Author Archives: sybefur

About sybefur

Retired engineer (computer, steam, racing etc.), and builder of the steam yacht Befur

HP valve to Cylinder Joint & Lubrication

From Experience two other issues to consider

While these are not drawing errors, they have emerged over the first 3 seasons with the engine, and should be considered by builders.

HP Valve Chest to Cylinder Joint

In the BOOK the designer suggests using Araldite? as a jointing/sealing material… its not a solution, particularly for this joint.

The joint between the HP Valve Chest and the HP cylinder is problematic, as the sealing faces are very thin, and the two components are only secured by 4 bolts, which are hard to tighten and not well positioned to ensure a steam tight joint.

My first attempt was using “SteamSeal” jointing compound  – this failed quite quickly.

The second attempt was using “Heldite” jointing compound – this failed within a few hours.

My last attempt was using “Oakenstrong” gasket paper, I had resisted this, not wanting to affect the overall block dimensions. However, rebuilding with gasket paper and jointing compound (Heldite) does seem to have cured this problem.

Lubrication of “small ends”

I spent a long time chasing a knock that appeared to come from the LP small end. Rebushing the piston rod and a new pin did not cure this, and it was clear that the pin was suffering.

This was finally cured by increasing the size of the Lubtech pump units feeding these bearings and slide ways. A “black” one (0.1cc/stroke) silenced the knock instantly.

I am sure that a better builder than me might make the sideway fits better, but the lubrication points at the bottom of the piston rods have to lubricate the “small end” and the slide-ways, and so need a heavy oil flow to ensure that both bearings are supplied on each cylinder, as I think the oil preferentially flows to the slide-ways, starving the bush at the lower end of the piston rod.

Is this the end? Probably not!

Timeframe missed a bit

Well, looking back the first post here was on 8th June 2011, and we aimed to finish and launch by 26th June 2015 – planning was never my hot spot! We did change the goal posts in mid-flight (adding a sail, loo, etc, and stretching her from  a planned 16ft to almost 27ft to get everything in, but hey we did get there!), and on the 20th July 2020 we took her for a steam and sail on Windermere with a cameraman (Roger Heise from the SBA) on hand to record her 2nd trip under sail (thank you Roger).

Notes on the Steam Bit

Before I inflict an album of sailing photos on you, a couple of notes on the steam side, especially for Leak Compound builders….

We had been suffering with a loud knock through most of last year, and despite my efforts to engineer it out over the winter it announced its presence on launching about a month back – very disappointing. We narrowed this down to the LP slideways/”small end” connecting rod bearing. Inspection showed there was too much clearance in the crosshead/slideway and a few thou of wear and some galling on the crosshead pin.

So I re-machined the slide-way cover plates to close up the clearances and made a new pin – full of optimism we fired her up again to see (hear) no difference at all – very, very disappointing.

The galling suggested a lubrication problem. You might remember that we have a lubricator which has a separate pump for each bearing. The design for the engine means that a single feed to the top of each connecting rod has to deliver oil both to the crosshead slideways and to the small end (via a t-junction in the rod). My conclusion was that this results in most (all?) the oil leaving via the crosshead, as there is a lot more space there, leaving the small-end pin without sufficient oil. So I replaced the two pumps feeding the HP and LP crossheads with a larger (black-coded) version, delivering 0.1cc/stroke. Miraculously this cured the knock at a stroke! very happy!

We also replaced a leaking clack on the condenser, and had some (but only 6 to 7-inches) vacuum, so it was time to discover if the sail worked….

The sailing log

Grayling and BefurWe left Ferry Nab at about 10:00am and steamed south to pic up Roger from Windermere Marina and the Maltbys (Jill, John and grandchildren) from their boat house.

The Passage North

Then we turned north for a passage to Ambleside. It was a day of light winds (small gusts with moments of near calm blowing from the North). We steamed to just north of Belle Island/Bowness Bay, and then raised the sail and attempted to “beat” upwind…

Befur performed well, managing to claw her way into wind despite our rather poor sail handing (sailing friends are asked to cut us some slack as complete beginners when looking at these pictures, please).

(Larger versions of the images in the slide shows, are also included at the foot of this post…)

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In the interests of keeping the flotilla together, we fired up the boiler to catch up with the others and steamed the rest of the way to the YHA pier at Ambleside for a welcome lunch and coffee…. Does it always rain in the North Basin of Windermere?

The trip south

We steamed off the pier to get off the lee shore, and set to on running back to Bowness with a slightly stronger wind – again she seemed to perform well, although we seem to be reefed down to 5 panels in all the pictures – you could even hear the wash from the bow and stern at some points  – high performance stuff…. Once in the lee of Belle Island at Bowness we steam/sailed the last half mile to Ferry Nab, and Roger’s provided bubbly – we were all very happy… (sorry about the fenders, we are really just not posh enough for the Winermere crew!)

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A snatch of Video

Finally a few seconds of us attempting to tack upwind, with apposite commentary from Roger!

…and thank you all

Thanks to everyone (friends, SBA Members, JRA members and suppliers) who have helped us on the journey to 2020, with generous advice, support, practical help (work), equipment, and good humour)  – and thank you to Louise for allowing me the time (and money) for us to do this and her ever more skilful work as a seamstress, with cushions, beds, covers and that beautiful sail!…

Pictures in full size

Click to enlarge…

Cast Off Captain!

Well, this really is a milestone!

Today (8th July 2020), we finished rigging the sail, stowing all the stores, and getting her ready for the first steam and sail…

A picture is certainly worth a few hundred words… but Lou’s sail, Arne’s instructions and David Tyler’s advice have produced what looks like a working solution – just need some wind now.. (and some HK parrels to make those creases disappear!).

Junk-rigged steam yacht

Louise and her sail, we just need some wind now!

SY Befur moored under sail

On the water with an almost fully rigged sail

A bit of a blow to progress!

Well two bits of good news, and two less positive points, for this entry….

Positive #1 – She’s in her berth at on Windermere

Ready for the tow to Windermere, she makes quite a long train – but now has her “SY” prefix being a real Steam Yacht!

So, having dispensed with the medical matters (see below), we set about trying to complete the list of 60+ jobs that needed to be done before we could put her back in the water (some of which were discussed here…. Continue reading

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!