The Water Supply of Baltimore and Hydraulic Elevators.
THE water department of Baltimore have made the discovery that hydraulic elevators consume too much energy in the way of water pressure in that city, and have declined to grant any more permits for that purpose. This phase of water-works administration is an old story with many of our large cities. As has been stated in this journal on more than one occasion, it is impossible to successfully apply water pressure in an extended sense for elevitor use from a system planned only for ordinary distribution purposes, and not originally designed to furnish both systems. If such design did obtain it would be at great expense by reason of requiring water mains and supply services of unusual strength, together with all of their accessories, to obtain a pressure equal for all demands, in New York city and quite a number of others of large size, hydraulic power for elevator purposes is maintained by auxiliary machinery constructed to maintain a pressure equal to elevator requirements. Individual plants of this character are expensive and for that reason not many are in use. The argument maintained by a Baltimore gentleman that uses a hydraulic elevator is not altogether a sound one, for the reason that the ground he takes concerning the quantity of water at hand for elevator use is ample. Unfortunately, the quantity of water, though ample, lacks head sufficient to enforce a pressure equal to the simultaneous demand of the elevator requirements, together with the demand for domestic and manufacturing purposes. It seems to our mind that if 500 hydraulic elevators are in use in the city of Baltimore, that it would be a good investment for that city 10 construct a hydraulic power plant, duly equipped with power pumps and accumulators and an independent force main to be used exclusively for the purpose, which could give anywhere from 350 to 700 pounds pressure per square inch. Under such a pressure small service pipes and small hydraulic engines would take the place of cumbersome tanks and hydraulic machinery which now occupy so much valuable space in city buildings and warerooms. In our leading cities of the Union we boast
of progress in the arts and sciences, which are utilized for the comfort and convenience of the people. We further boast of the economical considerations taken advantage of in many prominent instances. We have simply to state the fact that London and two other prominent English cities have hydraulic power plants in active and successful operation, furnishing power at low figures. These plants are municipal in some cases and private in others. It ought to be well understood by American hydraulic engineers that the attempt to supply power through the dynamic energy of water to any considerable extent, and at the same time maintain sufficient energy of pressure to supply the general system of distribution under the ordinary pressures maintained in large cities, is a hazardous experiment. It is well known that the ordinary pressures of city distribution are not sufficient for elevator purposes unless large pipes, permitting large volumes of water, are used, in order to increase the area of pressure in lieu of high pressure due to more than ordinary heads of water. It is at this stage of action that the mischief is done, the diversion of 500 streams of more than ordinary size in the business portions of the city naturally absorbs the pressure legitimately due to other portions of the district under ordinary conditions.
It is asserted that during the hours of the day when the elevators are in operation that half of the effective head is absorbed. Even if Baltimore has plenty of water it is no argument in favor of the continuance of the present system, for if large mains were laid for the purpose of furnishing power, the difficulty would still prevail if restrictions were not imposed as to the lavish use and waste of water occasioned by the present system. The scheme of furnishing power for elevator purposes under low pressure necessarily involves large area of cross section of supply pipe, and under these conditions it is evident that the elevator supply pipes will first get all of the advantages of the system of distribution, inasmuch as very much smaller service pipes are permitted for domestic and manufacturing purposes.
Under the present state of affairs Baltimore is thus placed in the condition of having made a mistake in the administration of her water-works in granting privileges beyond her ability to maintain with satisfaction to all of her water consumers. In this dilemma it may be the wisest course, if not too expensive, to lay separate water mains into the districts using elevators, by so doing make the system independent of the general plan of distribution, and provided plenty of water can be served from the distribution reservoir without impairing domestic supply; or the present system of direct pressure may be abandoned, and in its place require the elevator users to provide individual supplementary power through power pumps and water compressors to create pressure equal to the requirements.
The attempt to successfully maintain a system of ordinary distribution, with all of its complex and arbitrary conditions, together with a system of hydraulic power taken from the same system of distribution, as is the case with Baltimore, and in an extended sense, has proved to be a failure, for the simple reason that the original plan of distribution under ordinary conditions of pressure, and which was equal to the demands of domestic, manufacturing and fire purposes, did not in any sense provide for the discharges of large volumes of water through 500 elevator pipes of variable sizes for direct power pressure purposes.
SOMEWHAT tardy recognition has been given the fire service of this country by the World’s Fair managers in the recent announcement that some time during the exposition a week will be devoted to drills, contests and exhibitions of various kinds. In order that this undertaking will not fall fiat and take on the shape of a monkey show in a country circus, experienced men should be invited to assume its direction—men who will lend dignity and character to the service, and who will get up a programme that will be free from bluster and conceit. There is lots of room here for good and praiseworthy work, and the temptation to strut about in tinsel and tinfoil in the name of the fire service of the United States should be severely discouraged. Happily the service contains many able and successful organizers, and if a few of them could be prevailed on to get together, Firemen’s Week will prove a great success.
IN another column we print an article from The Electrical World relative to the methods pursued in introducing electricity into buildings. It has been claimed by underwriters that electricity is responsible for many of the fires that have occurred of late years and the admission is made by them that they know very little about electricity. The Electrical World admits that there is danger in introducing electricity unless the greatest care is taken in the wiring of the buildings, and it utters a vigorous protest ot the practice in vogue of giving work of this character to the lowest bidders. Low bidders among contractors are a menace to the community when employed in work of this character. They are, of course, determined to make a profit out of their work, and in order to do this they must, to use the vernacular, “skin the job.’’ This is done, as The Electrical World shows, by wiremen who arc able to conceal defects in their work so as to escape the eye of the most vigilant inspector. The only way to insure good work is to employ responsible men to do it and pay them a fair, reasonable price for their work. The low bidders should be avoided under all circumstances.
THE suggestion that a collection of fire apparatus, appliances, uniforms, etc., from the earliest days of the service in this country be made for exhibition at the World’s Fair, is an admirable one. The undertaking, however, is a difficult one, and only a few men are equal to it. If Frank .M Baker, ex-president of the New York State Firemen’s Association, could be prevailed on to accept the trust, the exhibit would prove a success.
Philadelphia is at present on the verge of a water famine, and the department of public works is greatly exercised about the large dafly decrease in the supply. The chief of the bureau of water the other flay addressed a letter to Director of Public Safety Beitler relative to the low water in the reservoirs. and the unnecessary waste at the present time. He stated that owing to the low water in the Schuylkill river it was not possible to run more than two wheels at the Fairmount pumping station, and that it was impossible to keep the East park reservoir full with all the steam engines running at the Spring Garden station and the new engine, pumping about 24 000,000 gallons daily. The East park reservoi/ at present has only nine feet of water in it. The chief of the bureau of water requested Director Beitler to stop at once all fountains in the public squares-and all flushing of gutters and the running of fire plugs at night. Although about 118.000.000 gallons of water are being pumped at the Spring Garden station daily about a foot is being lost in the reservoir a day.