Milwaukee, Wisconsin Spec.

Early Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) records indicate that from 1874 - 1895 the city bought single and double pumper nozzle hydrants made locally by the Filer & Stowell Company that they called the Stowell Model. From 1895 until 1928 the city bought R.D. Woods Mathews hydrants; also in the single and double pumper nozzle configuration.

However, in 1927 the city decided to design its own hydrant. This decision was made because of frustrations with the Mathews hydrants insofar as purchase cost and repairability. Plans and specifications were prepared and in 1928 bids were received for the first model of Milwaukee hydrant.

Milwaukee Water Works went on to design a total of five different hydrant models that manufacturers bid and built to. They all have a single 4" nozzle and 5" main valve opening.

In 1974 the city ceased buying "Spec" hydrants and starting buying standard 3-way off-the-shelf models.

All color photos © 2001, John Anderson
All B&W photos and drawings courtesy of the Milwaukee Water Works.

  MILWAUKEE (1929 - 1950)
The original Milwaukee hydrant was designed and adopted by the city in 1928. This was a "dry top" hydrant with a conventional stuffing box.
  • These hydrants are marked "MILWAUKEE" / "HYDRANT" / "5 INCH" / "(date)" on the back of short upper barrel. The manufacturer's name is embossed on the O.D. of the bolting flange below the above info.
  • This is the only model with a ground line O.D. rib and with the valve opening size cast onto the barrel.
  • City records from 1928 - 1944 show that this first Milwaukee Spec hydrant was bought from the following manufacturers in the following quantities: Filer & Stowell Co. (1552), Florence Pipe Foundry & Machine Co. (250), M & H Valve & Fitting Co. (525), R.D. Wood Co. (1900), and Waterous Co. (40).
  • 1276
    Mfr: (unknown)
    Date: (unknown)

      M.W.W. (1951 - 1955)
    This second model of the Milwaukee hydrant is also a "dry top" with an o-ring rod seal.
  • These hydrants are marked "M.W.W." / "(date)" / "(manufacturer)" on the back of short upper barrel.
  • 1119
    Mfr: M&H Valve
    Date: 1955 (back)

      M-III (1956 - 1968)
    The M-III model designation reflects that this is the third Milwaukee Spec hydrant. It is a "wet top" hydrant with an o-ring seal on the operating nut.
  • These hydrants are marked "M-III" / "(date)" / "(manufacturer)" on the side or back of nozzle section.
  • It looks like a single pumper nozzle version of the double pumper Chicago Spec hydrant.
  • 1118
    Mfr: Filer & Stowell
    Date: 1958
    Mfr: M&H Valve
    Date: 1967
    Mfr: Waterous Co.
    Date: 1964

      M-IV (1969 & 1970)
    This short-lived fourth model is 3 inches taller than the M-III, the increase being made between the center of the nozzle to the top of the operating nut. Parts are interchangeable except for the longer operating rod. This is the first hydrant to be made with a mechanical joint shoe.
  • These hydrants are marked "M-IV" / "(date)" / "(manufacturer)" on the side or back of nozzle section.
  • 1280
    Mfr: Waterous Co.
    Date: 1969

      M-V (1971 - 1973)
    This fifth and final model is the same as the M-IV except it is a "full height" hydrant incorporating an impact breakaway feature which consists of a flange joint with frangible bolts and a frangible coupling on the operating rod.
  • These hydrants are marked "M-V" / "(date)" / "(manufacturer)" on the side or back of upper barrel.
  • 1282
    Mfr: M&H Valve
    Date: 1971

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