This is an industrial model of a solar turbine mounted to a lowboy truck transport trailer. The model is approximately 1/8 scale. It was made by professional model makers for promotion to sell the unit to the military.

This study model was made by Solar Turbines in San Diego, most likely as a proposal for the military. It is a Centaur or Taurus portable gas compressor unit, typically used to boost transmission gas line pressure between natural gas transmission stations or at a natural gas plant. It dates from the 1980s or early 1990s.

The cylindrical tank is a gas storage tank. The small V8 auto engine below it is used to pressurize the tank. The tank pressure is used to drive a pneumatic starter motor. The pneumatic starter motor is attached to the larger turbine engine housed in the box enclosure to the left of the storage tank. The Mars turbine engine inside that enclosure is rated somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000 shaft horsepower depending on the model.

The curved vent duct on top of the enclosure is a combustion air intake unit. The dark duct to the left of that is the combustion exhaust duct for the turbine engine, used to reduce noise when the unit is running. (8,000 hp at 20,000 rpm is noisy!) The two small sideways fire hydrant shaped units to the left of the box are gas compressors. The output shaft of the turbine spins those gas compressors which utilize a rotor/stator design to boost gas pressure.

Typically, with two compressor units, one takes the gas from ambient pressure up to medium pressure, then the second one takes it from medium up to higher pressure (referred to as a two-body). The horizontal box at the left of the model looks like a gas cooler, built similarly to the radiator in your car.

The model is made mostly from structural plastic sheet and rod. It was most likely built by the late Gene Leslie in the Solar Turbines factory model shop. After it served its purpose, the model was eventually auctioned off and was actually purchased for its sturdy shipping container. The model itself was donated to the museum by the buyer of the shipping container, Mr. Alonzo Clark. Our thanks to former Solar employees Dave Biermann and Wayne Myers for providing details on the unit.

An industrial model of a solar turbine mounted to a lowboy truck transport trailer.

Exhibit added: April 14, 2016 - Last modified: May 4, 2023

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship