Millars trench drainage pump restoration project

A pair of Millars trench drainage pumps were donated to the Trust by the South Staffs Water PLC in September 2021. They were originally used to pump water out of excavations made to lay or repair water mains. Modern day equivalents are much more compact and usually electrically operated. These pumps however, are driver by single cylinder petrol engines. As the pumps were stored at the Blythfield reservoir near Abbots Bromley for many years, it is possible they were taken to the site during the construction of the reservoir in the late 1940s to early 1950s.

Thanks to our member Chris Pattison who for many years worked for South Staffs Water PLC and who maintains contacts with them, we were able to accept their offer to add to our exhibits.

It took just over a year to find a small group of our members who were keen to tackle the restoration of the first engine and for them to come up with the plan of attack. Research has revealed that the Bamford engine was manufactured in 1934. Some of the components were in a worn condition and needed refurbishment or even replacement during the rebuild. For example the carburettor was damaged and beyond repair and had to be replaced. The cooling water tank was severely corroded and was rebuilt by our welder/blacksmith/electrician Chris Rose.

After many years of storage, they were in need of some attention and the sourcing of some missing or broken parts.

It was decided that it was necessary to completely strip the engine and pump down to its component parts so that each one could be cleaned, checked, refurbished and painted.

This work was carried out over many months by the team with occasional help from some of our other volunteers.

When the painting was started, we could see the beginning of the transformation.

Locking the castle nut on the conrod.

David Tomlinson spent hours searching the Internet, looking for the technical data on the engine and to obtain some of the missing parts. This is a chart he found which has the valve timings on it. This enable the engine to be set up correctly and run successfully.

Lots of patient work went into the restoration and getting the engine running properly. David Tomlinson made contact with the Bamford brothers (as in Bamford engine) and they gladly came along to see the progress. With their expertise they got an engine that was running to be an engine that starts and runs very well - thanks Guys!

The work carried out on this pump highlights just some of a wide range of skills that are required by the Trusts volunteers to carry out the various tasks that are being undertaken to restore and preserve the Cornish Steam Pumping Engine and buildings to create a space for use by the local community in this former pump house. Our current volunteer force undertakes demolition and building works, plumbing and drainage, electrical and electronic systems work, painting, carpentry, glazing, grounds maintenance, cleaning and many other activities including making the tea. As you can imagine, we are always looking for new volunteers.

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