New Orleans Gunboat Shafts

DaveBrt

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#1
On March 23, 1862, Gen. A. S. Johnston sent the following to the Commanding Officers at Knoxville and Chattanooga:

"Make prompt inquiry as to whether shafting for gunboats at New Orleans has arrived at Knoxville. If it has, and is yet at Knoxville, forward it by special messenger via Atlanta to Mobile, thence to New Orleans."

A like message was sent to the officer at Stevenson, Ala., directing it through Corinth if it was at Stevenson.

Does anyone know the route the shafts (I assume for the Mississippi) actually took and any dates for their passage? Where were they when NO fell?
 

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rebelatsea

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#2
On March 23, 1862, Gen. A. S. Johnston sent the following to the Commanding Officers at Knoxville and Chattanooga:

"Make prompt inquiry as to whether shafting for gunboats at New Orleans has arrived at Knoxville. If it has, and is yet at Knoxville, forward it by special messenger via Atlanta to Mobile, thence to New Orleans."

A like message was sent to the officer at Stevenson, Ala., directing it through Corinth if it was at Stevenson.

Does anyone know the route the shafts (I assume for the Mississippi) actually took and any dates for their passage? Where were they when NO fell?
I belive both wing shafts were aboard ship, but whether connected or not doesn't matter because the two wing screws were on her quarterdeck or the quayside. The middle shaft may have arrived at NO, but not at the ship.
 

DaveBrt

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#3
ORN 2/1/594 3/22/61
Nelson Tift -- When I left Atlanta, the agent said our shaft had not passed that way.

ORN 2/1/597 4/17/62
N. A. Tift -- The after part of the center shaft had been put in and the fittings on the propeller.

QM Genl's Outgoing Mail 3/23/62
To all Agents, QMs, etc -- The Navy is sending a shaft. Give it top priority. "The shaft will be taken in a special car to Charlotte N. C. where it will be necessary to transship it. From Charlotte it will be taken in a special car to New Orleans. The transportation will be by mail train on the whole route."

Johnston's letter in OP is also 3/23/62.

I trust the QMG's letter because of the need for special cars. But I would still like documents and date for its actual travel.
 

rebelatsea

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#4
ORN 2/1/594 3/22/61
Nelson Tift -- When I left Atlanta, the agent said our shaft had not passed that way.

ORN 2/1/597 4/17/62
N. A. Tift -- The after part of the center shaft had been put in and the fittings on the propeller.

QM Genl's Outgoing Mail 3/23/62
To all Agents, QMs, etc -- The Navy is sending a shaft. Give it top priority. "The shaft will be taken in a special car to Charlotte N. C. where it will be necessary to transship it. From Charlotte it will be taken in a special car to New Orleans. The transportation will be by mail train on the whole route."

Johnston's letter in OP is also 3/23/62.

I trust the QMG's letter because of the need for special cars. But I would still like documents and date for its actual travel.
Tift's comment about the centre shaft is interesting, in that it indicates it was in two pieces when received wisdom says that it was forging two half shafts together which was the problem. I have been trying to think of another vessel where the shafts had joints in the middle ( or somewhere in their length)
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#5
Tift's comment about the centre shaft is interesting, in that it indicates it was in two pieces when received wisdom says that it was forging two half shafts together which was the problem. I have been trying to think of another vessel where the shafts had joints in the middle ( or somewhere in their length)
I've always understood that the reason for that was because there was no available single shaft long enough for the central propeller, and so the expedient was resorted to of connecting two shorter shafts together to make a long one.
 

rebelatsea

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#6
I've always understood that the reason for that was because there was no available single shaft long enough for the central propeller, and so the expedient was resorted to of connecting two shorter shafts together to make a long one.
Me too Mark. but Tift implies the centre shaft was still made up of two parts, one at the propellor end and one to be connected to the centre engine. There would then be a mechanicalajoint somewhere in the complete length.
 

DaveBrt

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#7
Me too Mark. but Tift implies the centre shaft was still made up of two parts, one at the propellor end and one to be connected to the centre engine. There would then be a mechanicalajoint somewhere in the complete length.
John,

What is your estimate of how long the center shaft would have been?
 
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#10
John,

What is your estimate of how long the center shaft would have been?
Hi Dave - there are mentions of modifications to a rail car for shipping the center drive shaft. If the assembled shafting is approximately 50 ft long (per Rebel), how long were contemporary rail flat cars on the southern roads? It seems to me that even if you had overhang on a standard car, the maximum length you can carry will be a function of the clearance on turns or curved sections of the road. So the reports of the work done on the salvaged shafts from the Glencoe used to create the center shafting for the Mississippi must have been focused on adding flanges for couplers and or seating for the propeller. You wonder if they used some kind of key way on the prop end of one of the shafts for alignment of the prop hub. They may have also had to turn down that end if they were adapting to propellers supplied a contractor that had a different hub inside radius than the original shaft outside diameter.
 

rebelatsea

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#11
Hi Dave - there are mentions of modifications to a rail car for shipping the center drive shaft. If the assembled shafting is approximately 50 ft long (per Rebel), how long were contemporary rail flat cars on the southern roads? It seems to me that even if you had overhang on a standard car, the maximum length you can carry will be a function of the clearance on turns or curved sections of the road. So the reports of the work done on the salvaged shafts from the Glencoe used to create the center shafting for the Mississippi must have been focused on adding flanges for couplers and or seating for the propeller. You wonder if they used some kind of key way on the prop end of one of the shafts for alignment of the prop hub. They may have also had to turn down that end if they were adapting to propellers supplied a contractor that had a different hub inside radius than the original shaft outside diameter.
As an ex professional, now amateur, railway man I can say that over length loads were / are often carried on two or more wagons with the securing means arranged in such a way that the load slides as the wagons move underneath it. A prime example used to be the jibs of railway cranes carried on a separate vehicle to the crane cab and motive unit, but it is still possible to see bridge girders and the like being transported like this ,even with today's modern flat wagons
 

DaveBrt

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#12
Hi Dave - there are mentions of modifications to a rail car for shipping the center drive shaft. If the assembled shafting is approximately 50 ft long (per Rebel), how long were contemporary rail flat cars on the southern roads? It seems to me that even if you had overhang on a standard car, the maximum length you can carry will be a function of the clearance on turns or curved sections of the road. So the reports of the work done on the salvaged shafts from the Glencoe used to create the center shafting for the Mississippi must have been focused on adding flanges for couplers and or seating for the propeller. You wonder if they used some kind of key way on the prop end of one of the shafts for alignment of the prop hub. They may have also had to turn down that end if they were adapting to propellers supplied a contractor that had a different hub inside radius than the original shaft outside diameter.
Flats were about 33-35 feet long. If the shaft had been placed diagonally on the car, about 35 to 40 feet would have been on the car and another 5 or so feet extending fore and aft of the bed. This should have been no problem, as long as the car ahead and behind were flats with nothing on them for the shaft to run into on sharp curves.

The documents mention ONE car and says it was on a SPECIAL CAR. But we have the gauge change in Charlotte, so the special car had been constructed to run on both gauges (possible) or the modification would not take long to apply to a car on the next gauge. The document says it will be transshipped, so it must be the second option.
 
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#14
As an ex professional, now amateur, railway man I can say that over length loads were / are often carried on two or more wagons with the securing means arranged in such a way that the load slides as the wagons move underneath it. A prime example used to be the jibs of railway cranes carried on a separate vehicle to the crane cab and motive unit, but it is still possible to see bridge girders and the like being transported like this ,even with today's modern flat wagons
Thanks John.
 
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#15
Flats were about 33-35 feet long. If the shaft had been placed diagonally on the car, about 35 to 40 feet would have been on the car and another 5 or so feet extending fore and aft of the bed. This should have been no problem, as long as the car ahead and behind were flats with nothing on them for the shaft to run into on sharp curves.

The documents mention ONE car and says it was on a SPECIAL CAR. But we have the gauge change in Charlotte, so the special car had been constructed to run on both gauges (possible) or the modification would not take long to apply to a car on the next gauge. The document says it will be transshipped, so it must be the second option.
Thanks Dave. Every rail road manager in the south must have promised themselves that they would get standard gauge after the war.
 

DaveBrt

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#16
Thanks Dave. Every rail road manager in the south must have promised themselves that they would get standard gauge after the war.
Actually, no -- the post-war South was almost completely 5' gauge. During the war, what you call standard gauge only existed in parts of Virginia and North Carolina and one road in Alabama.
 

rebelatsea

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#17
Actually, no -- the post-war South was almost completely 5' gauge. During the war, what you call standard gauge only existed in parts of Virginia and North Carolina and one road in Alabama.
The constant statement that Southern roads were of mixed gauges really irritates me. More received wisdom bites the dust ! Thanks DaveBrt
 

USS ALASKA

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#18
Question sirs, were these shafts new manufacturer or recycled from other vessels? The reason I ask is because in reading 'The Confederate Navy: A Study in Organization' by Wells, he writes that after the loss of Norfolk, the only forge in the Confederacy capable of making heavy shafts was a Nasmith at the Charlotte Naval Works, which was brought in through the blockade.
932

Thanks,
USS ALASKA
 

rebelatsea

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#19
Question sirs, were these shafts new manufacturer or recycled from other vessels? The reason I ask is because in reading 'The Confederate Navy: A Study in Organization' by Wells, he writes that after the loss of Norfolk, the only forge in the Confederacy capable of making heavy shafts was a Nasmith at the Charlotte Naval Works, which was brought in through the blockade.
932

Thanks
USS ALASKA
John Clarke & Co. at New Orleans installed a steam hammer and air furnaces as part of a contract with Mallory to construct "an Armstrong gun"
 

USS ALASKA

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#20
John Clarke & Co. at New Orleans installed a steam hammer and air furnaces as part of a contract with Mallory to construct "an Armstrong gun"
Was that equipment lost when the city fell in '62 or was it able to be removed with the retreating Confederates?

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 



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