Talk:Centrifugal governor

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MAXWELL: "moderator" vs governor[edit]

(Dynamic systems) I disagree about the distinction Maxwell was making. It is not a question of whether the device works by braking vs controlling the driving force. In particular, he considers Watt's governor to be a moderator, even though it works by adjusting the aperture of the steam valve, hence controlling the driving force. Moderators directly control the position of the speed-controlling device (e.g. throttle or brake) depending on the speed of the engine. This being the case they can not maintain exactly constant speed. To see this, suppose an engine is running under constant load. The governor is holding the throttle at a position that provides enough power to turn the engine at that speed against that load. Now say the load increases, causing the engine to slow down. This will cause the governor to open the throttle, providing more power to maintain the speed. But if it actually brought the speed back to the original, then the governor would put the throttle in the original position, which was not sufficient to maintain speed with the increased load. In order for the throttle to remain wider open to cope with the increased load, the engine speed must remain slightly lower. How much depends on the sensitivity of the governor to speed and the linkage between the governor and the throttle.This is exactly analogous to an operational amplifier circuit depending on the ratio of open- to closed-loop gain. What Maxwell described as a governor was a device that continually adjusted the control mechanism (throttle, brake) as long as the speed was not at the set point. Thus in the above case, it would continue to open the throttle until the original set speed was reached, then leave it there. If the speed is higher than the set point, it would close the throttle continuously until the set point was matched. Now if the speed of the engine changes gradually, due to inertia of heavy flywheels or a moving car, there is a danger that the adjustment may overshoot since the engine speed is responding slowly. This would result in an oscillation about the set-point. The math in the rest of the paper is determining under what conditions this oscillation can be avoided. Eaberry (talk) 01:16, 21 June 2016 (UTC)


"Written by Sam Merkel, age 13, South Dakota, USA"

(moved from the article page) - thanks, Sam! -- Marj Tiefert 18:20 Sep 7, 2002 (UTC)

This is typically called a "flywheel governor"

"Balls to the Wall"
The phrase originates from the steam centrifugal governor. Since the spinning device could be dangerous, it was enclosed in a cylinder whose inside diameter matched the full speed of the device. When a steam engine, which used this governor, was pushed to full throttle it was said to be "balls to the wall." While there are sources on the internet for this, as far as I know none of them are original sources. There may be original research from language or social experts that can pin the phrase to the steam engine. 19:32, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Tim van Who?
Is there any reason Dynamic System links to a page on a philosopher? 16:10, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

Some inaccuracies in the first paragrah?[edit]

I take issue with the statement that the governor controls engine speed by "regulating the amount of fuel admitted." More properly (as noted in the third paragraph), it controls the opening of a throttling or choking valve that has an effect on the flow of working fluid of the engine (but the opening of the throttling valve does not directly set flow.) In the steam engine, this working fluid is high pressure steam, which contains no "fuel". In the case of a gasoline IC engine, the affected quantity is the air flow into the engine, which may or may not be mixed with "fuel". (In a carbureted engine, it contains fuel; In a ported fuel injection engine, it does not.) In a Diesel engine, where speed control is accomplished directly by fuel control, a flyball governor might be used to control speed by regulating fuel.

Also, the governor may, or may not implement "proportional control" (i.e. control effort linearly proportional to an error signal), depending on it's construction.

I would suggest the following to replace the first paragraph:

"A centrifugal governor is a specific type of governor that affects the speed of an engine by regulating either the flow of the engine's working fluid (such as air or steam) or fuel (as in a Diesel engine). The flow is modulated so as to maintain a near constant speed over a range of mechanical load conditions." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:22, 23 March 2007 (UTC).

Maxwell, Wallace, references[edit]

This is well referenced now so the No Refernces template could go but clearly references are still needed for the first part of the article. How do I change the template?--Nick Green 03:31, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Reference to cognitive sciences[edit]

"The centrifugal governor is often used in the cognitive sciences as an example of a dynamic system, in which the representation of information cannot be clearly separated from the operations being applied to the representation."

This section is not clear to me nor is there a reference to further explore. I would very much like to know more about this statement. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sproutsradio (talkcontribs) 15:25, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

James Watt as Inventor??[edit]

The information on this page about James Watt inventing the centrifugal governor does not agree with the information on the page on Automation ( which says he adapted an existing technology to the steam engine. DR (talk) 00:21, 6 July 2018 (UTC)


Article as of 16:48, 8 August 2018. Introduction, second paragraph, first sentence, states "It was invented in 1788 by James Watt...". Section "History", first paragraph, fourth sentence, states "Centrifugal governors were invented by Christiaan Huygens...". I have no idea which is right (if either), but clearly both sentences cannot be true. —DragonHawk (talk|hist) 18:02, 22 August 2018 (UTC)

Watt specifically said he didn't invent it - just adapted it (brilliantly,of course). - DavidWBrooks (talk) 19:14, 22 August 2018 (UTC)
I have tweaked the article and removed the hatnote. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 19:29, 22 August 2018 (UTC)