How Steam Engines Worked

How Steam Engines Worked (HM1BY0)

Location: Darien, GA 31305 McIntosh County
Country: United States of America

N 31° 21.864', W 81° 24.948'

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Fort King George Historic Site

There were numerous styles of steam engines used during the Age of Steam circa 1790-1920. Though there were variations, all steam engines used the same basic concept. Through a system of heat, metal rods, and pistons, very high pressure steam was produced and used to turn a flywheel that, once connected to a conveyor, sent out enormous power. Steam engines spawned an Industrial Revolution in the United States during the nineteenth century. By powering industries such as this mill, steam power brought enormous wealth for this country. Also , as industry grew, large cities did as well, thus helping to transform the United States from a primarily agrarian society, into an industrial super power.

This mill utilized a 70 horsepower Boulton an Watt design. At the corner of these ruins is the foundation where this large steam engine was probably mounted.

(caption)
Boilers heated up water to produce steam. This high pressure steam then ran through a pipe toward the cylinder valves.

Look closely and you will notice valves at both the top and bottom to the right of this cylinder. Inside the cylinder was a piston. When steam was pumped into the cylinder through the top valve, this would drive the piston down. When the top valve closed the bottom opened. Then steam entered and drove the piston up. Hence, this was a "two stroke" engine.

The governor was connected by chain to the flywheel. If the flywheel moved too fast, the propulsion of this device would speed up and force the balls outward. This, in turn, would reduce the amount of steam powering the engine, thus slowing it down to a more appropriate and safer speed.

Once the steam had served its purpose in the cylinder, it was sent into a condenser. The condenser sat in a cold water tank. This turned the steam back to water. Next to the condenser is a pump that pumped the hot water to other pumps that sent the water back to the boiler where it was recycled. Notice how the pumps are operated by pistons connected to rods powered by the beam.

The beam is what powered the flywheel. It was connected to the piston inside the cylinder. When the piston went down the beam on the cylinder side went down. The piston going up produced the opposite effect. On the flywheel side, the beam is connected to a rod that used round gears at the bottom to create circular motion in the flywheel.

The flywheel produced energy that ran the mill. It was connected to a master conveyor that moved many other conveyor belts on rotating rods that powered the mill's machinery.
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HM NumberHM1BY0
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Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 5:08pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17R E 460456 N 3470062
Decimal Degrees31.36440000, -81.41580000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 31° 21.864', W 81° 24.948'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds31° 21' 51.84" N, 81° 24' 56.88" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)912
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1475-1509 McIntosh Rd, Darien GA 31305, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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