ASME-Landmark:Reynolds-Corliss Pumping Engine


Between 1914 and 1917, Jacksonville undertook a water supply improvement program. The Reynolds-Corliss Pumping Engine, developed by American engineering pioneer Edwin Reynolds in Milwaukee, was installed in 1917 in the Jacksonville Main Street water pumping plant alongside an Epping-Carpenter pump that was scrapped and removed in 1956.

Reynolds' work was the predominating influence in the development of the reciprocating steam engine in America. Reynolds designed a valve mechanism which had several distinct advantages over the releasing gears previously employed in the Corliss Steam Engine, which was patented in 1849 and whose patent rights expired in 1873. The leverage of the releasing mechanism was constant so that the reaction on the governor was the same at all points of cutoff. The gear was quieter and could run at much higher speeds. By 1885, more than 500 had been sold, revolutionizing American industry. By 1890, the Society of Mechanical Engineers was devoting entire sessions for study of the engines produced by Edwin Reynolds.

The Reynolds-Corliss Pumping Engine in Jacksonville pumped 5 million gallons of water a day from 1917 until 1930, when the first of the electric-driven peripheral pumping stations began operating. Steam engine operation was discontinued in 1956, but the Allis-Chalmers Reynolds-Corliss engine driven pump remains at the plant as a unique landmark of this era in American history and mechanical engineering. See ASME website for more information