In the early days and in small operations, simple mule and
man power was used for everything. As technology advanced,
and operations became larger, the steam engine was introduced.
steam engine consisted of a large boiler.
(pictured here) was a very large cylindrical metal chamber
in which steam was produced. Most boilers have either fire
tubes or water tubes on the inside of the chamber. Either
water was forced through these tubes (pictured below) and
the rest of the chamber was filled with "fire" or water
filled the chamber and the tubes were filled with the "fire".
coal or coke was used to produce the "fire" or heat that
was in turn used to turn the water to steam. From the boiler,
the steam went to a cylinder much like a modern gasoline
powered car's cylinders. Under pressure, steam forced its
way into the cylinder depressing the piston. As the piston
was depressed, it turned a crankshaft which could be used
to power a hoist, air compressors or pumps.
Wherever possible, water or hydro power was used. If the
location of the milling site was near any kind of sizeable
reliable moving water, a water wheel would be used to generate
power. This water wheel would have many paddles on it and
would be partially submerged in moving water. As the water
flowed, it would cause the wheel to turn. The wheel was
then connected to whatever was needed to be powered.
In the early 1900's, diesel engines began to replace steam
engines because they could produce more horsepower using
less space. Invented by a man named Rudolph Diesel in 1894,
the diesel engine was built on the idea that
air could get hot enough from the pressure inside the cylinder
to ignited the fuel. A diesel engine does not have a spark
plug. It generates the heat needed to ignite its fuel entirely
from the compression of air. To do this, the compression
in each cylinder
is about 3 times the amount found in a normal gasoline engine.
Diesel engines were hard to start as these engines were
placed in harsh and many times cold locations where mines
were located. To counteract this problem, glow plugs were
used. These are small plugs located in the cylinder that
can be electronically heated up to ignite the fuel when
the engine is cold. Diesel engines are still used today
to produce power at mines.