Full steam ahead with gasworks' new boiler

Dunedin Gasworks Museum engineering team co-ordinator Tom Galletly stands beside the earlier 1960s smokebox, now attached to a new oil-fired boiler. Photo by Craig Baxter.The long wait is almost over at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum and a replacement boiler is about to get the machinery moving again after more than a year without steam.

Museum engineering team co-ordinator Tom Galletly is feeling much happier these days, after the replacement boiler arrived by truck from Christchurch last month, and installation has been largely completed.

The previous boiler, fired with waste lubricating oil, had to be replaced after a survey showed the boiler shell was thinning and had become unsafe.

Mr Galletly, who has been a volunteer at the museum for the past five years, said it was hoped steam would be restored to the museum this week.

''I'm a little bit more relaxed now. I was getting a bit stressed for a while,'' he said.

It had originally been hoped to acquire the new boiler in six months but delays had crept in at Christchurch, adding to the tensions.

The new boiler, with the old boiler's smokebox added at the front, was closely modelled on its predecessor, but was stronger and met upgraded modern requirements.

The new boiler and related costs are expected to amount to about $40,000, which is covered by a loan from the Dunedin City Council, to be repaid by the Dunedin Gasworks Museum Trust through fundraising and other sources, museum organisers said.

Steam was a ''marvellous'' power source.

''It just seems to live and breathe,'' Mr Galletly said.

Steam enabled gasworks machinery in the museum's Engine House to run again, bringing it back to life, and the boiler's heat also warmed the facility, he said.

While the steam had been off, the machinery had been getting damper, requiring more drying and maintenance, and public attendance had also fallen somewhat.

But better times were ahead.

''It's going to be brilliant.''

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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