I have shared many tools in the Sloane-Stanley Museum, from the personal collection of Eric Sloane, the renowned artist and collector of Americana artifacts. It would be very easy to spend many more hours than Sandy and I spent at the Museum, as the sheer number and variety of items is staggering; and many of the items in the collection will leave you wondering how the existence of many of the items came about. But that is for another post, in another blog.
Of particular interest to me, in addition to the wonderful tool collection in the Museum, was the use of wooden water piping and all its fittings. This piping was used in water distribution systems dating back to the late 18th century and early 19th century in the U.S., according to sewerhistory.org. The wood pipe was reinforced with steel bands, to allow surprisingly high operating pressures. What is truly remarkable is the precision with which these pipes were drilled, using long augers – note the perfectly centered hole in this pipe, and the steel reinforcement band:
When using piping systems, all sorts of fittings must also be made, to allow certain parts of a system, such as one piece of pipe, to be connected to another piece, or to a pump head, at the source of the water. Typically, the following fittings were all threaded by hand:
At the water source, a pump head would start the water distribution:
If you are interested in pursuing the history and use of wooden water piping, I invite you to start by reading the sewer history link above. One interesting fact I learned from that web site: In the early days of fire fighting, personnel would locate the buried wooden water piping, drill a hole into the pipe, and proceed to connect their fire fighting equipment. When done, they would plug the hole with a (wooden!) plug, and marked its location, for potential use in the future.
I have posted earlier articles on some of the Sloane-Stanley Museum’s old tools. I invite you to read them by following this link.
Acknowledgment: I thank Ms. Barbara Russ of the Sloane-Stanley Museum, for allowing me to take photographs for publication on this blog.
—— Al Navas