The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Other work at the yama

Boiler Room and Boiler Men in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)
1964 - 1967

Meiji Kikan-ba/Kama-ba, Kamataki
[Boiler Room and Boiler Men in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)]
37.9 x 53.8 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text at Top Right
Boilers and chimneys were symbols and the integral parts of the coal-mining life. Until the middle of the Meiji era, most boilers were low-pressure types with a screen panel of about 1.5 meters or 1.8 meters in diameter and a single furnace. Later, boilers with two furnaces each were also used, but they were still low-pressure types.
In the late Meiji era, five imported boilers came to Kamimio Coal Pit (owned by Mr. Aso). Everyone called them "Doitsu gamas (German boilers)." They were high-pressure-type boilers, about 2.4 meters in diameter and 6 meters in length. I was impressed with the boilers because none of them needed caulking.
Among collieries in Iizuka Town and Kama County, Sumitomo Tadakuma Coal Pit and Aso Kamimio Coal Pit reportedly used a lot of steam (joki ga katai). At collieries run by Mr. A where workers had to work in 12-hour shifts, only boiler men (kamataki/kafu) worked in 8-hour shifts. It was not that hard for boiler men to do their work in winter, but it was too hard for weak workers to do it in summer.

Text at the Top Center
Small and middle-scale collieries started using electric power underground in the middle of the Taisho era (1912-1926). It seems that the use of electric power made boiler men's work fairly easy. They had been suffering from the heat from old inefficient vertical boilers called rankyo gamas (shallot-like boilers) using middling coal.
Collieries did not stop using boilers until the beginning of the Showa era (1926-1989). Until then, miners needed to also use steam for pumps or other devices in case of power failure. (Fans to send air into pits and winding machines for man cars were moved by both steam and electric power.)

Text at the Bottom Right
They could not work without clothes even in summer. If they worked naked, they easily got tired, the same as smiths.

Text at the Bottom Left
The maeita, ushiroita, and doita of a boiler were called the front-end plate, back-end plate, and boiler-shell plate respectively.

Words in the Inset
sasaba: bamboo-leaf-shaped scraper or rake
kakidashi/rerekki: scraper or rake
20 miri maru: 20-mm round iron
2 metoru 50: 2 and a half meters
30 senchi: 30 centimeters
Kono katachi ga tsukai yoi: This shape is good to use.
nagasa 2 metoru kurai: about 2 meters long
tachigama yo: for vertical boilers

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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