A boring question

Drake, Mike


Lisa Reber, EAIA’s librarian, shares an e-mail she received recently from a librarian at the Fresno County Public Library (California).

Hello Lisa,

I am assisting a patron who wants to learn more about the manufacture of “pipe logs”; that is, logs that were bored through to be used as pipe to distribute drinking water to a town. He belongs to a historical society in Oakhurst, California, and would like to demonstrate the process of making these pipes. He is interested in manufacturing his own equipment.

We have learned from antique tool sources that augers and reamers were used at one time to make these pipes. We have also learned that some early American cities and villages used this type of pipe for water supply. But we have not found information that describes how these tools were manufactured and used. If we were able to obtain patent numbers for these tools, we could download the patents from the U.S.P.O web site.

Can you put me in contact with someone who is knowledgeable about these tools, and how they were used? Can you tell us where we might find more detailed information: books, a museum, a collector? I appreciate your help.

Mike Drake

San Joaquin Valley Library System

Fresno, CA

(559) 488-3229


Hello Mike:

Well, you’ve certainly contacted the right organization, but I wish I had a definitive answer for you. I am familiar with the process, as I’ve seen it done yearly at the local Goschenhoppen Historians’ Folk Festival (Pennsylvania). Locally these pipes were used largely for wells on farms; municipal systems probably got away from wood piping (and this is just a guess) early to midnineteenth century. The tools [used to make them] are essentially the same as spoon bits used in braces, but they have very long shanks, supported at their outboard end with a sawhorse. I think there are different sizes of shanks, for the different diameter bits that were used sequentially. The handles are cross-shaped and long enough to provide good leverage. Regarding patent records, again I should know more about it, but the bits are essentially nothing special; I am under the impression that, like the wheel, only improvements would be patented (?). I’m sure we have information available in the EAIA library, but a quick review of the book list hasn’t revealed anything obvious. (The Mercer Museum in Doylestown does have pipe boring equipment on permanent exhibit.)

At the left edge in the attached photo from the Goschenhoppen festival – see above], about threequarters of the way down, is a completed, I suspect old, section of pipe which appears to have been dressed to an octagon. They also display the top of the pump. At the left rear is the log being bored. It is sitting on top of two sawhorses and is held in place by what seems to be a twisted sapling. This sapling, or maybe section of a vine, may have been first used green. I’m not sure if the framework at the left end of the log or its neighbor is part of this job. In the center you can see the squared off end of the log with the shaft entering it, plus some loops of string which are used for a straight reference mark along the top of the log, mainly when starting the hole (?????). The third sawhorse (the low one) is visible on the right, with an ‘H’ frame set into its top. It supports the outboard end of the shaft and its height is variable. In front of the man with one suspender you can see two of the arms of the cruciform handle at the end of the shaft.

I am sharing this with other EAIA members who may have more and better information for you.

Lisa Reber for EAIA

Linda Stanton Moves: Book List Has New Address

Linda Stanton, who is in charge of EAIA’s Book Sales, and her husband Gordon have moved from Cypress, Texas, to Murphy, North Carolina. Her new address is 176 Vandora Suits, Murphy, NC 28906, phone (828) 8376533. Linda’s e-mail address remains the same. Please use the new address for Book List business.

Please Renew Promptly

The 2002 membership renewal notices will soon be out. It will be a great help and savings to the EAIA if you will renew your membership at once. Please check your entry in the new Directory and note any corrections on your renewal notice when you return it. If your e-mail address is not in the Director, we don’t have it. Your friends will be increasingly appreciative of that information.

A First for EAIA?

How about a cemetery tour? No, this isn’t an early industry we are featuring, but part of next year’s EAIA’s annual meeting in Rochester. One of America’s finest and first Victorian cemetaries is quite close to our meeting motel, and we will be scheduling a couple of optional guided walking tours. It is really a special place with great trees, spectacular architecture and the final resting place of a number of famous people, including our own D.R. Barton. We’ll also be seeing George Eastman’s mansion and the Museum of Photography, with an optional side trip to Susan B. Anthony’s home. Be sure to put us on your calendar.

Ted Kinsey

Copyright Early American Industries Association Nov/Dec 2001

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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