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Steam Stationary Engines, Traction Engines, Steam Boats

60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY


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  #1  
Old 07-02-2011, 02:36:52 AM
Brian S. Brian S. is offline
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Default 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

OK, so this forum section is stationary steam and traction engines. So, I’ll guess that everyone here would like to hear about FIVE old stationary steam engines in Western New York USA (Buffalo) that are 60 foot tall and are EACH rated at 1200 horsepower (OK, my math says that’s 6000 HP total!!!) and each weigh 1100 tons (my math once again says that’s 5500 tons total). That’s right, these are the five Holly Steam Engine Water Pumps at Buffalo’s Ward Pumphouse.

They are the largest engines every made by Holly. For the record, the Holly Manufacturing Company started out in Lockport NY, then merged with Snow Steam Pump Works of Buffalo NY (on the East Side) and then became part of the huge steam monopoly International Steam. They later became Worthington Pump (and Buffalo was the headquarters for a time) before closing in 1987. These engines were first installed in 1915. They’ve been replaced by 3 electric water pumps. Up until the mid-1980’s one of these steam engine water pumps was kept operational should the need arise for a back-up. The engines are all still there and completely intact, but all the boilers have been removed, along with the related plumbing, etc.

Now, onto a few specifications.

WARD STEAM PUMPHOUSE SPECIFICATIONS
  • Type of Engine.............................Vertical Triple Expansion
  • Number of Steam Engines..............5
  • Cylinders/Engine...........................3
  • Horsepower/Engine.......................1200
  • Water Pumped/Day/Engine (gal.)....30 Million
  • Discharge Pipe Diameter................48 in.
  • Flywheel Diameter........................20 ft.
  • Flywheel Weight .........................30 tons
  • Flywheels/Engine.........................2
  • Engine Weight (each)...................1100 tons
  • Cylinder Diameter - High Press.......31 in.
  • Cylinder Diameter - Med. Press.......64 in.
  • Cylinder Diameter - Low Press........98 in.
  • Engine Stroke...............................66 in.
But, what’s better than hearing about them? SEEING THEM, of course. Please read on!!!

On Sunday September 18, 2011 at 2:00 PM sharp a tour will of offered of the Col. Francis G. Ward Pumping Station Pumphouse located at the foot of Porter Avenue (near the entrance to LaSalle Park) in Buffalo NY USA. The tour is organized by and benefits the Buffalo Industrial Heritage Committee. Here’s their website: http://www.buffaloindustrialheritage.com/. Cameras are welcome, and there’s handicapped access at the rear of the building. Reservations are NOT required, so please do not pester the Committee’s webmaster.

By the way, as I mentioned above, these engines have not been run for almost three decades, and they will NOT run for the tour, either. But, there are folks who are trying to work with the City of Buffalo Government to try to get one engine running over the next several years. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that because that would be incredible.

So mark your calendars -- those of you lucky enough to be from Western NY. And thanks for reading my thread!!

Brian S.
Webmaster of http://www.buffalopitts.com/index.html

PS, here’s a photo...
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Old 07-02-2011, 07:00:23 AM
Farquharman Farquharman is offline
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Default Re: 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

Would have to be on the same weekend as Wellington!
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Old 07-02-2011, 08:23:22 AM
Jon Muck Jon Muck is offline
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Default Re: 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

I had the oppertunity to take a tour of the Ward pumping station a couple of years ago. It was pretty impressive to say the least. Anyone that has any interest in this kind of stuff would really enjoy the tour.
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:22:53 PM
Brian S. Brian S. is offline
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Default I forgot...

I forgot to mention that, while reservations are not required, there is a $5.00 minimum donation per person for the tour of the Ward Pumphouse.

I'm sorry I forgot to add that fact.
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:48:09 PM
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Default Re: 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

How many horsepower boiler would you need to run the engine.
What is the largest tailer mounted rental boiler that can be rented That plant is a work of art
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:02:17 AM
Jim Mackessy Jim Mackessy is online now
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Default Re: 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

How many horsepower? Good question. There are two 200 HP Cleaver Brooks package boilers operational on site. It would not be too far fetched to roll one of these engines over on that much steam. I have seen the throttle steam pressure for these engines quoted at both 185 psi and 225 psi, I wonder which is correct? The package boilers will only produce 150 psi, so there's another question of what happens in the third cylinder when you run these big gals with no load.
At any rate, they are certainly something to see. I've seen them several times, and I'll pay $5 to go again, and consider it a bargain. Don't miss it!
Jim Mackessy
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Old 07-08-2011, 07:56:30 AM
Whammytap Whammytap is offline
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Default Re: 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

Hi, everybody, I'm Whammy and I'm new here. I read about these Holly engines in a book and was fascinated, to say the least. Nothing says raw power like a sixty-foot steam engine with...what...a twenty-foot stroke? I live in the Midwest, and am desparately trying to save up money to fly to Buffalo to see these in person!

I have a question for the pros here, though. Please forgive me, I'm sure it's a stupid question but I am new to this whole steam thing. I understand very well how an internal combustion engine works. I found a simplified, animated diagram here on the Internet of a triple-expansion steam engine, and I understand the principle. But these Holly pumping engines look different--the animated diagram had no flywheels. So what are the flywheels for? They're not toothed, so they can't be for the starter. And how did the motion produced by these behemoths translate into pushing water through Buffalo's municipal pipelines? I also saw a diagram for a simple steam engine that pumped water, but its design was more like an oil-pumping machine, what we Midwesterners call a "pump Jack."

Please help me understand exactly how these magnificent machines operated! Any good books out there, something along the lines of "Steam Power For Dummies?"

P.S.--I read that these pumps operated until the '60s, and one of them was kept in operational condition until the 1980s as a backup should the electric pumps fail. How cool is that?
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:57:41 AM
Whammytap Whammytap is offline
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Default Re: 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

P.P.S.--Oh, I guess I read that last part here. My book "Ghostly Ruins" by Harry Skrdla says "Just a few years after the Holly engines were installed, they were already obsolete. But the engines were massive, and they were already there, and they worked, so they stayed...They ran until 1963..."
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:07:24 AM
Brian S. Brian S. is offline
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Default Flywheels

Hi Whammy...

I’m a Newbie here too, so I assume that the old adage “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” applies here at the SmokeStak Steam forum.

Frankly, my knowledge of steam engines is limited (I saw the History Channel’s Modern Marvels last night and the episode was entitled “Steam” so that’s doubled my meager knowledge – they sell the DVD at http://www.history.com/ – I thought it was one of the better episodes, although they’re all good).

I assume that the flywheels are on the Ward Pumphouse Holly steam engines to provide rotational kinetic energy via their large rotational mass to help dampen out the power pulses and provide a steady flow of power from an engine that turns at a relatively slow speed. The engine’s own moving mass isn’t enough to provide the necessary kinetic energy to keep flow of power smooth for such a slow-speed engine (perhaps all of 60 RPM).

A steam engine without a flywheel would have a highly fluxuating speed during each revolution. A flywheel allows the speed to be uniform over each revolution. Look at the design of a flywheel – much of the mass is located at the outer edge to provide the maximum amount of rotational kinetic energy for a given space.

I’ve never been on the tour, so I don’t know much about how the Holly pumps work, so I don’t know if the engines start up and then are “thrown into gear” to start pumping, or if they start pumping right away (I’d guess thrown into gear, but I’m just not positive). But, any engine that’s started in neutral and then thrown into gear needs some rotational mass to keep the engine from stalling out when trying to start a stationary mass and put it into motion. Try driving a car with a manual transmission with its flywheel removed and you’d probably see a difference in how you start up from a full stop - you’d have to rev the engine more because you’d have only the kinetic energy of the engine’s internal rotating/reciprocating mass to work with. Also remember that water is pretty heavy (over 8 lbs/gallon) so getting it flowing is a lot of work.

I hope that all makes some sense, and I hope I didn’t make it all sound like too nerdy of an explanation. For the record, kinetic energy is the energy contained in a mass in motion; and potential energy is the energy contained in a stationary mass at a given height (e.g., water in a water tower), or in a compressed spring, or in a tank of compressed air, etc.

Thanks for reading.

Brian S.
Webmaster of http://www.buffalopitts.com/
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:53:37 AM
survivingworldsteam
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Default Re: 60' Tall 1200HP Holly Steam Engine Pump from 1915 in Buffalo NY

Steam engines do not have a transmission, at the most, they have a system for adjusting the steam intake valves, which is also used to set the valves to run in reverse. (All that happens for reverse operation in a steam engine is that you let steam in one end of each cylinder to start it off in one direction instead of the other.)

The steam is admitted to the cylinder, the pressure of the steam pushes the piston to the opposite end of the cylinder, and an exhaust valve lets the steam out. The vast majority of steam engines are double-acting, which means that steam is then admitted to the opposite end of the cylinder to push the piston back to the opposite end of the cylinder. The whole process then repeats itself.

The flywheels do indeed provide the kenetic energy to keep the engine moving past the dead spots at each end of the cylinder. On a triple expansion engine, the steam is admitted to a small high pressure cylinder first; it then exhausts to an intermediate pressure cylinder, where it repeats the above steps, then finally is exhausted into the low pressure cylinder to repeat the process again. This allows you to get the maximum amount of energy out of the steam that you can; but sometimes the engine may get stopped at a "dead spot" on the high pressure cylinder. You then have a turning engine that uses a flywheel to turn the entire engine off of dead center.

The pump plungers are directly connected to the opposite end of the piston rods from the steam pistons; the pumps themselves are the cylinders with the domed covers down in the pit in the above picture. The pump end works just like pump down in a water well or a hand pump, as the pump plunger moves to the top of the cylinder, the vacuum it pulls opens an intake valve, which admits water into the pump cylinder. When the pump plunger begins to move downward, the pressure of the water closes the intake valve and opens a discharge valve, which then lets the water out through the discharge pipe.

Some of these pumps are double-acting and some are not, It looks like the Holly pumping engines at Col. Ward are double-acting. Many large stationary steam engines used a condensor to condense the exhaust steam back to water so it could be pumped back into the boiler. The Holly engines at Col. Ward used the water flow through the pumps to cool the steam going through the condensor, that is purpose for the diagonal exhaust pipe you see on the right hand side of the above picture. The large horizontal pipe is the intake pipe, I believe; the large "pipe" set at a right angle to it in the right lower corner of the picture is the condensor itself.

Look on the web and see if you can find an annimation for a "direct acting steam pump." It may illustrate a much smaller steam pump; but these large pumping engines work the same way; only the size and details differ.

Facinating, and ingenious machines these are. Technically simple, but with massive parts. Many of these steam pumping stations continued to operate until late in the 1970s, when rising fuel prices coupled with discounts from the electric utilities who wanted their base load finally shut them down. Quite a few are still in place around the country today.

-James Hefner
Hebrews 10:20a

---------- Post added at 10:53 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:48 AM ----------

A correction/clarifcation to my above post: that large horizontal pipe is the discharge pipe. The large cylinders with the domed covers are air chambers, they are used to even out the pump pulses to lower the stress on both the engines and the piping. The actual pump cylinders are hidden out of view behind them and directly beneath the steam cylinders.

The tiny pipes connecting the top of the air chambers was used to pump air into the tops of the chambers; a Westinghouse air brake pump like the ones you see on steam locomotives was often hung the wall for such a purpose. As the pressure on the discharge fell, the level of water inside the air chamber would fall; as the pressure rose, the level of water would rise against the air pressure. This rising and falling against the air pressure in the tops of the air chambers helped even out the pressure of the water in the discharge pipe.

-James Hefner
Hebrews 10:20a
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