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Fog-signal building design

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

Postby Terry_Pepper » Tue May 03, 2005 9:18 pm


After my prior “Technology Trivia” thread on sound-proofing material used on the inner walls of the Manitou fog-signal building, and some follow-up comments by David, I thought I might take the time to put together a brief analysis of the evolution of fog-signal building design on the western Great Lakes.

Note that the following generation nomenclature is my own, as I have not seen this subject covered previously, and thus needed to create a reference from which to base any further discussion.

FIRST GENERATION FOG-SIGNAL BUILDINGS
The first generation of structures erected in the 1870’s and 1880’s, all housed steam-powered locomotive whistles. This first design was a relatively simple wood-framed structures with a standard side-gabled roof, its’ sides clapboard-sheathed. The following example was erected at South Manitou in 1875. Among others, similar structures were erected at Manitou in Lake Superior in 1871, and at Marquette in 1874.

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SECOND GENERATION FOG-SIGNAL BUILDINGS
This plan also featured frame construction, but incorporated a Pavilion-hipped roof design. The exterior walls and roof being sheathed with corrugated iron. The interiors of structures of this design were sheathed with smooth iron sheeting, and the wall space packed with a mixture of lime and sawdust. The following example was erected at Whitefish Point in 1871. Among others, similar examples were erected at Eagle Harbor in 1895 and South Fox Island in 1895.

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THIRD GENERATION FOG-SIGNAL BUILDINGS
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, all new fog signal buildings were built to a more substantial design of brick, and a number of the first generation buildings were rebuilt in the same manner. There were basically two designs used for such third generation structures, as follows:

Third Generation Type I
This brick design was a plain building with a Pavilion-hipped roof, and the following example shows such a station built at Forty Mile Point in 1896. Among other locations, similar structures were erected at Seul Choix Pointe in 1895 and at Thunder Bay Island in 1906.

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Third Generation Type II
This design was also of brick construction, but featured a more ornate front gabled design, with four gables. Each gabled wall extending above the roof line, and capped with limestone. Such designs were used to replace older structures at Old Mackinac Point in 1907 and at Beaver Island in 1915.

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FOURTH GENERATION FOG-SIGNAL BUILDINGS
With the adoption of the diaphone as the de facto standard in fog signal technology, a number of aging First Generation buildings were replaced with purpose-designed buildings to house the compressors required for these systems. These buildings tended to be simple timber structures in many ways similar to the initial First Generation structures, only incorporating a cupola to house the diaphone resonators atop the roof.

The following example of such a structure was erected at Outer Island in 1929, a few other examples were erected at Twin River Point in 1919 and at Point Betsie in 1921.

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LATE USLHS FOG-SIGNAL BUILDINGS
Very few new fog signal buildings were erected after 1930, with two notable exceptions, both of which were built to different plans. The photograph below shows the concrete fog signal building erected at the Manitou Island station in 1930, the construction of which was accomplished under the Works Project Administration.

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The photograph below shows the Whitefish Point fog signal building erected in 1937 after the First Generation corrugated iron structure was blown apart in a violent 1935 storm. The building is of cream city brick.

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A FEW ADDITIONAL INTERESTING EXAMPLES
The photograph below shows the 1895 fog-signal building at Eagle Harbor, which is one of the only two corrugated iron Second Generation Fog Signal buildings still standing, the other being on South Fox Island. The cupola was added to house the resonators when a Type-F diaphone was added at the station in 1928.

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This next photograph below shows two fog signal buildings on Lighthouse Point in Marquette. The building on the left is one of two First Generation clapboard-sided structures built in 1880, and the one on the right the Third Generation Type I structure under construction to replace the original structures in 1911. The old building on the left was demolished soon after this photograph was taken by Ralph Russell Tinkham.

The large round structure on the roof of the older building was erected in 1897 and was erected around the steam whistle to deflect the sound out to sea, and away from the sensitive ears of the Marquette gentry, who complained vehemently that the “fiendish fog horn” kept them awake at night! The reflector was built of pine and sheathed with iron plates, and packed with sawdust between the inner and outer surfaces.

Unfortunately, the 1911 structure was subsequently demolished by the Coast Guard in the 1980’s.

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Finally the two photograph below shows the Squaw Island fog-signal building, which is likely the most endangered fog signal building on the western lakes.

Erected in 1892, this building is now in pitiful condition. Pine trees have grown all around the building, keeping moisture against the building, and the walls and roof are bowing dangerously. A classical Third Generation Type I structure, I fear it will not stand many more years.

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Fog signal equipment and buildings are of special interest to me, and since my expertise (if I can lay claim to any) is limited to the western great lakes, I would appreciate learning more of their design, construction and operation at light stations elsewhere.

I would particularly appreciate any information anyone might have on the Super Tyfon and First-Class siren.
Terry Pepper
GLLKA Executive Director
http://www.gllka.com

Seeing The Light
http://www.terrypepper.com

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Postby Hersh » Tue May 03, 2005 11:21 pm


Great info Terry, I love seeing fog signal buildings, and it's cool to be able to compare them like this.
Mike Hershberger
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur

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Postby island » Fri May 06, 2005 3:36 pm


It is the third generation type 1 that one will find at Maine light stations. The are constructed of brick and have granite lintels for the window and door openings. Most were originally built to house coal fired steam boilers and equipment to operate the steam whistles. There would be two boilers present, one for operation and the other for standby. The fog signal building at Whitehead has a 5000 gallon water cistern below the floor to serve as a supply for some of the water demand of the steam boilers.

Your request for fog signal information, is the Super Tyfon the same as the Type G?

The Type G operated at 35 psi and required 24 cubic feet per second of air and the smaller FT2 required only 15 cfs. It was found that sound propagation of the Type FT2 compared favorably with that of the Type G so they ceased installing new G's perhaps in the mid 1930s. The performance testing of the FT2 was conducted at the Cape Henry Fog Signal Testing Station in 1934.

In 1950 the Standard 6 inch Automatic Siren was in use. This device required from 35 to 60 psi and 13 to 18 cfs of air to achieve a normal average weather range of four nautical miles. These were rather simple devices consisting of a hollow slotted rotor fitted into a slotted cylinder. The slots run parallel to the axis of the piston. Air was admitted to the body of the siren surounding the stator through a 3 1/2 inch whistle valve causing the rotor to revolve at high speed. The air is "chopped up" by the slots of both rotor and stator causing the siren-like sound. There were four brass governor segments carried by the rotor the would quickly slow the rotor when the air was shut off.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Mon May 09, 2005 8:43 pm


Since this topic was evolving into a discussion on Tyfon fog signals, I split the topic, and the remainder of the thread can be found under the new topic "Tyfon fog signals" at the followwing URL.
http://www.lighthousing.net/modules.php ... pic&t=4318
Terry Pepper
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http://www.gllka.com

Seeing The Light
http://www.terrypepper.com

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