L A Mair

Robert Stirling
Hot Air & Stir Eng
John Malone

Robert Stirling
Hot Air & Stir Eng
John Malone

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Some book reviews of Robert Stirling biography.
From MODEL ENGINEER. February. 1996.
Revd Robert Stirling DD Inventor of the Heat Economiser and stirling Cycle Engine, by Robert Sier.
This book should appeal to those who have been nibbled by the Hot Air Engine bug. Although the title implies that it is a biography of stirling, it is much more than that It seems to this reviewer that the author, well known in the world of hot air engines, set out to look into the life of the man whom (wrongly, as he points out) many believe to have been the true and first inventor of the hot air closed cycle engine, and found himself committed to digesting a vast amount of documentary material. How many hours of work this called for is not disclosed but the number must have been very large indeed,much correspondence and travel being involved.Among the sources listed are libraries and archives at Perth, Dundee, Glasgow, the Church of Scotland records at the Scottish Records office, and the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Queens University in Belfast. And, of course, the Science Museum and the Newspaper Library at Colindale.
The quantity of information must have been daunting but the author has distilled it effectively into a very readable book which is divided into three parts. The first part is the biography proper and is entitled The Stirling Family. The chronology begins in 1579 and there is a family tree covering the period 1796 to 1956 showing, among other things, how the railway and civil engineering Stirlings fit in. Inevitably, this part presents also a picture of the education system and of the economics of the times.
The second part covering 70 pages is entitled The Air Engine and it covers developments up to 1857, the date of a patent for an economiser (regenerator) for a hot-blast furnace. It presents the thesis that Stirlings important invention was the economiser, now generally and less appropriately called the regenerator. It may well provide food for thought for makers of model hot air engines and it includes an analysis by Wm.Rankine in which the benefit conferred by the economiser in a hot air engine is calculated. The last chapter of this section deals with the economiser and Rankines work. It seems that even in the l850s there were those who thought that with a closed cycle engine with an economiser, mechanical work could be got for nothing. The law of thermodynamics which says that there are no free lunches was not yet widely heard in the land.
Part three is entitled Appendix but it is more than an idle appendage. It includes the text of a sermon by Stirling delivered before HM commissioner for the General Assembly of the church of Scotland in 1833, and his contribution to the Statistical Survey of Scotland Finally it gives the text of five of his English and Scottish patents (they were separate in those days) but unfortunately none of the drawings which accompanied the specifications is shown.
All told, the book in addition to its technical subject matter gives an interesting insight into some aspects of life in those days. It can be confidently recommended to those who are interested in Stirlings work, with the considerable bonus of some more general history of the times. The simple designation "Hardback" scarcely does justice to the excellence of the binding.

From MODELTECH magazine. December 1996
REVEREND ROBERT STIRLING, D. D. Inventor of the Heat Economiser and Stirling Cycle Engine by Robert Sier
Review by Linda J. Broad
Go back in time to the dawn of the industrial Revolution with this comprehensive chronicle of the life and times of Robert Stirling. Leaving no stone unturned, author Robert Siers research into this legendary hot air hero is unparalleled. This book gives a behind the scenes look at Reverend Stirling's ecclesiastical achievements, as well as his wonderful creations for harnessing and using the mechanical energy from hot air. Sier's research yields a wealth of technical information, enough to whet any hot air enthusiasts appetite. An added bonus, many sketches on other well known figures of that remarkable era are included (particularly his brother James), making this book a must have for anyone seriously interested in the technologies emerging from the Industrial Revolution.