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Boulton and Watt Beam Engine
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The Industrial Revolution is about to begin...
About this creation

Built for Bright Bricks and part of the Bricks Brittania touring exhibition.

James Watt did not invent the steam engine. We can thank Thomas Newcomen for that, several decades before.

His improvements to the idea did make it much more efficient, and viable.

1776 is soon after production started, although this was preceded by many prototypes. Watt was almost broke when he teamed up with Matthew Boulton, who promoted his design effectively, firstly to West Country tin miners.



Boulton had the inspired idea to allow mine owners to absorb the huge up-front cost by licensing agreements that meant they paid Boulton and Watt a third of the cost of the coal they saved over an equivalent Newcomen engine. Everybody wins. Watt needed Boulton; he was about as good at business as, well, me...



Watt's main idea was that the cooling / heating cycle that the cylinder underwent with each stroke in earlier designs could be eliminated with a separate condenser. It's here on the left, and a valve would open at the bottom of the main cylinder when the piston reached the top, sucking the air into the condenser's partial vacuum and forcing the piston down again, allowing power to be transmitted on both parts of the cycle.



The separate boiler (not shown) sends steam into the inlet (red), via another another valve and into the bottom of the main cylinder forcing the piston up again.



Watt needed a way to keep the piston parallel throughout it's stroke, for which he invented this linkage which bears his name.



The beam of the beam engine...



Connected at the other end to this arm...



.. and the knee bone's connected to the ... thigh bone...

... which turns this crank. Earlier versions used a Watt-invented planet and sun gear system to perform this function, since Watt didn't want to infringe on others' patents. When the patent for the crank expired he swallowed his pride and used the better, simpler solution.



And the crank turns the flywheel, thus converting the engine's strokes to rotational motion.



Here's a short video of it all working:

Ker-chunk!

The wheel breaks my own personal record for bigness... These were not small machines in any case, and usually needed a small building or at the very least a large room.



The centre of it uses the same principles as these.



No reason a machine can't look nice... each of these was different, since Boulton and Watt provided only the expertise, some drawings and essential components to allow the machine to be constructed on site with the help of their experts.



The XL motor in the base drives it from the wheel's axle for illustrative purposes and the batteries live in this hole here...



Some more restrained Georgian styling...



The Watt linkage had another important advantage - the piston rod had to be rigid (Newcomen needed to use chains) to transmit power on both up and down stroke.



The other rod to the left of the fulcrum is an auxiliary pump, if you were wondering.



I had so much fun making this, it felt almost rude to give Bright Bricks an invoice for my time! I still did though, so many thanks to them for this wonderful opportunity.



Comments

  August 12, 2017
Wonderful model. Reminds me of "Princess", the beam engine at Etruria Industrial Museum where I worked.
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  June 23, 2017
There is nothing about this that is not to like
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  June 19, 2017
Nice build!
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  June 15, 2017
Great MOC, wonderful details!
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  June 14, 2017
Wooow!! Woow!! history and sciences explained by Lego. A treasure.
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  June 14, 2017
Very nice. I enjoyed the text too (as I always do with your builds).
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  June 14, 2017
Amazing!
 I made it 
  June 13, 2017
Quoting Jeremy McCreary Wonderful replica and write-up, Nick! Boulton and Watt made a good team until they fell out. (Don't remember why. Money, maybe.)
Probably not money - the business they built up was carried on by their sons. Watt did have a difficult personality, including many traits that these days will have people assuming Asperger's syndrome. Boulton was a patient man but everyone has his limits!
 I like it 
  June 13, 2017
Wonderful replica and write-up, Nick! Boulton and Watt made a good team until they fell out. (Don't remember why. Money, maybe.)
 I like it 
  June 13, 2017
Like Always a super build.
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  June 12, 2017
A beautiful build, science lesson, and history lesson. Thank you.
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  June 12, 2017
Great stuff, very nice!
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  June 12, 2017
You gotta love the random futuristic battery box! :)
 I made it 
  June 12, 2017
Quoting Family Vuurzoon A fantastic design in every detail! It must have cost you a fortune in bricks and time. How much coal did you receive for it Nick?
A good amount of coal :-) Bright Bricks models are always done with their bricks, fortunately.
 I like it 
  June 12, 2017
A fantastic design in every detail! It must have cost you a fortune in bricks and time. How much coal did you receive for it Nick?
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  June 12, 2017
Terrific build as always - enjoyed the video as well. Great to see how this works.
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  June 12, 2017
Again a amazing and beautiful model from you my friend. Fantastic work!
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  June 12, 2017
Impressive "engine"ering! I just went to a local antique engine show and this reminds me of the many amazing engines on display! Fantastic MOC Nick!
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  June 12, 2017
That's perfect Lego engineering. Great job! :-))
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  June 11, 2017
Wow, Nick! This may be your best yet! Absolutely love it, and it's further proof that LEGO is a great medium for anything, in this case, an educational historical model, and an extremely accurate one at that!
 I like it 
  June 11, 2017
Coming late to comment your gorgeous educational MOC telling us the truth about STEAM! Hahaha, so great here with a video that makes so much FUN, Nick! Thank you!
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  June 11, 2017
Nice work, excellent moc.
 I made it 
  June 11, 2017
Quoting Geoffrey Boulton always amazing Nick felt i had to comment no relation by the way (at least not to my knowledge )
Well you never know... cheers Geoffrey.
 I like it 
  June 11, 2017
always amazing Nick felt i had to comment no relation by the way (at least not to my knowledge )
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  June 11, 2017
YES! This just makes me so happy. Brilliant build Nick, I can't imagine a better build for this iconic piece of history!!
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  June 11, 2017
Mindblasting. This is simply another level of realistic large-scale modeling than we get used to. Hard to find words to describe how good it is.
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  June 11, 2017
Fantastic, a work of art!
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  June 10, 2017
Fantastic! Always great to see more unusual historic creations, especially when you throw your skill into the mix! Great work, like always :D
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  June 10, 2017
That's AMAZING Nick. I love seeing your skill put to work on a moving part creation like this, and the subject matter is particularly enjoyable. Great work.
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  June 10, 2017
I love it ! this is an extraordinary piece of work, very original !
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  June 10, 2017
Wow! What an amazing piece of machinery! I really enjoyed evry piece of this magnificent post, from the great write up to the nice video demo, a build right after my taste, Excellent !
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  June 10, 2017
Awesome! Machines of this era had their own aestethics and you recreated it beautifully with this build. Great work :-) Oh, and nice little video too!
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  June 10, 2017
Great historical tribute! And without any grease ; )
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  June 10, 2017
The video of it running was so awesome! I love how you made the flywheel and the cylinders. I find it amazing just what was accomplished with the steam engine. Most impressive build Nick!
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  June 10, 2017
Impressive!
 
By Nick Barrett
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Boulton and Watt Beam Engine


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