Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Great Dorset Steam Fair (2 of 6): Sawing & Threshing...

Hello everyone. Right then...we'll begin! The Great Dorset Steam Fair is held annually in the village of Tarrant Hinton on a huge 600-acre showground. They estimate that around 350 full size steam road engines take part from rollers to traction engines, road engines and steam lorries. This year it was "Roller" year and, as you will see...there were ALOT of rollers! As well as the steamers though there is a huge fairground, vintage cars, commercials, a huge trade area, miniatures, the auto-jumble and countless eating outlets as well as hundreds of other displays. It really is a huge show and I would recommend it...if you like walking! It really is, without a word of a lie...HUGE. We arrived at the show after our 150-mile car journey in the faithful Saxo at about 10am and immediately jumped the queue with our pre-paid tickets (always good). Making our way through the crowds we immediately ended up in the Threshing & Sawing area where Burrell Traction Engine "Charlie B" had just started threshing...
Across from "Charlie B", a 4" Miniature was raising steam in the shadow of the fairground whilst the many locomotives in the wood-sawing area were hard at work. I was particularly interested in seeing how they attach the drive-belt which always seems to be fairly tight around the flywheel, though it must have slack to allow it to be fitted. The process I saw on "Charlie B" looked quick and simple. The belt was started on the flywheel and when around half of it was on the wheel it was tied on using some strong string. The flywheel was then turned a further half a revolution in order to bring the belt on fully. I was really surprised at the ease and simplicity of the process and "Charlie B" was quickly threshing away. Below, a rack-saw bench with a huge blade cuts through a sizeable log, powered by a Fowler agricultural...
There was even a Baler in operation in the Threshing area...
Below, another engine gets to grips with wood sawing...
The wood-sawing area was particularly impressive and seemed very popular with the public. There must have been at least 10 saw benches in action at the very least, with more engines to work them!...
Below, John Antell's Fowler "Dreadnought" is driving a huge circular saw, much to delight of the adoring public. John is a respected haulier and has been hauling Shackerstone locomotives for many years, plus countless others country-wide...
One thing that I have never seen properly demonstrated (until now!) is the Centrifugal Governor on a Traction Engine. This device, situated on top of the cylinder block, allows more steam into the system when the engine is working harder, allowing the engine to maintain a constant speed rather than speeding up or slowing down depending on the load. "Dreadnought" in particular was working very hard when a cut was put on, though her regulator was left in the same position and the reverser left at full-forward at all times. The flywheel and valve gear meanwhile remained at a constant speed, though the beats at the chimney changed in depth and volume...but not speed. This is a perfect example of a Governor at work. Without the governor, the driver would have to be working the regulator with perfect accuracy at all times, making the job more labour intensive than it has to be. What an invention!...
Having studied the wood-sawing area in detail, and enjoyed "Dreadnought"s impressive show of strength, we continued to the Model Tent. There was a good selection of models on offer. We then walked upgrade towards the famous Fun Fair and the Showmans Engine Line... 

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