178 Emerson Place Brooklyn, New York 11205
There are two items in recent issues I would like to call your attention to--in the May-June 68 IMA, you show a picture on page 12 of Mr. Weisel proudly posing with his Corliss engine. The model is of course of an European style stationary beam engine.
And in the July-August 68 IMA issue, Joe Hamilton in talking about the Troy, Ohio engine calls it a 715 KW machine. I would guess this to be a typographical error for 71.5 KW. as this appears to be about the size of the engine. For a 715 KW generator you'd need an engine of about 950-1000 hp and that would be a big one.
In connection with this same article, I must make a comment on the chair shown in the picture on Page 9 which is captioned to the effect that it is chained down to keep sleepy help from tipping over. I think that if this were my plant, I'd cut the chain and 'Let 'em go'. Sleeping and engine rooms don't go together. (Besides, most old timers can prop themselves in the darndest positions that they don't fall over).
Speaking of engines, I have three in my plant. They are 75 KW each, driven by horizontal 'Ames' piston valve engines. They were installed in 1900 and still average about 60 hours per week a piece. We supply light and power to a college campus here in Brooklyn, Pratt Institute by name.
Even though 2/3 of the campus is on Edison service, the plant load is still about 2/3 of what it was when the whole school was on the plant. This is a good example of how electrical consumption is increasing today. We normally run two engines, but on some days, especially near the ends of the semesters, we often have to put on a third one.
Our engine room was built in 1887 and the present engines replaced the original plant 68 years ago. These are the oldest operating generators I know of so far. Do any readers of IMA know of any older ones? The oldest engines I've found so far are still in use in New York City driving two freight and one sidewalk elevators. These three date back to about 1870, possibly a year or two older. They are almost totally silent in operation.
If any readers of IMA are in New York, they are more than welcome at our Museum at Pratt. Our address is 200 Grand Ave., Brooklyn.
The last few New Year's Eves, we've added a new touch to the celebrations. I can bring a 2' steam line up through a hatch in the boiler room ceiling to the plant and we hook up a couple of whistles. Last year we had five steam whistles (Included a 4' steamship chime locomotive and British Railways 'Hooter') and a manifold with 7 air whistles from trolleys and electric locomotives.
It was snowing and cold and damp when we started 'Tootline' and the big steamship whistle threw a plume of steam up as high as our six story building. What a sight! What a sound! Needless to say, we taped it.
Living in New York City (and not having a car) I don't get a chance to see too much in the way of traction engines, although I did get down to Pennsylvania for one day this year.
I saw some things at the meet which I'd like to mention as they are in line with a subject you've been writing about recently, Safety.
Now, I don't want to give the impression that I'm an old fuddy-duddy, I'm not, and I dare say I've done as many wild things as anyone else, but not when the public is around.
As one example, I can cite the threshing demonstrations which were held several times a day. The people were allowed to get right up to the thresher and engine although both were running full tilt with all their open belts and wheels. Now I know that farming people or anyone who has been around machinery knows enough not to stick their finger into the works, but it should be borne in mind that many people who come to the meets today are from the cities. Being an engineer myself, I'm involved with safety to some extent and it is obvious that in an effort to make life today 'idiot proof', things have become so safe the average city dweller has no conception of danger anymore. If anyone doubts this, just watch the way they throw lighted cigarette butts around.
Another instance I noted was in a back corner of the field where the meet was held. An engine had been left on a hill in charge of a lad of about ten years of age. He was running the engine up and down the hill about fifty feet each way with several smaller kids riding on it. At one point, he stopped and had one of the little kids poke a bar into the ashpan through the spokes of the rear wheel while he kept the engine from moving by cracking the throttle to balance her on the hill. It doesn't take too much imagination to picture what could have happened if he had misjudged. I realize that the engineers of tomorrow have to start somewhere but can you imagine the field day a lawyer would have with a case like this?
Another important point is that people are much more inclined to institute law suits today for the most minor things.
For five years, I worked on the passenger boats running on the Hudson River and the things people would sue about (and win!) are almost unbelieveable.
Incidentally, I wonder how many clubs have covered themselves with insurance. But enough of sermons! I'll close with an item than may be of interest to your readers.
There is an excursion steamer running in New York called 'City of Keansburg', built in 1927. Her engines consist of two 750 Hp. triple expansion engines which were originally built in 1914 as part of the War Shipping Board building program and were used to power west coast lumber ships.
Her boilers are oil fired, water tube and built by, of all firms, The Advance Rumely Company at Battle Creek, Michigan. Does anyone know of any other traction engine firm that built heavy machinery for other industries?