Along with Geoff Wallis and Stuart Burroughs, Pete Dunn attended a working stone mine in Corsham. This was to inspect a rare surviving artefact of the Bath Engineers Stothert and Pitt. On site there was a hand operated crane built in 1864. As an ex S and P apprentice and subsequent Crane Service Engineer with a lifelong interest in cranes this was right up his street. The crane was capable of lifting 6 tons at a fixed radius of fifteen feet. The main structure is made from cast iron which sits in a timber frame with four rail wheels set at a gauge of nine feet. The jib is also made of timber. The crane’s owner Mrs Nina Roberts was quite concerned about its stability as it is on a working mine and the firm working the mine needed the space that it sits on.
Pete is convinced that the crane needs to be saved and put on display where it can be seen by others. Nina has agreed that the crane should be dismantled for safety and moved to a more suitable site. It is at least one of if not the oldest S and P cranes in existence. Pete would be interested to know of any of similar age or older. The first working site visit took place in early May when the following preparations were carried out prior to dismantling by mobile crane.
- The rotten deck timbers were removed and stacked behind the crane.
- All fixings that require to be released during the dismantling were given a dousing in easing oil the coated in engine oil. In particular, the jib tie nuts were able to be fully turned and the long bolt through the main frame is free. This is good news which should make the jib removal easier.
- The hoist winch bearings were lubricated and the gearing cleaned off. The hoist band brake was released. After a little bit of effort, we were then able to operate the winch with ease. This was rather surprising considering the age of the crane but also very pleasing.
- An attempt was made to lower the hook to the ground this was not successful because the wire rope had corroded into the two fall block pulley. As the rope is a later addition, the crane originally used a chain for lifting and the rope is rusted through it was decided to cut it on the anchor side of the block. The block was then lowered to the ground and removed. The hoist rope was then wound back onto the drum. At some time later, the rope can be wound off and scrapped.
The crane was dismantled by Geoff Wallis and myself on 30/06/18 using a large lorry mounted crane and removed to a safe storage site where it can be worked on. This is a very interesting local project just right for some hands on volunteers if anyone would be interested in joining our small team or if you have further information please get in contact either with Stuart Burroughs or Pete Dunn whose contact number is 07719911421.