Corliss Steam Engine Boiler Group Gear Rooms
Smelter Tech: The Corliss Engine
Corliss Steam Engine Boiler Group Gear Rooms Smelter Tech: The Corliss Engine
While James Watt’s improvements to the steam engine may have been responsible for giving birth to the industrial revolution it would be the contribution of George Corliss that made it profitable. Watt’s contribution to engine design was one of practicality and reliability. Corliss’s contribution was one of efficiency, creating engines that took advantage of every last drop of energy available to it. Because of these improvements steam engines were finally able to surpass water power in terms of economic feasibility and surge ahead to become the de factor power source of the late 19th century.
On its surface the Corliss styled engine is very similar to its Watt’s style brethren. Steam is delivered into a large cylinder through means of a throttle valve, which is automatically controlled by the engine’s governor. Once inside the cylinder that steam expands and pushes the enclosed piston forward. As the piston moves so to does the connected piston rod, which in turns pushes the crosshead forward along its track.
Meanwhile on the engine’s business end that reciprocating motion of the crosshead is converted into circular motion by means of a connecting rod and crank. The crank rotates a disc which in turn spins the engines drive shaft and connected flywheel. This is all typical when it comes to steam engine design (see my original steam engine post HERE for more info). To see what differentiates this Corliss engine from other steam engines of the period you have to look inside the cylinder itself…