State-of-the-Art Sensors for Oldest Working Beam Engine in the World

Aim – Monitor Position, Speed and Acceleration of a Piston in a Beam Engine

P60 draw wire sensor on beam engine
1812 Boulton and Watt Cornish beam engine needs state-of-the-art sensors to monitor position, speed and acceleration of the piston.

The Boulton and Watt steam engine, originally installed in 1812, is the oldest working beam engine in the world.  It is one of two Cornish beam engines, located at the steam-powered pumping station, that pumps water from Crofton’s springs and reservoir to the locks at the summit of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

It is on this 200-year-old steam engine, that engineers, from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, want to install the latest state-of-the-art sensors and instrumentation to monitor position, speed and acceleration of the piston.

Crofton beam engine

This Mechatronics Project – ‘marrying 200 years of technology’ – has 5 main aims.

  1. To understand the impact on the engine when running at full load.
  2. To explore engine efficiency.
  3. To illustrate to visitors the internal workings of the engine in real-time.
  4. To display information to less-able visitors unable to climb the stairs.
  5. To provide data for educational and research projects at all levels.

The Challenge – Monitor Position, Speed and Acceleration of the Beam

The Boulton and Watt beam engine is powered by coal and driven by steam.  To accurately monitor the position of the beam, the chosen sensor would need to withstand this wet and harsh, industrial environment.

For that reason, we offered them the P60 industrial low range draw-wire displacement sensor.  The industrial draw-wire sensor will enable accurate position, speed and acceleration of the piston to be calculated.

“Accurate measurement of the position of the piston is essential, which is why we chose the P60 industrial draw-wire sensor,” says Jon Willis, Crofton Beam Engines.

Benefits of the P60 Industrial Draw-Wire Sensor

P60 draw wire sensor on beam engine
Thanks to the P60 industrial draw-wire sensor’s IP65 waterproof rating, it is ideal for the beam engine’s harsh environment.
  • Measuring Range: 0-100mm up to 0-1500mm
  • Compact & Robust Enclosure
  • IP65 Dust Tight and Splash-Proof Electronics
  • Mounting Grooves for Easy Installation
  • Potentiometer, Voltage and Current Outputs
  • Download the Specification

Thanks to its IP65 protection rating, the P60 industrial draw-wire sensor is the ideal choice.  Its conditioning electronics are protected from both water and dust ingress.  This IP65 environmental protection enables it to reliably perform in this environment.

What’s more, the 0-1000mm version has a high accuracy of <±0.1% of full-scale output.  Plus, for outstanding performance, the hybrid potentiometer version offers a resolution towards infinity.

It comes with an integrated 1m radial cable providing an easy connection to additional instrumentation and displays.  Along with its integrated mounting grooves, this draw-wire sensor is very fast and easy to install.

The P60 industrial draw-wire sensor was positioned along one of the ancillary pump rods attached to the beam about 1/3rd along its length.  As the displacement was less than 1m, the 0-1000mm capacity draw-wire was used.

Applied Measurements are an Approved UK Distributor for Micro-Epsilon

Micro Epsilon Approved UK Distributor Sticker

Applied Measurements are an approved UK distributor for Micro-Epsilon draw-wire sensors.  So, you are guaranteed to be buying authentic, manufacturer certified, Micro-Epsilon draw-wire sensors.

Start creating your own position measuring solution. Talk to us now on (+44) 0118 981 7339 or email us.

Still need some convincing? Read our other case studies here.