Fitting a Square peg into a round hole (quite literally) – Aberdulais Hydro refurbishment

1You will know from previous blogs that the stunning waterwheel and hydropower turbine are undergoing refurbishment at Aberdulais Tinworks and waterfall. The wheel itself was officially switched back on by Countryfile a few weeks ago.

We are now deep into the rather more complex task of refurbishing the turbine itself , together with replacing all of the outdated and non-working electrical monitoring sensors and controls, rotten timbers, and installing an automated trash cleaner. If anyone tells you refurbishments are easy – don’t believe them!

As with everything, the more you look into things the more things you discover that need upgrading or replacing. David our electrical contractor has over the last month been getting to grips with the electrical spaghetti which has seen many add-ons over the years.electrical spghetti

He is completely removing and replacing with up-to-date systems which will be linked back to generation displays for visitors, as well as linking to the internet to allow remote monitoring and adjustment to ensure the system is operating as efficiently as possible.

Stephen and the team at Te-Bar have been busy replacing all of the rotten timbers in the launder (and fixing drains whilst at it). The finishing touches will be to paint and seal this once things have settled.rotten timbers


new launder mixThe old Hydraulics accumulators have now been removed and this week will see the delivery of a completely new hydraulics system.hydraulics

These hydraulics will be linked to the brand new automated trash cleaner; as well as the replacement inner sluice gate. The original gate opened on hinges outwards, which meant that as siltation built up in the forebay it became increasingly difficult to open / drain and maintain this area. Te-bar have now manufactured a new inner gate which will lift vertically to ensure no blockages or problems with shutting water off in the event of an emergency.This together with the installation of the new trash cleaner is where square pegs and round holes come into play. We are having to cut/shape and attach the new elements into a very tight and in no-way straight or square area.inner gate

I have gained a whole new appreciation of the difference between a “new build” and a “refurbishment”, particularly when working at such a special place as Aberdulais. Everyone is pushing to get the project completed and aware of the disruption and frustration created for staff and visitors at the property who are at the “sharp end” on a daily basis, and at times it is slow and difficult.

Once completed though we will have a fully renovated, controllable hydropower system which will once again be generating thanks to the power of Afon Dulais.

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One Response to Fitting a Square peg into a round hole (quite literally) – Aberdulais Hydro refurbishment

  1. It is really interesting to learn details of a hydro refurbishment scheme as it happens – thank you and good luck!
    The re-use of heritage sites for hydropower is a subject I touched on for Open Mills Weekend on my Progressive Heritage blog – see the link here:
    It would be great if this site becomes part of the scheme next year.

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