Steam, Its Generation and Use
by Babcock & Wilcox Co.
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Thirty-fifth Edition

4th Issue

Copyright, 1919, by The Babcock & Wilcox Co.

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While the time of man's first knowledge and use of the expansive force of the vapor of water is unknown, records show that such knowledge existed earlier than 150 B. C. In a treatise of about that time entitled "Pneumatica", Hero, of Alexander, described not only existing devices of his predecessors and contemporaries but also an invention of his own which utilized the expansive force of steam for raising water above its natural level. He clearly describes three methods in which steam might be used directly as a motive of power; raising water by its elasticity, elevating a weight by its expansive power and producing a rotary motion by its reaction on the atmosphere. The third method, which is known as "Hero's engine", is described as a hollow sphere supported over a caldron or boiler by two trunnions, one of which was hollow, and connected the interior of the sphere with the steam space of the caldron. Two pipes, open at the ends and bent at right angles, were inserted at opposite poles of the sphere, forming a connection between the caldron and the atmosphere. Heat being applied to the caldron, the steam generated passed through the hollow trunnion to the sphere and thence into the atmosphere through the two pipes. By the reaction incidental to its escape through these pipes, the sphere was caused to rotate and here is the primitive steam reaction turbine.

Hero makes no suggestions as to application of any of the devices he describes to a useful purpose. From the time of Hero until the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, there is no record of progress, though evidence is found that such devices as were described by Hero were sometimes used for trivial purposes, the blowing of an organ or the turning of a skillet.

Mathesius, the German author, in 1571; Besson, a philosopher and mathematician at Orleans; Ramelli, in 1588; Battista Delia Porta, a Neapolitan mathematician and philosopher, in 1601; Decause, the French engineer and architect, in 1615; and Branca, an Italian architect, in 1629, all published treatises bearing on the subject of the generation of steam.

To the next contributor, Edward Somerset, second Marquis of Worcester, is apparently due the credit of proposing, if not of making, the first useful steam engine. In the "Century of Scantlings and Inventions", published in London in 1663, he describes devices showing that he had in mind the raising of water not only by forcing it from two receivers by direct steam pressure but also for some sort of reciprocating piston actuating one end of a lever, the other operating a pump. His descriptions are rather obscure and no drawings are extant so that it is difficult to say whether there were any distinctly novel features to his devices aside from the double action. While there is no direct authentic record that any of the devices he described were actually constructed, it is claimed by many that he really built and operated a steam engine containing pistons.

In 1675, Sir Samuel Moreland was decorated by King Charles II, for a demonstration of "a certain powerful machine to raise water." Though there appears to be no record of the design of this machine, the mathematical dictionary, published in 1822, credits Moreland with the first account of a steam engine, on which subject he wrote a treatise that is still preserved in the British Museum.

Dr. Denys Papin, an ingenious Frenchman, invented in 1680 "a steam digester for extracting marrowy, nourishing juices from bones by enclosing them in a boiler under heavy pressure," and finding danger from explosion, added a contrivance which is the first safety valve on record.

The steam engine first became commercially successful with Thomas Savery. In 1699, Savery exhibited before the Royal Society of England (Sir Isaac Newton was President at the time), a model engine which consisted of two copper receivers alternately connected by a three-way hand-operated valve, with a boiler and a source of water supply. When the water in one receiver had been driven out by the steam, cold water was poured over its outside surface, creating a vacuum through condensation and causing it to fill again while the water in the other reservoir was being forced out. A number of machines were built on this principle and placed in actual use as mine pumps.

The serious difficulty encountered in the use of Savery's engine was the fact that the height to which it could lift water was limited by the pressure the boiler and vessels could bear. Before Savery's engine was entirely displaced by its successor, Newcomen's, it was considerably improved by Desaguliers, who applied the Papin safety valve to the boiler and substituted condensation by a jet within the vessel for Savery's surface condensation.

In 1690, Papin suggested that the condensation of steam should be employed to make a vacuum beneath a cylinder which had previously been raised by the expansion of steam. This was the earliest cylinder and piston steam engine and his plan took practical shape in Newcomen's atmospheric engine. Papin's first engine was unworkable owing to the fact that he used the same vessel for both boiler and cylinder. A small quantity of water was placed in the bottom of the vessel and heat was applied. When steam formed and raised the piston, the heat was withdrawn and the piston did work on its down stroke under pressure of the atmosphere. After hearing of Savery's engine, Papin developed an improved form. Papin's engine of 1705 consisted of a displacement chamber in which a floating diaphragm or piston on top of the water kept the steam and water from direct contact. The water delivered by the downward movement of the piston under pressure, to a closed tank, flowed in a continuous stream against the vanes of a water wheel. When the steam in the displacement chamber had expanded, it was exhausted to the atmosphere through a valve instead of being condensed. The engine was, in fact, a non-condensing, single action steam pump with the steam and pump cylinders in one. A curious feature of this engine was a heater placed in the diaphragm. This was a mass of heated metal for the purpose of keeping the steam dry or preventing condensation during expansion. This device might be called the first superheater.

Among the various inventions attributed to Papin was a boiler with an internal fire box, the earliest record of such construction.

While Papin had neglected his earlier suggestion of a steam and piston engine to work on Savery's ideas, Thomas Newcomen, with his assistant, John Cawley, put into practical form Papin's suggestion of 1690. Steam admitted from the boiler to a cylinder raised a piston by its expansion, assisted by a counter-weight on the other end of a beam actuated by the piston. The steam valve was then shut and the steam condensed by a jet of cold water. The piston was then forced downward by atmospheric pressure and did work on the pump. The condensed water in the cylinder was expelled through an escapement valve by the next entry of steam. This engine used steam having pressure but little, if any, above that of the atmosphere.

In 1711, this engine was introduced into mines for pumping purposes. Whether its action was originally automatic or whether dependent upon the hand operation of the valves is a question of doubt. The story commonly believed is that a boy, Humphrey Potter, in 1713, whose duty it was to open and shut such valves of an engine he attended, by suitable cords and catches attached to the beam, caused the engine to automatically manipulate these valves. This device was simplified in 1718 by Henry Beighton, who suspended from the bottom, a rod called the plug-tree, which actuated the valve by tappets. By 1725, this engine was in common use in the collieries and was changed but little for a matter of sixty or seventy years. Compared with Savery's engine, from the aspect of a pumping engine, Newcomen's was a distinct advance, in that the pressure in the pumps was in no manner dependent upon the steam pressure. In common with Savery's engine, the losses from the alternate heating and cooling of the steam cylinder were enormous. Though obviously this engine might have been modified to serve many purposes, its use seems to have been limited almost entirely to the pumping of water.

The rivalry between Savery and Papin appears to have stimulated attention to the question of fuel saving. Dr. John Allen, in 1730, called attention to the fact that owing to the short length of time of the contact between the gases and the heating surfaces of the boiler, nearly half of the heat of the fire was lost. With a view to overcoming this loss at least partially, he used an internal furnace with a smoke flue winding through the water in the form of a worm in a still. In order that the length of passage of the gases might not act as a damper on the fire, Dr. Allen recommended the use of a pair of bellows for forcing the sluggish vapor through the flue. This is probably the first suggested use of forced draft. In forming an estimate of the quantity of fuel lost up the stack, Dr. Allen probably made the first boiler test.

Toward the end of the period of use of Newcomen's atmospheric engine, John Smeaton, who, about 1770, built and installed a number of large engines of this type, greatly improved the design in its mechanical details.

The improvement in boiler and engine design of Smeaton, Newcomen and their contemporaries, were followed by those of the great engineer, James Watt, an instrument maker of Glasgow. In 1763, while repairing a model of Newcomen's engine, he was impressed by the great waste of steam to which the alternating cooling and heating of the engine gave rise. His remedy was the maintaining of the cylinder as hot as the entering steam and with this in view he added a vessel separate from the cylinder, into which the steam should pass from the cylinder and be there condensed either by the application of cold water outside or by a jet from within. To preserve a vacuum in his condenser, he added an air pump which should serve to remove the water of condensation and air brought in with the injection water or due to leakage. As the cylinder no longer acted as a condenser, he could maintain it at a high temperature by covering it with non-conducting material and, in particular, by the use of a steam jacket. Further and with the same object in view, he covered the top of the cylinder and introduced steam above the piston to do the work previously accomplished by atmospheric pressure. After several trials with an experimental apparatus based on these ideas, Watt patented his improvements in 1769. Aside from their historical importance, Watt's improvements, as described in his specification, are to this day a statement of the principles which guide the scientific development of the steam engine. His words are:

"My method of lessening the consumption of steam, and consequently fuel, in fire engines, consists of the following principles:

"First, That vessel in which the powers of steam are to be employed to work the engine, which is called the cylinder in common fire engines, and which I call the steam vessel, must, during the whole time the engine is at work, be kept as hot as the steam that enters it; first, by enclosing it in a case of wood, or any other materials that transmit heat slowly; secondly, by surrounding it with steam or other heated bodies; and, thirdly, by suffering neither water nor any other substance colder than the steam to enter or touch it during that time.

"Secondly, In engines that are to be worked wholly or partially by condensation of steam, the steam is to be condensed in vessels distinct from the steam vessels or cylinders, although occasionally communicating with them; these vessels I call condensers; and, whilst the engines are working, these condensers ought at least to be kept as cold as the air in the neighborhood of the engines, by application of water or other cold bodies.

"Thirdly, Whatever air or other elastic vapor is not condensed by the cold of the condenser, and may impede the working of the engine, is to be drawn out of the steam vessels or condensers by means of pumps, wrought by the engines themselves, or otherwise.

"Fourthly, I intend in many cases to employ the expansive force of steam to press on the pistons, or whatever may be used instead of them, in the same manner in which the pressure of the atmosphere is now employed in common fire engines. In cases where cold water cannot be had in plenty, the engines may be wrought by this force of steam only, by discharging the steam into the air after it has done its office....

"Sixthly, I intend in some cases to apply a degree of cold not capable of reducing the steam to water, but of contracting it considerably, so that the engines shall be worked by the alternate expansion and contraction of the steam.

"Lastly, Instead of using water to render the pistons and other parts of the engine air and steam tight, I employ oils, wax, resinous bodies, fat of animals, quick-silver and other metals in their fluid state."

The fifth claim was for a rotary engine, and need not be quoted here.

The early efforts of Watt are typical of those of the poor inventor struggling with insufficient resources to gain recognition and it was not until he became associated with the wealthy manufacturer, Mattheu Boulton of Birmingham, that he met with the success upon which his present fame is based. In partnership with Boulton, the business of the manufacture and the sale of his engines were highly successful in spite of vigorous attacks on the validity of his patents.

Though the fourth claim of Watt's patent describes a non-condensing engine which would require high pressures, his aversion to such practice was strong. Notwithstanding his entire knowledge of the advantages through added expansion under high pressure, he continued to use pressures not above 7 pounds per square inch above the atmosphere. To overcome such pressures, his boilers were fed through a stand-pipe of sufficient height to have the column of water offset the pressure within the boiler. Watt's attitude toward high pressure made his influence felt long after his patents had expired.

In 1782, Watt patented two other features which he had invented as early as 1769. These were the double acting engine, that is, the use of steam on both sides of the piston and the use of steam expansively, that is, the shutting off of steam from the cylinder when the piston had made but a portion of its stroke, the power for the completion of the stroke being supplied by the expansive force of the steam already admitted.

He further added a throttle valve for the regulation of steam admission, invented the automatic governor and the steam indicator, a mercury steam gauge and a glass water column.

It has been the object of this brief history of the early developments in the use of steam to cover such developments only through the time of James Watt. The progress of the steam engine from this time through the stages of higher pressures, combining of cylinders, the application of steam vehicles and steamboats, the adding of third and fourth cylinders, to the invention of the turbine with its development and the accompanying development of the reciprocating engine to hold its place, is one long attribute to the inventive genius of man.

While little is said in the biographies of Watt as to the improvement of steam boilers, all the evidence indicates that Boulton and Watt introduced the first "wagon boiler", so called because of its shape. In 1785, Watt took out a number of patents for variations in furnace construction, many of which contain the basic principles of some of the modern smoke preventing furnaces. Until the early part of the nineteenth century, the low steam pressures used caused but little attention to be given to the form of the boiler operated in connection with the engines above described. About 1800, Richard Trevithick, in England, and Oliver Evans, in America, introduced non-condensing, and for that time, high pressure steam engines. To the initiative of Evans may be attributed the general use of high pressure steam in the United States, a feature which for many years distinguished American from European practice. The demand for light weight and economy of space following the beginning of steam navigation and the invention of the locomotive required boilers designed and constructed to withstand heavier pressures and forced the adoption of the cylindrical form of boiler. There are in use to-day many examples of every step in the development of steam boilers from the first plain cylindrical boiler to the most modern type of multi-tubular locomotive boiler, which stands as the highest type of fire-tube boiler construction.

The early attempts to utilize water-tube boilers were few. A brief history of the development of the boilers, in which this principle was employed, is given in the following chapter. From this history it will be clearly indicated that the first commercially successful utilization of water tubes in a steam generator is properly attributed to George H. Babcock and Stephen Wilcox.


As stated in the previous chapter, the first water-tube boiler was built by John Blakey and was patented by him in 1766. Several tubes alternately inclined at opposite angles were arranged in the furnaces, the adjacent tube ends being connected by small pipes. The first successful user of water-tube boilers, however, was James Rumsey, an American inventor, celebrated for his early experiments in steam navigation, and it is he who may be truly classed as the originator of the water-tube boiler. In 1788 he patented, in England, several forms of boilers, some of which were of the water-tube type. One had a fire box with flat top and sides, with horizontal tubes across the fire box connecting the water spaces. Another had a cylindrical fire box surrounded by an annular water space and a coiled tube was placed within the box connecting at its two ends with the water space. This was the first of the "coil boilers". Another form in the same patent was the vertical tubular boiler, practically as made at the present time.

The first boiler made of a combination of small tubes, connected at one end to a reservoir, was the invention of another American, John Stevens, in 1804. This boiler was actually employed to generate steam for running a steamboat on the Hudson River, but like all the "porcupine" boilers, of which type it was the first, it did not have the elements of a continued success.

Another form of water tube was patented in 1805 by John Cox Stevens, a son of John Stevens. This boiler consisted of twenty vertical tubes, 1-1/4 inches internal diameter and 40-1/2 inches long, arranged in a circle, the outside diameter of which was approximately 12 inches, connecting a water chamber at the bottom with a steam chamber at the top. The steam and water chambers were annular spaces of small cross section and contained approximately 33 cubic inches. The illustration shows the cap of the steam chamber secured by bolts. The steam outlet pipe "A" is a pipe of one inch diameter, the water entering through a similar aperture at the bottom. One of these boilers was for a long time at the Stevens Institute of Technology at Hoboken, and is now in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington.

About the same time, Jacob Woolf built a boiler of large horizontal tubes, extending across the furnace and connected at the ends to a longitudinal drum above. The first purely sectional water-tube boiler was built by Julius Griffith, in 1821. In this boiler, a number of horizontal water tubes were connected to vertical side pipes, the side pipes were connected to horizontal gathering pipes, and these latter in turn to a steam drum.

In 1822, Jacob Perkins constructed a flash boiler for carrying what was then considered a high pressure. A number of cast-iron bars having 1-1/2 inches annular holes through them and connected at their outer ends by a series of bent pipes, outside of the furnace walls, were arranged in three tiers over the fire. The water was fed slowly to the upper tier by a force pump and steam in the superheated state was discharged to the lower tiers into a chamber from which it was taken to the engine.

The first sectional water-tube boiler, with a well-defined circulation, was built by Joseph Eve, in 1825. The sections were composed of small tubes with a slight double curve, but being practically vertical, fixed in horizontal headers, which headers were in turn connected to a steam space above and a water space below formed of larger pipes. The steam and water spaces were connected by outside pipes to secure a circulation of the water up through the sections and down through the external pipes. In the same year, John M'Curdy of New York, built a "Duplex Steam Generator" of "tubes of wrought or cast iron or other material" arranged in several horizontal rows, connected together alternately at the front and rear by return bends. In the tubes below the water line were placed interior circular vessels closed at the ends in order to expose a thin sheet of water to the action of the fire.

In 1826, Goldsworthy Gurney built a number of boilers, which he used on his steam carriages. A number of small tubes were bent into the shape of a "U" laid sidewise and the ends were connected with larger horizontal pipes. These were connected by vertical pipes to permit of circulation and also to a vertical cylinder which served as a steam and water reservoir. In 1828, Paul Steenstrup made the first shell boiler with vertical water tubes in the large flues, similar to the boiler known as the "Martin" and suggesting the "Galloway".

The first water-tube boiler having fire tubes within water tubes was built in 1830, by Summers & Ogle. Horizontal connections at the top and bottom were connected by a series of vertical water tubes, through which were fire tubes extending through the horizontal connections, the fire tubes being held in place by nuts, which also served to make the joint.

Stephen Wilcox, in 1856, was the first to use inclined water tubes connecting water spaces at the front and rear with a steam space above. The first to make such inclined tubes into a sectional form was Twibill, in 1865. He used wrought-iron tubes connected at the front and rear with standpipes through intermediate connections. These standpipes carried the system to a horizontal cross drum at the top, the entrained water being carried to the rear.

Clarke, Moore, McDowell, Alban and others worked on the problem of constructing water-tube boilers, but because of difficulties of construction involved, met with no practical success.

It may be asked why water-tube boilers did not come into more general use at an early date, that is, why the number of water-tube boilers built was so small in comparison to the number of shell boilers. The reason for this is found in the difficulties involved in the design and construction of water-tube boilers, which design and construction required a high class of engineering and workmanship, while the plain cylindrical boiler is comparatively easy to build. The greater skill required to make a water-tube boiler successful is readily shown in the great number of failures in the attempts to make them.


Since the first appearance in "Steam" of the following "Requirements of a Perfect Steam Boiler", the list has been copied many times either word for word or clothed in different language and applied to some specific type of boiler design or construction. In most cases, although full compliance with one or more of the requirements was structurally impossible, the reader was left to infer that the boiler under consideration possessed all the desirable features. It is noteworthy that this list of requirements, as prepared by George H. Babcock and Stephen Wilcox, in 1875, represents the best practice of to-day. Moreover, coupled with the boiler itself, which is used in the largest and most important steam generating plants throughout the world, the list forms a fitting monument to the foresight and genius of the inventors.


1st. Proper workmanship and simple construction, using materials which experience has shown to be the best, thus avoiding the necessity of early repairs.

2nd. A mud drum to receive all impurities deposited from the water, and so placed as to be removed from the action of the fire.

3rd. A steam and water capacity sufficient to prevent any fluctuation in steam pressure or water level.

4th. A water surface for the disengagement of the steam from the water, of sufficient extent to prevent foaming.

5th. A constant and thorough circulation of water throughout the boiler, so as to maintain all parts at the same temperature.

6th. The water space divided into sections so arranged that, should any section fail, no general explosion can occur and the destructive effects will be confined to the escape of the contents. Large and free passages between the different sections to equalize the water line and pressure in all.

7th. A great excess of strength over any legitimate strain, the boiler being so constructed as to be free from strains due to unequal expansion, and, if possible, to avoid joints exposed to the direct action of the fire.

8th. A combustion chamber so arranged that the combustion of the gases started in the furnace may be completed before the gases escape to the chimney.

9th. The heating surface as nearly as possible at right angles to the currents of heated gases, so as to break up the currents and extract the entire available heat from the gases.

10th. All parts readily accessible for cleaning and repairs. This is a point of the greatest importance as regards safety and economy.

11th. Proportioned for the work to be done, and capable of working to its full rated capacity with the highest economy.

12th. Equipped with the very best gauges, safety valves and other fixtures.

The exhaustive study made of each one of these requirements is shown by the following extract from a lecture delivered by Mr. Geo. H. Babcock at Cornell University in 1890 upon the subject:


You have all noticed a kettle of water boiling over the fire, the fluid rising somewhat tumultuously around the edges of the vessel, and tumbling toward the center, where it descends. Similar currents are in action while the water is simply being heated, but they are not perceptible unless there are floating particles in the liquid. These currents are caused by the joint action of the added temperature and two or more qualities which the water possesses.

1st. Water, in common with most other substances, expands when heated; a statement, however, strictly true only when referred to a temperature above 39 degrees F. or 4 degrees C., but as in the making of steam we rarely have to do with temperatures so low as that, we may, for our present purposes, ignore that exception.

2nd. Water is practically a non-conductor of heat, though not entirely so. If ice-cold water was kept boiling at the surface the heat would not penetrate sufficiently to begin melting ice at a depth of 3 inches in less than about two hours. As, therefore, the heated water cannot impart its heat to its neighboring particles, it remains expanded and rises by its levity, while colder portions come to be heated in turn, thus setting up currents in the fluid.

Now, when all the water has been heated to the boiling point corresponding to the pressure to which it is subjected, each added unit of heat converts a portion, about 7 grains in weight, into vapor, greatly increasing its volume; and the mingled steam and water rises more rapidly still, producing ebullition such as we have noticed in the kettle. So long as the quantity of heat added to the contents of the kettle continues practically constant, the conditions remain similar to those we noticed at first, a tumultuous lifting of the water around the edges, flowing toward the center and thence downward; if, however, the fire be quickened, the upward currents interfere with the downward and the kettle boils over (Fig. 1).

If now we put in the kettle a vessel somewhat smaller (Fig. 2) with a hole in the bottom and supported at a proper distance from the side so as to separate the upward from the downward currents, we can force the fires to a very much greater extent without causing the kettle to boil over, and when we place a deflecting plate so as to guide the rising column toward the center it will be almost impossible to produce that effect. This is the invention of Perkins in 1831 and forms the basis of very many of the arrangements for producing free circulation of the water in boilers which have been made since that time. It consists in dividing the currents so that they will not interfere each with the other.

But what is the object of facilitating the circulation of water in boilers? Why may we not safely leave this to the unassisted action of nature as we do in culinary operations? We may, if we do not care for the three most important aims in steam-boiler construction, namely, efficiency, durability, and safety, each of which is more or less dependent upon a proper circulation of the water. As for efficiency, we have seen one proof in our kettle. When we provided means to preserve the circulation, we found that we could carry a hotter fire and boil away the water much more rapidly than before. It is the same in a steam boiler. And we also noticed that when there was nothing but the unassisted circulation, the rising steam carried away so much water in the form of foam that the kettle boiled over, but when the currents were separated and an unimpeded circuit was established, this ceased, and a much larger supply of steam was delivered in a comparatively dry state. Thus, circulation increases the efficiency in two ways: it adds to the ability to take up the heat, and decreases the liability to waste that heat by what is technically known as priming. There is yet another way in which, incidentally, circulation increases efficiency of surface, and that is by preventing in a greater or less degree the formation of deposits thereon. Most waters contain some impurity which, when the water is evaporated, remains to incrust the surface of the vessel. This incrustation becomes very serious sometimes, so much so as to almost entirely prevent the transmission of heat from the metal to the water. It is said that an incrustation of only one-eighth inch will cause a loss of 25 per cent in efficiency, and this is probably within the truth in many cases. Circulation of water will not prevent incrustation altogether, but it lessens the amount in all waters, and almost entirely so in some, thus adding greatly to the efficiency of the surface.

A second advantage to be obtained through circulation is durability of the boiler. This it secures mainly by keeping all parts at a nearly uniform temperature. The way to secure the greatest freedom from unequal strains in a boiler is to provide for such a circulation of the water as will insure the same temperature in all parts.

3rd. Safety follows in the wake of durability, because a boiler which is not subject to unequal strains of expansion and contraction is not only less liable to ordinary repairs, but also to rupture and disastrous explosion. By far the most prolific cause of explosions is this same strain from unequal expansions.

Having thus briefly looked at the advantages of circulation of water in steam boilers, let us see what are the best means of securing it under the most efficient conditions We have seen in our kettle that one essential point was that the currents should be kept from interfering with each other. If we could look into an ordinary return tubular boiler when steaming, we should see a curious commotion of currents rushing hither and thither, and shifting continually as one or the other contending force gained a momentary mastery. The principal upward currents would be found at the two ends, one over the fire and the other over the first foot or so of the tubes. Between these, the downward currents struggle against the rising currents of steam and water. At a sudden demand for steam, or on the lifting of the safety valve, the pressure being slightly reduced, the water jumps up in jets at every portion of the surface, being lifted by the sudden generation of steam throughout the body of water. You have seen the effect of this sudden generation of steam in the well-known experiment with a Florence flask, to which a cold application is made while boiling water under pressure is within. You have also witnessed the geyser-like action when water is boiled in a test tube held vertically over a lamp (Fig. 3).

If now we take a U-tube depending from a vessel of water (Fig. 4) and apply the lamp to one leg a circulation is at once set up within it, and no such spasmodic action can be produced. Thus U-tube is the representative of the true method of circulation within a water-tube boiler properly constructed. We can, for the purpose of securing more heating surface, extend the heated leg into a long incline (Fig. 5), when we have the well-known inclined-tube generator. Now, by adding other tubes, we may further increase the heating surface (Fig. 6), while it will still be the U-tube in effect and action. In such a construction the circulation is a function of the difference in density of the two columns. Its velocity is measured by the well-known Torricellian formula, V = (2gh)^{.5}, or, approximately V = 8(h)^{.5}, h being measured in terms of the lighter fluid. This velocity will increase until the rising column becomes all steam, but the quantity or weight circulated will attain a maximum when the density of the mingled steam and water in the rising column becomes one-half that of the solid water in the descending column which is nearly coincident with the condition of half steam and half water, the weight of the steam being very slight compared to that of the water.

It becomes easy by this rule to determine the circulation in any given boiler built on this principle, provided the construction is such as to permit a free flow of the water. Of course, every bend detracts a little and something is lost in getting up the velocity, but when the boiler is well arranged and proportioned these retardations are slight.

Let us take for example one of the 240 horse-power Babcock & Wilcox boilers here in the University. The height of the columns may be taken as 4-1/2 feet, measuring from the surface of the water to about the center of the bundle of tubes over the fire, and the head would be equal to this height at the maximum of circulation. We should, therefore, have a velocity of 8(4-1/2)^{.5} = 16.97, say 17 feet per second. There are in this boiler fourteen sections, each having a 4-inch tube opening into the drum, the area of which (inside) is 11 square inches, the fourteen aggregating 154 square inches, or 1.07 square feet. This multiplied by the velocity, 16.97 feet, gives 18.16 cubic feet mingled steam and water discharged per second, one-half of which, or 9.08 cubic feet, is steam. Assuming this steam to be at 100 pounds gauge pressure, it will weigh 0.258 pound per cubic foot. Hence, 2.34 pounds of steam will be discharged per second, and 8,433 pounds per hour. Dividing this by 30, the number of pounds representing a boiler horse power, we get 281.1 horse power, about 17 per cent, in excess of the rated power of the boiler. The water at the temperature of steam at 100 pounds pressure weighs 56 pounds per cubic foot, and the steam 0.258 pound, so that the steam forms but 1/218 part of the mixture by weight, and consequently each particle of water will make 218 circuits before being evaporated when working at this capacity, and circulating the maximum weight of water through the tubes.

It is evident that at the highest possible velocity of exit from the generating tubes, nothing but steam will be delivered and there will be no circulation of water except to supply the place of that evaporated. Let us see at what rate of steaming this would occur with the boiler under consideration. We shall have a column of steam, say 4 feet high on one side and an equal column of water on the other. Assuming, as before, the steam at 100 pounds and the water at same temperature, we will have a head of 866 feet of steam and an issuing velocity of 235.5 feet per second. This multiplied by 1.07 square feet of opening by 3,600 seconds in an hour, and by 0.258 gives 234,043 pounds of steam, which, though only one-eighth the weight of mingled steam and water delivered at the maximum, gives us 7,801 horse power, or 32 times the rated power of the boiler. Of course, this is far beyond any possibility of attainment, so that it may be set down as certain that this boiler cannot be forced to a point where there will not be an efficient circulation of the water. By the same method of calculation it may be shown that when forced to double its rated power, a point rarely expected to be reached in practice, about two-thirds the volume of mixture of steam and water delivered into the drum will be steam, and that the water will make 110 circuits while being evaporated. Also that when worked at only about one-quarter its rated capacity, one-fifth of the volume will be steam and the water will make the rounds 870 times before it becomes steam. You will thus see that in the proportions adopted in this boiler there is provision for perfect circulation under all the possible conditions of practice.


In designing boilers of this style it is necessary to guard against having the uptake at the upper end of the tubes too large, for if sufficiently large to allow downward currents therein, the whole effect of the rising column in increasing the circulation in the tubes is nullified (Fig. 7). This will readily be seen if we consider the uptake very large when the only head producing circulation in the tubes will be that due to the inclination of each tube taken by itself. This objection is only overcome when the uptake is so small as to be entirely filled with the ascending current of mingled steam and water. It is also necessary that this uptake should be practically direct, and it should not be composed of frequent enlargements and contractions. Take, for instance, a boiler well known in Europe, copied and sold here under another name. It is made up of inclined tubes secured by pairs into boxes at the ends, which boxes are made to communicate with each other by return bends opposite the ends of the tubes. These boxes and return bends form an irregular uptake, whereby the steam is expected to rise to a reservoir above. You will notice (Fig. 8) that the upward current of steam and water in the return bend meets and directly antagonizes the upward current in the adjoining tube. Only one result can follow. If their velocities are equal, the momentum of both will be neutralized and all circulation stopped, or, if one be stronger, it will cause a back flow in the other by the amount of difference in force, with practically the same result.

In a well-known boiler, many of which were sold, but of which none are now made and a very few are still in use, the inventor claimed that the return bends and small openings against the tubes were for the purpose of "restricting the circulation" and no doubt they performed well that office; but excepting for the smallness of the openings they were not as efficient for that purpose as the arrangement shown in Fig. 8.

Another form of boiler, first invented by Clarke or Crawford, and lately revived, has the uptake made of boxes into which a number, generally from two to four tubes, are expanded, the boxes being connected together by nipples (Fig. 9). It is a well-known fact that where a fluid flows through a conduit which enlarges and then contracts, the velocity is lost to a greater or less extent at the enlargements, and has to be gotten up again at the contractions each time, with a corresponding loss of head. The same thing occurs in the construction shown in Fig. 9. The enlargements and contractions quite destroy the head and practically overcome the tendency of the water to circulate.

A horizontal tube stopped at one end, as shown in Fig. 10, can have no proper circulation within it. If moderately driven, the water may struggle in against the issuing steam sufficiently to keep the surface covered, but a slight degree of forcing will cause it to act like the test tube in Fig. 3, and the more there are of them in a given boiler the more spasmodic will be its working.

The experiment with our kettle (Fig. 2) gives the clue to the best means of promoting circulation in ordinary shell boilers. Steenstrup or "Martin" and "Galloway" water tubes placed in such boilers also assist in directing the circulation therein, but it is almost impossible to produce in shell boilers, by any means the circulation of all the water in one continuous round, such as marks the well-constructed water-tube boiler.

As I have before remarked, provision for a proper circulation of water has been almost universally ignored in designing steam boilers, sometimes to the great damage of the owner, but oftener to the jeopardy of the lives of those who are employed to run them. The noted case of the Montana and her sister ship, where some $300,000 was thrown away in trying an experiment which a proper consideration of this subject would have avoided, is a case in point; but who shall count the cost of life and treasure not, perhaps, directly traceable to, but, nevertheless, due entirely to such neglect in design and construction of the thousands of boilers in which this necessary element has been ignored?

In the light of the performance of the exacting conditions of present day power-plant practice, a review of this lecture and of the foregoing list of requirements reveals the insight of the inventors of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler into the fundamental principles of steam generator design and construction.

Since the Babcock & Wilcox boiler became thoroughly established as a durable and efficient steam generator, many types of water-tube boilers have appeared on the market. Most of them, failing to meet enough of the requirements of a perfect boiler, have fallen by the wayside, while a few failing to meet all of the requirements, have only a limited field of usefulness. None have been superior, and in the most cases the most ardent admirers of other boilers have been satisfied in looking up to the Babcock & Wilcox boiler as a standard and in claiming that the newer boilers were "just as good."

Records of recent performances under the most severe conditions of services on land and sea, show that the Babcock & Wilcox boiler can be run continually and regularly at higher overloads, with higher efficiency, and lower upkeep cost than any other boiler on the market. It is especially adapted for power-plant work where it is necessary to use a boiler in which steam can be raised quickly and the boiler placed on the line either from a cold state or from a banked fire in the shortest possible time, and with which the capacity, with clean feed water, will be largely limited by the amount of coal that can be burned in the furnace.

The distribution of the circulation through the separate headers and sections and the action of the headers in forcing a maximum and continuous circulation in the lower tubes, permit the operation of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler without objectionable priming, with a higher degree of concentration of salts in the water than is possible in any other type of boiler.

Repeated daily performances at overloads have demonstrated beyond a doubt the correctness of Mr. Babcock's computation regarding the circulating tube and header area required for most efficient circulation. They also have proved that enlargement of the area of headers and circulating tubes beyond a certain point diminishes the head available for causing circulation and consequently limits the ability of the boiler to respond to demands for overloads.

In this lecture Mr. Babcock made the prediction that with the circulating tube area proportioned in accordance with the principles laid down, the Babcock & Wilcox boiler could be continuously run at double its nominal rating, which at that time was based on 12 square feet of heating surface per horse power. This prediction is being fulfilled daily in all the large and prominent power plants in this country and abroad, and it has been repeatedly demonstrated that with clean water and clean tube surfaces it is possible to safely operate at over 300 per cent of the nominal rating.

In the development of electrical power stations it becomes more and more apparent that it is economical to run a boiler at high ratings during the times of peak loads, as by so doing the lay-over losses are diminished and the economy of the plant as a whole is increased.

The number and importance of the large electric lighting and power stations constructed during the last ten years that are equipped with Babcock & Wilcox boilers, is a most gratifying demonstration of the merit of the apparatus, especially in view of their satisfactory operation under conditions which are perhaps more exacting than those of any other service.

Time, the test of all, results with boilers as with other things, in the survival of the fittest. When judged on this basis the Babcock & Wilcox boiler stands pre-eminent in its ability to cover the whole field of steam generation with the highest commercial efficiency obtainable. Year after year the Babcock & Wilcox boiler has become more firmly established as the standard of excellence in the boiler making art.


Quite as much may be learned from the records of failures as from those of success. Where a device has been once fairly tried and found to be imperfect or impracticable, the knowledge of that trial is of advantage in further investigation. Regardless of the lesson taught by failure, however, it is an almost every-day occurrence that some device or construction which has been tried and found wanting, if not worthless, is again introduced as a great improvement upon a device which has shown by its survival to be the fittest.

The success of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler is due to many years of constant adherence to one line of research, in which an endeavor has been made to introduce improvements with the view to producing a boiler which would most effectively meet the demands of the times. During the periods that this boiler has been built, other companies have placed on the market more than thirty water-tube or sectional water-tube boilers, most of which, though they may have attained some distinction and sale, have now entirely disappeared. The following incomplete list will serve to recall the names of some of the boilers that have had a vogue at various times, but which are now practically unknown: Dimpfel, Howard, Griffith & Wundrum, Dinsmore, Miller "Fire Box", Miller "American", Miller "Internal Tube", Miller "Inclined Tube", Phleger, Weigant, the Lady Verner, the Allen, the Kelly, the Anderson, the Rogers & Black, the Eclipse or Kilgore, the Moore, the Baker & Smith, the Renshaw, the Shackleton, the "Duplex", the Pond & Bradford, the Whittingham, the Bee, the Hazleton or "Common Sense", the Reynolds, the Suplee or Luder, the Babbit, the Reed, the Smith, the Standard, etc., etc.

It is with the object of protecting our customers and friends from loss through purchasing discarded ideas that there is given on the following pages a brief history of the development of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler as it is built to-day. The illustrations and brief descriptions indicate clearly the various designs and constructions that have been used and that have been replaced, as experience has shown in what way improvement might be made. They serve as a history of the experimental steps in the development of the present Babcock & Wilcox boiler, the value and success of which, as a steam generator, is evidenced by the fact that the largest and most discriminating users continue to purchase them after years of experience in their operation.

No. 1. The original Babcock & Wilcox boiler was patented in 1867. The main idea in its design was safety, to which all other features were sacrificed wherever they conflicted. The boiler consisted of a nest of horizontal tubes, serving as a steam and water reservoir, placed above and connected at each end by bolted joints to a second nest of inclined heating tubes filled with water. The tubes were placed one above the other in vertical rows, each row and its connecting end forming a single casting. Hand-holes were placed at each end for cleaning. Internal tubes were placed within the inclined tubes with a view to aiding circulation.

No. 2. This boiler was the same as No. 1, except that the internal circulating tubes were omitted as they were found to hinder rather than help the circulation.

Nos. 1 and 2 were found to be faulty in both material and design, cast metal proving unfit for heating surfaces placed directly over the fire, as it cracked as soon as any scale formed.

No. 3. Wrought-iron tubes were substituted for the cast-iron heating tubes, the ends being brightened, laid in moulds, and the headers cast on.

The steam and water capacity in this design were insufficient to secure regularity of action, there being no reserve upon which to draw during firing or when the water was fed intermittently. The attempt to dry the steam by superheating it in the nest of tubes forming the steam space was found to be impracticable. The steam delivered was either wet, dry or superheated, according to the rate at which it was being drawn from the boiler. Sediment was found to lodge in the lowermost point of the boiler at the rear end and the exposed portions cracked off at this point when subjected to the furnace heat.

No. 4. A plain cylinder, carrying the water line at its center and leaving the upper half for steam space, was substituted for the nest of tubes forming the steam and water space in Nos. 1, 2 and 3. The sections were made as in No. 3 and a mud drum added to the rear end of the sections at the point that was lowest and farthest removed from the fire. The gases were made to pass off at one side and did not come into contact with the mud drum. Dry steam was obtained through the increase of separating surface and steam space and the added water capacity furnished a storage for heat to tide over irregularities of firing and feeding. By the addition of the drum, the boiler became a serviceable and practical design, retaining all of the features of safety. As the drum was removed from the direct action of the fire, it was not subjected to excessive strain due to unequal expansion, and its diameter, if large in comparison with that of the tubes formerly used, was small when compared with that of cylindrical boilers. Difficulties were encountered in this boiler in securing reliable joints between the wrought-iron tubes and the cast-iron headers.

No. 5. In this design, wrought-iron water legs were substituted for the cast-iron headers, the tubes being expanded into the inside sheets and a large cover placed opposite the front end of the tubes for cleaning. The tubes were staggered one above the other, an arrangement found to be more efficient in the absorption of heat than where they were placed in vertical rows. In other respects, the boiler was similar to No. 4, except that it had lost the important element of safety through the introduction of the very objectionable feature of flat stayed surfaces. The large doors for access to the tubes were also a cause of weakness.

An installation of these boilers was made at the plant of the Calvert Sugar Refinery in Baltimore, and while they were satisfactory in their operation, were never duplicated.

No. 6. This was a modification of No. 5 in which longer tubes were used and over which the gases were caused to make three passes with a view of better economy. In addition, some of the stayed surfaces were omitted and handholes substituted for the large access doors. A number of boilers of this design were built but their excessive first cost, the lack of adjustability of the structure under varying temperatures, and the inconvenience of transportation, led to No. 7.

No. 7. In this boiler, the headers and water legs were replaced by T-heads screwed to the ends of the inclined tubes. The faces of these Ts were milled and the tubes placed one above the other with the milled faces metal to metal. Long bolts passed through each vertical section of the T-heads and through connecting boxes on the heads of the drums holding the whole together. A large number of boilers of this design were built and many were in successful operation for over twenty years. In most instances, however, they were altered to later types.

Nos. 8 and 9. These boilers were known as the Griffith & Wundrum type, the concern which built them being later merged in The Babcock & Wilcox Co. Experiments were made with this design with four passages of the gases across the tubes and the downward circulation of the water at the rear of the boiler was carried to the bottom row of tubes. In No. 9 an attempt was made to increase the safety and reduce the cost by reducing the amount of steam and water capacity. A drum at right angles to the line of tubes was used but as there was no provision made to secure dry steam, the results were not satisfactory. The next move in the direction of safety was the employment of several drums of small diameter instead of a single drum.

This is shown in No. 10. A nest of small horizontal drums, 15 inches in diameter, was used in place of the single drum of larger diameter. A set of circulation tubes was placed at an intermediate angle between the main bank of heating tubes and the horizontal drums forming the steam reservoir. These circulators were to return to the rear end of the circulating tubes the water carried up by the circulation, and in this way were to allow only steam to be delivered to the small drums above. There was no improvement in the action of this boiler over that of No. 9.

The four passages of the gas over the tubes tried in Nos. 8, 9 and 10 were not found to add to the economy of the boiler.

No. 11. A trial was next made of a box coil system, in which the water was made to transverse the furnace several times before being delivered to the drum above. The tendency here, as in all similar boilers, was to form steam in the middle of the coil and blow the water from each end, leaving the tubes practically dry until the steam found an outlet and the water returned. This boiler had, in addition to a defective circulation, a decidedly geyser-like action and produced wet steam.

All of the types mentioned, with the exception of Nos. 5 and 6, had between their several parts a large number of bolted joints which were subjected to the action of the fire. When these boilers were placed in operation it was demonstrated that as soon as any scale formed on the heating surfaces, leaks were caused due to unequal expansion.

No. 12. With this boiler, an attempt was made to remove the joints from the fire and to increase the heating surface in a given space. Water tubes were expanded into both sides of wrought-iron boxes, openings being made for the admission of water and the exit of steam. Fire tubes were placed inside the water tubes to increase the heating surface. This design was abandoned because of the rapid stopping up of the tubes by scale and the impossibility of cleaning them.

No. 13. Vertical straight line headers of cast iron, each containing two rows of tubes, were bolted to a connection leading to the steam and water drum above.

No. 14. A wrought-iron box was substituted for the double cast-iron headers. In this design, stays were necessary and were found, as always, to be an element to be avoided wherever possible. The boiler was an improvement on No. 6, however. A slanting bridge wall was introduced underneath the drum to throw a larger portion of its heating surface into the combustion chamber under the bank of tubes.

This bridge wall was found to be difficult to keep in repair and was of no particular benefit.

No. 15. Each row of tubes was expanded at each end into a continuous header, cast of car wheel metal. The headers had a sinuous form so that they would lie close together and admit of a staggered position of the tubes when assembled. While other designs of header form were tried later, experience with Nos. 14 and 15 showed that the style here adopted was the best for all purposes and it has not been changed materially since. The drum in this design was supported by girders resting on the brickwork. Bolted joints were discarded, with the exception of those connecting the headers to the front and rear ends of the drums and the bottom of the rear headers to the mud drum. Even such joints, however, were found objectionable and were superseded in subsequent construction by short lengths of tubes expanded into bored holes.

No. 16. In this design, headers were tried which were made in the form of triangular boxes, in each of which there were three tubes expanded. These boxes were alternately reversed and connected by short lengths of expanded tubes, being connected to the drum by tubes bent in a manner to allow them to enter the shell normally. The joints between headers introduced an element of weakness and the connections to the drum were insufficient to give adequate circulation.

No. 17. Straight horizontal headers were next tried, alternately shifted right and left to allow a staggering of tubes. These headers were connected to each other and to the drums by expanded nipples. The objections to this boiler were almost the same as those to No. 16.

Nos. 18 and 19. These boilers were designed primarily for fire protection purposes, the requirements demanding a small, compact boiler with ability to raise steam quickly. These both served the purpose admirably but, as in No. 9, the only provision made for the securing of dry steam was the use of the steam dome, shown in the illustration. This dome was found inadequate and has since been abandoned in nearly all forms of boiler construction. No other remedy being suggested at the time, these boilers were not considered as desirable for general use as Nos. 21 and 22. In Europe, however, where small size units were more in demand, No. 18 was modified somewhat and used largely with excellent results. These experiments, as they may now be called, although many boilers of some of the designs were built, clearly demonstrated that the best construction and efficiency required adherence to the following elements of design:

1st. Sinuous headers for each vertical row of tubes.

2nd. A separate and independent connection with the drum, both front and rear, for each vertical row of tubes.

3rd. All joints between parts of the boiler proper to be made without bolts or screw plates.

4th. No surfaces to be used which necessitate the use of stays.

5th. The boiler supported independently of the brickwork so as to allow freedom for expansion and contraction as it is heated or cooled.

6th. Ample diameter of steam and water drums, these not to be less than 30 inches except for small size units.

7th. Every part accessible for cleaning and repairs.

With these points having been determined, No. 20 was designed. This boiler had all the desirable features just enumerated, together with a number of improvements as to detail of construction. The general form of No. 15 was adhered to but the bolted connections between sections and drum and sections and mud drum were discarded in favor of connections made by short lengths of boiler tubes expanded into the adjacent parts. This boiler was suspended from girders, like No. 15, but these in turn were carried on vertical supports, leaving the pressure parts entirely free from the brickwork, the mutually deteriorating strains present where one was supported by the other being in this way overcome. Hundreds of thousands of horse power of this design were built, giving great satisfaction. The boiler was known as the "C. I. F." (cast-iron front) style, an ornamental cast-iron front having been usually furnished.

The next step, and the one which connects the boilers as described above to the boiler as it is built to-day, was the design illustrated in No. 21. These boilers were known as the "W. I. F." style, the fronts furnished as part of the equipment being constructed largely of wrought iron. The cast-iron drumheads used in No. 20 were replaced by wrought-steel flanged and "bumped" heads. The drums were made longer and the sections connected to wrought-steel cross boxes riveted to the bottom of the drums. The boilers were supported by girders and columns as in No. 20.

No. 22. This boiler, which is designated as the "Vertical Header" type, has the same general features of construction as No. 21, except that the tube sheet side of the headers is "stepped" to allow the headers to be placed vertically and at right angles to the drum and still maintain the tubes at the angle used in Nos. 20 and 21.

No. 23, or the cross drum design of boiler, is a development of the Babcock & Wilcox marine boiler, in which the cross drum is used exclusively. The experience of the Glasgow Works of The Babcock & Wilcox, Ltd., with No. 18 proved that proper attention to details of construction would make it a most desirable form of boiler where headroom was limited. A large number of this design have been successfully installed and are giving satisfactory results under widely varying conditions. The cross drum boiler is also built in a vertical header design.

Boilers Nos. 21, 22 and 23, with a few modifications, are now the standard forms. These designs are illustrated, as they are constructed to-day, on pages 48, 52, 54, 58 and 60.

The last step in the development of the water-tube boiler, beyond which it seems almost impossible for science and skill to advance, consists in the making of all pressure parts of the boiler of wrought steel, including sinuous headers, cross boxes, nozzles, and the like. This construction was the result of the demands of certain Continental laws that are coming into general vogue in this country. The Babcock & Wilcox Co. have at the present time a plant producing steel forgings that have been pronounced by the London Engineer to be "a perfect triumph of the forgers' art".

The various designs of this all wrought-steel boiler are fully illustrated in the following pages.


The following brief description of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler will clearly indicate the manner in which it fulfills the requirements of the perfect steam boiler already enumerated.

The Babcock & Wilcox boiler is built in two general classes, the longitudinal drum type and the cross drum type. Either of these designs may be constructed with vertical or inclined headers, and the headers in turn may be of wrought steel or cast iron dependent upon the working pressure for which the boiler is constructed. The headers may be of different lengths, that is, may connect different numbers of tubes, and it is by a change in the number of tubes in height per section and the number of sections in width that the size of the boiler is varied.

The longitudinal drum boiler is the generally accepted standard of Babcock & Wilcox construction. The cross drum boiler, though originally designed to meet certain conditions of headroom, has become popular for numerous classes of work where low headroom is not a requirement which must be met.

LONGITUDINAL DRUM CONSTRUCTION—The heating surface of this type of boiler is made up of a drum or drums, depending upon the width of the boiler extending longitudinally over the other pressure parts. To the drum or drums there are connected through cross boxes at either end the sections, which are made up of headers and tubes. At the lower end of the sections there is a mud drum extending entirely across the setting and connected to all sections. The connections between all parts are by short lengths of tubes expanded into bored seats.

The drums are of three sheets, of such thickness as to give the required factor of safety under the maximum pressure for which the boiler is constructed. The circular seams are ordinarily single lap riveted though these may be double lap riveted to meet certain requirements of pressure or of specifications. The longitudinal seams are properly proportioned butt and strap or lap riveted joints dependent upon the pressure for which the boilers are built. Where butt strap joints are used the straps are bent to the proper radius in an hydraulic press. The courses are built independently to template and are assembled by an hydraulic forcing press. All riveted holes are punched one-quarter inch smaller than the size of rivets as driven and are reamed to full size after the plates are assembled. All rivets are driven by hydraulic pressure and held until black.

The drumheads are hydraulic forged at a single heat, the manhole opening and stiffening ring being forged in position. Flat raised seats for water column and feed connections are formed in the forging.

All heads are provided with manholes, the edges of which are turned true. The manhole plates are of forged steel and turned to fit manhole opening. These plates are held in position by forged-steel guards and bolts.

The drum nozzles are of forged steel, faced, and fitted with taper thread stud bolts.

Cross boxes by means of which the sections are attached to the drums, are of forged steel, made from a single sheet.

Where two or more drums are used in one boiler they are connected by a cross pipe having a flanged outlet for the steam connection.

The sections are built of 4-inch hot finished seamless open-hearth steel tubes of No. 10 B. W. G. where the boilers are built for working pressures up to 210 pounds. Where the working pressure is to be above this and below 260 pounds, No. 9 B. W. G. tubes are supplied.

The tubes are expanded into headers of serpentine or sinuous form, which dispose the tubes in a staggered position when assembled as a complete boiler. These headers are of wrought steel or of cast iron, the latter being ordinarily supplied where the working pressure is not to exceed 160 pounds. The headers may be either vertical or inclined as shown in the various illustrations of assembled boilers.

Opposite each tube end in the headers there is placed a handhole of sufficient size to permit the cleaning, removal or renewal of a tube. These openings in the wrought steel vertical headers are elliptical in shape, machine faced, and milled to a true plane back from the edge a sufficient distance to make a seat. The openings are closed by inside fitting forged plates, shouldered to center in the opening, their flanged seats milled to a true plane. These plates are held in position by studs and forged-steel binders and nuts. The joints between plates and headers are made with a thin gasket.

In the wrought-steel inclined headers the handhole openings are either circular or elliptical, the former being ordinarily supplied. The circular openings have a raised seat milled to a true plane. The openings are closed on the outside by forged-steel caps, milled and ground true, held in position by forged-steel safety clamps and secured by ball-headed bolts to assure correct alignment. With this style of fitting, joints are made tight, metal to metal, without packing of any kind.

Where elliptical handholes are furnished they are faced inside, closed by inside fitting forged-steel plates, held to their seats by studs and secured by forged-steel binders and nuts.

The joints between plates and header are made with a thin gasket.

The vertical cast-iron headers have elliptical handholes with raised seats milled to a true plane. These are closed on the outside by cast-iron caps milled true, held in position by forged-steel safety clamps, which close the openings from the inside and which are secured by ball-headed bolts to assure proper alignment. All joints are made tight, metal to metal, without packing of any kind.

The mud drum to which the sections are attached at the lower end of the rear headers, is a forged-steel box 7-1/4 inches square, and of such length as to be connected to all headers by means of wrought nipples expanded into counterbored seats. The mud drum is furnished with handholes for cleaning, these being closed from the inside by forged-steel plates with studs, and secured on a faced seat in the mud drum by forged-steel binders and nuts. The joints between the plates and the drum are made with thin gaskets. The mud drum is tapped for blow-off connection.

All connections between drums and sections and between sections and mud drum are of hot finished seamless open-hearth steel tubes of No. 9 B. W. G.

Boilers of the longitudinal drum type are suspended front and rear from wrought-steel supporting frames entirely independent of the brickwork. This allows for expansion and contraction of the pressure parts without straining either the boiler or the brickwork, and also allows of brickwork repair or renewal without in any way disturbing the boiler or its connections.

CROSS DRUM CONSTRUCTION—The cross drum type of boilers differs from the longitudinal only in drum construction and method of support. The drum in this type is placed transversely across the rear of the boiler and is connected to the sections by means of circulating tubes expanded into bored seats.

The drums for all pressures are of two sheets of sufficient thickness to give the required factor of safety. The longitudinal seams are double riveted butt strapped, the straps being bent to the proper radius in an hydraulic press. The circulating tubes are expanded into the drums at the seams, the butt straps serving as tube seats.

The drumheads, drum fittings and features of riveting are the same in the cross drum as in the longitudinal types. The sections and mud drum are also the same for the two types.

Cross drum boilers are supported at the rear on the mud drum which rests on cast-iron foundation plates. They are suspended at the front from a wrought-iron supporting frame, each section being suspended independently from the cross members by hook suspension bolts. This method of support is such as to allow for expansion and contraction without straining either the boiler or the brickwork and permits of repair or renewal of the latter without in any way disturbing the boiler or its connections.

The following features of design and of attachments supplied are the same for all types.

FRONTS—Ornamental fronts are fitted to the front supporting frame. These have large doors for access to the front headers and panels above the fire fronts. The fire fronts where furnished have independent frames for fire doors which are bolted on, and ashpit doors fitted with blast catches. The lugs on door frames and on doors are cast solid. The faces of doors and of frames are planed and the lugs milled. The doors and frames are placed in their final relative position, clamped, and the holes for hinge pins drilled while thus held. A perfect alignment of door and frame is thus assured and the method is representative of the care taken in small details of manufacture.

The front as a whole is so arranged that any stoker may be applied with but slight modification wherever boilers are set with sufficient furnace height.

In the vertical header boilers large wrought-iron doors, which give access to the rear headers, are attached to the rear supporting frame.

FITTINGS—Each boiler is provided with the following fittings as part of the standard equipment:

Blow-off connections and valves attached to the mud drum.

Safety valves placed on nozzles on the steam drums.

A water column connected to the front of the drum.

A steam gauge attached to the boiler front.

Feed water connection and valves. A flanged stop and check valve of heavy pattern is attached directly to each drumhead, closing automatically in case of a rupture in the feed line.

All valves and fittings are substantially built and are of designs which by their successful service for many years have become standard with The Babcock & Wilcox Co.

The fixtures that are supplied with the boilers consist of:

Dead plates and supports, the plates arranged for a fire brick lining.

A full set of grate bars and bearers, the latter fitted with expansion sockets for side walls.

Flame bridge plates with necessary fastenings, and special fire brick for lining same.

Bridge wall girder for hanging bridge wall with expansion sockets for side walls.

A full set of access and cleaning doors through which all portions of the pressure parts may be reached.

A swing damper and frame with damper operating rig.

There are also supplied with each boiler a wrench for handhole nuts, a water-driven turbine tube cleaner, a set of fire tools and a metal steam hose and cleaning pipe equipped with a special nozzle for blowing dust and soot from the tubes.

Aside from the details of design and construction as covered in the foregoing description, a study of the illustrations will make clear the features of the boiler as a whole which have led to its success.

The method of supporting the boiler has been described. This allows it to be hung at any height that may be necessary to properly handle the fuel to be burned or to accommodate the stoker to be installed. The height of the nest of tubes which forms the roof of the furnace is thus the controlling feature in determining the furnace height, or the distance from the front headers to the floor line. The sides and front of the furnace are formed by the side and front boiler walls. The rear wall of the furnace consists of a bridge wall built from the bottom of the ashpit to the lower row of tubes. The location of this wall may be adjusted within limits to give the depth of furnace demanded by the fuel used. Ordinarily the bridge wall is the determining feature in the locating of the front baffle. Where a great depth of furnace is necessary, in which case, if the front baffle were placed at the bridge wall the front pass of the boiler would be relatively too long, a patented construction is used which maintains the baffle in what may be considered its normal position, and a connection made between the baffle and the bridge wall by means of a tile roof. Such furnace construction is known as a "Webster" furnace.

A consideration of this furnace will clearly indicate its adaptability, by reason of its flexibility, for any fuel and any design of stoker. The boiler lends itself readily to installation with an extension or Dutch oven furnace if this be demanded by the fuel to be used, and in general it may be stated that a satisfactory furnace arrangement may be made in connection with a Babcock & Wilcox boiler for burning any fuel, solid, liquid or gaseous.

The gases of combustion evolved in the furnace above described are led over the heating surfaces by two baffles. These are formed of cast-iron baffle plates lined with special fire brick and held in position by tube clamps. The front baffle leads the gases through the forward portion of the tubes to a chamber beneath the drum or drums. It is in this chamber that a superheater is installed where such an apparatus is desired. The gases make a turn over the front baffle, are led downward through the central portion of the tubes, called the second pass, by means of a hanging bridge wall of brick and the second baffle, around which they make a second turn upward, pass through the rear portion of the tubes and are led to the stack or flue through a damper box in the rear wall, or around the drums to a damper box placed overhead.

The space beneath the tubes between the bridge wall and the rear boiler wall forms a pocket into which much of the soot from the gases in their downward passage through the second pass will be deposited and from which it may be readily cleaned through doors furnished for the purpose.

The gas passages are ample and are so proportioned that the resistance offered to the gases is only such as will assure the proper abstraction of heat from the gases without causing undue friction, requiring excessive draft.

The method in which the feed water is introduced through the front drumhead of the boiler is clearly seen by reference to the illustration. From this point of introduction the water passes to the rear of the drum, downward through the rear circulating tubes to the sections, upward through the tubes of the sections to the front headers and through these headers and front circulating tubes again to the drum where such water as has not been formed into steam retraces its course. The steam formed in the passage through the tubes is liberated as the water reaches the front of the drum. The steam so formed is stored in the steam space above the water line, from which it is drawn through a so-called "dry pipe." The dry pipe in the Babcock & Wilcox boiler is misnamed, as in reality it fulfills none of the functions ordinarily attributed to such a device. This function is usually to restrict the flow of steam from a boiler with a view to avoid priming. In the Babcock & Wilcox boiler its function is simply that of a collecting pipe, and as the aggregate area of the holes in it is greatly in excess of the area of the steam outlet from the drum, it is plain that there can be no restriction through this collecting pipe. It extends nearly the length of the drum, and draws steam evenly from the whole length of the steam space.

The large tube doors through which access is had to the front headers and the doors giving such access to the rear headers in boilers of the vertical header type have already been described and are shown clearly by the illustrations on pages 56 and 74. In boilers of the inclined header type, access to the rear headers is secured through the chamber formed by the headers and the rear boiler wall. Large doors in the sides of the setting give full access to all parts for inspection and for removal of accumulations of soot. Small dusting doors are supplied for the side walls through which all of the heating surfaces may be cleaned by means of a steam dusting lance. These side dusting doors are a patented feature and the shutters are self closing. In wide boilers additional cleaning doors are supplied at the top of the setting to insure ease in reaching all portions of the heating surface.

The drums are accessible for inspection through the manhole openings. The removal of the handhole plates makes possible the inspection of each tube for its full length and gives the assurance that no defect can exist that cannot be actually seen. This is particularly advantageous when inspecting for the presence of scale.

The materials entering into the construction of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler are the best obtainable for the special purpose for which they are used and are subjected to rigid inspection and tests.

The boilers are manufactured by means of the most modern shop equipment and appliances in the hands of an old and well-tried organization of skilled mechanics under the supervision of experienced engineers.


The advantages of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler may perhaps be most clearly set forth by a consideration, 1st, of water-tube boilers as a class as compared with shell and fire-tube boilers; and 2nd, of the Babcock & Wilcox boiler specifically as compared with other designs of water-tube boilers.


Safety—The most important requirement of a steam boiler is that it shall be safe in so far as danger from explosion is concerned. If the energy in a large shell boiler under pressure is considered, the thought of the destruction possible in the case of an explosion is appalling. The late Dr. Robert H. Thurston, Dean of Sibley College, Cornell University, and past president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, estimated that there is sufficient energy stored in a plain cylinder boiler under 100 pounds steam pressure to project it in case of an explosion to a height of over 3-1/2 miles; a locomotive boiler at 125 pounds pressure from one-half to one-third of a mile; and a 60 horse-power return tubular boiler under 75 pounds pressure somewhat over a mile. To quote: "A cubic foot of heated water under a pressure of from 60 to 70 pounds per square inch has about the same energy as one pound of gunpowder." From such a consideration, it may be readily appreciated how the advent of high pressure steam was one of the strongest factors in forcing the adoption of water-tube boilers. A consideration of the thickness of material necessary for cylinders of various diameters under a steam pressure of 200 pounds and assuming an allowable stress of 12,000 pounds per square inch, will perhaps best illustrate this point. Table 1 gives such thicknesses for various diameters of cylinders not taking into consideration the weakening effect of any joints which may be necessary. The rapidity with which the plate thickness increases with the diameter is apparent and in practice, due to the fact that riveted joints must be used, the thicknesses as given in the table, with the exception of the first, must be increased from 30 to 40 per cent.

In a water-tube boiler the drums seldom exceed 48 inches in diameter and the thickness of plate required, therefore, is never excessive. The thinner metal can be rolled to a more uniform quality, the seams admit of better proportioning, and the joints can be more easily and perfectly fitted than is the case where thicker plates are necessary. All of these points contribute toward making the drums of water-tube boilers better able to withstand the stress which they will be called upon to endure.

The essential constructive difference between water-tube and fire-tube boilers lies in the fact that the former is composed of parts of relatively small diameter as against the large diameters necessary in the latter.

The factor of safety of the boiler parts which come in contact with the most intense heat in water-tube boilers can be made much higher than would be practicable in a shell boiler. Under the assumptions considered above in connection with the thickness of plates required, a number 10 gauge tube (0.134 inch), which is standard in Babcock & Wilcox boilers for pressures up to 210 pounds under the same allowable stress as was used in computing Table 1, the safe working pressure for the tubes is 870 pounds per square inch, indicating the very large margin of safety of such tubes as compared with that possible with the shell of a boiler.




+ -+ -+ Diameter Thickness Inches Inches + -+ -+ 4 0.033 36 0.300 48 0.400 60 0.500 72 0.600 108 0.900 120 1.000 144 1.200 + -+ -+

A further advantage in the water-tube boiler as a class is the elimination of all compressive stresses. Cylinders subjected to external pressures, such as fire tubes or the internally fired furnaces of certain types of boilers, will collapse under a pressure much lower than that which they could withstand if it were applied internally. This is due to the fact that if there exists any initial distortion from its true shape, the external pressure will tend to increase such distortion and collapse the cylinder, while an internal pressure tends to restore the cylinder to its original shape.

Stresses due to unequal expansion have been a fruitful source of trouble in fire-tube boilers.

In boilers of the shell type, the riveted joints of the shell, with their consequent double thickness of metal exposed to the fire, gives rise to serious difficulties. Upon these points are concentrated all strains of unequal expansion, giving rise to frequent leaks and oftentimes to actual ruptures. Moreover, in the case of such rupture, the whole body of contained water is liberated instantaneously and a disastrous and usually fatal explosion results.

Further, unequal strains result in shell or fire-tube boilers due to the difference in temperature of the various parts. This difference in temperature results from the lack of positive well defined circulation. While such a circulation does not necessarily accompany all water-tube designs, in general, the circulation in water-tube boilers is much more defined than in fire-tube or shell boilers.

A positive and efficient circulation assures that all portions of the pressure parts will be at approximately the same temperature and in this way strains resulting from unequal temperatures are obviated.

If a shell or fire-tubular boiler explodes, the apparatus as a whole is destroyed. In the case of water-tube boilers, the drums are ordinarily so located that they are protected from intense heat and any rupture is usually in the case of a tube. Tube failures, resulting from blisters or burning, are not serious in their nature. Where a tube ruptures because of a flaw in the metal, the result may be more severe, but there cannot be the disastrous explosion such as would occur in the case of the explosion of a shell boiler.

To quote Dr. Thurston, relative to the greater safety of the water-tube boiler: "The stored available energy is usually less than that of any of the other stationary boilers and not very far from the amount stored, pound for pound, in the plain tubular boiler. It is evident that their admitted safety from destructive explosion does not come from this relation, however, but from the division of the contents into small portions and especially from those details of construction which make it tolerably certain that any rupture shall be local. A violent explosion can only come from the general disruption of a boiler and the liberation at once of large masses of steam and water."

Economy—The requirement probably next in importance to safety in a steam boiler is economy in the use of fuel. To fulfill such a requirement, the three items, of proper grate for the class of fuel to be burned, a combustion chamber permitting complete combustion of gases before their escape to the stack, and the heating surface of such a character and arrangement that the maximum amount of available heat may be extracted, must be co-ordinated.

Fire-tube boilers from the nature of their design do not permit the variety of combinations of grate surface, heating surface, and combustion space possible in practically any water-tube boiler.

In securing the best results in fuel economy, the draft area in a boiler is an important consideration. In fire-tube boilers this area is limited to the cross sectional area of the fire tubes, a condition further aggravated in a horizontal boiler by the tendency of the hot gases to pass through the upper rows of tubes instead of through all of the tubes alike. In water-tube boilers the draft area is that of the space outside of the tubes and is hence much greater than the cross sectional area of the tubes.

Capacity—Due to the generally more efficient circulation found in water-tube than in fire-tube boilers, rates of evaporation are possible with water-tube boilers that cannot be approached where fire-tube boilers are employed.

Quick Steaming—Another important result of the better circulation ordinarily found in water-tube boilers is in their ability to raise steam rapidly in starting and to meet the sudden demands that may be thrown on them.

In a properly designed water-tube boiler steam may be raised from a cold boiler to 200 pounds pressure in less than one-half hour.

For the sake of comparison with the figure above, it may be stated that in the U. S. Government Service the shortest time allowed for getting up steam in Scotch marine boilers is 6 hours and the time ordinarily allowed is 12 hours. In large double-ended Scotch boilers, such as are generally used in Trans-Atlantic service, the fires are usually started 24 hours before the time set for getting under way. This length of time is necessary for such boilers in order to eliminate as far as possible excessive strains resulting from the sudden application of heat to the surfaces.

Accessibility—In the "Requirements of a Perfect Steam Boiler", as stated by Mr. Babcock, he demonstrates the necessity for complete accessibility to all portions of the boiler for cleaning, inspection and repair.

Cleaning—When the great difference is realized in performance, both as to economy and capacity of a clean boiler and one in which the heating surfaces have been allowed to become fouled, it may be appreciated that the ability to keep heating surfaces clean internally and externally is a factor of the highest importance.

Such results can be accomplished only by the use of a design in boiler construction which gives complete accessibility to all portions. In fire-tube boilers the tubes are frequently nested together with a space between them often less than 1-1/4 inches and, as a consequence, nearly the entire tube surface is inaccessible. When scale forms upon such tubes it is impossible to remove it completely from the inside of the boiler and if it is removed by a turbine hammer, there is no way of knowing how thorough a job has been done. With the formation of such scale there is danger through overheating and frequent tube renewals are necessary.

In Scotch marine boilers, even with the engines operating condensing, complete tube renewals at intervals of six or seven years are required, while large replacements are often necessary in less than one year. In return tubular boilers operated with bad feed water, complete tube renewals annually are not uncommon. In this type of boiler much sediment falls on the bottom sheets where the intense heat to which they are subjected bakes it to such an excessive hardness that the only method of removing it is to chisel it out. This can be done only by omitting tubes enough to leave a space into which a man can crawl and the discomforts under which he must work are apparent. Unless such a deposit is removed, a burned and buckled plate will invariably result, and if neglected too long an explosion will follow.

In vertical fire-tube boilers using a water leg construction, a deposit of mud in such legs is an active agent in causing corrosion and the difficulty of removing such deposit through handholes is well known. A complete removal is practically impossible and as a last resort to obviate corrosion in certain designs, the bottom of the water legs in some cases have been made of copper. A thick layer of mud and scale is also liable to accumulate on the crown sheet of such boilers and may cause the sheet to crack and lead to an explosion.

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