Sunday afternoon I visited the Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park again. Today was a poor weather day, so I visited the park’s museum. The 13,000 square foot museum was first opened in 1981, and underwent a over haul of its exhibits in 2005.
One of the museum more recent exhibits is one of the oldest steam engines in America, an 1835 Dotterer Steam Engine. This particular engine was once used on a rice plantation in South Carolina and was also a part the original collection acquired by Henry Ford during the 1920s. At one time the engine was exhibited at his museum at Greenfield Village. The engine is very similar to the type of engine that was used at Tannehill.
Today I was photographing several close ups of its different components. This is actually a centrifugal governor. A governor controls the speed of an engine by regulating the amount of fuel. Think of it as a type of cruise control for a steam engine. It uses the principle of proportional control to maintain a near constant speed for whatever are the load or fuel supply conditions.
However, I couldn’t help but think how much this odd looking device reminded me of something for a time machine instead of a steam engine part.
Since I couldn’t think of another way to work the next picture in to this story, I guess that if we are traveling back in time, we must have ended up in the old west. It’s amazing what you’ll find at state park these days.
Now if only I could find the keys to my Delorean.