Cyclops Iron Works S.F.------1873
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  1. #1
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    Default Cyclops Iron Works S.F.------1873

    completed a control retrofit on knee mill--one man shop in woods
    noodled the intriguing undergrowth and came across this----
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 100_1513.jpg   100_1512.jpg   100_1511.jpg   100_1516.jpg   100_1517.jpg  


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    2-----------------------------------------
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mnnn.jpg   zs.jpg   ytry.jpg   oiuui.jpg   yiouy.jpg  


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    That last pic would make a great tee shirt... thanks, Jim

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    Wow this is pretty fascinating. Love the overhead crane. Wonder if they were a west coast regional type of company or they were much bigger and I never heard of them before? Thanks for sharing this. Regards, John.

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    Default Umpqua power

    I located more info on bridge crane in document issued by National Park Service--`Register of Historic Places--

    Cyclops crane was located in Winchester Dam power house Umpqua River, Oregon --circa 1912--crane was installed following fire which claimed complete destruction of earlier powerhouse

    crane remained in use until teardown of power generation facility---1956

    clips are from Park Service document
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails poip.jpg   lkj.jpg  

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    JHolland:

    Thank you fr posting the photos of the old bridge crane and then following up with more photos of what Cyclops manufactured. In the last set of photos, a steam driven ammonia refrigeration compressor is shown. It utilizes a steam engine with Corliss valves and valve gear, which was fairly standard practice amongst builders of steam driven refrigeration compressors for many years.

    Apparently, Cyclops was a firm that produced a diverse range of products. When I saw the bridge crane photos, I initially figured Cyclops was some combination of iron foundry, structural steel fabrication shop, and machine shop. The steam driven ammonia compressor put Cyclops into another league from the type of work needed to build bridge cranes.

    My guess is the bridge crane was hand-powered, as a lot of the smaller bridge cranes, particularly in powerplants were. The thinking was that powerplant bridge cranes might see only infrequent use for overhaul or repair work in plants which otherwise ran 24/7. I worked in a few smaller powerplants which still had the hand operated bridge cranes. These were OK if the weather and ambient temperatures were cooler. In the heat of summer, opening a 10 megawatt steam turbine for inspection with a hand operated bridge crane was a miserable job.That was a good 40 years ago, and the millwrights on the job were pulling on the chains of that old bridge crane in relays. We asked one of the plant operators why the management (it was a small municipal powerplant) had stuck with the hand operated crane. The answers are not printable here.

    My first experience with a hand operated bridge crane was in the foundry at Brooklyn Technical High School. It was a very light capacity Whiting bridge crane and we moved various foundry equipment and a big ladle with it. Of course, as kids of 14, being introduced to real industrial machinery, we thought of working that bridge crane as something of a lark. Years later, we had a Whiting 10 ton hand operated bridge crane in one smaller hydro plant, dating to 1915. We used it to erect three new vertical hydro units of 1 megawatt each. Heaving on the chains to raise and lower the main load got old, so we hung an electric hoist off the hook of the main load block. That left heaving on the chains to move the trolley and bridge, which was not all that bad. The hydro turbine work started at the bottom of flumes which were about 35 feet deep, so heaving on the chains to raise or lower the main load block 35 feet (plus whatever additional height above the floor and other machinery) got real old real fast. The electric hoist was probably a "Coffing" or similar, and it made a world of difference.

    We've come a long way with bridge cranes. When I started my career, bridge cranes generally had an operator's cab if they were powered. Some had a set of "pull ropes" so a man on the floor could run them. The cranes with the pull ropes had quite a few ropes to move the main bridge, trolley, and hoists. A skilled man running one of those types of cranes would almost run along with the pull ropes when he had the bridge travelling at full speed. I used to liken it to a man driving a few teams of horses, and a good man on one of those cranes never had to look at the tags labelling the function of each pull rope. We had some of the older bridge cranes in the smaller hydro plants with the old "trolley car" controllers for the various motors, and even a foot-operated gong like an old trolley (tram to our European and UK brethren). All of those old bridge cranes were initially upgraded with pendant controllers, enabling them to be run from down on the floor. Later, the old cranes were retrofitted with radio controls, and the operators walk around with what we call a "belly box"- a control box on a belt with little joysticks like a radio controlled model airplane might have. Quite a long way from the old hand operated bridge cranes, for sure.

    There were a number of firms around the USA who built steam driven ammonia refrigeration compressors. Some got into what seemed to be similar types of machine work.
    Like Cyclops, most have vanished and no trace of their buildings remains in the cities they once were located in. This thread causes me to think of the firm of deLaVergne. Originally, they had a large plant right in Manhattan (New York City). They started out making steam driven ammonia compressors and whole refrigeration systems for breweries, ice plants, and similar refrigerated buildings. At some point, they got into the building of "oil engines", and I believe it was on the Hornsby design from England. I am not sure when deLaVerge closed their shops in Manhattan, and believe they were, for a time, located in Poughkeepsie, NY. Eventually, Baldwin Locomotive Works took over the diesel engine portion of the business, and the name ceased to exist. Up until recently, in an abandoned meat packing plant near East St. Louis, Illinois, there was a large deLaVerge steam driven ammonia compressor standing derelict. It is probably long gone to the scrappers.

    There were so many shops like Cyclops around the USA, and now, almost no trace and very little formal record of them remains. Each of those types of shops had an engineering department, a drafting department, and a "plan vault"- a fireproof room in which the drawings were kept. Shops of this type also often had a separate fireproof building in which the wood foundry patterns were stored. Large numbers of men and boys made up the workforces in these shops and supported their families.
    Now and then, a building from these types of businesses survives, but is usually converted to some other use, with "loft housing" or upscale apartments or office space being the norm. One such building that survives from the era when we had so many engine and machinery builders is the old Meitz and Weiss engine factory in Manhattan. Meitz and Weiss built a variety of hot bulb engines, and did it in a factory building in what may be "Little Italy" in Manhattan. I doubt if anyone in or around that building has a clue as to what once was going on in that building. Cyclops Iron Works, being in San Francisco, is now in the high rent district, and if any fragment of their plant still stands, it is probably in much the same usage as the old Meitz and Weiss engine factory.

    Even Oakland, California- the former industrial city across the bay from San Francisco- is now being "gentrified". Old industrial buildings and old residential properties are now being modernized and converted, with high property prices and high rents to match.

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    Joe,

    Where is the Meitz and Weiss building? A friend has one of their engines, I'd like to get a picture of the building for him.

    Paul

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    Paul:

    The Meitz building is located at 128 Mott Street, Manhattan. This is in what is/was "Little Italy", though Chinatown is expanding into Little Italy. If you cross Canal Street, Mott becomes the main street of China Town. If you google "Meitz Building", there are some on-line pictures of the building. The name "Meitz Building" is in the stonework of the lintel over the main entrance. The building is used for office space.

    My guess is Meitz may have had the castings for the engines poured at local foundries, and done the machining and assembly in the Mott Street Building. A similar building to the Meitz Building is the Garvin Building. This was the home of Garvin Machine Tools and is not far from the Meitz Building. Garvin likely also had their castings poured by local foundries and did the machine work, fitting and assembly in their own building.

    No faded paint on an exterior wall of the Meitz Building advertises their engines nor is there to give a clue as to what the original occupants did in that building. Garvin at least has some faded painted lettering on the one wall of their building advertising them as builders of machine tools.

    I still find it incredible to think that once, not so long ago, NYC had a real manufacturing base.

    Getting back to Cyclops: from this thread, by the 1920's, Cyclops Iron Works was making home and commercial refrigerators. This is a path not unlike Manitowac Engineering in Wisconsin. Manitowac started as a ship builder. This was not steady work, and Manitowac wanted to keep their plant and workforce going on a steady basis. Manitowac got into manufacturing cranes for the construction industry, which was a fairly logical offshoot from shipbuilding. When this proved to be cyclical in its business cycles, they then got into refrigeration. Like Cyclops, they got into home refrigerators and commercial refrigerators. Eventually, this led to the development of "ice machines", machines which dispense ice cubes, found in many restaurants, hotels/motels, and similar uses. I suspect Manitowac eventually dismembered from one parent company owning and operating the shipyards, crane manufacturing, and refrigerator/ice machine manufacturing. Their name & product lines survive in the form of cranes and ice machines (likely both of which are owned by separate companies), while Cyclops seems to have vanished almost completely until quite literally un-earthed by JHolland. Not quite an archaeological dig, but close to it.

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    Cyclops cranes 1915 Look at caption under photo:

    CONTENTdm

    Here in 1945 Cyclops Iron Works had a Christmas party for the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers

    Refrigeration Engineering - Google Books

    Paul

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    Paul:

    Thanks for posting the details of Cyclops Iron Works as late as 1945. Apparently, they were in sound enough financial shape to provide the entertainment for the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers Christmas party. The obvious question is: what happened to Cyclops Ironworks between 1945 and the present time ?

    Etienne, who seems to have been the family who owned/managed Cyclops Ironworks was still in charge as of 1945. In the 1920's, or thereabouts, Victor Etienne was named as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by another San Francisco shop of the same name: "Cyclops Machinery Company". The argument was about Etienne's use of the name
    "Cyclops" which the plaintiff felt was an infringement on their own business name. If I read the proceedings right, the court found for the plaintiff, and on appeal, the judgement was upheld. Nevertheless, Etienne, et al, seems to have been unbothered by the court's judgement, went on using the "Cyclops" name, and seems to have remained in charge of the company some years later.

    I am sure the story of Cyclops Ironworks is pretty much like the story of countless other manufacturing shops in the USA. When they ceased to exist and why would be interesting to find out. Could be some public works project needed the real estate Cyclops occupied, could have been for business reasons. During WWII, it is likely Cyclops was busy as a either a contractor of sub-contractor on US Government work for the war effort. With the ending of WWII, and so many other shops retooling for peacetime manufacturing - including home appliances and on a much larger scale than Cyclops might have been- Cyclops was probably finished. Things like the hermetically sealed "canned" refrigeration compressors probably helped seal the fate of Cyclops. For home refrigerators and light commercial units, pre WWII the compressors were "open", often belt driven. After WWII, the "canned compressors" drastically changed the way refrigerators were built. Add the value of the real estate the Cyclops plant occupied, as San Francisco became a more upscale city. The end result was the Etiennes probably closed up shop and were left quite well off financially. Their workforce probably was able to find work over in Oakland, which was a thriving manufacturing town in the 50's.

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    Is there something like "Graces Guide" for US manufacturers?


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