Leffell style turbine

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This somewhat enigmatic turbine (remnant) has been put on display at Danseys Pass Lavender. It has been shifted a few times since becoming redundant and was originally installed in the river, about 12 metres below the homestead. As far as I am aware there are no accessible photos of the installation in public institutions.


is a small lavender grower established on river flats of the Maerewhenua River. The turbine was used to provide DC power to the homestead that still exists there as the home of the lavender growers, and another just a half km up the river. In the early 20thC (when the turbine was installed) this remote property was not reticulated and in fact only got a grid connection in the 1930s.

Apparently it drove a DC generator and the present owners do have descriptions of the battery banks that were served by the set-up. The concrete fluming on the true right hand bank of the river and the weir that diverted the water are still partly in place but yet to be photographed.

The turbine is without its runner, however it is clear enough that the design is that of a Leffell turbine. The wicker gates though, are NOT Leffell made (although clearly of the Leffell type) and it remains a conjectural mystery who made this turbine. Neither the casing nor the short piece of penstock bear any marks. There were a couple of foundries in Oamaru and in Dunedin that would have had expertise to make this whole turbine and casing and the Five Plate Thrust Bearing (with its distinctive boss on the drive shaft) is 100% Leffell (and possibly even a genuine one?) One half of the thrust block is displayed with its white metal poured-in-place bearing surfaces is also at the site.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on May 23, 2013
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works
    by Bruce Comfort
    • Camera: FUJIFILM FinePix Z90
    • Taken on 2013/02/17 13:09:56
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/300)
    • Focal Length: 5.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/6.200
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired