Archive for Monday, August 5, 2013

100 years ago: Paper mill accident sends flywheel flying

August 5, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Aug. 5, 1913:

  • "When a safety failed to do its duty on one of the large engines at the Lawrence Paper Mill yesterday evening about 11:30 the big fly-wheel proceeded to do some real flying, in fact it got to flying so fast that it flew all to pieces and the engine is not in operation today. The big wheel measuring almost 20 feet in circumference is shattered to pieces, a pulley is ruined and there is a big hole in the top of the mill through which a portion of the speeding steel circle left the building. The damage is estimated at being close to $1,000. The engine is not completely wrecked but will require considerable repairing before it is again ready for service. Several large pieces of the wheel were hurled far through the air and but for the fact that it was late at night the accident might have been much more disastrous. One piece of the wheel weighing about 500 pounds was hurled over 100 yards and through a rear porch at the Wilder Shirt Factory, demolishing the porch. Smaller pieces were found about the scene of the accident."
  • "The seventh annual tailors' picnic will be held tomorrow at one of the pleasant groves around Lawrence. This is an annual picnic of the tailors and the day on which they all forget all their cares and close up the shop for the whole day. The day is given over to games and stunts of all kinds for which there are various prizes offered by Kansas City woolen houses and in which there is a great deal of competition and fun. The town will be bereft of its tailoring population as well as the wives and families of the same. They will leave the city in the morning about 8 or 9 o'clock and be gone until late at night, taking their dinners along.... There are about 28 tailors in the city, and besides these there will be some guests from Kansas City who represent the different woolen and tailors' trimming houses of that city.... The amusements for the day will consist of foot races, including the bag race, the potato race, the fat men's race, peanut rolling, and most important of all and the pride of the tailor's heart, the horse shoe pitching. This is really the tailors' greatest joy, for after about 15 minutes of this kind of work the 'tough hands' of our tailors look like they had gone through a sausage grinder and their words and language run about along the same line.... The prizes will consist of all kinds of patterns, such as pant patterns, vest patterns and suit patterns. This is the one big stunt of the year that the tailors look forward to."
  • "Temperature today was 103 degrees above. This is the cheering news that is imparted today by the University weather bureau. It means that today is the hottest day of the year, this figure equaling the mark of 103 established on July 15. And there is no relief in sight. The Washington weather man has no consolation to offer, except that it might get a little cooler in the northern part of the state, but he isn't sure about that. There are no rain clouds in sight and the weather man is unable to locate any that are bound in this direction. It looks like a week of sweltering and blistering. The sun continues its work of destruction in the country cornfield and farmers are losing all hope of even a fair crop this year. The stalks are withering and the blistering sun is turning the green blades into a sickly yellow. The outlook is not bright for the country man who is depending upon the corn crop.... The weather conditions are threatened with further complication by a threatened water shortage. The Lawrence water company makes an announcement today that it is unable to obtain a supply of water sufficient for the city from its wells and asks a conservation of water on the part of its customers. The company is being obliged to use some river water now.... The continued drouth and the hot weather is responsible for this condition which threatens to become worse unless great care is exercised. Rain is needed and it is needed badly."


Sarah St. John 4 years, 10 months ago

About that flywheel.... I'm thinking maybe "20 feet in circumference" was really supposed to be "20 feet in diameter," just because they talk about one small chunk of it weighing 500 pounds. A 20-foot circumference would be less than 6 1/2 feet in diameter, if I remember my math lessons correctly, and while that is still a pretty big wheel, would a piece of it really weigh so much? Any mechanical engineers out there?

agitatedbacon 4 years, 10 months ago

I suppose it depends on whether the wheel was solid or spoked and how thick it was. A 6" solid steel wheel with a diameter of 6.5' would contain about 10.2 cubic feet of steel, which would weigh 5,103 lb (steel having a density of about 500 lb/ft^3).

I doubt the wheel was actually solid, but at given that density figure you would only need one cubic foot of steel to weigh 500lb, so the chunk could be fairly small.

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