Wednesday, April 25, 2007

USS CAIRO Gunboat

 
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2 Comments:

Blogger blogengeezer said...

The fascinating, Union Ironclad Gunboat, 'CAIRO' on display in her tent at the National Cemetary on the Civil War Batlefield at Vicksburg Mississippi. Read about her in the previous post, 24 apr 07 below and in the comments section. The great little Museum is to the right in the bunker. What a beautiful job of semi-restoration. Welcome aboard.

8:38 PM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

As I walked 'On Board' The Cairo, I noticed some things that only a person with a background in machinery and farm equipment would notice. The complexity of the power system and the small space in which to access all of the various control levers used to manage 'The Beast'. The story mentioned that the Commander was Thomas Selfridge Jr. (Selfridge AFB?) The crew was composed of mostly men from various non sailing
backgrounds, most were totally unskilled. Their working and living quarters were unbelievably tight and cramped with barely five feet of headroom at the very best. The control from the 'Pilot House', was 'telegraphed' to the engine crew below deck, by means of long, thin iron wires, to ring bells that could be heard over the sounds of the machinery in the incredibly hot and stifling, engine room. There, the many valves were controlled by engine men, moving levers that changed the valve timeing to reverse or forward the big paddle wheel. The wheel was mounted 'aft of 'amidship' and covered with a 'Wheelhouse' to protect it from damage. The drive system was a set of long wooden 'pitman bars' similiar to those in a child's peddle car. The amount of wood burned, equaled the water boiled in the 'boilers'. The steam power generated in the long horizontal cylindrical boilers, was then piped and valved to the horizontal cylinders of the engine itself. the pistons in the cylinders, drove the 'pitmans and the wheel was revolved in the direction commanded from the Pilot house. Boiler explosians were not uncommon. No OSHA to oversee the safety of the system.
The River Pilot was a remarkable man. He had to 'memorize' every mile of the River. No small feat because the currents changed daily affecting the sand bars on the entire river. The River Engineers did their best to somewhat make the river 'self dredging' at dangerous areas. this resulted in many Levy's built of rock, which sped up the flow through sections. The River Pilots' referred to these areas when traveling downstream, as 'The Suck', an apt descriprion. When traveling upstream, a system of ropes pulled from shore, combined with full steam power were needed to over come 'the Suck' and move the boat through to the somewhat calmer, natural river flow itself. Life was not simple back then. In order to survive, a person had to endlessly work themselves to the limit. No government 'safty net' of insured food and money to guarantee survival of even the totally disfunctional. The DNA of the survivors in history was very strong indeed. Unlike life in the USA of today. What will the future bring with this latest system?

9:30 PM  

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