CONSTRUCTION OF THE REA DIESEL POWER PLANT AT REEVE
CONSTRUCTION OF THE REA DIESEL POWER PLANT AT REEVE, FRANKLIN COUNTY, IOWA
FOR FEDERATED COOPERATIVE POWER ASSOCIATION, HAMPTON, IOWA
Construction of the power plant was started on Wednesday, September 1, 1937. Ralph M. Mason, Chairman of the Coop Board, was on hand with his spade to tum the first dirt to change the Reeve site from crop land to an industrial site for the benefit of the farm community of six surrounding counties.
The Reeve site was a triangular area of about six acres beside a curve in the Rock Island Railroad. At the time the site was acquired for power plant construction is was bare crop land. However, at some previous time a grain elevator had stood there. A siding track on the railroad right-of-way, which had been built to serve the elevator, was still in existence and in good enough condition for the needs of the proposed power plant for delivery of materials, heavy equipment and fuel.
Welden Brothers, Iowa Falls, general contractor for building erection and also for electrical wiring and for installation of electrical equipment, proceeded with dispatch and efficiency to construct the building with a competent crew of form builders, reinforcing steel installers, concrete finishers and laborers. The poured concrete building was designed primarily to adequately house Diesel generating equipment, but it was also intended that the building have a pleasing and substantial appearance from the outside. Vertical joints between concrete pours were limited to building corners, and horizontal joints between pours on the front and ends were limited to two levels of about ten and twenty feet above the building foundation. Forms were required to be lined with plywood to give uniform texture to finished wall surfaces. Joints between the plywood sheets were specified to be as smooth and tight as possible and to be spaced uniformly along each wall. All concrete for the project was mixed on the site in a one half cubic yard stationary mixer, and wheeled to the place of need in man-operated wheel barrows. Wall lifts were hoisted to form tops in a bottom-dump bucket by a crane.
What with the approach of winter, it was obvious that preparations need to be made for pouring concrete in cold weather. The contractor installed an old steam boiler beside the aggregate pile and concrete mixer to heat the mixing water and to generate steam for keeping concrete pours from freezing during their curing process.
Winter came early to Franklin County in 1937. By the time the bottom ten-foot lift was built on all walls, temperatures were going so low each night that concrete needed extra protection for five days after being poured to avoid damage by freezing. Concrete aggregates were warmed by wood fires in steel culvert pipes placed in the piles, and mixing water was heated to almost boiling in the steam boiler so that the fresh concrete went into the form at about seventy to eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Then, after a pour was completed, the complete pour was enclosed in tarpaulins and steam was fed under the "tent" at both sides of the wall to keep the concrete warm for five days.
The second lift of the west wall (from ten feet to twenty feet above the foundation) was poured on December 4, 1937. On the morning of December 5, the temperature was minus three degrees Fahrenheit and a strong northwest wind was blowing. Note how sound that pour is now.
By December 11, 1937, all concrete for the walls had been poured. The roof decks and roofing were placed in the first week of 1938. Doors were installed and the windows glazed at about the same time. So the building was completely enclosed by almost mid-January. However, as the result of some snow falls in December, and the condensation of steam used to keep concrete pours warm while they were curing, there were many tons of ice in the building - six inches thick in many places. Several temporary heaters were installed, but it took a week to chop the ice loose and to wheel it to the outside.
Even before all the ice was removed from the building, the Number One engine (three-cylinder, 750 horse-power Nordberg) and its generator and exciter arrived on a flat car at the railroad siding. Harry Pelz, Superintendent for the installation of equipment furnished by Norberg Manufacturing Company, arrived at about the same time. He rounded up a crew of men, and they rolled the heavy equipment from the railroad into position inside the building on heavy timbers and rollers of six-inch steel pipe. Mr. Pelz was an excellent mechanic, very precise in his work, and meticulous in getting the equipment installed exactly right. He had brought with him an excellent welder to assemble the cooling water and oil circulating piping. There was no lack of care and accuracy in installation of mechanical equipment and its connecting piping.
The second engine (four-cylinder, 1000 horse-power Norberg) and its generator and exciter arrived at the plant site in February 1938. The building was built large enough to accommodate four generating units. Only two were installed in 1937-38. A third unit was installed some years later. ·
Electrical work on this project was also done by Welden Brothers. This of course had been in progress from early in building construction in order to get conduits in place in walls and floors and to make openings in walls and floors for passage of electrical connections. And, after the buildings was enclosed, the lighting system was installed, and power circuits were run to the many control points and motors for operating auxiliary equipment.
Switch gear cubicals, manufactured by Delta Star Electric Company, Des Moines, arrived early in February 1938 and were immediately moved into their positions in the control room of the building. Early examination revealed that the cubicals lacked potential transformers for operating instruments on the panel faces, so Gary, the electrical foreman, had to get the potential transformers and connecting cables and install them in the field.
Early in March 1938 Unit No. 1 (engine, generator and exciter) were sufficiently installed and connected to its auxiliary equipment so that it could be started for a trial. It was started for the first time allowed to run for just a few minutes on March 15, 1938.
Unit No. 2 was only a few days behind No. 1 in its initial start-up and trial run.
That the plant "went on the line" on Wednesday, March 23, 1938, to furnish electrical power to farm homes.in six north central Iowa counties was commendable feat of construction. The building and equipment contractors had turned the farm field at Reeve into a producing industrial site in less than seven months - and that through a severe Iowa winter.
Some of the men who worked on the plant construction were: Richard W. Welden, job superintendent for Welden Brothers, who, after a successful career in contracting, served the State of lowa as a State Senator for several terms; Arthur T. Oliphant, the Cooperative' s first plant superintendent who was employed in January 1938 and who assisted with and observed installation of equipment; Harry Pelz, Norberg Manufacturing Company's installation superintendent; Pete and Em Krislian, carpenters and form builders for Welden Brothers; Cecil Lent and John Woods, crane operators, steel erectors, glazers and handy men for Welden Brothers; Dexter Smith, handy man for Welden Brothers who continued at the plant after its completion as a plant operator and later continued employment with Com Belt Power Cooperative; Owen Stackhouse, a handy man with Welden Brothers. About fifteen or twenty other men from the community, working for Welden Brothers, helped to put this plant together.
The writer was Resident Engineer, representing Stanley Engineering Company, Muscatine, Iowa, and was on the job from the day construction was started until May 1938 after the plant was in operation, and site grading and clean-up were completed. Bud Barton, Muscatine, was on the job to assist the Resident Engineer with layout and inspection during September and October 1937.
May 1988 MARVIN 0. KRUSE