Yarloop Workshops

New life for Old Pumps

Generally overlooked but next to each of our boilers are steam-driven water pumps. When one of the marine engineers came down to see what we had that they could restore he was taken aback by the size of our machines.  The comment was that they couldn’t take them to their workshop at Fremantle. Looking around, however, he saw the water pumps and said that if we disconnected them they could be moved. This we were happy to do, though they still took several men to load onto trailers. Three of the smaller pumps are the ones we sent away.

The water pumps supply the water to the boilers. We have six of these in the Steam Shed. The largest one, which stands as high as a person, was meant to supply water to the large Australian Standard Garret railway boiler that is located at the south end of the site. This pump has been preserved and slightly restored by us. It will probably never function as its boiler and the steam compressor attached to that boiler proved too large to be fully restored and operated. Another one, on the north side of the large boiler, was damaged by the Fire. It is probably unrepairable. The third pump is also vertical and it operated on steam as a demonstration object. It is in what was the Main Shed and sometimes, on Steam Days, had a steam whistle attached to it that children, old and young, enjoyed activating.

The other three pumps are the ones being beautifully restored to working condition. One was attached to our oldest boiler. The other two were attached to the boilers that operated up to the Fire. Two of these are also vertical pumps and the other one operates horizontally. One of our pumps was manufactured by Worthington Simpson Ltd from Newark-on-Trent, England but most of our pumps were by G & J Weir of Holm Foundry, Cathcart, Glasgow. The latter engineering works dates back to 1871. I understand that our functioning pumps were referred to as duplex reciprocating piston pumps. These all supplied the consistent quantity of water needed by the boilers.

The first of these pumps is completed, and the others are almost complete. They will be stored until we can return them to a new completed Steam Shed. The magnificent work of the marine engineers has produced machines that probably look as they looked when they were new. From the work of the engineers, we will also discover what needs to be done to restore our other larger machines.[1]

A newly restored steam water pump.

Painted steam water pump and boiler.


[1] From ‘The Phoenix Rises Very Slowly’ Part 11, by Allan Ward.