Why the "H"?

H through T5500

Why the "H"?

Postby j79guy on Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:45 pm

Solar products started out as a small company in San Diego, California, with a mind to making turbine engines in industrial applications. This was in the early 1960's, and like everyone else, wanted to get on the band wagon, as the future lied with Nuclear and Turbine power! They started out with a small unit, marketed it and got their start. The groundwork was laid down for the production of 1000 and 3000 Horsepower class turbines as well. About this time, this upstart of a company caught the eye of farming implement giant, International Harvester, who wanted to spend some of their wealth on a growth industry, not directly related to farm equipment. International bought the Solar Company and pushed the Saturn and Centaur (1000 hp, and 3000 hp units respectively.) into production. Many hundreds of Saturn and Centaur units later, the Caterpillar Company bought Solar Turbine products division from International and continued to sell the Saturn and Centaur in great quantities. The turbine market never sits still and the requirement for turbine units producing above 3000 horsepower either had to be filled by Solar, or a competitor would fill it for them. Consequently the Centaur was updated and refined over the years to 3500, 3800, 4000, 4500 and finally via a major revision, 4700 horsepower. The basic design had pretty much run it's course and it was time to go back to the drawing board to bring to the market a whole new family of engines. Where to start? Well, take the proven compressor module from the T4700 Centaur (With a new horizontal split line, making compressor maintenance much easier.) and mate it to a whole new scratch built combustor and turbine section, with modern metallurgy , film cooling and multi-pass cooled turbine blades, and a new engine is born, the Centaur "H" Initially rated at 5000 hp, it subsequently grew to 5500+ hp. After a few teething problems, namely getting the bearings to survive at these higher temperatures and loading, the modern hot section proved it's self. The addition of a "0" stage to the compressor now made it a "Super Centaur", which didn't roll off the tongue, and the connection to the original Centaur which startered out as a 3000 hp unit was long gone, well let's just call the new engine something completely different, how about "Taurus".
The "H" was just an interim design not sold in great quantities, but did prove the new hot section, and paved the way to a whole new engine family.
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