Progress on the water wheel overhaul gathered speed after the winter flooding which caused months of delay. The last piece of timber was fitted at the end of June.
Attention was then paid to the curved control sluice which is, and has never been, the easiest bit of our machinery to work on. This, once again, is fully operational. I have said this many times but I do wonder if John Rennie walked back up the lane from the Pumping Station thinking he would not use the same design for a sluice again. We have to use what we have and it has caused much bad language but it is at least, a test of patience.
During the flooded period we took advantage of some very useful basic safety and first aid training provided by CRT.
After researching the subject of “old cooking stoves”, it has been found that the old and sadly ignored cooking stove stored in a corner, is in fact a “portable cooking/heating stove”, and was manufactured during the same period that Claverton became a working pumping station in 1813. It is known that someone was employed to live on site and that stove is a perfect fit for the existing and original fireplace. It is 99% probable that this original stove was removed to the new engineman’s cottage built in about 1860. This was then saved and stored by Claverton volunteers when the cottage was modernised in the 1980`s.
David Viner, of CRT Heritage, has agreed and is helping us to have the stove repaired and re-installed back into its original home. The Claverton Team will be testing it not only for cuppa’s but also stews – the staple diet of the day then and still liked now, as well as the always requested cake.
Our next task is the replacement of the wooden gear teeth. This involves fitting 408 timber blanks before machining them in pairs to the correct profile and pitch. The current “old and worn out” teeth were made of Oak. In the Pump’s early days Hornbeam may have been used, however; we are using Iroko supplied by CRT. This timber has been used in some other mills for gear teeth with success. It a big challenge but we have notes left by the late Derrick Dudden (restoration manager in the 1970`s) to help and the many special tools produced by Derrick and others.
At the end of August we are expecting a visit from a group of preservationist from Holland. They have a steam scoop pumping engine with a very similar wooden toothed gear wheel. The Dutch group came to us some years ago, prior to replacing their teeth, for replacement technique information which Derrick provided. Their wheel is now complete and we are looking forward to learning how they achieved this task.
We still have a busy year ahead of us but visitors are always welcome so please look in if you are passing on any Saturday we would be pleased to give you a guided tour of the recent and ongoing works. Next year we will hopefully be commencing training for new Engine Drivers and Tour Guides, prior to reopening to the public.