Original Piece of Empire State Building Plumbing Up for Auction

Water pump gauge from 1930 offered on eBay
Original Piece of Empire State Building Plumbing Up for Auction
Original water pump gauge from the Empire State Building.

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An original piece of Empire State Building plumbing will go up for bid on eBay. A water pump gauge, part of the original plumbing installation in 1930, will go live for seven days, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 21.

Brian Purcell, foreman on the 1980’s plumbing retrofit of the water pump room, received the gauge as a memento from the engineering department. The gauge was from Pump No. 5, which pushed water to the top floor of the New York City landmark.

Purcell, an Irish immigrant at the time of the retrofit, now runs his own plumbing company in Ireland. He says removing five of the old pumps and installing six new ones was a huge undertaking.

“Transferring from the old pump to the new one, there was a slight hiccup in almost letting the building run out of water,” he recalls. “The electrics failed on the new pump, so urgently we had to revert back to the old pump for a while. The possible problems from running out of water were incomprehensible, unlike a domestic system.”

The original brass water gauge was painted black and re-painted a drab olive green, presumably to make it more visible. The 800 pounds per square inch rating offers an indication of the loads involved to push water to the top floor of the building.



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