Identify a beer engine?

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Identify a beer engine?

Postby John Connett » Tue Jun 23, 2015 00:08

I'm a volunteer at a museum which has a beer engine as a working example among various types of pumps. Unfortunately, no details of its provenance are known. My guess is that it was probably removed in the age of Watneys Red Barrel and Formica.

The plate on the cylinder reads | Gaskell & Chambers Ltd | Dalex Works, Birmingham 4 | Patent Dalex Cylinder | Patent No. 259283 | Cylinder No. 225763 |.

It's not currently working ad could do with some attention. At least one of the washers on the cylinder is in a poor state.

Can anyone help identify it and estimate its age?

With a bit of work it could probably be made into a more impressive exhibit. Can anyone point me to further information on cleaning and maintenance of this type of beer engine?

Many thanks in anticipation
John Connett

Front view
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Side view
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Re: Identify a beer engine?

Postby stuey » Tue Jun 23, 2015 08:31

Speak to Steve at Colin Farar Brewery Services. Tel: 01535 681839.
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Re: Identify a beer engine?

Postby paulg » Tue Jun 23, 2015 14:04

thats one of the more unusual ones with handle/ lever sticking out from the front of the bar not on top as is more normal with beer engines, see photo 6 here ... 766401644/

ps the top and bottom of the cylinder unscrew giving access to the bucket (the bit that lifts the beer up) that will have either aleather washer seal or a cone shaped metal valve in the middle of this.
I restored to 1938 pumps with metal valves in them and use them for my homebrew,however if they have leather washers you would need to get something made as they will undoughtably have dried out and perished.
good luck
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Re: Identify a beer engine?

Postby John Connett » Tue Jun 23, 2015 23:36

Many thanks to stuey and paulg. I've sent an email to Colin Farrar Brewery Services and am awaiting a reply.

Fascinating to learn that it is one of the more unusual ones! It appears that it has been reassembled incorrectly. If restored it might make an interesting addition to a small brewing display based around the museum's rather pretty three-throw pump from a brewery in Pampisford. Would need to locate a suitable matching chrome on/off tap, drip tray and probably fabricate a copy of the chrome slotted front plate. If all the detatchable arm pipes were the same length that would give some clues to the geometry. I wonder if there are any others still around?

Not sure I would want to do a busy shift with that type of beer engine! I imagine it would be uncomfortable on the right shoulder and elbow. Not easy to swap arms either.

paulg has done a lovely job on his pair of 1930s beer engines!
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Re: Identify a beer engine?

Postby John Connett » Wed Jun 24, 2015 18:24

A colleague took the cylinder apart today. The lower large red rubber seal had perrished. Once replaced with a new one the pump worked. The piston is all metal (no leather rings). The small packing gland at the top where the pump rod passes through contains cork or leather under a conical compression piece. All looks in good condition with little obvious wear.

Looks like a good candidate for a restoration project. The page from the catalogue says fully detailed literature for all Dalex beer engines sent on request. Any idea if that literature might still be available? Are there any museums or historians with beer engine collections?

Will ask around the museum folks to see if I can find out more about where it came from. If that fails, I might try to get a short piece in the local Camra magazine asking if anyone remembers a local pub with a horizonal pull. I suppose it might have been in a bottle and jug or an off license.
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Re: Identify a beer engine?

Postby spotter » Fri Sep 14, 2018 16:14

I acquired two of these Gaskell & Chambers Ltd, Dalex works Patent Dalex Cylinder beer engines in a flea market about 30 years ago.
I got them glass bead blown, polished, and washers and gaskets replaced;
Then I put them in a box and left them until recently.
I decided to convert an old chest of drawers into a small 'bar' and install them.
I lost one of the chrome taps, but I ordered a couple of brass "Dragon Head" taps from China.
They look smart but they leak (the pumps/engines leak - not the taps).
I shall try to replace the washers &c. again and hope to get them (the pumps/engines) working.
What fun. :lol:
I am thinking of adding some insulation and plastic vapour barrier,
then find a compressor, condenser, evaporator, fan and use one of those STC-1000 temperature controllers.
But before I get to the fridge part of the project...!
I should add that I plan to use Pepsi Ball lock kegs with a minimal back pressure (i.e. zero psi) to keep air out,
and allow the pumps's suction to draw the beer out of the kegs.
Has anyone tried anything like this?
Did it work
If I remember, I will upload a photo of the finished project - if and when I get it done between other household priorities :whistle:
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