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The high-speed engine was preferred because it allowed the use of smaller, and therefore cheaper, dynamos and alternators.
However the conventional double-acting steam engines of the time tended to suffer from 'knocking' problems in their bearings when run at high speeds.
In his approach to manufacturing he was keen on standardisation and the interchangeability of components, as were his employers, and this trait showed through in the meticulous drawings maintained at Paxman for his engines.
Despite his abilities and contribution to the Willans business, he was not offered a partnership and some friction appears to have developed between himself and Peter Willans.
After two years of development work on the engine and six months of running trials, three of the new engines were put on display at the Empire of India Exhibition held at Earls Court in 1895.Paxman's "Peache Patent" was a high-speed, single-acting compound steam engine, first exhibited by the Company in 1895.It was specifically designed for electrical power generation and used almost exclusively for this purpose.The designer of the Peache engine was a man of substantial private means which allowed him to be 'his own man'.His grandfather, also called James Courthope Peache, had been a very successful and wealthy London timber merchant.
During the 1880s and early 1890s electric lighting was an expensive luxury, very much the preserve of the wealthy.