Stearns’ and Hodgson’s Patent Model of a Steam Engine Governor – ca 1852

Stearns’ and Hodgson’s Patent Model of a Steam Engine Governor – ca 1852

Usage conditions apply
George S. Stearns and William Hodgson of Cincinnati, Ohio, submitted a patent application for an improvement in governors for steam engines to the United States Patent Office. They received patent 9,236 on August 31, 1852. A governor regulates the speed of an engine. Their governor was of normal design, but Stearns and Hodgson claimed as new their use of quadrants with teeth at the end of each arm supporting a fly ball. The inventors claimed the advantages of such a design were simplicity of operation and low cost of construction.
The patent model as shown in the image is constructed of cast iron and steel. All of the key elements of the patent are illustrated by the model. It includes a hand crank to permit demonstration of actual operation. A full description of the workings of the governor and diagrams showing the complete design of the patent can be found in the patent document online at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website,
Object Name
governor, steam engine
governor, steam engine, model
patent model, governor, steam engine
date made
patent date
Stearns, George R.
Hodgson, Will
place made
United States: Ohio
associated place
United States: Ohio, Cincinnati
Physical Description
cast-iron (overall material)
over drive shaft: 12 in x 6 in; 30.48 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Patent Models
Steam Engines
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Industry & Manufacturing
Patent Models
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Power Machinery
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object