4 Cylinder Block Converted to a Steam Engine

4 Cylinder Block Converted to a Steam Engine
Geoff Whell, February 10, 2007

A couple of years ago my son brought home a "THING" he found on the side of the road.

I took one look at it and said " That is a steam engine" I enclose pictures of it.
Seems that an engineer had converted a small 4 cylinder block into a "double action " steam engine, complete with Stevenson valve gear and water feed pump, and probably left it to his widow to put out by the road.

I tested it with compressed air to conform my appraisal .
The unit performed, at high speed both, forward and reverse with a twist of the vise grips.

To be honest it had, sort of frozen up a little, but with liberal supplies of WD 40 and manual rotation, it ran as described. (with compressed air).

I felt it would go like an Indy 500 on dry steam.

But I didn't have any.


I put it in the Queue of future projects, and I've got plenty. Some of these will be beside the road one day, I'm sure.
The Engine would still be there to this day, but, for my son in law, who came visiting from England. He took one look at it and said, Just what I need for a steam boat. I gave it to him, together with a suitable 3/4" coiled flash steam generating heat I had added to the project. and just happened to have.
He crated it , and, it followed him home at considerable transportation cost.
I have not heard any more of its' situation.

I did not disassemble it, but could see how it was constructed.
A solid plate replaced the original gas engine cylinder head. Bronze bushes had been pressed into a central hole above each piston. The original existing pistons had been drilled and tapped to except threaded PIGGY BACK" double action piston rods enclosed in cylinders, which were mounted above the bushed plate, now forming part of the "CROSS HEAD" I believe the original pistons were vented as they now only performed the duty of the "slide" for each cross head.

At each end of the engine block a Stevenson linkage had been installed, operated by eccentric cams. and
attached to the engine crank, the operation of these linkages, moved a slide valve controlling the admission and exhaust of "a pair "of cylinders. The tandem operation of these two sets of slide valves, could be performed at the twist of the vise grips. on the shaft connecting both sets of valves.

Some thought had gone into this conversion ,as the centrally pumped lubrication system of the original engine still maintained lubrication to the bottom end. It is usual to admit Steam oil together with the steam for the lubrication of valves and pistons on slide valve steam engines.

You could say this was the Equivalent of a V8 steam engine, being double action?