RogerBW's Blog

Kirkaldy Testing Museum 09 February 2017

Just off Southwark Street in London is an unexpected piece of industrial history. Images follow: cc-by-sa on everything.

New skyscrapers from Blackfriars Bridge, pleasingly cut off by the mist.

Original sign. David Kirkaldy moved the works to this site in 1874.

The Great Machine. This is basically a hydraulic piston that pulls (or pushes, or bends) against a weighted arm, with a sample in the middle. When originally built it could exert a million pounds of force, though these days they only run it at a few thousands. The cylinder end:

Looking towards the cylinder.

Non-cylinder end.

Secondary arm.

Arm pivot, magnifying lever action.

Weighted arm and measuring scale.

A sample of iron, secured in place.

And after breakage.

Here's one we broke earlier.

The crew of volunteers.

More details.

An ancient (well, probably early 1900s) calculating machine.

Tension tester used at the Irving Parachute Factory in Letchworth to check risers. Used here on a packing strap

which disintegrates satisfactorily

and not only can you read off the poundage (in better light)

but a series of eight ratchets gives 2-ounce resolution within the grad marks.

Another tension tester, used at Irving for broader straps.

Torsion tester, cranked by turning the worm gear; apparently it's all too easy to apply quite excessive force.

One of the mains from the London Hydraulic Power Company, on which the works ran for much of its life.

More tension testers.

Tension tester for concrete. Lead shot runs out of the tower on the right into a bucket, to put load on the "dog-biscuit" sample; when the sample breaks, the bucket hits a lever at the bottom and stops the flow of shot. It can then be weighed.

Sample block - we happened to visit on its birthday. I used to live near there, and this is what it looks like today; it's possible that the bottom level still consists of the original blocks. (The current owners want to knock it down and replace it with an Asda, even though there's a perfectly good Sainsbury's across the road and there's local demand for small shops as well as supermarkets. The current owners are St Modwen Properties, and that's what they want to do with everything they buy.)

The hydraulic press used to test those cubes (piston fully extended, cylinder at the base).

Underside of the Machine above.

Hydraulic intensifier, used to bring the 750ish psi of the LHP Company up to the 4,500 or so needed for the Machine.

Impact testing machines (1916 or so).

1920s chain tester.

Counterweight for the Machine.

It's all a bit basic, and desperately reliant on volunteers, but one can get up close to the machinery and get a good sense of the scale of 19th- and 20th-century industrial hardware. Highly recommended, though it isn't often open; check the museum web site.

  1. Posted by John Dallman at 10:46am on 09 February 2017

    Thanks for this. For those puzzled as to what all this was about, has an outline.

  2. Posted by Owen Smith at 10:40pm on 09 February 2017

    Seriously heavy engineering at its best, thanks for the report. My grandad worked at British Ropes in Doncaster for many years, they had a wire rope pre-stretching plant where the tension was put on the ropes in 100 ton increments. It was the largest in the world, it may still be. Wire ropes for a bridge in Japan were made in Japan (outer casing stainless steel), shipped to Doncaster to be pre-stretched, and sent back to Japan to be fitted to the bridge. The Japanese were very happy, there were no marks on their lovely stainless steel casing.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1