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Seeking in-depth info and photos of IOV systems

Forum to discuss all areas of lighthouse technology such as optics, fuels, fog signals, radiobeacons, daymarks, construction, etc.

Postby Terry_Pepper » Thu Mar 31, 2005 7:43 pm


I am in the process of working on a significant upgrade to my section on illumination technology for my website Seeing The Light, and am having a difficult time coming up with much in-depth information and images of IOV (Incandecscent Oil Vapor) systems.

Does anyone have any resources they might suggest, or information or photos you might be willing to share - of course, I will as always give full credit to the source.

Thanks in advance for any assistance anyone might be able to provide.
Terry Pepper
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Postby Optics » Fri Apr 01, 2005 7:01 am


Incandescent Oil Vapor Lamps

One of the first lamps burning gasified oil was developed by Nyberg and Lyth in Sweden in 1881. It worked by vaporizing colza oil and burning it without a mantle as a Bunsen burner does. However, this type of lamp was not efficient at producing additional light output. The next step was the addition of the incandescent gas mantle invented by Carl Auer von Welsbach, in Vienna, in 1885. This led to the first crude kerosene Incandescent Oil Vapor (I.O.V.) lamp, which was installed at the L’lle Penfret lighthouse, by the French, in 1898. It used air pressure and a fuel vaporizer tube where the kerosene was preheated into a fine vapor before it was ignited as a flame. This dramatically increased the oxygen at the flame and provided a brighter flame using less fuel.

In 1901, Arthur Kitson, an American, invented an improved burner in which the oil was converted into vapor under pressure in a retort and then mixed with air in a mixing chamber to form a gas for heating a mantle made of platinum gauze. The platinum gauze quickly carbonized and within a short time Kitson abandoned it in favor of a Welsbach style incandescent mantle made of silk impregnated with zirconia. This lamp produced at least three times the light output of the Argand style lamps previously used. Another similar incandescent burner was developed by C. W. Scott, the engineer to the Commissioners of Irish Lights in 1902, and still other versions were developed by Sir Thomas Matthews, engineer to the Trinity House in England, Pintsch in Germany and by Luchaire and Diamond in France. The I.O.V. lamp was first used in America at the Sandy Hook lighthouse in 1904. Matthews, in England, invented the triple mantle I.O.V. lamp around 1904 and the American Lighthouse Service began testing this lamp in 1913. One of these lamps was first used in America in 1916 at the Cape Lookout lighthouse. Finally in 1921, David Hood further improved and simplified the Kitson burner.

When the keeper wanted to light the I.O.V. he first pumped up the air pressure in the kerosene pressure tank. There was a gauge that he could read to see if he had reached 60 psi. Next, the keeper removed the cap of the spirit lamp uncovering its wicks. He lit the spirit lamp, which burned alcohol or Methyl Hydrate, a chemical that burned with intense heat. He then temporarily removed the mantle and its holder and set it aside. Then he held the spirit lamp and twisted it to the right. The whole assembly moved allowing the burner to move out from under the copper heat retainer to the position where the spirit lamp had been, and the spirit lamp to move to the position where the burner had been. The spirit lamp heated the inverted “U” pipe, under the copper heat-retainer cap, which would later vaporize the kerosene.

After about 8 to 10 minutes the inverted “U” pipe would be hot enough. The keeper then had to turn on a valve at the pressure tank to release a small amount of kerosene. This had to be done very slowly or kerosene, in liquid form, would come out of the oblong hole in the pipe on the left next to the spirit lamp in the photo. Note: this oblong hole is the air inlet hole to allow a large amount of air to mix with the kerosene vapor. He then lit the, now vaporized, fuel at the top of the burner using a long candle. Once the fuel was lit, the keeper placed the mantle holder over the burner and then quickly had to pull the spirit lamp from under the inverted “U” pipe and back to its original position. At nearly the same time, he had to open the pressure valve and let a greater amount of vaporized kerosene pass through the pipes, gather air from the oblong hole and come up inside the mantle. If all went well, the kerosene ignited and as the mantle got hot it began to incandesce. If everything was not right, liquid kerosene would explode out of the burner and destroy the mantle and the keeper would have to start over. The heat from the mantle supplied the heat to vaporize the kerosene that was formerly heated by the spirit lamp. The copper heat-retainer cap maintained the high heat necessary to vaporize the fuel around the inverted “U” pipe while the spirit lamp was in use, but was removed when the lamp was in full operation.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Fri Apr 01, 2005 7:45 am


Tom, thanks for the super explanation.

Clearly, the initial trial at Sandy Hook was a resounding success, as IOV’s were listed in lights throughout the Great Lakes over the following twenty years, with some astounding accompanying increases in candlepower.

Does anyone know if IOV’s were manufactured here in the US? I have seen Aladdin lamps referred to on a couple of occasion, but am unclear as to whether they were manufactured here or in the UK.

Is anyone aware of any location in the Midwest that has an IOV in their collection that I might photograph it, or has anyone come across any good sources for photos or plans of same?
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Postby island » Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:09 pm


Terry.

For what help if any it might be I have a 1950 CG Aids to Navigation Manual containing a dozen pages or so of operating and maintenance information with diagrams for IOVs. If you would like this information, private message me your mail address and I send you a copy.

There is the statement in the text that says, "IOV lamps are manufactured by the Aids to Navigatioin Section of the Coast Guard."

The manual describes two types; Type A and Type B. For each type there were 35mm and 55mm sizes (diameter of the mantle). With Type A the gas was generated in an inverted tube passing over the mantle. For Type B the gas was generated in an annular well surrounding the draft tube of the burner.

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Postby Terry_Pepper » Fri Apr 01, 2005 11:04 pm


Tom is off for a weekend trip, but before he departed, he sent me the following images to accompany his previous posting on IOV systems:

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The photo above shows a Chance Brothers single mantle IOV unit.

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Another single mantle IOV system manufactured by Hood.

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A triple mantle Chance Brothers IOV system

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A single mantle IOV lamp manufactured by Luchiere.

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A drawing by Tom showing the working components
as described in his previous post.


Thanks to Tom for sharing these photos.
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Postby Optics » Sun Apr 03, 2005 5:41 am


Terry, the photo of the Luchaire IOV is of the lamp installed in the Fairport Harbor museum located just east of Cleveland Ohio in the town of Fairport Harbor. You will have to check with the museum as I don't think it opens until May sometime.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Sun Apr 03, 2005 9:06 am


Tom. Thanks for the location of the Luchaire unit. I plan on going to Cleveland on business this summer, and will definitely make a side trip tophotograph this unit.

You are correct about Fairport opening in May. For those interested, the lighthouse museum opens May 28th through September 18th - Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, & Legal Holidays from 1:00 to 6:00.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Tue May 10, 2005 9:38 pm


Does anyone else have any additional images of, or techical information on IOV systems - particularly those used in Great Lakes lights? I would appreciate receiving any additional information.
Terry Pepper
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Postby Fred » Wed May 11, 2005 10:08 am


Terry
I don't know if the following will help at all.
Part of a report (March 1934) from D.A.Stevenson to NLB on refurbishing Langness lighthouse

"....assuming that a 50 m/m "Diamond" oil vapour burner could be procured from the Canadian Government.The "Diamond" burner at Maughold Head was bought from the Diamond Light and Heating Coy. of Canada.but this Company does not now exist."

I've not followed this up but since it was a Canadian company.it might have supplied equipment to Great Lakes lighthouses.
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Postby ron » Wed May 11, 2005 10:37 am


hey i'll have a look
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Wed May 11, 2005 10:52 am


Fred - Thanks for the lead, I will follow-up on it.
Ron - I look forward to seeing if you can come up with anything.
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Postby Optics » Fri May 27, 2005 5:00 am


The photo below shows a Diamond IOV lamp in Nova Scotia Canada. I am not sure, but I think that the Canadian Coast Guard bought the rights to produce the Diamond burner. This style burner is used extensively across Canada.

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