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Mines Rescue Vehicles

Emergency Winders  - Page 1

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John Harrington
28 May 2007

Another email P3

Tony Goff
14 January 2007
Emergency Winder - Scammell 344 GNU

Hi Fionn
Just to let you know that I have, safe and sound, the Scammell Mountaineer emergency winder towing truck 344 GNU.

She had been bought by a machinery dealer following demob from NCB, and at one time there was a possibility of both Scammell and winder being sold abroad for further mining service. However both remained unsold until a good friend managed, after some lengthy negotiations, to save ‘GNU’, passing her straight on to me in September 2003. I believe the winder has since unfortunately been scrapped.

Although several of these Mines Rescue Scammells survive, I believe this is the only one to retain its twin-engined generator set.

The truck is in complete sound condition, but not ‘on the road’ at present. It is located at Norwich, admittedly a long way from any coal………

One fascinating item which came with ‘GNU’ is a log book showing every trip the vehicle and winder did, and for what purpose, including a record every gallon of diesel put in!

I am hoping to undertake a complete restoration in due course, so that others might have the pleasure of seeing her, and will keep you advised of progress.

Meanwhile, if anyone is desperate to view it (not an easy job taking the heavy tarpaulins off!), or would like any questions answered, I will try to oblige.

Best wishes
Tony Goff

The Scammel tractor unit with the generators on the back,
Behind you can see the yellow trailler with the winding gear.
They are at Linby colliery, Newstead colliery is in the background

Scammel Mountaineer

The Winder, seen here working at Ripley.
This is the towing truck, a 'Scammel Mountaineer'.
Under the green covers were two Rolls Royce diesel electric generators.

At the back of the lorry there are two small reels, one was for the telephone cable to the shaft side, the other for the signalling cable to and from the shaft side. These cables had to be manhandled onto and off the reels. Here they can be seen on the ground leading away from the truck.

The end of the winch rope can just be seen over the towing bracket. Ilkeston Mines Rescue Station was surrounded by railway or canal bridges, the complete unit was so heavy it was not allowed to cross some the bridges. In the winder section, seen below, there was a road steering wheel. The winder had to wait at one side of the bridge while the tractor unit or towing truck crossed the bridge. The winch rope was then hauled back over the bridge and secured on to the winder where upon it was winched across the bridge and hooked up to the truck once again. You can imagine the problems this caused on an emergency.

Walker Brothers Winder
The Emergency Winder was more or less self sufficient

All the colliery had to provide was a hard surface for the M/C earth point and a small winding wheel at the Headstocks. In the old number 5 area the winder was taken to every pit. The managers then provided these things permanently so that in an emergency the winder was driven to the pit and set up. The kibble was sent to the pit in a Bantam Lorry.

Here the winder is seen working at Ripley Colliery. The rope running out to the Head Stocks can be seen in the top right area. At the back of the winder there are two stakes set into the ground to stop lurching or 'rocking' when braking hard. Wooden wedges were also jammed under the wheels to prevent movement.

This vehicle was also designed to go by rail, railway wheels are fitted to the inside of the road wheels.

Cables. The main power cable, telephone and signal cable are connected to the winder, just above the front wheel. The big reel, over the tow bar at the front, was for the main cable, this had to be man handled on and off the reel. It was almost impossible to get it back onto the reel, one man had to stand on the spokes of the reel to make it turn.

John Dixon at the controls.
They were hand held accelerator and hand push off 'Dead Mans Handle'.
The Dead Mans Handle was on the brakes and would hold against full power and trip. That is where the stakes came in. (They were adjustable)
The lit signal 3 denotes men being wound.
The electrics in the cab are B.T.H., British Thomson Houston. BTH were a major electrical engineering organisation formed in 1896. They were taken over by AEI in 1960, and GEC (later Marconi), in 1967. (Thanks to Joe Henshaw for the information).