Agricultural Heritage

The Phoenix Mill removal featured in the International Molinological Society newsletter.

A write-up on the Phoenix Mill appeared in this newsletter recently.  See pages 20 to 26!

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Click here to view the article in full - 4MB PDF (opens in new window)

Tony Psaila is on a Mission again! We met him last in 2006 after he’d driven his 1948 Ferguson (Vaaljapie) tractor all the way from Beit Bridge (you can’t get further North in South Africa) to Agulhas in the far South. He was collecting funds for a Trauma Unit in his home area of Howick, where he had found from bitter experience, such a facility was lacking.

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Shortly after immigrating to South Africa from Australia (he was born in Canada, but is of Maltese extraction), he was victim of an armed robbery and shot twice and left for dead. He has now been here for nine years, and still loves our beautiful country, despite its shortcomings.

He has just completed a further 3460km on the same tractor! It has taken him 3½ months, and his aim is to Change the World, one town at a time! The next legs of his epic trip will be Australia and New Zealand.

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His principal aim is to raise money and awareness in connection with violence, and particularly rape, as this horrific statistic shows:

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He started from Howick and has driven anti-clockwise around the country. Last time he took the trip at its own pace. This time, he made appointments in advance, so he had to keep the pace up. Planning no more than 120km a day (which is an achievement on its own!), on one occasion he had to travel the 300km from Jacobsdal to Victoria West in a day…. some Tractor Trek!

His appointments were mostly at schools; he wanted to raise the awareness from the bottom up. He found it astonishing the difference in education levels. At the schools he asked if the children knew where Australia was and what a kangaroo is. At some, all the children knew…. at some…. nobody! At least, he then knew how to address his audience.

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On the roll-cage is a fold-out tent. It is heartening to hear that in 3½ months on the road, he has not needed to use once! But if he has to sleep on top, what goes on in the trailer?

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Ah! Alternative transport! He has managed to get home about once a month to his family in Howick.

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His talks revolve around building up of love, respect, sharing and caring in families, in these times when family values are being pushed aside by invasive electronics, like computers and cell-phones.

This particular trip was sparked off by Tony hearing of the case of the gang rape of Jessica Foord in front of her father who was held up at gunpoint, while they were walking their dogs in Durban. http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/269308 After-care following this (and many other) incidents was found lacking.

The trip so far has not been a financial success; it has cost Tony R170 000, and he has collected only a small proportion of that. However, the success has been the number of people he has been able to interact with on the trip, from school children to community leaders. He mentioned that he had spoken to 3 000 schoolchildren (and their teachers) in a single morning in Tzaneen alone.

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I hope his visit to us was worth his while!

Back to the tractor, in the 3 460 km he has driven on this trip on his 1948 Ferguson (Vaaljapie), he has experienced one fuel blockage, a fan-belt failure and on one occasion, the ignition cut out. Not bad!

For his planned trips to Australia and New Zealand, he admits he needs a serious sponsor. Before the trip he prepared a 30-minute video which was available at the just-over-cost of R100.

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Thank you Tony, for giving up part of your life to raise awareness of this crisis in our country and particularly for visiting us again!

Contact details www.tonytractor.org , www.worldfundfor.com and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. tel: 27 33 330 7594

 

Andy Selfe

28th November 2010

 

 

 

 

In the November issue of Stationary Engine Magazine, published in UK by Kelsey appears this story on the dismantling and removal of Phoenix Roller Mill and its massive Crossley X Suction Gas engine. www.stationaryengine.com

 

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One of the Villiersdorp Branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club’s aims is to interact with the community and to showcase their treasures to a wider audience.

The purpose of Saturday’s Community Day is to involve as many of the Villiersdorp Groups and Charities and to give them an opportunity to raise money and awareness of their needs; for instance, Churches, Schools and Retirement Homes, all under the banner of the Tractor & Engine Club, at our Museum at the North end of the town.

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Participants are invited to bring along old vehicles, cars, lorries and motor bikes. There will be food stalls manned by the various charities, and a tent with a band playing traditional Boeremusiek.

We will be running our large Crossley HD10 engine, dating from 1932 as well as offering rides behind tractors to nearby orchards which will be in blossom.

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There will be a Fun Walk, starting from De Villiers Graaff High School at 8.30am. Ring 028 840 1700 for further details on this walk. R20 admission for Adults, R10 for children.

Come and enjoy the day with us!

Kom geniet die dag saam met ons!!!!

At 12 noon there will be an auction of old tractors, Stationary Engines, old wooden beams and trusses from old Co-op buildings which have been demolished, as well as used electric motors, plant and a small packing line designed for persimmons. 10% will be handed over to a charity of the seller’s choice.

Ring 028 840 1104 for further information.

Some of the items to be auctioned:

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Farmall M converted by Trojan to a road scraper, from the Sandstone Heritage Trust who already have one in their collection.

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MF 65, superbly restored by Peter Noble.

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Ferguson TE D20, worked in Elgin / Grabouw, off farm condition, running.

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Case LA (not this one, but similar in condition and appearance).

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Allis Chalmers B

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Chains for tractor wheels, unknown application.

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IH Tractor Lamps, ex Watermeyer Bros, Elgin.

Denis Usher has 4 Stationary Engines on offer, none runners; a Lister D on a cast base, a Lister B, an International LA or B (pig) and a Ruston & Hornsby PT.

On the Co-op grounds over the road:

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And much more. No doubt more will be offered for sale in the week to come.

 

Andy Selfe

11th September 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MISSION SO IMPOSSIBLE!!!

Gert Jubileus has prepared a report on the work he and his team undertook recently to safely dismantle and remove the contents of Phoenix Roller Mill in Grahamstown.

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Click here to view the report - 3MB PDF (opens in a new window)

 

We previously reported on the preparation for the trip to Grahamstown to dismantle and remove the contents of Phoenix Roller Mills in http://www.sandstone-estates.com/index.php/agricultural-heritage/41-agricultural-heritage/1091-sandstone-heritage-trust-to-send-a-team-to-dismantle-phoenix-mill-in-grahamstown

Sandstone’s team leader, Gert Jubileus made a reconnaisance in the preceeding week, checking on details like access for the crane, Traffic Department for permission to close off Dundas Street if necessary and accommodation for the team.

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 Andy Selfe (left) and Fraser Howell, measuring and logging the position of each item.

I was lucky in persuading a long-time friend from Cape Town, now resident in Knysna, Fraser Howell to join the team. Fraser is a retired Engineer, and I knew he would be a valuable addition to the team. From the Sandstone Heritage Trust’s Steam workshops on Sandstone Estates, we had Derrick, Wouter (Gert’s brother) and Henk and from Sandstone Heritage Trust’s Bloemfontein Steam workshops we had Tinus and Leon, kindly loaned from Lukas Nel. Also from Sandstone Estates, Estate Manager, Len Huxham, with plenty of structural contracting under his belt.

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Manass, Len Huxham and Thabiso pose in the welcome sun on Monday morning.

Transport would be both Freightliners from the farm, one with the high sided grain semi-trailer, driven by Manass, the other with a 3-axle low-bed, driven by Thabiso.

In the SHT collection is already a mill, but it was dismantled in such a way that nobody knows how to put it together again. We were determined that even if a total stranger with no milling background was to tackle the job of assembly, it should be possible to identify any part and its position in the complicated set-up.

My original plan was to divide the whole area into about half-metre cubes, which would have led to a more-or-less position for everything. Fraser's much better plan was to mark a point on each item with a nail, marked with a number and to log its position in three dimensions, from the North wall, the West wall and from the floor it was standing on, all to the nearest 10mm. I had already decided to mark N for North side and an arrow pointing upwards on everything. 

Measuring to this detail would mean a lot more work, in this way any single item can be held up in its final position, without reference to any other part.

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Each item has a nail or if it’s metal a +, a reference number, a north face and an upright arrow.

Preparation on the farm included clearing everything from one of the sheds, so that the entire contents of the Mill can be laid out so that the reference numbers can be seen. This shed will be locked and nobody will have access to it until the plan has been formulated to erect it again.

Both the Cape contingent and the farm team would be working far from home, in my case 830km. We all thought carefully about what we might need, without having to buy or hire in Grahamstown. The list went back and forth, being added to, and different colours were used to show who would be bringing what. Colour coding of tools was essential so that there would be no argument when it came to packing up.

Plans were coming together nicely, when we realised that the world famous Grahamstown Festival was going to be still in progress in the week we had chosen. All plans were deferred for a week.

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The swinging sign also came along, thanks to the kindness of Brian Bonsor. 

We also studied the site from photos and with the aid of camera shots from Google Earth. At the auction, we were kindly given a case of transparencies by Trevor Hoole. These were converted into digital form and can be seen in http://www.sandstone-estates.com/index.php/agricultural-heritage/41-agricultural-heritage/1094-old-slides-of-phoenix-roller-mills-come-to-light . In some of these photos it was noticed that there were overhead three phase electric lines on two sides of the building! The plan had been to bring the Grove crane from the farm. This had been certificated in the previous week, but we realised we would not be able to work over the wires.

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 One of the orginal slides showing the overhead electric lines.

Gert searched for possible crane hire firms and found that Protec in Port Elizabeth was managed by somebody well known to him, who had been involved with running the 2-foot Narrow Gauge line from PE to the Langkloof. Quotes were asked for, and a site inspection was done by them. They estimated that it would require a 70-tonner, and that one day would be needed to extract everything. I had my doubts about that time schedule!

Eventually, the week of 11th July approached. I left Elgin at midday on Saturday 9th and reached Fraser’s home in Knysna in the later afternoon. We had time to discuss marking methods and to add to the tools, including Fraser’s dumpy level and a step-ladder. All this had to fit into my Citroen Berlingo! We left Knysna early in the morning of Sunday 10th. It rained all the way from home to Grahamstown and well into Sunday night, not boding well for the job in hand.

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 The team starts to assemble; supper on Sunday night.

Once at the Mill, we contacted Brian Bonsor, who has been running this business for many years; in fact, he still ran the mill for six months after taking over the business from his father. Brian kindly opened up for us so that we could get stuck into the measurement. We started upstairs, and continued until we couldn’t even see what we were doing with the lights attached to our hard hats. Bringing these gives an insight into the detailed panning we had done! For interest, by the end of Tuesday, more than 227 points had been recorded in three dimensions, including each pulley and belt. Many more measurements were taken which will make the reassembly and erection of a framework easy.

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 One of about 30 seets of logged positions of items.

For marking, I had brought various things. I had 100 metal labels cut and drilled twice each. To attach these to wooden items, I brought a heavy duty stapler; for attaching to metal items, a reel of binding wire. For marking them, a Koki was the best. For metal parts I brought a paint pen. This proved to be good for belts too, even shiny wooden items! In the event, it was necessary to cut the metal labels in half…. Suddenly we had 200! Also we had timber chalk, which we found rubbed off too easily and timber wax crayon which was too difficult to apply.

I was glad we had half a day start on Sunday, because when the Sandstone team got stuck in on Monday morning, they wanted to start dismantling! We made a rule that they could loosen off the fixings, but not move an item before it had been marked and logged. The way the Sandstone team got stuck in was nothing short of phemomenal. Henk was invaluable in helping Fraser and me with measuring and logging. Tinus, Leon, Wouter and Derrick were all over, and with the slightest suggestion, worked out how best to do a particular job, got stuck in and in no time they had done it, and moved without needing prompting to the next one. For example long after knock-off time one day, Wouter asked for a hammer, and in no time, the cubicle at the end of the upper level was in pieces!

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 Wouter (I think!) dismantling a chute feeding the shaker.   

Len was most helpful with the organising of and interaction with the roofing contractors, not being shy to get stuck in with his beloved chainsaw! That leaves Gert..... while he wasn't necessarily wielding a hammer or crowbar all the time, he was the point man to go to and say, 'I think we need someone to supervise at the truck.' and the answer would invariably be, 'So-and-so is there already!'. At meal-times, suddenly he produced food and drinks. When we needed to shift accommodation, he had arranged another place to stay. Not to have to worry about these details meant a lot to the rest of us. His 300+ photographs (featured here) will be invaluable, too.

Once Thabiso and Manass understood the correct way of packing, both trucks were loaded to capacity. I'm not sure Leon Flynn would have got another match-stick on those lorries!

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 With still two more elevators to load, this low-bed was well packed!

The Crane men, Derrick (another one!) the driver, James and Renier (riggers) were superbly helpful, professional, and I might say, very diplomatic when their boss told them to stop working on Thursday morning. For some inexplicable reason, after quoting terms of 30 days from statement for payment, the  owner of Protec suddenly decided he wanted cash up front! Nobody was in the office in Johannesburg to transfer funds, so we had to keep ourselves busy without the crane for a while…. a totally unnecessary waste of time!

The interaction between the riggers and me seemed effortless. Just a suggestion of, for example, 'Let's tackle the next truss.' and it was done. Sometimes they had another plan, in which case we quickly decided which was better, and it was out!

But first, the roof sheeting had to be removed. We had assumed that the engine would be lifted out first. Gert, Wouter and Len tackled that, dismantling flanges where possible and using flame-cutting equipment where necessary on pipes. So that roof came off first. It was interesting to note that the contractors’ workers had no kind of safety equipment, just hammers and crow-bars!

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 The roof off the engine shed.

With the roof off the engine room and the crane in the back yard, it was discovered that there was a telephone line in the way, so Telkom had to be contacted to remove it. Once that was out of the way, the riggers and driver soon had the Crossley slung, and with the warning buzzer beeping as it cleared its mounting (10 tonnes at that radius of 16 metres), the crane recorded 7½ tonnes for the engine, allowing for the weight of the hook and paid-out wire. As soon as it was clear, the driver ‘boomed in’ to reduce the radius and it was effortlessly lifted out in one piece and on to the waiting lorry in the yard.

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 7½ tonnes of the finest engineering Manchester could produce 103 years ago!

Once the engine room roof was off, the contractors could move to the main building.

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 Looking up through the rafters of the main building with the sheeting and brandering off.

My biggest worry was the removal of the elevators. Although we had marked each in four places, front and rear, top and bottom in case they had to come apart, I fervently hoped they would come out in one piece. This would rely on the strength of the belt alone. Len disappeared and came back with several reels of 1200-lb rope and with several short lengths of wood cut and propped in between the trunks, the elevators were trussed up like chickens, and yes, they came out, all ten of them, each in one piece. The shortest of them was 7½ metres long, the others were 9!

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 The first elevator to come out. This one is only 7½ metres long, most of the others were 9m!

Laying them down on the waiting low-bed was also a worrying time; they’re not made to stay stiff at that angle! We had to start with elevators, before we could remove roof trusses and line shafting between them, and the trusses had to come out before we removed the six screens. This meant that there were six elevators on the low-bed and the screens still to come. This was the state on Wednesday evening when we knocked off. During dinner at the local Redwood Spur for the combined team including the crane men and drivers (14 in all!) we discussed whether we had to remove the six already on the low-bed and then load the screens, and then re-load the elevators on top. In the end, we decided the elevators wouldn’t stand the extra handling, and that with proper support under and between the two layers already on the truck, the screens could go lengthwise on top, and the remaining four elevators on top of those!

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 James supervising the careful lowering of the third rotary screen on to two layers of well-propped elevators below.

As the screens came out, the floor was exposed. We gave up any attempt to save the floorboards. The nail extractors didn’t work well, the ‘cut nails’ were too deep in the wood, so crow-bars from the top and wooden poles hitting from the bottom had to suffice. It was unfortunate, as some of the planks were a foot wide. They all turned out to be cold climate pine, or ‘Oregon’ as it’s called here. One has to remember that the pressure was on, and that the crane was costing tens of thousands of Rands a day!

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 Five of the massive yellowwood beams ready to be slung.

Once the floor beams were exposed, they could be sawn off flush at the ends with a chain saw. A detail that was overlooked was spare chains for the saw; luckily there was one only available for that saw in Grahamstown, and Wouter produced a saw chain file and got stuck in to sharpen it from time to time! I narrowly stopped Derrick sawing one of the heavy yellowwood beams in half, there was no need for that! The beams nearly balanced on a supporting beam across the middle of the lower floor and they were easy to shift out of the way, for access to the mills below.

The mills had been loosened off days before by the farm team, and it was simply a question of slinging and lifting them out.

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 A mill clears the beams, on its way to the waiting lorries.

An interesting point to note, in the same way that Sandstone Heritage Trust has four 2’ gauge Garratt steam locomotives each made by a different manufacturer, the mills here are by four well known makers. The first to come out was from Henry Simon of Manchester http://www.satake.co.uk/uk_division/UK_History.html , the second E R & F Turner (still existing as Christy Turner in Ipswich http://www.christy-turner.com/ ), the third, from Thomas Robinson of Rochdale, also http://www.satake.co.uk/uk_division/UK_History.html and the fourth, from S Howes, from Silver Creek, NY , also still operating http://www.showes.com/about.asp . An amusing point on this ‘scourer’ mill is the stencilled ‘Contracted to H M Government’ on it, so perhaps the animosity of the War of Independence had worn off by then?

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 Lowering the Henry Simon Mill into the high sided grain trailer. The gas producer plant is in the background and one of the engine flywheels behind that.

There was still room on the high-sided trailer for some of the mills, but we clearly weren’t going to get everything on to the two trailers; we never expected to. Again, Brian Bonsor went out of his way to give us safe storage, either inside his stores or if that was not possible, in his yard, until the low-bed can return to load the rest and the 3-tonne forklift which Thabiso brought with him.

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 Just three elevators and the 'clean grain bin' to remove on the upper floor.

One item on the top floor was causing a problem. Called on the plans a ‘clean grain bin’, it is a large box, comprising two hoppers, side by side inside. Although mounting bolts had been removed we couldn’t work out any plan to dislodge it from its position. We had even been inside the hoppers, and tried to cut downwards so that the front panel could come off, to no avail. James the rigger had a plan to sacrifice two if its supporting beams, to cut them off short and to lift the bin out with the cut-off pieces. Rather as a last resort, I suggested we try slinging the top cross-member against the wall and to pull it away from the wall with the crane, rather than lifting it. We had to chisel away a bit at the top of the wall and to saw a few planks to get the 8-tonne strops through, but that turned out to be the solution. Once away from the wall, we didn’t stop with the lift until it was on pallets in the road.

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 At last, the clean grain bin comes away from the floor and wall!

There were still the rest of the floorboards and beams as well as two roof trusses and the raised platform of the mills floor to remove at this stage, and time was running out! Suddenly, Gert the Organiser informed us that he had negotiated with the roofing contractor to remove them for us by hand. So suddenly, we were done!

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 The raised mills floor which will be removed for us by the roofing contractors. The line shafting was removed from under it by hand!

The road still had to be cleared of the grain bin, roof trusses, mills and line shafting, but once again, the Sandstone team got stuck in with their forklift and in the space of half an hour, the road was clear of all that, the lorries and the crane!

We all slept well at the new accommodation that night, knowing we had made it! The lorries left early Friday morning, and so did we. Fraser and I went back to make some final measurements and in a split second that my car was unlocked and unguarded, someone took the opportunity to remove my camera case with both cameras in. Only noticed later at home, it left a sour taste to the end of an otherwise successful operation! We have to thank Gert Jubileus and Wilfred Mole for these photos.

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 One of the pieces of line shafting being lifted out.

We had certainly casused a stir in Grahamstown during our stay, as the latest edition of Grocotts Mail, just out, shows!

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Andy Selfe

18th July 2010

We have also been supplied with a link to a local news article and video that appeared at Grocott's Mail Online.  Click here to view: http://www.grocotts.co.za/content/goodbye-phoenix-roller-mills.

 

 

 

FARM FESTIVAL – 11 SEPTEMBER 2010

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The annual Farm Festival will take place on 11 September 2010 at the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum. The museum is approximately 20km East of Pretoria next to the N4 highway. The festival is for all enthusiasts of farm activities, veteran and new agricultural equipment and associated items. The exhibitions include ploughing, threshing, milling, etc. There will also be farm and food stalls where something can be bought. There is a restaurant, picnic and braai facilities for visitors. We are trying to encourage the youth to participate in maintaining our heritage by conserving veteran agricultural equipment and traditional methods. The farm festival is hosted at the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum in collaboration with the Highveld Veteran Tractor and Engine Club as well as various other interested groups. All income goes to the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum for the maintenance of equipment. The festival will commence at 9:00 and end at about 17:00.

Anyone wishing to participate in farming and related activities, exhibitions and demonstrations or selling of goods should contact Lettie at the museum on (012) 736 2035 / 6. General enquiries can be addressed Lyn (012) 654 3784 or Charlie 082 808 5950.

It was tractors and not steam engines this weekend

At the Sandstone Heritage Trust we are very often inclined to pull out an old tractor that has not been run for a while and give it a whirl. This Lanz 38 seen here with Charles Viljoen (left) and Henk du Preez was a case in point.

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It is an older model Lanz 38

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Starting these single cylinder Lanz's is quite a mission and when they have not run for a while it sometimes helps to use the more gentlemanly single cylinder 2-stroke diesel of British origin, namely the Field Marshall Series II to give it a pull.

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Good news, the Lanz started and after some adjustments was declared healthy and ready to run as required.

Our thanks go to Henk and Charles who are amongst our most knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers for all their assitance.

Vintage and classic tractor popularity continues to be robust

The following article appeared in a recent Financial Times supplement in the UK. For Sandstone Heritage Trust it highlights the fact that we actually have a very impressive and a very wide ranging collection of vintage tractors which are seldom seen in operation. This is due more to a manpower issue than as a result of a lack of willingness to put them through their paces. In fact, we have been looking for a vintage and classic tractor mechanic for years who might be interested in acting as the caretaker of our collection.

Nonetheless, we will continue to deploy them if and when we can. Rail enthusiasts can expect to find our tractor collection much more in evidence along our Narrow Gauge railway during photographic safaris.

We will shortly start a feature which will highlight the characteristics of other more interesting tractors in our collection.

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Click here to view article in full - 834 KB (opens in a new window)

Another Tractor World Record Broken! 

From the relatively humble beginnings of the Great 100 Working, staged at Sandstone Estates in April 1999, in which our country's vintage tractors made history as one hundred and six of them all ploughed in one field at the same time, qualifying for entry into the Guinness Book of Records, a series of world records has been set up. Various countries have taken up the challenge, Australia, England and the present record was set in Cooley, Ireland on Sunday 5 August 2007 when over 4000 vintage tractors were working in one field at the same time. This is unlikely to be beaten. 

The origin of these working attempts was to break the deadlock at vintage tractor shows where the norm was to display pristine restored tractors, while the owners spent the time in the beer tent. Never was a tractor seen to move, let alone work, until pack-up time. At these working events, each tractor must be pulling a ground-engaging implement, over a prescribed distance. 

Since the logistics of laying on an ‘all comers’ event are probably too difficult to stage again (may I be proved wrong!), a further series of events, based on the same rules has been spawned, concentrating on certain types of tractor. The New Zealanders had a tracked-tractor event recently, for example. 

In the same vein, on Sunday 27th June 2010, at the Great Charleville Vintage Rally in Ireland, yet another World Record was broken. This time, for single-cylinder tractors. Our friend Terence Taylour took part with what he lovingly calls his ‘Frog-dog’, his French built Vierzon FV1, a copy of the German Lanz Bulldog. His wife Lindy sent in these photographs from the event. It was sponsored by Irish Vintage Scene magazine. www.irishvintagescene.ie

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Here is Terence unloading his pride and joy!

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Terence filed this report: 

“We have just got back from Charleville in the County of Cork where we helped set a record of about 145 single cylinder tractors in one field!  Lots of Bulldogs of all shapes and sizes, not just hot-bulbs.  Lots of little tractors, mostly German and mostly 4-strokes. 

“We think we are in the wrong country - the sun shone all weekend!   We brought the Frogdog, of course.  I find the steering hard work these days so I use the TVO Nuffield for road runs.  Since my shoulders have improved this year, I have ventured out with my trailer with six engines.  I have replaced that horrid Douglas with a naked Bernard WO of the mid 30's which is very well behaved! 

“Here are the rest of the photos Lindy took yesterday.  She wasn't aware that anyone would be interested or would have taken more! 

“The only Irish Marshall MP6 was there, looking very good after a big restoration, as featured in Irish Vintage Scene magazine.  Lots of new tinware and an enormous winch on the back!  A lot of people were a bit unimpressed as it had its own fence around it made of barriers.  There was a straight six Guldner tractor there, air cooled, I think, I was suffering from information overload by then!” 

Thanks, Terence and Lindy for keeping us informed! 

Andy Selfe

28th June 2010

 

On the morning of the auction of the famous Phoenix Roller Mill in Grahamstown, when it became clear that Sandstone Heritage Trust was the successful bidder of all the internal equipment, we were given a box of slides pertaining to the Mill, when it was still in operation. 

The slides came from the deceased estate of somebody who had operated the large Crossley Producer Gas engine. He had sadly passed away just weeks before the auction, at which it had been hoped he could have shown potential buyers how the machinery worked, up to the time it stopped, 23 years ago. 

Sandstone Heritage Trust has had the slides copied into digital format, and they are reproduced here. There were no captions, those below are my comments.

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Does anybody know the name of this person?  Flour covers the pulley, even right up in the roof!

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A study in still life!

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A period picture of the outside of Phoenix Roller Mills. The Peugeot 404 and the Ford F250 (?) date the picture to the 1970’s perhaps.

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The webs of the Crossley’s crankshaft glisten between the curved spokes of the flywheel.

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 A view of the Crossley Gas engine from the cylinder head end.

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Part of a shaker, still in use at the time of closure.

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A view up into the roof with the upper line-shafting and one belt which runs in a protective guard.

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Corbett Grinding Mill in the corner. Not connected, and exactly as it is today.

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Detail from the Corbett Mill.

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This is a view of the Producer Gas plant. The burner where the highly dangerous mix of hydrogen and carbon monoxide is produced by passing air over a bed of burning anthracite is at the back. The ‘scrubber’ or filter unit is closer to the camera. This removes unwanted by-products, such as bitumenous tar and ash, before the gas is introduced into the engine. The flywheel of the Crossley engine is just visible in the foreground with its gear teeth for ‘barring’ the engine into the starting piosition.

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A view of some of the elevators, there are at least ten of them and they don’t all appear on the General Arrangement drawing! Somehow we must identify, mark and extract these elevators, making sure the correct chutes are attached to them during reassembly, leading to the correct machine!

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Bags of grain waiting to be processed. It is easy to see where the Afrikaans name ‘streepsak’ came from, the woven-in stripe, which identified the owner according to width and colour.

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Note! Before the days of metres!

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A view of the screens on the upper storey. There are four in a row and two more mounted above and across these four.

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One of the four Roller Mills

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One of the E R & F Turner Roller Mills. We have made contact with the firm, now called Christy Turner, and have had encouraging comments from the Managing Director.

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Another view up at the top line shafting. All these belts must be marked according to their position, and whether they are crossed or straight!

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The firm S. Howes of Silver Creek, New York still exists and we are making contact with them.

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Another Roller Mill.

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A view of the Crossley engine from the platform for adding anthracite to the gas-producer. The late operator is at the controls.

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Here he is again, from the same vantage point.

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Tool panel for the engine.

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This is a closer view of the gas producer unit. The rope for hoisting the bags of anthracite can be seen, and the funnel att he top where the anthracite was thrown in. Behind is an electrically driven blower.

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An old-fashioned drill press, still there at the auction!

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In this picture, three of the screens can be seen on the upper floor, and the two transverse screens above them. These chutes will all have to be meticulously marked before dismantling!

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This is a view of the lower line shafting, under the row of roller Mills. 

Andy Selfe

28th June 2010

 

Recently, the Sandstone Heritage trust bid successfully on the contents of the Phoenix Roller Mills in Grahamstown, and now faces the job of dismantling it carefully and transporting it to the Eastern Freestate, in such a way that it can be reassembled and brought back into operation. 

A strong team is forming, consisting of Gert Jubileus and seven members of the farm and Bloemfontein workshops. Andy Selfe will be there for technical back-up although his experience is mostly on stone milling and a bit on elevators and chutes. He is collecting Fraser Howell, a retired Engineer, in Knysna on the way. 

Fortunately, amongst the paperwork which was collected at the time of the sale, there was a General Arrangement Drawing (GA), drawn in 1907! This has been carefully reproduced, photographically, in England, enhanced and several copies have been printed on fresh paper. 

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 The Mill machinery has been added to since the drawing was done, so it will have to be annotated on site. To this end, yet further copies have been made, and have been attached to hardboard for easy drawing on site.

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A careful method of plotting where items are standing in the Mill has to be worked out. It will be easy enough to relocate the main items, but there are many diagonal chutes between the machines which aren’t so well drawn in on the GA. The plan at present is to draw lines on the drawing and in the building at one metre intervals, and to have a three dimensional key, so there will be a vertical code, a longitudinal code and a transverse code. Each end of these chutes and all the other items will have a three letter or number code. 

Careful planning is taking place between the participants to make sure we have the right equipment. One stumbling block is the unavailability of an old-style nail puller. To remove a floorboard (some are 300mm wide) without one of these and without damaging the planks is virtually impossible, yet none of the tool catalogues show them! We are winkling them out, but we can hardly have enough.

 image003

Various methods of marking have been sourced, a lumber crayon for the varnished wood, will stay while it’s needed, yet can be wiped off. A paint pen for the metal items is essential. Doors and inspection covers need to be held in place. For this we have nylon banding and buckles, along with a tensioning tool. This can also be used for bundling the smaller items for transit on the lorries which will shuttle back and forth to the farm. We even have a quantity of good quality screwdrivers, as much of the woodwork will be held together with woodscrews. 

A detailed tool-list is being prepared: 

Herewith list. We can update as we go along. 

We were always told NEVER to price a job that you had not visited so therefore please excuse any duplications, errors or omissions! 

I presume the crane will come with a range of necessities;

    3/4 legged brothers

    Assorted wire slings

    Assorted webbing (nylon) strops for the more delicate items

    Assorted shackles

    Packing for outriggers

 

Other stuff:

    Hammers;  2, 4 and 7 lb

    Claw hammer + assorted nails

    Nail pullers

    Cold chisels; assortment

    Handsaw and bowsaw

    Hacksaws & blades

    Good screwdrivers

    Planks (to put down on trusses when taking off roof)

    A few lengths of brandering to support trusses while dismantling purlins

    Ladder or two + step ladders

    Safety gear; goggles, hard hats, gloves, barrier tape, first aid kit, 

    Rain gear (can't stop for wet weather)

    Ropes to lower timbers and sheeting, etc

    Wheelbarrow

    Bolt crops or tin snips

    Picks & shovels & brooms (both hard and soft) 

    Gwalas

    Rollers

    Mechanic type levers (prybars)

    Teamaking tools!

    Rolls of black plastic sheeting and/or Tarps (if everything is going to be lifted through roof and roof [or part] comes off early)

    Snot ends of timber?

    Light scaffold system for working platforms and access

    Hydraulic jack

    Whit spanners

   

Electrical (assuming power supply is available) Yes

    Extension leads

    Angle grinder with both metal and masonry discs

    Portable lights

    Scorpion saw incl blades

    Electric drill 

 

Stationery:

    2 plans on Masonite

    Soft pencil

    Rubber

    Thin koki

    Ruler

 

Marking:

    Wax crayon

    Timber chalk

    Ordinary chalk (colours)

    Paint pen metal marker

    Tape measures

 image004

Wrapping / binding:

    Nylon band buckles and tensioner

    Parcel tape (buff tape)

 image005

Recording:

    Camera (memory sticks)

    Movie camera 

The planned start of the operation will be Monday, 11th July 2010, by which time the Grahamstown Festival will be over.

 

Andy Selfe

26th June 2010  

Sandstone Heritage Trust bids successfully on Phoenix Mill in Grahamstown!

The Phoenix Roller Mill has been in operation in its present form since 1907. 26-years ago the big Crossley gas fired engine was shut down and since then the Mill has remained in good condition but unused. As a result of the decision to sell the property the Mill owners put the Mill up for auction and it was acquired in an open bidding process by the Sandstone Heritage Trust. The Mill is substantial but 100% with all its accessories.

Sandstone is currently evaluating the logistical implications of moving it but the plan is to construct a special building for it and to rebuild it as it is. It is a working Mill with four E R & F Turner of Ipswich roller mills and six rotary screens and at least ten elevators by Henry Simon of Manchester and much more.

A working drawing of the layout of the Mill, together with detailed specifications and historical photographs, were all made available by the owners. Much of the machinery is described as 'old' in the 1907 drawing.

We look forward to a good working relationship with the owners of the Mill and many interested enthusiasts from the area who have offered their assistance. While it is a pity that the Mill will not be remaining in Grahamstown it will at least be saved from scrapping or being purchased by material merchants.

  

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 Just a few blocks down from the Cathedral, this is where local farmers have come to buy provisions, building supplies and rations, as far back as anybody can remember.

On Thursday, 12th May, 2010, the historic Phoenix Roller Mill went under the hammer. The auction, held by Dave Mullins of ReMax Frontier clearly separated the contents of the building from the property itself. By prior negotiation, the woodwork supporting the machinery, the lower and upper floors and the trusses, were included with the mill machinery. Sandstone Heritage Trust was represented at the auction by Wilfred Mole, Peter Elliott and Andy Selfe for technical back-up.

 image002

 Dave Mullins reading the conditions of sale. It was a great social occasion, the turn-out was about 50 in number, not all registered buyers; no doubt there were scrapmen amongst them. The owner, Brian Bonsor was nervously smoking elsewhere, waiting for a successful outcome!

We were keen to keep the scrap-man away, there being a considerable weight in iron and steel, to say nothing about the used wood; there being several cubic metres of Oregon-type pine and possibly yellowwood involved. In the event, there were only two serious buyers for the Mill machinery, and the hammer fell to Sandstone Heritage Trust.

I did not stay for the auction of the property, rather returning to explore the Mill and photograph and video everything, with my mind on the next operation, marking and dismantling everything. Luckily, included in the sale is a General Arrangement drawing of the entire mill-house, which will be carefully reproduced.

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 General Arrangement drawings of the Mill House, which will be a tremendous help in marking, dismantling and re-erecting the Mill.

The Mill consists of four Roller Mills and six rotary screens, on two floors, with line shafting under the ground floor and another shaft the full length of the building in the rafters. For handling the grain or flour, there are at least ten elevators. Motive power is a massive Crossley single cylinder open crank suction gas engine complete with its producer and scrubber, as last used. The Mill last ran 26 years ago.

 image005

 This painting by local architect J M English gives an impression of the scale of the engine! The main drive belt is on the wide pulley on the far side, going down to the line shaft below the Mill machinery.

A small amount of stripping has been done on the engine, and correspondence between the Mill owners and Crossley regarding their problems is included in the paperwork. It should be noted that Crossley were not entirely helpful in their reply regarding spares for an engine dating from 1907! The original invoice from Mangold Brothers was for £600, for the engine and plant, installed.

 Dave mentioned in the preamble to the auction that he had been in contact with the still existing E R & F Turner of Ipswich, makers of the Mills, to check on their possible age. A helpful person there informed him that their records don’t go that far back, but according to their earliest records and their rate of manufacture, he assumed these Mills to date from the 1880s.

There follows a selection of photographs to give an impression of what the Mill entails:

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Roller Mill

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Possibly the oldest of the four Roller Mills. It has a shaking ‘shoe’.

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View along the back of the roller mills; there are four of them in a row.

 image010 

Or is this the oldest?

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Some of the elevators are by Henry Simon, a well-known Trafford Park firm in Manchester. One can see from the floor in this picture that it was essential that the woodwork be included in the sale!

 image012 

Avery Sack scale, also included.

image013 

A beautiful example of a Stamford Mill from Blackstone fitted with 18” French Burr Stones.

 image014

 A Corbett Mill described as ‘The World’s Best Grinding Mill’!

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 Workbenches, vices and workshop equipment were also included.

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 Details of the wonderful craftsmanship involved in making of the trusses; this is the top of the king post.

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The wrought iron band at the base of the king post.

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The rafter joins the tie beam in a traditional joint. The roof trusses form the support of the upper line shafting.

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The upper line-shaft and some delivery chutes from the tops of the elevators.

 

image020

 A stencil for marking bags.

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One of the Henry Simon screens on the upper floor.

 image022 

A shaker operated by an eccentric, the outlet feeding a chute to a bag filler below. The floor planks are a foot wide!

What next? The property is likely to be sold for re-development, so after careful numbering, referring to the GA drawing, the entire contents must be dismantled and removed, loaded and removed to Sandstone Estates.

The best way to display it would be inside a large shed, big enough to enclose the entire building, and to substitute the walls with an exoskeleton of steel beams where the walls were. In this way, a visitor can stand back and view the four levels of the Mill working, while the whole is safe from the weather.

Included in the display must be the paperwork described above, amongst which are the complete records of every pound of meal it produced and a wonderful photo album.

 image023

Note, there is no pitched roof on this building.

 image024 

 image025

 These will all be copied into digital form before being returned to Brian Bonsor, the original owner.

Before leaving the area, we visited Ann Palmer, widow of the legendary Geoff Palmer, the guiding light behind the Bathurst Agricultural Museum. From there, we visited the Museum and were given a guided tour and entertained by the two Alan’s who are steering the Museum on a steady, uphill course!

 image026 

Some outside exhibits at the Bathurst Agricultural Museum.

image027 

 Stationary Engines, internal combustion and steam.

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 A display board of medals from shows, collected by G North & Sons.

 image029

 Tractors.

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 An extensive collection of Caterpillars.

We were kindly put up and well fed at Peter and Michelle Elliott’s farm outside East London for the night, ready for our trips home.

Andy Selfe

16th May 2010

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The Veteran Farmer magazine, which was published between Spring 1995 and Summer 1999, will be serialised on the Sandstone Heritage Trust web site starting with the first edition this month. A separate edition will appear every month until the final 19th edition has been published.

Although these copies of the magazine are over 10-years old their content remains largely valid today. The content relates largely to Agricultural, Mechanisation, and Heritage related issues.

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Click here to view Edition 1 - 4MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 2 - 5.4 MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 3 - 3.5 MB PDF (opens in new window) 

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Click here to view Edition 4 - 3.3 MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 5 - 3.5 MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 6 - 3.2 MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 7 - 5.8 MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 8 - 5MB PDF (opens in new window) 

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Click here to view Edition 9 - 6.2MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 10 - 8.1MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 11
- 10MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 12
- 10.7MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 13 - Part One - 3.91MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 13 - Part Two - 3.9MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 13 - Part Three - 3.22MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 14 - Part One - 4.25MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 14 - Part Two - 4.74MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 14 - Part Three - 3.44MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 15 - Part One - 3.37MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 15 - Part Two - 4.16MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 15 - Part Three - 3.53MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 16 - Part One - 3.67MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 16 - Part Two - 4.08MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 16 - Part Three - 3.78MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 17 - Part One - 3.48MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 17 - Part Two - 3.91MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 17 - Part Three - 3.66MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 18 - Part One - 3.26MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 18 - Part Two - 3.93MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 18 - Part Three - 4.14MB PDF (opens in new window)

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Click here to view Edition 19 - Part One - 3.4MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 19 - Part Two - 3.81MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 19 - Part Three - 4.06MB PDF (opens in new window)
Click here to view Edition 19 - Part Four - 3.03MB PDF (opens in new window)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stettyn Cellar is just 16km north of Villiersdorp and every year the Botha family ask the Villiersdorp Branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club to bring old tractors and implements to add to the general interest, for their Family Day. This year it was held on 21st November. Bushel baskets are filled with wild flowers, complementing  the festive look of the farm.

 image001

A section of ground next to the road was prepared for those who wished to plough. On previous occasions the ploughs battled to bite into the ground.

 image002 

Even Eniel Viljoen’s relatively light Minneapolis Moline BG with mounted plough managed to turn the soil with ease! Carel Kloppers is on Eniel’s much heavier Landini single cylinder with a trailed 2-furrow plough.

 image003 

George Botha was taking visitors around the farm in a specially-built tourist trailer.

image004

Across the road Gawie van Schalkwyk’s wheel-drive reaper-binder was operating behind Koos Erasmus’ Hanomag tractor.

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This is a true horse-drawn implement. On close inspection the guide for the reins and socket for whip can be seen! I got a chance later to operate the machine myself, really only watching for sheaves which had not been properly tied. The wheat was standing thick and tall, but with ears hanging, so the shepherds-crook shape of each stalk was making some of them hook up on the machine.

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The machine was so well set-up and the crop so even that the sheaves were being ejected in neat rows! The machine senses when the sheaf has reached a certain size before ejecting and tying it at the same time.

 image007 

Up at the Cellar, there was plenty more to look at, for the children the inevitable bouncy castle and water-slide. Once again Helderstroom Alpacas were displaying their animals as well as garments made from their wool….. and their manure!

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We had a delicious meal in the shade outside the tasting room, but all the time I was watching for the tourist trailer taking visitors towards the Water Mill.

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I have heard that Hans Fransen had mooted that the present set-up might be a replacement for older machinery. Certainly the Victorian-looking gears and bearings correspond with the 1891 date which the Bothas claim the mill was put into service, according to this snippet from the Worcester Standard from that year, describing a cricket tour visiting the farm. 

…. After which the men visited different parts of that delightful farm accompanied by their host who took them to the Mill house now in the course of erection, about 80 yards from the homestead, where a corn mill, with one pair of grind stones will (D.V.) be in good working order within a month hence, which promises to bring in a good return……

 image010 

The cutting goes on to say 

… The floricultural part was next visited and by kind permission of the Florist, the men adorned themselves with beautiful bouquets of fragrant flowers…..

 It seems that the floricultural tradition has continued; the view of those 80 yards between the Mill and the Homestead is stunning!

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But what about the possibility of earlier machinery? The newspaper says that the Mill house is in the ‘course of erection’, but could there have been a Mill here before? Certainly the Pit Wheel could not have been any bigger than the existing one.

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On the outside, however, there is a clue to some re-building on the wall to the left of the water-wheel; a diagonal join in the stone-work.

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This makes it look as though the wall on this side has been rebuilt to make the building wider. At the other end of the building, the door is offset and a distinct join can be seen. However, I could not see anything which constitutes proof that this machinery replaces a previous Vitruvian arrangement.

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I was fascinated by the operation of the rotating damsel, made of two steel angles working on the steel-lined rap. The whole shoe vibrates fore and aft, supported by a wooden leaf-spring behind. A slide in the hopper neck does the coarse regulation.

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The walls of the Mill house are covered with interesting artefacts, and the restoration has been sympathetically done, not destroying the old graffiti, which just shows graffiti artists have not changed over the centuries!

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To the right is a hay knife, while below is a beautiful example of a sack scale.

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A spare (or used up?) runner stone shows the Miller’s personal choice of harps and cracking.

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Always interesting are ‘before and after’ photos; in this case the most recent restoration. Top 1977, bottom 1978.

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Full marks to the Botha family for rescuing this one from the brink of dereliction! Many thanks to them also for a wonderful day! 

Andy Selfe

21st November 2009

 

Koos Erasmus is the proud owner of a David Brown Cropmaster, which we in the Villiersdorp section of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club call 'Koos' Power Steering tractor'.

 

 

 

“Old Power Steering”, Koos Erasmus’ David Brown Cropmaster, fitted with a very heavy scraper made by Bomford & Evershed, and no power steering equipment at all!

 

It is so called because it is not so equipped! Rather, it has an extremely heavy front-mounted scraper made by Bomford & Evershed of Salford Priors, Worcestershire in the UK. This makes one wish it was fitted with Power Steering!

 

 

The name plate identifying the attachment is riveted to the top of the blade frame. Does /52 refer to 1952?

 

Until seeing this attachment, I thought that Bomford & Evershed confined their activities to contract road buliding.

 

 

 

The front-mounted scraper blade is controlled by a system of (heavy) linkages connected to the arms of the three-point-link at the back of the tractor

 

No so! says frequent Sandstone Heritage Trust website reader Bernard Dodd, from Cleethorpes on the east coast of England, who spotted a picture of ‘Old Power Steering' attached to a Power Binder (see http://www.sandstone-estates.com/interim/Andy_Selfe/Stettyn_Cellars/Another_Successful_Family_Day_at_Stettyn_Cellars.html ),  and kindly sent in this information:

 

"After the Napoleonic wars England saw a boom in road building, the Bomford family who had farmed in Worcestershire for generations diversified into contracting which led them to develop steam driven machines.

"Under the direction of Raymond Bomford the Bomford company was registered in 1904, this in time led to the development of a variety of cultivation machines that could be used in conjunction with steam powered agricultural vehicles. In the late 1940’s Bomford's developed the first balance arm hedge cutter.

"Today Bomford design, manufacture and distribute over 100 different model options to every corner of the world, supplying markets in Hedge and Verge mowing, Stewardship management and cultivation." 

Bernard goes on to say, “Until I retired to live on the east coast I lived all my life near Rugby in leafy Warwickshire and some years ago, before the A46 route was diverted with a new road, I used to drive past the depot of Bomford & Evershed in the old railway yard at Salford Priors many times each year, never really noticing much activity there but always intrigued by the amount of machinery seemingly being produced .

“As you have re-stirred my interest, I have spent some time looking up about the company on the website and found some interesting old pictures on the Windows of Warwickshire website

http://www.search.windowsonwarwickshire.org.uk/engine/theme/default.asp?theme=406&originator=%2Fengine%2Ftheme%2Fdefault%2Easp&page=4&records=71&direction=1&pointer=18123&text=0&offset=0

 

Piece of agricultural machinery made by Bomford and Evershed, Salford Priors. 1890s

“Here is a strange piece of machinery referred as 'agricultural', coupled to a Crawler tractor, I cannot understand what it is, but the date given makes it more intriguing..

“I also notice the Centenary of the company was reported in “Old Glory” in issue 182 of April 2005.

“Sadly there appears little on the web in the way of photos of their products although I did find a reference and photo of a ditcher. Could this be a similar machine?

 

The Company is now called Bomford-Turner and their web site is

http://www.bomford-turner.com/

“The postal address of the company is Worcestershire but Salford Priors is actually in Warwickshire.

“It just shows that a photo of a tractor brings back a flood of memories and makes me start looking back at the past! I used a Bomford hedge trimmer back in the 1960s on MF 35. The whole contraption was a bit weird compared with today’s machines but it did the job quite well, and I notice that a Bomford Living Van No 98 has just been sold by Preston Services.”

Andy Selfe (Photos by Denis Usher)

 

Heritage - News

To agricultural machinery preservationists - remember our web site is your web site.

We would like to wish all at Sandstone a wonderful 2008.  Looking forward to getting together soon.
This picture shows that I was not doing nothing during the holidays.  I finished restoring my 1948 John Deere AR and I recently took it for a few runs through the streets of Heilbron.
Yours,
Louis Boshoff

01

Another year has gone past, and Emile Cronje and the Southern Cape Branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club have held their seventh concecutive Old Time Harvest Day. Hennie Richter, Secretary of the whole West Cape Club made the point that Emile and Co didn't invent the concept, but they have certainly perfected them! Consider that almost all of the big harvesting equipment belongs to Emile, and the work and expense involved in collecting, restoring and displaying it, must be enormous.

He has become a magnet for people wishing to watch the equipment working, and also to people wishing to donate machinery, knowing that it stands a good chance of being restored and shown working. Every year there seems to be something new to demonstrate, and this time was no exception. Thys Swart, collector and farmer from Swellendam has dispersed his well-known collection of mostly Lanz tractors, and he has donated his extremely rare Sunshine self-propelled Header-harvester to the West Cape Club. Where better for it to be kept and displayed, than with the Emile Cronje Brakfontein Collection?

There was a large crowd of spectators as usual, and it was great, but in a way, distracting from the main events, to be catching up with old friends. I had been looking forward to meeting Manie Muller all year. He is another Swellendam farmer, but the important point is that he was born and brought up only a few hundred yards from the Compagnes Drift Mill, which I'm restoring. We have made an arrangement to meet at the Mill on a Saturday early in the new year, where hopefully he can give answers to some of our riddles.

It was also great to meet the Crowther family from Oakhurst Mill (and farm) in Wilderness. Jake reported that he has repaired damage to the roof of their well-known pelton wheel-powered threshing and milling set-up. While no plans are in place to restore the machinery in the immediate future, the situation is stable and he has arranged for the place to be professionally fumigated soon, to arrest the effect of wood borers. The Mill, Pelton Wheel and Murray & Banff threshing machine are described in Chester Staples' recently published book Mills of Southern Africa.

As usual, the day began with demonstrations of traditional harvesting methods using sickles, scythes and matjiesriet, the locally grown reed, which after bruising, is used to tie the sheaves. It was good to see the old timers, still fighting fit, getting stuck in as if they were 50 years younger! Very soon, the three reaper-binders came in and showed us the incredible difference this invention from 1841 must have made to grain farming and food supplies. This must have had the same effect on the Milling industry.

Sheaves were then collected and both the blikbakke (tin mills), IH and Massey Harris, were demonstrated, followed by demonstrations on the stationary balers. After lunch, a short ceremony was held, officially handing over the Sunshine Header, which was then demonstrated, Emile driving, Thys on the bagging platform.

1. Sunshine Auto-Header in action, Emile Cronje at the controls.

 

2. Stephen Sokolic and his Farmers Friend engine belted up to his International Harvester Gyromill producing stone ground meal.

3. Demo of the use of the scythe and locally grown matjiesriet for binding the sheaves.

 

4. The towed pick-up baler, with seats for the two operators who have to insert and tie the wires. Above the machine can be seen a tube with the prepared wires.

 

5. McCormick WI industrial tractor from behind. Note the heavy duty hitch and lack of PTO and 3-point arms.

6. The John Deere 55 Combine Harvester. This bagger machine is what the Stationary Engine team went out into the land with!

 

7. Feeding the McCormick threshing machine from a trailer behind this immaculate Ford Bluebottle.

8. Emile driving an Allis Chalmers tractor, towing his Gleaner self-powered harvester, which is powered by a Wisconsin V4 engine.

 

9. Engine side view of the Sunshine Auto-Header of 1934.

10. Publicity picture of the same machine from the 1934 Sunshine Auto Header catalogue

 

Then the early combine harvesters were started up in turn and went out into the land. The Stationary Engine Team of Derick Kleynhans, Peter Boast and I landed up on the bagging platform of a Green Machine and found our work cut out to fill, sew up and tip the bags. Derick was seeing how full he could make the bags and how difficult he could make it for me to sew them up with the remaining bag! Once the land was cleared, at one stage there were ten of these old monsters gulping through the Korog (triticale), the pick-up machines being preceeded by Cockshutt platsnyer (swather), the hard work began!

First we loaded the bags on to Emile's immaculate Chev lorry, until its springs started looking flat. Then we took a tractor and wagon out and loaded that to capacity. What next? All that was left was the bulk-trailer. Ever tried loading a full bag over the high sides of one of them? However, we developed a system with three people, two lifting and one pushing, and soon that trailer was also filling up. One of the lads was actually catching the bags and putting them down in their places! We were shown last year the technique for the two lifters: you make one continuous lift, stand up and throw from the ground to the trailer, no wasted energy swinging the bag!

Before packing up, however, there was still some threshing to do. Another trailer-full of sheaves had been brought in after the demo's. Most of the people had gone, so now we had an opportunity to do it hands-on, changing bags on the grader and watching the grain as it came from the sieves. The first class grain was coming out very cleanly, just a few ears (and bugs) were coming through. I would have liked to put a bag of this through the Stamford at Compagnes Drift, pity it was korog!

Just when we thought it was all over, Emile casually mentiuoned 'more sheaves out in the land'....... we went out and found a cache of another fully-loaded trailer! These we collected and fed through the machine. This time I had the opportunity to feed the machine, standing on the trailer nearest the 'knives', a health and safety nightmare! It was another technique to learn, to feed the machine evenly, ears first, with one person at the far end of the feed chute, throwing in for all he's worth, the one closest to the machine filling the gaps in between. It's hard work!

It had been hard work loading the bags and doing the last of the threshing. There was still a catch! Peter, Derick and Stephen Sokolic had brought engines, the latter had brought his IH Gyromill which had been stopping the crowds while he was demonstrating. With our last reserves of energy, we got these loaded, mostly IH pigs (I think Peter's 5-HP must be pregnant!) and JD E's.

Then 2½ hrs home! A quick stop at Derick's for a pocket of his potatoes broke the trip nicely! We are looking forward to the Southern Cape Club hosting next year's Annual Show, preparations are already in motion!

Another year has gone past, and Emile Cronje and the Southern Cape Branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club have held their seventh concecutive Old Time Harvest Day. Hennie Richter, Secretary of the whole West Cape Club made the point that Emile and Co didn't invent the concept, but they have certainly perfected them! Consider that almost all of the big harvesting equipment belongs to Emile, and the work and expense involved in collecting, restoring and displaying it, must be enormous.

He has become a magnet for people wishing to watch the equipment working, and also to people wishing to donate machinery, knowing that it stands a good chance of being restored and shown working. Every year there seems to be something new to demonstrate, and this time was no exception. Thys Swart, collector and farmer from Swellendam has dispersed his well-known collection of mostly Lanz tractors, and he has donated his extremely rare Sunshine self-propelled Header-harvester to the West Cape Club. Where better for it to be kept and displayed, than with the Emile Cronje Brakfontein Collection?

There was a large crowd of spectators as usual, and it was great, but in a way, distracting from the main events, to be catching up with old friends. I had been looking forward to meeting Manie Muller all year. He is another Swellendam farmer, but the important point is that he was born and brought up only a few hundred yards from the Compagnes Drift Mill, which I'm restoring. We have made an arrangement to meet at the Mill on a Saturday early in the new year, where hopefully he can give answers to some of our riddles.

It was also great to meet the Crowther family from Oakhurst Mill (and farm) in Wilderness. Jake reported that he has repaired damage to the roof of their well-known pelton wheel-powered threshing and milling set-up. While no plans are in place to restore the machinery in the immediate future, the situation is stable and he has arranged for the place to be professionally fumigated soon, to arrest the effect of wood borers. The Mill, Pelton Wheel and Murray & Banff threshing machine are described in Chester Staples' recently published book Mills of Southern Africa.

As usual, the day began with demonstrations of traditional harvesting methods using sickles, scythes and matjiesriet, the locally grown reed, which after bruising, is used to tie the sheaves. It was good to see the old timers, still fighting fit, getting stuck in as if they were 50 years younger! Very soon, the three reaper-binders came in and showed us the incredible difference this invention from 1841 must have made to grain farming and food supplies. This must have had the same effect on the Milling industry.

Sheaves were then collected and both the blikbakke (tin mills), IH and Massey Harris, were demonstrated, followed by demonstrations on the stationary balers. After lunch, a short ceremony was held, officially handing over the Sunshine Header, which was then demonstrated, Emile driving, Thys on the bagging platform.

1. Sunshine Auto-Header in action, Emile Cronje at the controls.

 

2. Stephen Sokolic and his Farmers Friend engine belted up to his International Harvester Gyromill producing stone ground meal.

3. Demo of the use of the scythe and locally grown matjiesriet for binding the sheaves.

 

4. The towed pick-up baler, with seats for the two operators who have to insert and tie the wires. Above the machine can be seen a tube with the prepared wires.

 

5. McCormick WI industrial tractor from behind. Note the heavy duty hitch and lack of PTO and 3-point arms.

6. The John Deere 55 Combine Harvester. This bagger machine is what the Stationary Engine team went out into the land with!

 

7. Feeding the McCormick threshing machine from a trailer behind this immaculate Ford Bluebottle.

8. Emile driving an Allis Chalmers tractor, towing his Gleaner self-powered harvester, which is powered by a Wisconsin V4 engine.

 

9. Engine side view of the Sunshine Auto-Header of 1934.

10. Publicity picture of the same machine from the 1934 Sunshine Auto Header catalogue

 

Then the early combine harvesters were started up in turn and went out into the land. The Stationary Engine Team of Derick Kleynhans, Peter Boast and I landed up on the bagging platform of a Green Machine and found our work cut out to fill, sew up and tip the bags. Derick was seeing how full he could make the bags and how difficult he could make it for me to sew them up with the remaining bag! Once the land was cleared, at one stage there were ten of these old monsters gulping through the Korog (triticale), the pick-up machines being preceeded by Cockshutt platsnyer (swather), the hard work began!

First we loaded the bags on to Emile's immaculate Chev lorry, until its springs started looking flat. Then we took a tractor and wagon out and loaded that to capacity. What next? All that was left was the bulk-trailer. Ever tried loading a full bag over the high sides of one of them? However, we developed a system with three people, two lifting and one pushing, and soon that trailer was also filling up. One of the lads was actually catching the bags and putting them down in their places! We were shown last year the technique for the two lifters: you make one continuous lift, stand up and throw from the ground to the trailer, no wasted energy swinging the bag!

Before packing up, however, there was still some threshing to do. Another trailer-full of sheaves had been brought in after the demo's. Most of the people had gone, so now we had an opportunity to do it hands-on, changing bags on the grader and watching the grain as it came from the sieves. The first class grain was coming out very cleanly, just a few ears (and bugs) were coming through. I would have liked to put a bag of this through the Stamford at Compagnes Drift, pity it was korog!

Just when we thought it was all over, Emile casually mentiuoned 'more sheaves out in the land'....... we went out and found a cache of another fully-loaded trailer! These we collected and fed through the machine. This time I had the opportunity to feed the machine, standing on the trailer nearest the 'knives', a health and safety nightmare! It was another technique to learn, to feed the machine evenly, ears first, with one person at the far end of the feed chute, throwing in for all he's worth, the one closest to the machine filling the gaps in between. It's hard work!

It had been hard work loading the bags and doing the last of the threshing. There was still a catch! Peter, Derick and Stephen Sokolic had brought engines, the latter had brought his IH Gyromill which had been stopping the crowds while he was demonstrating. With our last reserves of energy, we got these loaded, mostly IH pigs (I think Peter's 5-HP must be pregnant!) and JD E's.

Then 2½ hrs home! A quick stop at Derick's for a pocket of his potatoes broke the trip nicely! We are looking forward to the Southern Cape Club hosting next year's Annual Show, preparations are already in motion!

Heritage - Rail - News

Soya Planting

19th November 2007 - Updated 17th December 2007

Click here to jump down the page to the latest update

The 24 hour a day Soya planting program continues at Sandstone and nearly 800 Ha has already been planted. With a let up in the rain the progress has been steady and the planting should be completed within the prescribed planting period.

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 Soya Drop Update mid December 2007

 
Nature played its part and allowed Sandstone to finish planting the planned 1000 Hectare Soya crop. Immediately thereafter it began rainy on a daily basis and has not stopped since. The farm has received 148mm since 17 November, which is when the last seed was put into the ground, and the continuing wet conditions are excellent for the Soya.
 
Unfortunately nature was not going to let us have it all our own way and a hail storm was let loose on about 90 Hectares of the newly planted lands around Grootdraai and the Game Camp...

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05

The early prognosis was that the young plants, having had their growth tips knocked back, would probably not make it. It appears however that the plants decided that this was not to the case. A week later, perhaps due to the rain and nursery like conditions many of the plants have started to shoot new leaves and the rows are beginning to green up again...

06

07

 
What is also interesting is that in the lands that were hit by hail, which were the last to be planted, we have noticed that new plants are still appearing as well which indicates that some of the seedling had not yet reached the surface when the hail hit. While the 90 odd Hectares may not recover to their full potential there is no doubt that we will get a harvest from these lands, as to how big only time will tell.
 
On the northern part of the farm where the majority of the crop was planted the Soya is looking fantastic and the rows are well established and a bumper crop is expected...

08

09

10

Those lands that had not been burnt by the rampant fires, due to dry condition through the winter, offered the new plants some protection from the heavy rains...

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12 

 

Conditions remain very wet (as above) and there was a lot of water lying in the lands we have thankfully had during the last week some sunny days and while the lands are very wet there is no danger of the lands becoming saturated and there have been no wash aways.

 
The farm can only but benefit from the current rainy conditions. The water table will have recovered to such an extent that the planned wheat planting for next year looks very promising.
 

Click here to jump down the page to the latest update

The 24 hour a day Soya planting program continues at Sandstone and nearly 800 Ha has already been planted. With a let up in the rain the progress has been steady and the planting should be completed within the prescribed planting period.

 
Nature played its part and allowed Sandstone to finish planting the planned 1000 Hectare Soya crop. Immediately thereafter it began rainy on a daily basis and has not stopped since. The farm has received 148mm since 17 November, which is when the last seed was put into the ground, and the continuing wet conditions are excellent for the Soya.
 
Unfortunately nature was not going to let us have it all our own way and a hail storm was let loose on about 90 Hectares of the newly planted lands around Grootdraai and the Game Camp...

The early prognosis was that the young plants, having had their growth tips knocked back, would probably not make it. It appears however that the plants decided that this was not to the case. A week later, perhaps due to the rain and nursery like conditions many of the plants have started to shoot new leaves and the rows are beginning to green up again...

 
What is also interesting is that in the lands that were hit by hail, which were the last to be planted, we have noticed that new plants are still appearing as well which indicates that some of the seedling had not yet reached the surface when the hail hit. While the 90 odd Hectares may not recover to their full potential there is no doubt that we will get a harvest from these lands, as to how big only time will tell.
 
On the northern part of the farm where the majority of the crop was planted the Soya is looking fantastic and the rows are well established and a bumper crop is expected...

Those lands that had not been burnt by the rampant fires, due to dry condition through the winter, offered the new plants some protection from the heavy rains...

 

 

Conditions remain very wet (as above) and there was a lot of water lying in the lands we have thankfully had during the last week some sunny days and while the lands are very wet there is no danger of the lands becoming saturated and there have been no wash aways.

 
The farm can only but benefit from the current rainy conditions. The water table will have recovered to such an extent that the planned wheat planting for next year looks very promising.
 

Click here to jump down the page to the latest update

The 24 hour a day Soya planting program continues at Sandstone and nearly 800 Ha has already been planted. With a let up in the rain the progress has been steady and the planting should be completed within the prescribed planting period.

 
Nature played its part and allowed Sandstone to finish planting the planned 1000 Hectare Soya crop. Immediately thereafter it began rainy on a daily basis and has not stopped since. The farm has received 148mm since 17 November, which is when the last seed was put into the ground, and the continuing wet conditions are excellent for the Soya.
 
Unfortunately nature was not going to let us have it all our own way and a hail storm was let loose on about 90 Hectares of the newly planted lands around Grootdraai and the Game Camp...

The early prognosis was that the young plants, having had their growth tips knocked back, would probably not make it. It appears however that the plants decided that this was not to the case. A week later, perhaps due to the rain and nursery like conditions many of the plants have started to shoot new leaves and the rows are beginning to green up again...

 
What is also interesting is that in the lands that were hit by hail, which were the last to be planted, we have noticed that new plants are still appearing as well which indicates that some of the seedling had not yet reached the surface when the hail hit. While the 90 odd Hectares may not recover to their full potential there is no doubt that we will get a harvest from these lands, as to how big only time will tell.
 
On the northern part of the farm where the majority of the crop was planted the Soya is looking fantastic and the rows are well established and a bumper crop is expected...

Those lands that had not been burnt by the rampant fires, due to dry condition through the winter, offered the new plants some protection from the heavy rains...

 

 

Conditions remain very wet (as above) and there was a lot of water lying in the lands we have thankfully had during the last week some sunny days and while the lands are very wet there is no danger of the lands becoming saturated and there have been no wash aways.

 
The farm can only but benefit from the current rainy conditions. The water table will have recovered to such an extent that the planned wheat planting for next year looks very promising.