STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 05 Apr 2015, 07:25

I always remember that when Peter took my mate Robert Aram up Swabs (340 ft) it was the first time he had been any higher than the bu=ngalow roof at Mablethorpe. Peter went first on the grounds that if Robert dropped off he wouldn't get knocked off the ladder. When they reached the top this meant that Peter was blocking Robert's access so he swung out to the side of the ladder while Robert got past him. Robert said afterwards that this was the most frightening thing about the climb as far as he was concerned. Once Robert had had his view, Peter got out of his way again and told him to go down slowly while he went on the rim and did the pics with his box Brownie. Here's one of them....

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 06 Apr 2015, 06:16

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Another of Peter's box Brownie pics of swabs. The interior of the chimney head.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 07 Apr 2015, 04:52

The thing that struck me about Swabs was the size of the base of the stack. It was forty feet across in the chimney bottom. I have heard that there were 17 Lancashire boilers in the dye works. The main flue split into four separate flues at the chimney base and there were two walls built at right angles, about six feet high, dividing the base for each flue entrance. Considering its size and height, the walls were very thin, I thought of it as a brick milk bottle. No wonder they had internal lightning conductors!
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Travis » 08 Apr 2015, 08:00

Being a Middleton lad I was very interested in the photo taken from the top of the stack but had trouble placing the buildings. I hope you don't mind Stanley but I shared it with some friends who informed me that the photo seems to be reversed. If that is the case then the second photo taken inside the rim may be of a right foot! :D If there are any more taken from the top I would love to see them.

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 09 Apr 2015, 04:38

You could be right Travis, Peter's negs were in terrible condition, I think he kept them loose in the coal cellar....

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Travis » 09 Apr 2015, 13:53

That's Manchester Old Road down below, I remember passing the chimney as a lad.

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 10 Apr 2015, 04:14

I don't know whether you've seen them Travis bit John Burlison went me some interesting early pics of Swabs. Look back through this topic.....
I remember that when we went into the flues to investigate the main flue under the road was so close to the surface that you could hear the traffic passing overhead.... 17 boilers on one stack.....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 11 Apr 2015, 04:28

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Daniel and Peter Tatham in the boiler house at Swabs after we came out of the flues. Notice the oil soaked sludge on the wellies. Impossible to remove and they had to be ditched. In the latter days they were firing black oil and the burners must have been very badly adjusted because the main flue almost all the way to the chimney bottom was full of oily sludge where the unburnt fuel had condensed. Chimney bottom was dry, just five feet of normal flue dust. We had to bridge this with planks to get into the chimney.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by chinatyke » 11 Apr 2015, 09:26

All that unburnt oil in the flue bottom and presumably very hot. Wonder what would have happened if it had caught fire? Did mill chimneys ever catch fire?

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 12 Apr 2015, 04:00

Not really unburnt oil China, more like very oily sludge.
I have known two flues that fired. One was the main flue at Ellenroad after Newton and I lit a fire in it to 'larn it to smook' in 1984. The economic boiler they had been using had too much draught and a lot of finely divided carbonised coal had been going into the flue for a few years and was not cleaned out. Once fired it burned very slowly for over four moths and didn't half reduce the volume.
The other fire was in the flues of a large oil fired boiler at Stainland. It had been lying idle for years and two 'experts' were brought in to re-commission it. They left the heaters on the fuel lines on all night to get the black oil thin enough to flow to the burner. When they came in the following morning and pressed the 'kindle' button the gas from the 28 second oil that had been accumulating all night (They had never checked to see what grade was in the black oil tank) exploded. It blew the burner off the boiler and split the sheet metal connection to the chimney. The insurance company refused to pay cash and insisted on a repair so Paul and I were brought in. An old bloke who had been walking his dog was passing when it blew and he said a large cloud of black dust flew out of the top of the chimney! The two experts were lucky, neither was injured.
One other thing about flue temperatures high enough to fire anything unburnt in flues. They only exist a short distance from a heavily fired boiler and seldom exceed 700F. In addition, this is in the top of the flue. The bottom courses of bricks in flues were usually common brick as they never got hot enough to justify expensive fire brick. See this pic of the reconstructed flues I put in at Ellenroad.

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by chinatyke » 12 Apr 2015, 08:59

Thanks, Stanley.

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 13 Apr 2015, 04:08

We only just reached those flues at Ellenroad in time. They were in very bad condition.

Image

Click to enlarge. Halfway down the main flue under the passage and we started to use commons for the base courses as the temperature was lower here. The right hand wall is the back wall of the economiser house and is about 40 feet high. It was essential to stabilise this.
The white bricks are not common firebrick, they are Class 1 refractory, far better brick and better dimensions. You could lay them with thinner joints. Very expensive but we got them for nothing off Macalpine's who were putting in the extra lane on the climb to Rocking Stones and we had lent them the land outside the house to use as a site HQ and materials store. The gift included all the seating blocks for re-setting the boiler and enough refractories to do the whole of the flues and settings. A better job than the original!
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 14 Apr 2015, 04:52

When I first found out about steeplejacks and their working methods they were still working in the same way that 19th century jacks operated. Very few regulations, no safety gear and flat caps and sports coats! Since then it has all totally changed. Everything from hard hats down to safety boots, high vis clothing, harnesses and safety lines. In the early days even something like a toe board on scaffolding planks was unheard of. I've heard Peter complain about chisels rolling off the scaffold on leaning chimneys! The question is, how much of these 'improvements' is actually necessary?
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 15 Apr 2015, 06:02

I have a question.... Thinking about the old days with Peter my mind went to his ropes. I remember when he did the chimney head he got a 600ft coil of rope for the hoist we installed. Was it Manilla? What sort of rope is used now.....?
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Steeplejerk » 15 Apr 2015, 10:09

Stanley,all the changes to the steeplejack industry were necessary ,if things didnt change I dont think there would be steeplejacks today,the job itself is more or less exactly the same just slightly different methods for fixing ladder and scaffolding and being clipped on to something at all times,I think the powers that be needed a safe recognisable method so it could be understood rather than tricks of the trade passed on through generations.
the ropes are still polypropolene and natural fibre,most jacks are now opting for the abseiling ropes rather than think heavy tackle ropes,this again is because you can test and understand the descenders and ascenders rather than trying to get your head round how 2 rolling hitches will keep you safe.
The rope Peter used on the winch at Ellenroad was just a 6mm polypropolene,it was thrown away after the job,couldnt be reused like a steel cable on a winch..
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 16 Apr 2015, 04:47

Thanks for that Tom. Some good weather coming for you now, less time in the pub?
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 17 Apr 2015, 07:59

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An example of the rope maker's craft. These coils are cotton driving rope but they demonstrate just how expert the rope makers were. From Kenyon's (Dukinfield) catalogue.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 18 Apr 2015, 03:55

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Peter's winch. It saved a lot of work. At one point when we were planning the job young Jason asked how we were going to get the bricks to the top of the stack. Peter told him he was going to buy him a special jacket with pockets large enough to hold four bricks and his job was to carry them up the ladder....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 20 Apr 2015, 04:54

Telling that story about Jason reminded me that if Peter was reducing a chimney from the top he never rigged to send a ladder down when the top one had become redundant, he just put it on his shoulder and carried it down when he was next coming off for a break.

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Brooke Edgeley's lads carried the ladders up when they were laddering. Ellenroad in 1987.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 21 Apr 2015, 05:14

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Peter carrying a ladder up the destructor chimney at Salford in 1976.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 22 Apr 2015, 04:36

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Salford incinerator chimney September 1976. Look at the slum housing, one at least still occupied, there is smoke coming out of the chimney. It was a very deprived area and next to Srangeways prison.....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 23 Apr 2015, 04:48

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Another view of the Salford stack, Peter laddering it. In the background is Strangeways Gaol and the Irwell in the foreground. All of them connected in some way with waste, the river was an open sewer for many years and the gaol was society's dustbin....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Tripps » 23 Apr 2015, 10:32

"and the gaol was society's dustbin.."

I visited someone in Strangeways in about 1970. As usual I was observing all the other visitors, and it was obvious that they were the mostly 'inadequates' of life.

He was in for debt. Failing to pay alimony. No I couldn't believe it either. I was able to make arrangements for his debt to be paid, and he was out later that day. It was a certain amount per day, and they didn't charge for public holidays. It was Easter weekend so he got two days 'free' .

I wonder if it still happens.

PS What did the Salford destructor destroy?
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 24 Apr 2015, 03:58

They were burning household waste and had done for many years but we were just beginning to learn about the perils of Dioxins in the exhaust gases if the furnace temperature was too low. Not a problem when the plant was designed because the waste didn't have the plastic content which was the culprit. Rochdale had one as well in the centre of the town which ran until the 1980s, the heat produced went to the municipal baths next door.... Exactly the same scenario there. They couldn't guarantee high enough furnace temperatures and closed it down.
As for gaol for debt, yes it still happens. I saw a report not long ago about single mothers imprisoned for non-payment of TV licence fees.... As you say, unbelievable in this day and age.... (children placed in care of course so a double whammy)
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 28 Apr 2015, 06:19

One thing that many people don't appreciate is that the enormous height of the chimneys on many East Cost power stations (850ft at Drax) is to inject the plume of exhaust gas high enough in the atmosphere for it to disperse over the North Sea. For many years Norway in particular complained that the plume was reaching them and resulting in 'acid rain' which was damaging their forests. Later research suggests that this may be wrong and that the acid rain is generated by the forests themselves which are almost exclusively coniferous.

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Drax power station.
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