Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2019

From The Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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Herman Ingalls, captain of the USLHS Tender ...

This column continues to provide excerpts from the “Lighthouse Service Bulletin,” a monthly publication of the Bureau of Lighthouses, U.S. Department of Commerce. The first was issued in January 1912, and it continued throughout the existence of the Bureau. Unedited quotes from Vol. 11, No. 25, dated January 1920, follow. The Bulletin had as it object “supplying information that will be immediately useful in maintaining or improving the standards of the Lighthouse Service, and of keeping the personnel advised of the progress of work and matters of general interest in the service and in lighthouse work in general.”

Closing of Navigation On Lakes – Severe ice conditions were encountered in the eleventh and twelfth lighthouse districts at the close of navigation on the Lakes in December. In the eleventh district it was impractical to recover two gas buoys on account of the ice. All lighthouse vessels made port without difficulty, but light vessel No. 82 was forced to lay up in Port Huron, it being impossible to make the passage to Detroit. The tender Marigold, which was on duty on Lake Superior, laid up at Duluth, Minn., for the winter after fighting heavy ice on the lake. In the twelfth district it was reported that the most severe winter weather for 25 years was experienced immediately after the tenders had left for the purpose of removing light vessels and buoys from their stations for the winter. A number of buoys were capsized by the accumulation of ice, while others were dragged by drifting ice.

Boat Winch With Counter-Balance – There has been developed in the fifth lighthouse district a new type of boat winch for light stations to replace the old winches which have been the source of numerous casualties, such as fingers being caught in the gears while lowering, and keepers being ruptured while straining on the cranks in hoisting boats; conditions which were intensified by the introduction in recent years of motor boats to replace the old sail boats, with consequent increases in the weight to be lifted. The new winch has on its main shaft a spool divided into three sections, two of which carry the boat falls, the third carrying the tail-weight fall, which winds to the opposite hand from the boat falls and hoists a ballast ball equal to about half the weight of the boat. The old cast cogwheels are replaced by cut gears, further increasing the efficiency, and both gears are closely housed in gear guards. The old pawl, which could be thrown clear out of gear and was then useless, is replaced by a safety pawl which cannot be thrown out of gear, but must be held back by hand while the boat is being lowered. A rolling grip has been fitted on the crank making it easier to turn and the bearings fitted with removable bronze split bushings.

Small Type Oil-Gas Buoy Mantle – Experiments recently completed in the third, fifth, and eleventh lighthouse districts with a new type small upright oil-gas mantle indicate that this mantle is superior to the old type, as it gives a good light, consumes less gas, and is more easily installed and handled. The installation of the new type mantle requires some slight modification at the burner in order to be used in the present lanterns on oil-gas buoys.

Automatic Fog Bell – An automatic aerial fog bell, striking one blow every 15 seconds, has been in service during the past nine months on Bush Bluff buoy in the fifth lighthouse district. This buoy replaces the former Bush Bluff light vessel. No trouble has thus far been experienced with the striking mechanism, except a slight variation in characteristic which was readily adjusted. The striking mechanism is operated by compressed carbon dioxide gas contained in flasks, which in this case have a capacity of 50 pounds each, and four of these flasks will operate the bell at its present characteristic for 90 days. The operation of this fog bell has been sufficiently satisfactory to warrant a second installation, which will be placed on an unwatched fixed structure marking the approach to Cape Charles City, Va.

Care of Smoke Pipes and Furnaces – The following letter has been issued by the second superintendent to the keepers in his district: “This district has been put to considerable expense in past years supplying burned out grates for ranges and heaters and renewing smoke pipes for heaters. A large part of this expense has been unnecessary, the cause of this damage not being well understood by keepers. Grates are destroyed by excessive heat, caused by insufficient space under same to allow a free circulation of air through them. From outside private experience it is known that grates to heaters and ranges will last practically as long as the range or heater if the ashes are not allowed to accumulate under them. . . . . . . Keepers will bring the subject of this letter to the notice of their assistants.”

Saving of Life and Property – On December 11 the tender Zizania, Herman M. Ingalls commanding, pulled the coal-laded schooner Susian N. off Northeast Harbor Ledge, Me.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2019 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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