Steam Engine - Components and Accessories of Steam Engines

Components and Accessories of Steam Engines

There are two fundamental components of a steam plant: the boiler or steam generator, and the "motor unit", referred to itself as a "steam engine". Stationary steam engines in fixed buildings may have the two parts in separate buildings some distance apart. For portable or mobile use, such as steam locomotives, the two are mounted together.

The widely used reciprocating engine typically consisted of a cast iron cylinder, piston, connecting rod and beam or a crank and flywheel, and miscellaneous linkages. Steam was alternately supplied and exhausted by one or more valves. Speed control was either automatic, using a governor, or by a manual valve. The cylinder casting contained steam supply and exhaust ports.

Engines equipped with a condenser are a separate type than those that exhaust to the atmosphere.

Other components are often present; pumps (such as an injector) to supply water to the boiler during operation, condensers to recirculate the water and recover the latent heat of vaporisation, and superheaters to raise the temperature of the steam above its saturated vapour point, and various mechanisms to increase the draft for fireboxes. When coal is used, a chain or screw stoking mechanism and its drive engine or motor may be included to move the fuel from a supply bin (bunker) to the firebox.

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... For safety reasons, nearly all steam engines are equipped with mechanisms to monitor the boiler, such as a pressure gauge and a sight glass to monitor the water level ... Many engines, stationary and mobile, are also fitted with a governor to regulate the speed of the engine without the need for human interference (similar to cruise control in some cars) ... instrument for analyzing the performance of steam engines is the steam engine indicator ...

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