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The Camillus Steam Engine Museum
is located in the Camillus Erie Canal Park on DeVoe Road in Camillus
NY, just west of Syracuse, near the Newport Road exit of NY-5. It houses
a growing collection of various types of steam engines. At the last
count, it had twenty one engines in differing states of repair.
The museum's prize display is a 450 horsepower Rice and Sargent engine
rescued from the basement of the L.C. Smith and Brothers typewriter
factory in Syracuse in 1998, just before the old factory was demolished.
The engine is of the Corliss type, incorporating inlet and outlet valve
designs patented by George Henry Corliss. The valves control engine
speed by controlling the steam shut off point during each inlet/expansion
stroke rather than by simply throttling the steam supply. This eliminates
the irreversible throttling process and results in more thermodynamically
efficient operation. Fuel savings more than compensated for the added
cost of the shut off mechanism.
The engine is an excellent example of a late period Corliss engine specifically improved for direct connected electrical generation. The men who held the patents on these improvements, John Sargent and Richard Rice, formed a company to market their engine in 1895. Originally built by Builder's Foundry, of Providence, Rhode Island, the line was soon picked up by Providence Engineering Works of the same city, as a replacement for the somewhat dated Greene patent engine they had been making. Mr. Rice had previously worked at the William A. Harris Steam Engine Co., E.D. Leavitt of Cambridgeport, Mass, and Bath Iron Works in Bath, Me.. Mr. Sargent was formerly with the Providence Steam Engine Co., The Dickson Mfg. Co., E.D.Leavitt, and the Swanscott Machine Co.. Their patents involve improved governor types, overspeed protection devices, improving valve placement and form for ease of service, and, of course, the releasing cut-off gear designed for high speed running, which is necessary for generating electricity. The Providence Engineering Works went on to build over 500 Rice & Sargent Engines. Three are known to have survived, ours being number R-480.
Museum volunteers have transported and refurbished the engine shown below so it looks almost as good as it did when it left the Providence Engineering Works in Rhode Island where it was built in 1913.
The museum also contains many examples of engines made in upstate New
York, both by large firms and small shops run by individuals. The oldest
is a Wood,Tabor and Morse engine from the 1870's, built in Eaton, New
York. The newest is an Ames Iron Works Uniflow, the pinnacle of piston
steam engine development, built in 1933. This is a vertical 3 cylinder
engine resembling a marine diesel in appearance, and was the type of
engine used in marine applications as late as the 1970's. Some smaller
engines were manufactured by individuals and marketed commercially.
An example of this is a two cylinder single acting engine by A.L. Stickle
of Weedsport, N.Y.. Two are known to exist.
Further information about the Camillus Steam Engine Museum can be found at http://eriecanalcamillus.com/steam.htm.