A piece of Oamaru’s engineering history will soon be put on display in Chelmer St.
For the past several months, Oamaru man Bruce Comfort has spent countless hours in his garage restoring an early 20th century Pelton wheel turbine to its former glory.
The turbine, which was used by the Oamaru Borough Council to help generate electricity, operated from 1916 until 1958.
After it was dismantled. the turbine was lost and presumed to be scrapped, Mr Comfort said.
That was until earlier this year, after he inadvertently found the vintage machine rusting away on a farm on the West Coast.
While it was not known how the turbine travelled from coast to coast, he was thrilled to pick up the machine.
“It was a huge surprise to me, and an amazing coincidence – we’d actually found the one that had been here in 1916,” he said.
“You couldn’t have had a better coincidence.”
Mr Comfort said he and a friend had been restoring the turbine for close to five months.
The turbine, along with the hydro electric power generator, was purpose-built by the Oamaru Borough Council, and operated out of what is now the head office of the Milligans Food Group in Chelmer St.
It is expected to be finished and ready for display outside Milligans on September 30, the date believed to mark 100 years since Oamaru first generated electricity.
The power station was unique because it generated energy from the town’s public water supply, a feat unique to Oamaru, Mr Comfort said.
Most of the machine was made from original parts, but there were some minor modifications that had been made, he said.
By the time of its completion, the project would have cost about $6000.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have money to do it up myself,” he said.
“I’ve also had some very generous sponsorship from two or three people in Oamaru, who have given me serious money to help pay for this.”
Mr Comfort wanted to thank the Waitaki District Council, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, and other people who also supported the project.