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Motore a vapore Willans & Robinson Limited
Anni '80 del XIX secolo



Willans & Robinson Limited was an important and prolific UK company specialised in the construction of industrial and marine engines. Its production was characterized by the use of a particular innovative scheme, patented by the same company in 1884, in which the steam expansion is divided into two or three stages using coaxial cylinders (high, medium and low pressure respectively). These sets of cylinders were aligned in groups of two or three on a common crankcase. Both inlet and discharge of the steam is governed by means of cylindrical distributors, coaxial to the pistons. Its particular and compact structure, in which the main moving parts are located inside the crankcase, allowed a better lubrication and, therefore, higher rotation speeds than other types of piston steam engines. The higher rotation speed made these engines suitable for the propulsion of small and medium-sized fast boats and to produce electricity, thanks to the direct and more efficiently driving connection to electric generator. For this reason, most of them have been produced for stationary use and are equipped with an automatic centrifugal speed regulator. Although this type of engine was produced in large quantities up to the 1920s, only a few examples have survived to this day. The original crankcase of the engine on display indicates its use in the industrial sector to produce electricity.

Technical specifications

ManufacturerWillans & Robinson Limited, Thames Ditton, Surrey (UK), 1980s of XIX century
Descriptionstationary compound steam engine with two couple of in-line cylinders
Stroke160 mm
Bore181 mm (high pressure cylinders); 321 mm (low pressure cylinders)
Displacement34.1 litres
Power13.6 CV at 450 rpm
Valvetrain systemwith two cylindrical distributors, coaxial to the pistons, directly driven by the crankshaft
Feeding systemsupplied by steam at a maximum pressure of circa 10 bar, with an inlet valve controlled by a centrifugal speed governor driven by the crankshaft
Lubrication systemclosed circuit inside the crankcase and splash-type lubrication


Used in factories and workshops to drive an electric generator.

Testi e immagini di Giuseppe Genchi
Sito realizzato da Pasquale Pillitteri