Author Archives: sybefur

About sybefur

retired engineer (computer, steam, racing etc.)

Thank God for the Lockdown!

Well, here we are in May 2020, and we are actually looking like Befur will soon warrant her “S.Y.” prefix, being a real Steam Yacht and all!

Almost all 6 panels, but missing a few bits of string – hence the creases….

Nine years work, and we feel like we are getting close to the end – the lockdown has been a blessing, as it has removed the stress of trying to be ready for the 1st of April, when our Windermere berth became available, and allowed us to work through the near-endless list of jobs that needed doing…

Today we managed to hoist the sail for the first time, and while there are several more bits of “string” to be added, it actually looked something like the CAD drawings we have been working from for a couple of years. Rather satisfying!

Missing String List: Continue reading

Sails, Cabin, Boiler & Gally – February ’20 update

Just a note to record the things we have been doing over the last month or so.

Most importantly we have secured a berth at Ferry Nab on Winderemere, so Befur will be exploring new waters this year. So, as always, the cosh is upon us, with the berth being available from the 1st April (yes, we know, not an auspicious date!).

The work has divided into annual maintenance, finishing/installing the sailing rig and finishing the fit-out of the galley – and sundry diversions. Continue reading

Raising the Mast

Today, the weather was calm (pretty unusual for Heggerscale), dry (very unusual for Heggerscale) and almost 8-degrees C (almost unheard of for January at 900ft), so it’s time to hoist the mast and cast the rubber foot for the mast to fit into the tabernacle…

It’s the second time we have hoisted the mast, but last time involved so much trepidation we forgot to take any pictures… So this time Louise (on light duties having tripped down the stairs yesterday) was pushed into being the team photographer.

The “running foreguy and bipod”, as recommended by PJR, can be seen doing it’s job. Once up we poured the casting rubber into a plastic bag surrounding the mast foot (to make sure it didn’t stick to the sides of the tabernacle).

The pictures tell the story:

The photographs make the bury of the mast look short, but it really is 10% of the mast as recommended. It also looks quite vertical (it should be according to the drawings and machining of the foot block… Now (once the rubber has set) we can drop it down, fit the masthead fittings and wiring, and then set about rigging the sail!

December ’19 – a progress update…

Well winter is with us

A quick note on where we are at, while we wait to hear from Windermere Lake Wardens on our application for a berth at Ferry Nab next year….

The boat is back in Heggerscale, and we are working on the following items:

  • LP cylinder “small end” (crosshead bearing) replacement: This had worn, partly due to a severed oil line at some point last year, and partly due to the fact I had to “re-ream” it at erection time to correct some misalignment. So a new bush fitted and reamed to size.
  • HP valvechest to HP Cylinder block leak: This is a recurring problem, there just is very little sealing surface round the port pockets. This year’s fix is an Oakenstrong gasket and Steamseal – let’s see if this works!
  • Cabin roof: Learnt a lesson here about cheap plywood…A small leak around the  antenna cable resulted in the delamination of almost the complete forward part of the cabin roof. So it’s now been cut off, and will be replaced with “genuine” marine ply, and clad in epoxy and cloth like the hull – hopefully with more resilience! As it happens the removal of this rotten wood made the next job much easier.
  • Erecting the mast: As you may have read in an earlier post the Mast Partners had been made, so in the last few weeks we installed this on the boat, inserted the mast, and then started to wonder how on-earth we were going to raise the mast to a vertical position. Practical Junk Rig as usual came up with a good solution. This involved using a “bi-pod and running fore-guy” which worked faultlessly, so we saw the mast upright for the first time yesterday! This is almost a single-handed job, which is good, as it will be repeated each time we need to trailer and re-launch her.
    Mast-head fitting

    Masthead fitting, with halyard crane, and other blocks for various parrels and lasy-jacks.

    The next bit of this process, is to fit the masthead fitting (pictured above), (with navigation lights, VHF antenna and various shackles and blocks. Then we will cast a hard rubber square block at the foot of the mast, to secure it in the tabernacle base – the only problem with this is that the rubber components say they need to be mixed and poured at over 20-degrees C to cure, and it’s currently about -5-degrees C….

  • Once all this is done, we will put the boiler thru her annual test, and then reinstall the engine and hopefully enjoy SY Befur in her intended mode as a Sailing Yacht!
  • Oh yes, and we also need to turn a pile of sailcloth, blocks, shackles, rope and ally battens into a sail – more on that later!

Continue reading

Friday 13th – unlucky for us, and performance data

Lady Luck

Took Befur out for a tour of the lake yesterday, enjoying a day of early autumn sunshine. Conscious that it was a fated day, I was expecting some drama!

Lou managed to (very narrowly) avoid a dunking while we were boarding, so I thought we might of escaped. However, bad planning on my part resulted in us getting blown onto a jetty on the lake, which was (unbeknown to us) fitted with large bolt ends projecting out to catch people in exactly our predicament – so more filling, sanding and re-painting required over the winter to repair a pair of gouges in the hull – bugger!

Performance Testing

One of my objectives for the trip, was to collect some performance data, and the map below (click the link and it should open in google maps) shows the route and the waypoints with speed, direction etc. (clicking on these will give performance data for each bit of the trip).

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?hl=en&hl=en&mid=1qv-Q4JREXMB5lKKMXQmANtZhy-Hxu3DD&ll=54.607108645724125%2C-2.8355938095091915&z=16

The net of this experimentation produced data on two “stable modes” of operation.  All of this at a boiler pressure cycling between 185 psi and 225 psi.

For the record we are now operating with a gear-up ratio from engine to propeller of 1.45:1 and a 21″ x 19″, 3 bladed, left hand prop.

At “cruising speed”

At this speed we are operating with a HP pressure of 60-70 psi, and an LP pressure of around 16 psi and a vacuum of about 10-inches. The engine is turning at between 175 rpm and 125 rpm (when alternator is charging). The map tells us we are moving at about 3 mph (2.6 knts), it was running into fairly light winds, so this data seems realistic.

At “flank speed”

This is about as fast as I feel happy running the plant, and is resulting in the engine slightly outrunning the boiler with a sustained boiler pressure of about 170 psi.. HP pressure is 135 psi, LP pressure 28 psi, vacuum of 14-inches. The engine is turning at 300 rpm and the log tells us she is making between 6.5 to 7.2 mph.

…so with a computed hull speed of just under 8 mph we still have a way to go on the performance stakes.

Those with better maths than I might be able to turn this into some meaningful performance data for the engine hull.

We also had the time to check the depth sounder and it certainly seems to work, with the audible alarm providing some confidence for the helms-person when we are running out of water!

…onwards, it will be “dragging out” time in the next few weeks, and then we can fix the outstanding mechanical issues, ifx the knocks and bangs, fit the mast and figure out how to stop the water getting into the cabin roof!

A Start on Befur’s Sailing Rig

Time to make a Yacht!

Following on from appearing to have (temporarily at least) sorted the steam plant, it’s time to get on with fitting Befur with her Junk-Rig sails, so that she can truly be the Steam Yacht that she was always intended to be. The embarrassment of having to be towed home on three occasions also sharpened our desire to get this job done. Continue reading