2005/36/2 Pump, ASM diaphragm, metal/paint/rubber, used at Ballast Point oil depot, Balmain, NSW, Australia, made by A S McGeoch, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1950-1970
As they have no sliding surfaces that could be blocked or damaged by solids, diaphragm pumps are commonly used in places such as building sites to handle contaminated liquids. They are quiet in operation, are not damaged by dry running, and generally have a long working life. While most are powered by small electric motors integrated with the pump, they can be hand-operated, pneumatic, or powered by petrol engines.
This pneumatic diaphragm pump is a product of Australian manufacturing, made by a company that was set up in the 1940s and grew steadily, passing to the sons of the founder in 1976 and surviving in their hands into the twenty-first century. Backed by robust and demanding local markets in agriculture and mining, the pump manufacturing industry has proved competitive with imports and had some success in exporting products.
The pump was used at Ballast Point oil depot on Sydney Harbour, where rapid clean-up of oil spills was necessary to prevent contamination of the harbour water. Its portability allowed it to be used anywhere on site.
The use of Ballast Point oil depot reflected the changing structure of the local oil industry. It was established in the late 1920s to receive imported refined petroleum from ships and transfer it to trucks for supply to service stations. In 1957, with Kurnell refinery and the large Banksmeadow depot coming on stream, Ballast Point became a site for manufacturing lubricants and supplying fuel and lubricants to harbour vessels. When the depot was closed in the 1990s, it became the site of public protest and legal dispute over its redevelopment. This was resolved with transfer to Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, which planned to create a park on the site while maintaining a small re-fuelling facility for marine vessels as part of its commitment to 'the working harbour'.