Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How to start your engine

How about this for starting your diesel. This is an old Vickers Petter engine at the Fen Drainage Museum at Prickwillow near Ely. They use blowlamps to get the head red hot before it will operate. I think old Bolinders required something similar. I don't like to think what Health & Safety would say!

On Saturday Rick and I attended an engineering old boys association do which included a visit to the museum.

I remember crossing the Middle Level three years ago in Richard's boat Bankside. Two days in a ditch. The fen drains are long, straight and you can't see over the dykes unless you stand on the boat roof and then all you can see is potatoes.

When the fens were drained nearly four hundred years ago, the peat shrank at the rate of a man's height in a man's lifetime, which is why the drains are now well above the land. In this picture you can just see a fen drain through the window. The floor of the landing ( at the level of the bottom of the big picture on the wall) is apparently at sea level, and the red line on the wall is where a high tide might reach. The pumping station here lifted water from the drain up some four meters into the river Lark, itself way below sea level.

Originally wind pumps were used, and then steam engines, then diesels, and now electric pumps. Prickwillow has a number of working diesels, three of which they ran for us. A good place to visit if you like machinery. Boats on the Lark can moor up outside. And don't miss the welcome sign, which is a fine example of an educational establishment don't you think? Obviously done before spell checkers were available.

1 comment:

VallyP said...

Nice pic of the old engine, and I like the sign too, although am more entertained by the name Prickwillow than the spelling error!