One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small or auxiliary engine, especially on a ship.
- ‘These systems, and many other aspects of log transport, were governed by steam-powered ‘donkey engines.’’
- ‘Amidships on the upper deck was the dredging platform itself, flanked by zinc specimen boxes and with a small steam donkey engine to one side to pull up the dredge with its precious cargo of samples.’
- ‘They were engine-room hands: bunkermen who stuffed coal into the boilers; donkeywallahs who tended the donkey engines; they greased the machinery and riddled the furnaces.’
- ‘Astern of the engine-room area is a short gap where the ship broke her back, then you reach the propshaft, suspended above the seabed by the remains of the donkey engine.’
- ‘I take a few photos and walk the long trail back to the gate by the firehouse, where a huge steam donkey engine is displayed.’
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