Holley’s Patent Model of a Steam-Boiler Furnace – 1880

Holley’s Patent Model of a Steam-Boiler Furnace – 1880

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This model was filed with the application to the U.S. Patent Office for Patent Number 238,235 issued to Alexander Lyman Holley of Brooklyn, NY on March 1, 1881. Holley’s patent was for an improved gas-fueled steam-boiler for use in a furnace. Mr. Holley noted that past objections to the use of gas for fuel dealt with poor combustion of the gas due to incomplete mixing with combustion air. His invention related to a new way to mix the air and gas more completely prior to introduction into the combustion chamber. He provided for separate entry flues for the gas and air. These ran beneath the floor of the combustion chamber. Slots were cut into the floor perpendicular to the flues. Alternate slots were connected to either the gas flue or air flue. In his patent application drawing, he showed five slots – two for gas and three for air. He conceived that the pressure feeding the air and gas would create jets through the slots into the combustion chamber where mixture would occur and combustion take place. To facilitate this, he included a curved diaphragm as the top of the combustion chamber. The combustion gases would then be carried upwards through tubes in the boiler and thence to the exhaust. Research of available trade literature and other sources has not revealed any commercial product that may have made use of Mr. Holley’s invention. Mr. Holley was an engineer of great reputation in the steel making industry and was a founding member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
The patent model is constructed of wood and sheet metal. The boiler is sheet metal painted black. The wooden frame of the model is painted red with black lines to give it the appearance of being made of brick. The model conforms to the patent drawings and represents the major elements of the patent. The air and gas inlet pipes and flues are present. The burner is made of wood and has slots cut into it to represent the alternating gas air and gas ports. The model has a tag that includes the date (January 24, 1880) of the patent application.
Currently not on view
Object Name
patent model, furnace, steam boiler
Object Type
Patent Model
date made
ca 1880
patent date
Holley, Alexander L.
associated place
United States: New York, Brooklyn
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 7 3/8 in x 4 1/2 in x 8 3/8 in; 18.7325 cm x 11.43 cm x 21.2725 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Patent Models
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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