In the early years of sewer design in the United States, it was recognized that sewers needed flushing, especially where certain reaches of sewer had an unfavorable combination of low slope and low tributary sewage flow. Flush tank mechanisms were generally installed in manholes, primarily at the upstream terminal ends of sewage mains, to facilitate the periodic flushing of the downstream mains. The public potable water system was usually the source of the water, although tide water was sometimes used.

In flush tanks, a relatively large volume of water was accumulated and then released into the immediately down-gradient sewer main. Flush tanks were of both the automatic and manually-operated types. As seen below, there were many flush tank designs and/or mechanisms, including the Van Vranken, the Rhoads-Williams, and the Miller flush tanks.

See Tracking Down the Roots of Our Sanitary Sewers for more information.

                       

“Improved flush tank,” The Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 10, Issue 12 (Dec. 1878), p. 280. Courtesy of The Making of America Digital Collection, Cornell University Library.

PDF

George E. Waring, Jr. “The Draining of a Village,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 59, Issue 349 (June 1879), pp. 132-135. Courtesy of The Making of America Digital Collection, Cornell University Library.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Flush Tanks,” The Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 11, Issue 8 (Aug. 1879), p. 187. Courtesy of The Making of America Digital Collection, Cornell University Library.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

Edward S. Philbrick, “Lecture VII: The Ventilation and Cleaning of Sewers,” American Sanitary Engineering (New York: The Sanitary Engineer, 1881), pp. 82-89.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

See Design – before 1900 for other lectures from this book.

Baldwin Latham, C.E., M. Inst. C.E., Sanitary Engineering, A Guide to the Construction of Works of Sewerage and House Drainage with Tables for Facilitating the Calculations of the Engineer (New York: Engineering News Publishing Company, 1884).

See page 32.

PDF of all chapters (17 MB)      PDF of map of Dantzic (Gdansk, Poland) (Plate I, 5 MB)      PDF of illustrations only (Plates II to XIX, 4 MB)

George E. Waring, Jr., “Chapter XVI: The Sewerage of San Diego,” Sewerage and Land-Drainage, 3rd Edition (New York: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1891), pp. 143-149 and two plates.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“The Tiber Creek Sewer Flush Gates, Washington, D.C.,” Engineering  News and American Railway Journal, 8 February 1894.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Bride’s Sewer Flushing Device,” Engineering News and American Railway Journal, Volume XXXVI, No. 6 (July – Dec. 1896), p. 90. [In the original article, the graphic was printed upside-down.  It has been righted for clarity.]

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“English Sewer Flushing Practice,” Engineering News and American Railway Journal, Vol. XXXV, No. 21 (21 May 1896), pp. 343-344.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Apparatus for Flushing Small Sewers,” Engineering News and American Railway Journal, Vol. XXXVII, No. 17 (29 April 1897), p. 262.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

H. N. Ogden, “Flushing in Pipe Sewers,” Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Volume XL (December 1898), pp. 1-28.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Water Waste by Automatic Sewer-Flushing Tanks,” Engineering News and American Railway Journal, Vol. XLII, No. 11 (1899), p.172.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“The Berry Automatic Siphon for Flush Tanks,” Engineering News and American Railway Journal, Vol. XLII, No. 20 (16 Nov. 1899), p. 322.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“A Combined Flush Tank and Manhole,” Engineering News and American Railway Journal, Vol. XLI, No. 21 (25 May 1899), p.338.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

H. N. Ogden, “Flushing (Chapter XVII)” and “Use of Flush Tanks (Chapter XVIII),” Sewer Design (New York: John Wiley & Sons, London: Chapman & Hall, Limited, 1899), pp.194-225 and plates I, II.

Chapter XVII PDF (printer-friendly).               Chapter XVIII PDF (printer-friendly).

Cady Staley and Geo. S. Pierson, The Separate System of Sewerage, Its Theory and Construction, Third Edition (New York: D. Van Nostrand, Co., 1899), pp. 200-239.

Chapter X: “Flushing and Ventilation” (pp. 200-239)

PDF version (printer-friendly).

For other chapters, see Design before 1900.

Frederick E. Turneaure, C. E., Editor-in-Chief, Cyclopedia of Civil Engineering, Volume VII, (Chicago: American School of Correspondence, 1908) – a compendium of articles including:

Anson Marston, “Sewers and Drains,” pp. 233-313, 344-357 (some pages missing).

PDF version (printer-friendly). See Design after 1900 for other chapters.

J. T. Brown, W. H. Maxwell, editors, “Sewerage,” The Encyclopedia of Municipal and Sanitary Engineering (New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1910), pp. 421-433.

See “Flushing Chamber and Apparatus,” pp. 430-431.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

A. Prescott Folwell, Sewerage – The Designing, Construction, and Maintenance of Sewerage Systems, 7th edition (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1916), pp. 1-12, 44-68, 69-86, 141-176, 345-358.

“Sewerage – the System” (pp. 1-12) PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Flow in Sewers” (pp. 44-68)PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Flushing and Ventilation” (pp. 69-86) PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Detail Plans” (pp. 141-176) PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Sewer Maintenance” (pp. 345-358) PDF version (printer-friendly).

Grant M. Olewiler, “Sewer Maintenance,” Sewage Works Journal, Volume IX, No. 5 (September 1937), pp. 808-820.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

Edmund M. Lamphere, “Flush Tank Used to Prevent Sewer Freezing,” Sewage and Industrial Wastes, January 1953.

Reprinted with permission from Sewage and Industrial Wastes. Copyright 1953 Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

   U.S. Patents   

Patent for sewerage design, 1879. Patented by J. W. Crane on November 18, 1879. U.S. Patent No. 221,669.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office at http://www.uspto.gov. Thanks to Tom Bates for finding and contributing this patent.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

Patent for sewerage design – “Sewering and Draining Cities,” 1881. Patented by George E. Waring, Jr., on January 18, 1881. U.S. Patent No. 236,740.

See Sheet 2 of drawings section for a flush tank design.  George E. Waring, Jr., is considered one of the founders of public works design. See Tracking Down the Roots for more information.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office at http://www.uspto.gov.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

Patent for flush tank, 1889. Patented by I Shone. U.S. Patent No. 417,100.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office at http://www.uspto.gov. Thanks to Tom Bates for finding and contributing this patent.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

Patent for flushing system, 1889. Patented by H. W. McDonald and T. W. Shunk on June 18, 1889. U.S. Patent No. 405,587.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office at http://www.uspto.gov. Thanks to Tom Bates for finding and contributing this patent.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

Patent for flushing system, 1899. Patented by H. C. Davis on May 2, 1899. U.S. Patent No. 624,188.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office at http://www.uspto.gov. Thanks to Tom Bates for finding and contributing this patent.

PDF version (printer-friendly).