Inside the Power Plant

A while back I got an interesting email from a reader who has in his possession a piece of original equipment from the Rice power plant, an old trolley for a bridge crane:

I purchased it from university facilities and engineering in 1992, when I was working for Brown & Root.They had us remove it from the Central Plant. It was the original trolley for the plant’s bridge crane and dated back to when the building was first constructed. I remember that I contacted you to see if Rice had any records on who the manufacturer was, but there were none at the time. I have at last found that information and thought you might be interested. The trolley (and its bridge) were manufactured by the Whiting Crane Corporation and  sold to Rice in 1911. It is a unique one of a kind piece of equipment and was made exactly to specifications provided by whomever the architect/engineer was at Rice at that time.The crane was installed before Rice even started its first class. I thought it strange that this equipment was simply sold off in 1992 given the University’s interest in preserving history. I remember that we had to remove brickwork from the top of one of the Central Plants arched entrances to insert a chiller. A special company was called in to carefully document,remove and then put back the bricks exactly as they had been……with perfectly matching mortar.

Here are a couple of pictures of the thing:

Rice TrolleyRice Trolley 2And a drawing:8345DetailsI looked in all the obvious places for an image with this trolley in it, but I couldn’t find one. So I just held on to these, waiting for the day when one would turn up in an unexpected place. Today seems to be that day. Zoom in and look up near the ceiling at the top left. Is that it?

Power plant 6Bonus:


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5 Responses to Inside the Power Plant

  1. Grungy says:

    Yes, that looks like the right thing – it has rail wheels for rolling from side to side on the crane, and the large spoked wheel.
    That is an amazing photo.

  2. Grungy says:

    What it’s missing is the large five-spoked pulley that is closest to the camera.

  3. Mark Kapalski says:

    Its definitely real. I was there when we took it out and replaced it with an electric crane. It was used for the last time in 1992 to lift an instrument package and mount it onto the side of a chiller. The thing was so heavy it made a 15ton capacity crane very light in the rear end.

  4. Gil says:

    I was still working at the power plant when this crane been removed in place of a new crane.
    Gil Cepillo

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