SERIOUS ACCIDENT AT BRATTLEBORO, VT.
Specially written for FIRM AND WATER ENOINKKIUNO.
The cause of the recent accident to the Estey steamer, when Engineer Fred. D. Weld was nearly killed, was determined by W. H. Langdon, of Seneca halls, N. Y., an expert from the factory of the American-LaFrance Fire Engine company, where the steamer was made. Mr. Langdon made an investigation, by which it was found that in parts of the suction-pipe, the rubber hose, which extended from the steamer into the cistern was found to contain a “blubber” a term applied to a loose lining. The blubber clogged the hose, so that no water could get through. Engineer Weld ran his engine at high speed, when he saw that it was not taking water, thinking that there was not sufficient suction to draw water from the cistern. He accomplished what he attempted, hut with serious results. The suction at the very high sliced was so great that the blubber burst, and the water instantly tilled the pump. The pistonhead. moving with great force, struck the water in the pump; but, as the discharge-valve was closed, there was no way for the water to escape, and the effect was as though the water in the pump had been a block of iron. The piston was stopped instantly, tail the flywheel could not withstand the sudden resistance and kept going, twisting tnc spokes from the hub. Mr. Langdon said the engine did not make a single revolution after the piston struck the water, and the condition of the apparatus after the accident was such as to bear out that statement. It cannot be moved by hand, and could not be by steam. Some of those who stood near the steamer at the time of the accident, remember that tile engine was not running w hen some one reached iqi to shut off the steam valve. It is Mr. Langdon’s opinion that the flywheel was making from 500 to 600 revolutions a minute when i broke. The appearance of the huh indicates that the rim revolved round the huh many times before it flew off, thereby spending much of its force before it struck the engineer. Otherwise, it does not seem possible that he could have escaped instant death. The pump is fitted with rubber valves four inches long and seven-eighths of an inch thick. They rest on valve-seats, in which are holes or ports, three inches long and three-eighths of an inch wide. The water pressure in the pump forced seven of the ruboer valves through the ports. Mr. Langdon said it would take a pressure of at least 1,000 pounds to do this. Mr. Langdon was told of the conditions tinder which the village bought the steamer and of the price which was paid for it. He said that, if it cost the village only $2,000 it was secured at a bargain, because it was a finely built machine and had not seen hard service. The accident, he said, was not from any fault in the steamer, but from trouble in the suction hose. He said that, while accidents of this kind were rare, they were liable to happen to any steamer. He knows of but three other accidents due to blubbers, the last one happening at Bellow’s Falls a year ago last autumn.