MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: steam (1)

Steam 'dinosaur' at Scienceworks

Author
by Max
Publish date
5 February 2012
Comments
Comments (0)

Your Question: Does Museum Victoria have the only working Australian-made traction engine?

It is believed that in 1916, Cowley’s Eureka Ironworks of Ballarat built one of Australia’s last steam traction engines. The Cowley Traction Engine, acquired by the Museum in 1985, was restored with the help of about 30 staff and volunteers over 16 years with a total of 10,000 paid hours and 6,000 voluntary hours.

Cowley Steam Traction Engine (1916) at Lake Goldsmith. Cowley Steam Traction Engine (1916) at Lake Goldsmith.
Image: Matthew Churchwood
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It was dismantled and major mechanical repairs were carried out. New parts were manufactured when the old parts were found to not be restorable or could not be repaired in a way that could be reversed at a later time. Such parts included the steam boiler, the boiler fittings, tender, roof, crankshaft, feed pump, and many of the gears. All components that were replaced have been retained in storage for future reference and research.
 
Scienceworks 10th Birthday Celebration Scienceworks 10th Birthday Celebration - Cowley steam engine from 1916 in action on the arena.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The Cowley was used to move houses and other timber-framed buildings, as well as hauling logs for the Sawmilling industry in Western Victoria and is unusual in that it has solid sided wheels, rather than spoked ones. This design serves the dual purpose of not only being cheaper to produce, but the wheels can then double as extra water tanks – a handy advantage in the dry Australian bush.

Detail of Cowley Steam Traction Engine at Machinery in Action show Detail of Cowley Steam Traction Engine at Machinery in Action show
Image: Paoli Smith Photography
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In 2001 the Cowley was fully restored and ready to go. It made its debut at the Lake Goldsmith steam Rally and can now be seen at Scienceworks on Machines in Action Days.
Men in the boiler shop at Cowley 's Eureka Ironworks, Ballarat, Victoria, circa 1910 Men in the boiler shop at Cowley 's Eureka Ironworks, Ballarat, Victoria, circa 1910
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

Podcast: Roll out the Steam Engines!

MV News: Roller returns

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

Categories