The floating steam fire-engine Hoogley for use in Calcutta. Source: Illustrated London News (1867) [Hathi Trust Digital LibraryHathi Trust Digital Library web version. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

The floating steam fire-engine Hoogley

A week or two ago some experiments took place on the river, above Blackiriars Bridge, with a floating steam fire-engine, constructed by Messrs. Shand. Mason, and Co., of London, to tie order of the Indian Government, for Calcutta. The general arrangement of the fire-engine pumps is suited for local use and the swift current of the Hooghly. The principal dimensions are as follow :—Length of iron boat (built by Messrs. Richardson, Duck, and CoX 130 ft.; breadth of beam, 16 ft.: depth of hold, 7 ft. 6 in.; propelled by a screw 4 ft. 6 in. diameter. The steam-engines, which are non-condensing, are placed horizontally across the Doat, working the screw-shaft direct at 200 revolutions per minute. There are two 12-in. cylinders, making a 15-in. stroke, with a boiler pressure of from 80 lb. to 100 lb. on the square inch. The fire-engines consist of three pairs of bucket and plunger pumpe worked from a three-throw crank, the cylinders in each pair being at right angles to each other, and worked from the same throw of crank. The pump-buckets are barely 10 in. diameter, making a 12 in. stroke. The water is drawn from a perforated well in the side of the boat, each pair of pumps being fitted with a stop-valve to allow of any pair being disconnected, so that one, two, or three pairs may be used at one time. There are also arrangements for attaching flexible suction-pipes to the pump from the hold of tne ship. The boilers are four in number, with horizontal brass tubes, three being sufficient to work tne engines to their full power. The engines are connected on one side by a clutch with the screw*shaft, and on the other side by a similar clutch with a shaft geared to the crank-shaft by a mortice wheel and pinion.

The boilers are four in number, with horixontal brass tubes, three being sufficient to work the engines to their full power. The engines are connected on one side by a clutch with the screw-shaft, and on the other side by a similar clutch with a shaft geared to the crank-shaft by a mortice wheel and pinion.

The floating engine was, on the day of the trial, drawn up alongside the wharf opposite Shand, Mason, and Co. premises in Upper Ground-street, and shortly afterwards proceeded up the river, having on board several gentlemen interested in these matters. The distance between Westminster and Vauxhall Brid being exactly a mile, taking the bend of the river into account, this was considered a suitable place for trying the speed of the boat. The first mile up was made 3 min, and 51 sec., and the second mile down in 6 min. and 20 sec., making an average speed of between thirteen and fourteen miles an hour.

On returning, the boat was moored alongside the warehouses of the India Stores Department in the Belvedere-road, Lambeth, when Major-General Willoughby, the principal storekeeper, came on board to inspect the working of the fire-engines. The hose outlets are six in number, each provided with one of Captain Shaw’s stop-valves. To these six lines of hose were attached, with a jet of 1} in. in diameter at the end of each. With the engines in full power, the water-pressure reached over 100 lb. on the square inch, indicating that a vertical height of upwards of 150 ft. was reached by the water. Several diagrams were taken by the Richards’ indicator, the highest of which gave 190-horse power.

This is the second complete self-propelling floating steam fire-engine constructed ia London. The first was made by Shand and Mason, for the London Fire Brigade in 1855, and now in use for the protection of water-side property. The boat is made in segments, and is now being taken to pieces for shipment to India. The Hooghly is the most powerful fire-engine yet constructed.

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“The floating steam fire-engine Hoogley.” Illustrated London News. 50 (1 June 1867): 544-45. Hathi Trust web version of a copy in The University of Michigan Library. Web. 28 November 2015. The text above was created from the Hathi Trust page images with ABBYY FineReader. — George P. Landow

Created 14 December 2015