Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

steam drive?

can anyone indentify this unit?


  • philly_steam_boy
    philly_steam_boy Member Posts: 3
    another view

    another view
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,718
    Maybe a small vacuum pump?

    What does the name tag say? Where did it come from?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    I do not really know.

    Since the pressure vessel at the bottom has a gauge glass on it, I inferred it was a boiler.

    Now there is a gizmo on the top that is either a motor or a generator. If a generator, most of it could be a (probably one cylinder) steam engine that runs the generator. If it is a steam engine, the cylinder must be inside the boiler. This was done in the early 1800s to keep it from condensing, but never very popular. The rectangular box on top with a lever arm on it looks a lot like the lubricator for the slides where the valve gear and the thing called a crosshead on a steam locomotive would be.

    But as I said, I do not really know. I hope the O.P. knows the answer and is just teasing us.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    Just a guess...

    but is it remotely possible that this thing is a piston type water pump, with a built-in (built around?!) hydro tank to dampen surges?  The gauge glass, then, would tell you how much air was in the tank...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Water Pump?

    I think I'm inclined to agree with Jamie in that it's some type of water pump.

    I looked over the pictures and have attached a notated picture which might help someone further identify what exactly it is.

    "A" -  Is the electric motor which is geared to wheel "D" which a fairly large mechanical advantage.

    "B" -  Seems to be a controller switch box

    "C" -  Is a heavily counter balanced lever which probably turns on /off the electric motor.

    The heavy counterbalance weight on the end of the lever (see other pictures) would probably mean that it was attached to a heavy mechanical train  (or strong switches!)

    "D" - Geared wheel - drives sprocket chain  and reciprocating arm "E".  The reciprocating is rather lightweight so is more likely a control lever. The sprocket chain is more likely the driving mechanism.

    "E" - Reciprocating arm 

    "F" - Analog gauge - Has a large red area which I would assume is a warning area for excess pressure.

    "G" - Note the "spout" which carries off (water?) leakage. This feature tends me to think that it is some type of water (feed?) pump

    The piping coming out of the unit seems awfully small for a water pump so that mean the water exit was below the base flange. I have no idea of how the water sight glass was utilized or the use of the smaller piping and what looks like a regulator(s).

    The base has a fair amount of attachment holes so this would seem to indicate that it was water/gas tight attachment. 

    Any Ideas?

    - Rod
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 21,835
    where did you find it?

    Could it be from a locomotive? it has a lot of "mechanism" that looks more like engine than heating.

    What are you going to do with it? Dis-assembling, and re-assembling it may tell more about the application.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Brian_74
    Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Just out of curiosity…

    How can you tell that it's not a generator? I almost certainly don't know what I'm talking about (and am looking to learn), but what if D in Rod's diagram gets turned by the steam, which spins A at a high speed, producing electricity, which might be rectified/filtered by B?

    I thought I remembered in TLAOSH that larger buildings used to generate their own electricity. I imagine that the demand was low, so maybe a small generator could handle it.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • Could Be?

    It could be a generator as all a generator (DC) really is, is a electric motor run backward. If it was motor run by steam, it would need some type of speed governor though of course that might be just a missing part.  The heavy flange makes one suspect it might be off, as HotRod suspects,.something  like a locomotive.

    Philly_steam_boy, does the ID plate on the motor controller box have any information? Also what info is available from the analog gauge? Interesting contraption!
  • Rich Davis_2
    Rich Davis_2 Member Posts: 117
    I'm sure it's a pump of somesort

    Look at the crankshaft, short stroke, so it will produce high pressure and low volume, I wouldn',t be surprised if the water was used to control something as a hydrolic medium.  But, what puzzles me is whats inside that is turned by the chain and sprocket on the flywheel side.
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,738
    I vote for vacuum pump

    If it was some sort of generator I would have thought the drive pulley would be much larger on the steam side of the unit?? but what do I know!!!
  • philly_steam_boy
    philly_steam_boy Member Posts: 3
    Steam Drive More Info

    This unit was removed from the basement of a row home in South Philadelphia (Grays Ferry Section).

    It was attached to a flange with a piece of pipe buried in the floor. About ten inches below the concrete floor there was a solid dome-shaped piece of steel plate attached to the id of the pipe. Inside the vessel, attached to the drive shaft, is a vertical paddle wheel of some sort.  This vessel was bolted to the flange at the floor. The electrical looking box seems to be float switch.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Over engineered sump pump?

    If the thing is a float switch, could it be an over-designed sump pump?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 21,835
    an early perpetual motion machine

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
This discussion has been closed.