Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders

(Dock mounted unloaders such as the Huletts were made obsolete by self-unloaders.)

Hulett History has an American Society of Mechanical Engineers' article written in 1998 on the 100th anniversary of the Hulett unloader patents. The following is a summary of that article.

Conneaut, OH was David Hulett's hometown and that is where the first unloader based on his patents was built in 1899.

In 1912, two Huletts were built that were specifically designed to unload coal. [John Travers comment via Dennis DeBruler]

ASME, p3

That prototype was successful, so two more were built at that dock. Later, these three were replaced with four improved Hulett unloaders.
ASME, p4

Before Hulett's and ore bridges.
Mark Sprang posted
A fine image of the CHARLES A. STREET unloading iron ore at St. Joseph, MI, in 1884. It clearly shows the laborious process of unloading ore through manual means. Also curious that the ore is being places on flatbed railcars.
Scan from an original glass plate, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University.
[There are some comments about loading it onto flatcars instead of gondolas.]
Mark Gammage: An awesome clear shot Mark. I am assuming from a glass negative?
Mark Sprang: Mark Gammage Yep, it is. There aren't a ton of really clear unloading photos from this era.
[I concur about the rarity.]
Mannin Branch Celtic League posted
Found this at imuseum. Sadly there is a dearth of photographs of working people in the latter part of the twentieth century at the imuseum; it's just as if workers have been airbrushed out of the scene together with their history.
Coasters like this being discharged (in 1966) with a cargo of coal were frequent sights in all the Ports. At Peel sometimes there would be two moored at the harbour mouth with coal and general cargo.
There used to be gangs from Douglas and Ramsey doing this dirty and at times hazardous work.
I myself worked on coasters less than a decade after this pic was taken loading barrels and salt and loading filled herring barrels. It was hard, hot work but money in the hand you could make a week's pay in a day (albeit it was a long day sometimes stretching into night) Also a good gang of people to work with as I recall there was plenty of humour.
I remarked a while ago on the Panamanian registered MV Thekla which started to sink as we were unloading her - the fire brigade was called. I was astonished to find a few years ago it had sailed on for the best part of another forty years. (See link):
Later as a Union official (TGWU) I sat on the Dockwork Management Committee until it was wound up. I recall the employers you dealt with were decent people. I wonder if we could say that now!
This is our highest scoting post ever:
Bernard Moffatt
Rick Hokans shared
I expect this is how they unloaded coal, salt, and stone from Great Lakes Freighters not that long ago.
[Talk about backbreaking work. I was shocked by the date. I'd expect this in the second half of the 19th Century, but not of the 20th Century.]

See below for more details about the design of Hulett's gleaned from the ASME article.

Specific installations of Hulett unloaders:
Dave Ayers describes several generations of Hulett unloaders (Jan 2021: the link is now broken. I'm not deleting this sentence because I noticed this post shows up in a "dave ayers hulett" search, and I don't know how to delete something from a a search result.).

Association for Great Lakes Maritime History posted two photos with the comment:
Two images of the freighter William S. Mack being unloaded by Hulett Ship Unloaders at the Pennsylvania Railroad iron ore dock in Buffalo, New York, circa 1901-1910 (Image Source: Library of Congress – Detroit Publishing Co. Collection). Additional Historical Information – Hulett Ship Unloaders George Hulett, the inventor of the Hulett Ship Unloader, was born in 1846 in Conneaut, Ohio. His family moved in Cleveland shortly after his birth. After completing his education in 1864, Hulett ran a general store in Unionville, Ohio for many years but returned to Cleveland in 1881. The 1880s were a period of rapid change in the technology used to load and unload bulk cargo from ships in the Great Lakes region. In 1880, the Brown Hoist Machinery Co. of Cleveland introduced a fully mechanized system for moving iron ore from a ship’s hold to dockside. The system could scoop up and move up to 1.5 tons of ore at a time. Between 1887 and 1906, Hulett received several patents for a variety of industrial conveying and hoisting machinery. His greatest patents, however, were awarded in 1898 for what became known as the Hulett Ship Unloader and the bucket the machine needed to revolutionize the unloading process for shipments of iron ore. At first, the machine was merely theoretical, but Hulett was able to set up a meeting with steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was interested but wanted to see it work before buying one. Hulett was able convince a Cleveland-based company to take the leap of faith and build a Hulett Ship Unloader on spec at a cost of $45,000. In 1899, Carnegie and Charles Schwab, his company’s president, arrived in Cleveland for a demonstration of a prototype. They saw the steam-powered machine, which was said to resemble a grasshopper arm, on a gantry built over railroad tracks. The machine lowered its arm - overbalanced by 6,000 pounds so gravity powered its descent - into a ship’s hold. The bucket at the end of the arm, which had a clamshell opening, grabbed up 10 tons of iron ore and deposited into waiting rail cars. The entire process to grab and dump one the ore took about a minute. The first Hulett Ship Unloader was installed in Conneaut in 1899. Powered by steam, the machine had a bucket capable of moving 10 tons of ore at a time. In 1912, four second-generation Huletts were built on Whiskey Island in Cleveland. These units were powered by electricity and had buckets capable of handling up to 17 tons of ore at a time. The Whiskey Island machines significantly lowered the cost of receiving iron ore in Cleveland and helped make that city one of the major steel producing centers in the world. In the years that followed, Hulett Ship Unloaders came to dominate the handling of iron at ports in the Great Lake region, including Buffalo and Chicago. That dominance lasted until the 1970s and the widespread use of self-unloading vessels. As of 1999, six Hulett Ship Unloaders were still standing around the Great Lakes region including four at Whiskey Island. All were subsequently dismantled but two were carefully disassembled in hopes they might be reconstructed in the future as historic landmarks. Information Sources:
[Additional text provides the freighter's history.]


Frederick & Pennsylvania Line Railroad Museum, Inc posted six photos with the comment:
George H. Hulett of Conneaut, OH patented his new machine, the Hulett Iron-Ore Unloader in 1898. His machine revolutionized ore ship unloading by reducing the time needed to unload an entire bulk ship by almost 75% and it only required a crew of two to operate. Between 1898 and 1960, a total of 75 Hulett's were built. The first Hulett's were built by Webster, Camp & Lane Machine Akron OH. After 1903, all others were built by Cleveland's Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Co. The early Hulett's were steam powered with a bucket capacity of 10 tons and rated unloading capacity up to 275 tons per hour. Later models, after 1910, were electric powered (with several 75HP DC motors) with a bucket capacity up to 22 tons and rated at 475 tons per hour. Many of these machines operated for almost 90 years primarily in the Southern Great Lakes Region. All photos (except one) are from 1943 at the Cleveland and Pittsburgh (C&P) Ore Dock. This facility was designed and built by the Pennsylvania Railroad and put into service in 1912.New self unloading ships put the Hulett's out of work by 1992. In 2000 two of the C&P Hulett's were domolished while two were dismantled for future display and are currently stored at Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Port Authority’s C&P Ore Docks. All photos Library of Congress collection.






Carl Venzke posted
Hulett machine unloading ore, Pennsylvania [Railroad] dock, Buffalo, N.Y. - c1908 - Library of Congress photo.

<todo>some of this info should be moved to the Cleveland post.</todo>

Bill Flynn commented on a post

Bill Flynn commented on a post

Steve Vanden Bosch posted three photos with a long comment giving the history of the ship. The comment begins with: "William S Mack unloading at the Hullet in 1908 at Buffalo New York."
Fred Bultman This is Lackawanna.



Mark Duskey posted seven images with the comment: "Hulett pictures from a 1944 Wellman Engineering book of their installations."
Dale Pohto Wellman also combined with McMyler to design many of the coal loaders at various (mostly Ohio) ports.







(The two photos for the Republic Huletts in Chicago have been moved to the Republic notes.)

Carl Venzke posted
Hulett machine unloading ore at Buffalo, N.Y c1908
Carl Venzke posted
Maumee River waterfront -- Toledo, O. Railroads represented on the coal cars: Hocking Valley, Kanawha and Michigan, Zanesville & Western, Toledo & Ohio Central. c1910

C&O Railway Pere Marquette District Page posted
Big Fitz unloading at C&O docks in Toledo.
Mike Delaney The hullett unloaders in the pics unloaded the boat and they dumped the ore into RR cars that ran under the rigs. Both C&O and Lakefront dock had sets of Hulletts for unloading straight deckers as well as multiple coal loaders.
Brian Cylkowski Are there any example s of Hullett unloaders still around?
C&O Railway Pere Marquette District Page They are all gone
Erwin Rommell Now most freighters are self unloaders with a conveyor running under the cargo hold gates, and a conveyor boom that swings off the side of the ship. Most old turbine steamers such as the Fitzgerald have been converted.

[From the comments, Edmund Fitzgerald began service in 58-59. The station wagon on the left is a "1965 Rambler Classic Cross Country."]
Here you may see the marvellous Hulett automatic unloaders, which are nothing less than gigantic steel arms that thrust themselves into a vessel's depth and grasp a ten-ton handful of ore apiece. Each arm has not only a hand, but a wrist as well. The operator, standing on the wrist like an obstinate insect, goes up and down with the powerful arm, which he can guide in any necessary direction. The towering machine weighs more than an army of five thousand men, yet it obeys the slightest touch of its human master's hand as readily as if it were a bicycle. Six workmen and one machine can do the work that formerly required ninety shovellers. When the great hand of the machine is open, it covers eighteen feet of ore, and closes with a grip that is irresistible. Several times, in the holds of ore-vessels, the writer has seen steel girders that were bent and wrenched away by the grip of this mighty giant. [RodneyOhebsion]

safe_image for Benjamin F. Fairless, Ore Ship, 1947 - Gary, Indiana
[The text at the top that got cropped is "The 'Benjamin F Fairless' One of the Largest Ore Freighters, Docking at the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation Plant, Gary Indiana"
This was posted in the "LTV Steel Chicago" Facebook group. I have a lot to learn about the corporate lineage of the many steel plants in the Chicagoland area.]

Fred Bultman posted (source)
I'm still mixing reworks in with new restorations, this is a favorite: Douglass Houghton and consort John A Roebling unloading at Huron, about 1960.

One of several photos posted by Paul Erspamer
HYDRUS, a 436-foot laker built 1903, under the unloaders. Lost in the 1913 "Great Storm" on Lake Huron (with JAMES CARRUTHERS, her companion that day). HYDRUS sank Nov. 9 in a storm so ferocious it's also called “White Hurricane.” A sister ship, ARGUS, also sank on Lake Huron in that storm with a crew of 24. An intense blizzard blanketed the Great Lakes, hitting Lake Huron hardest with wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. & waves to 35 feet. The "Great Storm", worst recorded on the lakes, caused over a dozen shipwrecks Nov. 7 to 10, & with eight ships total losses on Lake Huron alone & more than 250 deaths. HYDRUS, downbound with iron ore, disappeared with her crew of 22, except five found frozen to death in a lifeboat washed up on the Canadian shore. The HYDRUS wreck, upright and intact in 160 ft., was located by David Trotter in 2015. Thanks to

(new window) "Hulett Ore unloaders at the C&P Dock in Cleveland, video from 1989 and 1992. These were the last of their breed to operate, replaced by self-unloading vessels with conveyor systems."

Dave DiGiorgio shared the above video.
Sean Kagi I believe that last two Hulett unloaders operated in South Chicago.

Screenshot of Toledo's 1911 unloader

safe_image for Last of the giants
[It starts with a photo of LTV's two Huletts with the COFCO grain elevator in the background.]

One can see generally how they worked by watching some videos. But here are some details I learned from a history. The first designs dumped directly into the rail cars under the gantry. But later designs added a hopper between the traveler and the cars. This provided a big, fixed target near the ship for the operator to dump into and helped reduce the cycle time to 50 seconds. This hopper could then unload into a "larry." The larry could travel back and forth over the tracks to unload into the railroad hoppers. It had a scale so that it could discharge the correct amount into a hopper. Two operators were needed to run a Hulett. One rode in the leg just above the bucket and the other rode in the larry car. (more details concerning the larry)
ASME, p6

The leg and bucket could be rotated 90 degrees. When the bucket was open, it was 21' wide. And the bucket's attachment to the leg was off-center so that when it was turned 90 degrees it could reach under the deck between the hatches. Being able to reach the spaces between the hatches was one of the advantages of this design over the predecessor of using a clamshell bucket hung from ropes. Another advantage is that "the bucket is positively guided in passing through the hatches of ships, thus eliminating the danger of damage either to the boat or to the machines, arising from the use of rope suspended buckets." [ASME, p9]
ASME, p9

Since I could not determine which dock this was at, I'll put here in the general Hulett notes.
Al Miller posted
Hulett unloaders work the George A. Sloan in this nicely composed early color photo that appeared in National Geographic magazine. I don't have a date for the image but I expect it's wartime or shortly afterward.

(6:20 new window) (Mike Harlan shared; Ernie Grose shared)
It describes the Huletts at Whiskey Island and the shut locomotives that poled the hoppers.

Ronald Picardi commented on Mike's share
They were the most efficient way to unload freighters prior to self unloaders. Three workers were needed to operate one, the crane operator that rode in the bucket, the lorry car operator that loaded the rail cars, and the oiler that keep everything lubricated.
Most unloading docks used four of them.
Photos from the Ralph Roberts Collection.

Ronald Picardi commented on Mike's share
The bucket could rotate making scraping the bottom of the hold between hatch frames much faster.

Ronald Picardi commented on Mike's share
The rail lines which used a "Mule" to push the hopper cars along. (this one is color corrected,) Note, this cargo is raw iron ore. Photos are from the early 70s.

These photos are higher resolution than what is displayed. If you save the images to disk and use a photo display app, they are easier to read. (Update: or you can right-click them and open them in another tab.)



















Since the location is unknown, I'm noting this Hulett dock in this overview.
Association for Great Lakes Maritime History posted
The freighter Hydrus (I) of the Interlake Steamship Co. being unloaded by Hulett ship unloaders (Image Source: Jared Daniel). The date, location and photographer are not included in the notes for the image. Based on the vessel’s history, the date is circa 1913.
[The description continues with a history of the freighter.]

A 21:06 video, I did not watch