STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 04 May 2018, 03:09

Indeed Bodge. But they did well didn't they!

CHAPTER 22: SPRING MILL

We start with an article in the Craven Herald dated 24th of May 1935 which describes the start-up of Grove mill in 1885 by Mr William Gill who was a local joiner and building contractor. He built a two storey warehouse with a 600 loom weaving shed on Ireland Meadows off School Lane in Earby just below the old Grammar School powered by one of the last engines built by the Bracewell works at Burnley during the period after his death and the formation of Burnley Ironworks company. It was a peculiar beast with unequal stroke on the HP and LP sides. In 1916 it was replaced by a new Burnley Ironworks engine of about 500hp with a new boiler and ran with this until closure in I think 1939/40 when the mill was taken over by the Rover Company as an Ministry of Aircraft Production shadow factory. I’m mentioning Grove here because I have no record of any work done by Henry Brown or Brown and Pickles probably because in the time of the old engine Henry wasn’t into heavy repairs and after the new engine and boiler were installed there is no record of any serious repairs. I suspect that Browns would do small repairs but anything major would be done by Burnley Ironworks. However, there is a connection with Spring Mill.

A new firm started in Grove Shed in 1889/90 with three partners, James Watson who had been weaving manager at Sough Bridge Mill, William Berry who had been associated with cloth design at Dotcliffe Mill and Charles Bailey, son of John Bailey a local grocer who was probably the money man behind the partnership. I’ll allow myself a speculation here, it looks as though John Bailey was giving his son a chance to prove his ability. John must have been a fairly feisty character because I have a report that when he set up his grocery business on Water Street in Earby he crossed the Bracewells in some way and they cut off the water to his shop. History doesn’t record the outcome of the dispute but he survived. Now why is it that when I see the name Bracewell associated with a dispute over water it doesn’t surprise me? Perhaps they had a gene that pre-disposed them to this sort of thing!

Charles must have done good at Grove because in 1895 John Bailey commissioned a new mill, Spring Mill on Stoneybank Road. (It’s wonderful what odd bits of information surface when you start to dig into these matters and whenever a specific name is mentioned I like to record them. So here’s a piece of essential Spring Mill information for you, the late Bob King told me that the name of the man who did the concreting during the building of the mill was Thomas Nuttall. Bob’s source for all his information about the mill was the original company minute books which he ‘won’ whilst he was manager. What a good move!) It was finished in 1896 and was one of the smallest mills in the district with 400 looms driven by a 200hp Burnley Ironworks engine running on 120psi. Bob Abel of Earby found an article in the Yorkshire Pioneer of the 1st of May 1896 reporting the engine start and christening. Thomas Bailey’s daughter Jane Alice Bailey named the engine Alice Ann. A further article dated Friday 29th of May 1896 reported that the mill was running and the construction of workers housing close to the site was ‘proceeding apace’. The Universal Metallic Packing Company order books note that in May 1921 the Spring Mill Company ordered new packings for the engine and further, in 1934, that the engine was being used by T Timperley and Sons, sanitary pipe makers at Shineyford above Bacup on the Todmorden road.

Geoff Shackleton reports that the 200hp Burnley Ironworks was taken out and sold in 1923 and replaced by a second hand Hick Hargreaves engine of 360hp built in 1899 and running on 160psi from a new Hewitt and Kellet boiler. The UMP order books record that on November 7th 1911 Burgess and Ledward of Wardsley Mill, Walkden Manchester ordered packings for this engine so we know this is where it came from. The new engine was installed by the Burnley Ironworks Company. During the war Spring Mill was used for tobacco storage, it came from the docks by road transport and was in wooden casks. After de-requisitioning in 1945 it opened again as a weaving shed and ran until 1968 when it was scrapped. The last engineer was the late Hedley Bradshaw of Water Street who was a nice man and a good friend who I met through Newton and was one of the founding members of the Bancroft Mill Engine Trust.

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Hedley Arnold and Newton at Bancroft.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by plaques » 04 May 2018, 19:05

One of the strange things when you mention Burnley Iron Works is that on the Burnley maps of 1892 it covers a relatively small area yet the work done there must have required some very large machinery. you can get some idea of the scale from that the adjacent houses are nearly all back to back and were some of the first to be demolished round the 1950's.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 05 May 2018, 03:20

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Very true P and as you can see from this sale plan of 1887 when William Bracewell died some of the ground was weaving sheds. Despite this, at least one of the engines built there was described as 'the biggest in the world' at the time.

I now have to report that I have failed you completely. I have searched the transcripts of my interviews with Newton for Spring Mill and there isn’t a word, we missed it out. The big problem when you spend so much time with a bloke like Newton is that occasionally you talk about subjects off-tape and then forget to actually record the details. This is what has happened here and so I shall have to rely on my memory. Both Newton and I liked Hedley, he was a lovely bloke and while he was not the most experienced engineer in the world Newton said he had one great virtue, he listened to advice, stuck to his routine and called for help if there was something he didn’t understand. Newton gave me an instance of this. He got a call from Hedley one morning asking him to go down to Spring Mill because Hedley thought there was something wrong. He said that he had a little tune he used to whistle while he was oiling the engine and on this particular morning the engine wasn’t keeping time with his whistle. Newton scratched his head at this but went down to Earby. When he got down there he sat and listened to the engine for a while and then found the problem. The engine was running slow because someone had altered the governor setting, Hedley hadn’t touched it and so was baffled. Newton made an adjustment, they timed the engine and all was well. As a last check Hedley whistled his tune and it fitted perfectly!

Now this sounds slightly amusing doesn’t it but it illustrates what I keep telling you, Hedley might not have had the knowledge but he was a good engine tenter. He had detected a change simply by using his ears and had taken action which led to the right result. Hedley died in February 2002 after a distressing period when he suffered from a form of Alzheimer’s disease. I used to visit him and Sophia his wife and I’ll tell you something very strange about the way his illness took him. He could have an intelligent conversation about things that happened years ago but had no short term memory. Sophia said that the only time he came alive was when he was reminiscing about the old days. Sophia is still alive and well as I write this in 2009 and I wish her well. One piece of information about Sophia needs to be recorded, all her life she was a singer at the chapel and in choirs and in her younger days she sang with Kathleen Ferrier who told her she should turn professional but she never had the opportunity.
I have one more piece of slightly puzzling information about the Spring Mill engine and Henry Brown and Sons. I have a picture of Stanley Fisher and Harry Brown outside the foundry at Havre Park in 1923 with a shaft for Spring Mill engine made by Burnley Ironworks. This was the year the Hick Hargreaves was installed and I wondered whether the last straw with the old Burnley Ironworks engine was a new shaft but this didn’t seem right so I rang Walt Fisher who is the last man alive who could help me. He pointed out something that had escaped me, the picture is of a shaft with both cranks on it. This could only be fitted in a split flywheel and Walt thinks that what was happening here was that Henry Brown’s had been quartering the old shaft, moving the cranks to 90 degrees from each other to make the turning motion on the shaft more regular. He also said that he’d often wondered why Harry Brown has a drift in his hand. Walt thinks that these cranks weren’t shrunk on but keyed and that it had been easier to take the top half off the flywheel, take the shaft out of the engine and get it to Barlick to cut the new keyway on a machine rather than chop it out by hand. This all fits with what the picture tells us and we know that the engine was overloaded in its latter days so perhaps this was the last effort to get more efficient power out of the engine before taking the option of replacing it. Walt also says that the little wagon in the background on the picture was an Overland. I had heard of these before and looked into it, I found that in 1908, Overland Motors of Indianapolis in America was purchased John North Willys. In 1912, it was renamed Willys-Overland and Overlands continued to be produced until 1926 when the marque was succeeded by Willys Whippet. Later on of course this company manufactured the famous Jeep. As I keep saying, this research is tricky stuff and perhaps this wagon is the one that Newton referred to in the 1930s as an Austin 20.

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Stanley Fisher on left and Harry Brown on right (Thornton Harry) in the foundry at Havre Park in 1923 with the shaft for the Burnley Ironworks engine at Spring Mill. The old Overland truck can be seen behind the shaft.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 06 May 2018, 04:04

CHAPTER 23: SOUGH BRIDGE MILL

The origins of the weaving shed that was first known as Kelbrook Bridge mill but later as Sough Bridge mill are a bit obscure. All I have ever been able to find out and supplemented by Geoff Shackleton’s research is that in 1866 a company called The Kelbrook Mill Building Company (Bridge Mill) was formed. By 1870 the mill was built and the KMBC gave a man called R F Binns a mortgage to buy the mill. By May 1871 Binns is selling the mill to C E and H Bracewell who in turn sell it to Nathan Smallpage and Sons in October 1882. In an article in the Craven Herald dated 25th of March 1938 John Hartley said that his family got work at Sough Bridge Mill in 1889 working for Smallpages. In 1898 Smallpage’s sell it to The Kelbrook Mill Company. Geoff found a Burnley Ironworks drawing of an engine annotated ‘Tandem engine for C Bracewell Brothers, Kelbrook’ in which the flywheel and gear drive seem to be identical with the 1926 description of the engine then ascribed to William Roberts of Phoenix foundry Nelson. Christopher Bracewell certainly had an interest in the mill at that time and it could well be that the actual starting date for the mill was 1872 and that Bracewells had completed it.

On the whole Geoff thinks that the original engine was by Burnley Ironworks. Remember that the Burnley foundry was owned at that time by Billycock Bracewell from Barlick. In 1905 the UMP order book records that two packings were supplied for each cylinder. The company is described as The Kelbrook Mill Company and the order was placed by Burnley Ironworks. According to Newton Pickles the engine his uncle Jim drove at the mill around 1900 was a Roberts. The UMP order books record two valve spindle packings being supplied to Henry Brown and Sons, Earby Machine Works for the Kelbrook Mill Company at Sough on 28th of October 1912, packing numbers 9802/03. During all this time the major contractors seem to be Burnley Ironworks and I have to admit that I can find no evidence connecting Roberts of Nelson to the engine except Newton’s recollection and I think that he must have been mistaken.

That’s about the size of the evidence for the early running of the mill. This research can be tricky stuff. Now for what I know for certain because there is evidence. I asked Newton about Johnny doing anything at Sough and here’s what he said. “Aye, once, I remember particularly he went about four times on weekends to’t Sough when the second motion shaft were broken and I’d be about twelve and I more or less took him all his meals that weekend to the mill. I walked it from home, from Federation Street, to t’Sough Bridge Mill, stopped with him then walk back and take him his tea. That were in 1928, I were 12. I were old enough to walk to t’Sough on me own anyway.” We know this is correct because we have a picture of the shaft and second motion pinion in the thoroughfare at Wellhouse Machine shop and I’d like to record a vote of thanks to whoever took that picture, it’s worth a thousand words!

Image

The second motion shaft in the thoroughfare.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 07 May 2018, 03:22

CHAPTER 24: QUEEN STREET MILL, HARLE SYKE

Queen Street Mill at Harle Syke is one of the mills I missed when talking on tape to Newton. Brown and Pickles did plenty of work up there over the years, I remember Newton once telling me about an occasion when he was running the engine on sick for them and as he was short of coal at home he decided to take a couple of buckets full from the mill. The manager of the mill came out and asked Newton for a lift down the hill. Newton said that he must have seen the coal but never mentioned it. I remember other snippets about work on the air pump, I think they re-bored it but I have no descriptions straight from the horse’s mouth.

Almost the only concrete evidence I have is an entry in our old stand-by the order books of the Universal Metallic Packing company which records an order placed on the 3rd of January 1910 by Baldwin and Heap of Burnley for four packings for the ‘tape engine’. This was the donkey engine that drove the tapes when the main engine was stopped. I was a bit puzzled by the reference to four packings for a single cylinder engine until I went back to the original order and realised that there was one piston rod packing, one for the valve spindle and two for the ‘cut-off’. This must have been a very sophisticated engine for a donkey. Nothing else is known because the whole of the multi-storey part of the mill was destroyed by fire in 1913.

As Newton mentioned earlier, in 1895 when the mill opened it was a Roberts tandem with slide valve cylinders. At some point it was converted to Corliss valves with two new cylinders but I’m not sure who did it or when.

Newton and I were having a conversation one day about the difference between an engine that ran comfortable and one that didn’t. “That engine I ran at Queen Street a few months since for the sick, it were terrible when the load went off and t’boiler pressure were well up. It were really uncomfortable were that engine, really uncomfortable at stopping time and starting time. I’ve never known an engine to be so uncomfortable on light load as that were and there didn’t seem to be a lot I could do about it either. I tried all in my power at meal times to keep it quiet. It runs without gearing, it’s direct drive, no second motion you know. It’s got no spin, you’ve no speed, you’ve no spin on only your line shaft just trailing on at engine speed, direct drive like Albion was. You know you get things like the low pressure valves banging across and lifting up and dropping off the faces when you’re running light like that. (Low pressures are the worst for this because on light load they have no steam pressure on them to hold them down, in fact they can have vacuum on them.) I tried all in me power to quieten it. First thing I thought was to open the drains and drop the vacuum but no, it didn’t quieten it. Only thing you could do to quieten it was to slow it down, actually slow it down when they’d all gone home. We used to have to run the old do like we did at Bancroft. You’d run from twenty past four to half past and most of them would have gone home but the management still expected you to keep running. So the only thing I could do, I shut the stop valve practically closed till it were slowing down were the engine and it ’ud keep itself reasonably quiet. But even so it were rattling itself to bits at that. I says to the boss we might as well stop at twenty past four! Well it’s the old tale isn’t it, the human element, you stop at twenty past four and they go home at ten past! If you start going on like that you’ll never start up after dinner. Now dinnertime were never bad at all at twelve o’clock. I could run right up to a minute off before it’d start dropping, t’governor.”

I reminded Newton about the time a bloke asked me how long Bancroft had been running a moonlight shift. I said Moonlight? We aren’t running housewives. He says well I came past the other day and I’d passed the works bus down town (Nutters laid a free bus on to take the workers down to the middle of the town) and you were still running when I came past. I told him that the funny thing was that the management paid me to run the engine while half past! I used to go and lock the doors while the engine was running till the proper going home time and there was never a soul in the shed.

Newton again. “But Bancroft were a marvellous engine to run light compared to that one at Harle Syke. It ‘ud have ticked away all night if we’d gone home and left it. No bother at all. Oh aye a marvellous engine to run down at night and meal times were that.”

Image

Newton running Queen Street in 1979. The steam is from the worn valve spindles.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 08 May 2018, 05:32

Both Newton and I knew that the Queen Street engine had some major problems, the maintenance had been skimped over the years and I don’t think I ever saw an engine with as much play in the valve gearing and linkage. I think that this was a lot of the trouble with it because when you get on to very small valve openings any play in the linkage has a disproportionate effect because the variations caused by the wear were such a great percentage of the valve opening. On normal load the wear had much less effect.

Despite the fact that we never really talked about repairs to the engine I do have something to report and some pictures to go with it because after Bancroft finished and I had some time on my hands I went down to the mill in 1979 and watched Newton with Jim and Bob Fort doing the last repair on the engine in the latter days of Henry Brown Sons and Pickles. At that time the mill was still weaving but closure was looming. The problem was that the high pressure cylinder had a nasty click in it and they were having trouble with too much steam going out through the exhaust and boiling the air pump. All this indicated excessive leakage past the high pressure piston and Newton soon found out what it was when he was called in. For some reason a piston ring had broken. In the old days the mill-owners would have ordered a re-bore and new piston but with the situation as it was they decided to make do with new rings. Newton told them this would cure the immediate problem but the bore was worn and grooved by the broken ring and they would never get back to economic running without a rebore. So the job I watched was removing the piston, fitting new rings and re-assembling the engine. Newton suspected that the root cause of the problem was that the atomiser in the main steam pipe above the stop valve that fed cylinder oil into the steam flow was corroded and probably broken off. He was right so they renewed the atomiser spoon at the same time. The repairs stopped the air pump problems, the mill ran on to closure and as far as I know the engine is still in the condition Newton left it in now it is a museum. The story is in the pictures, I hope you like them.
{They're all in the book!]

Image

Three old comrades. When I took this picture I was thinking that it could be the last engine repair they did together. Newton, Jim and Bob.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 09 May 2018, 03:34

CHAPTER 25: PENDLE STREET. NELSON

Pendle Street Mills at Nelson opened in July 1886 and was said to be the largest weaving shed in the world at that time. It could well have been true because it had 2,400 looms in three sheds all driven by a Roberts slide valve cross compound engine designed for 750hp which must have been hard-pressed right from the start because the convention of half a horse power for each loom generally used for sizing the engines to the shed suggests that it needed 1200hp. In 1923 the engine was rebuilt with Corliss cylinders by Roberts and at the same time new boilers at 160psi with superheat were installed, in this form the engine was indicated at 1150hp. It was a double helical gear drive from the start and in 1926 Henry Brown and Sons made and fitted a new second motion shaft.
Newton’s evidence about the engine broadly agrees with the other research but there is one thing that puzzles me because I have never heard it mentioned anywhere else. Here’s what he said when I was asking him about the material in flyshafts and who forged them. “Webb’s at Bury used to forge a lot of them but most of Roberts engines had fly wheel shaft forgings that came from Germany, from Krupps. (Geoff Shackleton quotes a speech made by one of the Roberts family at the engine christening and in it he says ‘The flywheel shaft is made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s fluid compressed steel’. This doesn’t negate what Newton says about Krupp’s steel in later shafts because they were major exporters to Britain. Sir Henry Bessemer took out the patent for his improved process in 1855 and by the following year was in production in Sheffield. While trying to increase the bursting strength of his gun barrels, Sir Joseph Whitworth patented a process called "fluid-compressed steel" for casting steel under pressure, and built a new steel works at Openshaw, Manchester. I have no direct knowledge but it seems likely that the basic stock Whitworths used would be Bessemer Steel so Newton could be right.) It were what they call Bessemer steel, it were like a bit better stuff than wrought iron you know. But to me they were never a success, I think Robert’s engines had more shafts broken than any other engines I ever knew. I’d only ever had one Burnley Ironworks shaft break and that was Wellhouse. Pendle Street had a broken fly wheel shaft and the second motion broke in my time and I did that job. The shaft at Albion Shed had a crack in it. Livingstone Mill at Burnley got the wind up wi’ their second motion shaft with it being all badly marked and that were a Bessemer one, I put a new one in there before it broke, the coupling were only hanging on by the skin of its teeth. It were funny that Bessemer steel from Krupps, it were soft, like lead. When you come to chip a flat in it it didn’t chip like wrought iron nor it didn’t chip like steel, I never liked ‘em.” That is a definite statement about the shaft and if there is one thing I have learned in many years of dealing with oral history, always trust your informant until you get evidence to the contrary. The most outlandish statements can turn out to be accurate.

Most of Newton’s personal experience of Pendle Street was running it when the engineer was sick and it was while we were talking about this I asked him whether he preferred gear drives. “Yes, if it’s a tip top job with machine cut gears or helical wheels and done properly you can’t beat a gear drive, no maintenance. Once a week with a hand brush and a bucket of fat that’s all. Friday afternoon was best, that’s all you need. They’re noisy, no matter how good they are they still make a noise but your valve gear makes a noise and you don’t worry about it, you get used to it, you never hear it. (This comment about valve gearing is more important than it looks. Newton is talking about the noise of the dashpot pistons slamming down as the springs inside them close the valve. It is this quick and accurate closure of the valve which gives the Corliss system its advantage. Many engineers, and particularly amateurs running engines as heritage attractions, damp the dashpots by closing the escape valve that releases the compression under the dashpot piston. This makes them run quiet but by slowing the action of the dashpot spring they destroy the advantage of the gear. In Newton’s words “They run like a slide valve.” He taught me to run a Corliss engine the same way that he did with the minimum of compression under the dashpot piston and a sharp cut-off and it worked, the engine indicates better, runs better and uses less steam.) I mean I were on Pendle Street for all them months and I really enjoyed it. Well, I’ll tell you this Stanley, if Pendle Street had been keeping on running I’d have stopped there, I would, I enjoyed me six or seven months at Pendle Street more than anywhere I’ve ever worked and I were running that mill by meself up to t’last three weeks when they got me a fireman. I’d three Lancashire boilers on oil firing, I’d nowt to do but press two buttons and I were away. I could look after th’engine in five minutes afore starting time and it were a big engine, 1200hp, six foot stroke were that. I’d have stopped Stan, big roomy engine house, it were never hot and stuffy, plenty of room. Oh, I were on top of that one you know, it were no problem Stanley, I’d a routine and I could look after that engine you know, no trouble at all.”

Image

The second motion shaft for Pendle Street ready for installation.
[While I was putting this pic in I noticed the calendar on the wall and went back to my original scan and zoomed in on it. I can't make the year out but it's from Windle's Garage in Barlick!]
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 10 May 2018, 04:07

Stanley, “And yet, if you’ve never looked after one and don’t understand them you go in and look at one and you think my god! I always say that everybody nowadays is educated into the belief that a machine is something that goes wrong every five minutes. Whereas if a steam engine is built properly with the proper reserves of strength in it and maintained properly they are the most reliable things in the world.”

Newton again. “Pendle Street had no speed on it, only 38rpm you know, it were a marvellous machine. It had two brand new cylinders, well, they were brand new to me, they’d been put in about 1923. Two great big Corliss cylinders wit’ valves just going click, cluck, last forever.” I asked Newton when he was there running the engine out. “The year Olive and me were married, so it’s nine year since, it’ll be ten year this Christmas when I went on it (1969).”

I asked Newton to tell me the story of Pendle Street electrifying and running the engine out. (This was a common story and I wanted Newton to describe the process. Electrification of looms meant that they were fitted with independent electric motors (sometimes the shafting was electrified with bigger motors). Once this had been done the engine was redundant and this was when many were scrapped before the mill finished. At the time, electrification was seen as the economic alternative for driving the shed but this often proved to be an illusion.)

“Well it were a sad start to the job, the engine driver, the lad that had been firing there for a lot of years had taken over the engine when the old engine driver died. He’d only been running the engine about a fortnight and he was coming to work to have a look at the boilers one Sunday night or put a bit of steam into the shed and he hit a car somewhere on Every Street and has an accident. Well, they rang for me on Monday morning and I went right away. They had got another chap to look after the boilers, a retired fireman that I knew very well that had fired all his life round Nelson, he knew sommat about engines as well. In big shifts and little uns, between him and the manager they got it running. They went up for the old engine driver that had retired and he wouldn’t come back because he’d had a bit of trouble with the bosses just before he retired. I got theer and as soon as I walked up the steps everybody else walked out! Of course, I’d worked at that shop for donkey’s years and they just said good morning Newton and walked out. They told me what had happened with the engine driver, his leg were broken and it’d be a long time but you’ll look after us like. I says of course I will and settled down to the job. They said Tom Higham’s firing for you but you know it’s winter and he’s been coming in at four in the morning so we let him go home at dinnertime. I says that’s all reight. Tom stopped with me all that first Monday and I settled down right away because I’d run it before over the years.

They were on oil, I’d run it before when it were a coal shop. I asked them how long their man was going to be off and the manager said oh happen two or three month we don’t know but we’re electrifying the looms and we’re hoping to finish by the July holidays. So I settled down to eight or ten weeks like you know, I thought he’ll be back will the lad soon as he gets reight. By gum though he didn’t get reight, he started with cancer and he died so I stopped on until the end. But the electrification like, I just weren’t interested in it at all and Miss Duckworth that were the old bosses daughter, unmarried daughter, comes down to see me one day happen some time around Easter time and she sat in the engine house with me a long while and she just says to me, excuse me Newton, I don’t want to appear ignorant but is this engine worn out, is it done like they’re saying it is? I said What! This engine’s better now than the day it were built in 1887. Whoever in the world is telling you that tale? Well she says, all these in’t mill have and this electrician and the manager. I said the engine never will be done Miss Duckworth as long as we’re about and you spend a bit on maintenance on it every year. Anyway it hasn’t had any for a lot of years and it doesn’t need it. A bit in’t boiler house perhaps but you’ll still have that to spend after your engine’s gone because you need steam for process and heating. Oh, she says, my father would spin round in his grave if he knew about this.

Anyhow, it didn’t stop the electrification and they kept electrifying them. I used to oil me air pump every dinnertime [in the cellar], I never struggled of a morning and I never struggled at night, I used to do me work during the day with me having to travel and all. I used to grease and oil me air pump at dinner time and I was right then until the day after. I used to walk down on me planks at dinnertime and they’d put this new cable down the engine house side in the cellar. It was a cable about two inches thick and naturally, I used to run me hand down it, it were like a hand rail as I were walking down the planks and I noticed it was just aired (warm). As it was getting on towards the end of June and they’d more looms going on to electric and I were getting less load on’t engine it were getting so as I couldn’t bide me hand on this cable at dinnertime. So I drew th’head electrician’s attention to it, I fetched him in. I said hey, this cable down the wall side, it’s getting blooming hot you know. Naaa, he says, it’s only thy heat that tha’s making in here, when we get this blooming old thing stopped it won’t get warm then. It’s all th’heat tha’art making with that blooming old engine. Blooming heck he says, that were the way he talked, blooming heck when we get that thing stopped and get shut of thee and that chap in the boiler house we’ll run this shop for nowt. We’ll run this shop for as much as it’s costing for yaa two in wages. I says will you. Anyhow, I’ll just go on a bit with this story.

Before I got me fireman, I only had a fireman for the last three weeks in the afternoon, I ran it meself from just after breakfast at t’morning. I used to let Tom go home, you know he were an old chap of about 67 or 68 and I used to let him go because he were doing me a good turn coming in early in the morning. They got a bit bothered about me being on me own all the time and they made arrangements in’t mill that somebody allus had to come down at brew time and have a natter with me and then go back after seeing that I was all right and hadn’t gone round the shafting or getten meself fast in’t engine which I had more bloody sense. Anyhow, one afternoon, th’big man came down to stop with me but he didn’t come while about twenty past four. He were a nice feller but he were no engineer, he were a weaving manager, he were over all the lot for Duckworths. I were sat in the boiler house reading comic cuts and pressing red and blue buttons on the board keeping us running. Now then Newton he says, oh won’t it make a difference to our bills when we get shut of the engine! Eh, I says, I’m not going to answer that, anyhow, have you got a bit of time? Oh aye he says I’m all straight now I can stop with you a bit and have a natter. Well I says it’s half past four and I have me jobs to do so I whipped up on to the top of the boilers and I shut the tape valves and all the heating off. I’d two boilers on line that’s all and just as I came down the iron ladder all four of me burners went Woof! Steam were up at 160. (Notice that what Newton had done was shut down all steam consumption except the engine.) So I stayed talking to him for a few minutes and then I says don’t go, I just want you to see how much you’re going to save when the engine stops cause now we’ve everything off but the engine. Reight ho he says. I says I want thee to stop here and count how many times them burners fire before I stop the engine at five o’clock and I think if I remember rightly we’d a 15psi dwell on those burners from 160, it came down to 145 before it fired up again.

So I goes up into the engine house and takes me jacket off and wiped round all the beds like I did every day, it were spotless even though I says it meself. All me beds all the way round, the floor, me cylinder tops and me covers and it were getting on to five to five so I sits down a minute or two and at five o’clock I stopped the engine. I waited while it stopped, put it in the reight shop for starting and went down into the boiler house and he’s still sat there. Now then Frank, how many times has them burners fired since I left you? I thought the feller were going to cry cause I looked up at the pressure gauges and they were on 150psi they were just getting ready for firing and we’d run half an hour with two boilers on and they’d never sparked and I knew damn well they wouldn’t. I thought the feller was going to cry, he said Tara Newton got up and walked out. As he was going I said that’s how much you’re going to save when you’ve getten all this bloody wire in the mill!

Anyhow, I finished at July holidays (1969) and before the year was out they were out of business and from what I heard Sam’s calculations for the electric cable were just half too bloody little and they were going to have to put a duplicate on underneath it and they couldn’t afford it and it finished ‘em. They’d three brand new boilers that were put in in 1926 when the engine was modernised and they went and electrified the place. I used to say to them in the old days, I’d say well, if I put an alternator on this engine you could make your own electric light and all because after respacing they had less looms and 500hp spare on the engine. It were 1400hp reckoned up properly was that engine. And that were at the end of Pendle Street.”
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 11 May 2018, 03:42

I asked Newton about gearing alleys. “Pendle Street were a gearing alley you know, at that age, 1887. (This means the lineshaft and bevel gears were in a long narrow room separated from the shed.) I used to be able to grease t’wheels, I’d do half at Monday dinner and t’other half at Tuesday dinner time. I could walk full length with me bucket of grease and a brush and feel all me pedestal cap nuts to see if any of ‘em were loose. No problem you see, I could just walk down. You get a bit mucky like but you don’t bother with that.” (I never saw the alley at Pendle street but it was evidently boarded out so you could access the gearing easily. At Bancroft there was no access and you had a choice of either climbing up to each pair of bevels using a ladder or walking down the shaft from one end of the shed to the other. I used to walk on the shaft but the Elfin Safety man wouldn’t have been amused.)

Newton knew about the replacement of the second motion shaft from what his father had told him. Henry Brown’s did it in 1926, four years before Newton started work and he gave me a photograph of it. His comments about the amount of steam the engine used are informative. We agreed that if you broke the figures down for coal consumption into what was used by heating, process, losses and the engine on a typical winter load the engine used less than 10% of the steam produced at a mill. I know this sounds incredible but it is the reason why so many mills went out after electrification. Contrary to what the National Industrial Fuel Efficiency men had told them, running costs after electrification were higher than the engine with the added disadvantage of the capital cost of conversion. The NIFE men were in the business of selling electricity to justify the cost of upgrading the power stations and the national grid not doing the mill-owners a favour. In 1978 when we shut Bancroft down I did the calculations and the difference between the cost of running the engine and the same load on electricity was that the engine was half price. Remember that even after electrification you still needed the boiler for heat and process. Even today in 2009 a plant that has to run a boiler could make their own electricity at half the cost of the mains if they installed a modern high speed enclosed engine such as a Belliss driving an alternator. But as I often say, what the hell do I know about these things…

If you want the full story of the cost of running the mill get hold of a copy of my book ‘Bancroft. The Story of Pennine Weaving Shed’. I devote a lot of space to the subject and it’s well worth reading. Even now, as I write this in 2009 there isn’t a power station in the country running at better than 40% thermal efficiency and by the time the electricity reaches the place where it is to be used it is below 20% efficient because of transmission and transformer losses. In other words, they are wasting over 80% of the heat in the fuel before it even gets to the machine it is going to drive. A good steam driven plant fully loaded was a lot more efficient than that and it was this that caught the management out at Pendle Street and a lot of other mills. The NIFE men never quoted those figures.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 12 May 2018, 03:52

CHAPTER 26: BORING ENGINE CYLINDERS AND VALVE SETTING

This chapter started life in the back of my head as ‘What Newton did at Holmefield Mills, Barrowford’ but it developed a life of its own as you will see and turned into boring cylinders and valve setting with some packings thrown in at the end. All good stuff and I think it makes more sense doing it like this. Lots of information in here. It all started after Newton had described boring the cylinders on the Long Ing engine. I realised that while many people talk about re-boring not many know what is actually involved in either boring in-situ or making a new component. Here’s what Newton had to say.
I asked Newton to take me right through re-boring a cylinder in-situ. I started him off by asking him to describe the operation on a Corliss cylinder starting with the valves. “Well you bored them with an ordinary boring machine but wi’ portable tackle that’s all. Just pull the valves out and mike ‘em at each end or calliper ‘em or make wire gauges. (This is boring the valve housings which are cylindrical bores through a specially shaped boss on the casting at right angles to the main bore and connected directly to the steam port. The cylindrical valve fits in this bore.) The steam goes in from the steam chest and it goes through a slit in the bottom of the valve and into the cylinder. The valve itself sits, the cylindrical valve, like a circular slide valve and just obstructs that slit. What you’ve got to do when someone says re-bore these valves, you’ve got to do two things, you’ve got to bore the valve housing out and make it true and you’ve got to make a new valve because the old one isn’t big enough. Now then, I’d better explain boring first. What we have to do is to enlarge the holes and make them round again. They’re worn oval aren’t they with that valve just working on the bottom of the ports over the years. It makes that hole oval and once it starts getting oval it gets worse very quickly and then your valve doesn’t fit because it wears the edges off. The ovality of the valve doesn’t coincide with the ovality of the hole that it’s working in and it starts to leak and steam starts to blow through instead of it cutting it off. The admission and exhaust gets all wrong, power drops and your coal consumption romps up.

We have a boring bar that we made for this particular job with two dummy ends that we bolt on to the cylinder to carry the bearings to support the bar and that forms a machine of its own. In the old days we drove it with a little steam engine, a little vertical oscillating cylinder engine. We’d bolt it to the floor wi’ a couple of half inch rag bolts, couple a steam pipe to it, stick the exhaust pipe through the first window we came to and we were away. As electric came in years later we went on to an electric motor to drive it, but the boring equipment was the same, home made to suit each job.

Stanley, “Yes. Now you’ve just reminded me of a story you once told me about taking that boring engine somewhere where it were a reight clean shop and it were throwing oil out all over the place.”

Newton again, “Oh yes, that were at Sam Holden’s at Barrowford (Holmefield Mill). We’d to bore the high pressure cylinder and it wanted five eighths of an inch out of it to clean it up it were so badly worn. To bore that much out you had to go through umpteen times hadn’t you and that little engine were working 24 hours a day for four and a half days and you’re oiling it every few minutes to keep it going because it runs at a fair speed. Of course you start packing it round with waste and it’s a nice beautifully scrubbed white wood floor that its fastened to and your oil patch round your engine spreads and spreads and th’engine driver’s assistant oiler as we used to call ‘em in them days keeps coming up and looking and saying “You’re making a bloody mess in here aren’t you? I’ll never get me floor clean again!” Eventually over the days you could hear that engine sloshing about on its oily waste which you’d put in. He, he ,he oh aye, anyway it got finished did that job but what a mess we made of that floor! He got it clean you know after a week or two.”

I asked Newton about the boring engine breaking down. “Oh, it broke down on another job but at the same mill, Holden’s in Barrowford, it were a very awkward job because we were boring the air pump and had done the minimum of stripping down to get at it. (Remember that one of the key factors in getting a good cut was to keep going without a break so as to maintain temperature in your cutters. If they cooled down because of stopping it left a ledge in the bore.) Well, we started boring the air pump and we’d got down about half an inch and there were such a ruddy bang and the piston nut must have come off on the boring engine and jammed up in the bottom of the cylinder and bent the connecting rod and jammed it all up solid. We had the engine down in the cellar, not on the floor but bolted on to the entablature girder over the air pump cross head with a couple of slotted plates and four bolts through. You understand what I mean, it were straddling the girder were the engine. So we’d to get it down head first and strip it down and whilst we were repairing it, bringing it back to Barlick to straighten the connecting rod and the piston rod and put a new nut on, the oiler kept winding the boring machine round by hand while we went back. Him and the engineer between them and they just kept that boring tool moving. We went back and put the boring engine together and we’d be a couple of hours before we got it running again about two or three o’clock in the morning.

We had another experience one Easter with it. It did it again at Sunderland’s at Nelson, we were boring the low pressure cylinder. A Roberts engine by the way, a triple expansion. We got in about a foot or two and it did the same trick again, but this time it were t’valve spindle. The valve spindle nuts came loose and one jammed up in the ports, bent the valve spindle and also bent the connecting rod again because one of the nuts went through the port into the cylinder and got under the piston. Me and Bob Fort stripped that engine, came back to Barlick, straightened the valve spindle, straightened the connecting rod, re-screwed them, put new nuts on, took it all back, built it up and had it running again in one and three quarter hours. That was when petrol were rationed during the war, them blooming pink coupons. And the mill manager wound that boring tackle round by hand while we repaired the engine because he were the only bloke there on the premises when it conked out.”

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Boring the valve seats on a new Corliss valve cylinder in Wellhouse Shop.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by chinatyke » 12 May 2018, 05:17

Sam Holden's, Holmefield Mills used to have a big sign saying Carrington Menswear or Carrington Men swear as we used to joke.

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 12 May 2018, 05:34

I didn't know that..... :good:
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 13 May 2018, 03:49

I got Newton back onto boring cylinders and asked him what the problems were when the boring head reached the valve ports. “Well, most of your trouble boring them, having that trouble with ports in the bore, were on air pumps, especially Edwards type air pumps with a grid round the liner. When I were a young chap I had to stick to the original ideas, you allus bored with four tools in following each other. The first air pump I ever bored were a horizontal one.”

I asked Newton to describe the set-up of the four cutters. “Always four tools, set up at ninety degrees. All set together as near as ever you could get them (same length/depth of cut). It were a big job were that, packing them up to get them even, experience used to help a lot with that. But this first air pump I ever bored was a Burnley Ironworks horizontal air pump about fourteen inches diameter in the bore and it ‘ud be about five feet of boring. When it got to the grate I watched them tools going round and I thought this is a fool of a job. Boring with four tools, one cutting and one up a hole. You follow what I mean don’t you, one would be hitting a bar to cut it and the opposite one would be in a port and this sprung the bar. Well when you tried your gauge into them bores it were always smaller in the middle than it were anywhere else. So of course I had arguments wi’ me father again like. Aye, well they’d allus been bored like that and they’d never been any trouble. I said well I’m not boring the next one like that you can rest assured on that! He says well, how are you going to bore the next one? I said when the next ‘un comes, I’ll bore it my way, I did it with one tool and it were perfectly parallel and no bother. You see what happened Stanley, when it gets into t’middle there were what, twelve bars round it, you know, twelve ports, twelve holes. With multiple tools you’d only one tool out of the four cutting, or two at the most. Well it went all sorts of shapes wi’ the spring of your bar, that boring bar were six inches in diameter but it’d spring it. And when I used to try me gauges in, we used to make wire gauges, no mikes in them days you know, it were always ten or fifteen thou smaller over the grate reight away. Now when I bored a cylinder that had no ports in the middle they were allus OK were them, they were dead true and parallel, they were more parallel than you could bore them on a big posh boring machine. Even the most expensive boring machine couldn’t compete with a bar like that, not on boring a round and parallel hole like we could with them four tools in. They were always spot on, I never had a bad one out of all the cylinders I ever bored. When I were boring cylinders I used four tools and that meant the bar weren’t springing but when I bored air pumps I used one tool.”

I asked Newton to explain the use of the wire gauge. “Well, what we call a wire gauge, you had say a bit of three eighths round ordinary mild steel. Cut it off slightly longer than the bore and point it at the ends, grind a point on each end and then set it to the size of the cylinder, keep filing until the ends fit like you’d use a mike. You’d adjust it yourself with a very smooth file and finish up wi’ a spot of emery paper and rubbing it on a fine stone. You used to use your own judgement on how much travel it wanted from side to side for clearance between the cylinder and the piston. You got so you could just do it without thinking about it, I never used to say oh well, it needs fifteen thou of slack or ten thou of slack to get it in. I used to give me gauge a travel of say on a twenty four inch diameter cylinder, an inch and an eighth of travel side to side. What I mean by that is you stand your gauge up in the bore lean it until it touches the cylinder wall and it travels about and inch and an eighth until it touches the wall at the other side. You file it off until it travels an inch and an eighth and then you take that back to the shop and if you weren’t making the piston yourself say to the turner, make the piston the same diameter as this gauge. When you took your piston back to the mill with a bit of luck it went in and all through my career I never had one that didn’t.”

Just to make sure we had this clear I asked Newton to confirm I had understood him. “Let’s get this straight. What you’re saying is you’re looking down the bore and you stand the gauge up in the middle of the bore and then you move it from side to side towards the side of the bore until it catches.” Newton again, “Within an inch and an eighth it wants to touch the bore on a 24” cylinder. It wants to move an inch and an eighth. It’s as accurate as a mike once you’ve had the experience on how much to give it. Now in the books, those reference books, it gives you this but they’re wrong. In my opinion they were all wrong, they give you far too much. On a cylinder of twenty four inch they’d want a sixteenth of movement to an inch of diameter. So that would be twenty four times one sixteenth of travel, so that’s an inch and a half isn’t it? Well, an inch and an eighth was ample. That ‘ud give happen five thou of clearance of your piston when you put it in. But if you give it an inch and a half of travel you’d be able to get twelve or fifteen thou over it with your feelers which to me was far too much, you didn’t want ‘em that slack.”

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Two of Newton's boring cutters. Inch square cast steel.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 14 May 2018, 04:47

I asked him Newton about something he told me once about boring Corliss valve housings. “We used to have to take the piston out if we were boring an admission valve at the top, it were general practice again. You’d go at Friday night and strip all the engine down, get the metallic packing men there, take the back cover off, uncouple the piston rod at the crosshead, take the piston out and put some sacks in the bottom of the cylinder so that you’d something for your borings to drop onto. I used to think what a blinking game this is, doing all this stripping just for the sake of a bit of muck. So me and me mate we’d say, well, can’t we stuff ‘em up? So one weekend we went one to bore the valves and we didn’t take the piston rod out or the piston or the back cover off. Me father had ordered the packing chap and we sent him home didn’t we, he he he! We got a load of cotton out of the mill didn’t we and we stuffed it in, big pieces, not little bits in through the port bars down below the level we were boring to you know and then we got some big lumps of bevel gear fat, that hard stuff you know, and we put that in and smoothed it all out, oh we made a real job of it. We bored t’valves and pulled the waste out after. You could clean ‘em out when you got your hand in and cleaned all the fat off and it brought all the borings out. There were no muck left and it were spotless, better than sacks in the cylinder. I never took any more pistons out to bore valves but then we had a bright idea on one or two of the bigger engines, we fit boards in the ports. We got a lump of old floor board somewhere near the size and shoved it up the ports, thumped it with a big hammer and made a pattern on it and then cut it to size with a saw and then tapped it in and covered it with fat. We got to be dab hands at that job but cotton and grease were all right, no messing but you’d got to be very careful you know that there weren’t any cotton sticking up that could catch on the tool and jam you up. I had an experience at Broughton Road Shed at Skipton boring the high pressure cylinder and to this day I don’t know what happened. We’d a six inch boring bar for high pressure cylinders and we were boring it over a weekend which is in a big hurry. It were winter time and it were dark and we’d only a hand lamp or two and at Saturday night at eleven o’clock we were about three quarters of the way through the bore and the drive belt kept coming off. We couldn’t understand it and I said to Harry Crabtree it’s getting fearful tight is this, what is it? He says I don’t know and I says we’d better pull up and have a look. We’d be about a foot from the far end off being through. We got up the cylinder as best we could under the boring bar with a hand lamp and what had happened, when they’d put the bar in I mustn’t have been there. I don’t know how it had happened but we used to put a piece of leather belting or a piece of board in first in the bottom of the cylinder to slide the bar in on so as we didn’t put a big roke (scar) in the bottom of the cylinder or damage it you know. We’d a blind end on of course, we allus had a blind casting on what we called a dummy to run the end of the boring bar in. They’d never pulled this piece of leather out and what had happened when the tools got to within a foot of the end of the cylinder they’d picked this piece of leather belt up and it wound round inside the boring bar and tightened it and tightened it until the traverse screw couldn’t shove it any further. It were jammed up between the end of the bar and the boring head we were in a reight mess. Harry says what are we going to do? I says there’s only one thing to do, we’ll have to pull the boring bar out. So we pulled the bar out with the tools in, reight carefully and drew it back out of the cylinder, we cleaned it all out and the cylinder. We took the piece of leather belt out which were all chewed up, there were only me and Harry, and we put it quietly back in. We wound it back up to the cut, I could feel it with the hand feed where it were you know and I says it doesn’t matter, we’ll have to chance this and if it isn’t a clean hole we’ll have to go through it again, we’ll still be running on Monday. We started up about three o’clock on Sunday morning and got running again and we drew the tools back at about seven and Harry put the lamp up, I daren’t look! He says I can’t feel a mark and I can’t see anything. I says let me have a blooming look. I climbed up underneath the boring bar with the hand lamp and I couldn’t feel a lump and I couldn’t see a mark, if any two blokes were ever lucky we were. I’ve never known it happen before and I’ve never known it since ‘cause if you even stopped it’d leave a mark just with the contraction of the tools but it were perfect. We drew the bar out, swept all the muck out, made a gauge and it were perfect. Straight back to the shop, got the piston turned, let’s get the thing back together and get running!”

This was a four feet six inch stroke engine and I asked Newton how long it took for one pass through the bore. (Remember that the bore is longer than the stroke, this one would be at least five and a half feet.) “Eighteen hours with a sixteenth a side, I never took less that a sixteenth out, I reckoned to take an eighth of an inch out even if it were a bad ‘un. It had to be a very bad ‘un, badly worn, to take more than an eighth of an inch out. It ‘ud have to have been one that had seized up and marked the bore badly. I allus do ‘em in one cut but you never wanted to try with a little bit of cut. You always wanted enough cut on to keep everything tight. It were a big fault, a big mistake a lot of these engine fitters made were that, trying to take a little bit out of ‘em. There’s been some lousy bored cylinders you know with taking too little out and the tackle all jattering and dancing about. I used to put a sixteenth a side on. I took particulars meself and always made an allowance to take an eighth out of it except for that one at Sam Holden’s, it were badly worn were that and we took five eighths out of that but it had been bored twice before. It were a soft casting were that and then it ran fourteen years and then I put a new cylinder in and it wore again.” (Off tape Newton said he put the excessive wear at Holmefield down to a combination of the superheated steam which made it harder to lubricate the cylinder adequately and a soft casting.)

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This is the Cole Marchant and Morley engine at Sam Holden's, Holmefield Shed, Barrowford. The engine was 1100hp, ran on superheated steam at 160psi and had drop valves. Bert Kitchen the engineer is at the stop valve.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 15 May 2018, 04:19

I asked Newton whether he had ever put a liner in a cylinder that was badly cast, spongy metal caused by gas inclusion in the casting. “No, I never put a liner in one, never did. Nearest we ever got to putting a liner in were the low pressure at Pendle Street to try to make the engine smaller but it never got done. We were going to make it ten inch smaller when the engine weren’t driving as much as it used to but it never got done. The low pressure were miles too big.”
I asked Newton about boring new cylinders in the shop. “Oh that were a good job that were boring new cylinders. We had a floor plate you know, a big cast iron plate in the floor of the shop concreted in. You get your cylinder casting on to that for a start. Your first job when you got a new cylinder in, they always cast a header on it to take the muck out of the metal. That header could nearly always weigh one, two or three ton. The last one I ever did (1954) were for Plumb Street and it weighed six ton odd did the cylinder and that were when the header were knocked off it. It weighed fifty hundredweight did the header, that’s two ton ten and the first job I had to do was to cut that off which took me about a fortnight, happen longer to cut it off. It was about eight inch thick cast on the end. They cast the cylinder longer, it were cast about eighteen inches longer and eight inch thick. Spread out you know like a big mushroom on the end of your casting. Now that’s to put extra weight on to your casting to tighten the metal and shove the grain up and also take the muck out, it allus swims to the top does any dirt that’s flying about in the ladle. It always rises to the top and that header used to carry it all there outside the finished cylinder casting.

We used to cut the header off with a parting tool in me portable boring bar. I almost always used the portable bar but your dummy ends were stronger, better made than what you did when you were boring on the job. They were properly made ends to carry the bearings and driven just the same. Our heaviest boring bar was about nine inches diameter. We parted it off from the inside in different stages. You’d set off and you’d bore about a three inch gap, keep boring it about three inches wide and go deeper and deeper and then you start with the parting tools. We used to make the parting tools out of inch round high speed steel. We used to make ‘em swan necked and then if there were any swinging back it didn’t dig in, it sprung away from the cut and not in. It were a bit of a tedious job cutting them ends off. You’d just a set screw through your cast iron boring head and every time it came round you just tighten it a flat and that pushed your tool up in your toolbox and you did that every revolution. It were a tedious jib cutting them headers off, when you started getting down six or seven inches into the cut and you couldn’t see the tool you’d just to listen to it to know what it were doing and watch the muck dropping off to see how it were cutting. Interesting, I should reckon it took happen a fortnight to get it off that last ‘un. Course, if it was hard metal, and remember all the muck and scum up there you know, you’d leave yourself about an inch and a half on the length and then when you got your header off it didn’t matter how jagged it was you’d plenty left to face up for your cover flanges.”

Image

A large low pressure cylinder set up for boring in the Wellhouse shop. I think this may be the cylinder for Plumb Street that Newton refers to later but I’m not absolutely certain.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 16 May 2018, 03:19

I asked Newton if they supported the weight of the header when they were nearing the end of the cut. “No, we never bothered, just packed it up with a lump of wood and a couple of battens under it like a ‘V’ block when I were nearly through. Couple of props up and just let it settle, aye, you could hear it go and just get it off with a couple of joint wedges and put the crane on it. I can picture it now, I can see it now. I could hear it when it were nearly through and me father ‘ud be about. “Tha doesn’t look so far off through that now, see you don’t let it drop on thee! Put a lump of wood under it and a couple of wedges to take the weight and then split it off at the top with some joint wedges and catch hold of it with the crane.”

Once the header was off I faced it then, faced each end. I wouldn’t say I finish faced ‘em, I faced it off to a quarter of an inch off the length and then I started boring it. Getting through the bore the first time were the biggest job. It took days and days because the casting were always rough in the bore you know. You could only put so much cut on and of course you’d run out of cut with it not being true. You’d get in about a foot and the tools ‘ud be jiggered, you’d have to wind back and re-grind them and go back in again and you did that all the way until you got through. It took many a day to get through for the first time and when you did get through it didn’t look much like it were an engine cylinder bore, all ridges bumps jatters (Where the tool had vibrated on the cut.) mucky patches and all that. Then of course you’d draw back again, grind all the tools and set all four up next time, I rough bored with two and set all four up when I had a clean cut and got going. Then I’d oil the tackle up and come home, I had it all weighed up how long it’d be so I’d leave it running, go to bed a couple of hours and then I’d go back and you know you’d be going back all night like that and keep doing that. I never stopped it, go back and oil up, see if it were OK and I bored them cylinders all by meself.”

I asked Newton if it was possible to bore to suit a piston and he said no, it would be impossible. “No, just bore the cylinder, take as little out of it as possible for a good clean bore and make the piston to suit. Then you faced the ends off, faced the cylinder to length and then after that you lifted it off your floor plate and up on to the boring machine which we had and you started then boring all the valve ports out. Especially on a big low pressure like that, it ‘ud be what, forty inches through the valves, bore them out, you left machining the feet until the last. You marked it all out for centre height and machined the feet last. You didn’t machine the feet first, because you never knew if you were going to have to move it. Say you machined your feet first and then you started to bore it and you says oh heck, it isn’t going to clean up in the bottom I’m going to have to drop me boring bar half an inch, where are you with your centre height? So we bored it first, machined all the valve ports, faced all the valve ends and planed the feet after. In fact I didn’t plane the feet on the last ‘un, I machined them on the horizontal borer, faced ‘em wi’ the cylinder stood on its end. There’s some photos, you’ve seen them photographs of that big cylinder.
While I were doing the Plumb Street low pressure cylinder I had it up on the borer, it’s this big one we’re on about, this last ‘un for Plumb Street. I had it up on the borer and it were first thing in’t morning. I’d been working at night on it finishing one of the ports and I went at morning, usual time, seven o’clockish or half past to me work, I were never at reight time, it had just run through and I’d to run me table back ‘cause I’d seven ton on the table you know. I’m running me table back and one of me mates shouts whoa! But he shouted too late and at the end of that boring machine there were a pillar that held the roof up, a cast iron pillar, and the back end of me cylinder casting had gone against the pillar and shoved it out at the bottom and broke the pillar in the middle. Leave it, leave it everyone shouted, just leave it where it is. We had some jacks and we got them out of the stores and got them under the beam and me father comes out and he said what’s ta done? I said I’ve run into the pillar and broken it. He says well done, best day’s work tha’s ever done, It’ll get bloody shifted now! And we shifted it and put a girder under and put a pillar back at one side so as the table missed it. It were near do though, it’d have come down would all t’shop because that pillar it shoved out were carrying a baulk that carried a pillar which went right up through the second storey to the roof. All t’roof were on that one pillar. So that was that! That were the last big cylinder we bored.”
I asked Newton about pistons. “Cast iron pistons. Now we’d all sorts of pistons. Sometimes we put junk rings on, by a junk ring I mean you make a piston with one edge cast solid to full width and then the other end is bolted on with ten, inch or inch and an eighth set screws. By doing that we could put wider rings on, what we called Buckley’s rings which had a spring underneath which when the ring got worn they used to reckon you could take the junk ring off and increase the tension on the springs and take the wear out of the rings but I soon did away with that idea because they were rubbish. Ramsbottom rings, you couldn’t beat ‘em, that’s like the rings on your motor car. Narrower and better, these big wide rings were no good, no good at all. I’d allus known about Ramsbottom rings but Burnley Ironworks on their later engines always put ‘em into the high pressure. I used to say why don’t they put ‘em on the low and there were no answer to that so I started to put ‘em on to the low as well. But the finest rings out for a steam engine were Rowan rings, they were made at Belfast. They were self springing rings, you can picture a key ring that you wind your keys on that you have in your pocket, well they were made like that but they were made wider they’d be about an inch and a quarter wide, they were beautifully made. Inside there was a wavy ring in between your rings and when you bolted your junk ring on and your piston all up together this wavy ring kept tension on, inside of the ring and out. They were marvellous things, they were made for ships so as they didn’t want any oiling. You know the cylinders on a marine engine never got any oil, they used to put part tallow in but none of that if they could get away with it and once across the Atlantic and back and they’d have to strip down and put new rings in. Rowan rings did away with a lot of that, they’d last two or three trips. They didn’t want to get oil into the condensers, if it got into the boilers they were jiggered.

Them Rowan rings were a big success and I put ‘em into loads of low pressures in Lancashire engines, I didn’t put any into the highs but I did the lows. I used to use Ramsbottom rings in the high pressures but low pressures, they were a revelation, talk about shifting the coal bill down, they did that did Rowan rings. Marvellous, there were nowt went past ‘em, especially if they were getting some oil, they were fully efficient. You could fit ‘em into a worn cylinder, if you came across an engine that were on that happy medium between it wanting re-boring and it looked a shame to re-bore it. I didn’t do many, I put a new piston in and put Rowan rings on ‘em and fitted ‘em to the bore. If it had a damn good finish and it were little worn, happen only be a thirty second of an inch worn at each side you know. They go like glass and it looks a shame to re-bore them and I’d say let’s put a new piston in and put Rowan rings on.

You know there were a lot of these engines built and they weren’t particular enough when they made ‘em. The pistons were too slack from the start and Bancroft were one of them. I don’t like running folk down but Bancroft were one of them. I re-bored the high pressure cylinder at Bancroft twenty five years since and that engine had knocked from being new to me re-boring the cylinder. I were only a lad and I kept saying it wants re-boring does this it’s chucking the piston about every stroke, clunk, clunk and they used to say it wants crank pin taking up, it wants cross head taking up. I says it wants hell as like taking up, it wants re-boring. At finish up Wilfred Nutter says Newton what is it that’s making this noise in this engine? I says it wants re-boring Wilfred and a new piston, he told me to get it done. George Hoggarth went up the wall at me, I thought he were going to punch (kick) me out of the engine house. I were that mad, it were about Monday and I got all the stuff ready and I had the piston casting ready and I bored it at weekend. I got it done and set on about midnight on Sunday night and Hoggarth were there, I says now then, where’s thee knock? He says it’s gone but thee wait until morning and it’ll be back! So I were there at 7 o’clock in the morning after when they set on and bear in mind all the looms were running then. At five past seven I says to Hoggarth, where’s thee knock now? He says it’s gone Newton, here how much does ta want. If he’d had any money in his pocket he’d have given it me, I think he’d have given me the mill! It had knocked since 1920. Roberts even put a new crank pin in because it were knocking!”

Image

Corliss high pressure cylinder for Livingstone Mill on the planer at Wellhouse shop in 1954. This was the normal method for facing the feet on a cylinder after it had been bored.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 17 May 2018, 05:11

Stanley, “Aye and what a terrible job that was. I’ve looked at it many a time. The back of the pin is like the craters on the moon! A terrible job that and the key at the back, God knows why they’ve done it but t’key at back is all brayed over like a big mushroom and punch marks all over it.”

Newton again, “Why do that? When I put a new crank pin in I never bothered with the key, I put a wooden one in. No need to put keys in when I put ‘em in! Me father ud say what are ta doing? I’m putting a wooden key in because it’s easier to fit! What, with fourteen thou of nip and it wants a key in? Never, th’art spoiling it. You put a key into a hole that’s had fourteen thou of shrink put on it what are you doing besides trying to stretch it oval again. That’s just what you’ve tried to eliminate, with re-boring it and putting a new crank pin in. Aye, put a wooden ‘un in.”

I asked Newton to explain the piston rod packings. “Well, where t’piston rod puffed in and out of the cylinder it had just a plain cavity bored into the cover with a brass ring in and then a piece that fits in the cavity in the cover with three long studs that pulled another piece of brass down onto rope lapped round the piston rod and squeezed it into the cavity and that stops the steam puffing out round the rod. That’s a simple explanation for it isn’t it? Then in later years they found they were cleverer and they put some grease round the lap rope before they squeezed it in. And then later on they got cleverer still and put some flake graphite on the rope and squeezed it in didn’t they, and you were bloody covered in the stuff by the time you got it in weren’t you. You sparkled like a kipper skin!
Now then, the United States Metallic Packing Company. A bloke there came along and he said I’m not having any more of this, I’m going to make some washers and I’m going to make ‘em half moon shaped and I’ll grind ‘em all together and I’ll try ‘em and see if they’ll stop steam. And he did, it stopped steam a bit but it didn’t stop it all so he thought I’ll have to make sommat else now, I wonder if I can make some brass rings and cut ‘em up and put springs round. So he gets some brass rings and he turned ‘em to the size of the piston rod and he turned some grooves round the outside and he got some springs made and he cut ‘em into four and put them in, and he put two lots of them blocks in so his joints weren’t opposite and they were a lot better than ever with them in. But it weren’t just right, didn’t last long enough so he thought I wonder what I can do with that, I’ll try some metal that’s a bit softer. So he found out with boring his brass blocks out and filling them with white metal, that’s like lead, and making the number less, he put two in one side and two in the other, staggered opposite. That’s what exists to this day and they’re a real job. But when they went on to high pressure, high superheat steam they’d to go back on to bronze ones, they wouldn’t do with white metal in, the heat melted ‘em. I’ve heard the Metallic Packing chaps tell about when superheat started becoming popular after the first world war and all the white metal started running out of the stuffing boxes, oh aye, it melted the packings. It melted the white metal out of them and they’d to go back to bronze. They took a lot more fitting of course did bronze ones to make ‘em turn because white metal ‘ud fit itself after a day or two. But they were marvellous things, I allus put me hand up to that chap that made ‘em. United States were a firm of its own in Bradford and one of their chaps decided to start up on his own, things were busy in them days you know. He started up and that were Universal Metallic Packings and they’re still on the go today but United States aren’t in business any more.”

I asked Newton about one engine where I knew he had done away with the metallic packings. “Oh, that were a little air pump, oh aye. Now then, they got some fancy ideas after the second war that they’d start putting metallic packings on air pumps, you know, on tail end air pumps, that’s between the low pressure cylinder and the air pump. We did a lot of these jobs for Universal and United States as well, skimming air pump rods and putting these metallic packings on but they were never a success they wouldn’t last many weeks before they were blowing and drawing air and water squirting out. They’d slipped up with one thing, they didn’t reckon on the piston rod going rusty at night between half past five and seven in the morning which they did because they weren’t stainless steel rods of course. What happened was that most of them put up with this trouble and they used to send for the metallic packing chap and they’d come once or twice a year and put new blocks on. But there were one little engine at Bradley and we did that, they didn’t do it on our advice, they did it through Universal’s advice to put these new packings on and oh, did it get in a mess. It wouldn’t stand it because their air pump’s a bit small and it wouldn’t run, they’d no vacuum. Me father’d say go to Bradley Newton, do sommat wi’ yon engine, put it back on packings, put it back on ordinary stuffing boxes! So I went to Bradley I thought I’m going to do a bit of a job here on me own. I altered it back to ordinary stuffing boxes, I’d to make castings you know because they’d turned all the old stuffing boxes off to make room for the metallic packings. I put a stainless steel rod in ‘cause the old un had been thumped about and brayed and rusty and I put a stainless rod in and that engine’s run until only last week or two and it’s never had any packings put in, he’s never repacked them glands for twenty odd years.(1979) That were the answer, I never put any more metallic packings in on the air pumps, I put stainless steel rods in ‘em and put ‘em back to glands. You see what the problem was with the rods when you went on to stainless steel with metallic packings, and it’s been tried, it were coming out of the low pressure cylinder hot and going into the cold air pump. Well the packings couldn’t cope with the contraction and the piston rod coming out hot and going into the cold air pump, they couldn’t cope and they used to last a week or two and then start drawing air and if your pumps drawing air you’re doomed, no vacuum.
I put umpteen of them back on to soft packings with stainless steel rods in. I never forget doing the first one though, taking it off ordinary soft packings on to metallics, oh what a mess. It were beautiful at Sunday when we ran it, we’d skimmed the rod up and all you know. Engine driver rang about Wednesday asking me to come on and have a look at this piston rod and you’ve never seen such a mess in your life. You see it weren’t like an ordinary soft packing that were keeping the rod wiped all day, it were going rustier and rustier while the engine were running. It were just like the bottom of a battleship, all barnacles, were that rod. You’ve never seen owt like it and leaking? The chap‘s stood over it with cylinder oil trying to keep it going while Saturday. Oh, what a job, and then they got a bright idea they put some grease Stauffers on to them to keep ‘em full of grease, you know what I mean by a grease Stauffer, fill it with fat and wound it round and they also have a needle and spring loaded so that it will feed on its own while the mill’s running. Well they put a lot of them on to try and cope with it but they were no good. Metallic packings were never really any good on Corliss valve spindles either you know. There were always trouble with them sticking because a metallic packing wants a full movement of the spindle (rotation), not a partial movement. But with the air pump rods, back to soft packings and if they could afford it a stainless steel rod and their troubles were over.”

Image

The metallic packing on the back of the HP cylinder on Bancroft engine.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 18 May 2018, 04:13

One of the things I’ve realised over the years is that people always assume that the old engineers knew exactly what they were doing all the time and never made any mistakes. I knew that Newton had once had a casting made for a cylinder that was wrong so I asked him to tell me about it. “It were the high pressure cylinder for Marsden Mills at Nelson. It were a little engine, 600hp cross compound, Burnley Ironworks, one of them engines with all the valves at the bottom, not at each corner, exhaust and steam valves were at the bottom of the cylinder. The cylinder were cracked and it were blowing steam and water all over the floor of the engine house so we plated it. There were plenty of money around in those days and the management said we don’t like that, make a new un. So we got a new cylinder cast at Marsden engines at Heckmondwyke. We had drawings for it and they machined it and all and it came to the shop and the holidays came along like and we just went on to Nelson and pulled the old cylinder out and brought it to the shop and I think I was machining the piston rod or the piston when Sidney came in to see me. He said, Newton there’s sommat not reight with that cylinder down yonder. I said why, what’s up with it Sidney? He says well, I just took me wood lath to mark it for the length of the bore, the piston travel, and me lines stuck out an inch and a half of the old one to the new un. Oh my God I says, we’d better go and have a look at this and when I looked down inside they’d put two thicknesses of pattern on the inside instead of putting the facing on the outside, they’d put a facing inside. It were a blind end cylinder, no cover on the front, the rod just came through the stuffing box. They’d put a facing on the inside when all that facing should have been on the front of the cylinder on the outside. So me father came down and he says what are we going to do about that? I says Well, it’ll have to go back, we can’t get it on to the borer in this short time, we’d only a week then to do the job. The blind end was an inch and a half too thick inside the cylinder so we took it back. We got a wagon in and they took it back and they machined it off on their brand new Richards borer and when it came back it were all right. They worked all day and all night and they machined it off with a long snout boring bar. It were a fair job and it ran me that late that when it came to Sunday night I were no where near finished so I rang me father and I says I’m not going to be running in the morning. He said to let the engine driver know and not to worry about it because he’ll tell the bosses. They were all tenants there you know, it were a room and power shop. Don’t bother he says, I’ll tell them you’ll be running on Tuesday, it’s happened before. It were nowt I could help, I couldn’t do it, I didn’t get the cylinder back while Saturday morning, I think it were Saturday before I got it back from Heckmondwyke. So that were that and that were all that had ever happened, owt like that case you know.”

I asked Newton whether any of the other machining had been done on the cylinder by the makers. “Oh no, that’s why it were at the shop. We did all the drilling and tapping for Corliss bonnets and cylinder covers and all that, it just came bored and faced. When I came to put it back together at Monday afternoon, I was putting the valves in and I looked down the ports and I said to Crabby, Eh Harry you’d better have a look at these! Oh, he says, what art ta going to do with them? Instead of the port bars being straight down the centre they set off at an angle. The core had moved over or they’d never put ‘em in the mould straight. But I was fitting the old valves to the new cylinder, my port bars were straight so I couldn’t get ‘em to shut could I. I’d to twist the spindles, I fetched ‘em to the shop and got them red hot and twisted ‘em, the steam valve spindles, I had to guess at ‘em and all. Then we had to chip them, you know, three quarters wide port bars on them valves, I had to chip them to the same angle as the port bars in the casting. They’d only just over three thirty twos of cover ‘cause I just didn’t have enough metal to give ‘em any more and there were never an engine ran like that did!”

This reinforced what Newton and I had always agreed on, that the least cover you could get away with and the better the engine ran. “Oh yes, I’ve fought for that job all me time. I’ve come to engines and they’ve had three eighths and half an inch of cover and I’ve said, it’s no good, they won’t govern when they’re like this and the valves ud be sticking. I’ll bet it hadn’t three thirty twos of cover that one and it’d run wi’ just the shafting on and the stop valve wide open when I’d finished wi’ it. You can just imagine can’t you looking down there and seeing ‘em. They were pointing somewhere over Burnley instead of central down the cylinder. So I twisted the spindles and straightened ‘em.”

Bancroft had a lot of cover when I went there and after consulting with Newton I altered the valves by winding the cover off with the engine stopped but the steam on until they were just starting to leak steam and then backing the adjustment of the steam rod up a touch. I think I had about a sixteenth of cover and Newton agreed it ran better than it ever had before. As Newton used to say, as long as the valves are closing the port they’re doing their job. I asked Newton why did they have it in their heads that they had to have such a lot of cover? “I don’t know. Look at the lost motion on the engine and look at the duty it were doing pulling them open. How could they expect the governor to look after it when the governor had all that lost motion. Like you couldn’t set a governor fine when it had to shift the valves half an inch before it were governing. Look, I’ve stood at these engines, especially your type, and Pollitt’s and Roberts’ engines with that Dobson gear on and I’ve watched it spring the bonnets before it could pull the valve open, it had that much tension on. Steam up at 160 and probably superheat on ‘em and I’ve watched it move the bonnet before it ‘ud open the valve. Spring the bonnet, well in fact there’s been more than one broken off. Pendle Street dropped one, one afternoon about four o’clock. Pulled the bonnet off. When you think of the width of that valve, it’s half an inch of cover, steam at 160 pound and over two feet long and there’s one hundred and sixty pound pressure pressing on top of it absolutely red hot superheated steam and only single ported and all and they give ‘em half an inch of cover, it had to pull it back that half an inch before it got into equilibrium. I’ve taken ‘em out and that half an inch has all been ribbed with grinding, pulling it open. Oh I soon twigged that one in my days. I thought we aren’t having any of this, I used to chip it off. Sometimes you couldn’t alter the gear you know, and they’d be opening a bit soon, a bit early you know and that made ‘em run better still. I were a beggar for giving ‘em some lead, aye. Never had a crank pin knocking you know when they had some lead because it put compression on before it got to centre, pulled the pins up tight.”

We talked about giving Bancroft a bit more compression in the low pressure because I was weaving out at the time and running very light. Newton said “It wants the exhaust eccentric putting forward, close the exhaust sooner, steam valves are all right. That engine at Crow Nest had a compression curve nearly in the centre of the figure. That’s why it ‘ud run them three hundred loom with the stop valve wide open and not a noise, not a muff. You never heard any crank pins tapping even.”

I was weaving Bancroft out when this tape was done and was down to about 100 looms. This is why the subject of steady running on low loads with high boiler pressure was looming so large in the conversation. Thirty years later I can report that I never did alter the eccentric because the engine ran so well as it was set. In the end I could run it on shafting load only with 160psi and the stop valve wide open. The governor could cope right down to minimum valve opening without missing a beat. When Ellenroad at Rochdale got on to very small valve openings it could miss a beat occasionally because of play in the valve motion.

Newton again, “No, you see, the compression tightens the brasses back on even if there’s a bit of slack in them when it’s coming up, it builds pressure from zero to 160 on its own quietly doesn’t it, taking the speed of the stroke. In the old days a chap that did know sommat about the job used to give them an inch compression to a foot of stroke when he set the exhausts. I used to give ‘em two! I give one a bit too much one day and it lifted the crosshead up, chump, chump, chump, and that were the old side at Wellhouse. Me father says to me, what’s wrong with that engine Newton? I says it’ll be all right while dinnertime. It were a slide valve and I pushed the low pressure eccentric forward ‘cause there weren’t much load on when we started again after the war. I thought it’d be a week or two before they got a thousand loom running you know so I hutched (moved) it up a bit, I says to Tom Marshall, I’ll save you a bit of coal by hutching it up, I’ll put th’eccentric forward a bit further. Oh it had a lovely figure, but it were lifting the crosshead up, chump, chump, up against the retaining plates at the end of each stroke with excessive compression. You see the low pressure hasn’t much piston pressure, but it got some wi’ me, it got more pressure from compression than it did from the high pressure with compound steam! Running light loaded, you could watch the piston rod, low pressure were at the front you know, high pressures were at the back, and when it got to the end of the stroke you could watch the piston rod lift the slipper of its face, it were a big flat slipper. And I said it’ll be all right while dinnertime, I’ll put it back a bit at dinnertime.”
I have one more instance where Newton mentioned Holmefield mill off tape. He was telling me about a visit he had made to Mons Mill at Todmorden to have a look at the Carel Freres engine, 4000hp and one of the biggest mill engines ever made. The engineer showed him the speed recorder chart and Newton said it varied by as much as an eighth of an inch. He said that Sam Holden’s had a speed recorder and the line on that was dead straight. He said that everything knocked on the Mons engine, it was clean but it ran rotten. He also mentioned that the flywheel boss was shrunk on the shaft which was about 36” thick in the middle. A big engine.

I hope you liked that as much as I do. I don’t know of anyone alive today who could give such precise information based on practical experience. We’ve touched on stuffing boxes in this chapter so this might be as good a place as any to mention the Universal Metallic Packing order books. You’ll notice that both Geoff Shackleton in his ‘Textile mills of Pendle and their steam engines’ and myself refer constantly to precise dates from the Universal Metallic Packing Company order books. You may have wondered how we got hold of them… I have a story for you. In 1983 while I was refurbishing the Ellenroad Engine at Newhey I had a leaking stuffing box on the right hand front low pressure so I rang Universal in Bradford who made the packing in the first place and asked them to send me a fitter. When the bloke arrived he had done his homework and had what I thought at first was a copy of the original order. I was horrified when I realised that it wasn’t a copy, he had torn it out of the original ledger. I asked him to put it back and explained why.

The fitter took the packing off and went back to Bradford, he knew he had a week to get the packing done and replaced. He had almost finished doing the job when Jack Roberts the manager came round on a tour of inspection and noticed the packing on the bench. He knew right away that it was off a steam engine and asked the fitter about it. He told him it was from Ellenroad and that he was refurbishing it and was going back on Thursday to refit it. Jack said oh no you’re not! I’m going to do it, I fitted that packing the last time it was off and I didn’t know the engine was still running! Come Thursday and Jack turned up in his three piece business suit with a Gladstone bag containing the tackle and started to refit the packing. I got talking to him and he was really pleased the engine had survived. I broached the question of the order books with him and the upshot was he lent me the ledgers that covered every packing they had made from the start of the firm to about 1930. I got onto Geoff who had access to photocopying facilities and the upshot was we finished up with a copy each. The company is still trading at Beehive Works in Bradford and I wish them well. I hope they are looking after the original ledgers. There was a strange sequel to all this. Geoff did an extra copy at my request and I tried to give it to the Science Museum. After ten years of reminding them I gave up and gave the copy to another old mill man, Mike Rothwell, who had helped me a lot with my research. I often think that if you look back at the people who made the biggest contributions to preserving the knowledge of the old industries they are seldom the official bodies, they are eccentric old blokes working from their kitchen tables. I rest my case.

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Mons engine at Todmorden. One of the largest mill engines ever installed but a wastrel because it was never fully loaded.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by chinatyke » 18 May 2018, 04:43

Is this a daft question? Why didn't you reduce the steam pressure at the boiler, i.e. before the engine governor, when you were running on light loads? Wouldn't this have been easier and just as effective a method of controlling the power output?

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 19 May 2018, 04:03

No such thing as a daft question China! Far less efficient and would have upset the way lubrication works in the cylinders. Better to run the engine on its original pressure and it was no trouble because it was adjusted so well.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 19 May 2018, 04:08

CHAPTER 27: SALTERFORTH SHED

I asked Newton about Salterforth Shed (1888) because I knew he’s done a lot of work down there. “Oh, Salterforth, lovely. James Slaters at Salterforth, a little Roberts tandem, cost £395 to make and put in. Slide valve low pressure, slide valve high, Meyer (type) cut-off gear, which’ll take a lot of explaining will that, I don’t know where to start. It’s a Porter governor working some cams advanced and retarded which altered levers on the slide valve steam chest. These levers were connected to a double slide valve with some ports in and this gear altered the opening of the ports and so altered the cut-off and governed the engine. (A normal slide valve can’t be adjusted for cut-off, this is dictated by the way the valve is made and so the engine can only be governed on the throttle by an equilibrium valve. The Meyer gear was an attempt to change this and they were very effective but soon replaced by Corliss valves and later drop valves. The only engine I know that has this gear is the Yates that I moved from Jubilee at Padiham to Masson Mill at Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. I later discovered that there was more than one version of slide valve expansion gear and the one that Newton is talking about was probably Roberts’ version but the same principle.) A very efficient gear.
It run at about 40 or 45 revs a minute, it’ud be four foot six stroke, beautiful flywheel and gear drive. The gears just ran like wood wheels, you could hardly hear ‘em, just rumbled, it were a beautiful thing. I had a few weeks there at one time, they had a fire you know. (Craven Herald 29th of March 1929 reports a fire at Salterforth Mill on Friday 22nd of March. The fire was confined to the engine house roof.) It brought the engine house roof in and it weren’t long afore they had it running. It bent the governor shaft and I went down, I were only a lad then (13 years), I went down wi’ the men and we soon had it straightened up. They got a good joiner there, Tom Parker, and he soon had baulks across and a new roof on. Oh, it’d happen be running in a fortnight or so.

Then during t’war it was stopped and after t’war me father said to me one day, Jim Slater’s rung up from Salterforth Newton and he wants you to go down there and get the engine running, will you go down? I says course I will! So I went down and Donald Plummer had got t’job of engine driver, he were with his father running Coates Mill and little Donald, he’s at Wellhouse now (1978), he got th’engine at Salterforth after the war. So off we went to Salterforth and Donald’s already there. He’d got it cleaned up and it looked alright but they just wanted me to give it the once over before they ran it and it were funny, I looked at the flywheel, it weren’t cased in then because that‘s where the fire had started and I said to Harry, it does look funny does that flywheel, I’m going to get me father down here. I came up to t’shop and I says the segments on Salterforth flywheel look a bit funny to me, they’re a little bit out. He says how much? Well, I says, you can feel it with your finger. Oh he says, don’t bother me wi’ it, they’ve given us a free hand, lift one off. Just like that, lift one off! They weighed about two ton apiece, they’d be about ten inches wide and about eighteen inches deep, they were the rim of the wheel. Just exactly, more or less, like that wheel at Harle Syke so you know what I’m talking about. They were cottered you know. So we got some girders across and some tackle up ‘cause they’d put the new roof up without girders, it were just oak baulks. So we put some girders up across two of the baulks and we got some blocks on and gets the cotters knocked out and we lifted this segment off and my god, it were a good job we did!

These segments have a square hole cast in where they fit on top of the arms and then you’ve a cotter hole through your segments and a cotter hole through the top of your arms and you’ve gibs and cotters in there. Well in there you’ve a two and a half inch square dowel that your cotters fastened to at each end and that’s what ties your segments on to the top of your arms. They were both broken were them dowels. So we lifted that quietly on to the floor and Harry says hadn’t we better take another off? So out of six segments that made the gear up, it were a six arm wheel, there were five of them dowels broken. Them segments were just hanging on the top of them arms wi’t sheer fit of being cottered that way. It were just a ring loose on top of six arms more or less, except for one dowel. Every one of them broken right slap in the middle, that ‘ud be done in the fire you know. When the wheel expanded with the heat of the fire it’d stretched them dowels but when it went cold, when t’arms pulled back again to their original length it’s broke ‘em off, every one. And that engine had run like that, it must have run ten years after t’fire like that. Anyway, we put all new dowels in it of course and put the segments back on, all the gearing back on and we were there many a week with that job. We got it running and it ran until the end of its days with no trouble.

We just had one little do with it, we put a new equilibrium valve on it. It were an equilibrium valve knock-off and the insurance were getting particular about stop motions. We tested it and found that when we knocked it off it wouldn’t stop so we took the equilibrium valve out and it were very badly worn. Me father and Denis took particulars for a new one and they made a new valve for it. (What Newton is talking about here is the automatic stop motion on the engine. This is a mechanism which is triggered either by a violent fluctuation in engine speed, up or down, or by breaking the glass on a box in the mill very similar to a fire alarm. The way the signal actually stops the engine is that it triggers a mechanism that shuts the steam off. On a Corliss valve engine this is easily achieved by breaking the linkage to the valves which then stay shut. On other engines it was effected by a spring loaded stop valve which shut itself when the catch holding the spring was released by the signal. On the Salterforth engine an older system was used, the signal actuated a special type of valve which could be closed by a simple weight. This was achieved by making the valve very easy to close. The problem with normal valves is that when they close they have to act against the boiler pressure on the valve. The equilibrium valve was made with two seats arranged so that boiler pressure acted against the outside surfaces of both valves with steam passing to the engine through a central passage between the valves. This meant that the weight of steam on the two outside surfaces opposed each other and achieved equilibrium at any port opening, hence the name given to the valve. The problem with equilibrium valves is that as the two valve faces are a fixed distance apart, it is crucial that both faces coincide with each other exactly when the valve closes. This is the problem Newton is about to come across.)

Dennis and I went down at Saturday morning a week or two after to replace the valve. We put this valve in and we’d made a special cutter to re-cut both seats, you know, right good, grind them in and both seats touching perfect. Puts it all together, sets it on and knocked the stop motion off, I just tapped the hook (In the linkage) and knocked it off. No, it didn’t stop! Well, Johnny said we’ll have to put a vacuum breaker on it. I said I told you that didn’t I, it wants a vacuum breaker on! (Even when the steam is shut off the vacuum in the system can keep the engine going. The cure is to have a valve in the system between the low pressure cylinder and the condenser which opens to atmosphere and destroys the vacuum.) Oh, me father says, it’s nowt isn’t that, we put a vacuum breaker on you know, piped it up during the week ready for coupling up, coupled it up on Saturday. Right, start her up Donald, reight big stop valve hand wheel, you’d have thought you were starting Mons engine, it were about two feet in diameter. Started it up, knocked it off, it didn’t stop did it. Me father tells me it’s an odd do is this, you’d better go down and grind that valve in again, re-face them. So I goes down meself with Bob Fort this time we re-faced it again with the special cutter, just took a thou off, ground the valve in and I turned round and I says to Bob, it never bloody well will stop! Oh, he says, don’t tell thi father, don’t tell thi father what tha says or there’ll be a reight row! I says It never bloody will stop, go on Donald, try it again. He sets on does Donald, knocks it off, it slowed down but the bugger wouldn’t stop, it just trailed on without vacuum until the air pump sweltered (boiled). So I went back to t’shop Monday morning, well, how’ve you gone on wi’ it this week? That’s how he talked you know. Were it all right? No, I said, it’ll never stop, it’ll never stop in a bloody month of Sundays Johnny won’t yon thing! He says, why, is it cracked in’t seats or sommat? I says No! He says well what’s up wi’ it? I says well, it’s a cast iron box and tha’s made a brass valve. Oh bloody hell fire! he says, just like that. Get that pattern to’t foundry, up to’t Ouzledale and tell ‘em to make a cast iron one. He he he. It were the heat expanding it, the brass were lengthening a sixteenth more than the bloody box. He he he! He thought they were doing something clever when they put a brass one in. Gun metal, lovely thing it were, all fluted with ribs on. I just says to Bob that morning we’re wasting us bloody time, we might as well have been out courting or sommat, it never will bloody stop. It must have been a sixteenth longer than t’box when it got hot and it ‘ud be whistling through the top seat as happy as a lark would t’steam wouldn’t it. Engine kept trailing round and round at about five revs a minute, just the same every weekend, trailing round at about five revs when we knocked off. It never stopped, it were getting enough steam to keep it going.

Aye, that were Salterforth. We electrified Salterforth oh, 1955 or 1956 (Geoff says 1949 and I think he is right.). It were one of the first sheds to get electrified. The boiler were done tha knows. Me and me father went to Yates and Thom at Blackburn, it were a special size boiler and you couldn’t put anything bigger in the boiler house. I think it were only a seven footer wi’ two fire holes. I think it were a seven footer or seven foot six, it weren’t an eight footer anyway, because an eight footer wouldn’t go in there, there wasn’t room for the side flues and the side flues were narrow enough, they used to have a job to flue ‘em. Me and me father went to Yates and Thom and they promised to make us a new boiler. Anyway, the insurance company did a rotten trick wi’ ‘em at Salterforth, they pulled their insured pressure down from 120 to 100psi. Now you could only just manage wi’ 100 pound when you’d all the looms running. They said you’re all right now, you can stay at that for ten years. They walked in the summer after and said it’ll have to come down to 80 pound and that did it. They more or less condemned it and they’d just had new connies put in and all. So me and me father went to Yates and Thom, the insurance company give ‘em a bit of grace to see whether they could make a new boiler for it and they said they could. They said they would make them a new ‘un. Anyway they weighed one thing against another, they talked about package boilers and me father said it wouldn’t do, he said it’d just prime it away. So they decided to electrify the shafting. We put motors up on the wall, electrified the shafting and after that they sailed on. It ran a lot of years and they kept the boiler in. Oh, that were another thing they told ‘em, they said righto, if you do away with the engine and electrify the shafting we’ll let you keep your boiler and work it at 60pound for the heating. One winter, and that were it, it ran one winter and they condemned the boiler altogether. They’d to go out and buy a new boiler. I don’t know what their reason was, age, that were all that were wrong with it. I don’t think they could find anything wrong with it, they never said get some rivets in it or weld round the fire tubes or get new front lengths in the fire tubes. They just condemned it at t’finish up. There were a bit of a do going round then though, there were a lot of boilers condemned just round about that time that were built in the 19th century. That engine ‘ud be put in about 1885 or sommat like that? You see what’s happening Stanley with such as Pendle Street and all them shops with engines in of that age, they had their engines modified and new boilers put in in the twenties. Well they were all right, they sailed on. But such as Salterforth that had never had any trouble with their engines never did any modernising. They should have modernised it after the First World War and put boiler pressure up to 160psi with two new cylinders which would have saved ‘em coal, it ‘ud have saved the price of the job but they never had it done. See, the old people thought it ran beautiful, you couldn’t hear that engine from outside the engine house. I had an experience there one afternoon. I run it a time or two when they the engineer was poorly sick. I used to like to go to Salterforth and I fell asleep outside on the form, middle of summer and you were on your own you know. You’d both the engine and the boiler. Nobody used to come round to see you. I woke up and shook me head, I looked in through the door and I had 40pounds on the clock! I soon woke up Stan! Straight up to th’engine, it were going, just. Downstairs to get some greasy waste in the firebox and get the fire going and do you know I got steam back up, big shifts and little shifts and nobody came anywhere near! I don’t know what speed the engine were running at, about 30 revs happen. It were still going, t’governor were laid on the bottom, equilibrium valve absolutely wide open, driving on the low pressure and it kept going and there weren’t a soul came near. I looked at that clock Stan and I had 40 pound on and how many looms would I have running, 600? He he he. I were literally running on the low pressure cylinder.”

I like the story Newton tells of him getting one over his dad with the equilibrium valve but I think I can add something from my own experience when I was re-building the Whitelees engine. The use of an equilibrium valve controlled by the stop motion was very old-fashioned and was a hangover from the days when such a valve was controlled by the governor to regulate the speed on an engine. The Yates Jubilee engine which I moved to Masson Mill had exactly the arrangement Newton describes, variable ports on the high pressure slide valve and an equilibrium valve controlled by the stop motion but I have never seen the interior of it. The valve on the Whitelees beam engine certainly did have a gunmetal bobbin because I had to make a new one for it. I think the difference may have been that the valve I made was for 40psi and therefore much cooler and it may have had a shorter distance between the seats. As it was a governor valve it wasn’t critical for it to be steam tight when fully closed and it may well have been that the similar valves that Johnny had seen before were like this and so his mistake was quite natural. Like all of us, Newton enjoyed being right and it’s his story.

I do have one instance of a Newton mistake. He once told me off tape about doing a job on a big low pressure slide valve and when they were packing the tackle up afterwards they realised that they were short of a stink lamp. It wasn’t a cast iron one, it was made out of tin so they decided that it must have been left in the steam chest but would not be solid enough to cause any problems. They started the engine and ran it and it was OK. Nothing more was heard about it and Newton said it had either stayed in the chest or the steam had blown it somewhere where it could do no damage. One thing is certain, humans make mistakes and I suppose that when we listen to Newton we should bear this in mind but also remember that he’s telling his story and if he wants to put himself in the bast light it’s entirely understandable. It doesn’t diminish the quality of the information he is giving us.

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The Yates governor on the Jubilee engine which controls both the speed and the slide valve setting. If you study it long enough and hard enough you’ll be able to work out how it functions…
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 20 May 2018, 03:52

CHAPTER 28: MOSS SHED

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Moss engine, one of Newton’s favourites and the engine that Walt Fisher’s father, Stanley, ran for many years.

I asked Newton about Moss Shed (1903) on the side of the canal at Long Ing. “Nicest set of engines anyone could want to go and look at. They weren’t big engines just 900 horse power and a pair of tandems. Now with tandems I mean there were two complete engines, high pressure and low pressure and air pump on each side running onto a common flywheel shaft. Now that set up, to me you couldn’t beat it, ideal, perfect turn on that engine you could hear it purr. Big flywheel with about 24 ropes on, you walked into that engine house and it had a different noise to everyone else’s. It purred, it fairly trickled away at about 76rpm, four feet six stroke but it wasn’t modern, it had never had modern low pressure cylinders put into it. It just had low pressure cylinders, Burnley Ironworks Engine, wi’ double swing valves in, and by double swing valves I mean they’re at the bottom, about 13 inches in diameter and they act as steam and exhaust. They were OK in that era but they weren’t as economical as a four valve cylinder where you could put Corliss valve gear on to alter your cut-off. But them engines at the Moss were very little trouble.”

Notice that Newton mentions cut-off using an adjustable Corliss valve linkage when he is talking about a modern low pressure cylinder. A point often missed when describing Corliss valved engines, especially cross compounds, is that the action of the valves on the low pressure could be adjusted in the same way as that on the high pressure. The only difference was that instead of being controlled by the governor for speed regulation it was a manual adjustment. This ability to alter the characteristics of the valve events on a low pressure was very useful if you were running an engine where the load varied a lot at different parts of the day. You could alter the length of time the admission valves stayed open according to the pressure in the receiver between the high pressure and the low which was governed by the amount of exhaust steam entering the receiver and the amount you were letting the low pressure take by lengthening or shortening the cut-off. This enabled you to balance out the load on the two cylinders because the pressure in the receiver was back pressure on the high pressure and reduced its share of the load. In practice the high pressure always did the lion’s share of the work but it was useful with a cross-compound to be able to transfer some of this work to the low because on a quartered engine this meant that you were getting a more even turning motion on the lineshaft which improved weaving conditions in the shed. On a double tandem like Moss or Ellenroad this didn’t apply because there was a compound engine working on each side and if quartered this ensured a more even turning motion. In this case there wasn’t such an advantage in being able to balance out the two cylinders except in the case of a very heavily loaded engine where the adjustable linkage could be used to ensure that maximum power was being delivered. The engine makers knew this of course and this is why many double tandems had the high pressures converted to Corliss but the lows were left as slide valves in which case the only adjustments available were semi-permanent ones made by altering the timing of the drive to the slide valves and this was usually not done unless the compression needed to be altered. It is this characteristic of double tandems that leads Newton to say that the Moss engine had ‘a lovely turn’.

It’s worth noting here for anyone who has seen the Ellenroad engine that when it was converted from a triple expansion with the high pressure and a low on one side and the intermediate with a low on the other the conversion to double tandem was made by leaving the existing lows in place and putting a new Corliss valved high pressure on each side. When I was doing the engine up I was puzzled by the evidence of hard work I found on the low pressures and it took me a while to realise that because these were the original low pressures they were under-sized for the increased duty running as a tandem. The relief valves were set to a high value and there were plated cracks in the exhaust ports on the right hand engine. This was because they had been running at higher pressures than they were designed for. I reckon that on maximum load they were running on up to 50psi steam, very high for low pressures. It says much for the original quality of build by McNaught that they got away with it. In the latter days one side of the engine was indicated at 1500hp and this was more than the designed load of the whole of the original triple expansion layout.

I asked Newton to explain ‘double swing’ valves. “It’s a round slide valve in plain English. Moss engine had no Corliss gear on, they were just ordinary circular valves. They act as inlets and exhaust and they’d be about 13 inches in diameter. There were a lot of them engines made at that time, 1900s early on up to 1910. The high pressures were Corliss with Burnley Ironworks standard valve gear, finest valve gear ever made. It weren’t a disc, it were just worked wi’ rockers straight off your rocker shaft. The drive from your eccentrics went straight onto a split rocker shaft and then a rod straight to your valve gear. It were very simple really, if you could take a Hick Hargreaves valve gear and tipple it wrong side up you’ve got a Burnley Ironworks gear. They didn’t need a wrist plate, they went straight on to the valve spindles did the rods. They had what we call spectacles and catches, your rods went straight on to the bottom of the spectacle arms to work your spindles, a lovely gear. Me father allus said that the chap who designed that gear were a Hick Hargreaves man and all he did when he came to Burnley Ironworks was he made that drawing of a Hick Hargreaves gear and turned it wrong side up because Hick Hargreaves gear worked from underneath you know. But they were sugar tongs, now he made sugar tongs into his spectacle rods. All he did was open it out and turn it upside down.

Now that Corliss gear Stanley, with all th’engines I’ve ever run and all due respect to anyone else there were nobody could touch it. I used to run Crow Nest with the same gear and that engine ran at 78 revs a minute and it were four feet six inches stroke. I could run Crow Nest after tea with a hundred looms on, no lights in summer, with the boiler pressure up at 160 pounds, stop valve wide open and never touched it. Crow Nest, that’s just across the road from here, that were a thousand horse. But Moss never came into that. (Newton is referring to running on light load with full boiler pressure. This is a considerable test of an engine’s valve settings and valve motion because of the extremely short cut-offs involved. Any fault in the action of the gear is magnified and leads to very uneven and, at times, dangerous running conditions.) Moss were always fully loaded, all its life practically and it were only built for 900 horse. Walt’s father, Stanley Fisher were there over thirty years and he used to indicate it at Monday morning and his figures crossed. His high pressure figures used to cross in the middle. He’d have about 1100hp, 1150hp happen and all he could do at Monday morning were open the stop valve and hope. It were overloaded with 2000 looms and he used to open the stop valve at Monday morning and just hope the governor would come up off the stand before breakfast. That engine were working hard but I used to go into that engine house and go up the steps and it’ud purr. He were a tip top man were Stanley and he knew what he were doing, it purred did that engine. He ran the engine up till when it stopped. Donald Plummer went but he weren’t there long. Stanley retired, he were about seventy and Donald Plummer went and they were going to run the place out you know, finish. But Donald chucked up and Stanley went back and ran the place right up to the end in about 1960.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 21 May 2018, 03:21

There were three nine foot Lancashire boilers but the pressure were only 120 pounds and they were the first mill to be lit electrically. It had two Royce DC dynamos in, beautiful things, in what we called the dynamo room. Oh, they were beautiful things them Royce generators, we used to go to them occasionally and skim the comms up. (Commutators) We used to do them in position they’d be about two feet in diameter. Oh they were marvellous things were them, I used to go and look at them when I was a lad when old Peter Heaton were there before Stanley. He used to charge all the batteries for wireless sets in Barlick in them days did old Peter. (Early wireless sets had two batteries, a high tension dry battery and a low tension lead acid accumulator which had to be recharged regularly.) He were making a nice sideline there were Peter, he did more battery charging than engine driving! The engine house floor there Stanley, it were planked, short planks about three feet long all over. Instead of floor plates there were planks and when you walked on them they rattled and it were spotless. But summat like that always sticks in your mind, something different, it never had floor plates, chequer plates put down, they were all short planks that fit into frames and if you wanted to do anything you’d only the planks to pull up, no problem, nicely dried in and plenty of oil on.

There weren’t many breakdowns at Moss, a new crank pin at t’canal side just after Donald Plummer took over, it came loose and it started to come out. It started bashing the oil tray so I put a new crank pin in and I think me father put one in on the other side years and years before that, it hadn’t been running long. The flywheel came loose happen about thirty years since and Walter re-keyed it on. It never stopped it, but t’crank pin did, it were stopped three days wi’t crank pin. I bored it out and put a new pin in. Well that’s about it then, it never had any cylinders or owt bored hadn’t that engine. Not as it didn’t need it, don’t get me wrong, it needed doing but of course it finished its time out.

One thing that happened, it was always fairly well loaded up was that engine. Now when they went off 110 volts DC and were going to go onto 240 volts AC on’t corporation (mains) Stanley wouldn’t have an alternator in, he said the engine would never do it. And it wouldn’t I don’t think, I think he were reight there, and of course the load went down a bit and it never got bored. No, Stanley put his foot down and says the engine’ll never do it there’s no use bothering and they couldn’t speed it up, it were running fast enough already. But they were only small cylinders you know, I think th’high pressures ud only be about 14 or 15 inches bore. They were very small and they were lagged square and they did look well when you went in. High pressures were at the back of the lows, first thing you saw were the high pressure heads you know, didn’t look so big. Oh, lovely they were, square lagged were the cylinders aye. It were a grand engine, big stop valve hand wheel in the middle of the floor with six pilots on, big square table with all your drains and taps on and that were the only engine in the town I never ran on me own because Stanley were never off long enough. Walter went in one morning to help him, his father were going to his work and he fell and broke his arm and Walt went and stopped wi’ him until dinner time and after that he managed. Course, he had an oiler and a fireman think on, he were all right as long as he could get someone to help him open the stop valve he could manage. Aye, he were a tough old bugger were Stan, he used to go to the pub at dinner time and again at night and went like that all his life. He allus lived at the end of the mill, never lived away from his work, he used to go and set on and then go home for his breakfast. He lived in that row of houses that’s been demolished that were right up to the end of Moss Yard. It were a little short row and they demolished it for those Silentnight showrooms. He lived in the bottom house. He were a nice feller were Stanley, very clever feller.”

Later on I asked Harold Duxbury about Tom Clarke moving Silentnight into Moss Shed. “Slaters were under notice at Wellhouse and I went to see them when Tom Clarke were burned out at Butts. Would they let Tom Clarke go in, would they get a move on? I arranged with them that they'd clear one end and Tom could go in at one end and they'd gradually get out at t’other. Tom Clarke went to Wellhouse, he was there until he bought Moss. I went down to the Moss one day and John Widdup was in the office, the boss, they were all directors of the Moss Shed Company, Aldersleys were directors and they said to me, very outspoken people, were the Widdups. “Get this place sold for us!” I said, "You're not serious?'' They said, “We are!” I said, "Well, how much do you want? How much have I to get?'' They said, "Get what tha can.” Within a day or two, Tom Clarke said to me “Can you find me a bigger place?” I said, “I might be able to do” and I told him what I had in mind. I said “I think I can buy it.” and he says, “what can you get it for?” I says, “I'll have to go back but I know what I would say, £25,000. I went back to Widdups and it were as easy as that.” (Twenty years later I was talking to one of the Widdups and he volunteered the information that Moss was sold for £25,000 to Tom Clarke so this checks out.)

Image

Harold Duxbury in the late 1970s when I interviewed him for the LTP.
Stanley Challenger Graham
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by plaques » 21 May 2018, 07:36

With most of the readings quoting 'pressures' its easy to forget what temperatures the steam was working at under these pressures.
Some examples. 120 psi = 176ºC. 140 psi = 183ºC. 160psi = 188ºC.
The complete table can be seen here. Link.

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 21 May 2018, 07:45

Quite right P and in later practice the live steam was passed through 'superheaters' on its way to the cylinder to increase the amount of heat it carried and hence the potential energy available. It's not uncommon in modern practice for the steam mains to glow red hot! All modern steam turbines use superheat. I've never worked with it and I'm glad because it brings with it difficulties like lubrication. It's also far more dangerous!
By the way, 'normal' steam that is not superheated is described as 'saturated' because it always carries with it free water, but with proper care this is no problem.
Stanley Challenger Graham
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scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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