Chicago Water Motor Search

| July/August 1988

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  • Chicago Water Motor

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  • Chicago Water Motor
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Curator Billings Farm and Museum Box 489 Woodstock, Vermont 05091

On August 6, 1890, George Aitken purchased a No. 11, Chicago Water Motor for $59.50 for use in powering a 55-gallon capacity Davis Swing Churn. Upon receipt, the water motor was installed in the new creamery located in the large cellar of the newly built farm manager's house. By opening a Jenkins valve on 1' galvanized pipe, water flowed into the motor's turbine mechanism. The water motor's horsepower was determined by the size of the internal jet or nozzle and the pressure of the water. The water pressure is believed to have been in the area of 40 to 60 p.s.i. The Chicago Water Motor's horsepower is thought to have been 1 to 2 horsepower. The motor's shaft was belted to a ceiling mounted line shaft that in turn was belted to a floor mounted line shaft with an off-set cam mounted on its end. By the means of the cam-driven pitman or drive arm the Davis Swing Churn was set in motion at the suggested rate of thirty-four strokes per minute.

In its literature the Chicago Water Motor Company noted that, 'No. 11 and 12 are suitable for all heavy work, such as large meat choppers, printing offices with four to six presses, large coffee mills; also roasters, grindstones, etc. are furnished with governors where parties desire to use them, and where their machinery requires it.'

After installing what may have been the first water motor in town, the local paper, The Vermont Standard, testified to its effectiveness on December 8, 1887, noting: 'THE STANDARD is this week, for the first time, printed by water power, the water being supplied by the Woodstock Aqueduct Company and our machine, the Chicago Motor. It works to perfection and to say that it is a comfortable thing 'to have in the house' but faintly expresses our satisfaction. No fuel, no fire, no heat, no smoke, no dust, no care really, it is a wonderful little servant, always ready and always reliable.'

The Billings Farm and Museum wishes to locate a Chicago Water Motor either to purchase or to use as a prototype for reproduction in order to install a functioning exhibit of this 1890 creamery.

If you have information as to the survival and location of a Chicago Water Motor, please contact Bob Benz, Curator; Billings Farm and Museum, Box 489; Woodstock, Vermont, 05091, or phone (802)457-2355.


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