The Phoenix Flour Mill Upgrade 1890

Including installation of a Flour Roller Mill

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The following is a detailed description of a major upgrade done to the Phoenix Flour Mills in Singleton in 1890, by the manager, Henry Storey. (A few paragraphs of general commentary have been omitted.) This article was published in the Singleton Argus on 22 January 1890:

"The Phoenix Roller Flour Mills


"The well-known Phoenix Flour Mills, in John-street, have just undergone extensive alterations with new machinery and new milling appliances on the most improved lines. The mill has been in existence some thirty five years, and is the oldest in the district. it has the greatest frontage of any business place in Singleton, and is as well known as the town clock[?].

Lately Mr. Storey determined that he would put a completely new plant in. This undertaking was no light one to enter into, and … the alterations have cost no less than £2000.

All the old plant has been taken out and the machinery quite new, and of the most modern type, has been placed in its stead… The work has been in progress for some weeks and would have been completed long ere this but for vexatious delays in the arrival of castings from Sydney.

The machinery is all colonial made. Though imported material could have been had a trifle cheaper, Mr. Storey decided to give his orders to a colonial firm, and Messrs Morris Bros. are to be complimented on the excellence of the articles they have supplied…

A powerful pumping plant has been installed, and the engine, boiler, heater, and other portions of the machinery are well and powerfully made. Mr. W. Crispin, the well known engineer, provided the plans upon which Mr Kerr has worked…

From the time the dirty wheat enters the hopper, till it comes out in its various manufactured forms, it is never handled. The result will be that the output of the mill will be tripled, and that without any increase, rather a diminution, in labour.

Before the new plant was put in, the building was thoroughly tested, one or two weak spots made good, and the verandah in front is being widened and lengthened.

Long lengths of hose have been obtained and these will carry a supply of water to any position of the building which may be desired, in case of emergency, or for general use…

The grain is thoroughly cleaned – magnets seize metallic substances, revolving fans clear the dust away at various stages, separators divide the good from the bad…

The water supply is drawn from the river. To provide this important service, a powerful Tangye pump has been erected, capable of delivering 4000 gallons and hour, sufficient for the requirements of the town. There are underground tanks capable of storing 40,000 gallons.

The water is lifted sixty feet into a heater, weighing 4 tons 5 cwt, and raised seven feet from the ground, from which the boiler is fed. This arrangement for heating the water results in a saving of fuel and trouble, the warmth being supplied by and exhaust pump from the engine.

The boiler is a Cornish one, made of steel, 23ft long, 5ft 6in in diameter, weighing 8tons 15cwt, and has four Galloway tubes.

The engine is a horizontal one, 25 h.p. The fly wheel is 14ft in diameter, and weighs 3 tons 5 cwt ; and the pulley wheel is 6 feet across.

The mill is driven by a pair of mitre wheels, which in turn drive an upright shaft, and the mortice wheel on it is 6ft. in diameter, and these in turn drive three pairs of stones…

First the wheat when brought in is lifted to the top floor by a hoist, a powerful one, and a strong lever completely governs the working of this part of the work.

Then the grain is wheeled along and shot into a hopper at one end of the room.

From this it travels down to the next floor to a separator, manufactured by Granson Huntley, and Co., N. Y. As the wheat is passing through this any nails which may have been in the bags are caught and held by a row of 14 powerful magnets.

The small wheat is blown into the lips of the machine, the dust is taken away, and the good wheat goes into the smutter, while the sand passes away into a bag below. The dust is carried off with an exhaust fan, working at 600 revolutions a minute, and is carried into the "stye-room."

The good wheat on leaving the separator goes into a perpendicular smutter, manufactured by Mr W. Crispin, of Sydney. This smutter revolves 800 times in a minute. The dust is taken away from here by an exhaust fan travelling 600 revolutions a minute.

After coming through the smutter, the article in course of treatment is taken to a set of elevators and once more hoisted to the top floor, and placed into a Eureka brushing machine, manufactured by Howes and Ewell, N. Y. Here the material is brushed by an exhaust fan, travelling 656[?] revolutions a minute, and the dust taken off runs into the stye room.

From this machine the stuff passes on to the bottom floor, by elevators, and is again taken back by another set to the top floor.

Then passing through very large bins, it goes away on to three sets of 4ft. rolls. This is the first grinding, and the meal produced runs away to the bottom floor through a set of elevators and carried on again to the scalper.

This machine is 25 feet long, and it takes out three qualities of stuff, of which the first passes into a large centrifugal, the second is pollard, and the third is the bran. Of the material which goes into the centrifugal, the flour is taken out and the balance from that machine is taken downstairs into a set of elevators, hoisted to the top and then run into a Reform purifier.

This purifier is a splendid machine, 10 feet long, 6 feet 10 inches high, and 4 feet wide, and was manufactured by Henry Simon, of Manchester. In the purifier are two fans, travelling at the rate of 1000 revolutions a minute and the dust goes into a dust collector, and the mouth of this cyclone is kept clear by a revolving beater, the dust finally travelling to a receptacle on the bottom floor.

It may be mentioned that the Reform purifier is covered with silks of different sizes. The exhaust carries away the light stuff, which lodges in a large number of cans. The next heavy stuff goes above into tins. The machine is regulated by four screws.

The "throughs" from the machine become what are known as "middlings." The "throughs" pass down a spout to the bottom floor into a three-high roller mill, travelling at the rate of 210 a minute. The mill was made by Simon of Manchester.

The material then goes to a worm box, and taken once more by elevators to the top floor, and thence passes into a centrifugal and the flour is taken out. The second quality of the stuff passes back to the machine, and the "tailings' from the centrifugal is pollard.

All the timber used was supplied by Mr C. Gould, of the Excelsior Mills, Singleton, and the fittings, made under Mr Morgan's supervision, certainly look neat, strong, and useful. The elevators are on the latest style, with a tightening screw at the bottom. The belting in the elevators is of cotton, and the use of this article is a preventative of stretching, is far better than leather, and keeps cleaner.

From the time the wheat is put in the hopper, it is never handled again till it becomes flour, bran, and pollard. It is estimated that the new mill is capable of turning out eighty bags per day.

The work has been in hand some ten weeks, but before Saturday the place will be in full working order."

Further Reading
Overview of Mills at SingletonThe Kurrajong MillsThe Wisemans Ferry Mills