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Antique Engines

Navy B Compound, 1902

(3.5 + 7 X 6)


This engine is the smallest six-inch stroke US Navy compound, with dimensions of 3.5 + 7 x 6 stroke. This engine is an important find, as it is complete and un-restored, unlike any we have ever seen.  Most often old engines are found lacking parts, or they have been mechanically spoiled by the well-intentioned "restorer" who takes every piece apart to clean and polish it, but who is unable to re-assemble with all surfaces properly aligned because he has scraped away pesky shims or bedding.  This relic is coated in varnished oil, and the owner who "moth-balled" it some unknown years ago in Alaska had the forsight to cover the exhaust port.  This engine even has the brass cylinder top covers and Bureau of Steam Engineering engraved plate. 

This engine is small enough to be installed in an Elliott Bay hull, even though it is more suitable for a larger hull, such as the 28-foot cutter, were one to exist.  Send $5. and we will send you a print of the US Navy 28-foot Steam Cutter, taken from Standard Designs for Boats of the US Navy, 1900.



Beaumaris Compound

(2.5 + 6 x 4)

Ideal size for the 23-foot Elliott Bay hull

Beaumaris apprentices won the national apprenticeboys award with this engine.  Hugh Jones, director of Beaumaris Instrument Company believed in apprentice training, requiring each to learn his trade and his shop methods by building his pet product, a faithful replica of a true 19th century marine engine.  Three sets of ten engines each were built, so we understand, and each to Jones' exacting old fashioned methods.  As good as an original, this engine was the ultimate in 1970s when it was made.  No one has made such an elaborate production engine since the old days.


This engine was motorized for display; the brass cowls cover belt pulleys at each end.


Simpson-Strickland 8hp Compound

Imagine 8 hp from a compound marine engine turning 800 rpm--but that's what the Simpson-Strickland catalog says!

Simpson-Strickland Quadruple Expansion Marine Engine 1889

1.75 + 2.75 + 4. + 6 x 3.5 stroke

For sale with purchase of Elliott Bay 23-foot hull



Simpson-Strickland Quadruple Expansion Marine Engines, otherwise known as "Kingdon Compounds," are among the most interesting and soughtafter original launch engines.  The hope, in 1878, when the design was patented, was that four expansions would extract all the energy from the steam.  The engine has symmetry: two tandem compounds, the second using the exhaust of the first. At 175 lbs. boiler presure the company claimed 10 indicated HP, and at 250 lbs., 14 HP.  At these high pressures the engines suffered wear and were noisy, but the company's goal was high speed, and in 1878 speed won sales in a competative market for small power boats.

Operating these engines at more moderate pressures and speeds makes them the most pleasant of marine engines. In a 23-foot launch that requires but 4 HP to go 7 knots, they are the ultimate in Victorian era boat engines.  We mimicked Simpson-Strickland's "Kingdon" boiler, but in modern materials and practice, and now have these available in ASME code.

So, if you are looking for the ultimate, we can supply you with machinery, hull, and accessories.

Until 1994 when we bought the engine above (and on left in adjacent image), we had seen these only in photographs, or in the London Science Museum.  Only two were operating at the time, one in UK and the other in Germany, and only a handful of others had survived.   Our engine sat under the bench awaiting our chance to view an original, so we could give the relic a proper conservation job, such as to replicate its wood lagging, its builder's plate, lubricators, etc.


Then, ten years later, an antique marine gasoline engine collector wanted one of our hulls, and offered a trade for "an old marine steam engine."    His engine turned out to be the same model, just eighteen serial numbers apart, ours made in 1889 and his made 1890.  Both were missing parts, but what one lacked, the other had.  Most important, the second engine had its wood lagging, in shambles condition but sufficiently intact for restoration.  The other engine also appears to have its original paint over the bronze frame, and "red lead" over the cylinder casting.

Simspon-Strickland went to lengths to keep one from easily copying its pumps.  We know; we tried.  A clever foundryman can often make a one-off copy, even of a complex part, by careful work at his core bench--but not so with these apparently simple, but deceptively complex parts. The left feed pump is the original, and the right pump is the copy, still not completely machined.  The red pump is the condensate pump, of the standard Hoskins design with dashpot valve and head valve.

Engine pumps are rarer than engines.  I suspect three reasons for this: 1) they were easy targets for a scrap sale, 2) they were off being fixed when the owner succumbed to the purchase of a modern oil or gas engine, and 3) they got separated at the time of the engine's sale.  The pumps can be in parts in a bucket, just a foot away, but be missed when the engine is crated for shipment--this we have learned the hard way.

The Simpson-Strickland pumps were continually changed; each engine model different. Either they all did not work very well--or defeated the engineer that did not pay them maintenance attention--or they were each purpose-built to match the feedwater needs of each particular. Delicate balance considering ruggedness required and the tight range of service to keep the engine at equilibrium.

The B&W image is from Simpson-Strickland's catalog No. 4, printed soon after 1890. At bottom is a photo of a complete Kingdon Compound.

We will add images of the engine and its replicated parts as we progress. 

LIFU (Liquid Fuel Engineering Co

(2.25 + 4.75 x 3.5)

Ideal size engine for the Elliott Bay 23-foot Fantail Hull



We presume this is is the old style 10 HP compound, as referred to in the Liquid Fuel Engineering Co. 1896 Catalog.  Its height from bottom side of bedplate bearers to top surface of cylinder block is 20 inches; length is 25.5 inches; width (determined by pumps) is 20 inches.  Port side pump rod is .930-inches diameter; Starboard is .950-inches diameter; stroke 2.5 inches.  We hope to find an original burner and boiler for this engine because LIFU machinery is truly is a marvel of innovation, if only because mineral oil fuel.  LIFU appear to be the first to say their engines are manufactured with interchangeable parts.

We welcome any further information that others may offer.  Any information or spare parts out there, anyone?  The pumps shown came from a different engine, yet their fastener bolt holes align the shaft drives.  However, all LIFU pumps could have had a

universal bolt pattern.  Does anyone know if this is the correct pump set for this engine?

Notice the LIFU's telescoping crosshead bearing oilers in the image of the crossheads.

We are reluctant to sell this engine until we learn if the remainder of the system's parts can be found.  Are there any complete LIFUs in service?

Navy M Compound 50 hp

Way too big for the Elliott Bay 23-foot Fantail hull!

This restored US Navy M is at Sternberg & Marshalls' shop, photographed with Sternberg making final assembly. Damage that it suffered during Hurricane Katrina prompted a much-needed overhaul that included the removal of saltwater damage, crankshaft straightening & grinding, bearing realignment, etc.  The polished brass & steel and paint was only incidental to the fundamental work required.  This M is the main engine for MASCOT, owned by Alex Ellsworth of Louisiana, and is not for sale, but pictured here to show a restored Navy engine, as well as to show Sternberg's & Marshall's work.

We advise against engine of this size because they require a boiler and boat that exceed fun size!  These were designed for crews of sailors to operate--and they needed lots of fuel!

Yes, the bedplate is bronze!  And made from a complex, multi-core casting that only navy spending could pay for!

Mumford Compound, Size No. 1

(2.25 + 4.5 x 3.25)

On the small side for an Elliott Bay 23-foot Fantail Hull, as it might appear small, even though it will be powerful enough.

Mumford and other boatbuilders advertised launches in lengths from 18 to 21 feet for this engine (but not too small for a 23-footer!) Slide valves, both HP & LP, Robey-type crossheads with screw take-up on wristpins. Thermal insulation jackets underside of cylinder block! Pumps not originally installed.

We can fit it with air/feed pumps of the Blackstaffe style. While we are reluctant to modify this perfect specimen of its time, in light of so many originals that today remain unspoiled, but we can attach these pumps without irreversible modification.

Mumford engines are remarkable for their quality machining and fitting, which is especially apparent in this one, the smallest they made.  Profits must have been hard-won with so many machining operations and handwork shown by the crosshead alone!

Mumford Compound, Size No. 5

(5.25 + 10 x 6)


Big--really too big--for a 23-foot hull, but very picturesque and a marvel of British marine engine design.  A carefully designed high-specific-horsepower boiler (low weight per high steaming rate) could compensate for this engine's weight, and therefore fit a small boat.

This well-preserved compound is same as illustrated in 1912 A. G. Mumford, Ltd. Catalog, "Contractors to the Admiralty, War Office, India Office, Crown Agents for the Colonies, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, and other Navies:" 

Engine weight 8 cwt; Propeller diameter 33.5inches, Boiler hearing surface 94sq. ft;Grate surface 8sq. ft.; Indicated HP 30; Weight of machinery under steam 48cwts.  See engine image from Mumford's Catalog, page 5.  showing independent thrust bearing on the tail shaft.  The 6-inch stroke engine was delivered with a boiler with grate area of 8 sq. feet, diameter of 3'7" and height of 3'9" weighing 2925 lbs. 

This survivor's pumps have gone missing, but we can cast and machine new ones using original drawings.

This engine is appropriate for hulls 30- to 35-feet length with propeller of 33-inch diameter.   Boiler grate area for coal is suggested as 8 square feet, boiler diameter 3'7" x height 3'9" at 2925 lbs.

We will build hull and boiler to suit.  Replica Admiralty Launch anyone?

This is among the prettiest and cared-for original engines.  This grandmotherly old machine is one to operate slowly, to watch its parts, its variety of alloys and finishes.   Its best use is not for speed but for quiet.


US Navy G Compound, 4" + 8" x 6" stroke

Again, big for a hobby-sized steam launch--not impossibly so, but pleasant steamboat operation is easier to accomplish with machinery that is appropriately matched to propeller and hull.

Bronze frame of the old Standard Boats style, prior to the industrial period engines of 1915, such as the K and W engines, when strengths and performance of engineering materials began to determine form; i.e., "form follows function."  This earlier engine shows 19th Century machine design belief that natural form determined strength and performance; i.e., designers relied on the grace of organic form, as well as advances in bronze and iron foundry technology.  Among navy cutter machinery, the B, E, and G engines embody this earlier period.

This engine is fitted with its original coupling that mated to a tenon on the vessel tail shaft; no bolts used.


US Navy Type K Compound, 1918

This engine is interesting yet relatively common, as hundreds were scrapped when the US Navy converted small boats to internal combustion machinery.  Somewhere I saw a photo of steam cutters stacked like cordwood on shore, but, darn, I could never find it again.  It was either in Seattle or Vallejo.


This engine is one of a batch that was nickel plated during production at Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  Three of these with similar serial numbers survive. Nickeling reduced saltwater corrosion to steel parts.

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