• With the addition of the hood, the Blacksmith's forge is now complete. The paint was barely dry before we held a ceremony of the first lighting of the fire. CPET Director John Bonnett who had generously donated most of the cost of rebuilding the forge is seen here lighting the first fire and unveiling the commemorative plaque.
• Work on painting the living van is now progressing (weather permitting), With the short days at the moment, work doesn't always stop just because its dark!
• More CD engine house cleaning is taking place. Here are the surge vessels that are seen when you enter the engine house from the yard. The same technique which was used on the flywheel is working well on the static metalwork and over the coming months we will see this extended throughout the building.
• Another engine has returned to Claymills. This winch was used for descaling the 27" pumping main. As the sewage was travelling up the pipes to the farm, the lime which was added at the station was deposited on the pipe walls. This had to be removed at regular intervals. The pipes were fitted with access hatches at suitable places and the winch was used to pull a scraper through the pipe. The winch would have been supplied by steam from one of the portable boilers, such as the Ruston Proctor that we got back in July. It had been taken to The North Staffs and Cheshire Traction Engine Club at Klondyke Mill in Draycott in the Clay and these gentlemen towed it back to us on a cold and sunny winter's day! Also, a trailer with various parts that had been taken off the winch was brought by two more tractors.
• Further to last month's announcement, here are a couple of pictures of the 3 engines from the Coors Visitor Centre being returned to Claymills. They are:
• The restoration of Boiler No. 4 has passed a major milestone - it has passed its hydraulic test. It was tested up to 140psi. There was a minor weep on one of the fusible plugs that need fixing and the inspector has requested that the whole of the outer shell is painted with red oxide. There is now a lot of work to rebuild the boiler and prepare it for lighting up and steam test.
While the inspector was on-site, we asked him to have a look at the Ruston Proctor portable. The first problem is that it has a 'Z' foundation ring. This not acceptable for current boiler insurance and would need replacing. This will mean removing the tubes and inner firebox before any further assessment can be made. This boiler work would need to be grant funded and we need to decide whether to go for this full restoration (with a view that we can have steam on site when we are not using a Lancashire boiler) or run the motion from the external steam supply as it was last used.
• Three engines that had been loaned to the Bass Museum (now the Coors Visitor Centre) have been returned to Claymills.
• The engine house cleaning has continued. The whole of 'C' engine flywheel was cleaned in time for the October steaming. Here is a close-up of one of the spokes during cleaning, showing the original discoloured finish on the right and the cleaned and treated finish on the left.
• The bosh and tuyer has now been fitted to the Blacksmith's forge and the air supply pipe installed. Since this picture was taken, a steel plate has been fitted to cover the hole through the wall.
• After months of anticipation, we have at last had some professional conservation advice on the interior of CD Engine House. English Heritage funded three days of practical conservation work, during which techniques for cleaning the painted area of the walls and the metalwork were tested and volunteers were instructed in the best technique for each surface.
Several solvents were tested for their effectiveness at removing decades of grime without removing the underlying paint. In the case of the walls, sugar soap & wire wool proved to be best. On the metal work, white spirit & wire wool is marginally better than the sugar soap.
After cleaning the walls, coloured emulsion was chosen to patch in the bare patches. Here is the result on a section of wall behind D Engine.
• A bandsaw has been donated to the Joiner's shop.
Apologies for the delay in posting this month's news - I've been moving house!
• Work on 'E' pumphouse base has now reached the construction phase, after all the old floor surface and rubble infill had been removed. The layout of the engines we intend to house in the building has been chosen to make use of the original trenches for the new pipework that will be required. Here is a view of the foundations before being filled in with new hardcore.
• Work on repairing the living van is progressing quickly - the missing and rotten boards on the sides and roof have been replaced, so it is well on the way to be weatherproof for the winter.
• The new fan for the blacksmith's forge was tested on the line shafting at our August steaming.
• This month finally sees the return of two more original Claymills items to the site. It is an on-going objective of the Trust to bring original engines and equipment which was dispersed after the station closed back to the site. The latest two to return have spent their time at Elvaston Castle Museum near Derby. Following the closure of this museum, we have been keeping a very close eye on what happens to the collection and after many letters and phone calls, Derbyshire Museum Service finally gave us permission to go and collect the Ruston Proctor portable engine and pipe "drug".
The Ruston Proctor engine was last used in the Lime shed to drive the lime mixers. The boiler had been condemned, so it was buried in concrete up to its axles and fitted with an external steam supply and the motion continued to give service. When the Lime shed was demolished, it was dug out of the concrete and it ended up at Elvaston, where the motion was dismantled, protected and kept in store while the boiler and flywheel were left outside.
The pipe "drug" is a very unusual horse drawn cart that was specially designed for carrying the large diameter cast iron pipes over the fields when the pumping mains were laid and repaired. In order to carry these heavy pipes, the drug is made with a special back axle that allows it to be positioned over the pipe. Two straps are then fitted under the pipe and attached to lifting screws which suspend the pipe under the frame.
While we were inspecting these items at Elvaston, we noticed a living van and requested if this item could come to Claymills too. The site used to have a living van situated outside AB engine house (on small wheels) which was used as a tea cabin by the workers.
Transport was arranged and Thursday 21st saw a momentous day in Claymills history. This picture shows the portable leaving Elvaston. The pipe drug (minus its wheels) is loaded onto its lorry. The living van was fitted with temporary wheels and towed to where it was loaded onto a trailer (No - we didn't tow it down the A38!).
• The brickwork for the Blacksmith's forge has now been finished and this picture shows a plywood mock-up of the steel hood that will fitted over the hearth. The final design chosen will have sides that slope in more than this version.
• The welding work on Boiler No. 4 has been completed by Israel Newton & Sons of Bradford. The next stage is preparation for hydraulic test.
• On the 18th, we had a visit from 13 members of the Thornley family - descendents from the makers of our Buxton & Thornley engines. Their ages ranged from 2 to 99 and climbing our stairs in the engine house was no problem for the eldest visitor!
• Work on the Blacksmith's forge is continuing and another day or twos work should see the brickwork finished. A sheet steel hood will be fastened to the framework protruding from the new brickwork.
• Work has commenced on leveling part of the yard adjacent to the chimney. A rabbit made a significant contribution to the infill required, by digging a hole just next to the railings at the back of the photo!
• Work on 'E' pumphouse base has been continuing with lots of digging. We found that the original pipe trenches had been filled in with loose rubble and then capped with a thin layer of concrete. This is definitely not a suitable foundation to build our new engine bases on, so it was decided to excavate the trenches. This eventually revealed how deep the base for the original electric pump is. We calculated that the concrete block weighs at least 18 tons!!
• As part of improving the yard, a further section of blue brick paving is being laid outside the Joiner's shop and agitator house.
• During the May Day steaming, a shaft that drives part of the boiler stoker mechanism sheared in half. (It actually broke where a hole for a taper pin had been drilled right through the shaft.) As a result the boiler had to be hand fired for most of the weekend. A new shaft was purchased, but we were unable to remove the spinning blades from the old shaft. Fortunately, we were able to find some spare castings in one of our stores, but they were unmachined. The race was on to machine the castings and fit the new shaft to the boiler. The new shaft was a much better fit in the bearings and this resulted in having to realign all the bearings and put shims under the caps. The complete new shaft was finally fitted at 4pm on Saturday afternoon, as the boiler was being warmed up ready for Sunday steaming. Some extra shims were required as the whole mechanism got hot, but it still runs much quieter than the old one!! Great team effort from everyone involved. This picture shows the new shaft on the left and the broken one on the right.
• The Weighbridge office (or Meter House according to some our old site plans) has been in a dangerous state for some time now. Although the building is only a few feet away from the boiler house, it is not included in the listed buildings. Permission has been sought to demolish it before it collapses and we intend to reuse the bricks within the site. Despite the huge cracks in the brickwork, those bricks that are still stuck together were well stuck and took plenty of muscle to separate them! Its shrunk!!
• Work has continued on preparing the 'E' pumphouse floor. Test drilling had revealed that the floor was probably hollow underneath the top concrete and therefore unsuitable for building engine bases on. It turns out that there was just a top skim about 2 inches thick on top of a multitude of different areas underneath. Several features of the old electric 'E' pump have been revealed, including the trenches for the pipes and the electric supply cable (fortunately no longer live!)
• Rebuilding the Blacksmith's forge has now progressed to the stage where the wall mentioned in February 2005 news is almost complete. A fan to supply air to the tuyer is being modified to run from the lineshafting. A cast iron tuyer which was acquired some time ago has been found to be cracked and unrepairable, so we have decided to purchase a new one.
• The V8 Ford flathead pump is now receiving its finishing touches - the main cover has been repainted and fitted.
• The final side of the workshop office has now been glazed and painted.
• Rebuilding the Blacksmith's forge is moving on very quickly. (There would be some more pictures, but some little *#!$* stole my camera - not at Claymills!) We had a very interesting session, trying to work out the details in our one archive picture that shows some detail and decided that the wall "behind" the forge is not the outside wall of the workshop, but a wall some 6-7 ft high set back from the outside wall, through which the tuyer passes. It can't be the outside wall - there is stuff on top of it!
• Repainting the crane in CD engine house is progressing. It has been coated first with red-oxide and the undercoat is nearly complete.
• The final wall section of the workshop office has been made and installed. Glazing is now in progress. A light has been installed using the original switch. The interior design is now under discussion. Again with no pictures showing the detail, the memories of the workers is helping. We believe that there was a substantial shelf that supported the tap & die box - we have that box, so intend to put it back. There is also a suggestion that there was a sloping desk for drawings. If anyone knows better, please let us know!
• The boiler cleaning crew have been hard at work removing the accumulated ash underneath the boiler - thanks for doing a filthy job unpaid. Fluing out the boilers was a job that earned £1.15s.0d extra each for a gang of three men who cleaned out the boilers just after they had come off their 8 weeks in use. Members can look forward to some more reminisces of someone who worked on the boilers for 16 years in the next newsletter.
• Work is continuing on the mahogany lagging on the HP cylinder of C engine. The wood has all been cut to length and further machining and drilling can now commence.
• The planer thicknesser has now had its proper belt guard fitted!
• Our New Year steaming was attended by a record 363 visitors. We would also like to thank all our members who have renewed their membership for another year!
• The Trust has agreed terms with the The North Staffs and Cheshire Traction Engine Club at Klondyke Mill in Draycott in the Clay for the return of a winch which was used to clean out the pumping main pipes which carried the sewage from Claymills to the farm at Etwall.
• The Pearns pump which used to pump water for the Lime shed is undergoing maintenance. This is now located in the agitator house. A new bush for the stuffing box has been made.
• The cafe (now named "The Stoker's Rest) has acquired a soup kettle. The test run was very welcome to visitors and volunteers!
• The Trust has been restoring a Weir pump for display at the Nestle factory at Tutbury. After completion the pump has now been returned.
• Work has commenced on rebuilding the Blacksmith's forge. At some point the whole forge was removed right down to ground level. Unfortunately, this is one area of the site that we have no archive pictures for, so the design has been made by talking to several people who worked on the site or visited while it still existed. A tuyer that has been obtained is being cleaned up and made waterproof ready for when the brickwork gets to the required height. Our thanks go to John Bonnett, a director and the Trust's Membership Secretary, who has funded this project.