Content Tools

5815 Upper Valley Pike, Dayton, Ohio 45424.

In 1904 the City of Columbus, Ohio, began a complete renovation of its water system. The lime and soda ash water softening and purification system was installed and continued as the world's largest for over 30 years, By 1907 the new pump building was completed and two Holly Vertical Triple Expansion Steam Engines from Buffalo, New York, were ordered for installation.

The two new engines were equal in size to those at Kansas City, then advertised as the world's largest. Each engine required 32 freight cars to bring it to Columbus. Each behemoth would pump 20 million gallons of water per day as the 28 ton flywheels lazily turned 18 to 25 revolutions per minute, gulping up 569 gallons on each stroke. The great water cylinder is nearly a yard in diameter and the three steam cylinders being 28, 54, and 80 inches in diameter.

Looking at these marvels of human creation one is immediately impressed by the superb engineering that went into these machines. The foundation was put in with great exactness, as to be off the thickness of a sheet of paper would have thrown these 65 foot, 900 ton giants out of alignment. One could not perceive any deflection in the 15 inch face of that 20 foot flywheels when in rotation.

Typical of this style of engine, four rods connected the water piston to the cross head of the engine. The water pumps are below the engine. The five foot stroke resulted in the output of 750 hp at 25 rpm. The Corliss valve system made these engines very efficient as steam entered from the Wicks 600 hp. boilers at 160 psi and was exhausted at 1 to 2 psi.

It is not surprising that thousands of visitors came to see these black and gold machines doing their job. They were truly a sight of the time.

In 1915 an even larger Holley engine was installed along the side of the other two. This engine pumped 25 million gallons of water a day. It was truly a wonderful sound when all three were pumping away. The engineers could readily tell if everything was right just by the sound.

By 1929 the need for more water resulted in the installation of a steam turbine pump rated at 30 million gallons a day. This far more compact unit certainly didn't have the economy of the three giants.

The growing city required the installation, in 1950, of a large V16 Cooper Bessemer diesel pumping engine rated at 25 million gallons per day. This very fine engine was kept on standby and only used when additional water was needed.

The doom of the Holley Giants was in sight. Modern time was calling for modern equipment. Designers were busy with plans for the new pumping system complete with acres of panel lights in an immaculate environment.

In Aug. 1969, the sun shone through the floor to ceiling tinted windows when the control panels became alive as the new electric vertical turbine pumps began to hum. White shirt and tie was the dress of the engineers as they moved about the polished floors monitoring relays, adjusting rheostats, checking gauges. A new science was taking over the business of pumping 100 million gallons of water a day.

Next door, the old pumping station with its arched windows and colonial doors looked tired and out of step with the times.

On October 4, 1969, the last of the Giants puffed for the final time. No more would one smell the aroma of steam and oil, no more would the coal move through the spreader-stoker into the

Wicks boilers; the oil cans and grease rags were put aside as the last whiff of smoke went up the stack. These great machines fulfilled their assignment nobly for over 60 years. What more could one ask for? Are the new pumps better? One engineer said they would probably last for 15 or 20 years. How about the old Holley Vertical Triple Expansion Steam Engines now? Would you take one as a gift?