ASME-Landmark:Stirling Water-Tube Boilers


The Crown Cotton Mills, now named the Elk Cotton Mill, was the first major industrial plant in Cross Plains, Georgia, now known as Dalton. The mill's two Stirling water-tube boilers, built and installed in 1906, are among the oldest existing steam generators in a cotton mill in this country.

Textile manufacturing had established itself throughout towns from North Carolina to Alabama after the International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta in 1880, when the Southern economy needed revitalization. As a center for cotton growers, cattle ranchers, and grain farmers, Dalton was called the New Egypt.

Alan Stirling (1844-1927) designed his first boiler in 1883 and, in 1888, established the Stirling Boiler Company in New York City. He patented the Stirling four-drum boiler in 1892 and then the bent-tube steam boiler in 1893. Water-tube boilers were of value in low-headroom conditions to produce continuous and economical production of steam even when using poor feedwater or under sudden load swings.

The Stirling water-tube boilers at Elk Cotton Mill are 300 hp, coal-fired, hand-fed, and grate-consumed, with three steam drums and one mud drum. With a working pressure of 180 psi, they were designated to provide steam volume and pressure to operate a Hamilton compound engine, a Fleming high-speed engine, an electric generator, a fire pump, and related belts, pulleys, and shafts. They operated from 1906 to 1975 to power mill machines; operated from 1975 to 1986 to supply mill heat; and were placed in standby service in 1986. See ASME website for more information