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Technology Trivia question

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

Postby island » Mon May 02, 2005 6:54 pm


So this is some kind of lignocellulosic material?

Do you have any idea when this material was installed?

As for sound absorbing needs, this station at one time had 10 inch steam whistles and from the early 1930s Type F diaphragm horns. From my experience with the latter I believe it would have required a considerable thickness of sound absorbing material to have any significant impact with either of these sound signals. The only sound absorbing efforts with which I am familiar was done during the Coast Guard era by the addition of acoustical ceiling tile in the fog signal buildings for reasons of compressor/engine noise in the building.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Mon May 02, 2005 8:02 pm


David,

If you visit the page on Manitou on my website Seeing The Light you will see that the existing concrete fog signal building was built as a WPA project in 1930, and that the Type-F diaphones were also installed at that time.

As such, the building would always have housed generators and compressors, and thus I would conject that the material was installed to lessen the equipment sound levels both inside and outside the building. Whether it was installed by the Lighthouse Service when the structure was built, or by the USCG at a later date, I have as yet been unable to determine.
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Postby island » Mon May 02, 2005 9:36 pm


The fog signal buildings I am familar with were constructed earlier and contained steam boilers several years before change over to compressed air horns. These were constructed of brick.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Tue May 03, 2005 4:38 am


I agree with your comment about “normal” fog signal buildings.

While I can’t speak for other areas, virtually all of the fog signal buildings on the Great Lakes built before 1899 were of two basic designs, one being timber-framed with walls sheathed with corrugated iron and the other being timber framed with clapboard siding.

The only reamaining corrugated iron sheathed fog signal buildings can be found at Eagle Harbor and South Fox Island, and a few clapboard sided structures still exist at Point Betsie, Twin River Point and Devils Island among others.

Most of these were replaced after 1890 with more substantial brick structures, good examples of which can be seen at Au Sable Point, Thunder Bay Island and Old Mackinac Point.

The fog signal building on Manitou replaced a pair of clapboard-sided structures, and is a notable exception, as it is built completely of concrete.
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Postby mikev » Tue May 03, 2005 7:24 am


Wow, GREAT trivia question and what an arcane piece of knowledge to squirrel away in the memory banks. Thanks for this, Terry!!! ^:)^
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Postby island » Tue May 03, 2005 11:53 am


squirrel away in the memory banks.

I think those squirrels have been raiding my memory bank.

I find the information about the Great Lakes fog signal building interesting. I believe in Maine, but not certain, most of the first fog signal buildings (whistle houses) were constructed of wood. At Whitehead the first one was wood but the second for the backup steam whistle system was of stone. Both were replaced by brick building to contain both steam boilers. Similar brick fog signal buildings may be seen today at former fog signal light stations along the Maine coast.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Tue May 03, 2005 5:00 pm


Since this thread appears to be getting legs of its own, and will get lost at a later date, I am going to create a new topic titled "Fog signal building design," and will continue there.
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Postby Lampist » Wed May 04, 2005 5:17 am


I apologize for not being part of this one sooner. My computer decided to take a "time-out" for about a week and I was no longer communicating with the world.

Manitou Island is a favorite of mine. It was part of my civil engineering area of responsibility when it was manned and I spent a fair amount of time there from the mid-'60s through the '70s dealing with engineering issues there and then the '80 with environmental issues.

Anyway, that "sound deadening material" actually served two purposes. One was was for heat retention. The generators were really a prime source of heat for that building and except for the summer when the temps can be horrible, it's usually pleasant to cool to cold to frigid out there. So the fiber insulation helped keep that concrete box at a reasonable temperature. The other reason, as was already put forward, was for sound deadening. But why? Fog signals are pretty loud wherever they are and this material was pretty unique. The reason was that at Manitou Island the watch room was in the fog signal building as opposed to the dwelling, which was sometimes the case. So the poor guy on watch had to sit in that "box" for their entire watch and it was not pleasant. Even with the sound absorbing fiber it was noisy but at least you could converse and just barely think. I always felt sorry for the watchstanders out there because of having to work in that radio/watch room. No one ever thought to build something quiet where the people could enjoy working. That was life in the old Guard.
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Postby island » Thu May 05, 2005 8:52 am


Jim,

I enjoyed reading you comments about fog signal buildings. I have had the experience of being in one of these many times years ago with the air compressors (1930s vintage) running and the fog horns sounding. It was a brick building originally constructed in 1888 to contain two steam boilers. There was no sound deadening material of any kind on the walls or ceiling. The brick wall did muffle the sound of the two horns mounted outside the building but the diesel compressor noise inside was substantial. Not only could you hear the noise but you could feel it. This building was not used as a watch room containing communication equipment.

Concerning winter heat needs, this building was equipped with a large kerosene heater that was installed when the station was converted from steam to compressed air.

During the steam whistle era a low banked fire was maintained in one of the two boilers to prevent the boiler water supply from freezing and to be ready to fire up when needed to sound the fog whistle. A banked fire was also maintained during warm months to reduce the time needed to get the steam up to sustained operating output with the onset of fog.

Hearing protection was next to nil. Some individuals might stuff cotton in their ears but I do not remember seeing this done often except for when it was occasionally necesssry to climb up the fog horn tower to adjust the horns when they were sounding. Not surprisingly my grandfather suffered from notable hearing loss after 30 plus years of 10-inch steam whistles, diaphragm horns, compressors and generators.

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