In the days of steam, power was produced by huge machines. If you needed a more powerful machine, you just made it bigger. The huge wheels and pistons that resulted were most impressive. The Henry Ford has quite a selection of these old steam engines of various designs. The efficiency improved as they introduced multiple phases to the machines to recover more work from the output of the engine. The big beams and pistons remained a theme, though. The large brick structures and the associated metalwork have been nicely preserved and displayed.
The Dearborn factory required a large power generation facility and, in days gone by, this was provided by a large steam engine driving generators. This machine is now nicely preserved. The scale of it is a bit hard to represent. The cylinders are huge and the controls are substantial. You can climb up on top of the whole thing to see how it went together. Surprisingly, this is not a place that was getting too many visitors which meant I was able to nose around in relative peace. It is hard to imagine what it would have been like when this enormous piece of engineering was in use and was generating the power for the plant. Now it is idle but it still looks imposing.
I know a few of the regular readers of the blog are in to trains so I hope this one pleases them. The Henry Ford Museum covers all sorts of engineering endeavors including a selection of rail vehicles. This was one of the last things we saw before we left so I didn’t explore very much. However, there was one rather large steam locomotive on display. This thing was a beast and I imagine it was quite the sight when it was in regular usage. Our visit coincided with the running of Big Boy after restoration so something similar to this can been seen for real once again!
Igor Sikorsky is well known as a developer of helicopters even though his early work was based on fixed wing types. The airframe he developed to demonstrate practical rotary flight was the VS-300. This helicopter went through a number of design changes over its life including upgrades to the cyclic system to make it more controllable. When testing with it concluded, it was donated to the Henry Ford museum in Michigan and that is here I saw it. It is a historic landmark and hugely significant. However, it is stacked up in a display behind other artifacts, so it is actually pretty tricky to photograph. I tried making a pano of it to avoid the things in front with some success.