The restoration of an Albany rotary pump
–by John Fewster.
Having an engine with nothing for it to do was a source of some puzzlement to my family so I looked for a pump for it to operate and found one at a local show that was affordable, nearly complete and different. It was also quite heavy and had a broken spoke drive pulley which once removed made it easier to put on a bench. Initial inspection was restricted to a clean so that further advice could be sought. An enquiry to SE magazine brought a prompt reply from Patrick Knight telling me it was an Albany rotary pump made in London and some information from a sales brochure that confirmed is was gunmetal with steel shafts and cast iron base. Later a response from David Mundy of Albany Pumps themselves clarified its possible use and he gave me some good advice on the dismantling and likely refurbishment it would be likely to need, so work began!
Initially I had to locate some Whitworth spanners and after a tidy up in the workshop the endplate was removed to let loose some sludge and water trapped in the timing gear end of the pump. The impeller housing was then released and then a problem was encountered. The vendor had got the pump to rotate with the aid of stillson’s and the marks on the shaft prevented it from sliding through the bushes in the base pedestal and gland end of the housing so a judicious use of file and emery cloth got the exposed shaft to move without scoring but the area in the gland nose end was not easily accessible and more tedious methods were employed with the end of a broken hacksaw blade and folds of emery cloth and eventually the shafts were slid out. Now the timing gears were at one end of the shafts and impellers on the centre with a section of housing between, keyways in the impellers were clearly visible, these looked too delicate to grip to pull off. Cleaning the timing gears revealed two threaded holes each side of the central shaft and after advice a short length of angle was drilled to accept bolts threaded into the gears and a central one to push on the shaft and presto off slid the gears. Careful grouping to keep the gears together with their matching keys and shafts was achieved with different colured zip ties!
Wear appears minimal but water has got into the timing gear housing and some corrosion is evident on one gear in particular. I have been advised that given the light use it will be put to that it should not be a problem just clean up and check the mesh before repacking with grease. David has promised to supply some gland packing and now all the parts are being cleaned, checked and stored ready for the reassembly.
Assembly began after a considerable delay brought about by some parts being stolen from the workshop and me being made redundant! The parts were found by pure chance and after proving they were mine they were collected and re-cleaned ready for reassembly. It is always said that assembly is merely the reverse of the dismantling stage and I cannot argue with that. There where a couple of things I wanted to sort out, and first were the marks on the shaft, left by the methods used to loosen the pump off prior to the sale to me. These were machined off with a lathe leaving the sections that ran in the bushes alone and just skimming enough to remove the marks being careful to radius the reduction in diameter back to the full size section that ran in the support bush.
I also had to make a number of gaskets and these were ‘cut out’ using the time honoured method of laying the gasket paper over the casting and carefully and gently using a small ball pein hammer to dress the gasket from the sheet by slicing the hammer blows on the edges of the casting and this action all but cuts through the paper to define the gasket. I use a jeweller’s repouse hammer which is very light and small and perfect for this job. I also use a ball bearing to define the bolt holes, one more concerted clout with a heavier hammer are sufficient I find. If you don’t like this method then don’t use it but I find it works for me! Each gasket was carefully trimmed if necessary with scissors and lightly greased before use to help with holding it in place, sealing and future adjustments!
The reassembly was not difficult and the gland packing supplied by David Munday of Albany Pump’s was a perfect tight fit and I just made sure the angled joins were staggered to each other as they were pushed into the gland nose around the shaft, finally tightening the gland spreader piece down by hand only so the shaft could be rotated easily by hand as I still had no pulley at this stage and the whole pump when tightened to the base casting required some shimming to allow the shaft to still rotate without binding in the supporting bush of the base casting. Once all the bolts had been checked for uniform tightness the whole pump was degreased and cleaned with white spirit and allowed to dry.
I had decided to paint the pump after assembly and although it is a nice gunmetal asting the original colour was probably a shade of ‘muddy green’ and I thought it would be best painted so a suitable shade was chosen from the limited Hammerite range and following the manufacturers instructions a primer was applied and two top coats. Once dried I was disappointed that the details of serial number and company logo did not show up to well so removed an area of paint around them and using a little red paint rubbed into the stampings highlighted those detailsand then got carried away and picked out the cast lettering on the sides of the base and end of the timing cover plate on the pump itself! I think it looks well and who’s to say a previous owner might have done that too.
At the time of writing I have yet to locate a suitable pulley and mount the pump for display but have every intention of doing so for our club rally at Kingsfold in September, so I have a little time! I must here record my thanks to David Munday of Albany for his help and advise, being able to date the pump to an April 1937 production date, also Patrick Knight who found some original specifications and prices which detail that this type of rotary geared pump of one inch size at 200 rpm could shift 700 gallons an hour and would have cost 18 pounds 6 shillings and 8 pence when new