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Big Guns: 1917

Big Guns: 1917

1917. "U.S. Navy Yard, Washington. Sight shop, big gun section." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative, Library of Congress. View full size.


Flat belt, line driven

That's a LOT of machinery, and almost all (or maybe all) are running from an overhead shaft. You can see the drive belts hanging from the overhead.

It's amazing how well they were able to work.

I work two buildings over from here!

Until the early 1990s, it was a vacant warehouse. Then it was cut up into office and storage space. It's out of frame, but there's a HUGE crane that stretches between the girders on the left and right. It was for lifting the guns.


I have nothing technical to contribute. My overall feeling is, "What a place for a serious accident to happen." I worked in a factory for a few months after I got out of the service and before I hitched up to a job matched more to my abilities. My grandfather and father both worked in the same factory, Westinghouse, and seemed to love it.

I appreciate Shorpy for the opportunity to not only time-travel, but to get some feeling of place and time as only photography can give.

The Guns

The gun at the center of this photo seems larger than the ones lined up in front, although from the perspective I can't be sure. Either way, I believe that gun in the center to be a 14"/50 destined for the recently launched "New Mexico" class battleships. (New Mexico, Mississippi, or Idaho) The other (presumably smaller) guns might be 5"/51's for the casemate armament.

Fluorescent lights?

Wow. Unless the date give is off by a decade or so, those must be some of the early Moore-style fluorescent lights. Interesting that the general layout, shape and shade/reflector are virtually unchanged almost a hundred years later.

[Those would be mercury-discharge lamps similar to the one in the 1908 ad below (also here in 1912). One difference from modern lamps is the big "can" above the reflector. - Dave]

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