Back on the water – and no clunking!

Well, a good day! Befur went back on the water yesterday, and it would appear that the work over the winter worked well.

After a final few days of snagging, like re-coating the antifouling in 45-50mph winds!, we made the tow back to Ullswater Marine, with no problems.

Befur at Ullswater Marine

Befur at Ullswater Marine, about to go back in the water.

Will and Joe made quick work of putting her back in the water, somewhen we are going to have to do this ourselves, but they make it a very stress-free process.

We had dome some testing before the tow, (boiler test etc.) so we were reasonably confident, but you never know…

So, we added another 40litres of diesel to the tank, checked all the water levels, and made ABSOLUTELY sure we had opened the sea cocks (having blown out a gasket on the circulating pump during testing because of a closed one) and turned on the burner.

Befur entering the lake

Befur being launched into Ullswater, so start the 2019 season.

… about 5-7 minutes and we have 30lbs on the gauge and we can start warming through the engine, and start the circulating pump. The clear top on the new water filter makes it very easy to see if the circulating pump is working, rather than hanging over the side to view the outlet.

Closing the drain on the air pump, and we see some vacuum – result! A minute or so fumbling with dock lines (how you forget your routines over winter), and we cast off for a trial run.

The day had turned out very nice, 10-15mph southerly, an almost a clear blue sky and warm.

The additional ballast (thanks Nigel) and another bag of sand makes her ride a little more evenly, and the major changes all seem OK:

  • The new crankshaft runs very quietly (Phew).
  • The new belt tensioner arrangements mean the drive is quite with no slipping.
  • The echo sounder works!
  • The change to the pressure switch settings seems good (off at 225psi, on at 185psi) means that the circulating pump does not need constant adjustment. Seems to run at about 80% duty cycle at moderate speeds.
  • The bilge ejector works.

So, we take an hour or so’s trip round the north end of the lake. We made the classic mistake of setting off with only 100psi on the gauge, so the north-bound leg was slow while the burner struggled to get us up to pressure, but once there it keep the pressure in the 185-225psi range with no apparent difficulty. As you can see in the video below she is operating with about 80psi to the HP end, and this produces fair progress (~3-4kts). Opening the throttle to about 150psi and she rockets off (forgot to start the log, so no speed-records recorded!)

We didn’t go mad on the speed-stakes (it is a new crank), but gave here a few seconds of open throttle, and the acceleration is surprising, and enough to make one of the crew lose balance!

Things still to do

I guess the really good news is that we did not come back with anything on the “need to fix now” list. The items I think will need attention are:

  • There is still a leak between the HP valve chest and HP cylinder, I think this is a weak point on the design, I have assembled this joint twice with two different sorts of sealant (Steamseal and Heldite) without a gasket, and it still blows a little (you can see wisps of on the video), so next time (end of season hopefully) I will add a thin Klingerite gasket.
  • The stuffing whistle will NOT blow…. a lot of adjusting of the bell and languid plate produces no improvement, other than a hint of a super-sonic squeal at some points – it was deafening on air in the workshop – so we are probably just stunning all the bats in the area.
  • The alternator regulator is still irritating with its “on-off, bang/bang” operation which will probably make me invest the time in making something smarter, as it almost stalls the engine every time it cuts in.
  • The alternator/pump assembly could probably do with another stay, as at the moment it is secured to the drip-tray and vibrates a deal at speed.
  • We need to spend some time assessing how well the automatic bypass valve we made for the hotwell works. I certainly does operate, but I think the “sticktion” in the mechanism, might mean that it operates too coarsely to control the level well. The good news is that the engine pumps just exceed demand, so a little juggling of the manual bypass quite easily manages boiler water levels.

So, on the whole, we were very happy, and felt like we should/could have a more fun and relaxed season….and lots of trips out with friends!

1 thought on “Back on the water – and no clunking!

  1. Phil

    Super presentation. Nice to know someone who appreciates Tuba Skinny . The engine also makes the right sort of music!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.