Did Water and Alum Cause It?
There was a lively discussion in progress Tuesday morning in the Atlanta (Ga.) water-works office, in which Judge Hillyer, president of the water board, Commissioner Erwin, Su perintendent Richards and City Engineer Clayton all took a hand. The subject under consideration was the theory advanced by Engineers Smith and Hancock that the recent explosion of Central Railroad Switch Engine No. 154, near the Whitehall street crossing, was caused by the alum in the waterworks water corroding the bolt heads on the interior of the boiler.
“ The best refutation of such a theory,” said Superintendent Richards, “ is the fact that all of our own boilers at the waterworks are in excellent condition and we have never had an explosion.
“ I have here the report of the examiner of the Hartford Boiler Insurance Company, made two weeks ago, saying that the boilers are in good condition and show no signs of corrosion.”
“It’s strange,” said Judge Hillyer, “that although there were any number of explosions of boilers prior to the time we began filtering the water, this is the first one that has occurred in the ten years during which the water-works water has been filtered. Can’t you recall the instances of explosions before we began filtering the water and using alum?”
“Oh, yes,” replied tlie superintendent, reflectively, “there was the Flying Nellie and the Bobucl—they exploded—and the Oothcaloga that was when poor Bob Spencer was killed. He lies out in Oakland now. And—let me sec—there was the Sunshine, a Central road engine. She blew up twice, the first time between here and Jonesboro, and the second time at Barnesvillc. And then there was the Vulcan, which blew up in the yards, and I rember that a stationary engine blew up in Lewis’ cracker factory.”
“ Think of it,” said Judge Hillyer, “ the number of engines has more than quadrupled in the last ten years, and yet we have had one explsion, while filtered water-works has been in use, where we had any number of them before that time.”
“ Why, the use of this filtered water,” said City Engineer Clayton, “ is the reason there is so few explosions in recent years, mud is worse than alum in a boiler, and this water has kept great quantities of mud out of boilers.”
“ We only use about one-half of a grain of alum to the gallon,” said Mr. Erwin, “ and I have no idea that as much as one-fifth of a grain gets into the filtered water.”
“Of course,” said Superintendent Richards, “if a man don’t keep his boiler clean it isn’t going to last. This engine was a switch engine, and 1 expect that it sadly lacked care and attention.” And so they argued.
General William H. Bowlsby of Brooklyn, N. Y., advisory surgeon of the uniform rank, Knights of Pythias, made a descent from the scaffolding high above the roof of the Central Fire Station, Kansas City, one day last week. He came down in the arms of Fireman John Egner, who held the life line. Somebody “ dared ” the General to make the leaf, and he accepted the challenge. The General’s wife said she was worried about the feat her husband had agreed to perform. She went to the station with him. General Bowlsby wore a broad smile, but she had a long face. She tried to dissuade the General from making the descent, and when the time came for him to ascend to the roof she declared that she would not stay to witness the feat, so she took a car back to the camp. The General seemed not a bit disconcerted by his wife’s desertion, though he tried to allay her fears. The life line was run from the high scaffolding over the building, and the General and Fireman Egner took their places upon the scaffolding. The old gentleman made a bow to the crowd who filled the ground north of the station. Then Egner threw bis arm around the old gentleman and attached the safety hooks, and the two sprang far out into the air. The speed of their fall was checked by the rope, and both alighted safely on the ground. The General turned and made another salute to the cheering crowd, and was almost taken off his feet by the people who crowded around to shake his hands. There were fully a thousand ladies in the crowd, for the General has a host of friends in his brigade, and has made an army of acquaintances while in camp. General Bowlsby was a volunteer fireman in New York twenty-five years ago.