The steam wheel was Watt’s first design for using steam to create rotary (round and round) motion. The steam wheel was essentially a steam turbine. It consisted of a circular chamber fitted with valves and mounted on a horizontal shaft. Watt included the steam wheel in his patent of 1769 and drawings were prepared but not submitted to Parliament. However, a drawing was laid before Parliament when Watt’s patent was extended in 1775. Despite Boulton and Watt’s high hopes, the steam wheel was not a success. Watt continued to sporadically work on it up until at least 1781, with some assistance from John Southern. An A. Kemp enquired about Boulton & Watt’s progress with steam wheel on the 5th December 1782, but by then the idea appears to have been completely abandoned.
This drawing is part of the Archives of Soho collection, which is held by Birmingham City Archives [Ref. MS3147/Portfolio/5/1338]
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