S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com HISTORY of TECHNOLOGY Phillipsburg Waterworks Page keywords = museum Phillipsburg Peoples Water Company pump house New Jersey metropolitan waterworks Station Chestnut Hill Boston Massachusetts Allis Chalmers Engine boiler turbine generator Lopatcong Township Warren County Friends Transportation Heritage Center

Updated:   04 Jul 2017; 10:30  ET
[Page first posted 08 Jul 2017

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/phh2owks.html

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Phillipsburg Waterworks


Page Index

The History of Technology page
    {unindexed - only links appear there at present} except for:
    BellTelephone Laboraries (Manhattan) and Mercury (h\Hg) (27 Mar 2012).
    The Metropolitan Waterworks {moved to this page 03 Feb 2017}.

The History of Technology page
    The Metropolitan Waterworks, Chestnut Hill High-Service Pumping Station, Boston.
        Mood Shots (cell-phone snapshots).
        Holly-Gaskill Pumping Engines.
        Leavitt-Riedler Pumping Engine.
            The Leavitt's Boiler.
        Allis Pumping Engine.
        Worthington-Snow Pumping Engine.
    Turbine Engines (oil- and gas-fired).
    Architects and Architecture.
    Low-Service Pumping Station (Station #2).
    Coal, Pipe, Boilers and Such.
    More SBIII Snapshots.

This History of Technology Phillipsburg Waterworks page
    (unindexed so far; please scroll down the page.)

[See the disclaimer on the main History page and AUTHORITY on my Home Page.]

The Phillipsburg Waterworks
Peoples Water Company Pump House
Phillipsburg, New Jersey

(Image courtesy of A. Karnes and © 2017 - all rights reserved)

Now being restored and preserved in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

This pump house is near one of my most-revered technical history sites, the former Ingersoll-Rand plant. 

I-R Phil 1 I-R Phil 2 I-R Phil 3
(All photos taken 12 May 2001 by and © 2001 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail images; click on pictures for larger images.]

I-R built the engines for the first commercially-successful production oil-(Diesel-)electric locomotives ("boxcabs") there.

Here's a free plug for one of the best diners around, the Key City Diner, out on the east end of town, where my folks used to stop on every trip from the NYC metro area to the Harrisburg area, even to the extent of buying a pie each time back, and keeping a tin, exchanging it each trip!  With the opening of I-78, looping south of town, I have tended to bypass the diner but often detour onto U. S. 22 solely for the stop.

KeyCityPhilE KeyCityPhilW
(Google Maps images by S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
Key City Diner approaching from the east (l.) and west (r.)

Also in town, running over the Delaware to Easton, Pennsylvania, is the Northampton Street Bridge (at lower left in the satellite view, the "Free Bridge" (just south of the toll U. S. 22 bridge), which sustained major damage during Hurricane Diane when floodwaters, 44'/13m above normal water level, topped the roadway on 19 Aug 1955, and, although the bridge withstood this topping, large floating wooden pieces of the Portland-Columbia covered bridge which washed out upstream jammed against the bridge and tore away the center of the span (you can see the difference in the restored girders and a slight sag even today) {after Wikipedia}.

PhbgNhamptonBr4 PhbgNhamptonBr6
(photos from Wikipedia)

Phillipsburg is also the western terminus of the old Morris Canal, itself a marvel of technology in its day (1829-1924):

PhbgMorris PhbgPumpIRPhbg
(photos by (l., cropped) Historic American Buildings Survey - http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/nj0131.photos.110963p/
This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division
under the digital ID hhh.nj0131. and (r.) Wikimedia Bestbudbrian (linked page does not exist)

The entry arch from the Delaware River (opposite Easton) after abandonment
(l. - looking north) and at present (r. - looking south).

The Peoples Water Company Pump House

(Image from Wikimapia)

One of the people working to restore the huge 1913 Allis-Chalmers vertical triple expansion (VTE), coal fired, steam powered water pumping engine in Phillipsburg's Peoples Water Company Pump House is my friend Alexander Karnes; as well as being an accomplished steam engine engineer, he is also an amazing limner (artist/illustrator/cartoonist) and as such he is hosted on his own page on this site.

[A tall smokestack/chimney was demolished relatively recently; Alex reports that quite a bit of debtris tumbled down the exhaust flue and landed in the smokeboxes of two of the boilers.  He spent a lot of time cleaning it all out and a more complete job must be done with a pressure washer.]




(Images from Wikimapia)

History of the Peoples Water Company Pump House

    (furnished by A. Karnes - edited slighty by SB,III)

Peoples Water Co. was founded in 1885.  The former Phillipsburg water pumping plant, with its four story tall steam pumping engine survives on property now owned by the County of Warren; The Friends of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center has a custodial lease on two buildings and approximately 5 acres from the County.

The reinforced concrete pump house and the Allis Chalmers, vertical triple expansion (VTE), coal fired, steam powered water pumping engine were both built in 1913.  The Allis Chalmers engine was manufactured in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the builders plate carries shop (serial) number 1065.  Below the pit floor level is an 8' x 8' x 225' chamber or cistern which is at the approximate level of the river and collects ground water (the water level rises and falls with that in the river).  The engine cylinder diameters are: High pressure 21", intermediate 38", and low 56", with a 36" stroke.  The Allis Chalmers VTE engine was probably moved to the site by rail, in pieces, and assembled before the building was completed.  Blueprints of the engine were apparently taken by Garden State Water Co., successor to Peoples, and have unfortunately disappeared.  Carl Merwarth, one of the last Chief Engineers of the plant, stated that he was unaware that the piston rings had ever been replaced in the VTE engine.

The low pressure cylinder was operated on a vacuum created in a condensing chamber with the cold incoming water.  The two 12' diameter flywheels are 10" wide at the rim.  The engine is equipped with an overspeed trip - fly ball governor.  The capacity of the reciprocating steam pump was 4,200 GPM or 6,000,000 gallons per day, at 36 RPM. Below each of the three cylinders is a vertical, single acting plunger type pump.

The reservoir was located near the top of Marble Mountain, at an elevation of 445' above sea level and the water had to be elevated approximately 265' from the level of the cistern.  In order to accomplish this, the water pressure at the engine had to be about 150PSI.  From the elevated reservoir, the water flowed by gravity throughout the Phillipsburg distribution system.  The former open reservoir was replaced by a steel tank many years ago {as of 2017}.

The large-diameter water piping was cast locally at Phillipsburg's Warren Foundry and that 1856 plant remains in business as the former Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company, bought in 1975 by McWane Ductile, "Manufacturers of Quality Waterworks Products".

A tap into the high pressure water main at the pump house drove a small enclosed Pelton wheel which belt-powered a DC generator to provide electric lighting within the pump house.  Outside power was eventually brought into the building for lighting and later for the gas burners when two of the boilers were converted to burn gas.  A backup Terry steam turbine pump was installed in 1914 with identical pumping capacity as the VTE.  The 524HP turbine was manufactured by The Terry Steam Turbine Co. of Hartford, Conncticut, with serial number 5825.  It ran at 4,040RPM with reduction gearing to the two stage Cameron (A.S. Cameron Steam Pump Works) centrifugal pumps and DC generator.  The generator powered a General Electric 50HP DC motor (230 volts @ 180 amps) which ran at 1150RPM to pump the water up from the cistern to the centrifugal pumps.  The turbine required all four boilers to supply steam, whereas the Allis Chalmers VTE unit could be operated on only two boilers.

The four horizontal return tube boilers were built by D.M. Dillon Steam Boiler Works of Fitchburg, MA.  Each is 5' diameter by 18' long and are of the fire tube type.  They are double butt-seam riveted with compensation straps outside and inside and very sturdy.  Boiler operating pressure was 125PSI.  Two of the boilers were modified to be fired by gas in the final years.  The plant was used continuously until 01 Mar 1969, when a new well system with submersed electric pumps was put in service.  The steam pump was put on standby status but was test run annually until 1982, when it was last operated.

Coal was delivered by the Bel Del/Pennsylvania RR at the rear of the plant, where the earthen ramp, rails, and deteriorated reinforced concrete trestle survive.  Coal was brought into the boiler room by wheelbarrow and piled six feet high in front of the boilers to keep it from freezing in winter.  The plant engineer and fireman lived in separate houses on site, near the pump house.  On the river side of the coal trestle/sidetrack is the north end of Hudson Yard, where the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway and the Pennsylvania Railroad interchanged freight.

The final test runs of the pump were documented on video by Conrad Milster, a steam engineer employed by Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and Dr. Leedom Leferts of Drew University and witnessed by many interested invitees.  Dr. Leferts donated his several reels of 3/4" video tape to the Friends when he retired from Drew University.

Consumers New Jersey Water Company assumed ownership in 1969 and more recently, Aqua took over.  The Pump House and 96 acres of property, designated as the Marble Hill Natural Resource Area, was acquired from Consumers by Warren County in 1999.  As part of the deal, Consumers had the deteriorated and failed Pump House roof replaced.  Shortly after, the Friends leased the facility and the NJ Youth Corps of Phillipsburg assisted in installing screening over broken windows to keep birds out.

The lead engineers on the project to restore the engine to steam and with experience on Corliss-valve steam engines as well as many other types are Alexander Karnes of Mystic, Connecticut, and Philip Beard of Hopewell Junction, New York, with permission to perform the project granted by Ken Miller of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center.  The project and funding will be through the NJTHC, a registered 501(c)(3) organization.

Work accomplished thus far:

Mechanical force-feed oiler has been removed for service.

Much of the valve gear has been reconnected except for the parts that require service.

HP dash pot plungers and one IP dash pot plunger have been removed for repair. (The remainder still need to be removed.)

Two out of two broken dash pot cranks have been safely removed.

Overhead crane has been oiled, serviced and is now useable again.

HP valve gear completely un-stuck and now moving by hand.

Oil ports added to all back valve covers so penetrant can be poured in.

Water rams disconnected.

These are some B&W mood shots of the interior:

Peoples7 Peoples8

Peoples9 Peoples0
[Pictures from The National Museum Of Industrial History and Bethlehem Steel (Bethlehem, PA) and
The New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center (Phillipsburg, NJ).]

Alex Karnes sent along these photos:

PeoplesAK5833 PeoplesAK5840

PeoplesAK5856 PeoplesAK5872

(Images courtesy of A. Karnes and © 2017 - all rights reserved)

Here are pictures of some labor going on (to be linked to work accomplished, above).

PeoplesAK5799 PeoplesAK2248

PeoplesAK2252 PeoplesAK2257

(Images courtesy of A. Karnes and © 2017 - all rights reserved)

PeoplesAK5809 PeoplesAK5810

PeoplesAK5865 PeoplesAK5877

PeoplesAK2229 PeoplesAK2309
(Images courtesy of A. Karnes and © 2017 - all rights reserved)

{captions to follow}

This restoration work in being done under the auspices of the Friends of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center, an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization [ID#22-3010096], and requires significant infusions of cash to pay for materials more than anything else; donations may be sent to:

        The Friends of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center
        178 South Main Street
        Phillipsburg, New Jersey  08865

    [Telephone contact for donations:  NJTHC Treasurer Ken Miller at 1-908-217-3553]

Kindly make check or money order payable to "Friends" or "F of NJTHC".

More to follow.

See also the History of Technology Metropolitan Waterworks page (Boston's Chestnut Hill High-Service Pumping Station),
the History of Technology page, and the main History page.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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