UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A todo vapor : mechanisation in Porfirian Mexico : steam power and machine building, 1862 to 1906. Aviles-Galan, Miguel Angel 2010

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata


24-ubc_spring_2010_aviles-galan_miguel_angel.PDF [ 14.45MB ]
JSON: 24-1.0071013.json
JSON-LD: 24-1.0071013-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 24-1.0071013-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 24-1.0071013-rdf.json
Turtle: 24-1.0071013-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 24-1.0071013-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 24-1.0071013-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

A TODO VAPOR: MECHANISATION IN PORFIRIAN MEXICO. STEAM POWER AND MACHINE BUILDING, 1862 TO 1906. by Miguel Angel Aviles-Galan B.A., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, 2002 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2004 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (History) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) February 2010 © Miguel Angel Aviles-Galan, 2010 Abstract This dissertation develops readings and interpretations about technological artifacts and machines in relation to mechanical engineering, and social, political, and material culture during the Porfiriato, that period in Mexican history associated with the rule of Porfirio DIaz between 1876 and 1910. It is argued that the PorfIriato facilitated the mechanical revolution of the country that transformed the life experience of Mexicans. To describe the process of Mexico’s mechanisation, this dissertation examines the case of an iron foundry, the Fundición de Sinaloa (The FundiciOn or ES), that was established in Mazatlán, State of Sinaloa, by the early 1870s. It is argued that this foundry was the site where technological adaptation of steam engineering took place leading to the development of a system for the construction of machines. As a result, from 1891 to 1906, the foundry produced diverse tools and machinery by adapting state-of-the-art thermodynamic technology and machines. The analysis of the Fundición took shape through the interpretation of original engineering drawings and photographs of steam machines built in the workshops of the foundry in Mazatlán. In addition, other archival documents and secondary sources were consulted, including the accounts of those who witnessed and experienced the socio-cultural effects of technoscientific artifacts in Mexico at the turn of the nineteenth century. In order to interpret this rich and complex body of evidence, this dissertation utilises, in combination, Actor-Network-Theory, Technological Systems, and visual analysis as theoretical frameworks. It is argued that machines are historical actors that interact with social groups through the creation of networks. In turn, these interactions establish diverse sociotechnological arrangements while shaping the ways in which machines and artifacts are understood and conceptualised across cultures and time. Finally, it is explored how, by the end of the nineteenth century, there was a favourable combination of local and international conditions that constituted the historical context for this case of technological adaptation. Table of Contents Abstract.ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables v List of Figures vi List of Illustrations vii Acknowledgements xi Dedication xii Introduction 1 Chapter-Station 1: Under the Metallic Skin of Machines 23 Station 1.1. Mechanical Conundrums: French and American Engineering 27 Station 1.2. Paths of Machine Building 36 Station 1.3. Building Steam Engines 40 Station I .4.Machines in Sociotechnical Contexts 48 Chapter-Station 2: Small, Powerful, and Well Constructed: Steam Machines Built at the Fundición de Sinaloa 62 Station 2.1. Showcasing Mexican Engines in the World’s Expositions 63 Station 2.2. Building a System for Building Machines 70 Station 2.3. Metal Casting, Machine Construction and Tool Making 74 Station 2.4. Situated Practice: American, British, and Mexican Machine Builders 91 Station 2.5. The Corliss Steam Engine Company of the USA 94 Station 2.6. British Machine Builders 96 Station 2.7. Mexican Engines: FundiciOn de Sinaloa 97 Chapter-Station 3: From Paper to Steel: Negotiating Visual Representations of Machines 103 Station 3.1. Visualising Steam Engines and Boilers 113 Station 3.2. Negotiated Views: Plans and Real Machines 123 Chapter-Station 4: The Moving Gears of the Fundición de Sinaloa 130 Station 4.1. The Context of Machine Building 132 Station 4.1.2. Building Business Partnerships 135 III Station 4.2. Building the Fundición de Sinaloa .139 Station 4.3. Alejandro Loubet y CompañIa 153 Station 4.4. Francisco Echeguren, Hermana y Sobrinos 156 Station 4.5. Joaqumn Redo Balmaceda 159 Station 4.6. Workers & Employees 164 Station 4.7. Negotiations between the Echegurens, the Redos and Loubet 166 Station 4.8. Negotiations between the FundiciOn de Sinaloa and the Mexican Government 170 Chapter-Station 5: Mechanisation in Porfirian Mexico 185 Station 5.1. Framing Mechanisation 187 Station 5.2. Mechanisation, Fomento and Material Progress 191 Station 5.3. Administration of Material Progress 217 Station 5.3. Contested Space: The Government Contract and the FundiciOn 229 Chapter-Station 6: The Mechanical City 246 Chapter 7: Sublime Artifacts: Aesthetics of Machines in Porfirian Material Culture 271 Station 7.1. Photographic Investigation of Porfirian Machines 278 Station 7.1 .1. Content and Context of Photographs of Machines 280 Station 7.1.2. Materiality and Meaning of Photographs of Machines 283 Chapter-Station 8: Conclusion 292 Works Cited 388 Appendix 1: Critical Theory for the Analysis of Technology 422 Appendix 2: Steam Technoscience 428 iv List of Tables Table 1: Patents of Inventions or Innovations on Steam and Electric Technologies.. ..306 Table 2: Annual Machinery Production, FundiciOn de Sinaloa: 1891-1 906 307 Table 3: Classification of Engines by Horsepower Units, FundiciOn de Sinaloa 1891-1906 308 Table 4: Classification of Boilers by Horsepower Units, FundiciOn de Sinaloa 1891-1906 309 V List of Figures Figure 1: Advertising of machinery and products made by the Fulton Iron Works of San Francisco, California, 1889 310 Figure 2: International Actor-Networks of Steam Technoscience during the late-nineteenth century 311 Figure 3: Local Actor-Networks of Steam Technoscience during the late-nineteenth century 312 Figure 4: Interplay between International and Local Actor-Networks of Steam Technoscience during the late-nineteenth century 313 Figure 5: Interconnectedness between International and Local contexts in relationship to Steam Machines and the positioning of the FundiciOn de Sinaloa 314 Figure 6: Transverse section of a simple expansion, double-acting, high pressure steam engine 315 Figure 7: Local I Inside Actor-Networks established by A. Loubet, F. Echeguren, and J. Redo, owners of the FundiciOn de Sinaloa 316 Figure 8: National Actor-Networks established by A. Loubet, F. Echeguren, and J. Redo, owners of the FundiciOn de Sinaloa 317 Figure 9: SecretarIa de Fomento in 1877 318 Figure 10: Secretaria de Fomento in 1882 319 Figure 11: SecretarIa de Fomento in 1894 320 vi List of Illustrations Map 1: Port and City of Mazatlán in 1897 321 Map 2: Map of Mexico showing the location of the state of Sinaloa and Mazatlán where the FundiciOn de Sinaloa was established 322 Illustration 1: Canada de Metlac (1897). Oil painting by José Maria Velasco Gómez (1840-1912) 323 Illustration 2: “La EvoluciOn Industrial” from the book Mexico, su evoluciOn social, edited by Justo Sierra, 1900-1901 324 Photographs of Engines built by the Fundición de Sinaloa: El- E17 Photograph of Engine 1: Horizontal, single cylinder 325 Photograph of Engine 2: Horizontal, single cylinder 326 Photograph of Engine 3: Vertical, single cylinder 327 Photograph of Engine 4: Vertical, single cylinder 328 Photograph of Engine 5: Horizontal, single cylinder 329 Photograph of Engine 6: Horizontal, single cylinder 330 Photograph of Engine 7: Horizontal, double-acting cylinder 331 Photograph of Engine 8: Horizontal, double-acting cylinder 332 Photograph of Engine 9: Horizontal, single cylinder 333 Photograph of Engine 10: Horizontal, single cylinder 334 Photograph of Engine 11: Horizontal, single cylinder 335 Photograph of Engine 12: Horizontal, single cylinder 336 Photograph of Engine 13: Horizontal, single cylinder 337 Photograph of Engine 14: Horizontal, single cylinder 338 Photograph of Engine 15: Horizontal, single cylinder with reinforced bed frame 339 Photograph of Engine 16: Vertical, single cylinder 340 Photograph of Engine 17: Unfinished horizontal, single cylinder 341 VII Photographs of Boilers built by the Fundición de Sinaloa: BI- B15 Photograph of Boiler 1: Scottish type 342 Photograph of Boiler 2: Scottish type 343 Photograph of Boiler 3: Cornish type 344 Photograph of Boiler 4: Scottish type 345 Photograph of Boiler 5: Two Scottish type boilers 346 Photograph of Boiler 6: Vertical Cornish type 347 Photograph of Boiler 7: Cornish type 348 Photograph of Boiler 8: Cornish type 349 Photograph of Boiler 9: Corn ish type 350 Photograph of Boiler 10: Cornish type 351 Photograph of Boiler 11: Two Cornish type boilers 352 Photograph of Boiler 12: Scottish type 353 Photograph of Boiler 13: Vertical Cornish type 354 Photograph of Boiler 14: Cornish type 355 Photograph of Boiler 15: Corn ish type 356 Photographs of Drawings of Engines built by the Fundición de Sinaloa: DEl- DE9 Drawing of Engine 1: Section view of steam engine number 1 (1892) 357 Drawing of Engine 2: Orthogonal and plan views of a portable steam engine, number 10 (1892). Stone crusher based on the Blake model 358 Drawing of Engine 3: Profile and plan views: steam engine number 15 (1893) 359 Drawing of Engine 4: Plan view: compound air compressor, engines 25 and 26(1894). 360 Drawing of Engine 5: Plan view: horizontal engine number 42 (1897) 361 Drawing of Engine 6: Profile and plan views: horizontal engine number 48 (year unknown) 362 Drawing of Engine 7: Orthogonal views: horizontal air-pump number 8 (1892) 363 VIII Drawing of Engine 8: Plan view: compound engine number 54(1899) 364 Drawing of Engine 9: Profile and section views: vertical engine number 60 (1900) 365 Photographs of Drawings of Boilers built by the Fundición de Sinaloa: DBI-DB 8. Drawing of Boiler 1: Profile, plan and section views: horizontal, fired-tube, Scottish boiler number 1 (1892) 366 Drawing of Boiler 2: Profile, plan and section views: horizontal, fired-tube, Scottish boiler number 5 (1892) 367 Drawing of Boiler 3: Profile, plan and section views: horizontal, fired-tube, Scottish boiler number 12 (1892) 368 Drawing of Boiler 4: Profile and plan views: vertical, fired-tube, number 29 (1894) 369 Drawing of Boiler 5: Profile, plan and section views: horizontal, fired-tube, Scottish boiler number 37 (year unknown) 370 Drawing of Boiler 6: Profile, plan and section views: horizontal, fired-tube, Scottish boiler number 112 (1903) 371 Drawing of Boiler 7: Profile and section views: vertical, fired-tube, number 67 (1901). 372 Drawing of Boiler 8: Profile, plan and section views: horizontal, fired-tube, Scottish boiler number 111 (1903) 373 Photograph 1: Newspaper clip from El Correo de Ia Tarde advertising the Fundición of Sinaloa in 1887 374 Photograph 2: Views of workshops and different sections from the FundiciOn de Sinaloa in 1898 375 Photograph 3: Engineering drawing for a double-acting steam engine (number 54) for water pumping, 1899. Ordered by La Pirámide Mining Co. and manufactured by Fundición de Sinaloa 376 Photograph 4: Reynolds-Corliss engine built in 1889 by Edward P. Allis & Co., United States 377 Photograph 5: Crank side, horizontal, single cylinder engine built in 1874 by Needham, Qualter, Hall & Co., Great Britain 378 Photograph 6: Loubet-Corliss engine, horizontal, single cylinder built in 1893 by FundiciOn de Sinaloa, Mazatlán, Mexico 379 ix Photograph 7: Loubet-Corliss engine, horizontal, double-acting cylinder built in 1901 by FundiciOn de Sinaloa, Mazatlán, Mexico 380 Photograph 8: Corliss-Frick engine, horizontal, double-acting cylinder built by Frick Company, Waynesboro, PA., in works established 1853 and incorporated 1885 381 Photograph 9: Engineering drawing for a Loubet-Corliss engine, horizontal, single- acting cylinder, 12 horsepower units, with Porter-Allen valve gears built in 1893 by Fundición de Sinaloa, Mazatlán, Mexico 382 Photograph 10: Newspaper clip advertising Hermann-Lachapelle, J. Boulet y Cia., Sucesores, Ingenieros Mecánicos, published by El Correo de Ia Tarde of Mazatlén, in 1889 383 Photograph 11: French version of the Hermann-Lachapelle newspaper clip advertising machineries in 1877 384 Photograph 12: Mechanical engineer Alejandro Loubet Guzmán (1858-1 924). Date unknown 385 Photograph 13: Exterior of the old Mercado Romero Rubio, now Mercado José Maria Pino Suárez, designed and constructed by Alejandro Lou bet and the Fund ición de Sinaloa, in Mazatlán, Sinaloa 386 Photograph 14: Interior of Mercado José Maria Pino Suárez, Mazatlán, Sinaloa 387 x Acknowledgements I owe special thanks to Dr. William French, whose particular ways of looking into Mexico have made me realised of those nuanced intricacies of culture that travel across time and space. Over the years, we have become more aware of our mutually shared gathering ground: history. My gratitude is also aimed to be proportional to the amount of time he had dedicated in making more legible my arguments. His always penetrating questions helped me to reshape, in a better way, my own questions. I thank Dr. Robert Brain for enlarging my vision of the history of science and for providing coherent answers and critical feedback to my questions. But most of all, for clarifying those aspects in the crafting of historical knowledge that are not taught in the seminars. I am grateful for having his support in discussing this dissertation. Special thanks are owed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies of UBC and to CONACYT Mexico, whose have supported me throughout my years of education financially. To my beloved Blanca, I owe more than can be expressed in both languages — Spanish and English. Without her love, wisdom, and support, morally and financially, this dissertation would have been impossible. Para ti, Blanca, te dedico con todo mi amor este trabajo. xi Dedication For Blanca: always loving, loyal, and supportive. Mi amor y gratitud, siempre. xii Introduction In 1887, Mexican poet, journalist, and literary writer Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera (1859-1 895) published La novela del tranvIa, a short story inspired by the mechanical motion generated by steam power. Envisioned in much the same way as train travel, the story possesses a point of departure and a final destination along with alternating rhythms of faster and slower pacing as well as metaphorical stops at a number of stations across Mexico City.1 Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera’s analogy linking train travel and plot has inspired the writing of this dissertation. In it, I develop readings and interpretations of technological artifacts during the Porfiriato, that period in Mexican history associated with the rule of Porfirio DIaz between 1876 and 1910. Chapters are conceived both as stations and as stops. Each station examines particular approaches toward technological artifacts, particularly in relation to mechanical engineering as well as to social, political, and material culture. In the same way, the methodological framework that holds the analysis of this dissertation is envisioned as a railway network of technological artifacts connecting all chapter-stations. Gutiérrez Nájera’s analogy also aims to capture the centrality of machines and steam power as historical actors in the process of Mexico’s mechanisation. For this reason, and to undertake this task, this dissertation focuses on a case study, an iron foundry called the FundiciOn de Sinaloa (Fundición or FS), and digs under the mechanical skin of steam machines in order to provide insights into the building of engines and their social and cultural effects within the context of Porfirian Mexico. 1 Years before, in 1880, French novelist Emile Zola explained in a letter to his friend Paul Alexis that the novel, its order and narrative should imitate the steam engine. Zola’s La bête humaine emulated train travel and plot becoming an aesthetic model for the novel’s spatio-temporal organisation. Cf. Kai Mikkonen, The Plot Machine: The French Novel and the Bachelor Machines in the Electric Years (1880- 1914) (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001) 109-148. The sources for this background information and analysis are my bachelor and master thesis, respectively. Both studies focus on Mexican intellectuals and their cultural context during the Porfiriato. See Miguel Angel Avilés-Galán, ‘El Concepto del Tiempo en Ia Prosa de Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera.” BA. thesis, Universidad Nacional Autônoma de Mexic