October 6, 2020
The historic Nanango Butter Factory diesel motor – which formerly supplied power to the local town – roared back into life on Saturday morning after a short lay-off.
The engine was last run before the Energy Museum temporarily housed Council’s Nanango Customer Service Centre.
During its museum “holiday”, the engine received a thorough overhaul.
But now that the Energy Museum in Henry Street is back to being a museum again, the engine was ready to be fired up before an appreciative audience (wearing ear plugs).
There are actually two diesel motors on display at the museum – a 1929 model Ruston & Hornsby 9XHC and a 1935 Ruston & Hornsby 4VER.
The older engine doesn’t run out of an abundance of caution by the South Burnett Regional Council … after all, when it was very much younger it reportedly blew out a wall at the Butter Factory when it suffered a mechanical failure.
However, the 1935 model chugs along quite nicely after it is started with compressed air.
The smoke it generates now pumps out through a new exhaust chimney erected by Council outside the museum.
The audience members were also treated to a short history of the engine, courtesy of the volunteers lovingly tending to it.
For example, when Nanango town was first connected to the Butter Factory power system in 1933, townsfolk were allowed to have just two lights and one power point per house.
The Butter Factory also powered the town’s 17 street lights.
Volunteer Trevor George said the engine had low horsepower but a lot of torque.
“It also used to supply the hospital with power and the cinema in Fitzroy Street,” he said.
Volunteer Robbie Kelton, who was involved in the recent maintenance overhaul, put out a call to the public … does anyone in Nanango happen to have a 1933 power bill?
“I’d like to see an electricity bill from 1933 and compare it with today,” he said.
“And did they pay (Nanango) Council or the Butter Factory for their power?”
The volunteers now plan to fire up the engine on the first Saturday of every month about 11:00am, to coincide with visitors coming to Nanango for the monthly markets.
It also gets fired up when coach-loads of tourists drop by and during school visits.
The engine room at the museum also includes a display of historic photos and old gauges from the Nanango Butter Factory.
- Related article: Engine To Power Up Again
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Raw video of the 1935 Butter Factory engine in action