Ericsson Hot Air Engine

By Staff

706 Teresa Court Petaluma, California 94954

I have an Ericsson engine. The diameter of the air cylinder is
eight inches, it stands five feet five and one-half inches in
height, weighs one thousand pounds, is from the 1880-1900 years,
and it is a quiet running engine as of this day.

Sandy Mills, Sr., with the help of his friend Sam Harkleroad, a
mechanical engineer, and a 1906 catalog from the Smithsonian
Institution, made measurements of each part needed to restore the
Ericsson engine.

Sandy Mills Sr., a machinist and mechanic, rebuilt and
handcrafted the missing parts needed to make it a working engine.
He spent many hours on each piece of brass and iron part, to make
it look and function just as the original item would.

Restoring a pile of disassembled, rusted engine parts from the
nineteenth century era was a lot of work, and many months of effort
went into the project. The engine was assembled and running by May

The engine’s only function was to pump water. Its most
noteworthy feature was that the very water it was designed to pump
was also used to keep the engine running, by cooling the hot air.
It was used mainly to pump water from wells for livestock, and to
supply the home with water.

The Rider-Ericsson hot-air engine, patented in 1880, is a
reliable engine which can be operated by almost anyone. It is
practically noiseless when running. The operation is easy, all one
needed to do was to keep the fire burning in the firebox below the
air chamber, and oil the moving parts.

The engine’s inventor, Swedish born John Ericsson, born in
1803, was primarily a marine inventor and is known for designing
the Monitor, the iron-clad warship, of Civil War era.

I’m still gathering data on the engine, and once I get it
together I hope to write a nice article.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines