Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Blowing Engine Room

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

 
 
The Blowing Engine Room Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
1. The Blowing Engine Room Marker
Inscription. The blast furnace required a tremendous amount of air - about two tons for every ton of iron produced. These three rooms, known collectively as the blower building, house the equipment used to pump air to the furnaces. Workers called this blast of air the “ wind.” The eight giant steam-powered piston engine in the largest room date from 1890-1910 and were used until the early 1950s. At that time they were replaced by the two turbo-blowers in the adjoining rooms. Despite their size, the turbo-blowers could do the work of all the old blowing engines. The room containing the giant blowing engines was built in 1902 and is the oldest structure at Sloss. The two turbo-blower rooms were added when the turbos were installed.

The Process

Although built in the early twentieth century, the blowing engines represent the pinnacle of nineteenth-century technology. Reciprocating steam engines such as these powered the industrial revolution. Each engine had a steam cylinder (on bottom) and an air cylinder (on top). Steam drove the piston in the steam cylinder up and down, in turn driving the piston in the air cylinder. The moving piston pulled in air, compressed it, and pushed it out. Half the engines served Furnace No. 1, the remainder, Furnace No. 2. The blowing engines operated at 32 to 35 rpm on 125
The Blowing Engine Room Marker (Top) image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
2. The Blowing Engine Room Marker (Top)
pounds of steam pressure, and produced an average blast pressure of 20 psi. In operation they were magnificent to behold. The twenty-foot flywheels and the movement of the gears, cranks, and levers made the machines look almost alive. All these moving parts required constant attention, adjustment, and lubrication.

The twentieth-century technology of the turbo-blowers replaced the blowing engines. The turbos were small, highly efficient air compressors driven by steam turbines. The turbos each blew an average of 43,000 cubic feet of air per minute into the furnace, at an average pressure of 20 psi. It took four blowing engines to produce the same volume of air. The turbo-blowers were in some ways the opposites of the blowing engines-in operation there was little to see, for their moving parts were under cover; and while great care was needed to install and repair them, they required maintenance only at infrequent intervals.
 
Erected by Sloss Furnaces Historic Landmark.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
Location. 33° 31.234′ N, 86° 47.503′ W. Marker is in Birmingham, Alabama, in Jefferson County. Marker can be reached from 32nd Street North. Touch for map. Marker is
The Blowing Engine Room Marker (Bottom) image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
3. The Blowing Engine Room Marker (Bottom)
located next to the north side entrance to the Blower Room, largest building on the grounds of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Marker is at or near this postal address: Twenty 32nd Street North, Birmingham AL 35222, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Boilers (within shouting distance of this marker); Ironmaking (within shouting distance of this marker); The Gas System (within shouting distance of this marker); Slag (within shouting distance of this marker); The Blast Furnace (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Stock Trestle/Tunnel (about 300 feet away); Casting Pigs (about 300 feet away); The Stock Trestle (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Birmingham.
 
Also see . . .  Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark website. (Submitted on June 20, 2011, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama.)
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
Diagram image of the Blowing Engine on the marker (Click to inlarge) image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
4. Diagram image of the Blowing Engine on the marker (Click to inlarge)
The Blowing Engine Room and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
5. The Blowing Engine Room and Marker
The Blowing Engine Room Marker next to entrance to the Blowing Engine Room image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
6. The Blowing Engine Room Marker next to entrance to the Blowing Engine Room
Outside view of the Blowing Engine Room image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
7. Outside view of the Blowing Engine Room
Row of Blowing Engines in the Blowing Engine Room. image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr
8. Row of Blowing Engines in the Blowing Engine Room.
Twenty-five foot fly wheel to one of the blowing engines. image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
9. Twenty-five foot fly wheel to one of the blowing engines.
Crank rod linked between the fly-wheel and piston image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
10. Crank rod linked between the fly-wheel and piston
Gears under the blowing engine. image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
11. Gears under the blowing engine.
Front side view of the gears with revolution counter meter. image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
12. Front side view of the gears with revolution counter meter.
The piston atop of the steam chest. image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
13. The piston atop of the steam chest.
Operators control station to one of the blowing engines image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, August 11, 2007
14. Operators control station to one of the blowing engines
The Old Blowing Engine Room Gauges image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, August 11, 2007
15. The Old Blowing Engine Room Gauges
Control panel to the Indersoll Rand Turbo Blower image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, August 11, 2007
16. Control panel to the Indersoll Rand Turbo Blower
One of the two Ingersoll Rand Turbo-blower. image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, August 11, 2007
17. One of the two Ingersoll Rand Turbo-blower.
Close-up of the fan blades of the Indersoll Rand Turbo Blower image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, August 11, 2007
18. Close-up of the fan blades of the Indersoll Rand Turbo Blower
Furnace No. 2 on the west side of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. image. Click for full size.
By Tim & Renda Carr, June 12, 2011
19. Furnace No. 2 on the west side of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 20, 2011, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. This page has been viewed 884 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 20, 2011, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama.   5. submitted on June 22, 2011, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama.   6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. submitted on June 20, 2011, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement