Treating water for the steam shovels

To assure quality, Phelps Dodge Corp. was buying treated water for its steam shovels and steam engines being used at the Sacramento open-pit mine from the Junction mine of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Co.

The Bisbee Daily Review reported Feb. 2, 1919 that a Reisert water treating [that’s what they called it] plant had been started up for softening — or removing minerals such as calcium — from the mine water.Patent application for water treating

Once treated, the water was sufficiently softened for use in the boilers on equipment that would be removing ore and waste from Bisbee’s first open-pit mine.

The water was treated with barium carbonate and lime, which precipitated the soluble sulfates which were the scale-forming constituents of the water as it was removed from the mine.

The water-treatment device had been patented by Hans Reisert in 1909. The German inventor said in his patent application that within the device the ferruginous matter and similar material was removed by oxidation by bringing the air under pressure into contact with the water “in a finely divided state.” The device also regulated the pressure and the water level.

Click here to read the entire patent application.

Buying another shovel

The Review reported Oct. 30, 1919 that J.J. Curtain, who was the steam shovel foreman at Sacramento Hill, had returned from Milwaukee, where he had gone to purchase a steam shovel for the mining work. He had been gone for about a month.

The shovel acquired was a Bucyrus 88C, the newspaper reported, “with reinforced I-beams and frames, costing about $34,000.

Steam shovel falls in

This steam shovel at the Sac pit fell into the old underground workings.

The magazine Steam Shovel and Dredge, in 1920, showed a photo of one of the 88Cs that had broken through some old underground workings. “Although no one was injured, the incident managed to stir things considerably. After a considerable lot of ‘strength and awkwardness’ combined, the shovel was lifted from the cave by means of a cable fastened to the top of a frame equalizer.”

A correspondent for the magazine said the prospects in Bisbee “are decidedly encouraging in their brightness for a long time ahead.” Another 88C had been added to the Copper Queen fleet, bringing the total to six shovels in all on the project.

In the same issue of the publication, a blurb reports the “Brother” T.A. Melville is in Bisbee, which he said is “about as attractive a place in which to live as one could with.” He reported that about 11 crews were on the job at the Sacramento pit, with more shovels to be added later, “88C being used exclusively.” (The magazine was published for the International Brotherhood of Steam Shovel and Dredge Men.


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