San Francisco County








THE PELTON WATER WHEEL COMPANY was organized May 2, 1888, by several of San Francisco’s most prominent business men.  The present officers of the company are Mr. A. P. Brayton, president; Mr. A. P. Brayton, Jr., vice-president and manager; Mr. J. V. Kunze, secretary and treasurer, Mr. E. L. Brayton and Mr. A. H. Phelps, with the above-named gentlemen, comprise the board of directors.

      This remarkable wheel was originally invented and patented by Lester A. Pelton, then of Nevada City, California, in October, 1880.  Since then, however, a number of improvements have been made in the original invention, all of them being duly patented.

      The enterprise displayed by this company in introducing their wheels and motors, not only in the home market but in nearly all the countries of the world, is most commendable, and the example set by them should be followed by all our manufacturers in other lines.  It certainly is no exaggeration to say that had San Francisco a few more such enterprising firms as the company here referred to, there would be no occasion for the large imports of machinery now made here from the East.

      A brief reference to some of the most important power installations made by this company will not, we think, be out of place here, and certainly will interest all who are concerned in the prosperity and success of the manufacturers and industries which have done so much to build up the metropolis of the Pacific coast.

      One of the earliest and most important installations made by this company, in connection with the electric transmission of power, is that in the shaft of the Chollar mine, in the Comstock lode, where six of these wheels are working under a vertical pressure of 1,680 feet.  These wheels are coupled direct with dynamos, and each of them develops 125-horse power, using a nozzle only 5/8 inch in diameter, the efficiency obtained under these extraordinary conditions approximating 88 per cent.

      Numerous other installations for the purpose of generating power for electric transmission have been made, notably among them are those at the Roaring Fork Electric Light and Power Company’s station at Aspen, Colorado, and the Coeur d’Alese Silver and Lead Mining Company, at Burke, Idaho.

      Among the large plants installed recently, where the power developed is used directly, may be mentioned the one at the Columbia River Paper Company’s Mills at La Camas, Washington, where ten Pelton wheels are now in operation under a head of 110 feet, developing approximately 1,000-horse power.

      The wheels last referred to were put in in place of turbines, which were found by the paper company to be utterly inefficient and unreliable, as they were constantly breaking down and continually requiring repairs.

      Another instance of the superiority of this wheel over turbines under moderately low heads is shown in the experience of the Electric Light Company of Santa Ana, Salvador, who after attempting for upwards of a year to run their dynamos with turbines, under a head as low as sixty feet, found that it was impossible to do so with any degree of economy or reliability, and were obliged to substitute Pelton wheels in their stead.  Since the change has been made the company have experienced no further trouble whatever, and the enterprise, which prior to the change in wheels above referred to threatened to prove a failure, has now become an assured success.  Hundreds of instances similar to those referred to could be cited did space admit, all going to prove conclusively the genuine merit and superiority of the Pelton wheel,—a superiority which is admitted by the most eminent engineers both in our own country and abroad as well.

      The great increase in the Pelton Company’s business has necessitated an Eastern branch, with works located in Jersey City, and offices at No. 143 Liberty street, New York.

      By this arrangement the company is enabled to handle to better advantage their large Eastern and foreign export business, as well as to save their customers the large sums heretofore paid for overland freights.

      The main works and offices of the company in San Francisco are located at Nos. 121 and 123 Main street.



Transcribed by Donna L. Becker.

Source: “The Bay of San Francisco,” Vol. 2, Pages 469-471, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2006 Donna L. Becker.




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