[D8831AAC], Letter from Corbin and Goodrich to Theodore H Babcock, January 10th, 1888


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[D8831AAC], Letter from Corbin and Goodrich to Theodore H Babcock, January 10th, 1888

Editor's Notes

"We have worked under some disadvantages in investigating the West Chester Explosion; as we had no opportunity to see the wreck until several days after the accident. ### But we find the explosed boiler to have been 16 feet long 60 inches in diameter, with 84, 3 inch tubes, and a dome 30 by 30 in. ### It was made of C.H. No. 1 flange iron, Glasgow Iron Co. The thinest places we find in the sheets show 34-100 of an inch. But this may have been somewhat reduced by the explosion; and we think it would have been passed as 3-8 thick. The longitudinal seams were double rivetted, with 3-4 inch rivet holes, and a pitch of 3 1/2 inches. The break occurred along the horizontal seem of the first plate, and then tore down the head seam and the first curved seam back of it; and mostly along the line of rivets. ### We find on this horizontal seam the strongest evidences of old fractures. These fractures extend some six or eight inches, and then the iron was solid for two or three inches, then another old fracture of six or eight inches more, and then a small space of solid iron; and so it goes on for nearly the whole width of the sheet. We are not now prepared to say how long these old breaks had been there before the explosion occurred; but several months at least. From what information we can get the pressure at the time of the explosion was about 110 pounds. This is more than our Philadelphia ordinance would have allowed; but still we should not have considered it unsafe; nor do we think it would have caused any trouble had the boiler been sound. ### The boilers were all very clean; the feed water apparently being very good. We think the boilers were pushed very hard, as they were short of boiler power, we think. We do not think the engineers were of a very high order; but the Superintendent, who was killed, seems to have been a very competent man. We had often tried to insure them, but they belonged to the numerous party, who thought in their case there was no danger. Had we inspected this boiler within three months of the accident, and POSSIBLY any time after it was made-, we think we should have discovered the defects and saved the accident. ### We understand they will now discard the 3 boilers they had in use, and reserve only the new steel one, that had not been set when the explosion occurred. This boiler we find well made, and of good material. The only defect we discovered was one defective brace rivet. We should be willing to insure that boiler to run at a pressure of 110 pounds. ### We have recommended the Electric Light Co. to have some of the iron in the exploded boiler tested; and also had the seam where the old fractures were, preserved, so that the rivetting can be more carefully examined. ### If there are other points in which you are interested, let us know, and we will see if we can give any information." Yours very truly, CORBIN & GOODRICH "I was talking to Pierson Embree the other day, and he informed me that he had just dismissed a boiler insurance agent with the advice that the best insurance agent for a boiler was to take care of it, for in his experience all boiler explosions were the result of carelessness." Dr. J.B. Wood




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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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