One of the requirements of being a TAFE teacher is that you must maintain your skills to industry standards. To do this we are released to industry for one to two weeks a year. I had an ongoing opportunity starting in 2008 to work for a week or two at Queensland Rail North Ipswich workshops to maintain currency in the trade of blacksmithing.
I am not sure exactly which year it was when I first saw the Massey power hammer. I always walked past one of the buildings owned by the Railway Workshops Museum on my way to lunch, and in the corner was the 1cwt Massey power hammer sitting in storage.
This went on for several years and every time I was on site, I would look in on the Massey.
In July 2016 I was given the opportunity to set up a Blacksmith shop at the end of Shed One at Cooneana Heritage Centre. In the back of my mind I was hoping one day to have the 1cwt Massey as part of our collection.
In April 2019 I approached the senior curator at the Railway Workshop Museum and enquired about the Massey - only to find it was still sitting in the same place it had been for the last 15yrs.
Negotiations were quickly under way and in early July 2019 I organised transport to remove the 1800kg 1cwt Massey from North Ipswich and bring it to its new home.
Over the next few months I did much research about this circa 1920-30 piece of machinery and spoke to people who had been down this restoration path before. Matt Pither from Mt Nebo and Rod Sharp from Forge Brothers have been a great help sharing their knowledge in this restoration.
By November 2019 I had a plan, and the restoration was well under way. During December Ned Kelly and I dug the foundations for the hammer and I fabricated and welded up the steel frame to go in the concrete. The foundations were also poured in December.
Right up until the sixth of January 2020 when I had shoulder surgery, I was getting as much done as possible on the hammer. I had to ream out the four holes in the heavy base plate to accommodate larger holding down bolts. The long control valve which I consider to be the heart of the hammer had two shattered discs. They are critical to the smooth operation and performance of the hammer. These parts are available from the UK, but I modified and welded together two large, type three, high tensile washers, that were ground flat and fitted. To this point they have proved successful in service.
From the sixth of January I was unable to do any work on the Hammer for another five months due to the recovery time for the surgery.
Seven weeks after my operation (late February 2020) I asked Hugh Taylor to organise a mobile crane to lift the Hammer and lower it into position on its foundations. Thanks to all the volunteers this went well.
From May 2020 I was able to start light work again so over the next few months minor work continued on the Hammer and an electric motor was fitted in November. Early December last year was the first successful trial run of the hammer.
January 2021 - the Hammer has been running well but Ingvar Masson and I want to assess some of the other moving parts and bearings and get them machined to improve the Hammer’s performance.
I believe in time I will have the Hammer running back to its high standard after some more inspections of tolerances and further maintenance.