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Found in 1840s farm house basement - stone weight driven pump?

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
I still have a small carbide lamp I bought used for about five bucks. I used to use it to blacken front sights until I discovered Birchwood Casey Sight Black, much cleaner and easier to deal with.

Still have a couple of Coleman gasoline lamps I fitted with rotary flint ignitors so no more matches needed. I also have a couple of propane lamps and one Aladdin aluminum model I gave a guy ten bucks for. These days mantles cost more than I paid for the lamp! Always good to have non-electric stuff and the Colemans can go outside if needed during a power failure.

Mention was made of washing up with a basin. During a few days while the water heater was drying out after a flood before being re-lit we used a tea kettle on the gas stove to heat water in plastic dishpans. Managed to wash and shampoo hair just fine using camper's rinseless wash and shampoo, which we lightly rinsed.
 

enginebill

Stainless
Joined
Feb 17, 2005
Location
Plymouth Meeting PA
Not about "right or wrong". We chickn's are too far way to lay-hands on it.

You have jumped to a conclusion off eye confusion is all.

Compare ALL, repeat ALL, of the details of his tank and the one you posted.

You WILL need to Zoom this. You MAY need to enhance it as well. "Gimp" can help:



His is not just a lighter-built, earlier model, or different-maker workalike.

It's a whole different technology.

Carbide and water in. Whitewash out. Whitewash was in chronic demand in that era.
Safe shutdown to go off for the day? Stop putting in the carbide. No worrisome flammables stored.
Cupful of Carbide goes a long way.
Water can be had.
Ours was pumped out of a hand-dug well in a rice paddy, lined with the coated steel shipping containers napalm munitions come in.
Stank of prehistoric ass, too. But the Acetylene didn't give a damn.

Cheap. Cheerful. Simple. Safe shutdown. What's not to like?

Oh well. Acetylene is explosively flammable in any percentage concentration with air from about 4% to 99%, can self detonate from thermal or shock anywhere much above 15 PSIG.. but .. Harry Homeowner had no high pressures.

And all the US Army Acetylene plants that blew themselves and their crews to Hell were charging bottles off the vibration-prone left side manifold. So I kept that side shut off, had only the one fire in 12 months, didn't lose a man but for mild burns of one brave crew chief from charging INTO the fireball with a fireaxe, 22 empty fire extinguishers in.
Saved the plant. Hung a Bronze Star on him for that. And an extra stripe, pay rise comensurate, bits of ribbon and cups of cawfee as they be.
Actually you are confused due to your lack of knowledge of gas lighting systems, it is not an acetylene lighting system, it is gasoline.

I know because I have an acetylene gas lighting generator and I have run 100 pounds of calcium carbide through it and lit my shop with it and it is nothing like the gasoline lighting system.

This photo is of an acetylene lighting system so open your eyes and see the difference and no, the company had nothing to do with Colt firearms.

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These photos are of the Springfield Gas Machine air pump that we have too.

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Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
Greg:

I know and use the type of air/acetylene torch you speak of in your post. Mine was built by "Prestolite" eons ago. Until MAPP gas and 'turbo torch' type mixers came along, the "Prestolite" torches were in widespread use by plumbers and refrigeration mechanics. The common setup is to use this torch with a "B" sized acetylene tank.
It is a handy torch as it can be carried to the jobs, and produces enough heat for silver brazing of copper tubing joints, as is done in reefer work.

"Prestolite" was originally a tradename for the company which developed acetylene lighting for early automobiles. That company name survives as the "Prestolite" firm which supplied automotive electrical system components for many years.

Thermite:
You have had a very interesting military history as well as your younger years. You are correct about acetylene becoming unstable at pressures much over 15 psig. It is the reason acetylene gauges on regulators have a red-line at 15 psig. On many cylinders of acetylene, the label used to contain the words: "Dissolved acetylene". As you correctly note, acetylene cannot be pressurized much above 15 psig, and as I recall, at about 29.9-30 psig, may self detonate. For this reason, in the early days, supplying 'tanked' acetylene in the same manner as "tanked'" oxygen or other gasses was not possible. The "dissolved acetylene" process consists of filling the acetylene tanks with a 'wool'. This used to be asbestos fibers, now is likely something like mineral wool or fiberglass. This 'wool' is saturated with acetone and the tank is partially filled with acetone. The acetylene is pumped in under pressure and goes into solution in the acetone. I liken this to the carbonation in beverages such as soda or beer. When the valve on the acetylene tank is opened and the acetylene can flow out of the tank, the reduced pressure in the tank lets the acetylene come out of solution in the acetone. I liken this to a carbonated beverage going flat. This part of the process I understand, but one point has me a wondering. Since you have experience running a bulk acetylene plant, perhaps you can explain it. Namely: if acetylene goes unstable at about 29.9-30 psig, how is the acetylene brought to some higher pressure to get plenty of it into solution in the tank/acetone ? As many of us know, when we connect a regulator to a tank of acetylene, when we crack the tank valve, the 'high side' gauge on the regulator reads pressures way higher than 30 psig. Obviously, once the acetylene is in solution in the acetone, it is stabilized for higher pressure storage. Is the acetylene forced into solution in acetone outside the tank at some lower pressure, then brought to the higher pressure and the solution of acetone/acetylene charged into the tank ?

For general information: I have two (2) original brass Welsbach gas lights in original Welsbach boxes, packed about 1948 by Welsbach. These are hanging type brass gaslights, nothing fancy. Years ago, when I was about 12 or so, an old hardware store in Manhattan had a bunch of NOS Welsbach gaslights, including mantles in original boxes. A couple of bucks apiece as I recall. We bought two, never used them. Probably never will. Prior to our installing a hard-wired autostart generator at our house, when we'd have a power outage, I'd remember those Welsbach lamps stashed on a basement shelf.... and imagine piping one up to run on propane for standby lighting. Never did. I ought to dig them out and offer them to the good folks here on this 'board.

Other aside about gaslights: Brooklyn Technical HS was built in about 1924 or thereabouts. When we'd take the stairs to enter or leave the school or change floors between classes, I would notice un-used gas lights in the stairwells. Maybe this was emergency lighting, ca 1924. Never saw the gas lamps used, no mantles or globes on them, just 'birdcage' type guards.


My father's father (my grandfather) was a veteran of the Czar's Army and made his own vodka. His definition of vodka was about 180 proof or better, and I can recall him showing my father how good a batch was by burning a sample off in a spoon. Prohibition, according to my father, worked out better for my grandfather. My grandfather discovered that Schaefer Brewery (near his home in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn), was licensed to produce 'industrial alcohol'. This was ethanol, and was not 'denatured' (poison added to discourage people drinking it). It was supposedly kept in bonded storage and well accounted for, to be shipped for 'medicinal' or 'pharmaceutical' use. How my grandfather, who knew about one or two words or English and was illiterate and stone deaf managed to find things out is another mystery. Dad told me his father used to lug home a 5 gallon tin of 'medicinal alcohol' from Schaefer's Brewery. Since a 5 gallon tin was too cumbersome to pour drinks from, my grandfather put it on a shelf in a closet. He rigged up a siphon from the tin, broke a hole in the closet wall, and had it connected to an un-used gas light. This was the kind of 'hanging mantle' light, nothing fancy according to Dad. It needed a key (square socket) to open the gas and control the gas flow to the jet. My grandfather kept his drinking alcohol on tap via the gaslight. This was in the days before Brooklyn was supplied with natural gas, relying on 'coal gas' from 'the gas woiks' or 'the gas house gang'. Straight grain alcohol probably dissolved coal tars in the gas lines and added some color and smoky flavor to that hooch. My grandfather complained when prohibition ended as he had to return to making his own high proof vodka. He claimed store bought was not what he was used to or liked. He made it to about 90, living on a diet of herring, hard black bread, raw onions, smoked fish, and his high proof hooch, dying in his own bed at home of a quick stroke.
 

jim rozen

Diamond
Joined
Feb 26, 2004
Location
peekskill, NY
Cool acet. lighting setup. Thanks for posting that.

Interesting thing about the valve body (and regulator) associated with dissoved acetylene cylinders, they have no acetone in them, and yet the gas does not explosively decompose therein. Reason being the gas molecules need to have a high enough kinetic energy to do so, and at room temperature the mean free path length is too long, they hit the walls of the small diameter passages first. Also the reason acetlylene bottles can be manifolded together to allow increased draw. Never use copper tubing for this purpose. So basically the reason those tanks don't blow up, is because of Boltsmann statistics.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
Jim Rozen:

Thanks for the scholarly explanation. It brings back memories of college courses with Boltsmann's constant, Avogadro's Number (God alone knows why, to this day, though I have NEVER used it since college, I recall it as 6.02 x 10 *23, and it's been 50 years since graduation), and assorted other stuff from physics, thermodynamics, and 'transport phenomena' courses. I never gave thought to how 'dissolved acetylene', as a "free gas" coming up from inside the tank to the valve & regulator is most usually at some pressure in excess of 30 psig. You gave me quite a bit to mentally chew upon ! As I began realizing quite some years ago: it is amazing how much stuff I thought I knew, but realize in actuality how little I do know about it. Just enough to get a job done or be dangerous, I guess. Thanks again, you explanation has me visualizing acetylene molecules in a small diameter flow passageway, and remembering with a VERY hazy recollection of some of my college courses.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
Thermite:

Carrying constants, coefficients, and various equations along with engineering and scientific principals in our heads must be a generational thing. Those of us who pre-date personal computers and easy-to-use software, and predate scientific calculators tend to have all sorts of information on tap from our memory banks. The other day, my wife and son were discussing the temperature in Amman, Jordan, where it was 37 degrees C. We were sitting at the kitchen table, so I grabbed a pen and paper napkin and went to work. They asked what that was in degrees Fahrenheit. I started to work the conversion equation, something we learned in 7th grade (1962). Son pulls out his phone, punches something or other. Wife calls to someone names "Seery" (or however it's spelled) on her phone. Both of them have the answer in degrees F before I determine if the constant used is 5/9 or 9/5 in the conversion equation.

Engine Bill:
We get into some interesting tangential discussions on many of these threads. I've guessed wrong, postulated wrong theories, and occasionally been correct when responding to many of these "what is this ?" type threads. Call it mental exercise, and a good interchange between all of us brethren who frequent this board. It is these sorts of tangential discussions that lead to a great deal of information being posted here. Just seeing the photos of the actual acetylene generators and the Springfield Gas Machine has been quite informative. Learning from Thermite that the military had compressed gas plants to support the armed forces and how those plants were run has also been quite an interesting thing for me. Of course, Thermite has his own style of writing, with the term 'rapier wit' coming to mind.

Overall, we are a respectful bunch and we respond to each other's posts in a gentlemanly manner (or something approaching it, if I am not hung off a yardarm by the PC police for using "gentlemanly" instead of some gender-neutral term). We re-but, debate, and throw in some wit and humor. It's all good, and I get quite a lot out of being a part of this 'board. We are all individuals, and being members of this board, we are not the 'normal run of the mill' sort of people. Some banter or heckling is all a part of the process and was a common thing in the world many of us came into and grew up in. Life would be pretty dull without the kind of interchanges we have here.
 

jim rozen

Diamond
Joined
Feb 26, 2004
Location
peekskill, NY
Also LOx plants.... And I still want to know what kind of compressor is used for acetlyene gas. i *know* what kind is used for a LHe plant! (goddam big, so big that they had to give LilCo a call in advance of starting it up)
 

rustyironism

Cast Iron
Joined
Aug 31, 2012
Location
Lower Thumb, Michigan
I have not as yet spent the time to read every word in this interesting post, but I eventually will!

My contribution, while far from the original post, hits some of the other comments.

When I bought this acetylene generator from the daughter of a friend, she gave me the receipt from when he bought it new in 1953.

I have a few more things in life to do before I try it out, but he evidently used it often.

I did a search a few years ago for information and found that what appears to be the same unit is still available brand new!


I have not researched the local availability of calcium carbide.

Mike
 

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Lester Bowman

Hot Rolled
Joined
Apr 9, 2011
Location
Modesto california USA
Very very good Bill. Reminds me of the Daniel Regan Vapor Carburetor which used suction to pull the gasoline vapors through the liquid fuel. I would imagine somewhere in the dim past this system was also tried as a fuel source for early internal combustion engines. Amazing what the Victorians came up with in their quest for bigger, better and faster :)
 

enginebill

Stainless
Joined
Feb 17, 2005
Location
Plymouth Meeting PA
Very very good Bill. Reminds me of the Daniel Regan Vapor Carburetor which used suction to pull the gasoline vapors through the liquid fuel. I would imagine somewhere in the dim past this system was also tried as a fuel source for early internal combustion engines. Amazing what the Victorians came up with in their quest for bigger, better and faster :)
Early engines did run on gasoline vapors. Wayne Grenning and Jonathan Triebner's Otto and Langen atmospheric engine which they are restoring now was the first engine to do so in 1876. Also, Deutz slide valve 4 cycle engines did too in the 1880's. For the atmospheric engine Otto and Maybach tried using a standard sheet metal gasoline lighting vaporizer for their prototype and it blew up, no one got hurt though.
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
Really early carburetors were basically a wick sticking into a tube. I guess they kinda worked, at least at one speed.

The vapor in the lighting gas maker should have been way too saturated to burn. Maybe the flow rate made it leaner and got it into an explosive mixture.
 








 
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