Mills in Alto Aragón - central eléctrica


Puyarruego is on the road toward the famous Garganta del Añisclo (Vallée de la Niscle for the French). Leave L'Ainsa towards Bielsa and the French border. Turn left in Escalona and follow the road until you reach the branch leading into the village. Park your car at the dedicated spot just before the bridge. It could be a bit crowded because this is one of the most popular beaches in the Sobrarbe region. The mill is in the river bed of the Río Vellos.
The mill is ideally situated to house a visitor center for the Ordesa National Park.

Pictures: 23.V.2011

(12) Molino of Puyarruego - 2005

About one third of the space in the building shown in (12) is purely dedicated to the power business. That is the control and generator room (13). The miller and his family lived in the rest. However home and work space weren't entirely separated: they had to accept that some of the controls and machinery needed space from the living quarters.
The control room (13) is one big mess with wiring, tools, dirt and engine parts scattered around. The situation won't improve now that the ceiling comes loose because of the roof succumbing to old age.

But still, a visit is time well spent because there is lots to see.

(13) The control room of the powerstation.

First pay attention to the colouring of the walls (13). They feature a distinct yellow cast between the floor and a height of about 1m60. The colour is a remain­der of the autumn of 1942 when three consecutive floods in­flicted widespread damage to the Sobrarbe region. The August flood was heaviest and caused the Río Ara a few kilometers to the South to change its course and widen its bed (). The Río Vellos also had its riada and the waters engulfed the mill and rose to this impressive level.
The main features in the room are the generators and the switch panels from where the business was monitored and controled. Let's start with the latter and first take a look at the smaller side board.

Three nets were served, each with a dedicated cir­cuit-breaker (15) and a dial giving the electric cur­rent going through the wires (14). The circuit-break­ers are labeled Belsierre (built on the adjacent hill), Puyarruego (just across the river) and T. Tierras.

(14) Three circuits with a dial each.
(15) Each zone with a circuit-breaker.

I am not sure about the T. Tierras, but old maps of the Instituto Geográfico Nacional give us at least some indication. No lines are drawn to the villages previously mentioned but a line runs to the South:
The panel carries gauges for the current only. Each circuit has its dial with a maximum reach of 70, 125 and 70 Ampères respectively (14). No trace of Voltage meters.

Two more control panels are present (13, 16): one on wood and the other one on stone. The panel left is strip­ped of all instruments except for one switch (200 AMP) and six paired lamp fittings. Some of the pieces can be found between the rubble on the floor.

(16) main control board
The panel in stone (16 right) looks like it carries the main controls. On the top row we find a Voltage meter with a scale between 50 and 250 Volts. There is no brand indicated.

The dials on the 2nd row are for the current. The surviving dials (17, 18) are from different brands. Asea and Brown Boveri, after a long history of merges, became one company in 1988.

The next row shows two wheels. Turn left means raise (English, indeed), right is lower. I presume it's about voltage regulation.

(17) Amps meter 2nd row center
(18) Amps meter 2nd row right

The bottom row features two circuit breakers and kind of a fuse-switch with three positions. Notice how the switch at the left in the open position connects one of the wires to another line (19, left).

In order to keep the voltage always at the same level a RODANG device was mounted below the main panel (13). In the 1950s one could often find advertisements for this brand which was distributed by a Comercial Eléctrica Aznar in Madrid.


Text on the tag of the RODANG device
4.190 JA14
PAT. REG.120 220 55
Advert in ABC of 31.X.1950
Todo grupo electrogeno
debe tener instalado un regulador automático de tensión RODANG, con el que se eliminan las oscilaciones del alumbrado, se evitan las caídas de tensión por arranque brusco de motores, etc. protege al generador contra todas las alteraciones de la instalación y mejora su rendimiento.

(20) Generator Siemens
The central eléctrica of Puyarruego was equipped with two generators. One is mounted in the control room (13, 20). The second one can be found downstairs with the turbines (27). It's not clear if both were still in use at the end. The white generator is a Siemens alternator (21, tags). I forgot to note the data of the black one (27). Next to the Siemens a third generator is put aside: a D.C. generator of ASEA. We have seen the same brand in the molino of Arrés.

The turbines are a level lower and can easily be reached via the stairway (22). The installation at the right (23, 25) is labeled Teisset Chapron * Brault Fs * Chartres. The regulator in the living quarters (24) however carries the text Teisset Brault & Chapron Paris.

The turbine left (27) is labeled Maquinaria y Metalurgia Aragonesa - N ?35 - Zaragoza - Utebo. The command wheel (26, in the old bath­room) features no text. A turbine of the same brand can be found in Aguinalíu. The company was born in 1902 and reached its top during the 1930s with about 250 people which is about three times as many as Averly, that other famous company. More about MMA in Salinas de Jaca.

(21) Tag on the white generator.

Tag on the generator (13, 20, 21)
ALTF 263 9-8 No. 190207Co
V223 A 750r.p.m. KVA85
Tag on the exciter mounted on the generator
ExcGME85/10 No. 185778Co
110V 21,8A 750r.p.m.KW

Tag on the generator put aside (20, lower left)
Type19-51-? No.23388
Output KW1.6 Ratingcont
Volts? Amps?45
R.P.M.1000 ExcVolts118

(22) Stairway down to the turbines
(24) Regulator of (23)

(26) command wheel of (27)

(27) Turbine: Maquinaria y Metalurgia Aragonesa

Rubio Fernandez V., Hernandez Santon C. — 1990 — La evolucion reciente del cauce del río Ara.
Cuadernos I. Geográfica: 16/1-2, pp 99-108

See Boltaña for a picture of the November flood of 1997.

Next stop on the electricity trail or learn more about Puyarruego.
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