A composite image of the lineshaft in the Campbell Carriage Factory, overlaying a sketch of the two-horse power system.

By finding a way to transfer and redistribute the power from two horses to a room-full of machines, the Campbell's were able to substantially improve the productivity of their craftsmen. In this case, a factory for the production of horse-drawn vehicles, was itself driven by horses!

Leslie Van Patter
Paul Bogaard, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


A carriage factory produces vehicles designed to be pulled by a horse (or two), and it turns out this factory was driven by horse power, as well. The power-driven machines in this factory were in use almost 70 years before electricity could have been installed, and 50 years before gas engines would have been available. Water power might have been a possibility, but the best location was already taken. So, for Ronald Campbell, it was either horse power or no horse-drawn vehicles.

Horse “mills” were not unknown,1 although few are now remembered in the Maritimes, unlike treadmills and portable capstans which must have been quite common. Windmills and various forms of water-driven mills were also more common but these had to rely – especially before the mid-1800s – upon large, heavy systems of wooden cogs and wheels. Fortunately for the Campbells, in the decades before they set up their horse mill, mechanics had devised systems of leather belts and pulleys fixed on lineshafts to transmit and distribute power.

According to one source: “To transfer power from the waterwheel … the earliest mills used a network Read More
A carriage factory produces vehicles designed to be pulled by a horse (or two), and it turns out this factory was driven by horse power, as well. The power-driven machines in this factory were in use almost 70 years before electricity could have been installed, and 50 years before gas engines would have been available. Water power might have been a possibility, but the best location was already taken. So, for Ronald Campbell, it was either horse power or no horse-drawn vehicles.

Horse “mills” were not unknown,1 although few are now remembered in the Maritimes, unlike treadmills and portable capstans which must have been quite common. Windmills and various forms of water-driven mills were also more common but these had to rely – especially before the mid-1800s – upon large, heavy systems of wooden cogs and wheels. Fortunately for the Campbells, in the decades before they set up their horse mill, mechanics had devised systems of leather belts and pulleys fixed on lineshafts to transmit and distribute power.

According to one source: “To transfer power from the waterwheel … the earliest mills used a network of rotating gears and shafting. This method tended to be slow, noisy, and jarring, with frequent breakdowns. In 1828, a master mechanic [in Lowell, Mass.] devised a leather belt and pulley system. A drive pulley…transferred power from a main shaft to smaller line shafts, and then to the machines. The use of belts and pulleys allowed for a smoother and more efficient transfer of power with fewer breakdown periods. Soon, drive pulleys and leather belting became standard in mills throughout the United States.”2

Nothing is left of the original horse mill at the Campbell Carriage Factory, but where it was set up is known, and the belt and pulley system remains in place. Also in place are the two large lathes driven by belts, a belt sander and a grinder set up to sharpen tools. Long gone are a long bench saw for milling timber, a table saw and band saw, as well as a planer of some type. So there were at least 8 different machines requiring power, and there may have been others.

It is not known how many of these machines could be used at the same time, but there is little doubt they would have saved the Campbells and the craftsmen they employed a substantial amount of time and energy otherwise required just to cut down to size and roughly shape the wood on which their trade depended.
1   Major, J. Kenneth. "Water, Wind and Animal Power." An Encyclopedia of the History of Technology.  Ed. Ian McNeil.  New York: Routledge, 1990. 260-269.  Musson, A.E. " Industrial Motive Power in the United Kingdom, 1800-1870."  The Economic History Review. Vol. 29, No. 3 (1976): 415-420.

2 http://www.nps.gov/archive/lowe/2002/loweweb/lowe_history/lowe_brochures/suffolk.htm

© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.

This image shows about half the lineshaft still hanging in the Campbell Carriage Factory, used to distribute the horse power.

If you click on the full image, you will see about half of the "lineshaft" which runs the full 40' length of the machine room. Each of the pulleys fixed onto the lineshaft distributed power to one (or more) of the machines located throughout this room.

Paul Bogaard
Leslie Van Patter, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


One of two lathes still in the Campbell Carriage Factory is shown in this image, powered via the belt & pulley system.

This is the smaller of two lathes still in their original positions within the carriage factory. (They are probably still there because each is built into the fabric of the building!) Used to turn spindles and yokes and any pieces needing to be round... they were also useful for the legs of chairs and beds, and rollers in looms, and other furnishings we find in the account books which testify to this being a factory for more than carriages. There were also "jigs" created for these two lathes that allowed them to aid in the production of their most frequent products: hubs and spokes.

Paul Bogaard
Leslie Van Patter, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
1998.1.6130
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


An image of the sanding belt, on a homemade frame in the Campbell Carriage Factory,  powered by the belt & pulley system.

The leather belt coming into this photo from upper left delivered the power to this sanding machine. The thick belt attached horizontally between two equal-sized, wooden pulleys was imbedded with sand or emery and allowed the operator to bring wooden pieces of various sizes and shapes to it, to be sanded and polished smooth. With all the diverse wooden pieces required in a carriage or sleigh, each needing to be as smooth and finished as possible, this device must have been in constant use.

Paul Bogaard
Leslie Van Patter, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
1998.1.5782
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


Nothing of the Horse Mill, itself, survives except the hole in an upper beam which allowed it to rotate around its vertical axis. And we are confident that’s what the little hole was for, because (1) it is exactly central to the rear portion of the building, and because (2) we have these comments from a 1962 interview with one of the factory’s last employees:

“He told me [Jimmy O’Neal telling Dr. Crowell] that he clearly remembers when the only power for the mill was supplied by one horse if the work was light and by two horses when heavy work had to be done. These horses drew a sweep pole around an upright axle and power was transmitted by an overhead drive shaft….The horses were inside because we worked summer and winter; it was a busy place once.”

This still does not tell us exactly what a horse mill of this kind looked like. We have not found another in the Maritimes with which to compare, but in Quebec there is a very interesting example. See this webpage from the museum in Trois Rivieres:
http://www.culturepop.qc.ca/location_salles/defau Read More
Nothing of the Horse Mill, itself, survives except the hole in an upper beam which allowed it to rotate around its vertical axis. And we are confident that’s what the little hole was for, because (1) it is exactly central to the rear portion of the building, and because (2) we have these comments from a 1962 interview with one of the factory’s last employees:

“He told me [Jimmy O’Neal telling Dr. Crowell] that he clearly remembers when the only power for the mill was supplied by one horse if the work was light and by two horses when heavy work had to be done. These horses drew a sweep pole around an upright axle and power was transmitted by an overhead drive shaft….The horses were inside because we worked summer and winter; it was a busy place once.”

This still does not tell us exactly what a horse mill of this kind looked like. We have not found another in the Maritimes with which to compare, but in Quebec there is a very interesting example. See this webpage from the museum in Trois Rivieres:
http://www.culturepop.qc.ca/location_salles/default.php/s/4/

If you look closely, see can see the outline of a mill which could be pulled around by two horses. Particularly exciting is the gear they found was used to mesh with this large mill, and which in turn was fixed to a large wooden pulley about 4’ in diameter. A pulley exactly like this was stored in the Campbell Carriage Factory, and as we can find no other function it could have served, it seems to be further evidence of a horse mill of this type. See the animation, immediately following this text, to see what we’ve concluded.

Even if we are correct in determining the size and shape of this horse mill, there remain three challenges:
  • Whatever power the horses provide needs somehow to be distributed to each machine;
  • the horses turn their mill around in a horizontal rotation and only as fast as horses can plod all day long. Somehow both the direction of this rotation and its speed need to substantially adjusted in order for the horse power to be effective;
  • and finally, the horses cannot stop and start with the use of each machine (especially if two are used at the same time) so some means of stopping/starting this power must be devised at each separate machine.

© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.

An animation of the horse mill  illustrating how it was linked to a belt & pulley system for distributing the power.

Click to start this animation, which will take you step by step through the full powertrain used in the Campbell Carriage Factory.

This animation begins by depicting the full powertrain from horse mill, and the belt & pulley system to one of the machines driven by this system. By clicking on a button one then zooms in on the key linkages of this system, beginning with: "(a) Horses pull around an 8' wheel constructed on a heavy post", and "(b) forcing this small gear to turn many times faster, and at right angles to the post." At the next zoom, one sees "(c) This 4’ pulley is carried round at the speed and direction of its shaft;” and "(d) …and this smaller pulley, turned by the belt, rotates the main driveshaft at even higher speed.” Finally one zooms in on “(e) One pulley was mounted on the main driveshaft for each machine. (Another is shown further down.),” “(f) This belt could turn a pulley fixed to its shaft, or slide onto an idler;” “(g) As shown, this belt would turn the lathe even faster than the driveshafts;” and “(h) If shifted to these alternate pulleys, the lathe would turn more slowly but with more power.”

Tantramar Interactive Inc.
Leslie Van Patter, Paul Bogaard
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


The animation includes a horse mill to provide the power, a belt and pulley system to transfer and distribute that power, and then shorter shafts carrying their own belts and pulleys to control the power as it is provided to each individual machine. The animation only shows a lathe, but there would also have been saws of various kinds, sanders, planers and grinders. Each of these would have required their own clutch and speed control. Let us walk through the power system in more detail, following the steps shown in the animation:

The horse mill shown is what we imagine it to have been like, from what limited evidence we have. One or two horses would be brought in for the day to walk around a circle about 16 to 20’ in diameter, pulling “sweeps” attached to some kind of structure which would support the turning of a large horizontal wheel, perhaps 8’ in diameter, and high enough to be above the horses heads. There is just room enough for such an arrangement in the post & beam construction of the Campbell Carriage Factory.

We do not know exactly what kind of teeth this large horizontal wheel would have carried, wooden pegs or iro Read More
The animation includes a horse mill to provide the power, a belt and pulley system to transfer and distribute that power, and then shorter shafts carrying their own belts and pulleys to control the power as it is provided to each individual machine. The animation only shows a lathe, but there would also have been saws of various kinds, sanders, planers and grinders. Each of these would have required their own clutch and speed control. Let us walk through the power system in more detail, following the steps shown in the animation:

The horse mill shown is what we imagine it to have been like, from what limited evidence we have. One or two horses would be brought in for the day to walk around a circle about 16 to 20’ in diameter, pulling “sweeps” attached to some kind of structure which would support the turning of a large horizontal wheel, perhaps 8’ in diameter, and high enough to be above the horses heads. There is just room enough for such an arrangement in the post & beam construction of the Campbell Carriage Factory.

We do not know exactly what kind of teeth this large horizontal wheel would have carried, wooden pegs or iron teeth, nor the style of gear that would have meshed with them. But it is clear that at this one juncture a meshing of gears was required, as there is no arrangement of belts and pulleys that could have done this job. That job is twofold: first the slow, lumbering turn of the 8’ wheel (at the speed of plodding horses) needs to turn this small gear at much higher speed, and also the turning of the large wheel around its vertical axis needs to be converted to turning a short shaft on a horizontal axis. Belts cannot carry power around corners, so this shift in the axis of turning needs to be handled by a gear which meshes at right angles to the teeth on the large horizontal wheel. From this step on, all the power can be carried by shafts, and each shaft can run parallel to all the others. That allows pulleys fixed to shafts and belts tying together pulleys to do all the remaining work.

Animation: a&b  If the horizontal wheel at “a” was 8’ in diameter, and the small gear at “b” was likely 6” or perhaps only 4” across, then every time the horses pulled the horizontal wheel around once, the small gear (and the shaft to which it was attached) would turn approximately 20 times! That’s a gain of 20 x the speed of the horses, even if there was an accompanying loss of power. If we imagine the horses walking around their circle once a minute, that has become 20 revolutions per minute

Animation: c&d  The large pulley at “c” is also turning 20 times faster than the horses, and is now turning at right angles to the circle round which they plodded. This pulley is known to be 4’ in diameter (it is the only piece of this horse mill we still have in the factory) and the pulley on the longer lineshaft at “d” was likely 1’ in diameter. So the belt carrying the power from “c” to “d” would gain another 4 times the speed, or 4 x 20 = 80 revolutions per minute. This is the speed at which the main lineshaft, stretching the full length of the machine room, would continually turn (so long as the horses were at work!).

Animation: e&f
  Each machine would draw its power from the one pulley on the lineshaft dedicated to that machine. So the lathe shown in the animation draws it power from the pulley at “e” linked by belt to a shorter shaft at “f” often called a “countershaft” or “jackshaft.” Each machine would have one of these countershafts dedicated to it, and would usually have two pulleys on it as shown at “f” (plus another one or two pulleys we’ll describe under “g”). The important feature of these two pulleys, shown side by side, is that one was fixed to the shaft and the other – an “idler” – was not fixed to it. It would just spin and not carry the shaft around with it.

This was a crucial feature of the whole system, that at each machine there was the opportunity to slide the belt coming from the lineshaft onto an idler, so that the countershaft would not be turned and the machine to which it was dedicated could stop. That is, the machine could stop despite the lineshaft and the horsemill continuing to operate. With the horses driving everything, this was the key to using only those machines needed at any one time, allowing the others to sit idle. By the same token, sliding the belt coming from the lineshaft onto the drive wheel (next to the idler) would engage the counter shaft and “turn on” that particular machine. This was accomplished by a “clutch” pictured below.

Animation: g   Finally, most machines had one last adjustment that could be made, as shown here on the lathe, an adjustment in speed. As before, speed is controlled by belts linking two pulleys of different sizes. If the power is coming from a large wheel to a smaller, the speed goes up (by the ratio of the relative sizes of those pulleys) whereas if it comes from a smaller wheel to a larger, the speed will drop down. In the animation at “g” the option for two speeds is shown, requiring each pulley on the countershaft lining up with a corresponding pulley on the lathe. You might note that the relative difference in the sizes of two corresponding pulleys is matched exactly by the opposite difference in the other two. This ensured that a belt that fit snugly around one corresponding pair of pulleys would also fit snugly around the other pair. Otherwise the belt would have to be shortened or lengthened every time the speed was changed.

That completes our detailing of each step in the power train, but be sure to check out the last image to fill in that one missing feature.

© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.

In image of one of the remaining clutch mechanisms in the Campbell Carriage Factory, where one was needed for each machine.

Three locations in the Campbell Carriage Factory still have handles, like this one, by which the machine operator could shift the drive belt back and forth between an idler and the pulley which would carry the power to the machine. This handle would not only allow the operator to turn the machine on/off (while the horse mill was still going) but it would also allow the operator, while the machine was disengaged, to change speeds (as at “g” in the animation). We are more familiar with using a clutch in a car, or on a tractor or lawn mower, in order to “change gear” as we say, but the principle remains the same.

Paul Bogaard
Leslie Van Patter, Adèle Hempel
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The “Two Horse Power” Learning Object is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

• Learn about early sources of power;

• Explore the period of Canadian history when the increasing reliance upon power changed our culture and explore what impact that might have had on the human workforce;

• Identify, research and describe the possible uses and arrangements for horse power;

• Learn about the differences and similarities between systems of gears and systems of belts & pulleys for the transmission and distribution of power;

• Establish links between the function of a “clutch” in traditional belt & pulley system and the use we make of them today in mowers, snowmobiles and ATVs;

• Identify, research, and practice using the equations which enable us to calculate the mechanical advantages to be gained in the transmission of power;

• Demonstrate an understanding of how systems of gears and belts & pulleys rely upon the principles already evident in the simplest machines.

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