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Winter Warm Up, 2010. Milling with Steam!

Originally posted: Monday, 26 July 2010


The Winter Warm Up 2010 was lots of fun! I really enjoyed this event and look forward to attending next years one again. - SteamBoy

Winter Warm Up, 2010. Milling with Steam! - Andy Selfe

After a foreboding week with strong North-westerly winds after unusually warm weather for mid-winter, we were really expecting to be calling this a Winter Wash-out as usual. Instead, the weather was glorious!

Advertising for our Annual Winter Warm-up had been good, particularly through our Newsletter, and many others who picked up on our invitation and carried it on their own newsletters and websites. For this, many thanks. There seemed to be a constant stream of both familiar and new faces all day!

Our Winter Warm-up is always held on the farm of one of our Founder Members, Arthur Wilding, Trade Winds, on the road between Franschhoek and Simondium, Western Cape. He has an incredible collection of old mostly agricultural items, some restored to a very high standard, a lot still as found.

As usual, Arthur had gone to a lot of trouble to show off his amazing collection of Steam, Tractors, Stationary Engines and all kinds of other collectables. He had his Aveling & Porter Steam Traction engine in steam. To all this was added, for the occasion, many more tractors and engines brought along by members. For example, Heinz Kogler had his partly restored single cylinder Steyr tractor, Horst Lau a small GM 71 series ‘screamer’ mounted as a Stationary Engine, Gordon Riley had brought a bakkie-full of his immaculately restored engines and Philip, apart from his usual old faithfuls, was showing off, for the rirst time, restored and running, his New-Way liberated from Laingsburg many years ago, and re-united with its brass plate later, when it turned out that Johnny Verreynne had ‘removed it for safe keeping’ some time before! Philip has even replicated, by hand, the daisies painted on the engine base!

There were probably more things on display, but in truth, I was too busy to notice, the reason for which I will explain. What I was most pleased to see was the Sisson engine and Grantham boiler which Philip and I collected from a small-holding in Redhill / Scarborough many years ago.

I didn’t know quite what to do with it, so swopped it for an engine with Douw De Lange, who has restored it all and added a 220V generator. Conrad the Blacksmith now has it, and the vertical cross-tube boiler was soon in steam. Not content with boiling a kettle with the generator (one could feel the load being taken on the Sisson when it was switched on!) he decided that he should run Arthur’s 18” Blackstone ‘Stamford’ Mill with it. 

With a few years’ experience now with a similar, but 24”, Stamford Mill at Compagnes Drift, I was happy to take the controls of it, leading to a new experience for me, watching the steam gauge and regulating the grain flow accordingly! We anchored the top of the Mill through a broken window to the workbench inside for safety and applied some tension, but the grip on the belt was not good enough at first. We applied some Keystone Belt Dressing, which first pulled the paint off the engine’s flywheel, but then you could actually hear it working as the belt pulled away from the flywheel and Mill pulley.

At first, we kept ‘running out of steam’, until we realised that the critical part was the fire, followed by water. A team of wood gatherers, choppers and fire stokers soon got to work and the steam needle stayed on, or close to, 80PSI for the rest of the day. Adding water was first done with the manual pump but later, the injector was coaxed into operation and worked well. Before long, the Mill could be fed with grain much faster and no intervention was necessary.

During the day we managed to mill about half a bag of wheat. Standing by to receive it was the Krige family, sifting, kneading and either baking pot bread in the firebox of Arthur’s Aveling, or over the coals as ‘roosterbrood’ in scone-sized buns. Delicious either just like that, or with shredded cheese!

Given the company, the weather, the displays and the activities, 2010’s Winter Warm-up was a resounding success!