturing require a lot of cooling?)

In this view we see the high pressure piston on the right, the 8-ton flywheel in the back center, the two balls of the governor to the right of the flywheel, and the ammonia compressor on the left behind a small engine that is on display.
The plaque on the top of the high-pressure piston cover has the text shown on the right. Looking at the specs for the engine, 12HP24LP36STROKE means the high-pressure piston has a diameter of one foot, the low-pressure piston has a diameter of two feet, and both pistons have a stroke of three feet. The engine was running at an idle speed, but you could still hear the Corliss intake valves snap shut. The long rods that go down to the "red cylinders" are shock absorbers to gently stop the valves at the end of their closing. Closing an intake valve earlier is how you slow the crankshaft down. Allowing it to stay open longer provides more power to maintain the speed when the load is increased.

When it was in service, it operated at 80 rpm.

The good news is that it is in a building so it will be easily preserved. The bad news is that it is in a building so it is hard to take photos of it. Fortunately, they had two doors and both were open and modern digital DSLRs get good results with relatively high ISO settings. This view shows the high-pressure piston connected to the low-pressure piston and then the crank guide. You can see the top of the piston rod peaking out behind the foreground cylinder connector.

The "silver" container on top of the steam intake pipe for the high-pressure piston removes any water that might be left in the steam. Inside the container, near the top, is an umbrella shaped plate. The outlet pipe sticks up under the "umbrella." Any water in the steam will condense on the plate and drip off the edge of the umbrella and only dry steam will go back up under the umbrella to enter the outlet pipe.

This is the view of the other end that shows the crank for the power pistons.
On the left is the crank guide for the compressor and on the right is the double-acting compressor piston. I'm surprised this picture came out as well as it did given that the open door in the background makes this view badly backlit.

Obviously, this is the primary operator's position since it has all of the gauges. Unfortunately, the text on each gauge is the manufacture's name rather than what it is measuring. But it is still interesting to zoom in because you can read the scale of the gauges. Note that some of scales start below zero (are negative).
  • 0 to 200
  • -20 (I estimate, bad glare) to 80
  • -30 to 140
  • 0 to 30
  • -30 to 300


A video of another big (1000 HP) Corliss steam engine that is preserved Silver Creek Museum, Freeport, IL.

1 comment:

  1. So why does a glue manufacturer require a lot of cooling?
    What is the Walgreen connection?

    A great engine. I enjoy seeing it at the Thresheree every year.