Boilers & Boiler Rooms




Texas and her sister ship, New York, were the two last U.S. battleships equipped with coal fired boilers.  Since Great Britain had large coal reserves and little oil, these two ships were able to directly participate in World War I while newer, oil fired U.S. ships had to sit it out.  Ultimately, the problems and inefficiencies of handling and burning coal made retrofitting oil fired units inevitable, so six oil fired Bureau Express boilers were installed in Texas during her 1925-27 modernization.  These were small water tube, express type boilers.

The diagram only indicates boiler positions and gives no indication of the maze of pipes and pumps that inhabit the room.  The space between the boilers is filled with feed water pumps and plumbing that had to pump water at pressures as high as 290 PSI.  Steam piping surrounds and interconnects the boilers so that they can work in concert with all of the other boilers, or be individually separated from the system for maintenance or damage control.  Rest of the room is pretty much filled with pipe manifolds, oil feed pumps, strainers and heaters.





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The boiler rooms were pressurized in order to improve combustion efficiency and prevent flashbacks.  This was accomplished with large blowers located directly above each boiler room.  If one looks in the center of the nest of pipes in the top picture, you can see the blower outlet that provided pressure to the room. The lower left photo shows the entry to one of the airlocks that serve the boiler rooms.  Each room has two entries and each entry had to have an airlock to contain the positive air pressure.  Each airlock has entry and exit doors, one of which had to be closed at all times.  The lower right photo is of one of the doors.  Note the small plunger on the door that was pushed once both doors were shut.  It equalized pressure with the room about to be entered.  

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The first photo shows the bottom two thirds of one of the boilers.  Its "A" style is created by a fire box with seven burners mounted on the front, black portion and hundreds of vertical boiler tubes contained within the sloping white portions.  The cylinders at the base of the white sloped housings are the water (or mud drums) and are connected by the water tubes to a single steam drum at the top of the boiler.  Water filled them water drums, the tubes and part of the steam drum.  Firebox temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees F. passed between the tubes and quickly turned water into steam.  The second photo on the first row shows a close-up of a boiler with some of the gauges and controls.  The bottom left photo shows the burners without their nozzles installed.  The last photo shows a periscope that allowed viewing of the exhaust gasses in uptake immediately above the water tube housing.  It allowed inspection of exhaust gasses for smoke that not only indicated inefficient burning, but that could also be seen at great distances to give away the ship's position.

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The top, left photo shows a close-up of a couple of burners with replica nozzles slid in place, but not clipped.  To the right of it is a view inside the firebox and of the refractory brick that lines the inside.  The brick was capable of withstanding and containing the intense heat.  The left picture on the second row show the water tubes from inside the firebox where they attach to one of the mud drums.  The right photo shows the top of the firebox where the two sets of water tubes are joined to the steam drum.

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The two water drums on the lower sides of the boiler took in cooler water that flowed from above by convection through the water tubes in the rear of the boiler.  They were more commonly referred to as mud drums due to their tendency to accumulate sludge that had to be periodically cleaned out.  The left photo shows a close-up of a mud drum with the access cover removed.  The right hand picture is of the inside of the drum.  The rivet heads in the lower, left portion of the drum clearly points out its 1920's vintage.  The entry of scores of water tubes can be seen along the top and right side of the drum.

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The steam drum is mounted at the top of the boiler and reached by a catwalk about eight feet off the boiler room deck.  Feed water entered here and flowed down to the mud drums.  Steam created in the water tubes rose and accumulated in the top of the steam drum where it then exited to the steam lines.  The left photo shows the drum with the massive steam output line attached to the top.  The access cover is off and the right photo is an inside look that shows both the riveted construction and where the two sets of water tubes enter on each lower side.

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The left photo shows one of the steam operated pumps used to supply feed water under high pressure.  It pulled make-up water from storage tanks through the complex manifold and set of pipes seen to the right.  The lower left photo shows the  boiler was fired with bunker oil that had to first be heated to thin it and strained before being pumped to the burners.  The lower left photo shows one of the oil feed pumps fed by the massive oil pipes in the center.  Bunker oil was extremely thick and had to be heated to make it thin enough to be injected into the boiler burners.  The last photo shows one of the heaters used to heat the oil.

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Communicating by phone was impossible without using a phone booth.  Note the tan marks on tnhe walls.  This indicates the level of flooding that occurred when an oil tank ruptured years ago.  The red canister on the deck is a foam generator for capable of fighting oil fires.