Isaac Ludwig Mill: 60 HP Erie Steam Engine Helps Power Scenic Destination
(Page 2 of 3)
“Needless to say, it was in bad shape. All restoration work was done by park employees and many volunteers, some of who were machinists and toolmakers,” Laird remembers. “Missing, broken or rusted parts had to be made. We were lucky such talented people volunteered to help. Many of the parts were made here in the mill machine shop.”
This brings us to the mill machine shop and the second steam engine, an 1880-1890 5 HP Star oil drilling engine used to run the line shaft. “This engine has an unusual feature, a Stephenson-style reversing gear. This allows forward, stop and reverse without changing valves,” Laird says.
“The engine had been sitting out in an old oil field hidden in an old building near Signet, Ohio, for decades. Signet was part of the old oil boom district through the Black Swamp near Tiffin and Bowling Green, Ohio. The Star had a bent crankshaft, which was straightened by the volunteers. Other repairs were also completed to make this engine a reliable source of power for the machine shop. All the machinery in this area falls within the late 1800s early 1900s time period; that would include equipment for working with wood or metal,” Laird says.
Equipment in the machine shop includes an 1885 Van Norman milling machine, a 1906 Monarch metal lathe, a Barns 25-inch drill press and a large band saw, both from the late 1800s. The machines are driven from a line shaft powered by the 1880 Star engine and are used on a regular basis by park personnel to make new parts and do repair work on the historic equipment throughout the mill.
The old boiler, which originally came from a junkyard, could no longer meet safety requirements and was being replaced this winter with a new one that can run the 150 pounds of pressure necessary for the engines to develop full power.
A large generator installed in the mill provided local electric power from 1902 through 1917; power for the generator came from a special water turbine producing 230 HP and more than 1,000-foot pounds of torque.
"This amount of power would strip the line shaft in seconds if something went wrong,” Laird says. “This large turbine was installed just to run the generator.”