Gas Engine Magazine

A Strange Model Pump and the Story of the Real One

By Staff

7574 So. 74 Street Franklin, Wisconsin 53132.

While I was employed as a mechanical engineer by the Chicago,
Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (the Milwaukee Road) a
strange pump was sent to our main shop for repairs. The pump was
supposed to be a ‘very good and powerful pump,’ but the
seals were worn out and leaked.

The centrifugal pump was of aluminum construction and the name
tag was from a now unknown manufacturer in the northwest corner of
the United States (either Washington, Oregon, or Idaho). The intake
and pressure port was through the center of the hollow shaft, so
the water was sucked in the end of the shaft and was pumped out the
other end of the same shaft. The shaft, with its main impeller,
stayed stationary and was held tight in the frame. The housing,
with its attached pulley, was belted to an electric motor and
rotated around the shaft and its stationary impeller. The outside
dimension of the housing was about 36 inches.

The manufacturer was long out of business and the ceramic seals
were obsolete. I made new drawings for adapting a Crane Packing
Company seal to the pump castings. These housing castings had to be
machined to accept the new seals.

After assembly, the pump worked fine and was sent to a
Bensenville, Illinois roundhouse to provide pressure for washing
diesel locomotive trucks before disassembly. I always figured that
if the pump was ever discarded, I would purchase it, and power it
with one of my gas engines at the shows.

The Milwaukee Road was dissolved and sold to the Soo Line. The
Milwaukee shops were closed and I was laid off and found other
employment. I lost track of the pump. By the time I did inquire
into its whereabouts, it had been scrapped.

The strange pump stayed in my mind and I had to recreate it in a
model. I made patterns and castings and machined the parts. After
assembly, I piped it to a tank with hardware store plastic hose and
spun the housing by hand. It pumped water!

The photo shows the model pump. I can only guess that the
original purpose for a pump like this was to insert it in a
pipeline to create or boost pressure. This is a speculation on my

Have any of the GEM readers ever seen a pump like this, or
perhaps own one? If so, please let me know.

  • Published on Oct 1, 1990
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