Early New York Simplex Steam Pumps..
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  1. #1
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    Default Early New York Simplex Steam Pumps..

    A few pics of a lovely steam donkey Simplex pump made by Niagara Steam Pump probably before 1870. Greg Johnson a member here who has an incredible steam collection very graciously allowed me to acquire it from his collection due to its small size.Note the plate stating it was built for Yacht use.

    A box bed Simplex pump it uses a very early form of shuttle valve and " D " combination to reverse direction of the stroke. Some day when I get time I'll attempt a disassembly of this shuttle and add more pics.

    I have found very little regarding the history of this company or its inventor Charles B. Hardick.. beyond some litigation and advertisement's. I would say assembled the entire pump weighs a hundred pounds. It is a very rare survivor although I know of one other example.
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    The second Simplex pump operates perfectly. It is a shade less than 12" overall length. Made by G.F. Chappell on Pike St, New York it could be an actual " meant to work " steam pump. Researching Chappell turned up very little in actual history although a small advertisement does show he also had small steam engine's for sale.

    This little pump would be an ideal companion to a small canoe type steam plant. I actually have enough bits and piece's now to build such a plant but time is getting to be a bigger problem these days

    I replaced the wooden half inch diameter dowels slit down the length and secured with glue someone later had added to the pump. I also removed the hideous red paint slather on everywhere. It looks as if someone had taken a very fine brass bristled rotary brush and tried to polish it up a bit. I'm still thinking how best to resolve this but for now it will remain as is.

    I date this pump 1875-1880.. another rare survivor.
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  3. #3
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    Here are pics of an award presented to Charles B. Hardick in 1869 for his steam pump which I was fortunate to discover purely by chance.
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    Here are pics of the other known Niagara Steam Pump courtesy of Maltesehunter... also a member here. This pump appears to be a bit larger than the previous one shown. Patent dates on the cast plate match the date's on the yacht marked pump.
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    The first one you posted is the most elegant looking thing I've seen in a while. Every detail is perfect. Thanks

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    A few detail pics. The roundside plates below the Air Chamber have a gasket and held in place by a single nut. If some trash becomes lodged in the valve's it is a simple matter to remove the cover thereby exposing the valves for maintenance. The valve are those rectangular pieces shown behind the plates. When they wear they are turned 90 degree's and a new side presented to the valve seat.

    Beautiful thing..
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    Simplex steam pumps were always a bit more interesting in that they had to rely on the same cylinder to work the valve motion. The duplex pumps made things a whole lot simpler.

    The open and light frame design of these pumps speaks of an early stage in steam pump development. The fit and finish and overall design of the pumps was done with a lot more ornamentation or 'flowing design' than was needed, but this was typical of that era.

    I find it interesting that the pumps were made in NYC and in Brooklyn. In those years, the five boroughs (counties) of what became New York City were separate, and Brooklyn was a separate entity from Manhattan. The maker of the pumps seems to have moved around between Manhattan and Brooklyn. I wonder whether he was leasing shop space and when business either picked up or dropped off, he moved to shop space that was within his budget.

    The bigger steam pump maker in Brooklyn was Davidson. Davidson offered simplex pumps, but these were a lot more rugged in design, and likely came a bit later.
    The idea of these small steam pumps being for 'yacht service' sounds a bit optimistic. "Launch" service is a more likely application. I could see these pumps used in conjunction with a small marine steam plant in an open launch of maybe 15-20 feet long. Typically, marine engines for launches had the feed pump and 'wet air' (vacuum) pumps driven by the main engines. Either by rocking beams or by extra eccentrics on the crankshaft. This little pump could have been used for backup feed when the engine was not running. On a larger 'yacht', it might have been used to transfer water from storage tankage such as a forepeak tank to tanks located near the engine and boiler, or into the hotwell.

    It's hard to imagine someone cruising NYC's East River or harbor in a steam launch small enough for these pumps to have been part of the steam plant. On a quiet lake or pond, this seems more likely.

    Either way, Lester continues to gather a collection of some amazing and fine examples of smaller 'working' steam power. Lester does not stop with the collecting; he restores and incorporates these smaller examples of working steam power into working steam plants. I would not be surprised if Lester someday announces he's building a steam launch to utilize what he's collected and cruise quiet backwaters with the classic smell of warm steam cylinder oil and the gentle sounds of a steam engine running.

    Whatever the intended purpose of these little pum

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    Re: the polish job- at least they didn't sand blast it.

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    Being in the process of building patterns to duplicate the early style Judson Steam governor in a smaller scale.. gave me pause to reflect on the early days of New York where every corner seemed to have a foundry or some sort of manufacturing shop. A very early center of steam development, New York was a place which drew great minds into a common thread which resulted in an endless development of steam engines with many purposes. Horse drawn steam fire engines and ships, Locomotive's and pump engine's all built right there in that wonderful city where great drama and fortune unfolded every day. Poverty and riches side by side and there in that city of great craftsmen began the pulse of steam.

    Both these small steam pumps are built very simply as Joe Michael's has noted. Patterns would have been comparatively easy to build and castings made for such early design. A simple box with a steam cylinder on one end and a pump cylinder on the other... what could be more simple ? Early steam engines were built the same way.. bits and bobs bolted to a cast iron bed. Small parts assembled into a machine mostly by hand with filing and chipping order of the day.

    Joe Michael's has written a LOT about the days of Brooklyn when he was a lad..the men who sold "rebuilt" machine tools standing by their doors waiting for their next victim. Those days remembered by Joe were the last vestiges of history upon which New York was built. Those days were days when really desirable early example's of machine tools were consigned to the sledge and remembered no more. Steam engines met their demise much the same way forgotten by this great pulsing city which never looked back but lived for the moment imagining the future.

    I learned a lot about New York studying these pumps. Besides the fact these Steam Donkey's are wonderful survivors of that era.. I discovered families which lived in squalor, in desperation for a slice of bread or a bottle of milk. The rats the wharf's.. the politics and unions and the sadness became real. Bits and bobs bolted together to form a whole.. much like all the different people and ideas which made New York and set its pulse.

    Always trying to view the reality of it all, I see a foundry man and pattern maker discussing the details of these little pumps.I can almost hear the carriage wheel on cobble stone with the old machinist standing at his lathe taking a final cut. The Niagara pump is so finely finished that it could have been a show piece or special ordered with a " Finish all over " finish. I believe Charles Hardick himself approved this pump before it left the works. It is too fine and the plate too special to be a standard Issue Niagara pump. It is a master piece and for this reason it survived.

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    Lester -

    I wonder what Charles Hardick would think of his old factory site? According to the map it is one block from the water and really is DUMBO, not just in the area! Looks like maybe the Brooklyn abutment for the Manhattan Bridge is where his place was - or next door.

    Dale

    23-adams-st-brooklyn.jpg

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