HOWTO maintain a Difference Engine

Here's a set of instructions for operating and maintaining the replica of Charles Babbage's mechanical computer — the storied difference engine — built and displayed in 1991 at London's Science Museum to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Babbage.

If the Engine is being demonstrated on a daily basis, lt should be oiled and greased at least once a week. If no demonstrations are taking place, then the Engine should be oiled and greased on a monthly basis, but the handle should be turned at least twice a week to cycle the mechanisms.

Grease : "Alvania" grease or it's equivalent should be used.


1. all vertical motion cam profiles only and their levers.
2. all bevel gears above and below the cam stack.
3. all bevel gears on the carry axes and those on the carry drive shaft.
4. the phasing gear, register pinion, "Impact tooth and the tw-in tooth drive.
5. the pawl wheel and crank pinion.


to Operate and Maintain

Charles Babbage's
2nd Difference Engine

(via Hack the Planet)

(Image: The Difference Engine, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Adactio's Flickr stream)