Sketch of the Columbian Iron Works
One of the many striking evidences of the industrial development of the new south is shown in the Columbian Iron Works, of Chattanooga, Tenn. This company was organized in 1908, and in a few years it has gone to the front in the manufacture of water works supplies. It manufactures a complete line of every standard fire hydrant for water works service, also Underwriter hydrants with independent gates. It also manufactures hydrants for high-pressure service with inside independent gates, which type of hydrant can be furnished with balanced valve when required. Since the company was organized it has sold over 16,000 hydrants throughout the United States. Canada and Mexico. Another important product of its factories is gate valves, with standard hub up to 30 inches in size, for medium, standard and heavy pressure. The entire line of Columbian valves is of the double-disc type having parallel seats with the very distinctive feature of having a four-point contact in their wedging mechanism for forcing the valve discs against the seats. It is claimed for these valves that the wedging mechanism is entirely released in opening the valves before the valve discs are moved out of position, thus taking all strain off the valve stem in opening the valve. This feature, together with the four-point contact for holding the valve closed, it is claimed, makes it impossible to break a valve stem in opening the valve. Another important line of manufacture is that of meter boxes of several sizes and types, and for practically every purpose, all of them being furnished with the well-known Columbian patented coupling device, which enables the meter to be removed and replaced in the box in less time than one minute by merely, turning the tee-handled wrench from the Top of the box. The company also manufactures a line of shear gates, tide and flap valves and self-contained sluice gates up to 24 inches in diameter, as well as other miscellaneous lines of water works supplies. The illustration shows a View of the plant, which Consists of machine shop, 75 by 200 feet; iron foundry, 75 by 200 feet; erecting and warehouse building, 60 by 150 feet; brass foundry, 40 by 60 feet, together with office building, pattern shop and power house buildings. The iron foundry has two cupolas with a capacity of 60,000 pounds per day, and is equipped with overhead electrically operated crane as well as an overhead electric trolley system severing the outer bays of the main building. The company has installed the latest improved type of molding machines and is now making all of its standard line of castings on same, thus insuring accuracy and uniformity. All of the molding machines are served cither by the overhead electric traveling crane or the overhead electric trolley system.
The machine shop is equipped with the latest tvpe of machine tools, many of which the company designed and built in its own shops; among the latter might be mentioned a special valve machine which cost $10,000 and required nearly two years to build in the company’s shop. A number of other machines in the plant have been designed and built especially for the plant by some of the leading machine-tool makers in this country. Every piece of machine work entering into the manufacture of Columbian supplies is finished on special machinery by means of special tools and jigs, which together with the system of permanent steel gauges insure absolutely accuracy and interchangeability of all parts turned out. The machine shop is also equipped with overhead electrically operated crane, and practically all of the individual machines are served by separate pneumatic hoists. The company has its own power plant, and practically the entire plant is electrically driven. An industrial railway system connects all of the main buildings, as well as coal and coke yards, sand bins and storage yards for castings. The plant is served by its own spur track from the Belt Line railway, thus being connected to every line entering the city. The company is located right at the doors of iron, coke and coal, thus giving it exceptional facilities in the way of raw material. Every one of the departments is in charge of skilled men who have had many years of experience in their several lines, who in turn have devoted a great deal of time to the training up of a corps of skilled mechanics and employes in their respective departments. It is said that one of the ironclad rules of the company is that every piece of equipment leaving the department must be up to the highest possible standard. The officers of the company are: J. W. Conway, president; H. S. Chamberlain. vice-president; H. H. Lofton, general manager; C. D. Richmond, secretary and treasurer; P J. Crimmins, manager of sales; W. J. Dodge, superintendent. Mr. Lofton, who is in charge of the active management of the plant and who is the patentee of most of the Columbian devices, is a practical mechanic himself, and will be remembered by many of the old-time water works men as having been superintendent of the Savannah, Ga„ water works for several years, dating back some 15 years ago. The company has branch offices at New Orleans in charge of J. S. Barelli, and at Houston, Tex., in charge of J. B. Williams.