Home to four of the world's largest steam engines and an ASCE National Landmark and AWWA Landmark

River Pumping Station Details

Engineering calculations
before the transistor.

Side View R.D. Wood Triple Expansion Steam Engine at GCWW
Side View
R.D. Wood
Triple Expansion
Crank & Flywheel
Water Pumping
Steam Engine

Front view for R.D. Wood Triple Expansion Steam Engine at GCWW
Front View

^Top^   Surface condenser for the  R.D. Wood Triple Expansion Steam Engine at GCWW
Surface Condenser
R.D. Wood Engines


 Dual chamber vacuum dashpot for the  R.D. Wood Triple Expansion Steam Engine at GCWW
Dual Chamber Vacuum

 Stirling 4-drum water tube boiler with american underfeed stoker for the  R.D. Wood Triple Expansion Steam Engine at GCWW
Stirling 4-drum
Water-Tube Boiler
American Underfeed Stoker
3-Steam Drums, 1-Mud Drum

 Stirling 4-drum water tube boiler  for the  R.D. Wood Triple Expansion Steam Engine at GCWW
Stirling 4-Drum
Water-Tube Boiler

 American underfeed stoker for the  R.D. Wood Triple Expansion Steam Engine at GCWW
American Underfeed Stoker


Exhaust Heater

 85 inch Buffalo Forge stack draught fan with direct drive Buffalo Forge engine
85 inch Buffalo Forge stack draught fan with direct drive Buffalo Forge engine  

 Berryman feed water heater and grease seperator for the support engines at  Old River Station  GCWW
Berryman Feed Water Heater
and grease separator for support engines  

 Wheeler surface condenser fitted with a Mullan Valveless air pump for the support engines at Old River Station, GCWW
Wheeler Surface Condenser fitted with a
 Mullan Valveless Air Pump
for the support engines


 H. R. Worthington feed water pump for the support engines  at Old River Station, GCWW
H.R. Worthington
Feed Water Pump
for support engines Click to expand

One of 7 Poppet Valve Cages from the triple expansion steam engines at Old River Station, GCWW Inside of a Poppet Valve Cage from the triple expansion steam engines at Old River Station, GCWW
One of 7 Poppet Valve Cages
40 Valves/Cage
in each of two
assemblies for each
 of three pumps


 Poppet valve cage assembly from the triple expansion steam engines at Old River Station, GCWW
Pump Poppet Valve Assembly
7 cages @ 40 valves/cage

 Poppet valve cage assembly base, GCWW
Pump Valve Assembly  Base

 Poppet Valve from the triple expansion steam engine at Old River Station, GCWW
Water Pump Poppet Valve

 Components for the Poppet Valve from the triple expansion steam engine at Old River Station, GCWW

Building Design Cincinnati Architect, Gustave W. Drach
Engine Design John H. Lewis - R. D. Wood & Company
400 Chestnut St.- Philadelphia, PA
Engine Manufacture Camden Iron Works, Camden, New Jersey
Engine Type Vertical triple expansion crank & flywheel
Bids from Lane & Bodley Company of Cincinnati, Ohio originally won the contract to supply the engines. After two yeas of non-performance and an unfavorable decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, their contract was canceled and the re-bid was among the following:

Camden Iron Works, Camden, NJ
Holly Mfg., Lockport, NY
E. P. Allis Co. Milwaukee, WI
Kilby Mfg. Co. Cleveland, OH

Cost Engines, Boilers & Overhead Crane, $1,331,000
Service October 29, 1906 to May, 1963
High pressure cylinder 29 inches diameter. 150 p.s.i.g.
First receiver 27 p.s.i.g.
Intermediate pressure cylinder 54 inches diameter
Second receiver -2 p.s.i.g.
Low pressure cylinder 82 inches diameter, 22 inch exhaust port
Re-heaters 2
Surface area of re-heater 1st =122 ft2 and 2nd =276 ft2
Stroke 96 inch
Steam pressure 150 p.s.i.g.
Efficiency 21.6% coal to water. See Coal to Water Efficiency
Steam valve gearing Corliss with dual chamber vacuum dashpot for the HP cylinder and the inlet to the IP cylinder.
Balanced Poppet on the exhaust for the IP cylinder and for both the inlet and exhaust on the LP cylinder (inlet spring loaded, exhaust weight loaded)
R.P.M. 15.5 (range 11 to 15.5)
Piston speed 248 feet/minute or 2.82 m.p.h.
Horse power 1,000
Flywheel 2 x 24 feet diameter, 40 ton, assembled in sections and secured with dog bone locking keys.
Starting/Stopping The traditional Barring engine (also called a Jacking engine or Kicking engine) was not used to start this engine. Instead, the engine was rolled using the procedure listed below. (nominal process steam was 150 p.s.i.g.)

Start engine procedure:*

  1. Preheat engine setting jacket steam and re-heater steam to 65 p.s.i.g.
  2. Begin oil drips 10-15 minutes prior to starting.
  3. Open engine drains to bypass steam traps.
  4. Adjust air pressure in both the suction and the discharge force chambers.
  5. Load the water pumps using the bypass source until about 65 p.s.i.g.
  6. Open the main water inlet valve prior to opening main discharge valve. Later on cone valves replaced the gate valves and required verification of 200 p.s.i.g. water pressure for cone valve operation.
  7. Set governor to lowest speed
    Roll engine by:
  8. Charging the first receiver to 30 p.s.i.g. steam.
  9. Slowly apply process steam to the HP cylinder until about -7 p.s.i.g. is achieved in the condenser and throttle back until the condenser achieves -13 p.s.i.g., and the governor has kicked in.
  10. If the HP piston is at dead center for crank-end or head-end, the overhead crane is used to nudge the flywheel off dead center.
  11. Close bypass to first receiver and adjust to about 22-24 p.s.i.g.
  12. Close drains and check for about -5 p.s.i.g. in the second receiver.
  13. Slowly bring engine to operating speed.
  14. Check dashpots and valves for proper operation
  15. In case of trouble or emergency, knock out the vacuum breaker and the engine will immediately stop.

Stopping the engine in normal operating conditions required skill and practice to prevent the HP cylinder from ending at TDC.

* Starting procedure from Stationary Engineer Jim Hoctor Sr. operating notes and input from Paul Kraus.

Bearing Gland Packing Initially oakum impregnated with paraffin and later on asbestos impregnated with graphite
Length of eccentric shaft 30 feet
Length of main shaft 10 foot 2 inches
Diameter of main shaft 19 inches
Length of main shaft journals 28 inches
Diameter of main shaft journals 19 inches
Length of crank pin journal 10 inches
Diameter of crank pin journal High pressure and low pressure journal, 10 inches. Intermediate pressure journal, 14 inches
Length of cross head pin journal 10 inches
Diameter cross head pin journal 10 inches
Weight 1,400 ton
Height 104 feet
Base, cast iron 23 foot 7 inch deep X 36 foot 4 inch wide x 28 inch tall
Working decks 11 decks accessed by stairs and elevator. The cast iron valve decks were replaced with cast steel decks in 1915
Ancillary Equipment Attached A surface condenser, wet air pump, boiler feed pump, air compressor, bilge pump, and exhaust heater
Condenser The attached surface condenser is located in line with the 48 inch discharge header with the entire water discharge passing through it.

In addition, two Wheeler surface condensers each equipped with a Mullan air pump were in the boiler room to handle the exhaust steam from the ancillary engines

Condenser size 62 inch diameter x 12 feet, 4 3/4 inches long
Condenser pressure -13.8 p.s.i.g. nominal
Condensing surface 2,130 ft2
Air compressor, attached 3 3/8 inch plunger X 96 inch stroke
Bilge pump, attached 3 inch plunger X 96 inch stroke
Boiler feed water pump, attached 2 3/4 inch plunger X 96 inch stroke
Wet air pump, attached 28 inch diameter X  30 inch stroke
Heating surface of exhaust heater 150 sq. ft.
Ancillary Equipment Detached  
Boiler feed water pumps 2- Henry R. Worthington 10" x 6" x10"
Boiler feed water pump for auxiliary equipment 1- Berryman
Detached air compressor by Westinghouse


Pumps/engine 3
Pump type Plunger, a nickel iron plungers replaced all the cast iron plungers in 1932.
Pump plunger Diameter = 3 1/8 feet or 37.5 inches, Length = 14 feet
                   24 Tons
Diameter of pump barrel 54 inch outside packed
Diameter of pump valve force chamber 74 inches
Pumping capacity/engine GPD *** Rated at 30,000,000 rated; Tested at 30, 878,124
Gallons/Revolution Rated at 1,361.7, tested at 1,377
Tons of water moved / Revolution 11.46 tons/engine, 45.84 tons/station/revolution
Stroke 96 inches
Inlet nozzle 48 inch to engine header, 40 inch to pump
Outlet nozzle 40 inch to header, 48 inch to dual 60 inch outlets
Discharge pressure 60 p.s.i.g. nominal
Effective area of pump valves/pump 1,665 sq in which is 51% above plunger area
Suction poppet valves/pump 280 at 3.5 inch OD, 7 cages, 40 valves/cage
Discharge poppet valves/pump 280 at 3.5 inch OD, 7 cages, 40 valves/cage


Boilers 9-Stirling water tube boilers, eight at 424 HP and one at 529 HP, plant h.p. = 4,500 in 1921.
New boilers in 1920 and 1921
In 1906 the Stirling Company, with works in Barberton, Ohio, merged with Babcock and Wilcox of New York.
Coal feed American underfeed stokers, later on, Forced draught Riley Stokers
Boiler tubes 176 tubes, 3 inch diameter
Steam drums 3 at diameter of 36 inch , length 10 feet 9 inches
Mud drum 42 inch X 9 feet 3 inches.
Steam pressure 150 p.s.i.g.
Seam piping

Fourteen inch pipe delivers steam to the engine room arranged to use either saturated or super-heated steam and branches into two lines with two engines taking steam from each branch.

Exhaust steam from the LP cylinder flows through the exhaust heater into the condenser. The air pump removed air, oxygen, CO2 and uncondensed steam from the condensate chamber while maintaining a near perfect vacuum (-13.8 psig) in the chamber.

Steam moisture 2.2% at engine, 2% at boiler
Heat boosters Green Economizer: Steel tube boiler feed-water heater

Foster super-heater: is a drawn steel tube with cast iron radial fins heat shrunk onto the tubing and allows better heat transfer from boiler gases to steam than tubing without fins. The foster Super-heater added 100F to the steam temperature and contributed another 200 HP

Auxiliary Hearer: exhaust steam from the ancillary engines flowed through a Berryman type boiler feed water heater and grease separator prior to entering the Green Economizer.

Gases leaving boiler 437F
Gases leaving super heater 373F
Stack temperature 196F
Water evaporated per 1 lb. dry coal 10.687 lb., boiler contribution 95%, economizer contribution 5%
Condensate from the R. D. Wood Engines

Boiler feed water originated in the hot well for the surface condenser and was collected in dual condensate storage tanks where the boiler feed pump attached to the main engine takes suction. From there water was forced by the attached feed pump through the exhaust heater, through the deaerating plant, through the auxiliary heater and through the Green economizer into the boiler. Water from the softening and deaerating plant was 92F, increased to 142F from the exhaust heater and left the economizer at 200F.  Deaerating plant installed in 1922

Feed water from auxiliary engines Two 10 inch x 6 inch x 10 inch H. R. Worthington boiler feed pumps.
Work duty coal Rated at 115,000,000 ft lb. of work for every 100 lb. of coal (Tested at 152,875,648 ft lb.)
See Coal to Water Efficiency
Work duty steam 172,925,997 ft lb. per 1,000 lb. of dry steam, weir measurement
Boiler House 60 foot X 180 foot, Oolitic* dimensioned Bedford limestone, exterior rock faced, and inside sawed smooth and rubbed. Boiler room floor of concrete, toilet room red American tile, office and store room was matched yellow pine flooring. Steel roof and lantern frame covered with vitrified** "S" tile. Individual lockers for all employee, toilet rooms with shower baths and other conveniences.

*Oolitic dimensioned limestone = grain size .25-2mm

**Vitrified Tile is a tile is created by the Vitrification manufacturing process which has very low porosity and water absorption, making it stain-resistant and strong.

Smokestack 8 foot ID, 175 foot high of brick on circular stone base resting on a concrete foundation with a diameter of 35 foot and 8 foot deep. The stack is faced with light buff-colored radial Kittanning pressed brick and topped with a cast-iron cap.

Forced draught was provided by two 8 inch by 10 inch Buffalo Forge Co. engines each direct driving an 85 inch Buffalo Forge Co. fan , nominal R.P.M., 200.



Coal storage

An elevated steel building supported by steel columns, 69 foot X 225 foot kept the coal dry during periods of high water and provided sufficient coal storage for periods of low river level. 7,980 tons were stored in 114 elevated pocket hoppers each holding 70 tons, and equipped with a coal spout valve leaving 6 1/2 feet of head room above the narrow gauge tracks running lengthwise underneath the pocket hoppers.

Coal usage 26 tons (average daily)
Coal supply

Coal was originally received by barge and occasionally by truck in the later days. A railroad siding had been extended to the coal bunkers to provide for rail delivery, but never use for that purpose.

Coal delivery

Coal was elevated from river barges via a dual narrow gauge rail system installed from low river water level to the top of the three story coal hoisting house using a steam hoist cable pull for dual two ton capacity steel dump cars (one traveled up while the other returned to river's edge) and deposited onto a cross belt conveyor, and distributed by means of shuttle belt conveyors to the 114 pocket hoppers.

Boiler coal delivery (Coal Passers) Coal was switched to the boiler house from the coal storage building using a narrow gauge rail system with boiler charging cars powered by an electric locomotive engine about the size of a golf cart, called the "Dinky". Boiler ash cars were switched using the same locomotive. Coal was dumped on the floor in front of each boiler and shoveled into the stoker hopper using coal shovelers.

1924, an overhead rail suspended hopper system called the "Lorry" delivered coal to each stoker hopper and was supplied by a coal hoist in a new three story poured concrete lifting house at the front of the boiler house.

Coal size Pittsburg Nut & Slack which is 1 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch respectively provided 13,000 BTU per pound of coal.
Coal tests Moisture 2%, Ash from coal 8%, Slate in coal 1%
Pump Pit

Built by F. H. Kirchner & Co., of Cincinnati, the circular tapered, below grade wall, is 98 feet inside diameter and 85 foot high, using circular sawed Oolitic dimensioned Bedford Limestone* fifteen feet thick at the bottom and four feet thick at the top with the inside face being plumb and fine-pointed.

The above grade masonry uses a Romanesque Revival architectural style with rock faced Oolitic dimensioned Bedford limestone, and the inside lined with Tiffney white enameled brick. Vitrified* "S" tile covers the conical roof

Steel Casing A masonry embedded 1/4 inch riveted and caulked steel cylinder extending from the pit floor to 70 feet high assures a water tight pump pit.
Pit floor 85 feet below elevation, -5.5 feet below river bed
Foundation and caisson 128 feet diameter by 12 feet thick solid 12" x 12" air-dried white oak timber crib foundation rest upon the 7 feet high tapered-edge caisson cribbing using crisscrossed wood shoes with 21 excavation chambers.
Inlet stand pipe 10 foot diameter riveted steel setting on bedrock
Caisson ballast 72 foot high with an OD of 23 feet and an ID of 13 feet, cast iron, 4,200 ton, Individual sections weighing 6 ton each.
Station Electrical Supply

Three units, each consisting of a DeLaval steam turbine driving two 75 KW, 4 pole Crocker Wheeler, 230 volt direct current generators provided electricity to both river station and the filtration/treatment plant.

Station Elevator and Stairs

Warner Elevator Manufacturing Company from Cincinnati, Ohio provided a 2,500 lb. capacity, 230 Vdc motor driven elevator that traveled between the engine operating floor level and the pump pit floor level.

Two spiral stair cases extended from the pit floor to the eccentric deck. A railed staircase extends from the engine floor to the wheel deck. The railing for all stairs and elevated walkways was bright work polished brass.

Overhead Hoisting Crane

From the Morgan Engineering Company, Alliance Ohio, provided a 3 motor circular traveling radial crane with a span of 49 feet 6 inches and a 30 ton lift of 110 feet. The electric motors use Morgan controllers with adjustable speed and direction controls. All motors are 230 Vdc and included a 30 HP hoisting motor, a 25 HP a bridge motor and a 5 HP trolley motor. The crane was ordered on April 26, 1901 by the Camden Iron works and shipped to the California, Ohio facility on November 18, 1903.

Design of the engine and its pumps allowed every principal part to be reached and removed by the overhead hoisting crane without disturbing any other part of the machinery.

Operations Three engines could be operated at rated capacity without increasing the regular daily staffing of 36 employees. The Station Chief was in charge of the entire operation while the licensed stationary engineer was in charge of the engine room and the licensed fireman was in charge of the boiler house .

Each eight hour shift maintained a minimum staffing of one licensed stationary engineer, four oilers, one licensed fireman, two coal-passers, and an assistant Chief Engineer. Daily staffing include a clerk, one machinist and helper, one boiler cleaner, one locomotive operator, a janitor, and three or four grounds keepers..

Number of steam engines at River Station (21) 4 - water pumping engines, R.D. Wood
4 - economizer engines
2 - stack draught engines, Buffalo Forge Co.
2 - boiler feed water engines for pumping condensate from ancillary engines and ancillary equipment , Henry R. Worthington
9 - stoker engines
* * * GPD, Gallons Per day