Bruce Comfort
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I'm a retired engineer. I ride a 400cc Suzuki Burgman motorscooter and I live in Oamaru, South Island of New Zealand. I have two adult daughters. My interests (if you haven't worked it out) include New Zealand's heritage of engineering works, snapshot photography of the built environment and recording pastoral farming activities around here. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE NOTE THAT MANY PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PANORAMIO SITE HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY ACCESSING HERITAGE BUILDINGS, STRUCTURES, AND ENGINEERING ARTIFACTS WHICH LIE ON PRIVATE LAND. PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS SITE DOES NOT IMPLY ANY PUBLIC RIGHTS OF ACCESS. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE ALSO NOTE THAT A FEW PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE NOT MINE, AND THAT MANY ARE TAKEN INDOORS AND ARE OF MACHINERY AND THAT THIS APPARENTLY CONTRADICTS THE TERMS OF USE OF THE PANORAMIO WEBSITE. I HAVE HAD THE SITE MODERATORS' APPROVAL FOR USING THE SITE THIS WAY AS ALL SUCH PHOTOS LINK IN SOME FASHION TO MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHS OF PLACES IN NEW ZEALAND WHERE ARTIFACTS OF ENGINEERING OR PASTORAL OR INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE CAN STILL BE FOUND. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MY INTENTION IS NOT TO USURP THE RIGHTS OF THE HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHERS NOR OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS, AND CREDIT IS GIVEN WHERE I CAN. I have made an endeavour to contact copyright holders of material published on these pages and where appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where the permission is still being sought, I have decided, in good faith, to proceed with publication. I would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of item. IF YOU GO TO THE PLACES WHERE MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED BY THE MODERATORS TO BE IN THE PHOTOS LAYER ON GOOGLE EARTH, MY HOPE IS THAT THE OTHER HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS (which will not have been accepted by the moderators of Google Earth but which appear on these pages) WILL STIMULATE YOU TO THINK ABOUT THE ENGINEERS, ENTREPRENEURS, INVESTORS, THE WORKERS AND OPERATORS AND ALL THE PEOPLE, NOW GONE, WHOSE LIVES WERE INEXTRICABLY TIED TO THESE PLACES AND THESE ENDEAVOURS. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MY E-MAIL ADDRESS IS AND I WELCOME INPUT INTO THIS WORK -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bruce Comfort's conversations

This Pelton wheel water engine is on the ground floor of the National Mortgage Agency Co building in Tyne Street, (known as The Woolstore) and a nice photo 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.

This is the base casting and crankshaft of a Schmid water motor, one of four such, installed in the Loan and Mercantile Agency building in Harbour Street in Oamaru in 1882.

This was just 2 years after the supply of water at over 100psi became available for use by such organisations. The base castings, cranks and wheels at the base of three grain elevators still remain.

The cost of water to a user was set by The Oamaru Borough Council at 1 penny/1000 gallons and the consumption of such machines was easy to calculate from the rotational speed and the volume of the cylinder(s). That is not to say that there were no disputes between the Oamaru Borough Council and the users!

The water motors at this location were made by R S Sparrow and Co of Dunedin however at this time I have no company records or drawings to confirm how the bronze (gun metal) parts of the water motor would have actually looked. These parts would have included the rocking cylinder, the piston piston rod and its big end bearing and the trunions that held the piston down onto the curved base casting with enough force to keep water leakage to a minimum whilst allowing for free movement of the cylinder.

Gun metal machine parts, like the working components of these four water motors seldom survived the First World War because the metal was in great demand for munitions.


you can see the details of a complete Schmid water motor made as a model.

R S Sparrow.

As well as being quite sought after for the manufacture of sluice (bucket) dredges for gold recovery from the beds of rivers like the Clyde, Sparrows were notable in Dunedin's early industrial history for making the ironwork for the Wingatui Viaduct on the Otago Central Railway, a bridge which was quoted as "one of the finest pieces of work of its kind in New Zealand from Messrs. R. S. Sparrow and Co. of Willis street, and the workmanship does them infinite credit. Dredges, mining plant, machinery, and ironwork of every description, are turned out from the works of this firm, who are also iron-shipbuilders."

It is beautiful viaduct, still in use and in wonderful condition today and images of this very substantial viaduct can be seen simply by Googling "Wingatui Viaduct"

The following notes are taken from a couple of Internet sources.

The Wingatui Viaduct at 197.5 metres long spans Mullock Gully, 47 metres above the stream bed, and is New Zealand’s largest wrought iron structure. Like the other larger bridges on the route, it consists of riveted wrought iron latticework mounted on masonry piers. Given the Wingatui Viaduct’s location in the first 12.5 kilometres of the railway, it had to be completed early on in the construction of this important railway to enable rails, sleepers and other building materials to be carried further up the line.

Even so, it still took six years for the platelaying to be completed to Mullock Gully, in April 1885. This allowed the ironwork for the viaduct, which had been prepared in Dunedin, to be brought into the site. The completed structure was tested on June 24, 1887, using the two heaviest locomotives available and was certified for use.

A very comprehensive set of photos of local lime kilns - I must have a better look around the dales when I'm next in the UK

please look at my photos at ...

I wonder why more people like us don't use the opportunity presented by Panoramio to add a bit of text information about their photos - in my case I'm using the website as a publishing tool.

Regards from Oamaru NZ

Orangapai Tuberculosis Sanitorium was built in the hills above Waipiata in the Maniototo, where a Tuberculosis treatment centre comprising a few small wooden buildings and tents for the patients was first established in 1917, to help troops with Tb returning from WWI.

It is at an altitude of about 530 MASL in the western fringes of a large area of volcanic geology dominated landscape, and the land around is characterised by fields of boulders and bassalt outcrops. The location is spectacular.

In the days before chemotherapeutic chemicals (antibiotics) fresh cold dry air was the "cure" of choice - and in many cases it worked! It was common practice, world-wide, to locate Tb Sanitoria in higher altitude places where it often snowed and the air was low humidity.

Orangapai was opened in 1924, by the then Minister of Health Sir Maui Pomare, one of New Zealand's most distinguished Maori medical practitioners.

Designed by E R Wilson, an Invercargill architect who designed extant seminal Invercargill buildings like the Railway Station, Kew Hospital and The Opera House, Orangapai was a substantial sophisticated grouping of large building with a mechanised laundry, central heating and roads and street lighting (later upgraded)

It is of white mortar-pointed brick veneer and double brick construction and all the buildings have slate roofs. Most of the treatment wing windows are steel framed and above about 2 metres they were unglazed during the treatment years. Similarly the individual bedrooms for the patients had no glazing and it is recorded that in winter, snow often settled on the patients' bed clothing!

In many respects it has classical Arts and Crafts architectural overtones, however it is an unashamed institutional building.

The Nurses' Home and the Medical Superintendent's house are more domestic in appearance and are physically separated from the treatment and residential buildings.

At the end of the sanitorium era the buildings became a Justice Department Borstal (male youth residential home and prison) and after that it, and surrounding land of about 100Ha, was purchased and is now owned privately. The complex runs as a Christian Community and Retreat called En Hakkore whose directors are well aware of the historic significance of the site and buildings and who, although modifying the internal fitments are preserving the fabric faithfully and responsibly.

As far as I am aware the complex has no NZHPT status. It is recorded in the Central Otago District Plan as an historic location.

This very small volume kiln has at one time been in the ownership of the Vincent family of Mt Somers. This family was instrumental in the extensive redevelopment of the lime kilns in Ashburton Gorge Road initially built by Alfred Edward Peache, one time proprietor of Mt Somers Station.

It is a small oval furnace not more than 1200 x 800 but the size of the nearby quarries does indicate that over its life it did produce much and good burnt lime. Mr Stan Vincent advises that when it was working it had a substantial sorting shed over the front of the kiln to allow sorting in wet weather. Some cut stone that formed the foundations of that shed is scattered around the site.

The people who designed, wrote, checked and then erected this Tourist Information Board at Contact Energy's Clyde Hydro may have been asleep at the wheel.

The person responsible has acknowledged her reliance on a few checks by others in the Company.

A quick calculation will tell you that the penstocks must weigh at least 85 tonnes - on the dimensions given, and probably a fair bit more than that.

AND 220 cumecs is 220,000 litres of water a second.

Contact energy is the beneficiary and the custodian of a lot of historic high quality engineering design and construction. They also operate the second biggest hydro dam in New Zealand - one which has as its holding lake billions of tons of water poised above Clyde and Alexandra townships. They should give us more confidence in their abilities, than this sign suggests.

The old guys from the Ministry of Works and the New Zealand Electricity Departments would be saddened to see the outcome of their heritage works treated like this.

This is not a Peache kiln - it was built by the Vincents and is in its own concrete casing not in the hillside.

no - stone for the aqueduct piers (support columns) was quarried here - see other pics for the aqueduct. That makes the last one to see now and I have seen all the tunnels and walked through one! (the shortest as I'm really no use underground!)


Hiya Eva. Is this you on the right? What an amazing number of photos you have added to Google Earth. What a resource, what a treasure Google Earth is. I have done a few (in North Otago)

do you live in Wellington NZ by any chance - thanks for all the Wellington photos (my old home town)


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