The International Steam Pages

More Stationary Steam Engines in Thailand

I had heard for some time that stationary steam engines were still used in Thailand, but the first photographic evidence I saw came in 2005 courtesy of Rob Berkavicius who has made a study of them in the same way as I have done in Burma and Indonesia. We are both very conscious of the 'Lonely Planet Effect' and hence we are withholding locational information to ensure what are small private businesses (albeit currently extremely hospitable) are not swamped with visitors. If you are a serious student of these machines, feel free to get in touch. Apart from Rob, I would also like to thank John Baker for his invaluable help in getting us started during our visit as Rob was, alas, incapacitated.

Click here for an introduction to stationary steam in Thailand's rice mills.

Click here for a brand new unused 21st century stationary steam engine.

Click here for one of my favourite mills in detail (2006 visit).

Click here for Thai stationary steam's last hurrah (2006 visit).

Click here for more 21st century stationary steam engines in Thailand (2006 visit).

All engines seen are straight tandem compounds, I think virtually all use condensers which further softens the exhaust.

The oldest engines that I saw come with a slipper (shoe guide), very few are active. This derelict example is typical.

I have been lucky enough to have seen two seen active, Rob Berkavicius has yet to be that lucky. This engine was unusual in many ways, the low pressure cylinder is forward, the valve gear is on the opposite side to all the other engines seen so far.

Although the biggest mills work all year round, the early months of each year are apparently the busiest. This engine was stored ready for use in early 2006, when we saw it working on our second visit. It carried the marking of the active Bangkok manufacturer

Rob Berkavicius has identified four different sizes, the biggest is probably of the order of 200HP as seen in this further stored example:

The engines often drive not only the mill machinery, but also auxiliary pumps for the water supply. Usually these are belt driven, but some are directly connected as in this old machine:

One feature of operational engines is that there are some hybrids, which are conversions of original diesel engines. The crankshaft end was built by John Robson of Shipley, England.

There are at least two Ruston and Hornsby conversions known, this example was not working when we visited but certainly was working when we flew over it on our way back home (the owner, as promised, contacted our friend John Baker when it next ran). The Ruston name on the casting is clearly visible as are two original plates giving the engine number and also the name of the local agents, 'The Bangkok Dock Company', a successor company of which still exists today. 

Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson