Newsletter of the Finger Lakes Chapter, ACBS

Volume 17, Issue 1.................................................................. March 2007

UPDATED: March 13, 2007

















About Phoebe's Power Plant�

Phoebe's Davis boiler (a Roberts type) is 5 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 5 feet tall. The drum is 11 inches in diameter, and made of 5/8 inch plate. Circulating pipes are 1inch and the water legs are 3 inch - all extra heavy wrought iron. With all its original piping, the boiler is still allowed 180 pounds per square inch (psi) working pressure. Its weight is estimated at 1 � tons.

Boiler feed water is drawn directly from the lake and pumped into the boiler with a two-cylinder steam pump, or with pressure up, an injector. To keep scale from forming, the water is treated with compound. Exhaust steam is quenched by a spray of lake water in a jet condenser, creating 18 inches of vacuum which contributes nicely to the smooth running of the engine. It is a beautifully free-steaming boiler with an astonishing ability to raise steam quickly.*

The boiler feeds a 65 HP Davis compound steam engine with a single 4 � inch high-pressure cylinder and a single 8 inch low-pressure cylinder, with a common stroke of 6 inches. The combination turns a 36-in. three-bladed propeller with a 48-in. pitch at 190 RPM, giving the boat a top speed of 10 MPH. The engine's weight is estimated at about � ton.

The boiler feed pump, injector, air pump, and other peripheral equipment are housed in the 15-ft.-long engine room. Drop side-curtains protect the engine room in bad weather, but when fired up and under way, "It is a blessing to the engineer to have it all wide open!" according to Warren Weiant, onetime owner of the boat.

Weiant continued, "Steaming-up takes about 20 minutes,* then off we go -- no dirt, no noise, no vibration, and practically no bills. The only problem is to get enough wood to burn, so we have a stipulation that guests are expected to bring along a nice piece of firewood, preferably four feet long. One guest turned up with a table leg that raised the steam pressure twenty pounds!"

* By later accounts, it took up to an hour to generate enough steam to get underway.

After John Brashear died, Phoebe was apparently tied up in his estate until 1939. It then moved through a series of owners:

1939-1949 D. Cameron Peck, an American collector residing in the Muskokas, had the boat as part of one of the largest fleets of antique boats on the continent -- 50 steam launches and gas-powered boats. He kept Phoebe in immaculate condition, but in 1948, he had to sell the boat when declining health and maintenance of his expensive hobby became a financial burden.

1949-1953 Frank Miller and Warren Weiant bought Phoebe and hauled it overland to Leamington, Ohio and Lake Erie - a 400 mile journey. They installed a Poulson steam engine and stored the original Davis engine.

1953-1959 Herman Black of Mentor Harbor, Ohio replaced the lighter Poulson engine with the original Davis engine

The Phoebe in Put in Bay, on Lake Erie, Ohio, when it was owned by Warren Weiant, Jr. and Frank Miller in the early 1950's.

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