Dating back to 1840, the historic winding ‘whim’ engine at the National Trust’s Levant tin mine in Cornwall was built by Harvey & Co of Hayle to power the mine’s 530m-deep Skip Shaft – where two rectangular metal boxes were used to carry copper and tin ores to the surface. Having been a key attraction at the site since its restoration in 1992, the engine fell silent earlier this summer, when the 20-year-old boiler which supplied it with steam broke down.
“We felt that it was absolutely essential to replace the boiler to enable us to operate the engine once again,” said Anthony Power, custodian of Levant Mine. “No matter how impressive it is as a static exhibit, nothing can replace the sight, sound and smell of an engine working on live steam.” For the engineering team at the mine timing was critical, as the peak tourist season was fast approaching.
However, thanks to the installation of a new 4VT series boiler from CFB Boilers and a quick turnaround, the Levant Mine beam engine – the only one of its kind in the world still working in its original location – was commissioned and fully working again in time for the August Bank Holiday weekend, providing visitors to the National Trust site with an authentic flavour of Cornwall’s mining history.
Not only was the mine’s engine up and running in time for the busiest weekend of the year, but the energy-efficiency credentials of the new boiler meant that the National Trust would be saving money on its oil bill as well. The 4VT boiler is the only one in its class to offer four-pass technology for the highest efficiency, plus a 30% larger steam chest for better quality steam. The boiler can be fired up in just 15 minutes, and doesn’t suffer from problems such as the shell failing at the bottom of the cylinder. Maintenance is also designed to be simple, and both the internal shell and flue ways can be easily inspected and cleaned throughout their complete circumference, thanks to convenient construction, and the central air inlet limits dust or moisture intake.
Natural gas, propane or oil fired, the 4VT range spans thirteen models, from 6HP to 130HP (with bespoke outputs available upon request). Low water level controls are fitted as standard, and all boilers are mounted on skids that are pumped and wired for easy handling. Complete ‘ready to fire’ packages, with optional feed water systems for simple installation, are also available.