Historical engine artifacts

Good evening,
I’m new in this forum. I’m an archaeologist, and I’m working now in a site that used to be a boatyard. Thus, I found part of what I think is an engine (steam engine?). Attached is a photo (Looks like I can post just one photo). I hope you can help me to identify what it is. A two-cylinders engine was found in the same site, but I don’t know if these two pieces can belong to the same engine? Any help will be welcome. Also if you know about a book where I can find more information, I will appreciate it!


Another view!

This is the two-cylinder engine!

It’s a crankshaft for sure. Measure the bearings on the casting to see if the spacing is right for where they would go on the crankshaft.


^ What he said.

On a side note, I’d be surprised to learn that this was from a boat. The horizontal cylinders would be unusual, and the bed plate arrangement makes it look like an industrial unit. I’m guessing it was related to the running of the yard somehow. Also, it looks like some sort of internal combustion engine, but it’s hard to be sure. If you want more help identifying it, pictures of the cylinder head area would be helpful.


And of course any nomenclature or markings on anything. And any other odd bits lying about.

Marine railway engine possibly?


I agree with your view. The cylinders look like those of a make and break style engine. But, a twin cylinder side by side like that makes it a very rare beast.
Post the pictures on one of the old engine sites and someone might recognize it.

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It still has its babbet material. That’s kinda neat.

These guys might help: Old Marine Engine

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Thank you for your comments. Attached is another photo!

I haven’t seen any mark in the engine. The other one is not clean yet. We found it yesterday

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I just found what could be another part of the same engine. Do you think this could be a steam boiler?

tube and shell heat exchanger?

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I agree that a slipway winch would be a likely companion to the engine, but it is also possible that it was used to run workshop equipment. You haven’t seen any flat belt pulleys or associated shafts?

That does indeed look like a low pressure fire tube boiler.

I really think it looks like the engine has cooling jackets, which would mean it’s an internal combustion engine of some sort, unrelated to the boiler. If it is indeed a two cylinder hit-n-miss, it’s a pretty rare beast.

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Agree – those pipe plugs stood out when I first saw it, along with the unnatural thickness.

I agree it looks like a hit-n-miss engine. The frame looks similar to an International Harvester I ran across. That said, what I saw was a single cylinder engine.

It looks more like a compressor.

I remember seeing very similar remains of a steam engine in the jungle of Lake Sandoval Reserve near Puerto Maldonado in Peru. The vessel appeared to have been a paddle steamer. I will see if I can find a photograph.

Highly unlikely to be steam as there is no attachment for the bottom end glands or valves. A single acting engine of that size would be a very very rare and miserably inefficient device. Also, look at the device bolted to the foundation just below and forward of the crank bearings. It is where the governor/exhaust rocker would be attached. That is not a steam engine part.
I would love to know the story of that device, a twin hit and miss would be a very rare engine (for many reasons) and worth restoring if parts could be found or cast. Just hearing it run would be a treat.

The remains that I looked at in Peru the cylinders were horizontal and it looked like the crankshaft had been directly attached to the paddle wheels.
The greatest loss of life at sea on the New Zealand coast was a frigate called HMS Orpheus. She was a composite wood and steel vessel and I think she had a steam engine where the cylinders were horizontal and she suffered continuous breakdowns before being wrecked. The Admiralty expected her to sail more than steam.
The propeller was mounted in a frame and was lowered into the aperture and the short shaft in the frame engaged with a slot on the main shaft. The Funnel was then raised and so the expression "up funnel down screw " was born. There is plenty of references on line.
I sailed with triple expansion steam engines early in my career.