The International Steam Pages

Far from the Madding Crowd

Click here for an introduction to stationary steam in Thailand's rice mills.

Click here for a brand new unused 21st century stationary steam engine.

Click here for examples of machines in mills.

Click here for Thai stationary steam's last hurrah (2006 visit).

Click here for more 21st century stationary steam engines in Thailand (2006 visit).

Every year millions of visitors come to Thailand, it is probably one of the most tourist friendly countries in the world. Many of them make it to the ancient ruined capitals north of Bangkok, which means that, for the international stationary steam engine gricer, living conditions are about as good as it gets, in stark contrast to neighbouring Burma. This was the afternoon view from the balcony of our guest house as I sipped yet another cold Beer Chang in February 2006. 

From there it had been just a short bike ride including a ferry to our preferred destination:

The pigeons reckon they are on to a good thing, what they don't know is that the mill staff have a set of nets to catch them and they make a great dinner! And what causes all the smoke? The boiler (on which I am standing for the picture below) that provides the steam for this delightful Thai made tandem compound stationary engine.... The wooden structure is of course, 100% teak, and worth a small fortune.

This is the conventional front three-quarter view.

The governor is a Pickering type 3. The kettle contains oil for lubrication.

Whichever way you look at it, it is simply wonderful:

Behind is the boiler:

The cylinders bear the name of the Chinese company in Bangkok that made this engine and many others. 

Being Chinese owned and just after Chinese New Year, there were plenty of decorations around the engine: 

The pump run off the crankshaft not only provides water for the boiler, but also the water that washes away the ashes from the burnt rice husks which fuel it.

The mill proper is, of course, a mass of belts and spindles:

This is the front end, seen a few weeks before the main season began:  

This is the final delivery area where the rice is bagged at what looks likely to be around 100kg a time:

Location, location, location... This is the view from the mill terrace, in the old days the rice will have arrived and left from here. Nevertheless the river is still a major traffic artery with a constant stream of heavy barges passing day and night: 

As always I am not giving an exact location because if this accessible mill makes it to the guide books then the kind of friendly welcome we had will not last long.  Lunch, courtesy of the mill owner came to the front door:

In fact our only real problem in this country is finding out just where the working steam mills are, we have yet to develop the kind of contacts that we have in Burma. But we are working on it.

Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson