Vertical Steam Engine

Anson Museum Idea

Some time back I visited the Anson Engine Museum in Manchester and particularly liked a big old vertical steam engine just gently ticking over with a whiff of steam leaking from the cylinder.

The angle iron frame came from scrapping a clay pigeon thrower donated by John in the adjoining garage and the whole lot was held together with M6 nuts and bolts which I had decided to use everywhere as that size wasn’t too fiddly and sort of looked antique.

It slowly came together until the question of a steam supply came up. I didn’t have a boiler and had no way of making a safe one. A suitable pressure vessel proved hard to find until the idea of using a pressure cooker came up … designed to take steam pressure and plenty big enough – what could go wrong?

I found an old thick aluminium pressure cooker and fixed it up in a steel stand with the top half cased in wood to retain a bit of the heat. A big propane gas ring underneath promised ample heat and away we went.

The boiler pressure quickly rose to about 30psi and after a lot of gurgling and spluttering as the steam condensed in the pipe and steel cylinder block until everything warmed through, my engine ran!

It was amazing how much steam that boiler produced and together with the burning paint fumes I could hardly see the wooden boiler box catching fire. I bought a fire extinguisher after that.

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