Levant Mine Beam Engine

The Levant Mine Beam Engine, this page covers not only the engine but other features that are not covered in the other pages. My thanks to my friend Ryan Thomas for taking time out to show me around. Also my thanks to Paul Smith one of the members of the Greasy Gang, he has supplied some of the information on this page.

Levant Mine Beam Engine 1
Levant Mine Beam Engine 1 – The mine buildings clustered around Skip Shaft. The Engine House on the right contained a 45″ Pumping Engine. Also the headframe to Skip Shaft can be seen in the background. In the foreground is the boiler house which was rebuilt during 1992.
There are two shafts in this area, with just a few feet of rock between them. Skip Shaft for Winding and Engine Shaft for pumping. Both were sunk to 290 fathoms below adit (1740 ft). However for the total depth of both shafts the cliffs here are about 200ft high. So this has to be added to the depth below adit.
Levant Mine Beam Engine 2
Levant Mine Beam Engine 2 – These are the winding drums for the engine. The headframe in the background was installed by Geevor to access Skip Shaft. The drums would carry around 2000ft of 1″ diameter iron rope. The twin drums allowed a full skip to be drawn up the shaft whilst the empty skip dropped at the same time.
The preserved engine is a Whim Engine, this was used to lower and raise men and materials in Skip Shaft. Built during the 1840’s by Harvey and Co of Hayle. It is a double acting beam engine in an enclosed house, sadly the only engine powered by steam in its original house in Cornwall.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 3 – On first entering the boiler house the visitor is greeted by a single flue Cornish Boiler. Made by Holman’s of Camborne in 1901. This boiler is similar to the one which would have worked the engine. It is however smaller than the original, which would have been longer, and maybe also a larger diameter.This is not currently used to steam the engine.
This fine survival was designed by Francis Michell, equipped with a 24″ cylinder it was primarily used to draw ore up the shaft from 1700ft below grass. The ore skips were of 1-ton capacity. The engine worked at a speed between 40-50 rpm, this was approximately 400ft per minute. When fully loaded each to trip to the surface would take over 5 minutes.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 4 – At the time of my visit which was out of season, there was some restoration work going on.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 5 – Some of the value arrangement on top of the boiler.
The engine worked at the mine until 1930 when Levant finally closed. The mine never really recovered from the Man Engine disaster of 1919 when 31 miners perished. After the accident the mines lowest levels were lost. After closure all the mine machinery sat idle in the hope of a reopening. Several year later in 1934 the scrap men started to strip out anything of value.
A team of enthusiasts headed by Jack Trounson attempted to save the ancient pumping engine. Cash was needed, by the time the group had raised some capital the engine had been already scrapped. By chance the whim remained, although the dismantling had already started. So they purchased that, and the engine was saved.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 6 – This is the 12ft diameter flywheel and crankshaft, the crank itself is just out of sight to the right of this.
Also on the above photo are the two eccentrics, one for each direction of travel of the engine. These control the opening and shutting of the inlet and exhaust valves of the engine. They were installed after the engine ran away, with the consequent burst of the flywheel, parts of which were found in the zawn after going through the roof of the engine house (frightening). Eccentrics were thought to be much better at controlling the engine than being worked off the plug rod as before.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 7 – Another closer image of the crankshaft arrangement. The bottom end of the beam rod attached to the drive wheel can be clearly seen. This has both crank and eccentrics in view.
The engine remained here greased up and preserved for many years. During the 1980’s cosmetic restoration was commenced with permission given by Geevor who were operating the site at the time.
Members of the Trevithick Society began work, this progressed into a team of dedicated enthusiasts who became known as “The Greasy Gang”. Led by Milton Thomas this group of amazing people finally brought the engine to steam during 1993. What a brilliant project to be involved in, they derserve so much thanks and respect.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 8 – The valve chest of the engine.
The valves shown, (two) of the set of 4 on this engine are used to control the inlet and outlet of steam to the engine and are the inlet and exhaust valves. They work in pairs at opposite ends of the cylinder, that is when the inlet valve at the top of the cylinder is open admitting steam above the piston. The exhaust valve at the bottom of the cylinder is open to the condenser causing the piston to travel downwards in the cylinder.
When the piston reachs the bottom of its stroke, these valves are closed and the bottom inlet and top exhaust valve are opened causing the piston to rise in the cylinder. Hence the engine is double acting, having a power stroke in both directions. These valves are controlled by the eccentrics on the crankshaft. The valves can be operated by either eccentric, allowing the direction of rotation of the flywheel and drums to be reversed.
This allowed winding in both directions, the two rope drum allowing one skip to be raised and the other lowered in the shaft, the skip be lowered became the one raised by virtue of which eccentric was operating the valves.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 9 – Another wider image of the valve chest.
The throttle valve is to the left of the inlet valve, with the exhaust valve nearest camera. The throttle valve is controlled by a long lever operated by the engine driver, this is used to control the speed of the engine. It is used to start and stop the engine.
Linching the crank to the right postion using this valve is one of the skills of driving this engine and allows the piston to be stopped in the best position for starting (mid cylinder) the crank horizontal, allowing easy starting in either direction. Top dead or bottom centre on this engine are a no no,as the engine does not like to start from this position and can mean barring off this position.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 10 – This image is also of the valve chest, it is taken from the driver’s position.
The image above is the bottom valve chest, with the inlet valve on the right and the exhaust on the left. Link pipes join both sets of valves, with the inlet link pipe connected to the throttle valve and the exhaust link pipe connected to the condenser.
Only one valve at each end of the cylinder can be opened at once. Therefore if the top inlet is open to steam the bottom exhaust is open the separate condenser and vice versa.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 11 – This is behind the drivers position, showing the Throttle valve. Also all sorts of bits and pieces are preserved on the shelf.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 12 – The drivers controls, showing valve linkages.
I was quite lucky that the site was closed for maintenance, it meant I could have a good look around also some of the protectve screens were opened for me.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 13 – This is the steam pressure guage close to the drivers position.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 14 – Ths is the top of the cylinder. Originally a 24″ it was recylindered during the 1850’s due to the increased depth of the workings.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 15 – Another image of the cylinder head and piston. On the left is a pre-mineral oil lubricator.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 16 – This is the top of the piston, the arms leading out on the right are part of Watt’s parallel motion.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 17 – From the drivers position looking up into the roof of the engine house.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 18 – The top of the piston, the arms at the side are attached to the beam above.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 19 – Looking down the length of the beam, also enclosed in mesh for Health and Safety requirements. It weighs 2 tons and is just over 17ft in length.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 20 – These bolts are holding the pivot for the beam.
Levant Mine Beam Engine
Levant Mine Beam Engine 21 – The Code of Signals Board for Skip Shaft.
The site is now managed by the National Trust.
The following set of images were taken in the tunnel that leads from the Dry to the Man Engine Shaft. This is the site of the dreadful accident in October 1919 when 31 miners tragically lost there lives.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 22 – The steps descending into the tunnel. When I first saw these I was impressed at the quality of the stonework.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 23 – This narrow staircase pivots around hand carved circular sections of Granite.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 24 – The first view down the tunnel. We were there on our own in the quiet it was difficult not to imagine the miners walking down here on their way to their work.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 25 – It is thought the holes in the wall here were to store clay and candles.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 26 – The cobbled floor was like walking back into history.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 27 – This is the top of the ill fated Man Engine Shaft. Thirty one brave Cornish men lost their lives here, the mine never really recovered from this tragic loss.
Returning to the area around Skip Shaft these next few images were taken in the fan house. Whilst Geevor Mine was operational is was important to keep the workings clear of bad air.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 28 – This is the front of the fan housing that was used to ventilate the Levant workings. Sadly now the housing is in a sad state of repair due to the salt air corroding the metal. Also long past the point of being preserved.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 29 – An image looking in the rear of the Fan Housing. Sadly the fan had all but corroded to nothing but the mounting and the motor still remain.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 30 – This image was taken looking down the ventilation shaft. This is the top of Engine Shaft that Levant used to drain the workings when the mine was open.
This is the entrance to the top of Skip Shaft. I had the amazing opportunity to climb down the ladders in 2016. Even then the upper section of the shaft had deteriorated badly with much of the timber work start to decay and drop down the shaft.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 31 – The doorway to the shaft with the small cage still attached to the cable above. The sign on the door indicates a maximum of 4 people at any one time, so it must have been very cramped.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 32 – A closer look at the cage suspended over the shaft. The steel work of the headframe can be seen at the top of the photograph.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 33 – This image was taken looking down Skip shaft near to adit level. The water can be clearly seen. The shaft was very narrow and crooked, the cage which carried the Geevor Miners underground would often get caught and they would need to jump up and down the clear the blockage. It must have been really very worrying.
Cornish Mine Images Levant
Cornish Mine Images Levant 34 – Finally an image of my friend Ryan Thomas. He is standing in Boscregan shaft during a visit into the Levant workings.

Levant Mine Skip Shaft

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