Tag Archives: marine steam engine

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…

A Goal Achieved!

Well that worked!

It would appear that the work on the burner paid off. Yesterday we had a fine day’s trip on Ullswater, from the marina at Watermillock, all the way to Glenridding without a single problem – virtually the full length of Ullswater. (About 3½ hours steaming). The first time we have managed the full length of the lake!

We took most of it at a leisurely pace, with a couple of bursts of speed to avoid yachts out racing…. Continue reading

Steamboat Crankshafts – Lessons & Manufacture Pt#2

This post continues/concludes the story of manufacturing a new crank for Befur from the last post.

Here we can see the re-assembled engine with new crank. We are still to install all the ancillaries (reversing gear, lubrication, condenser and feed/air pump & alternator drive.)

It took 6-man days from receiving the crank back from the grinders to reach this stage.

Once we have tested it on air, we will reinstall it on the boat and undertake this year’s boiler test and check all is as it should be.

Machining Crank Pins

Continue reading

Steamboat Crankshafts – Lessons & Manufacture Pt#1

Introduction

Those of you who have been following Befur’s progress will know that our first year in the water was marred by the failure of the crankshaft in the Leak Compound engine I built.

This post deals with the manufacture of a replacement, and the results of my research/experience into the approaches to building cranks for “small” (<20HP) marine steam plants.

Methods of Manufacture

Continue reading

Three Months and Counting!

We are feeling like the end (of the first phase) of “project Befur” is in sight – we have set a goal of having her on the water in April – the remaining 90 days appear to be passing at some speed.

This time I wanted to document the final work to get the engine and boiler ready for installation in the boat, the electrical system and Louise’s work on fitting out. Continue reading

A final video: Everything running on the bench

First Fix the Bugs!

Following on from the Boiler test, and a quick trial we identified just over 20 items that needed some attention. So a week later, with all these items fixed (from leaking valves to painting and plating valve gear components), we are ready to try again. Continue reading

A Boiler Full of Steam

Well the 10th November 2017 marks a major milestone – the boiler passed its initial inspection and steam test, and is now certified for use. (big smiles all round).

Picture of Engine, Boiler Etc. ready for test

Sadly, everything was too frenetic to take pictures during the steam test – but here it is just before we pressed go!

John, our inspector from SBAS Ltd (the SBA’s Boiler Inspecting Company) had been booked to arrive at 3:00pm – at 9:00am I set about final sealing of the try-cocks on the sight gauge – at 1:30pm I nearly called to cancel the appointment as no amount of fiddling and fitting would make them seal, with a constant drip from each of them at anything above 50psi 😦 Continue reading

A Plumber’s Nightmare & a Real McCoy

Over the last few days we have encountered the two items mentioned in the title in real life, in a slightly stressful way.

The Real McCoy

One of Elijah McCoy's displacement lubricators - actually this one was made by the Detroit Lubricator Company.

One of Elijah McCoy’s displacement lubricators – actually this one was made by the Detroit Lubricator Company.

While Wikipedia suggests two origins for the phrase “The Real McCoy”, the most well documented version relates to one of the brass beauties shown here.

It is a displacement lubricator patented by one of Elijah McCoy’ in the 1870s in America.  These devices perform a simple, but vital, role of providing internal lubrication for steam engine cylinders and valve gear, but they do it using an apparently impossible process. Continue reading

Boiler Gauge Glass and Boiler Fittings

Boiler Gauge Glass

Finished Gauge Glass

Finished Gauge Glass

We decided to make the sight glass for the boiler following John King’s design, with slight modifications. Ian Cross of the SBA was very helpful and modified some existing patterns he had for “normal” reflex gauge glasses to suite rear-entry installations, and had 3 sets of these cast for our “boiler making syndicate”.

As it happened he made the castings with larger/longer mounting “lugs” so I decided to try to make the gauge with the cocks integrated into the body (as opposed to separate valves as drawn by John). This was a quite stressful decision as the cocks are not easy to make, and any errors result in a scrapped casting, but none-the-less I am quite pleased with the result. Continue reading