The International Steam Pages

Steamy Java Sugar Mill Tour 2010, Superb Sunda Sugar

This series of pages from July and August 2010 records our travels from China to Malaysia and on to Java, Indonesia where we were hosting the 'Steamy Java Tour 2010'. Click here for the main Winds of Change index page.

After our less than exciting visit to the now railwayless and maybe soon to be steamless Tersana Baru, the second full day of the tour was allocated to the other two 'traditional' sugar mills in West Java, Karangsuwung and Sindanglaut. There was no question of 'leave the best to last' and we started at the former which has always been one of my 'top ten' favourites ever since I first started researching the inside of the sugar mills. As always, we were made very welcome by the engineering staff who remembered us from earlier visits. First we were shown a lovely old BSA 1950s motorbike which one of them had lovingly restored and then I showed them a little of my website before letting the group loose inside the mill.

There is a special section on my CD-ROM Gula Java dedicated to this mill, but this is the first time it has featured significantly on this website. There are three standard Stork drop valve engines (left) and a single Halle slide valve engine (right)

There is no single very special engine, just an overall eclectic mixture which leads to superb ambience. Among the more usual boilers from Stork and Werkspoor is one from Fives-Lille and this Babcock and Wilcox style twin boiler from Stork:

There is a contrast in fortunes between this large duplex feedwater pump and an old Fives-Lille engine once used to power the bagasse carrier:

Now reduced to a standby status, this former pump was used as a belt engine for the lime mixer. Nearby is a bank of three Stork air compressors for burning sulphur.

The only remaining steam powered vacuum pump is this standard Stork product. There are three surviving Java pumps for juice, the pictures show the non-flywheel side of one and views from both ends on the flywheel side for another.

The vacuum pans are tended by operatives who withdraw samples to decide when the massecuite is ready to be discharged into the holding tanks below:.

These are turned by a shaft driven by a belt off this 100 year old Fives-Lille engine, whose own operative does not go very far to say his prayers at the appointed time.

Probably my favourite engine here is this Tangye belt engine which drives the grasshopper which carries the production sugar. Despite the fact that we have many hours of film here, Yuehong could not resist adding a little bit more to the archive. 

Finally, a word for my fellow chemists in the mill's laboratory who monitor the quality of the product. The picture on the left shows a flow chart of the process, on the right is a classic polarimeter used to measure the sugar concentration of solutions.

The group spent more than four very happy hours here before I could drag them away for their second Nasi Padang lunch in 24 hours, which is some kind of record for my tours. Afterwards a brief visit to Sindanglaut was a bit of an anti-climax.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson