Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fairbanks Morse Generator and Howitzer

While driving through Williston along US Alt 27 in Florida, my eye caught a grey machine off to the right, so I pulled into the next parking lot. In a city park they had a Fairbanks Morse engine coupled to a flywheel, a Fairbanks Morse generator, and a couple of belt pulleys.

20140723-24 0027
Note the spanish moss hanging on the tree in the background. And that is the first time I've seen an exhaust pipe that looks more like a smokestack.

The sign says:
An electrical distribution system was purchased for $33,000 on June 11, 1923, from the Williston Manufacturing Company. Included was the generator, ice plant, cold storage plant, water tank, a ten-year-old bay horse named Charlie, and a wagon with a harness. This generator was used for seven years to produce electricity and had a capacity of 100 kilowatts.
 I assume one of the belt pulleys drove the compressor for the cold storage and ice plants and the other drove a pump for the water tank. I recognize the Fairbanks Morse name as one of the companies that made diesel-electric locomotives in the 1940s and 1950s. They made an opposing piston design that did not work very well in locomotives, but did work very well in the submarines of WWII.

The coils on the engine side of the generator are in good shape. This shot is framed by the rim and a spoke of the flywheel.

But a lot of the coils on the pulley side have been damaged. Most of the coils on the left side are gone or severed like those that you can see at the bottom. Also the 2 contacts are not aligned with the 2 slip rings. And I had expected to see 3 slip rings because normally 3-phase power does not have one of the phases at ground level. I guess it worked for only 7 years because something slipped or fell off and caused a lot of damage. I don't think vandals would have enough energy to cause this kind of damage.

The city park that is displaying this generator is also displaying an 8-inch Howitzer.

You can see the generator in the background below the elevation arm and the exhaust stack to the right of the tree. The sign says "This Howitzer 8" M2 Cannon was secured by the City from the Anniston Alabama Army Depot on April 30,1975."

Both signs had the information:
Williston was incorporated as a town in 1897 and chartered as a city in 1929. On October 10, 1915 this area was designated as a public park by the Mayor and Town Council in a deed from J.B. and P.A. Epperson It is known as Epperson Park.

Steve Bolte posted four pictures with the comment: "For the Fairbanks Morse aficionados. 300 horsepower and 300 RPMs." But the fourth picture seems to be a different engine.



They made small engines as well.

Screenshot from Ted Gibbons' posting
1945 Fairbanks Morse used to run the Vacuum pump in my great Grandpas cow barn we believe it's been in our family since new.
Bill Adams Love those salt blocks!!Ted Gibbons It's hard not to love them so simple and robust.
And tractors. If you get bored watching, skip to near the end because it is interesting how long it takes the flywheels to slow down to a stop. Given that it is about a second between "pops," it does need a lot of flywheel inertia. (source)
Screenshot @-0:30
When the Fairbanks Morse Company was first formed in 1823 it wasn’t gasoline engines it was building, but platform scales. The company got into the engine business in the late 1890s and became one of the most popular and successful gasoline engine and then diesel engine manufactures. This 15-25 (15 horsepower on the drawbar and 25 on the belt) was the company's first venture into traction engines and was designed around their 25 horsepower gasoline engine. By 1915 the company was out of the tractor business, but continued to sell tractors built by other manufactures under the Fair-Mor name.

I'm happy to report that Fairbanks-Morse is still making diesel engines. They power the largest 
Laker on the Great Lakes.
Fairbanks Morse Engine posted
We're honored to announce our latest contract with the United States Navy! Fairbanks Morse will be providing four sequentially turbocharged 16-cylinder Colt-Pielstick PC 2.5 diesel engines that will power LPD 29, a San Antonio-class ship. Read our press release to learn more:
Mitch Williams Had the 38f 5 1/4 on the Nashville. Good engine but could never put an keep a good load on it. Rings never seated and it slung oil on start-upShaun Higley There was Fairbanks Morse engines on the John F. Kennedy
And a 50-year old U.S. Coast Guard 278-foot high endurance cutter class ship uses a F-M for 17 knots and a gas turbine for 38 knots.
They are in Beloit, WI and they still make their OP design and other designs such as ALCO (acquired in 1994 [LocomotivePower]).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Morris, IL: Former Gebhard Brewery

When driving north on Calhoun Street in Morris, IL, past Washington Street, my wife saw some neat buildings at the end of the street to the West. So I went around the block and checked it out. Later, I learned they were the Former Gebhard Brewery. Joe Balynas reports that it was built in 1866, and the tower was added in 1896.

Because of the fence, this is the best angle I can get on the incinerator in the back and the building on the south side.


Morris Nettle Creek Aqueduct

I noticed that the I&M Canal State Trail had signs posted along Calhoun Street in Morris that the trails were closed. So I went to Gebhard Woods State Park to try to go to the Nettle Creek Aqueduct from the downstream end. But I encountered more "trail closed" signs. I came across something later that indicated the trail was closed because a flood destroyed the aqueduct. In fact, an April 19, 2013, article in the Morris Daily Herald indicates it would have been the same flood conditions that caused the Marseilles Dam accident last year.

8Nuts MotherGoose
8Nuts MotherGoose
Note that the grain bins in the background would be of the third facility pictured near the end of the Two Towboats posting.

American Canals has some 1998 photos and then additonal photos posted April 27, 2013, that shows the flood damage.

Paul Braun has made a panoramic shot that is well worth the mouse click. It includes the overflow waterfall. And Joe Balynas has another nice shot including the waterfall. Some of his other canal pictures are also quite artistic. Steve Conro has several photos including the sluice gates that control the spillway and the original wooden version. And Skip Maskeri got some pictures of this and other I&M Canal spots during the flood.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Two Towboats near Morris, IL

The I&M Canal in Morris is within a few hundred feet of the Illinois River. While I was taking pictures of a railroad bridge over the canal, I heard a diesel engine running hard. So I trotted upstream along the canal to the park between the canal and river. And confirmed that the diesel engine was on a towboat.

20140627 0123
So I ran past the trees so that I could get a clear view.

I'm glad I did because, looking at the picture, I see it has a pilot house that goes up and down and the rest of the towboat is significantly lower than a normal river towboat. One advantage of taking pictures is that I can later spot things that I did not notice in "real time." I'm very surprised to see a "low rider" towboat this far downstream from the low bridges over the Sanitary and Ship Canal. These towboats can be low because they don't need living quarters because they are normally used just locally. They can return to their home marina each evening.

This picture also documents how high the river was on June 27, 2014. June 2014 had been a very wet June, and all that rain had impacted the rivers. The metal truss is part of the boat launch of the Stratton State Park. The park was closed because of the flooding. Another indication that the river was high and flowing fast was that you could barely hear towboats that were heading downstream. But towboats that were heading upstream were loud. During the time I was in this area, I did not spot a tree limb or other debris floating down the river. So I could not observe the river flow directly.

Later, while taking pictures of the road bridge and what might be an abandoned bridge abutement, I noticed a towboat working downstream. I added a red line to highlight the abandoned concrete structure.

I noticed that the tow was turning around to head upstream.

So I switched to the telophoto lens to catch the action. Or as close to "action" as barge towing gets. I started to use picture captions to record the timestamps. But then I discovered that I can't put two pictures side-by-side with captions. So I removed them and recorded the times in text.

6:41:32, 6:42:44
  6:42:18, 6:43:30
 6:45:02, 6:45:20

 6:45:48, 6:46:14
 6:46:24, 6:46:28
 6:46:50, and then I backed off to get boat-under-bridge shots 6:46:56

And then I switched to taking a video. I am still trying to figure out how to take videos with a SLR camera. Even when my camcorders had LCD screens, I used the view finder. But the SLR forces me to use the LCD screen and I have learned that it is a lot harder to hold it study. But then I learned that YouTube will stabilize the  video. So I include it.

You can tell from the prop wash that the towboat is pushing hard against a flood current.

The barge would have pulled out from one of the following grain transfer facilities on the downstream side of Morris.

Note how four trucks are queued up to unload at the right-most transfer facility. I noticed that the shadow for that facility was very different than the shadow for the other three. And then I noticed the green river vs. the grey river. And the end of the barge going upstream is blurry. The more I looked, it became obvious that two different satellite photos meet along a vertical line. But they do a good job of joining the photos because I did have to look carefully to find the seam.

Looking back at the upstream barge pictures, not that the barge is full. So does that mean the grain is headed to a ship for export through the St. Laurence Seaway? That would explain why a "low rider" is also going upstream. They will probably switch towboats up by the Lockport lock when the barge is in the canal and out of the river's flow. This raises the question of how much of the flow in the Illinois River is due to the Kankakee River vs. the Des Plaines River?

The photo with timestamp 6:43:30 is down by the power lines. The power lines don't show up on the above flashearth image, but they do show on the Bing and Google maps. And those maps have a scale. But Bing indicated 900 feet between the power lines and the bridge whereas Google indicated 1400 feet. The next time I go to Morris, I'll have to drive down Griggs Street to see which one is right. The towboat was at the bridge at 6:46:56. So it took 206 seconds to get from the power lines to the bridge. Using Bing I compute 3 mph, and using Google I compute 4.3 mph.

Since 3 barges fit in a 600 foot lock, each one is 200 feet long. Using the 6:46:28 and 6:46:56 pictures and estimating that it traveled about 220 feet gives me 5.4 mph. Backing off to a traveled distance of just 200 feet gives me 4.9 mph. So my estimate that the towboat was near the power lines at 6:43:30 must have been wrong.

The main reason I took the video is to give me another time-and-distance reference to compute the speed. But I'm leaving that as an exercise for the reader for now.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Seneca LST Shipyard Location

While researching the Seneca Grain Elevator, I finally found confirmation that the shipyard was located where the industrial park is now located rather than close to where the LST Memorial is located.

Page 26

I assume the launch way was were the rail to barge transfer facility is now located. The red circle marks the intersection of the following roads. Shipyard Road is the west and south street. LST Drive is the street to the North. The industry in the southeast corner posted No Trespassing on the road towards their buildings. Far away from the buildings themselves.

20140710 0123c
2009 Satellite
The 1937-47 aerial photos must have photographed this area in the 1930s.


Seneca Grain Elevator/Warehouse and RR Spur

1912 Photo of Hogan's Elevator from Facebook
Update: I found this Library of Contress photo in the Kankakee and Seneca RR Facebook Group.
The following comment is from the Facebook posting:

Larry D Thorson Jeremiah Crotty Built the elevator for D. C. Underhill in 1857. Later, known as the "South Elevator". The elevator was first served by the canal barges.(as late as 1900) The Rock Island was built next...1854. Then the K&S...1881.

The grain elevator that is next to the I&M Canal is the oldest remaining I&M Canal grain elevator. Looking downstream from Main Street in Seneca, we see the grain elevator on the north side.

Mariana Nicasio posted
Mariana's comment:
Almost 12 years after its initial beginning, the Illinois & Michigan Canal was finally opened. It ran a total of 96 miles and allowed shipping from the Great Lakes through Chicago to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Photo was taken by Seneca, IL courtesy of US National Historical Landmark.

Notice the white grain elevator in the right background. Since the comment indicates the photo is in Seneca, this is probably the same elevator that sets there today.

The upstream view confirms that the canal is dry in this stretch. I wonder how wet it gets during a good thunderstorm.

A three-quarters view indicates the structure needs some maintenance. I learned from Joe Balynas that it was restored in 2004 at a cost of 1.5 million dollars (old photo comments). I'm surprised that it has deteriorated so much in just 10 years.

References call this structure the Armour's Warehouse because John Armour constructed this grain warehouse in 1861 or 1862 depending on the source. It was a warehouse because the grain was stored by stacking sacks of grain. Equipment to elevate grain and store it in bins without any sacks was probably added in the late 1860s or early 1870s. And the ownership changed hands several times. The current signage indicates H. J. Hogan, and that is why it is also known as Hogan's Grain Elevator, and it functioned as a grain elevator until 1988. The IDNR (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) bought it in 1985, but leased it to a local farmer for grain storage until 1988. They commissioned an archaeological investigation of the structures and land in 1986.

There was another grain elevator on the south side of the canal that was constructed in 1857 and enlarged in 1880, but it was demolished in 1942. The north elevator held 130,000 bushels. The storage consisted of corn cribs as well as grain bins. The machinery was originally powered by steam using cobs as well as coal. It was converted to electricity by 1924.

A view from across the street on the north side shows the other buildings associated with the grain elevator. 

You can see the brown line of the railroad track just this side of the ramp and the dump shed. More on that later.

A close up of the office and seed warehouse indicates the current IDNR ownership.

A site map of the current layout.

Between 1898 and 1907
The railroad spur to the elevator was added in 1883. The track is still present, and you can see that the lead curves around to the North. In a satellite image, you can easily see the track by the elevator.

2009 Satellite
In the following, the red line indicates track that still exists at the end of people's yards. The blue indicates where the track has been removed, but the grade was left intact and it has become overgrown with trees. And the yellow indicates where the spur's grade has been completely removed by road and parking lot construction.

2009 Satellite
Where the red and blue lines intersect, these are the views looking south and a little east of North.

Stepping to the east and looking North, we have a better view of the old embankment part. And the small image is a view of the other end of the embankment part looking from across the road whose construction has removed the spur's grade.

Near Main Street along the former Rock Island (now CSX operated) main line is the current grain elevator. You can see that grain shipment is still an important part of this regions economy.

And what says farm community like a sprayer driving up Main Street?

William Walper posted seven photos of the grain elevator.
Jennie Deck Severson Just an fyi...the grain elevator is not totally abandoned. It is still used as the backdrop for many many pictures, especially prom. Also they do offer tours I believe every Saturday if anyone is interested in seeing inside or learning it's history.

Matt Tabak posted a photo that shows a lot of side boards missing. But the comments indicate it is opened on occasion including tours during Shipyard Days.