About General Purpose Engines

Traction engines or general purpose engines were the all rounders of the steam world. Produced by nearly all the English steam engine manufacturers they were commonly used for threshing corn, sawing wood, crushing stone, haulage and many more varied tasks.

Development of the traction engine started in the mid 18th century and by around 1870 the standardised design was settled upon. No one manufacturer dominated production and debates long raged about who built the best engines. They were built in a range of sizes although rules between builders prevented very small models being made.

General purpose engines were too expensive for small farmers and normally owned by contractors who moved from farm to farm to carry out their work.

This area will be expanded soon.