A team of engineers from Northern Fabricators in Elgin arrived at Bruichladdich yesterday with the new components for our mash tun. We ceased distillation just before Christmas 2013 so that the stirring mechanism that mixes the grist with water could be replaced. The system of gears and rakes was very old and badly worn so something had to be done.
There was simply no off-the-shelf solution available (the mash tun dates back to 1881, th year that Bruichladdich was built). We are determined to retain the existing system, so the only course of action open to us was to dissemble the machinery and ask Northern fabricators to measure it all up and make exact replicas (see story and pictures here).
This took time, but with the help of the skilled foundrymen at Archibald Young in Kirkintilloch, the replacements are now ready for installation.
The first job is to fit the outer carriage to the internal circumference of the cast iron mash tun. This process is complicated by the fact that the Victorian ironworkers cast the huge vessel in sections, and, inevitably, the end result is not exactly round! Fitting the outer carriage (a sort of toothed rail which carries one end of the rake arm) is therefore not easy, but Northern Fabricators made an exact template and conducted a test assembly back in their workshops which will have helped.
We will keep you informed of progress, but if all goes according to plan, our best estimate for the first trial mashes would be around 10th April.