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Old 10-05-2016, 08:08 AM
R. Dale Flick R. Dale Flick is offline
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,551
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*'Oscillating' or 'Reciprocating?'/James River, 1856.'
Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
Lawrence, good question above and I am sure there are others who frequent this web with far more technical knowledge than I have. You mention "story set on a sternwheeler...James River in 1856." My one technical manual here references your "oscillating" as being "oscillating steam engine: an engine with a vibratory cylinder." No doubt there are other more succinct technical manuals, sites you could reference or GOOGLE for additional information. Perhaps one of our 'steam guys' could chime in here.

I wonder also if you could be referencing "reciprocating engine" which is what most of us know here. 'Reciprocating' merely the means to convert power from a shaft from a steam cylinder high and low pressure horizontal or vertical to a roatating gear transferred to a paddlewheel. This also true of the East Coast and Great Lakes 'steeple' or upright 'walking beams.' I suggest, if possible, you seek a copy of 'The Western Rivers STEAMBOAT CYCLOPOEDIUM,' Alan L. Bates, Hustle Press, Leonia, N.J., 1968 among other basic sources acquainting you with steamboat design, operation, engines. Hit the keys on your computer/internet search engine and see what pops up.

You mention "...in the James River in 1856" and that made me wonder. Do you mean the James River, Virginia? If so then you would not have found a "sternwheeler" operating there in that era (1856). The James widens much like a large estuary. No doubt you would have seen there then a number of sidewheel walking beam engines from other large and small ports on the Chesapeake Bay system or Norfolk in and out of Richmond, Va. Now and then we have requests here for basic information to flesh out a novel or historical fiction account. Some focusing on steamboat gamblers aboard a cotton packet in the 1850s engaging in a race up the Mississippi. Good luck in your quest and keep us posted. Again, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.
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