The Taylor Compressor
October 23, 2017 6:29 AM   Subscribe

The Taylor Compressor relies solely on the energy inherent in falling water. It is a machine that uses no moving parts, does not require any fuel to operate, and is completely self perpetuating as long as there’s an adequate supply of water. The hydraulic compressor at Victoria was able to supply enough compressed air to run the entire operation, including the hoists, rock crushers, drills, and even the mine’s short line railroad.
posted by Bee'sWing (32 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
 
I enjoy stories of creative/ingenious "use what you've got on hand to make it work" bent. This scratches that itch.
posted by k5.user at 7:22 AM on October 23


Googling around, I found this neat old book Hydraulic Power Transmission by Compressed Air from 1897.
posted by smcameron at 7:30 AM on October 23 [2 favorites]


That is so cool. I wish there was a little more detail on how the entry to the pipe ensured a good air/water mixture. Even a diagram. But so interesting!
posted by explosion at 7:37 AM on October 23


This is a trompe, right? I am looking and I can't tell how it is any different from a trompe, but fluid dynamics are not a strong skill for me. I hope a smarter person shows up in this thread.
posted by seasparrow at 7:42 AM on October 23 [3 favorites]


I wish there was a little more detail on how the entry to the pipe ensured a good air/water mixture.

Based on the diagram showing the intake jutting up into the reservoir to just below the surface, my guess is it's a morning-glory spillway, which sure looks like it creates enough turbulent flow to mix a bunch of air in (IANAHydrologist).
posted by solotoro at 7:42 AM on October 23


Similar to a hydraulic ram pump which uses the weight of water to compress an air reservoir and uses that power to pump water. You can make one for under $40 in plumbing parts, they are pretty neat to see in action.
posted by peeedro at 8:03 AM on October 23 [2 favorites]


  This is a trompe, right?

Yup. A really really big one, though. They're great if you've got a lot of water to spill, not so much in the dry.
posted by scruss at 8:05 AM on October 23


What I love about this is that it's basically solar power - like nearly all water-powered machinery. (The exceptions that come to mind are pumped-reservoir hydroelectric, and tidal power, which is earth-lunar system energy.)

You can make the argument that hydrocarbon fuelled energy is also solar power, but that's silly.
posted by Devonian at 8:21 AM on October 23


Very cool stuff. Another interesting use of the venturi effect is to employ the vacuum created by a suitably shaped tube on the outside of an aircraft in order to power gyroscopic instruments. You can see these venturis (venturii?) on the outside of vintage general aviation aircraft and they are still produced and available to buy. A more modern sort of thing like this is the ram air turbine.
posted by exogenous at 9:06 AM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Somebody pointed out once that since you can build one of these with nothing more than masonry and a bit of pipe, and since you can use a simple mechanical device to split a compressed air stream into hot and cold, with just a tiny bit of modern knowledge the ancient Romans could have had air conditioning. It's within the reach of Iron Age technology.

Just in case any of y'all are working on some alternate history.
posted by echo target at 9:42 AM on October 23 [28 favorites]


Truly fascinating, but the story suffers from the same problem every non-eponymous small town newspaper site on the web does. Namely: where the fuck is it? They never mention what state or province, or even country. So goddam irritating.

At least this has the author's bio at the bottom of the page, but even so, you have to read between the lines to guess the location. For the record if anyone else was wondering, the mine is in Rockland Township, Michigan.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 10:08 AM on October 23 [4 favorites]


lol. And now I see I missed the second link. /sigh. Reading comprehension FTW.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 10:09 AM on October 23


There's also a pretty nice historical site just up the road from the dam.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 10:11 AM on October 23 [1 favorite]


"Just in case any of y'all are working on some alternate history."

Wow. Yeah, a trompe + vortex tube is first-class, easily-constructed, super low-maintenance wizardry.

That's definitely going into my time-traveler's handbook.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:14 AM on October 23 [4 favorites]


los pantalones del muerte, I had to Google for several minutes to figure out where it is. I though Ontario at first.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:27 AM on October 23


As a guitar player I got a little excited when I read the first three words of this post.

It's still cool, though.
posted by tommasz at 10:41 AM on October 23


...with just a tiny bit of modern knowledge the ancient Romans could have had air conditioning. It's within the reach of Iron Age technology.

Another bit of interesting Roman industrial technology is the mill complex at Barbegal.

It had 16 water wheels (in two rows of 8) that was powered by a single water source. The water passing through the first pair of wheels was then handed off to the next pair lower down the hill, and so on. It could process ~4.5 tons of flour per day (enough to feed 10,000-40,000 people a day), and may have also powered saws for cutting timber and stone as well. While there were other sites with a similar setup around that time, Barbegal seems to have been the largest.
posted by chambers at 11:01 AM on October 23 [2 favorites]


That's definitely going into my time-traveler's handbook.

Use the hot air side of things to heat a water supply, and you could have hot and cold running water along with your air conditioning.
posted by fings at 11:54 AM on October 23 [1 favorite]


As a guitar player I got a little excited when I read the first three words of this post.

Ha! That's my exact same reaction.
posted by awfurby at 3:50 PM on October 23


Musicians use compressors?
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:48 PM on October 23


Well sure.

also this
posted by pwnguin at 5:25 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Along similar lines: the Humphrey pistonless water pump at Cobdogla
posted by nickzoic at 6:36 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Here’s a short video about a plant that was in operation on the Montreal River..closed in the 80’s.
First few minutes describe the technology pretty well..it’d be fun to see some detailed technical drawings..
I’d never heard of this before..wow great post!!
posted by The_Auditor at 7:29 PM on October 23


From the description of the Humphrey pistonless pump linked by Nickzoic:
The gas for the Cobdogla Pumps was originally supplied by two updraft producers with scrubbing and tar extracting plant and the fuel used being mallee, box and redgum wood, which was supplied from the extensive wood stacks situated to the North in 6 ft lengths.

The wood was cut on site into 2 ft lengths for feeding into the producers. The May Bros. saw bench used in this operation is part of the machinery display.
It's just the most Australian thing ever.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:06 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]



Last night I dreamed of an ancient stone and masonry structure by a waterfall, covered in moss, with a 100+ psi trompe feeding a vortex tube with a 200C temp differential. Venturi vacuum from the trompe plus cold dry air from the trompe was being used to freeze dry all kind of amazing mushrooms and roots.

Like Primitive Technologies meets Mayan pyramids in Guatemala meets Legend of Zelda.

Thanks OP for the inspiration.
posted by Metafilter only supports English letters in userna at 9:37 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


OMG! It is not 9 a.m., it is 9 p.m.! I dreamed of this today not yesterday! I did not sleep for 14 hours, only for 2!

In my defense I am having some kind of food poisoning fever.

Well, looks like it was literally a fever dream. I will have to add a passive water purifier to my dream structure.
posted by Metafilter only supports English letters in userna at 9:45 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


Romans also had the water organ
posted by yoHighness at 5:09 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


(adds "pipe organ" to the list of compressed-air wizard tools to impress the locals)
posted by fings at 8:02 AM on October 24


I learned recently that the Flatiron building in NYC had a water-powered elevator until 1999.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:11 PM on October 25


Last night I dreamed of an ancient stone and masonry structure by a waterfall, covered in moss, with a 100+ psi trompe feeding a vortex tube with a 200C temp differential. Venturi vacuum from the trompe plus cold dry air from the trompe was being used to freeze dry all kind of amazing mushrooms and roots.

So this is how they roll that big stone ball back above the idol chamber? Makes sense.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:12 PM on October 26 [2 favorites]


The hydraulic compressor at Victoria was able to supply enough compressed air to run the entire operation, including the hoists, rock crushers, drills, and even the mine’s short line railroad.

Meh. All the cool kids are using stangenkunsten.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:48 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


Wow. It's hard to believe those were a thing.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:53 AM on October 31


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