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Chris's Holly Pumping Engine Complete

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Hi all,

Several years ago I got a chance to tour the Ward Pumping Station over in Buffalo NY, which contains 5 giant Holly 3-cylinder compound steam pumping engines. The station was used to pump drinking water from Lake Erie to the city of Buffalo. It was built in 1914, and ran for decades before finally being replaced by electric pumps around 1980. The steam engines pumped 30 million gallons of water a daym each. They stand 60 feet tall, weigh 1100 tons. The cylinders have a diameter of 31, 64, and 98 inches. Steam was generated by coal fired boilers in another building next to the pump house. The Ward station still exists, all engines intact, and is owned by the water authority there.

The original engines:

After the tour, I contacted one of the historians who organized the tour and asked if anyone had ever measured the engines and made plans (thinking I might try and do that if allowed). It turns out that they had found the original paper blueprints tucked away in the building, and had them scanned. He very kindly gave me a copy of the PDF file with the scans, hundreds of pages long, with all the parts of the engines as well as a general arrangement of the buildings. As a side project while working on other builds, I converted the original blueprints into a 3D CAD model of the engine, then made a copy of that at 1:32nd scale to build this model from. The CAD work was done over 2 or 3 years, a little at a time between other projects.

CAD model of the engine:

The model is made of mainly brass, with stainless steel moving parts and bronze bearings. The lower pump towers and the large diameter pipes were 3D printed in PLA plastic, but the rest of the model is all metal. Inside the six pump towers are brass check valve housings, each with ball bearing check valves for inlet and output. There are two towers per pump chamber, the plungers of each of the three pumps are driven from the crossheads above the crankshaft. The cylinders have four Corliss rotary valves on each, except for the low pressure cylinder which has two poppet valves top and bottom for the exhaust. All the valves are controlled by eccentrics on the lay shaft on the side of the engine, the lay shaft being driven by two pairs of bevel gears from the crankshaft. The cranks have a 2" throw, and there are two large bronze flywheels. The flywheels are the only castings on the model, the rest was machined from bar stock on my Sherline lathe and mill (manual, not CNC).
Here are some photos of the model:

For scale, that is a 6" ruler in front of the base.

And finally some videos of the model running. First one of it pumping water - it is pumping close to a gallon a minute at this speed:
And one showing the engine running alone, no water being pumped:

My sincere thanks to all those who followed along, chimed in, and helped with tips and techniques along the way!! Glad to have you along for the ride!
Chris :cheers:

Beautiful! Great to see it pumping water (lots of water!) Cheers!  :ThumbsUp: :cheers:

Simply amazing, Chris!  This was an awesome build! Thanks for taking us along on the journey.  :cheers:


Ye-Ole Steam Dude:
Hello Chris,

Pretty much what everyone has already stated, just too hard to give you proper credit. However with that said, this could be your "Mona Lisa".


That' sir is DAMN impressive sir!!!  WOW!     THAT SIR was some work!!! :AllHailTheKing: :drinking-41: :cheers:


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