Westinghouse rolling through the historic village

In honor of last weekend’s 39th Annual Gas and Steam Engine Show, this week’s Artifact Archive features our 15 hp Westinghouse Traction Engine, made in Schenectady, N.Y. This vertical, self-propelled engine is the pride of the Historic Charlton Park collection. It would have been used to power threshers primarily, but could have powered other belted equipment such as water pumps and drag saws. To see a video of the Westinghouse in operation, click here.

Irving Charlton, Historic Charlton Park’s founder, purchased the Westinghouse in 1957 from Mrs. Willow Palmer of Paw Paw, MI. The engine was secondhand when the Carter’s acquired it, but they did not use it much. Charlton groused that he paid double what the engine originally sold for, possibly paying $1,500.

Irving Charlton seated on the Westinghouse

The Patent dates on the machine read May 20, 1884; Sept. 27, 1881 and Aug. 12, 1879. This Westinghouse engine was probably marketed about 1886. The engine operated with water on the inside of the tube, rather than the later models that carried water in flues on the outside. In a Grand Rapids Press article dated August 15, 1957, Charlton stated, “there are but two more like this particular engine in the United States.” That statement is difficult to corroborate, but the engine is still rare, especially in its current condition. The Westinghouse has all of its original sheet metal and almost all of its original parts. It also has a big leather drive belt. Russell Chaffee restored the engine in 1982.

 The Westinghouse is still in operation and can be seen chugging around the Park during Charlton Park Day and the Gas and Steam Engine Show. The engine is operated and maintained by members of the Charlton Park Gas & Steam Club.

 Sources:

  • Catalog of Machinery Manufactured by the Westinghouse Co., Schenectady, N.Y. 1903. Reprinted 1974.
  • Catalog of Machinery Manufactured by the Westinghouse Co., Schenectady, N.Y. 1886.
  • “Ancient Steam Engine: Barry Park Displays Machine of 1880s”, Grand Rapids Press, Aug. 17, 1957.
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