The Turn Of The Century Electrotherapy Museum - Westinghouse Alternator - Early!
(C) Jeff Behary 2008

I finally got up to Canada to see an early operating alternator that has continuously produced power since the early teens. It was only about 170 miles from me.
The powerhouse is in an old ghost town called Sandon. Was a huge mining town around 1900. When it went bust, the power plant was still operating and folks still lived there.
In the late 50's a massive flood came thru and basically destroyed the town. They built the town over a small creek and tried to control the creek by running it thru a flume under main street. They designed the flume wrong, too many bends and logs built up and washed main street away along with most of the buildings.

Anyway, the powerhouse went thru 4 modifications. It was DC around 1899 and then went AC and the final modification was to add a larger alternator a compressor, a new 500 hp Pelton water wheel, and a back up 3 cylinder Fairbanks Morse Diesel to run the plant in case of water problems.
The alternator was a used one from another powerhouse in the area.

They did not dam any streams, they just buried a pipe and are taking water from 2 streams 300 above the powerhouse . The water is run thru an 18" wooden pipe, much of it still in use. There was even 3 spare NOS lengths of the pipe on the wall back of the old diesel.

The Pelton drives a long shaft and it has one electromagnetic clutch pulley that ran a 2 cylinder air compressor and the alternator.
The B/U diesel was just in case, mainly for the air as it supplied the mines.
The diesel was removed and they finally got it back and in the process of restoring it.
The governor driven off the shaft controls the speed of the Pelton and is belt driven.

The alternator has been in continuous operation since installation. Just shut down for routine maintenance. The coils are original, they just re-insulated them.

There is a 50's "modern" diesel generator there as a B/U for the original water driven one..

Apparently the only problem they have was when the powerhouse was expanded for this current alternator, they did not properly make the extended foundation/ concrete floor and the "wing" the alternator is on is sinking, there is a big crack in the floor, and they have to shim up the alternator about every 10 years.

Unfortunately the powerhouse was dim and not much room to get good pix.

Of note, the Pelton water wheel is very quiet, you basically only hear a humming noise in the powerhouse.

On a side note, Pelton wheels were well know as a very efficient source of power. Their design got the most hp from water and was used a lot for generators and driving machinery.


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