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Sprague Questions

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Old 12-06-2007, 09:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 793
Default Sprague Questions

Big Mama has always intrigued me. I've seen the picture of the Delta Queen next to the Sprague in Vicksburg with Big Mama's wheel higher than the Sun Deck on the DQ. And Keith's posting the picture of what looks to be an extremely pretty model of the Sprague (next June, Keith, I'll be there, count on it!) brought my curiosity back from the dusty portions of my brain. So yesterday I started doing a Google search. Everybody lists the length, width and draft of Big Mama, they basically all agree...where she was built, when she was built, when she was retired, the fact that she once held a record for most coal towed, etc.

But, what I'm really interested in is her POWER. I found one very small source on Google that states only the following:

6 boilers
Wheel speed at full ahead: 91 rpm
Total power: 1500 horsepower

I'm a whole bunch skeptical that these numbers are accurate. The wheel has got to be absorbing a hellofa lot more than 1500 horsepower, when I figure the DQ's wheel can absorb in the ballpark between 1000 and 1500 hp. I fully appreciate the Sprague's wheel was a twice as wide and a whole bunch taller than the DQ's, so why doesn't the horsepower add up. And if I assume all six boilers are the same size (which is typical, right?) and maximum boiler horsepower is used strictly for wheel power back in those days, then the boilers would be 250 BHP apiece, pretty tiny...And the size of the stacks don't really add up to 750 horsepower per stack...

And 91 RPM? Phuleezee...maybe 9.1 RPM, or am I all wet here?

Anybody out there know differently? And I don't have a copy of Capt. Way's Directory...Maybe some more info is in there...

Thanks a bunch in advance.

Last edited by Bruno Krause; 12-06-2007 at 09:25 PM.
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