The rotary or steam wheel, the invention of J.E. Thomas, of Carlinville, Ill., shown in the annexed figure, consists of a wheel with an iron rim inclosed within a casing or jacket from which nothing protrudes except the axle which carries the driving pulley, and the grooved distributing disk. Within this jacket, which need not necessarily be steam-tight, there is a movable piece, K, which, pressing against the rim, renders steam-tight the channel in which the pistons move when driven by the steam. At the extremities of this channel there are plates which are kept pressed against the wheel by means of spiral springs, thus rendering the channel perfectly tight.

The steam enters the closed space (which forms one-fourth of the circumference) through the slide-valve, S, presses against the pistons, d, and causes the wheel to revolve in the direction of the arrows. The slide-valve is closed by the action of the external distributing mechanism, the piston passes beyond the steam-outlet, A, and a new piston then comes in play. Altogether, there are six of these pistons, each one working in an aperture in the rim, and kept pressed outwardly by means of a spiral spring. The steam acts constantly on the same lever arm and meets with no counter-pressure. The other defects, likewise, of the ordinary steam engines in use are obviated to such an extent that the effective power of the steam-wheel is 50 per cent, greater than that of other and more complicated machines--at least this is the experience of the inventor.



To the inner ends of the pistons there are attached rods which pass through the rim of the wheel (where they are provided with stuffing-boxes) and abut against spiral springs. These rods are, in addition, connected with levers, h, which are pivoted on the spokes of the wheel, and whose other extremities carry rods, 2. These latter run through guides on the external face of the rim of the wheel and engage by means of friction-rollers, in an undulating groove formed in the inner surface of the jacket. When a piston arrives in front of the upper extremity of the steam channel, the friction roller at that moment enters one of the depressions in the groove, and thus lifts up the piston and allows it to pass freely beyond the plate which closes the channel.