1884 American Beam Engine

This engine was developed by Robert L. Stevens c. 1822 and was used mainly in the Eastern States, especially for paddle steamers operating on the Hudson River and Long Island Sound.

The framework is made from wooden beams bolted together. The cylinder is 3 feet in diameter and has a stroke of 9 feet. There are two eccentrics, one for the steer valve and the other for the exhaust valve, these valves being operated by an elaborate system of rods for too complicated to recreate realistically in a Meccano model.

My model is based on a scale model in the London Science Museum which has the engine fitted in a cut-away centre section of a paddle steamer. To represent the side of the ship and the paddle wheel whould not only use too many parts but would also make a Meccano model too large and too heavy for convenient transport. For this reason, I have concentrated on the engine itself. A slimmed-down version of the paddle wheel is fixed too close to the machinary, but it does give an idea of the relative sizes.


Dear Mr. Smithers, I have been admiring your engine for a while and I think that you have done a fantastic job. I would like to have a go at building the 1884 American Beam Engine Model and would like to find out from you if you have a parts take off (Bill of Materials for the parts used), photos, sketches, or any other items that you could share with me. Please advise. Thanks and Best Regards, Luis Lanca, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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