Equipment from the entire industrial revolution can be found here in Jack London Village, from the water wheel of the mill to electricity. Chauvet introduced steam power during the 1880s, using these duplex piston steam pumps.
They were driven by steam that was generated in a boiler which may have been a retired railroad locomotive; it can still be found in the basement of the old mill. While the firebox shows that the boiler was first heated with wood or coal fires, it was converted to gas at a later date.
A contemporary writer described Chauvet’s operation this way: “The stemmer, crusher and press which are run by water-power drawn from a reservoir at an elevation of 150 feet above the building, can crush 60 tons of grapes a day. The elevators, pumps, distillery, etc., are run by steam.”
The stamping on these pumps read “Built by Henry Worthington/New York U.S.A.” Worthington was a mechanical engineer whose several inventions led to the perfection of the direct steam pump that was widely adopted. In the duplex system, one engine actuated the steam valves of the other, and a pause of the pistons at the end of the stroke permitted the water-valves to seat themselves quietly, preserving a uniform water pressure. This distinct improvement on the engines in use at the time embodied one of the most ingenious advances in engineering in the nineteenth century.