Triple Expansion Engine

3rd April 2008, 12:39
This is going to sound a little silly however...

Pls note the attached two pics of the same engine. Unsure of cyl diam / stroke etc however the damm thing is huge...

Does this "look" like a 300 IHP engine to those in the know, have seen a few of these and this one definately much bigger...

Or is it possible that it is indeed 300 IHP? If so biggest one I have seen...

Operated at 200 psi.




John Rogers
3rd April 2008, 13:23
Gordon, I sailed on a few triple expansion from a Fort Boat with a 250,some with a 310, and a couple of twins with 2,500, however to answer your question the rods look small to me so its hard for me to say looking at the pictures,it would be nice to have see the bottom ends.


3rd April 2008, 18:38
Bottom Ends... sorry should have posted..

John Rogers
3rd April 2008, 19:23
Thanks Gordon, to me it looks smaller than a 300.


4th April 2008, 05:26
Could be 300 IHP as stated. Served my apprenticeship on these and that bottom end looks about 6" in dia and the HP cover looks like covering a 10-12" dia cylinder. Cute size of engine to work on, could handle all parts by hand.
Bob F

4th April 2008, 08:40
Thank you very much for all of your help guys. It is in fact rated at 300 IHP.

The engine by the way is that of the "Alwyn Vintcent" a little website here:

There is an ongoing thread here as well which tells a lot more about her.



7th April 2008, 13:01
Hi Guys

Well silly me. Now have proper figures:

390 IHP 140rpm Working pressure 200 psi



7th April 2008, 13:27
You may also want to go to the website for the SS JOHN W. BROWN.. the BROWN has a triple expansion steam plant .. running, etc. Whenever I go aboard for a cruise on the Chesapeake Bay, I always make a point to go into the engine room...

7th April 2008, 14:02
Sailed on "Ocean " boats and their engine was rated at 505 N.H.P. but what that means I have no idea. Remember they went at about 60 RPM when there was a full head of steam 220psi but a lot slower when the fires were cleaned at the start of each watch (in fact started 20 minutes before)

27th September 2008, 05:55
You may also want to go to the website for the SS JOHN W. BROWN.. the BROWN has a triple expansion steam plant .. running, etc. Whenever I go aboard for a cruise on the Chesapeake Bay, I always make a point to go into the engine room...

DeLacy Cook is the Chief Engineer of SS John W Brown. He was the most senior of United States Line's Chiefs when he retired in the early 1970's. I had just been taken on as Chief Engineer of American Marketer from Farrell Lines and recall Cookie's retirement party in New York. He has put his retirement years in good stead as the 2500 BHP triple expansion engine on the Brown hums like a Singer Sewing Machine. I have about three years sea time all told in Liberties. There were still quite a number about in the late 1950's and early 60's. I recall shipping out in a Liberty named Penn Trader from Houston , Texas to Vizackapatam and Calcutta and thence back to Newport News , Virginia. The passage home from the Bay of Bengal took 77 days with bunker stops at Djibuti , French Somoliland and Ceuta , Spanish Morocco. Her cargo was bulk grain out to India and chrome manganese ore back to Hampton Roads. I also was in a Liberty named CR Musser operated by Weyrhauser Steamship Company and chartered to the US Navy during the Vietnam War. The Musser was reconditioned with a new bow and midship house. She had 250 KW turbo generators and the old Edwards Air Pump had been replaced by an augmenter (single stage air ejector), The quarters were air conditioned and she was quite a comfortable ship . We spent three months at anchor off Quin Nohn acting as a storage facility for 155mm artillary ammo for the Army. They were concerned about swimmers putting limpet mines on the hull so we had a squad of disenchanted GI's aboard for the entire three months randomly throwing concussion grenades over the side. This was apparently to discourage sappers but it kept everyone awake for months.

I ran into DeLacy Cook and the Brown about ten months ago and went out of the Chesapeake Bay for an eight hour cruise. I feel right back into the routine rounds and even recalled the oiler's mantra of "three to the crank and four to the cross head". I felt down the connecting rod journals and never missed a beat. I recall the third having to stop the engine of Penn Trader out in the Gulf of Mexico. I had lost all the oil cans when they were knocked out of my hand by the cross heads on my fist watch. The third put the jacking gear in and I had to go into the pits and recover all the cans. I had told a "white lie" to the dispatcher at the Seaman's Union when I was shipped to the job and indicated that I was a skilled oiler on Reciprocating Engines. It didn't take me long to get the hang of it however and by the time we bunkered in the Bahamas I was an "old hand".

Cookie is 87 years old now and he told me he might need a relief now and then. I noticed him giving me a look see as I made rounds on the Brown. I took it as a compliment when he finally informed me that he'd give me a call when he required a relief Chief.

Hugh Curran

Bruce Carson
27th September 2008, 13:15
Thanks, Hugh---a great posting.
I've seen the "Brown" but never been onboard. of these days.(==D)


28th September 2008, 15:44
Normally recips are quoted as Indicated Horse Power (IHP) taken from the indicator cards. NHP could mean Notional Horse Power which means estimated or a bloody good guess!! A good Fireman was worth his weight in gold when moving the fire's over for cleaning using the "slice" out of the rather large "Companion Set" to clean the bars, whilst at sea it was always a matter of pride in who had the minimum loss of steam pressure whilst the process was going on.

28th September 2008, 16:42
NHP = Nominal Horse power which was calculated by numbers instead of from indicator cards.

NHP= (7 x area of piston x piston speed) divided by 33,000.

Chadburn has got the calculation right " a bloody good guess". It was old rubbish mainly on the engine rating plates. All the plates were good for was using up brasso. You could never get near it in operation.

I surveyed two up and downers one oil and one coal. I never sailed on them.
Wonderful engines.


29th September 2008, 01:19
I'd like to make those interested in Steam Reciprocating Engines of the complete refurbishment of one of the old clipper bowed deluxe steam yachts.
She was built at one of the famous yacht yards on the Delaware River called Pussey and Jones in about 1910. Her name Cangarda was derived from the prefixes of the surnames of Mr. George Canfield and Miss Belle Gardiner who received ownership as a wedding present from Miss Gardner's father. Cangarda is about 110" between perpendiculars and is powered by a Three Cylinder , 550 IHP Sullivan Engine which is supplied with 250 PSIG of saturated steam. I'm not sure but pictures taken from the top of the engine make me believe that the Sullivan Engine is a three cylinder compound steam engine rather than a triple expansion engine. The center cylinder seems to have the largest diameter and the two cylinders fore and aft of same appear to be of equivalent diameters. It is my understanding that steam was originally supplied by two scotch fire tube , coal burning boilers but these units have been replaced by a smaller but more efficient electronically fired oil burning water tube express boiler. Much effort has been applied to make the engine and boiler spaces resemble the original configuration of 1910 but in comparing then and now photos I believe she looks much better today. Of course the absence of coal dust today is a major factor in this better new appearance. The Sullivan Engine is fitted with cam operated poppet valves and reversing is effected by shifting cams as one does on a directly coupled diesel plant. This is another factor that makes me presume that this engine is a three cylinder compound unit because if it were a triple expansion engine I'm relatively certain that it would be fitted with dual sets of eccentrics as well as Stephenson reversing gear on each of it's three cylinders to operate the one piston (HP) and two(IP and LP) delta type slide valves which would normally be found on such an engine exhausting into a surface condenser and being supplied with 250 lbs. of steam. The engine would be designed as such to accommodate the relatively large delta p's across three operating cylinders.

Cangarda was obtained in East Boston a number of years ago in a deplorable state. The beautiful joiner work of Cuban Mahogany , Rose Wood and Teak as well as the Persian rugs which she had been outfitted with at Pusey and Jones had been removed and placed in storage by the US Navy when Cangarda was utilized as an Anti Submarine Patrol Vessel during World War Two. The yacht had never been refitted with it's joinery and such and was virtually abandoned. All the original wood sheathing has been reinstalled in the fitting out yard in Richmond California where Cangarda is now berthed. Cangarda's Sullivan Main Engine as well as most of her larger dynamos and pumps have all been beautifully restored under the scrutiny of the British Museum of Science and Industry in London.

If anyone is interested in seeing some wonderful photos of the restoration and second launching at Port Richmond I suggest a Google search for Cangarda , Steam Yacht. I've heard she is to be anchored off the small coastal Maine town where I now reside in my retirement and I've also heard she will steam here from California via the Panama Canal. I hope to be able to wheedle a visit below upon her arrival at Penobscot Bay and what I'd really enjoy would be a chance to ride her on her delivery voyage to her new owner.

Respectfully Submitted;
Hugh Curran

30th September 2008, 05:22
Hello all. I want to correct an erroneous impression I may have created in my previous posting relative to the Steam Yacht Cangarda. I did a bit of research on line and uploaded six photos that may be of interest in Special Purpose Vessel Category.

Cangarda was built at Pusey and Jones Yard on the Delaware River in 1901 not in 1910 as I stated in my previous posting. Also her 550 BHP Sullivan three cylinder engine is a Triple Expansion Engine and not a three cylinder Compound engine as I incorrectly assumed in my earlier posting. Strange cylinder arrangment for a Triple Expansion Engine 21.5" LP foreward 9" HP mid and 14.5" IP aft.

Respectfully submitted;
Hugh Curran

30th September 2008, 11:34
Thanks Beartracks for the photo's of the steam yacht and its Main Engine. The reason for the strange arrangement is most probably because a lot of steam yachts built in America in those days had engines built by locomotive Engineers/ Builders and are a modified vertical version of a steam locomotive "power plant" with recovering steam system (condenser) rather than the locomotive total loss system. The strangest steam triple I sailed on had both the Main Steam Boiler Stop Valve and the Main Engine Steam stop Valve which were both closed by turning them anti-clockwise, took a bit of getting use to, they had a screw-crosshead arranement on the valve stem as well as a long tailed mushoom style valve which fitted through a centre guide in the valve body. In regards to coal firing a lot of people do not realise that there are two ways to lay the "firebed" depending on as to whether it is forced or natural draught it's not just a matter of throwing the Coal in the hole like a locomotive, that is why keeping the firebars clean is very important when steaming.