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The Water Wheel Album: Page Six

The Fitz Water Wheel Company Hydraulic Engineers
Hanover, Pennsylania, U.S.A.
The brass plaque that is attached to an outboard arm of each
I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheel and inside of each historical restoration.

The Fitz Water Wheel

The Equality Mills, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, now owned by Honorable Alexander Parks. Two Fitz Water wheels built in 1870 by John Fitz are still in daily operation at this mill. At the old Fitz Foundry (the Tuscarora Iron Works), across the creek from the mill, the first iron wheel ever built by Samuel Fitz, in 1852 is still in operation.

Description of the I-X-L

The I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheel is built entirely of iron and steel. Its high efficiency is due to its correct principles of design and the high class workmanship and material used in its construction.

The word "Overshoot" is simply an arbitrary spelling which we adopted some time ago to distinguish our wheel from the ordinary "overshot" water wheel. for the sake of brevity, out wheel is frequently referred to, merely as "The I-X-L," or often as "The Fitz Water Wheel." I-X-L means that their water wheels excel above all others.

We do not with to convey the impression that the I-X-L is the best wheel for all locations or for all conditions. Our Field is in the development and improvement of small water powers. By small water power we mean those having falls of less than sixty feet and volumes of water smaller than 3,000 cubic feet per minute for single units of wheels. Even within these limits, there are certain conditions to be met with occasionally which call for other type of water wheels. Within its own field,m however, there is no other type of water wheel in the world that can compete with the I-X-L. Put you conditions up to our engineers and let us tell you what we can do for you. We will guarantee in every case to greatly improve your power or to let it alone.

The size of an I-X-L, depends largely upon the situation, but we usually make the diameter about two feel less than the amount of the available head.

The force of the water above our wheel is not lost but act by its impulse upon the wheel just as it acts on a turbine or impulse wheel. In other types of overshot wheels this force is almost entirely wasted by the shape of our buckets and our method of applying the water to the wheel enable us to utilize this impulse. As will be seen from an operating original Fitz Water Wheel, the water spurts across our smooth steel chute at a tangent to the crown of the wheel. It enters the bucket a little back of the vertical center line of the wheel and glides along the curved part of the bucket, striking the heel of the bucket at right angles to the radius of the wheel drawn to that point. Thus its power is communicated to the wheel in the direction best adapted to produce the greatest effect.

A Wastefuil Wood Wheel

I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheel

The curve of the bucket is not the same in all sizes of wheels. It is varied to suit the particular requirements. Proper allowance is made in all cases to permit the exit of air from the buckets when water is entering. The shape of the bucket is suck as to retain the water until all possible power is taken from it. The water is actually retained in the buckets almost to the level of the surface of the tail race.

The Housings of the I-X-L, instead of coming flush with the buckets as in a wooden wheel, are extended so as to prevent any water splashing over the sides. Thus not a drop of water is wasted and the water is discharged in the tail race with all its power extracted. Compare the clam stream flowing from the I-X-L, with the rushing torrent discharged by the turbine and you will see one of our strongest points. No turbine gets more than 705 of the energy out of the water, and the momentum of the tail race represents a considerable part of the remaining 30%.

Practically no power is wasted by friction in the bearings of our wheels. Fitz Wheels are so perfectly balanced and run with so little friction that a little child can turn the largest wheel we ever built, with one hand. Thus, we are able to transmit undiminished to the jack-shaft, all the energy we have extracted for the water.

With each I-X-L, we usually furnish our "water-tight" iron gate and steel "Chute." The gate of the I-X-L is a vary valuable feature. On small streams in very dry weather, it is essential no save all the water possible. A wood wheel or a turbine will often allow enough water to leak away at night through its defective gates to run an I-X-L for several hours a day. The I-X-L gate consists of two parts, a smoothly planed iron frame, and a movable slab which is both planed and scraped to insure a very accurate fit. Its is tight and at the same time it is almost perfectly trouble-proof. The chute is the steel trough which carries the water to the gate to the buckets of the wheel. This piece is necessary in every case, in order to apply the water to the wheel at the proper tangent.

The object of all wheels is to utilize the weight of falling water and to develop power thereby. The I-X-L, does this in the most direct manner and therefore with the least loss. Turbines and other wheels, aim to develop their power in an indirect manner by reaction or impulse caused by pressure. To give even moderately good results they must be geared to run at certain speed, under a certain pressure and using a certain amount of water. On a variable stream, such as most are, these conditions are constantly changing, thus causing great loss of efficiency to the turbine. Since the overshoot depends mainly on the positive weight of the water and only in a small degree on impulse, it can run fast or slow, with high head or low head, at full gate or fractional gate, with equally high efficiency, and developing power in exact proportion to the amount of water used.
The motion of the I-X-L, is slow. In order to drive fast running machinery the wheel should be equipped with suitable gearing to obtain power similar to that of the water turbine or steam engine.

The I-X-L Pitch Back Wheel

The pitch back type of wheel is useful for certain situations where the fall is too low for an overshoot and there is too little water for a turbine. For situations where a pitch back is needed, we build the wheel as it should be built.

The Steel Poncelot Wheel

Where, the fall is too low for any other type of water wheel the Poncelot Wheel may be sued with great success. Our Poncelot Design is in accordance with the best engineering principles and the wheel is built the same skill and care that we devote to the Overshoot. We are glad to have an opportunity to furnish advice and estimates for the development of any water power for a variety of types of water wheels.

The I-X-L with Bevel Master Wheel to Drive Buhrs

This is one of our popular plans for driving old mills where a wood wheel was once used. The old gear can be used again by an ingenious method we have of filling up the eye to suit our steel shaft. An old spur gear can be sued the same way.

The I-X-L with Segment Gear Driving a Flour Mill and Buhrs

The plan is frequently used in mills where a turbine was formerly installed or where the floors are too low to allow a master wheel to be used.

A Simple Drive to a Portable Buhr Mill or Small Saw Mill

Source for above material: Information, photographs and drawings from the I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheel Catalogs, the Fitz Water Wheel Company, Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Note: Save the plan drawings of the Fitz Water Wheels as images, they are much larger in that format. Thank you.

See: The Fitz Water Wheel Co. of Hanover, Pennsylvania, advertises, with a drawing of the I-X-L Steel Overshoot Water Wheel. The Water Wheel Album: Page Nine- More Water Wheel Miscellany.

History of the Fitz Water Wheel Company
from the records at the Hagley Museum

Samuel Fitz established the Hanover Foundry & Machine Co. in Hanover, Pa., in 1840. Ten years later he established the Tuscarora Iron Works in Martinsburg, W. Va. The two operations were combined in 1896. In 1899 the firm became the I-X-L Overshoot Water Wheel Company, and on July 15, 1902, it was renamed the Fitz Water Wheel Company. The firm soon came to specialize in the manufacture of water wheels and small power plants, although it also manufactured grain dryers and blowers. Samuel Fitz built his first iron water wheel in 1852. His son, John Fitz (1847-1914), who succeeded his father as head of the firm, developed the modern steel overshot water wheel. This represented the refinement of a relatively primitive technology at a time when large firms were developing high-power turbines for large factories and central generating stations. Befitting its rural location, Fitz aimed its product at farmers, small millers, and small town hydroelectric and pumping stations. As a specialty producer, it sold its products throughout the United States and also developed a strong export market, particularly to rural areas and underdeveloped countries. Orders came from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South America, Africa, Indochina and all parts of Europe with the exception of Russia. Fitz also manufactured impulse wheels, and in the 1910s it acquired the sole manufacturing rights to the Burnham turbine. Again, Fitz concentrated on turbines of under 150 HP. The spread of rural electrification cut into Fitz's market, but John Samuel Fitz, who had succeeded his father in 1914, kept the firm in business by adapting to changing conditions. After 1930 many wheels were produced for "show" rather than productive use. The firm made many model wheels and turbines for engineering schools and produced many small turbines for the government during World War II. It also became an important supplier to historic restorations of working mills, including Colonial Williamsburg; the Old Pierce Mill in Rock Creek Park in Washington; Stratford Hall in Virginia; the Historic Hudson Valley Restoration in New York; and the Hagley Museum in Delaware. J. S. Fitz died in 1965, and the firm was sold on September 1, 1966. James Leffel & Co. of Springfield, Ohio, bought the machinery, inventory, patterns and drawings. Leffel later sold the loom business to Heilig Brothers Manufacturing Company of York, Pa. The real estate in Hanover was sold to Pen-Mar Foundries.

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