The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), July 18, 1890

Full Text

Leatham & Smith, of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., have an engine in one of their barges - the Thomas H. Smith - that is attracting a great deal of attention among engineers on the lakes. It is a steeple compound, but differs from other engines of this type in the position of the cylinders. Instead of having the high pressure cylinder on top as usual, it has the low pressure cylinder on top. This gives more space in the engine room and makes the valve arrangement better, and it is claimed that it does away with all of the disadvantages formerly attached to a steeple compound and retains all of the good points. By this means the engineer is able to get at both the pistons very easily for examination or repairs, as the high pressure cylinder can be drawn up through the low pressure cylinder, together with the two cylinder covers, without disturbing either cylinder.

The Manistee Iron Works, of Manistee, Mich., were the builders of this engine, and were the first to introduce this novel feature. When the work was completed the boat made her trial trip from Manistee to Sturgeon Bay, a distance of sixty-seven miles, on four cords of slabs, carrying eighty pounds of steam, and the engine worked perfectly from the start and has never caused a minute's trouble. The cylinders are 19 and 36 by 30 stroke, and with eighty pounds steam she will turn up ninety-six revolutions, cutting off at twelve inches, or 106 revolutions full stroke.

The boat made one trip from Sturgeon Bay to Chicago and return on fifty cords of edgings, costing $50, while with her former high pressure engine she burned for the same trip forty tons of coal, costing $120 or more.

The owners of the vessel will have the engine of another of their propellers compounded in the same manner.

Media Type:
Item Type:
The main feature of a steeple compound engine is that there are two cylinders stacked on top of one another, both connected to a common driveshaft. The upper cylinder is smaller and is the high pressure cylinder. The lower, larger cylinder is the low pressure cylinder. In operation, already used steam exhausted from the chamber of the high pressure cylinder is fed into the low pressure cylinder to drive its piston, thus giving two "pushes" from the same puff of steam. This made the engine so much more efficient that many older engines were later "compounded" by the addition of a second cylinder. The pistons are of two different size bores, but since they are both connected to the same shaft, the stroke for both is the same, as described in the article (19 and 36 inches by 30-inch stroke). For a picture of a large great lakes marine steeple compound engine click here. You can see the "steeple" look formed by the two brass-jacketed cylinders at the top.
Date of Original:
July 18, 1890
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), July 18, 1890