The International Steam Pages

Steamy Java Sugar Mill Tour 2010, Steam on and off the Rails

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.

Our third day of the tour was spent entirely at Pangka, some way south of Tegal and just under 3 hours from Cirebon. Although this is meant to be a blog about the insides of mills, it's difficult to ignore my old friends the steam locomotives outside, this is the cane delivery yard with cutting taking place immediately next to it. .

The great thing about the railway operation here is that the trains go more or less simultaneously which means they tend to pile up behind each other before the weigh bridge and even with a tour group to watch over, I could photograph a train mid-way down the side of the mill, go for a shed visit and still have time to get another shot after the weigh bridge (actually several more):

Inside the mill, overall it's still an excellent place to view working stationary steam. The main mill line was unchanged and one of the mill rolls was being welded up 'on the fly'.

There is an excellent supporting cast, although the number of active engines seems to reduce every year. These are respectively:

  • Clarke Chapman boiler feedwater pump
  • Stork air compressor
  • Stork vacuum pump
  • (Reineveld) 'Java pump'
  • Shanks 'Caledonian' kultrog engine
  • Stork lineshaft belt engine

My favourite area at Pangka is the final preparation of the bagged sugar. First is the Stork belt engine which drives some of the centrifugals. Afterwards, the centrifugals themselves, followed by breaking the lumps of sugar, bagging and weighing.

Somehow, I managed to drag nearly the whole group off for lunch, on this occasion they demolished 120 sticks of satay in nearby Slawi.

I am pleased to say that we have yet to run out of beer on the bus, the pace of the trip is clearly telling as the beer sales are noticeably slowing.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson