Hamilton Steam Museum Trip

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On February 23 Miss Hill’s Grade 8 class learned about life in Hamilton from our excellent tour guide, Janet. She invited students up to participate in a demo that showed how water was pumped into Hamilton from 1859-1910.  Students also learned about the 1910 Immigration Act with a hands-on activity involving original artifacts.

The building and the engines of the Museum are one as they were built together. Construction started in 1856 and it took 3 years to finish.  When the Pump House was no longer in use, the boilers were unfortunately sold off for scrap metal, but luckily, because the engines were built right into the building, the building was too difficult to demolish. So instead of steam, the double engines are powered by electricity and it was amazing to see all the massive parts in motion.

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Each engine weighs 150 tonnes and there are 105 parts on each engine, so the oiler had to oil 210 parts every hour for an 11- hour day! (All this hard work for $1.75 a day!) Another job was a stoker who shovelled 12 tonnes of coal a day into the boiler with the same pay and hours!

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The flywheels are 8 metres across and weigh 22 tonnes each. (the weight of 11 elephants) Each of us had the opportunity to move one of the heavy flywheels using only a long bar as a lever and surprisingly, it was relatively easy to do!

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The students had learned about steam power during their block on the Industrial Revolution so this trip to the Hamilton Steam Museum was a wonderful accompaniment to their studies.

Thanks to the other parent drivers, Patti Zettel and John Spilotro.

Barbara Frensch, Grade 8 Parent

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