Page images

death of his father, the late David M. but the elder Miner, though a thoroughly Miner. The elder Miner was one of the progressive man, was too conservative at most prominent and progressive men of first to be willing to take the lead in such the township half a century ago. His a radical departure in the economies of eldest son, Charles D., on finishing farming, chiefly because of his advanced school, decided to remain with his father age. But in the end he decided, with the on the old homestead. Ralph K., the sec- proffered assistance of his sons, to unond son, entered the field of electrical en- dertake the execution of the plans which gineering, in which he soon won recog- Ralph had formulated. nition for proficiency. A third son, Thus it was that on the 16th day of Harry V., also chose mechanical pursuits, October, 1905, at a point which had been

[graphic][merged small]

and has been more or less associated with carefully selected, was begun the erecthe older brother.

. tion of a dam across the channel of the After going forth into the world, Oriskany, a stream with a normal volume there were frequent home-comings of the of about 4,000 gallons per minute. This boys; and Ralph—who had become dam, which is of the "flow" type, was deeply impressed with the possibilities of designed and built under Ralph's perelectricity—when he saw his father and sonal supervision, as has been all the rest brother going through the daily grind of this remarkable plant. It is thirty-six of duties in the creamery and about the feet wide and about three and one-half barns, and when he looked over into the feet high, with concrete end walls, and is pasture where the creek was rushing built upon a very substantial foundation along down the rapid descent of the val- of planking and concrete. At the left of ley, promptly realized that there was the dam, leading from the pond about a power going to waste which could be hundred feet downstream, to an abrupt harnessed and made to assist in perform- bank, a dyke eight or ten feet wide was ing these laborious tasks.

dug. At the lower end of this, a wheel• He finally spoke of this to his father; pit, laid in concrete, was built, with a

[graphic][merged small]

small power-house above. Here it was the wheel-gate. This will regulate the found that a head of 412 feet had been amount of water passing through the obtained, and an upright 30-inch “Samp- wheel to the amount of power required son" water-wheel was installed. Upon of it.

it was found that the wheel, under After the plant had been placed in sucthis very low head, developed 171/2 horse- . cessful operation, Ralph, with Harry as power. In the power-house, a Westing his assistant, proceeded to extend the aphouse generator or dynamo of 127/2-kilowatt capacity was placed. This was connected by 1,500 feet of bare aluminum cable with the farm buildings. In the house were placed twenty-five 16-candlepower 220-volt lamps; and in the barns were eight more, illumination being the first development sought.

On December 27, a little more than two months after construction was begun, the plant was started up; and it has been running successfully, night and day, ever since. And right here is what, to the ordinary individual, is one of the most astonishing things about it. The waterwheel and dynamo run continuously and without any attention, except two or three times a week, and without any governor of any description to regulate or control them, although at times much more is required of them than at others. Only a small portion of the power is now used; but to provide for other contingencies, Mr. Miner has designed a governor

ELECTRICAL HEATER BEHIND THE STOVE WHICH IT Put which he intends to build and attach to



was a milk separator, the heavy bowl of which must be made to revolve at a speed of 7,400 revolutions per minute, each morning and evening, till the entire milk production of the cows had gone through it. This had always been done by hand power, and was one of the most dreaded tasks of the day. Then, there was the big barrel-churn. This, too, had for an hour, more or less, several times per week, required the muscular attention of someone who would much rather be doing something else. Into this room a wire was run; and on a convenient concrete foundation a 12-horsepower motor was placed and connected. From this ran a narrow belt to the separator,and, alas ! the old hand-crank, so important till then, was unreluctantly relegated to the things of the past. Then the churn was placed on a platform swiveled from one corner to the floor, the other three corners resting on casters. This arrangement permitted the churn to be swung into line with the dynamo and connected by belt. After the churning was completed, the belt was removed, and the churn swung back again out of the way. Thus churning day was stripped of its terrors, and another of the old iron cranks was added to the scrap heap. But there was one crank left. In an adjoining apartment stood the grinding-stone. Never a farmer's son who did not have a wholesome dread of this crank, especially during the hay and grain harvest.

[graphic][merged small]

plication of the power then at their command. It was midwinter, and, in this zone, fuel is at this season almost as important as food. Accordingly a 4,000watt heater was placed in the house, which heated two rooms (16 by 13 by 71/2 feet and 12 by 13 by 71/2 feet) to a temperature of about 75 degrees when the outside temperature was at zero and higher. These rooms had two windows each. The creek was then saving the farmer the expense of light for the entire house and the barns, and also of fuel for the living rooms.

The little stream was next required to do some of the most laborious tasks in the routine of dairy work. In the creamery, where the milk from a herd of twenty cows was daily manufactured into butter,


INTERIOR OF CREAMERY. Motor and separator in operation.

[graphic][merged small]

So the grindstone was also brought into the none the less indispensable task of line with the motor, and a long, round rinsing itself out properly. belt passed from the latter, through an A hand pump had been in use to force open door, to a pulley on the axle of the water into a reservoir in the attic of the stone. The electric current was then house, which supplied the bathroom. This turned on, and out of the door went the was another matter that attracted Ralph's last old crank on the Miner farm.

attention, and soon he had the little motor But human desire expands with ac- doing the drudgery of the pumping also. quisition; and when the backache busi- In the kitchen, a wood cookstove is still ness had been banished, the results did in use, although an electrical cooking not satisfy. The separator required at- device to displace it is in contemplation. tention still, and Ralph's fertile mind be- To provide fuel for the stoves with the gan evolving an idea. When the milk ax or the old crosscut, is one of the burhad all passed through the machine, the latter should be stopped and rinsed. To accomplish this, a float was arranged to rest on the milk. This was connected with the electric current operating the motor, in such a manner that when the milk was exhausted the float was lowered to a point where it broke the circuit, cutting off the power and stopping the machinery. Simultaneously with the breaking of the current, a dish of water, previously placed above the separator, was emptied by an ingenious device into the separator before it had yet ceased to revolve, and the machine was thoroughly rinsed. Thus the separator was made to

INTERIOR OF POWER-HOUSE AS ORIGINALLY ARRANGED. stop automatically at the moment its

The big gears have now been replaced by a belt, which work was completed, and to proceed to

makes the plant practically noiseless.


driven fans which provide ventilation and comfort for the family during the hot summer days; and even the ice-cream freezer is revolved by the little motor in the creamery.

In addition to doing so much for himself with the current from his plant, Mr. Miner is already furnishing power for a small manufacturing enterprise near-by, which promises, with this cheap and exceedingly convenient power, to increase its business rapidly.

All this has been actually accomplished within less than a year from the begin

ning of what, to the neighbors and the Barrel-CHURN IN OPERATION.

unskilled, seemed an experiment of

doubtful outcome. And, Mr. Miner says,

· "the end is not yet.” He has in contempladens that fall upon the man who grows tion further uses for his power, among his own stovewood. Why not let the which is the operating of a milking maOriskany do it? And it was soon doing chine for his dairy, when he has found it. A more powerful motor was obtained one which he believes will be thoroughly and placed in position. A circular saw practicable. If he should ever require and frame were provided, and wood in more power than his plant now furnishes, "sled-lengths” was brought. The long plans already made provide for raising pieces of wood were then placed on the the dam sufficiently to give a head of six frame before the saw, the current was feet. This would develop 25 horse-power turned on, and the Oriskany did the rest! or more. Whether further use is ever

In the kitchen, the onerous burden of made of the power or not, he says that he ironing has been very materially light- is well pleased with present results. When ened by the use of electrically-heated flat- asked as to the cost of the plant and imirons, connected with the current which provements, he declined to give any idea runs into the house. The heat can be further than to say that while it has cosť maintained uniform, and there is no more a lot of money to install the system, it sweating over the hot stove on ironing would cost a lot more to secure its reday. In the living rooms are electrically- moval.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »