Friday, March 30, 2012

Belt Drive

2501-05hdrpsnx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
Machinery fascinates me. I'm sure this fascination was fostered by a couple of factors: Dad had a farm equipment dealership when I was growing up and I have been a farmer all my life, so I have always been around machines. I'm naturally mechanically inclined having designed and built a number of pieces of farm equipment including a pulling tractor. So throw in some old equipment to tie together my interests of machines, photography and history and I'm in a fun place. The horse era was during my Grandfathers time, which is the waning era these photos represent. Keep in mind that at this time, much of the economy, including agriculture and transportation, was still horse powered. But not for long! In a few short decades, life had drastically changed.

These images capture cutting edge technology of the day. Almost all of the machinery on the top floor of the old Silk Mill is powered by single electric motor. I would wager all of the machinery on this floor was originally powered by that single motor. A few rows of machines on one end of the factory floor appears to be newer and each line was powered by it's own, smaller electric motor. More on that in a future post. The power was transmitted down the length of the building via two drive lines attached to the ceiling: One drive line powered the rows of machines on each side of the main, center isle. The direction of rotation had to be reversed from one side to the other, which was the purpose of the figure eight belt in the top photo. The large pulleys and belts seen here and used to transmit power was typical of the early 1900's. Farm equipment from the same era used similar shafts, pulleys, belts and bearings. This type of power transmission was a carry-over from steam powered engines days. It was how things were done in that rapidly changing era of the Industrial Age prior to WWI. When the Silk Mill addition was built around WWII, the power trains had evolved and I will post an example of later.

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