Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ogee ramblings


Antonia & I went on the VERNACS trip to some farms in the Swartland. I will show some of the things I saw which interested me then lead onto other connected ramblings.

Some really big thumpers

The first farm had four old tractors. Two Lanzs like this.

This is the second one. It made me smile. See that rear tyre with the zig-zag lugs? That was made by Goodyear. When it was introduced to the market in the mid 60s they brought two worn ones to us to relug (sort of retread but only the lugs get replaced in a patented system that Mastertreads had the franchise for & I was the foreman in that factory). So we re-lugged them for Goodyear so they could have photos to show when the launched the tyre on the market. So this tractor was working in the 60s.

This one had no name on it but I have found that it is a fairly old Lanz Bulldog. Made in Germany with a single cylinder motor. When I was at school the dairy used a single cylinder Hanomag tractor to pull the milk trailer around Rondebosch & I remember it well. I was amused to find an Australian website of recordings of these lovely huge ‘Thumpers’. Well a 10 litre single is something special. Think about it. That is part of the exhaust pipe just above the front axle & it comes out again above the light.

Another view of the same Lanz. Look at that a yellow number plate – when did those come in? 80s? Goodness these were long lasting tractors.

The Lanz Bulldog was a tractor manufactured by Heinrich Lanz AG in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Production started in 1921 and various versions of the Bulldog were produced up to 1960. Deere & Company purchased Lanz in 1956 and started using the name "John Deere Lanz" for the Lanz product line. A few years after the Bulldog was discontinued, the Lanz name fell into disuse. The Bulldog was an inexpensive, simple and easy to maintain vehicle. This was chiefly due to its simple power source: a two-stroke hot bulb engine single cylinder horizontal engine. Initially the engine was a 6.3 litre, 12 horsepower unit, but as the Bulldog evolved this was increased to 10.9 litres and 54 horsepower. While hot bulb engines were crude , they were easy to maintain and could burn a wide variety of low grade oils –even waste oils. The Bulldog was one of the most popular German tractors, with over 250,000 of them produced in its long production life. A similar machine was built in Argentina, by the State Industry Company IAME, under the name Pampa. Its production ceased in 1963 after 2760 units were produced for the local market. The Bulldog is similar to the Field Marshall produced in England and other European semi-diesel tractors produced in a similar time frame.

From Wikipedia:

Here is a link to a diagrammatic explanation of how the Lanz 2-stroke worked.

I have looked for a good page describing the lovely Lanz tractors but can find very little. Here is a link to an illustrated page describing the history of the Argentinean copy – the Pampa. They chose to copy the Lanz because they were indestructible and ran on any burnable fluid like old engine oil or margarine.

How about this photo of a Lanz Bulldog I found on the web researching for posting?
Lennon is sitting on this road model.

Here is a quote I found on some site:

Those tractors are very famous to collectors, the Lanz Bulldogs are the "Bugattis" of the tractors.

This old Deutz was in front of that last Lanz.

Aga copy

We are all familiar with an Aga stove but this is different.

A locally made sort of equivalent. But it is a poor copy as it does not have the two ovens and big insulating hinged covers over the hot plates. It was not in use but a genuine Aga at another farm was working. Apparently a new one costs R80 000 now.

Calendar clock

This is an interesting clock because it has a calendar around the outside. Made by Ansonia Clock of New York. Called the ‘Drop Octagon, Calendar’. Somewhere about 1915 from what I can gather. It was working though the time & date were not correct. Notice that a ‘proper’ clock uses IIII instead of the usual IV for 4. I have been trying to make a pendulum clock for years. Have got it to tick but it only runs for 30 minutes. I know how I want to re-make it to overcome the problems; it is just a matter of getting down to doing it.

A really nice find

To me this was the most interesting and special thing there.

This is a roller for bending corrugated iron. You feed the sheet in between the single moveable upper roller and the pair of fixed lower rollers. The handle on the right in the first photo sets how deeply the upper roller meshes into the lower rollers. The deeper it fits in the tighter the corrugated iron gets bent. The bent corrugated iron is used for making tanks or the ogee shaped stoep roofs. It is now very difficult to get ogee shaped (S shaped) corrugated iron so most stoeps are changing to straight roofs when the iron has to be replaced. This machine is in working condition – just needs cleaning and greasing. It can be belt driven or hand driven. For ogees you would have to do it by hand and turn the sheet over for the second curve.

There are the VERNACS having lunch at one of the farmhouses. The roof over the stoep has corrugated iron where just the ends have been bent down in a bending roller like the one shown here. This is actually an old ‘Cape Dutch’ building that burnt down and was re-built in the then current Victorian style but with the original H floor plan in 1912. It has old doors and windows from somewhere.

On Monday I went to Wellington to buy some wine at Doolhof. I will link this posting to the bit above through that corrugated iron rolling machine I found.

Bain Street Wellington

Here is a stoep with an ogee corrugated iron roof painted in the classic way. There is a very interesting street in Wellington. It is Bain Street which runs parallel to Church Street (which is the main street). I am almost certain that Bain Street is named after Andrew Geddes Bain who planned & organised the building of Baine’s Kloof.

I would like to write a bit about this street. Wellington was founded in 1838 when the local congregation insisted on their own church; part of the problem being getting across the Berg River in winter to the Paarl church. The town developed with the usual ‘Cape Dutch’ thatch roofed gabled houses but a fire in 1875 swept through the town.

Number 34 Bain Street is now called Bain House though it was originally Le Roux House according to ‘A Guide to the Old Buildings of the Cape’ by Hans Fransen & he makes no mention of A G Bain having lived there. Notice that the stoep roof has very slightly curved ogee sheets. Nice broekies lace at the pillars and fretwork at the gable. Fransen says the following:

“A two-room-deep house, one of the oldest surviving houses in Wellington, with, on its clipped front-gable the inscription J.J.M 1842. Its five-bay facade woodwork, with French windows at the ends, dates from the 1870s, and was probably inserted after the 1875 fire.”

That fire destroyed some 40 houses and little remains in Wellington from before then. Clipped front-gable means it used to have a proper ‘Cape Dutch’ gable but that was ‘clipped’ when the corrugated iron roof was fitted after the fire destroyed the original thatch roof. This was the Victorian era & the town was re-built in the then current style. Corrugated iron was one of the new materials and was extensively used (it being fire resistant was one of its many advantages) as was the imported cast iron as seen in this building. There were catalogues of cast iron building products to choose from.

Bain Street is not the main road (Church Street is) and it has been pretty well preserved as it was after re-building following the 1875 fire. I will show some of the other buildings on the street.

No 27, Huis Lizelle. Again the thatch roof has been replaced with corrugated iron and the gable has been severely clipped for the much lower roof (thatch roofs are much steeper than this replacement – the flatter the roof the less corrugated iron you need to use). It has nice windows and doors – there are English style internal shutters to the windows. Again an ogee roof to the stoep and broekkies lace at the top of the pillars.

Look at that lovely building. The plaster block pattern on the ends of the front wall is called ‘rustication’ but it has not been properly done – it should also be on the side wall with the short piece on the front wall joining a long piece on the side wall. This pattern comes from stone built buildings where special care is taken on the corners giving that pattern. It is also referred to as ‘quoining’ and ‘long-and-short-work’. Ogee stoep roof and fretwork on the gable.

Another view of it. Notice the perfectly matched up corrugated iron ogee on the corner of the stoep. Notice also that the rustication on this corner is on both walls as it should be but they have put two shorts together & two longs together which is not how it is supposed to be.

Another little gem. Rustication just as it should be.

A sad house. Although it still has shaped corrugated iron over the stoep – and this is just a single curve the house suffers dreadfully from the plain ‘safe’ beige paint scheme which looks like it has been applied to the stone pillars also (but in fact has not). The pillars now just blend into the rest and lose their character and the roof in a darker shade just kills the whole thing off. All I can say is it is very fortunate that the palisade fence does not have those awful cast iron ‘arrow heads’ on each upright.

This was one street away. Beautiful. The colour of the wall and roof and the painting of the ogee stoep roof is so pleasing – contrast that to the previous one.


This gemors is also in the street. I don’t know what the story is but it does not fit in at all. I would think some Swiss or Austrian has bought the place and is trying to insert one of the houses from his home village into Wellington – but has run out of money. An insensitive intrusion into the tranquil streetscape.


Since I have this picture on Flikr from my write-up of our French holiday last year I will add it in here. Look at the corner of the double story house & you will see the origin of ‘rustication’.

Industrial Buildings

Here is an industrial building in Bain Street. The whole roof has been made with sheets from that bending machine. This is like the barn Rooipoot made I expect. Look what was made there:

That picture comes from Village Life #35 ( Mr Johannes Martinhinus Woudberg built that building. He was a coppersmith and made brandy stills – many for KWV. They lived in the house next door in the picture. His business was so strategic that even during WW2 he still received copper plate from England so his work could continue. Most of his KWV stills have been moved to Worcester; there are 120 there now. Later it became a garage but is now standing empty.

This is the largest brandy distillery of its kind in the world under one roof. The cellar 1 accommodates 120 copper Woudberg pot stills for the distillation of the famed KWV range of brandies, such as KWV Ten and Twenty Year Old. In addition to producing its own range of brandies, the KWV supplies domestic wholesalers with over 50 per cent of the brandies sold on the local market.

From: You can visit the cellar. I added the bold type, maybe that is where your Wellington brand originates.

Here is a very interesting facade and development. Originally this was the Hugo Jam Factory which was taken over by Langeberg. Google reveals that Piet Hugo died in 1941 and his son was killed in WW2 the following year. It then became a piano factory. This is a very interesting story which can be read here:

In 1926 a German immigrant P. Dietmann had a piano repair shop in Wellington. He died in 1951 but his son PH Dietmann was well established in the business by then & he decided to carry out his father’s dream of actually making pianos. This worked out very well and by 1976 they were producing over 5000 pianos a year, (at a rate of 23 daily), and exporting to 20 countries, worldwide. I have added the emphasis as it astounded me to learn that there was such a successful very specialised business like that in Wellington. When I was a student we visited the Gearings foundry in Epping where I saw some of the huge castings for the frames of those pianos. That links up with something else I am going to add to this post.

That’s what a piano frame looks like. There are 88 keys on a piano and many of them strike doubled steel wires. Each of those wires is pulled really tight to get the correct note so there is a huge tension force from all those strained wires and hence there has to be a really strong cast iron frame inside a piano as you see in this photo (from a German piano factory).

The piano business closed in 1989. I don’t know what happened next in the building but today it has been demolished except for the street facade of hol-bol and straight sided gables. Behind that is a complex of 125 brand new apartments. By keeping the original facade along the street and not building too high the streetscape is unchanged. The whole character of Bain Street would have been seriously degraded had a modern facade been built. This responsible and sympathetic development approach is how it should be but, unfortunately, it is not the case most of the time. (I got as far away & as high as possible so the photo shows the buildings behind the facade – but when you walk down the street you can hardly see them at all.) Notice that they have stuck with a corrugated iron roof.

Spar Clanwilliam

Look at this. The new Spar in Clanwilliam next to another stoep roof but this with just the single curve. The whole character of that street is destroyed by permitting a building like that Spar in this context. Please understand very clearly what I am saying. I don’t mind modern architecture at all but inserting it in inappropriate places I do mind very much. Our built environment is a great part of our cultural heritage and allowing it to be brushed aside is a social violence. Had Aslo Holdings (the developers in Wellington) replaced the Piano Factory with something like this then Bain Street would be terribly degraded. (I live in a modern brutal concrete house with aluminium sliding windows.)

What did Spar want to say with this building? In the old days the church was the biggest building in the town. It wanted to impose itself on the community and the community wanted the church to be imposing. So here Spar wants to make itself look important. Does it want to project itself as a temple where the locals must come and pay homage at their tills? As far as I am aware that is a single storey building but just made tall to be imposing.

What was the object of the architect who placed the building in this context? Where was he educated? Did they not consider the imperative of an architect to enhance the environment with what he designs for it? Obviously he did not care about the context that this building fits into.

What about the municipal authorities? Do they want to completely change the appearance of the town? Would they like their architectural heritage replaced by this modern brutal stuff?

When we were in France I was struck by the way they had preserved the character of their towns. I made a long posting here about this: It includes this:

Here we are right the other side of France in Segre. Here they have got slate for the roofs and pink walls are popular but pastel coloured shutters, windows and doors are not used whereas that was the norm in Provence. These things give the places an identity and it also gives the people and the communities an identity. We completely lack that here in our formal buildings and also in the RDP slums that are being built. The traditional tribal buildings in South Africa have wonderful community identities.

This is much further north in Brittany but it is still slate roof country. Here I would like you to notice how there are no huge names of the shops on the buildings. It is all low stated and sympathetic to the buildings. Notice too the flowers on the ‘street furniture’ (lamp posts and other hardware built into the streets), I was struck by this in France as you see them in all the towns and villages.

I have put the bold bits in for this post. The identity of Clanwilliam has been changed and old people coming back will be struck by how different the town is & that it no longer is the same place they grew up in. Today’s Somerset West bears little resemblance to the place I lived in as a school boy. Our heritage reflects who we are. Destroying it destroys what we were.


This is on the way back home from Wellington. I have written about Eenzaamheid

This is a locally made Gearing windpump. I like windpumps and have written about them particularly after I was given this t-shirt:

My thanks to Plore who gave it to me is here together with my ode to the windpump “Wherever you go you see them. Wherever you see them they go.” (not my original, that was the Aeromotor slogan):

This is the Aeromotor which was regarded as the Cadillac of windpumps.

The Aeromotor has 18 blades to its fan whereas the Gearing has 44. I like this dense packing of small blades and believe it would be better in light winds than the Aeromotor. Here in the WC that would not be an advantage but in the Karoo I think it would be.

From Windpumps in South Africa by James Walton.

But Gearing takes us back to the piano frame that I saw as a student in the Gearing Foundary which then connects with the corrugated iron roller & on that farm there was a standing Aeromotor windpump (but no longer connected to the pump) and also a dismantled one lying in the yard near the corrugated iron roller.



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