The Donkey Steam Engine, Part Two – The Loggers Best Friend

The logging industry become pushed to the restriction in 1881 by way of the exploding call for for lumber. The forests in Maine had been logged out and have been abandoned. As wood inside the Great Lakes place became turning into depleted, and as the logging businesses moved west, the men in the forest had been driven tougher and harder for extra, extra, and extra; the enterprise struggled to maintain up.

As so often happens all through records, approximately the time a machine is significantly wished it, a person invents it. When the logging enterprise became desperately looking to dramatically boom manufacturing, alongside got here an invention that revolutionized that industry. That invention became the Donkey Steam Engine – a steam-powered mechanical winch developed by John Dolbeer in 1881. That 12 months turned into usually declared as the start of technological change inside the industry. This gadget was each the loggers best friend and his lethal enemy if he wasn’t continuously on shield. As one logger said, “There’s masses of difficult paintings accessible but if you do not look out it will kill ya.”

John became a founding companion of the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company in Eureka, California. Eureka is a city in Humboldt County approximately one hundred miles from the California-Oregon border and is a huge logging and lumbering area.

Dolbeer obtained patent variety 256553 for the Donkey Steam Engine on April 18, 1882. By assessment, to this point 7.5 million patents have been issued in the United States. As a point of hobby, the modern patent numbering gadget began with a patent #1 issued on July 13, 1836. No facts is to be had approximately that patent but previous to that date, approximately 10,000 patents have been issued.

The Steam Donkeys really acquired their call from their starting place in sailing ships, wherein the “donkey” engine was generally a small secondary engine used to load and dump shipment, increase the larger sails with small crews, or to power pumps. Dolbeer have been a naval engineer earlier than turning to logging which undoubtedly caused his choice of the name for his invention. It is also said that loggers gave it that humble call because the authentic version seemed too puny to be rated in horsepower. Donkey energy does not have pretty the image of a effective engine, however as you may see, a Donkey Steam Engine should with ease grab a massive sign off of the forest.

This first rate engine was essentially a set of mechanical components starting with a timber-fired steam boiler. The boiler provided steam at everywhere from a hundred to 2 NoakMech hundred PSI to a one cylinder engine that transmitted energy through a connecting rod to a crank shaft on which became mounted a flywheel with some kind of brake mechanism. A lever operated grasp configuration controlled a complex of discount gears and force wheels that drove a winch. The winch can be both a large pulley with a horizontal shaft or a drum, or a capstan, installed on a vertical shaft.

The Donkey Engines got here in an limitless variety of configurations of steam, fuel, diesel, or electric electricity flowers plus drums to maintain cord rope. They had one element in not unusual; all had been used to haul logs from the woods, load them at landings, flow equipment, rig up trees, and to decrease or improve wagons up and down inclines. But, the significant majority were steam-powered and most had been constructed inside the Seattle, Tacoma and Portland, area. Hard to imagine now but 100 and fifty years in the past Seattle turned into basically a logging metropolis, as was Vancouver, British Columbia.

In the simplest setup, a “line horse” could drag a cable out to a log inside the woods. The cable might be attached, and, on a sign from the whistle at the engine, the Donkey’s operator would open the steam valve on the boiler and engage the clutch, permitting the transmission mechanism to rotate the drum. As the cable changed into wound across the drum, the log was dragged to the Donkey. The log became then taken both to a mill or to a “landing” wherein it might be transferred for onward cargo with the aid of rail, avenue or river; either loaded onto boats or floated downstream directly within the water. The format of a logging operation changed into no small project as terrain and river characteristics needed to be carefully considered and were essential to the a success movement of these large logs.

The Donkey operation had a lingo all its own. There are hundreds of terms which can be precise to this interest and are tons too severa to say they all right here. The significant titles are described right here.

Operating an early Donkey required the offerings of a minimum of 3 guys, a boy and a horse. One man, the Choker-Setter, connected the road to a log; an engineer or Donkey Puncher, tended the steam engine; and a Spool Tender guided the whirring line over the spool with a brief stick. An occasional neophyte tried using his foot as opposed to a stick. When he changed into back from the health facility, he might use his new wooden leg as a substitute. The boy, called a Whistle Punk, manned a speaking twine jogging from the Choker Setter’s role out a number of the logs lower back to the steam whistle on the engine. It turned into stated that one ought to inform a Whistle Punk with the aid of his style of blowing the whistles.

When the Choker Setter had secured the road going for walks from the spool, the Whistle Punk tugged his whistle twine as a sign to the engineer that the log become equipped to be hauled in. As quickly as one log became in, or “yarded,” it changed into indifferent from the road. The horse then hauled the line from the Donkey Engine back to the ready Choker Setter and the following log. Later a “haulback” drum turned into introduced, in which a smaller cable will be routed around the “setting” and related to the stop of the heavier “mainline” to replace the line horse.

A more common Donkey group consisted of 9 or ten guys: a Water Tender (the water tank had to be replenished because the steam become fed to and exhausted from the engine), the Donkey Puncher, one or Spool Tenders, two Choker Setters, Timber Fallers (they have been by no means known as “Fellers”), a Haulback Horseman, and of path the Whistle Punk. There will be multiple Donkey Engine and team deployed in a big wood tract so that you can imagine the livid pastime to get those logs to the mill. One engine may haul the logs all the way down to the next engine, depending on the terrain and so on. These had been no longer jobs for the faint of heart. No wimps allowed.

One may ask how could those large, heavy devices be transported across the wooded area over very rough and choppy terrain? They were clearly sort of self-propelled. Since the engine and related system were established on heavy skids, and since it changed into used for pulling, the loose stop of the cable changed into tied to a far off tree, the other cease was wrapped around the winch on the engine, the gears engaged, and the whole meeting pulled itself into function over hill and dale.

When in the very last role, the Donkey changed into lashed to the nearby trees to cozy the apparatus and preserve it from being pulled to the logs. That might be simply the opposite of the favored effect. After all, the Donkey changed into set up on skids so that it’d without problems slide round in the forest. As Sir Isaac Newton once said, probable extra than as soon as, “For every action, there’s an same and contrary reaction!” That response had to be confined, in this example by way of cables.

Once a place became logged out, the Donkey had to be moved to the subsequent grove of bushes to be cut. The hold-down cables would be eliminated, the pull cable attached to a far off tree, stump or different sturdy anchor and the system would drag itself overland to the following vicinity. This become very much like the winch at the front quit of a jeep pulling itself out of creek or canyon or up a mountain.

Twenty-six unique styles of Steam Donkeys were constructed in the Pacific Northwest by means of one firm by myself. In 1913, one organisation built 51 donkeys in a 49-day period, all sold earlier than they left the plant to fill rush orders.

Donkey Engines saved getting larger and larger. There had been drum and 3 drum Donkeys able to haul in logs from the woods over high wires, Donkeys that loaded logs on railroad motors, and touchdown Donkeys that pulled logs to river or lake landings. This turned into massive enterprise again in the ones days in support of the splendid logging enterprise. In the later years of the Donkey technology, a few have been of massive size. For example, one became so big it needed to be hooked up on railroad motors. I doubt this one become dragged round much in the wooded area.