|Conversion to Sun-valve|
The Lighthouse Tender Sumac brought a team that changed the light in the new metal South Pier-head beacon tower to Acetylene controled by a Sun-valve on Sept. 6, 1930.Two tanks of Acetylene Gas were stored in the small building at the base of the steel tower. The tanks were connected together and the combined gas line was run up to a Sun-valve and then into the light at the top of the tower. There was also a ´pilot-light´ gas tube that by-passed the Sun-valve.
The Sun-valve extinguished the light in the morning and re-lit the light in the evening. The Sun-valve was made from a heat-absorbent black rod in the center of three highly reflective gold-plated copper bars. When the black rod was lit by the sun it absorbed the sun´s heat and expanded downward closing a small valve in the main gas line. When it was nearly dark, the black rod cooled and contracted moving upward, thus opening the valve and allowing the Acetylene gas to be ignited by the ´pilot-light.´
The new Sun-valve was considered a highly reliable item within the Lighthouse Service; however, it was an immediate problem for the keeper at White River. In late Sept. 1930, the Sun-valve on the new South Pier-head tower refused to work. Keeper Bush put the light back in commission by temporarily by-passing the gas around the valve and later readjusted the valve setting. In November, he again had to make an adjustment to the Sun-valve, and on Nov. 28, he used the Sun-valve´s gas by-pass for a third time.
Problems continued during the next year. Personnel from the Lighthouse Tender Sumac took the Sun-valve to the lighthouse depot for rebuild and adjustment on July 24, 1931, and re-installed the repaired Sun-valve on Aug. 11. But, by August 29, the Sun-valve was again reported to be malfunctioning. Problems continued with the Sun-valve´s operation, from time to time, for the next several years.
In 1949, the Acetylene lamp was removed and the light was electrified, as it remains today.
In the late 1980s, the South Pier-head Beacon light was changed, yet again, to a single steel pole with a red triangular day mark at the top and a red flashing electric light. The current light flashes once every four seconds.
Excerpted with permission of the author from:
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form .or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or used in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.