Vulcan #5: The First Closed Hammer

Vulcan #5 Hammer, it’s first non-Warrington-Vulcan style hammer.

Vulcan is best known for its “open type” Naysmith-ancestry hammers. Most of Vulcan’s competitors (MKT, Union/Arnott, etc.) produced “closed type” hammers, where the ram was invisible to the users. But Vulcan ventured into the closed hammer type as well. The first of this type Vulcan produced was the #5, shown at right.

First produced in 1907, the #5 was a Vulcan first (or only) in several respects:

  • It was the first closed hammer Vulcan produced.
  • It was the first hammer Vulcan produced with downward assist for the ram from the steam. All of the other hammers up until then were single-acting.
  • It was Vulcan’s only true double-acting hammer.
  • It was Vulcan’s last hammer to use a steam (fluid) actuated valve. Except for the #5, all of Vulcan’s hammers either used a mechanically actuated valve or one where the valve was integral to the ram (“SC” hammer.)
  • It was Vulcan’s first hammer not intended to be run in leaders. Although it didn’t come with “pants” the hammer was advertised to be able to rest on the sheet pile during driving with the crane line kept just taught enough to keep the hammer vertical.

Vulcan produced very few of these hammers. Part of the problem may have been its relatively slow blow rate (125 blows per minute.) Although this reduced the boiler size necessary to run the hammer, it also significantly slowed down the rate at which the piling was installed.

Click here for more information from Vulcan literature on the #5. In the 1920’s Vulcan passed on from the #5 to the California series of hammers, which in turn gave way to the DGH hammers in the 1950’s.


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