In the modern world there are many examples of petroleum based hydraulic equipment, including car brakes and rams operating graders and other excavation equipment. Prior to the oil age hydraulic water power was essential to industrial development.
Eveleigh’s hydraulic power system centred on the Pump House and towering accumulator cylinders and was used to power the blacksmiths' presses, riveters, cranes and spring-making equipment using high-pressure water.
State of the art when the Workshops opened, the hydraulic power system was still in consistent use when the Workshops closed in 1988. It is now the oldest system of its kind, surviving in Australia.
The hydraulic system is comprised of a continuous water supply, high-pressure pumps, two accumulators, safety and control valves, and high-pressure piping. The water reservoir is mounted on a steel stand within the Pump House.
Outside, the accumulator cylinders on large pistons are weighted with scrap iron or steel. Water is pumped into the bottom of the accumulator causing the cylinders to rise, consequently raising a high pressure in the water pipes. This high pressure water was circulated around the Workshops to power various machines ‘down the line’.
Originally the system was powered by the Fielding & Platt steam pump and the northern accumulator. However, additional power was required to support the Workshop’s shift from repair to manufacture of locomotives. So, in 1912, with electricity supplied to the Workshops from the White Bay Power Station, the electrically driven Hathorn Davey pump was installed, together with the second accumulator. The steam pump continued to be used as a backup during electric supply blackouts. And this was most likely part of the reason the engine was not discarded many years ago.