Recently, the Sandstone Heritage trust bid successfully on the contents of the Phoenix Roller Mills in Grahamstown, and now faces the job of dismantling it carefully and transporting it to the Eastern Freestate, in such a way that it can be reassembled and brought back into operation. 

A strong team is forming, consisting of Gert Jubileus and seven members of the farm and Bloemfontein workshops. Andy Selfe will be there for technical back-up although his experience is mostly on stone milling and a bit on elevators and chutes. He is collecting Fraser Howell, a retired Engineer, in Knysna on the way. 

Fortunately, amongst the paperwork which was collected at the time of the sale, there was a General Arrangement Drawing (GA), drawn in 1907! This has been carefully reproduced, photographically, in England, enhanced and several copies have been printed on fresh paper. 


 The Mill machinery has been added to since the drawing was done, so it will have to be annotated on site. To this end, yet further copies have been made, and have been attached to hardboard for easy drawing on site.


A careful method of plotting where items are standing in the Mill has to be worked out. It will be easy enough to relocate the main items, but there are many diagonal chutes between the machines which aren’t so well drawn in on the GA. The plan at present is to draw lines on the drawing and in the building at one metre intervals, and to have a three dimensional key, so there will be a vertical code, a longitudinal code and a transverse code. Each end of these chutes and all the other items will have a three letter or number code. 

Careful planning is taking place between the participants to make sure we have the right equipment. One stumbling block is the unavailability of an old-style nail puller. To remove a floorboard (some are 300mm wide) without one of these and without damaging the planks is virtually impossible, yet none of the tool catalogues show them! We are winkling them out, but we can hardly have enough.


Various methods of marking have been sourced, a lumber crayon for the varnished wood, will stay while it’s needed, yet can be wiped off. A paint pen for the metal items is essential. Doors and inspection covers need to be held in place. For this we have nylon banding and buckles, along with a tensioning tool. This can also be used for bundling the smaller items for transit on the lorries which will shuttle back and forth to the farm. We even have a quantity of good quality screwdrivers, as much of the woodwork will be held together with woodscrews. 

A detailed tool-list is being prepared: 

Herewith list. We can update as we go along. 

We were always told NEVER to price a job that you had not visited so therefore please excuse any duplications, errors or omissions! 

I presume the crane will come with a range of necessities;

    3/4 legged brothers

    Assorted wire slings

    Assorted webbing (nylon) strops for the more delicate items

    Assorted shackles

    Packing for outriggers


Other stuff:

    Hammers;  2, 4 and 7 lb

    Claw hammer + assorted nails

    Nail pullers

    Cold chisels; assortment

    Handsaw and bowsaw

    Hacksaws & blades

    Good screwdrivers

    Planks (to put down on trusses when taking off roof)

    A few lengths of brandering to support trusses while dismantling purlins

    Ladder or two + step ladders

    Safety gear; goggles, hard hats, gloves, barrier tape, first aid kit, 

    Rain gear (can't stop for wet weather)

    Ropes to lower timbers and sheeting, etc


    Bolt crops or tin snips

    Picks & shovels & brooms (both hard and soft) 



    Mechanic type levers (prybars)

    Teamaking tools!

    Rolls of black plastic sheeting and/or Tarps (if everything is going to be lifted through roof and roof [or part] comes off early)

    Snot ends of timber?

    Light scaffold system for working platforms and access

    Hydraulic jack

    Whit spanners


Electrical (assuming power supply is available) Yes

    Extension leads

    Angle grinder with both metal and masonry discs

    Portable lights

    Scorpion saw incl blades

    Electric drill 



    2 plans on Masonite

    Soft pencil


    Thin koki




    Wax crayon

    Timber chalk

    Ordinary chalk (colours)

    Paint pen metal marker

    Tape measures


Wrapping / binding:

    Nylon band buckles and tensioner

    Parcel tape (buff tape)



    Camera (memory sticks)

    Movie camera 

The planned start of the operation will be Monday, 11th July 2010, by which time the Grahamstown Festival will be over.


Andy Selfe

26th June 2010