Steam winch

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Charlyipad, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. Charlyipad
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    Charlyipad Senior Member

    This old steam hoist must have been hooked up to a railway once. It sits on a bluff in Brunswick Georgia over at Academy Creek. Can anyone identify the parts from the photos or describe how it worked? What are the levers and pedals for? There is a flywheel on each side. How did they regulate the pressure? Are those fill pipes going up to the top of the tank? That is a credit card on top of the piston housing, for reference
     

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  2. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    I had the pleasure of working on a steam engine when I was younger.

    That's an interesting specimen.

    I would not expect that steam engine could regulate the pressure and would have a pressure release valve. When they went off they would scare the mucky stuff out of you. Later oil fired seam engines could control the pressure by controlling the fire intensity.

    The engine works by a piston, shown in the top left pic. On the side of the piston is a slide valve that moves back and forth to open either port each end of the cylinder. The slide valve would be connected to a moving part attached to the piston rod. I can't see the attachment. You can see the steam pipe entering the top of the slide valve.

    It also appears that the slide valve can be operated manually with the handle coming out of the top of it.

    I can't see how the winch reverses but it has two drums and I suspect that it was used to pull a trolley ect. backwards and forwards so as one drum pulled the trolley the other drum wound out the rope. When it reversed the drums changed roles.

    It has some sort of pulleys on the end of the drum shafts.
    They are not flat belt pulleys or vee belts, to me it seems like something you would wrap a rope around, but I have no idea.

    Poida
     
  3. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    Further observation.

    There is probably a wide pinion (gear) between the large gears that are in mesh all the time. There is also handles connected to the ends of the drum shafts that pull the gears in and out via a square thread. This would most likely pull the gears off and on a dog clutch to disengage the drums.

    There is a lack of flywheel on this engine and a single piston steam engine would normally have a large one.

    Since it doesn't, it looks like it is pulling something of little resistance or may even have its own momentum like pulling a barge across a river.

    And of course I could be completely wrong.

    Happens a lot.

    Poida
     
  4. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

  5. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    Charly, where is this contraption, I have to go see it.
     
  6. Charlyipad
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    Charlyipad Senior Member

    Hey Sam, its down at Brunswick Landing Marina. Just a dock or two down from my boat. Stop and say hello!
     
  7. Charlyipad
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    Charlyipad Senior Member

    Maybe those were for auxiliary functions, if you could neutralize the cable spools?
    I am assuming it was used to haul out boats there. That area used to be all shrimpers.
     
  8. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    Hi Charlyipad

    Wish I could see it, but a bit far away.

    I don't see it for pulling boats out. As I said previously it does not have a flywheel and therefore doesn't have any momentum. My feeling is, if it tried to haul a boat out of the water, it would stall. Single cylinder diesels had a fly wheel.

    If you look at the gears, they have a method of disengaging by virtue of the square threaded shaft that will pull them on and off a dog clutch.

    The drum that is pulling is engaged while the drum that is feeding rope out is not, so it is free wheeling to allow the rope to feed out.

    My guess is that it has been used to pull a barge across a river.

    One end of the rope is attached to one of the drums, it goes across the river to a pulley and then comes back to the other drum.

    I couldn't work out how it reverses until I realised that, the engine will reverse anyway. One of the problems with a single piston engine is that it will start in reverse. probably the reason why there is a manual operation on the slide valve. It is to get the engine to rotate the crankshaft the opposite way.

    It may take a bit of investigation by you guys over there to find out what exactly it did to prove that I am talking crap.

    Am I allowed to say crap??

    Poida
     
  9. Charly
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    Charly Senior Member

    I thought that was a flywheel on each side. See 1st and last photos.??

    edit : photo doesn't make it clear but there is a piston on each side, with an arm hooked to a universal joint that then goes to what I thought was a flywheel.

    edit edit obviously I don't fully understand flywheels. What is that wheel called with the connecting rod that connects to it off center? in first photo?
     
  10. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I think it might be a shrimp boat winch or maybe some other kind of fisheries boat winch. Here's one that looks almost the same except for the steam engine and boiler...

    [​IMG]

    I would think any of the 4 drums could be worked separately or maybe all at the same time depending on which lever was pulled or pushed or which brake was on or off. I've heard of a lot of people getting mangled up in them, which looks to be inevitable, what with exposed gears and cables, slippery decks in rough seas. A lot of fishermen tend to drink also. The guy we bought our house from was a laid up shrimper that had fallen onto/into the winch, with one each of these creepy things, plus other cuts and injuries.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  11. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    Could you find any number stamped on it or company name stamped? It might take some steel wool to find.
     
  12. Charlyipad
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    Charlyipad Senior Member

    American Hoist and derrick st paul minn. there si a number there but I can't read it.

    Here are some closer pics
     

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  13. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I guess they're called a steam donkey or a donkey engine.
    If you go to wikipedia and click a few times on the photo I posted, it gets huge and you can see it's from the same company. The boiler is a little different but the winch looks about the same. If they were mounted on timbers, they could drag themselves around to where they were needed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_donkey

    [​IMG]

    Here's one powering a derrick...

    [​IMG]

    I guess you could use them for whatever you wanted, it was a universal type gizmo.
     
  14. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I noticed there are covers that go on the end of the winches that are missing on the one in Brunswick. I guess they kept dirt and stuff out of those spring loaded cauls or whatever they are.
     

  15. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    Yes Sam Sam

    It looks like a generic engine with multiple uses.

    I didn't know there was another cylinder on the other side which of course means a large flywheel is not required and it can be used for heavier work.

    Charlyipad, the wheels on the ends that the piston rods are attached to would only provide a small flywheel effect, but they would be harmonic balance wheels to balance the crankshaft.

    It's a pity to see them rusting away, in the days of the steam engine the engine drivers would take pride in their engines and they would be continually polishing the brass fittings, applying paint and walking around with an oil can lubricating the bearings and stuffing boxes.

    There are groups here that restore old machinery.
    Guess I'll stop before I start crying.

    Poida
     
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