Biographical / Historical
William Sawyer, the author of Corliss, man and engine, is an independent scholar of the history of the stationary steam engine. Sawyer's research was supported by materials from Brown University, the Smithsonian Institution, and other libraries and archives with holdings related to the topic.
The text was considered for publication by Lindsay Publications, Inc., a well-known publisher in the history of technology field, but was not published for "various reasons." The first twenty-one pages of this manuscript are in the typeset format used by Brown, with the rest unformatted. This particular copy dates to 1988, after it was typeset by Brown and before its eventual publication in Stationary Power, the Journal of the International Stationary Steam Engine Society in 1999.
This manuscript was donated to the Archives Center by Robert M. Vogel, Curator Emeritus of Mechanical and Civil Engineering at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution in 2014. He had been given a copy by the author for copy and content editing, but was unable to finish before his retirement. The hand-written edits on the manuscript belong to Vogel. Vogel also provided the illustrations credited to the Smithsonian Institution and the author.
According to Sawyer, a Corliss engine is a type of "stationary reciprocating steam engine, bolted down to a foundation, and used to provide power for factories and other users in which the machine(s) driven are fixed in one place" (Chapter 1, Corliss—Man and Engine). George Corliss received US Patent 6162 for his valve gear on March 10, 1849, a type of steam engine which ran more efficiently on less fuel. The patent covered the use of a wrist-plate to convey the valve motion from a single eccentric to the four valves of the engine, as well as the use of trip valves with variable cutoffs under governor control that were associated with Corliss Engines.
Donor Foreword, Corliss Steam Engine Reference Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Corliss—Man and Engine, Corliss Steam Engine Reface Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.