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Stockton California: Early Winton Automobile Pumping Water

Before the automobile became fairly common, stationary internal combustion engines needed to be moved to the location where power was needed to run machinery. With a motor vehicle it was only a matter of driving one to the spot where it was needed, positioning it, jacking it up and installing a flat belt used to run a piece of machinery.

In this case in Stockton, California, a pre-1906 Winton 30-hp touring car is the motive power used to run a water pump that apparently is pumping out a flooded basement. Somehow we do not believe that this arrangement would receive OSHA approval today. Note the worker in the center of the photo who could easily get his coat caught between the drive belt and the rear tire, and the wooden box behind him used to keep the belt tight.

Share with us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the Michael J. Semas Collection.

21 responses to “Stockton California: Early Winton Automobile Pumping Water

  1. Stockton wasn’t that far from San Francisco, and I notice that the building seems damaged in other ways — the broken and apparently boarded windows. I wonder if this wasn’t fallout from the ’06 earthquake.

    And could the “graffiti” have been put there by public safety officers, tagging the condition of the building?

    • Damage from the ’06 earthquake in Stockton was minimal. However, the downtown flooded regularly, with the last and worst being in 1907, prompting the construction of the diverting canal.

  2. I presume the other rear wheel is on the ground. I wonder how hard this was on the spider gear bushings?
    Belting various things to a rear wheel wasn’t that uncommon in those days.

    • As pump is turning clockwise ,car wheel is turning counter…so car is in reverse …and you always need to have the other wheel still unless you have differential lock…(in those years?).

      • The pump is turning clockwise.
        The car’s wheel is on the driver’s side of the car and is turning counter clockwise therefore the car is in a forward gear, not reverse.

  3. I was hoping that I could find that Joe Gianelli had a car registered before 1909. The earliest registration that I could find for him though was for June 1911. No marque is given, but he was provided a disc with the number 51207 with which he needed to have a license plate made for his car.

    I did find that he bought a 1913 Winton. I don’t know the original disc number for this car, but he may have transferred the license plates from the first car to this one. When California began issuing license plates in 1914 he was provided plates with the number 86095 on them. This second Winton had serial number 16042, and it had a touring body as well as a six-cylinder engine.

    Joseph Gianelli came to America from the Genoa region of Italy in 1873. In 1880 he established a grocery store at Hunter and Market Streets in Stockton, California selling wholesale and retail groceries, wines, liquors, cigars, and tobacco. By 1920 this had changed to grocers, bakers, hotel and beverage supplies. He and his wife Louise, had at least seven children., and he was also one of the Directors of the Commercial and Savings Bank of Stockton. He died in 1923, but the business survived until 1929.

    • Ace, your info is superb, cant tell how much I enjoyed reading about Mr, Gianelli, thank you.
      I bet you have a large family tree on internet.

  4. My grandfather, who was born in Stockton, told me that the City of Stockton and areas to the south would regularly flood until the Diverting Canal was built. I did an internet search and discovered that this project was begun in 1907 and was completed in 1910. It seems that mining debris from the gold rush activities raised the riverbeds upstream of Stockton, allowing for the flooding. Until this uncontrolled flow was diverted into the San Joaquin River, the problem persisted. It did not fully control the problem, until a dam was built in the foothills east of Stockton. If I were to hazard a guess, I would date this picture to 1910 or earlier.

  5. There are several things about this rigging that bears investigation. Unless reverse gear is too slow , the belt does not need to be twisted. They are using a forward gear, as indicated by the pump configuration. And it’s always been my experience that the wheel working against the least resistance is the one that turns, unless it is a posi-trac. Apparently the blocked wheel(s) creates more resistance than the pump. My depth perception of the picture may be wrong, but it looks as if at least one of the gentlemen on the left is in front of the car. If the pump happened to lock up, if the car somehow fell from the jack, let me count the ways……

    • It appears that both front wheels are chocked, and it’s probably safe to assume the far rear wheel is on the ground carrying the full weight of that corner of the car. Hopefully it is chocked with a wedge in front. The near rear wheel appears to be supported by two wood blocks bearing a wood cross piece, pretty secure. The centrifugal pump is delivering a pretty good stream from at least a 3″ discharge pipe, the drive ratio from the tire looks like about 1:6 give or take.

  6. It looks like a keystone kops ‘anything that can go wrong, will’. First, the car falls from the support and lurches forward suddenly. The guy leaning on the back of the car falls and cracks an elbow. The guy in the car does a double back-flip over both seats and gets a very painful sprained ankle and a broken hip. As for the guy in front, well, we should really keep this a family channel.

  7. It’s a good thing that detachable/demountable rims hadn’t been invented yet, or the man’s pants could have been wound up in the wheel hardware, too! As previously stated, Stockton flooded regularly until the Diverting Canal was dug, so this may not have been the first time that this setup was used? There seems to be a certain smugness on the faces of most of the men in this picture, though.

  8. In the earlier years, flooding in that area was not un-common. I am guessing that the car, operator and centrifugal pump were a team , probably a Farmers irrigation pump setup, for emergency cellar pumping – out! centrifugal pumps require “being wet” (flooded) to “Prime”, typically , “valving” and “pre-filling with water” comes into the picture, when “pumping from below “. This requires a Centrifugal Water Pump Operator’s Skill, to initiate a “prime”! The the differential makes both wheels go forward at slightly different speeds if going around a corner, because of the differences in Radii on each side. It cannot go forward, if one wheel slips and the other is gripping the pavement. this is why 2 chains are required ! Most centrifugal pumps require high shaft speed , = car in High Gear. Note that the spokes are a blur! The belt is in One twist: “Mobius Mode” the inside becomes the outside” , alternately, per each length revolution distributes the wear, & reduces Static Electric effects , while reversing rotation, in the process! It would be very rare for any early differential to have any kind of “POSI- LOC”, as people were just getting excited about that in 1966-67. It was pioneered in Big rigs, etc., before that. Seeing a slight reverse movement is oil- coupling , only. Don’t worry about the spiders either , unless there is already something wrong with them already! Engine HP must match pump HP consumption which is limited also by the amount of inlet water column in height.

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