Early model Pelton wheel water motor - installed late 19th Century

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Bruce Comfort on August 8, 2011

This Pelton wheel water engine is on the ground floor of the National Mortgage Agency Co building in Tyne Street, (known as The Woolstore) http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=2283 and a nice photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/branxholm/3602186989/ and is another example of the ways in which Oamaru's public water supply was able to provide energy for industry and commerce, between about 1882 and possibly as late as 1916. The building was constructed to a design of Forrester & Lemon in 1881 for Connell & Clowes and functioned as a multi purpose grain store, wool store and general store under their ownership and later the ownership of the National Mortgage Agency Co. This Pelton wheel and another which is no longer there, apparently drove line shafting for rope winches etc. but was substantially installed to operate a grain elevator (a moving slatted timber belt analogous to an up-escalator) for shifting sacks of grain from the ground floor to the top floor of the building, from where the grain was then fed by gravity through seed cleaning, sorting and re-bagging machinery. The wheel is of one of Pelton's (Lester Allan Pelton USA - inventor and patentor) earlier patented designs, showing the split bucket which is the essence of his patent, but manufactured before refinements in the hydraulic performance of the wheels was addressed by himself and others and the now familiar deeply curved double dish bucket with the cut-out which allows for the installation of at least twice as many buckets as this wheel has on such a diameter, was developed. The water engine is marked John Jack Maker Oamaru however I have no further information about that foundry/engineer, despite the fact that they advertised their manufacturing capabilities and a range of imported goods, frequently, in Otago newspapers of the 1880s and 1890s Pelton wheels were much more problematical for the Borough Council to invoice water use, as the consumption was more difficult to measure, than positive displacement machines. The Oamaru Borough Council had, however, designed its public water supply based on extensive use for energy, requiring the designer to provide 300 spare horsepower over and above the provision of water for drinking and fire fighting in a town of 4000 people, and so the water was there and use was encouraged to offset the costs. These offsets were set out very optimistically by both the designing engineer and the Councillors and citizens who were in favour of the huge civil works of the water supply, in justifying the costs of construction and financing.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on August 5, 2011
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works
    by Bruce Comfort
    • Camera: OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO.,LTD X300,D565Z,C450Z
    • Exposure: 0.033s (1/30)
    • Focal Length: 5.80mm
    • F/Stop: f/3.100
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired