The Railway line strikes due West and in places as straight as a gun barrel along the Tropic of Capricorn. It is 420 miles 670 Klm from Rockhamton on the Central Coast of Queensland Australia to Longreach in the Central West. A little over half way along this railway line there is a small town called Alpha (The Beginning of the Outback) . The building of the line was a mammoth task in the early 1900s reaching Longreach in 1905.…
In the centre of Oakleigh very close to Oakleigh Railway Station and the shopping district is this ruin of a boiler house of sizeable proportions. The factory around it has been demolished and the walls of the structure have been removed. The remains are surrounded by a chain link fence. The equipment inside is fairly intact although everything that could trap someone has been opened by method or force. There is quite a bit of graffiti. I would like to get inside the chain link and do some close up photography of this plan before it goes so if you know who has the key to the lock and can authorise entry please contact me.
The installation seems to be a pair of water tube boilers (where water runs through tubes in the fire space) that was likely coal fired. There is a loader for the coal into a supply hopper where it is fed into the firebox from there. One firebox for both boilers in the bank.
The stack is an impressive brick structure I would guess at around 35m high. Unfortunately it has been broken through. This would be a fantastic structure to make as the centre piece of a new building much like the shot tower within Melbourne Central. I hope this is slated for preservation rather than destruction.
Looking inside the chimney you can see how substantial the stack structure is with around four to six layers of bricks.
Fuel is loaded from ground level using this massive loader tower. It is dumped in a hopper out of the truck (probably a train originally given its proximity to the railway line) and is lifted up to the hopper at the top of the structure. The loader likely has an electric or perhaps a steam engine at the top of the tower driving a bucket chain. This is only a guess because I did not have access.
This image shows the fuel storage hopper that holds the fuel until it is needed to satisfy the hungry firebox.
The hopper discharges into the inlet to the firebox. I can see an electric motor here, I would guess it powers a crusher and perhaps a screw that throws the fuel into the firebox in a wide spread pattern. There is also some cool graffiti.
This weir pump (what is left of it) would have been one of the water supplies for the boiler. There should have been another pumping mechanism around somewhere. Weir pumps always throw dribbles of water this would have been contained by the small dam around the pump.
What little is left of the control board probably had some electrical controls and the steam pressure gauges.
You can see the tops of the boiler barrels here, I have presumed without information that this is likely a watertube boiler where the tubes descend from the barrel down to the combustion space.
You can see that the two boilers form a bank with multiple tubes joining the two boilers. The massive steam pipe coming from the top of the righ hand boiler gives some idea of the steam generation capacity of this plant.
This is the other side of the boiler barrels. There are what look like man holes into the combustion space. An awful but necessary inspection job.
I would like to find out the future for this structure and see if it would be possible to legally gain entry to photograph the inside.
Late in 1997 we embarked on a winery crawl of the Mitchels Town region (by boat). We visited a heap of wineries and consumed some very nice wine - not to mention gathered a heap of it to bring home. At the Tabilk winery I avoided the lets go down the hole and look at giant barrels full of rotting grape juice which might just turn into something nice in about ten years, and went wandering and found this collection of engines hiding in a shed. Unfortunately the owners want to see them rot to nothing rather than be restored "that is our museum". I am always disappointed at this attitude, even if they have plans to restore the engines and (if we are lucky) operate them - their main business is wine, sooner or later these engines will fall by the wayside and be lost to history for ever. Update 2000 This year I received a letter from the winery. Seems this article has prompted them into a little action. They now have actual plans to build a small museum on site and to look after the machinery better. Seems it will be a static display, but that is much better than ignoring it all.…