Worthington Steam Pumps Designated as Latest ASME Landmark


Sept. 9, 2016


ASME Past President Reginald Vachon (center) presents the ASME landmark plaque to Paul Ticco of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (left) and John Quarstein of the USS Monitor Center during the ASME landmark designation ceremony on Aug. 25. (Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park)

Last month, the Worthington Direct-Acting Simplex Steam Pumps, which powered the famous ironclad Civil War vessel the USS Monitor, were recognized by ASME for their role in revolutionizing the U.S. Navy’s fleet. The devices, which are the earliest known surviving direct-acting steam pumps, were designated as an ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in a ceremony at the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Va.

The simplex steam pumps, which were invented by Henry R. Worthington, one of ASME’s founding members, were reciprocating systems that automatically sent water to the boilers that powered the ship. The pump’s simple design featured directly connected steam and water pistons, which eliminated the need for the crosshead, rod and flywheel used in earlier steam pumps, resulting in a small, efficient device that was ideal for use in confined spaces such as ships.


Will Hoffman (far left), senior conservator and conservation project manager at the Mariners’ Museum and Park, gave the ceremony’s guests a demonstration of the Worthington pump replica during the landmark designation ceremony in Newport News, Va. (Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park)

More than 115 people attended the designation ceremony on Aug. 25, including a contingent comprising Reginald I. Vachon, ASME past president; Richard Pawliger, immediate past chair of the ASME History and Heritage Committee; John W. Ralls, chair of the ASME Eastern Virginia Section; and Paul C. Ticco, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The event was also attended by representatives from area companies Curtiss-Wright, Hampton Rubber Co. and Master Machine and Tool. Curtiss-Wright sponsored the event with the ASME Eastern Virginia Section. Hampton Rubber Co. and Master Machine and Tool collaborated with Curtiss-Wright on a project to create a working replica of the Worthington steam pumps.

“The Worthington steam pumps stand apart for their efficiency and reliability,” said Vachon, who presented the bronze ASME landmark plaque to officials of the Mariner’s Museum during the ceremony. “Their compact size and lightweight design are vital features in marine applications, and the pumps also serve as the basis for a variety of other industrial applications.”


(Left to right) Jeffrey Weise, chair of the ASME Central Virginia Section; John Ralls, chair of the Eastern Virginia Section; Paul Ticco, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries; Reginald Vachon, ASME past president; John Quarstein, director of the USS Monitor Center; Richard Pawliger, immediate past chair of the ASME History and Heritage Committee; and John Zinskie, treasurer of the Eastern Virginia Section. (Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park)

“Landmark status for the Worthington steam pumps recognizes the contribution of the steam pumps to industrial history and to the progress of mechanical engineering,” said current ASME President Keith Roe. “The Worthington steam pumps join a roster of more than 250 other ASME engineering landmarks throughout the world. Each represents a progressive step in the evolution of our profession, while exemplifying the innovation and vision personified in engineers everywhere.”

For more information on the ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks Program, or to see the complete list of ASME landmarks, visit www.asme.org/about-asme/who-we-are/engineering-history/landmarks.