Tag Archives: Steam Boat Association

Launching & Initial Sea Trials

 “The Day” arrived!

There was no more putting off to be done – we had to launch her. We had agreed the rental of a swinging mooring on Ullswater with Ullswater Marine.  So on the 27th June (just over 7 years and 2 weeks since the first post here) we hitched the Landy to the trailer, and with our hearts in our mouth we set off. Actually, as neither of us slept much, and recognising it was “bin day” and aside from the normal, farm/post/school traffic down the 2 miles of single track lane, we also needed to dodge the refuse truck so we decided to set off at 7:30am.

The tow went OK (we avoided any traffic down the lane), but the extra weight made her a bit more of an uncooperative partner, so slow and steady was the rule. It was a blindingly hot day – good for photography, less attractive for working on her.


This process was actually easy and drama free, as the marina owner does not allow anyone but himself to launch anything – so, hitched to his tractor, in she went….

While Ullswater is almost 200ft (67m) deep in the middle, it’s quite shallow at the marina, so there is little water to spare at the slipway.

The good news is that once in and tied up, we discovered that all the computations on load were OK and she floated pretty much where she was intended too. 🙂 (actually we eventually added a couple of bags of sand to even her up athwartships).

…and it floats level!

We fired up the boiler and checked that everything worked as intended, realising just in time, that we had the seacocks on both sides of the condenser closed – and the leak from a hose clip indicated that the cooling water in the condenser was expanding! But all the electrical stuff worked, the feed, circulation and vacuum pumps did their jobs and all seemed good.

Maiden Voyage

As suggested we left her on the doc for 48hrs, to make sure she did not sink, and her Maiden Voyage was set for Friday late afternoon when the weather was cooling from the 31C that we seemed to be stuck with for the week.

With Lou at the helm, her sister, Jane, handling the doc lines, 200psi on the gauge and some trepidation, we headed out into the lake!

The decision was made to head up towards Pooley Bridge. All went well, we kept speed down to 3-4 knots and checked the steering, stability etc.

She seems to ride well in the pretty calm waters of the lake, with the rudder able to easily offset the windage of a (slight) breeze across the water.

The varying electrical load as the burner started and stopped, was reflected in the load on the alternator, and thus engine speed – so at this rather stately pace some juggling of the regulator was needed to keep things steady.

The sad news was that the engine developed something of a knock, and the hp cylinder gland was leaking quite badly – so we decided against a more extended journey until these items have been investigated. So, having gotten within a few hundred yards of Pooley, we turned around and  returned to the marina.

Docking was managed with no drama, although we opted not to attempt to reverse in-between the pontoons: discretion being the better part… etc. (BTW the engine reverses readily with the Impulse Valve providing the additional push when needed).

So next week we are being moved to the swinging mooring, we will repack the HP gland, and see if we can locate the nasty knock.

All in all, pretty good – we even saw a vacuum, and the alternator maintained the battery condition.

I had stared a tracking app on the phone, to record the passage, but failed to click the right buttons, so no log is available – but a happy first hour on the water….

The Crew & Views


Boiler tubes (in profusion)!

The tubes are ready to fit…!

After what must have been an epic session, Nigel and his assistants in the southern group of the “Boiler Collective” have now cut, deburred and bent the 600+ tubes for the three boilers we are building.

The pictures below show the extent of this activity, and the bending jigs they made…. (thank you men)!

We first made a trial set by measurement from and comparison to the drawings (yes, yes, I know “never scale from drawings“), we then test fitted these and they were good. So then the team cut the rest using an angle grinder in an adjustable jig. Then cleaned up the ends with a bench-mounted wire wheel, and finally bent them to the appropriate angles using the bender we “pre-calibrated” in the trial run.


Turning it over!!!!!

Well, yesterday was a momentous day! As noted in the previous post, I was totally ready to move on and stop filling/preparing the hull and see the inside!

More assistance from Nigel Thomson from the SBA produced an excellent result.

We propped the workshop roof with some Acroprops, fitted up a selection of chain hoists (thank you Graham for loaning yours) and supported the boat in slings. We then got inside and removed a remarkable quantity of ironmongery and stripped out all the molds…. Thank you Nigel for doing the majority of this work! Continue reading

A hull with no holes in – oh wait!

Well this months thanks go to Nigel Thompson from the SBA who noticed signs of wavering and  procrastination in my questioning about the sequence of build operations, and stepped in to put me back on the right track….

To go back a bit; you might recall that the game plan is to clad the hull outside and in with epoxy/cloth skins. Also we need to add the “keel” (aka “deadwood”) to the bottom of the boat after cladding, and the question was do we clad the out side, then fit the keel/propshaft/rudder etc.  then turn her over and clad the inside? or do we clad the outside, turn her over and clad the inside then turn her over and fit the keel and then turn her a third time or some other combination of things…. In the middle of this agonising it was suggested by others that the internal and external cladding need to be done in one season to stop the timber “shrinking away from the cladding” due to changes of humidity in the (half-clad) timber…. and then there is a land-rover chassis sitting waiting to be mated to my winter transport and then there are holidays and bike tours in France and then…… At this point the aforementioned Nigel stepped in and said “common lets get moving I’ll come next week and help with the cladding”. and so it was to be….. Continue reading

Planking the hull (not the fad)…

I see that we have written nothing since June to indicate progress… Well that’s partly holidays, partly a dose of shingles, and partly because I have been more focussed on building than writing (no bad thing I guess).

Planking at last

Continue reading

Spring Progress & A Find

The clocks moved today, and the weather is amazing – must be close to 20c.

Last weekend Louise and I went to the AGM of the SteamBoat Association in Cleavdon (near Bristol) and had a really nice weekend – a very friendly and informed group of people. Also there was an auction (dangerous things auctions), but fortunately we forgot a cheque book, so I was unable to take advantage of many of the incredible bargains… 😉

However I did purchase the core of a condenser, which while quite large might make the basis of the one I need to build – 30lbs of Brass, and about 100 tubes for £10!!!

(pictures to follow!)

Sawing Straight (not)

Having clamped a pair of mould-half panels together, I figured I could just cut them out with a jig saw….

The "Offending" Saw - as always it's the bad workman who blames his tools!

The "Offending" Saw - as always it's the bad workman who blames his tools!

So off I set, slowly and carefully sawing along the line – 2 inches in I  encounter the first problem – there is so much dust I can’t see the line… At this point I engage “smug-mode” and pick up the shop airline, and with the spare hand blow the dust clear as I saw…

… I reach the end and discover (horror) that the b*&^&^y saw has cut at an angle to the vertical – and (double horror) this mis-cut has resulted in the lower panel being significantly undersize (we are talking about a ~5mm undercut!) grrrrrr….

I check the saw and the blade is square to the foot, so I am mystified…

A number of posts to the Selway Fisher Builders Yahoo group follow… (this really is a great group of people) and a deal of suggestions emerge within a few hours. These range from observations that cutting 1.5inches of chipboard in one go is too ambitious, thru to real Zen-like encouragement to chill more, take up a pipe and cut them with a Japanese hand saw – excellent!

So, I take some of my scrap chipboard (I just made a nice new bit of this) and draw curved lines and practice my sawing (by hand and other approaches) – including sawing it an inch oversize and improving my planing and surforming technique.

In the end two key factors emerge 1 – you cannot saw two at a time (you were right Graham) and 2 – I was going too slow! By setting the variable speed JigSaw to “flat out” and keeping my feed rate slow the desired results emerge….

The first three moulds - halves bolted together, showing the marking out

The first three mould-halves bolted together, showing the marking out (Nos 1,12 and 16)

I leave the workshop with three assembled and very “boat shaped” moulds – life is good again!