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US Patent: 8,218X
Steam engine
Compound rotary steam engine and boiler
Simon Fairman - Lansingburgh, Rensselaer County, NY

USPTO Classifications:

Tool Categories:
propulsion and energy : steam engines


Not known to have been produced


Patent Dates:
Granted: May 24, 1834

Patent Pictures: [ 1 | 2 ]
Mechanics' Magazine, and Journal of the Mechanics' Institute, V3, 1834, pg. 353
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Most of the patents prior to 1836 were lost in the Dec. 1836 fire. Only about 2,000 of the almost 10,000 documents were recovered. Little is known about this patent. There are no patent drawings available. This patent is in the database for reference only.

A Compound Reciprocating Rotary Steam Engine, and an Improved Boiler, invented by Simon Fairman, of Lansingburgh, New-York.

This engine and boiler may be used separately, or the two together, as may be most convenient; the engine may be connected with any other boiler, and the boiler with any other engine.

This invention presents to the public, in a fair and practical form, the long-sought desideratum of a steam engine producing a rotary motion, without undue complication and liability to disorder; without the inconvenience of fly wheels and cranks; and giving

the full power of steam without being subject to the constant loss of impetus by the action and re-action of heavy masses of metal.

It will be easily discovered, by examining the drawing, that this engine and boiler, when connected together, will occupy but a very small portion of the space required by the engines and boilers of the same power in common use, and that the weight of both engine and boiler are equally reduced; and as the cost, especially of the engine, is also reduced, at least in the proportion to its size and weight, it follows of course that, in all cases where a rotary power is wanted, it must be entitled to a preference equal to all those savings and conveniences, and for all locomotive purposes, still much greater.

And it must be no less obvious, on inspecting the plan of the boiler, that, besides its compactness, it is capable of producing a given quantity of steam with less fuel than is required for the boilers now in use.

As in the annexed drawing the engine and boiler are connected together; and, as to communicate an idea of the boiler, it was necessary to give a sectional view, showing

the form of the inside, the description will require a kind of mixed reference alternately from one drawing to the other.

A, figure 1, represents the boiler entire, the inside of which is explained by figure 2. The furnace door is shown in figure 1, through which the fuel is inserted into the

furnace, b, figure 2. The water is contained in three concentric double hollow cylinders, numbered in figure 1,–1, 2, 8. It is received from the supply pump, E, figure 1, into the outer cylinder, No. 1, and passes thence through bent tubes, a, a, into the inner cylinder, No. 3, which forms the furnace, from which it passes through the tubes, c, c, figure 2, into the centre pan at the top, d, which pan is connected with the middle cylinder, No. 2, from which enclosure and pan it goes through the upright or main conductor, D, figure 1, to the engine.

The fire goes from the furnace, b, and the top of the inner cylinder, thence down between that and No. 2, and, passing under No. 2, goes up between that and No. 1, and out through the small pipe, B, figure 1 ; and, when necessary, the draught is accelerated by a blower in the cylinder, n. The bottom of the furnace has a grate and ash pan, which need no description.

The spaces between the double cylinders, and in the centre pan, in which the water and steam are contained, are shaded in the sectional view, and the furnace and spars between the cylinders through which the fire passes are left white.

C, figure 1, represents the water tank; F, the safety valve; G, the horizontal pipe forming part of axis, through, which the steam is conducted to and from the engine.

a, a, a, a, are four cylinders, in all respects similar to those of the common reciprocating steam engine; which cylinders stand at right angles with each other, with their bottoms resting upon a cylindrical hub, or centre; the cylinders of course forming a cross. b,b, &c. are the slide rods, part of which only are seen. The bottoms of the slide rods are attached to the flanges round the tops of the cylinders, and their tops to a rim of cast iron, c, which rim also steadies and supports the tops of the cylinders by four straps, or parts of arms, d, d, d, d, which are bolted to the tops of the cylinders.

e, e, e, e, are four arms, connected with said rim by studs of sufficient length to leave room between said arms and the cylinders for the connecting rods to revolve, and to which arms is attached the main or driving pulley, f, or in place thereof a cog-wheel, as the case may require.

The connecting rods and cross-heads being mostly hid in the representation, are so nearly in the common form as to need no description. But the feet of the said connecting rods are connected together by a movable joint, so as to revolve round a centre-pin, which is removed from the centre round which the cylinders revolve, just half the length of the stroke of the pistons.

The steam is conducted through a hole lengthwise in the main axis G, and out through a hole in the side thereof into the bottom of each cylinder successively, as they revolve.

On the side of each cylinder is a tube, passing from the bottom to the top, and also connected at the bottom with that which lets the steam into the bottom of the opposite cylinder, so that when the steam is let into the bottom of one cylinder it enters the top of the one opposite; and as the feet of the connecting rods revolve round a centre at some distance from the centre of the main axis, as the pistons act and re-act, the cylinders must of course revolve round the axis; and when each cylinder has passed round to the opposite side from whence it filled, the steam escapes through a hole on the opposite side of the axis into a hole lengthwise of the axis, and parallel to the one by which it entered, and goes off through the discharge pipe i.

Mr. F. will engage to construct an engine and boiler of fifty horse power, of strong and permanent workmanship, which (both engine and boiler) shall stand on a circle of six feet diameter, and will not vary much in weight from three tons. And operating with a steady rotary impulse and without any jar, its operation will be much pleasanter in steamboats, and also prevent the injury done to the boats by the constant racking motion of the engines now in use.

This engine and boiler will be in operation in a few days at 246 Water street, NewYork.

Since the above was in type, we have received the following from Mr. Fairman: To the Editor of the Mechanics' Magazine;

SIR,-However I may be reduced, by the misfortune, or rather the folly, of having undertaken to invent useful mechanical improvements, my pride is not so far overcome as to be willing to ask any services on the score of charity; but if, from any other motive, you should see fit to give this a place in your Magazine, I wish you better remuneration for so doing than to meet the fate of an inventor.

I had long been led to believe that a rotary steam engine, simple, operative, and sure in its construction, with an efficient boiler, both so compact, and consequently light, as not to overburden their own power, and peculiarly adapted to locomotive pur. poses, was a desideratum for which the enlightened public would liberally reward the inventor, if such an inventor could be found. I had good authority for so believing. Many respectable writers on the subject of steam power, have noticed the importance of such an invention, but all I have seen have considered it impracticable.

Mr. Nicholson, in his Operative Mechanic, (Philadelphia edition, page 206,) says: “All steam engines, as yet noticed, have their action by the movement of a piston, in a cylinder, and act by what is called a reciprocating motion. In engines of this description a very considerable degree of power is expended in arresting the motion of the different working parts and putting them into action in a contrary course. This has claimed much attention of engineers, and many attempts have been made to construct an engine in which the action of the steam should operate in a continuous manner, without bringing the parts to a state of rest.” Again he remarks, (page 218,) “The reciprocating motion in steam engines is a loss : which cannot be denied, for the momentum of the beam and other parts, passing in one direction, have suddenly to be arrested and moved in the opposite direction, which produces a loss of power. “Rotary action has been sought, therefore, with propriety, but has not yet been attained with advantage.” Since Mr. Nicholson wrote the foregoing, the importance of locomotive steam powers has nearly doubled, and yet I have known of no attempt which was likely to succeed in effecting the desired object. With these views of the subject, and believing, or at least hoping, it was practicable, I undertook, and have no hesitation in stating, that I have affected all that the subject required. I have constructed an engine and boiler as little liable to disorder, and as easily kept in repair, as any other, and, I believe, with at least double the power, in proportion both to the cost and weight, of any which has come to my knowledge. But my want of pecuniary means compelled me to let the engine and boiler which formed the first experiment, and which could not be expected to be perfect, go out of my control, and be placed where, by awkward management, if it be not condemned, it will discredit rather than benefit the invention. No man of judgment would expect perfection in a first experiment; but fortunately, there was no mistake perceived in the engine, and but for a slight miscalculation in the boiler, I would not wish my reputation to stand, as an inventor, on a better foundation. I cannot now invest the necessary sum in materials to exhibit my invention to the public, but if any gentleman or company interested in procuring the best locomotive engine and boiler, after due examination of my plan, will furnish materials, I will hazard all the labor of constructing them at short notice, and will guarantee, as far as my labor goes, that they shall not vary essentially from the following calculations: A boiler, which shall expose 160 feet of heating surface to the water, and shall possess sufficient strength to work steam under 100 lbs. pressure to the inch above the atmosphere, and which, of course, must produce a sufficiency of steam for a fifteen or sixteen horse power; an engine with 4 cylinders, 6 inches diameter, 18 inch stroke, making four double strokes at each revolution, and 50 to 60 revolutions per minute, working off from 78 to 94 feet of steam. The whole engine, boiler and furnace, shall only occupy a circular space of three feet six inches diameter; and shall weigh less than a ton. A boiler and furnace sufficient for a fifty horse power shall stand on a circle six feet in diameter. All which facts are respectfully submitted by the public's humble servant, Simon Fairman.

P. S.—I have no wish nor reason to find any fault with the conduct of the gentleman in whose hands my steam engine is placed in New-York. I have found nothing ungentlemanly or unfair in his conduct. The only difficulty is, the engine was taken away prematurely. S. F.

Mechanics' Magazine, and Journal of the Mechanics' Institute, V3, 1834, pgs. 354-356.

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