STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 18 Dec 2015, 07:40

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The large barring engine at Ellenroad. I was told that this is not the original, it was replaced at some time when the original failed to do its job.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 19 Dec 2015, 06:04

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This was the Victoria engine at Earby. You can see the barring engine right at the bottom of the pic. This barring engine was hard worked because the shafting run at Victoria was so large that it had to be moved every morning to break the 'stiction' in the bearings before starting the engine. In cold weather it turned the shafting for at least half an hour before they dare start. If this hadn't been done there was a very good chance that the engine would shear the crank pin off on the first power stroke.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 20 Dec 2015, 06:19

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One of the weavers asked me one day why, occasionally, the shafting turned slowly during the lunch break. I told her that this was when I used the barring engine to turn the engine over slowly while I applied rope grease to the drive ropes. Rope grease was a mixture of tallow and graphite and put a skin on the outside of the ropes that helped prevent wear and gave a more even turning motion on the second motion wheel and hence the shafting. This gave better weaving and more picks for the weavers. In turn that meant higher wages. It was attention to the small details like that which made the difference between a good engineer and a bad one. Notice how the Bancroft ropes are black and shiny......
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 21 Dec 2015, 05:18

In case any of you were wondering why the catenary curve on some ropes is a lot different than others. The one that sag most are original ropes from 1920, the others bare replacements over the years. The sag in the unloaded side of the ropes is no detriment, in fact they have more area of contact with the grooves in the flywheel and second motion so a more positive drive. In the old room and power mills the tenants preferred gear drive to ropes as it is positive, no chance of slippage. I could never understand this, the slippage is minimal and in fact is a good thing for weaving which loves a constant drive as it tends to smooth out the power delivery. All that matters is that the speed of the second motion shaft is exactly right for the weavers in the shed. The speed to the looms varies from day to day as the leather belts were very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. I had obe old weaver, and ex-tackler called Billy Lambert, always referred to as Billy Two Rivers after the wrestler. Once the drive had settled down in the morning I used to go in the shed and he tipped me the wink as to whether to speed up or slow down a touch. In my first months on the engine I raised the weavers wages thirty shillings a week by little strategies like this. I was a popular bloke!

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Billy Lambert. One of the old school.... A good weaver.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 22 Dec 2015, 06:50

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I loved my weavers, a lovely feisty lot and we always had a laugh. Even when they were playing hell with me because the shed was cold.....
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 23 Dec 2015, 06:42

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I wonder whether this lot in 1921 at Bancroft were the same? Bancroft weavers on the banking at the back of the mill. 1.Annie Platt. 2.(Iris, Edith?) Barrett. 3. Mary Joyce. 4.Vera Scott.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 24 Dec 2015, 06:39

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Bancroft Shed at Xmas. The weavers liked their decorations.....
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 25 Dec 2015, 05:53

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Alan Andrews Xmas card to me in 1984. A good man, he died shortly afterwards......
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 27 Dec 2015, 05:32

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My latest engine is coming along nicely! Remember, if you really want to understand steam engines, build one. You have to do everything the old fitters did but on a smaller scale.....
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 28 Dec 2015, 04:11

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Burnley Ironworks had a bigger shed than me but basically did the same things. In this 1917 pic many of the machines you can see in the process of manufacture are shell-turning lathes.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 29 Dec 2015, 05:22

Something we forget these days is that there were wonderful engineers and firms supporting the engineers. In Barlick we had Henry Brown Sons and Pickles at Wellhouse. It was Newton Pickles that took me in hand when I first got Bancroft engine and turned me into a competent engine tenter.

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He was always ready to explain the answer to every question you threw at him.....
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 30 Dec 2015, 05:08

Anyone looking at the amount of water that has been flowing down our becks of late could be forgiven for thinking that this would have suited the old water millers down to the ground. Unfortunately, not so. High water reduces the efficiency of a water wheel which is designed for a specific ideal flow and this is the amount that is to be expected on average throughout the year. High flows can raise the level of the water under the wheel to the point where it is submerged. This drastically reduces power and was described as 'wallowing'. This was worst in wheels that had an extended tail race in a tunnel, water could back up in the tunnel if the level was high at the outfall and this too could cause wallowing.
There was another disadvantage as well. These high flows almost always happened in winter when the days were short and a lot of work had to be done during the hours of darkness. This meant a heavy additional expenditure on lighting, candles and oil lamps were the order of the day then. If you look at the water mill accounts in 'A Calendar of Lancashire Documents' (on the site) you'll see that candles were a very high expense in winter.
So, a combination of high water leading to reduced power and the cost of lighting could mean that it was better to stop the mill and wait for conditions to improve. There was also the danger of damage to the components of the water management arrangements during floods. Many water Mills were destroyed in floods or had severe bursts in the earth works of the head race. By-washes were built into these to relieve the flow but often couldn't cope. Like many other things, water milling wasn't as easy as it looks!
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 31 Dec 2015, 05:37

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High water conditions at Bancroft in 1977. Excessive water could cause problems with engines as well. In conditions like these I used to run with the clow on the dam wide open to avert too high a level in the dam which could have caused problems and possible damage to the dam itself. Luckily the dirty water didn't affect the air pump apart from the fact that I used to avoid getting it into the hot well by injecting mains water in there to stop the overflow from the air pump getting into the system.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 01 Jan 2016, 06:18

One of the advantages of a high flow like that was that if the clow was open a lot of retained silt in the dam went down the back with the flood water. I often opened the clow at weekend to let the normal flow do the same thing, frowned on by the Rivers Authority but I reasoned that we were only letting silt go downstream that would have gone there had the dam not existed. I never got into trouble and had a reasonably clean dam.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 02 Jan 2016, 06:20

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Closing the clow at Bancroft after a weekend wash-out. We never got it completely clear, all we could do was to get rid of the latest accumulation in the bottom.

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 03 Jan 2016, 05:07

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Cleaning the foot valve of the condenser intake pipe at Bancroft. There was a lot more to running an engine than simply polishing the hand rails.....
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 04 Jan 2016, 06:25

Mentioning hand rails has reminded me that if you go down to the flywheel on the right hand engine at Ellenroad and look very carefully at the hand rail you'll find a stamp that indicates the rails were forged at Wortley Forge, a water powered forging mill near Sheffield. I wonder whether they specialised in making them?

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Two of the tilt hammers at Wortley Forge in 1978.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 05 Jan 2016, 05:53

Thinking about where the engine manufacturers sourced their parts can lead you into some interesting by ways. They cast and machined the biggest items themselves of course. You have seen plenty of big machines on the site installed by them to handle very big artefacts. It was the steam engine manufacturing industry that stimulated new methods and bigger and bigger machines. Look at the size of this big American Bement planer....

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Anyone who has watched me on shed matters will have noted that because I am unable to use forgings, a lot of my engine parts have to be machined out of the solid with much consequent waste of material and time. The old engine makers bought in forgings made roughly to shape under the hammer and this was a specialised trade. Wortley as seen above was OK for smaller parts but as the engines got larger so did machines for forging big items. Krupps at Essen were a major supplier before WW1, especially as they had perfected using Bessemer Steel. Many Lancashire makers got their forgings from Krupps. The funny thing is that if you look at the date of build of the engines it's plain that German forgings were coming into Britain by roundabout routes well into the war....
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 06 Jan 2016, 07:24

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Another area where specialised makers had the field was lubricators. This lever operated lubricator on the Bancroft Engine is a Lunkenheimer mad in the US. They made a lot of lubricators for the British market.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 07 Jan 2016, 06:21

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A good example of how successful accessory suppliers could be is Kirkham's, Lark Street, Bolton. They were a small brass foundry next door to John Musgrave at Globe Iron works. They built up a connection with them and very soon developed an automatic high pressure cylinder lubricator that was efficient, very reliable and easily adjusted. They became the industry standard and survived as lubricator manufacturers until the 198os when they closed down.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 08 Jan 2016, 05:34

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Enclosed photo taken in 1950's is of Walter Fawcett, Mill Engineer, in Perseverance Mill Engine House, Padiham. This mill was owned by the Noble family of Padiham - Eric & Alan Noble, brothers, were directors. Regards, Gill Rosthorn, Accrington.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Tizer » 08 Jan 2016, 10:08

This web page of Somerset Rivers Authority is about dredging the River Parrett but some of the photos include the Westonzoyland Pumping Station and its chimney (also the site of the Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum). LINK

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by plaques » 08 Jan 2016, 11:42

King Alfred's cakes must be a little on the soggy side by now. Should we be updating history.

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 09 Jan 2016, 05:37

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Kirkhams made pumps for the reservoirs on big bearing oilers. This is one off the flywheel bearing on the Bancroft engine. I took them both off and gave them some TLC. First time they had been attended to in their lives I think. Note that an aluminium extra pulley has been added. The rope drive from a single rope wasn't positive enough so both sides were modified.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 10 Jan 2016, 05:46

Kirkhams made all sorts of lubricators. Here are two accessories they made....

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This is a new reciprocating pump the same as the one in the reservoir above.

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This is a more modern version, a gear pump for the same duty.
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