Truro, United Kingdom
The Steam Crane
Photograph - Photography
The only surviving Fairbairn steam crane is in Bristol, on the quayside at Princes Wharf. It is in the care of M Shed.
In the 1870s, Bristol Docks was going through a period of expansion and modernisation in the face of increasing competition from other ports. Iron-hulled ships were becoming larger, cargoes heavier, and there had already been investment in building a railway line along the harbour quay. Crane capacity was limited though � none of the harbour's 17 cranes being able to lift more than 3 tons.
Accordingly a more powerful steam crane was ordered, to be capable of lifting 35 tons and loading it directly onto a railway wagon. This was ordered from local makers Stothert & Pitt in 1875, although to the Fairbairn pattern. As for the later Fairbairn cranes, the original cell plate was changed to a design of a single flat plate stiffened by riveted T section ribs, rather than the original cellular structure. In August 1878 the crane had been completed and tested, at a cost of �3,600 for the machinery, plus the masonry foundations.
The jib has a radius (reach) of 35 feet (11 m) and a height of 40 feet (12 m). The crane weighs 120 tons. A vertical boiler inside the cab operates at 100 psi and supplies two twin-cylinder steam engines: one for slewing (turning) the crane, a larger one for winding the lifting chain. The winding drums can be driven by their gearing at four different speeds. The jib box girder extends below ground in a well for 25 feet (7.6 m). A plain bearing at the foot of the well carries the weight of the crane and roller bearings beneath the cab resist tipping loads. Water for the boiler is supplied by a pump, which originally drew water straight from the dock and is also used for draining the well. The boiler's maker's plate reads "Marshall Sons & Co. Ltd., Engineers, Gainsboro, England, No.92766"; it is the fourth boiler that has served the crane and was installed in 1953.
The cab of the crane is also of iron, with small-pane
May 9th, 2013
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