Friday, May 20, 2016

Line Shaft and Leather Belts

Update: many more pictures of power distribution throughout a factory.

Walter D. Ferguson video
In the 1800s when factories were driven by water power or a big stationary steam engine, the rotary power was distributed to the machines in the factory by line shafts that ran the full length of the building near the ceiling. There would be a line shaft for each row of machines in the building. A pulley and a leather belt were used to transmit power to each machine.

Line shafts and belts became obsolete when electric motors were developed.

It is hard enough to find pictures of a plant like this, let alone see it running. It appears someone has outfitted a goose-neck trailer with demo equipment to take to antique machine shows. Note that the line  shaft is operated by an engine at the front of the trailer since a steam engine or water wheel would be rather cumbersome to make mobile.

Video at -0:121
Among other tools, he has a model of a forging hammer.

Another video by Walter shows a Massey-Harris hit-miss gas engine.
Pullman National Monument, National Park Service posted
Machines of Pullman
While the town of Pullman was known for its architectural sophistication and high standards of sanitation its factory was equally impressive. Helping power the equipment in the factory was the Corliss Engine. Named after the inventor George Henry Corliss. Its effectiveness was on display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 providing power for running the machinery at the exposition.
Seeing its effectiveness Pullman purchased the engine to power car shop operations. As technological advancements progressed by the early 1900s the engine was scrapped after electricity replaced steam as the power source for the factory
Photo left to right: Corliss Engine at International Exhibition, Philadelphia1876 and Corliss Engine building at Pullman Factory. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress and Pullman State Historic Site
Daniel Herkes: That's a good-sized power transmission on the ceiling. I can tell you that part of such a transmission is on display on the ceiling of the Batavia, IL Portillo Restaurant.

Michael Milner: The Chicago Fire Department Apparatus Shop still had some line shafts in their machine shop in the late 1990's.
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Michael Milner
 I see the Fire Department shares this southwest corner complex with other city services.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Daniel's comment
This one? I was expecting a building down by the river.
I know that Batavia used to have a lot of water powered industry back in the 1800s. If they built a modern building with a line shaft as a homage to the history of the town, that is even more impressive. As you can see in this 1950 topo, Wilson used to cross an island. And the C&NW used to go up the west side of the river. (The CB&Q tracks are still used by BNSF. This CB&Q route was the Aurora Branch Railroad, and it became the first 13 miles of CB&Q. It connected Aurora, Batavia, etc. to the ancestor of the C&NW, Galena & Chicago Union, at Turner Junction, which is now West Chicago. CB&Q opened their own line to Chicago on Dec 26, 1865.) Because of the dam at the northeast corner of the island, the river level on the west side of the island was higher than that on the east side. I presume that this allowed buildings on the island to build east/west raceways and use water power.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Daniel's comment
We can still see the tailrace in the building next to the dam.

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