The Real Mechanical Sawmill and its Steam Machine (Valsaín)

The Real Mechanical Sawmill and its Steam Machine (Valsaín)

The area of ​​Valsaín is rich in wood, so that the crafts of wood have stood out among others.

In Valsaín, the Scots pine reaches majestic passes, reaching the mature pines at 30 meters high. Its wood has characteristics superior to those of other pines of the same species that grow in other parts of the Peninsula: its growth rings are closer together, increasing its density and improving its mechanical characteristics.

The Use of Monte de Valsaín. The green Book

Of the property of the Montes de Valsaín informs us the Segovia Governor Francisco Arias de Verastegui in the well-known "Green Book": CUSTOMS OF SEGOVIA and its pre-eminences and jurisdiction dated in 1611. In section Of the Regidores. Of the Office and preeminencias writes "El Monte de Valsaín so famous for its greatness and many qualities, it is from this City and Lineages ..." and comments that "it is common to think that it was already from the City before the seizure of Madrid by the segovian captains Don Fernán García de la Torre and Don Día Sanz de Quesada in the time of King Alfonso VI. "

Since the Middle Ages, the quality of its wood has been known and it is in the aforementioned Green Book that the uses and forms followed in the use of the Monte are collected. Many were the Castilian kings who chose to use this prestigious material and filed letters of petition to the city of Segovia. There is wood from Valsaín in the monasteries of El Parral de Segovia, Santa María la Real de Nieva, La Mejorada de Olmedo, or San Lorenzo de El Escorial. In the city of Segovia was used in the construction of the Casa de Moneda (not only forming part of the building, but also in the channels of the hydraulic system) and the imposing Alcázar.

There are documented wood requests for the palaces of Zarzuela, El Pardo and Aranjuez and, from 1720, for the palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso.

The kings of the House of Bourbon, increasingly linked to San Ildefonso, expressed some concern for the conservation of the forest. Thus, Felipe V denies the "permission to cut the Roble de las Matas de Navalrincón and Navalhorno included in those of Valsaín, taking into account that if the cutting of the two expressed bushes would be done without this shelter, the hunting there will be".

In 1761, Carlos III decided his incorporation to the Crown, taking into account that "was visible the impairment and backwardness experienced by the pine forests, bushes, and oak forests of Valsaín, Pirón and Riofrío, belonging to the city of Segovia, their noble lineages and the common one of that Earth, caused by the fires that occurred and the untidy fellings and fellings executed by barge-keepers, landlords and landlords, woodworkers ..., considering that incorporating into the Royal Crown was the only way to get their land. breeding, increase and conservation, agreed and agreed to the purchase in perpetuity and incorporation into the Royal Crown, except winter and summer pastures, water and other fruits, use of dead and dried firewoods that currently enjoy the peoples and stakeholders ... "El The price you paid was real 3.970.803.

From Ax to Steam Machine

The exploitation of Pinar de Valsaín was carried out manually first. The ax and the great air saws have lasted, especially in difficult times, coexisting with mechanization.

The dictionary of Pascual Madoz (1845-1850) collects what could be the first attempt of mechanization in the exploitation of the pine forest:

"A 1 / 4 of Leg. S. The 13 of June of 1825 was started and the year 29, a wood sawing machine, consisting of a hydraulic wheel that gives movement to two smaller ones, and make them walk at the same time 13 saws: they worked on them when the real estate had its own wooden cutting, but in the year of 1833 it stopped working and is closed. "From this first mechanized sawmill can be seen today, at the exit of the town in the direction to the Port of Navacerrada, the case that led the water for its operation to the farm where it was located and still retains the significant name of Old Machine.

In 1872 the Commission for the Service of the Pinar de Valsaín was created, integrated by Joaquín María de Castellarnau, Rafael Breñosa and Roque León del Rivero, with the objective of carrying out the long-awaited forest management. In 1874 the then General Inspector of Forestry, Roque de León Rivero, after traveling through Spain and other European countries, wrote a report that was the origin of the project of the Real Mechanical sawmill of the Montes de Valsaín, which resulted in the installation of a very advanced sawmill for the time that made possible the intensification of the exploitation of the pine forest, starting the activity in 1884.

The Real Sawmill

It is an example of balance between functional rationality and aesthetic taste.

It has a very simple development, presenting in a U-shaped plan: a rectangular central module of approximately 63 x 14,5 meters, which has been attached to each of its ends, and making a square with it, others of 8,5 x 20 meters. The three rectangles coincide in the same alignment on the rear facing. The main facade of the building is oriented to the west.

The steam engine is located in the north end module. In the central module, and in this order, are the boiler room, the dining room, the sawing room itself (where the machine tools were located), the sharpening room for saws and the forging room.

In the South end module were located the offices on the ground floor and the director's house on the top floor.

Constructively, the large central nave is a diaphanous space of a free height of 4,8 meters, with gabled roof and eaves at level, which discharge to the main and later facades (West and East). The cover is made of wood, with the classic arrangement of straps, pairs, planking and slate that rests on pine trusses, made by hand, which are supported by double wooden brackets that transmit the loads to the brick pillars. In the upper part, the enclosure between pillars is formed by windows, which allows a good natural lighting and in the lower area a roller shutter metal closure makes it possible, once folded, the total passage through the hole. In the basement there is the transmission axis of the movement that starts from the steam engine and goes through the whole room; the conveyor and elevator belt that collected the sawdust and chips and led them to the boilers; and the benches and foundations of the machine tools of the upper room.

The lateral modules also have the gable roofs, with the trestles perpendicular to the central nave. The gables, which face the main facade, are finished forming steps, as is the central front of the building. The perimeter walls of load were made by verdugadas, the corners and the jambs of the hollows with solid brick and masonry panels, all received with lime mortar.

The dedication in the project that represents these and other constructive details of this singular building show us that the industrial building does not have to be necessarily ugly due to the fact that its design must be primarily utilitarian.

The steam machine

To give movement to the whole set of machine tools, a steam system was chosen, formed by the boilers, which produced the necessary heat energy and the steam engine, which transformed that energy into movement (kinetic energy). The two impressive boilers, of English manufacture, are tubular, unexploitable (still working at 10 atmospheres of pressure) and prepared for all types of fuel, including the waste of sawing tasks. They never worked at the same time, always being ready to supply their twin in case of failure once they were on, in an hour and a quarter or so they were ready to develop their maximum power.

The chimney for evacuating the smoke coming from the combustion of the boilers is located, free of the building, on the north side of the rear façade. Solid brick factory has an approximate height of 25 meters and is connected to the boilers by an underground conduit. The water supply for the boilers was carried out by means of two tanks at different heights. The upper one, raised about 18 meters above the floor level of the sawmill, was located in the pine forest and excavated in the rock, and had a capacity of 800 cubic meters. The lower one was located next to the fireplace.

This second tank was provided with a float that, by means of a system of pulleys, warned in the engine room of the lack of water to supply the boilers. In these cases the machine had to be stopped. The main cause of the lack of water in the lower tank was the cold that sometimes chilled the pipes. The water from the tanks could be used in the complex's fire hydrant network.

The large steam engine from the Van Der Kerchove factory in Ghent (Belgium) is a model with a double-acting horizontal cylinder, with Corliss cursor and condenser, capable of developing a power of 90 CV

The piston, by a system of crank-crank, moves a large flywheel of inertia of 4,9 meters in diameter and this, in turn, with a large transmitting belt gives movement to the long axis, of 80 millimeters in diameter, which runs through the work ship. Other pulleys connected to this axis finally moved the saws.

In 1964 Patrimonio Nacional, it transferred its activity to the new sawmill that was built in the same site, next to the old one.

If you want more information you can download the brochure and map of artisans from the province.