Bilu Island off Mawlamyline turned out to be a gem for us as you will see in our stories/images. The island does not see many overseas visitors but island authorities are working at publicising the island’s attractions and Mawlamyline tourist agents do have island tours listed. One positive aspect I found about the island was the constant sea breeze which meant that temperatures were moderate/comfortable.

One of the islands attractions is its operating steam powered rice mill. The advantage for Ni Ni, our guide was that I could explain to him the steam boiler and engine workings so that in future he could do the same when showing visitors through. Ni Ni was conversant with the rice milling section as his father had worked in the past at the mill.

Our visit was on a Sunday, the one day of the week when the mill does not operate. No one was about but we were free to enter and inspect. No security is required to protect the mill from those who do no good. The rice mill is very important to the community providing employment and a local/efficient means of processing the island’s rice crop.

The heart of the mill is this single cylinder Tangy steam engine. Ni Ni was told it was installed in the mill during the mid 1930s. Initially a  timber fired boiler, later converted to burn rice milling residue such as the husks. The rice residue burning furnace in background at left, the boiler at right. You may note that it’s a dusty environment within the mill structure.

Guess who atop the furnace checking out the water and pressure gauges on the boiler. Max boiler pressure appeared to be red lined at 90 PSI. The steam pressure safety valves atop the boiler behind the pressure gauge.

Bilu Island Rice Mill - 4

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