Belt-Wheel Wreck at the Plant of the Tennessee Fiber Company


| January/February 1994



Reprinted from Power Magazine, August 1905 issue, was submitted by Richard Mock, 159 Dirkson Ave., West Seneca, New York 14224.

On June 14 a belt-wheel in the plant of the Tennessee Fiber Company at Memphis, Tenn., burst and did a considerable amount of damage.

The wheel was 20 feet in diameter, 30 inches face and weighed 25,000 pounds. It was located on a 24 x 48 George H. Corliss engine, running normally at a speed of 72 revolutions per minute.

The wheel was completely wrecked. Its rim was broken up into numerous small pieces and every spoke was broken off short at the hub. The engine was also wrecked completely. The main pillow-block was split from bearing to foot; the connecting-rod was pulled in two; the girder-frame was broken near the middle of its length; the cylinder-head was knocked out and the cylinder was split; the valve-motion was demolished. The entire engine was, in fact, a huge junk heap after this accident occurred.

Heavy pieces of cast-iron hurled from the bursting wheel badly damaged the building and destroyed a considerable amount of piping and other apparatus. Huge pieces, thrown vertically, crashed through the roof and fell back again, cutting wide swaths on both their upward and downward flights.

The escape of the engineer was most miraculous. He was passing in front of the wheel, and when the crash came was only a few inches to one side of the plane in which the flying missiles were hurled. He lost no time in getting out of his perilous position, and, fortunately so, for one of the pieces, hurled through the roof, fell back on the very spot where he had been standing.