The Hartnell Governor

Stationary steam engines, traction engines, portable and semi-portable engines all require some method of steam regulation to enable the operator to maintain adequate control over the machine. A device known as a governor is the piece of equipment used for this purpose. Numerous types of governors have been designed and put into use. It is widely accepted that the Watt governor may be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, design which can still be found in use on numerous applications around the world today. This article, although introducing the Hartnell Governor to the best of my ability, assumes the reader to have an understanding of the basic functions of governors in general. Mr. Hartnell* designed his governor circa 1875 and at the time it was considered to be of superior design to other governors of the day. It rotated between 500 and 600rpm and by utilising smaller fly balls and less parts, the internal friction was less than that of others. His original design consisted of the previously accepted method of a spring loaded rotating sleeve which altered the position of a bell crank and valve rod connected directly to a control valve fitted into the steam inlet pipe. The control valve either reduced or increased steam admission to the engine as required. When the steam engine increased in speed, possibly due to reduced loading of the engine, the fly balls would be forced out by centrifugal force thus moving the sleeve against, as in this case, spring tension. As the fly balls moved out, the central sleeve would be forced upwards which in turn moved the bell crank, valve rod and control valve in the correct direction to minimise steam flow and therefore decrease the speed, of the slightly over revving engine, back to its normal operating speed. Although the above description is reasonably typical for the majority of fly ball type governors, the Hartnell Governor had better stability against its strong spring, increased sensitivity due to its high speed, much less hunting (trying to maintain the engine at its correct speed without overshooting) and the fly balls moved roughly in a straight line parallel to the ground. . ith his original governor, as with other governors W of the day, the steam stop valve would be opened and closed to maintain correct operating speed; i.e., the amount of available steam flowing into the engine was either increased or decreased. Hartnell was not satisfied with this arrangement and designed an improvement which allowed the steam stop valve to be left fully opened at all times while steam distribution to the engine was altered by a separate cut off valve sliding on the back of the main valve. In effect, it was a governor with automatic steam cut off. He called it “Automatic Expansion”.

thus changing steam distribution to the engine in much the same manner as with a railway locomotive. the cut off valve rod rises above the centre point of the expansion link and because of attaining this position it has now moved the cut off valve to a point where steam is being cut off enough to cause the engine to slow down. The cut off valve rod was attached to the normal type of spring loaded sleeve which was always operated from the fly balls. the fly balls are as far inwards as they can go and the cut off valve rod is at the bottom of the expansion link. allows the cut off valve to admit as much steam as is available for the engine to gain speed.. the governor senses that the engine has (apparently) slowed dramatically and needs to change things quickly to ensure the engine returns to its normal operating speed. with its two eccentrics operating together. When steam is admitted to the unloaded engine. due to engine over speed. its travel is gradually decreased causing the relationship between the two slide valves to change and increase the amount of cut off. the valve rod moved up or down the expansion link due to the action of the spring loaded sleeve and appropriate linkage. Admission of steam is re-adjusted by the cut off valve and the engine quickly stabilizes to its normal operating speed with the valve cut off rod now roughly in the centre of the expansion link. When in operation. As the engine speed increases. . the fly balls move slightly inwards lowering the valve cut off rod. e. This in turn repositioned the cut off valve rod as well as the cut off valve. the fly balls move further outwards which in turn continually repositions the cut off valve rod so it moves slowly upwards in the expansion link. Eventually. at normal engine speed. Obviously. when the engine is at rest the governor is not turning. the valve cut off rod is roughly in the central position of the expansion link depending on the internal friction of the engine and drive belts etc. An eccentric drove the main valve in the normal manner while a second eccentric drove the expansion link which in turn drove the cut off valve rod and the cut off valve. more steam needs to be admitted to the engine. When the valve rod is moved upwards. which is the method used to provide greater efficiency in steam usage. Due to spring tension. is very fascinating. In this position. As the engine changed speed due to variations in loading. positioned at the bottom of the expansion link. Watching the automatic cut off Hartnell governor. To do so. As it slows down. the cut off valve rod has maximum travel thus allowing maximum steam to be admitted to the engine due to the relative positions between the cut off valve and main valve. less load required less steam admission while the main steam cut off valve (or throttle) remained in the one position.To achieve this he added a locomotive type expansion link. Initially the fly balls remain in the inwards position and the cut off valve rod.g.

a very fascinating governor.e. Another interesting part of the design is the angles at which the eccentrics are positioned on the shaft.9375” which provides the main valve with a travel of the same distance. e. *To date this author has not been able to discover anything about Mr.g. .. or his technical background.. his origin. the entire process of adjusting the steam cut off via the governor and cut off valve is repeated to maintain correct speed.71875” and due to the continual changing position of the cut off valve rod in the expansion link the travel of the cut off valve also varies as required to maintain correct engine speed. the main eccentric has a total throw of 0. The cut off eccentric has a total throw of 0. i.After a load is applied. All in all. Both eccentrics have different throws and need to be designed to meet the requirements of the engine to which the governor is being applied. due to work being carried out. The main eccentric leads the crankpin by 115° and the cut off eccentric leads the main eccentric by 30°. Hartnell. on the 3” by 4½” model mill engine I am making. The fly balls now move inwards repositioning the valve cut off rod to a lower point on the expansion link which in turn gives greater travel to the cut off valve and allows more steam to be admitted to the engine to restore correct operating speed. the engine will slow down. As the load on the engine is continually being altered. the cut off eccentric leads the crankpin by 145°.