New boiler project is up to schedule – Work is well advanced on the Babcock Steamblock TC specially modified for Waverley. It is a smoke tube boiler and burns a heavier, cheaper grade of fuel oil using less of it resulting in expected savings of £40,000 in 1981. Further economies will be achieved by a reduction in staffing, the new boiler being semi-automatic. New diesel generators have been ordered to provide power for the automatic equipment. The new boiler will only use the forward stack – the second funnel will be for fan intakes, and generator exhausts and silencers. When asked which funnel the smoke would come from, a top Babcock man replied “What smoke?”.
Prince Ivanhoe sails north – Talk of a supporting vessel for Waverley goes back as far as 1976. In October Shanklin went on the market and was bought in the name of a newly formed company on 6th November. Shanklin left for Glasgow on 13th November. Because of appalling weather forecasts her captain took the ship to anchor in Torbay, and stayed for four days. When she finally got away from Devon she had a reasonable passage via Land’s End and the Irish Coast to the Clyde. Her railway insignia had been painted out at Southampton and the residents of Tighnabruaich were treated to a sight not seen for 11 years – A ‘Macbrayne’ funnel in the Kyles.
Bristol Channel cruises under the Waverley banner – Excursion sailings this year are to be provided using both Waverley and Prince Ivanhoe in an operation that has full support of the Society. There had been every indication that Balmoral or the other Campbell vessel Devonia would be used in a 1981 season similar to last year’s. Outline plans were announced and coupon books put on sale. In the third week of January Campbell’s wrote to purchasers to advise that it was no longer possible for them to provide steamer services on the Bristol Channel.
Kingswear Castle progress report – Advantage is being taken of extra time on the slip to complete the sponson brackets and commence the assembly of the paddle boxes. Decking for the new sponsons is needed and in the absence of funds for timber, steel plate may be used. The new paddle shaft bearing brackets are fitted in position awaiting the shaft/wheel assemblies and new frames have been welded in around the counter stern. Significantly about two tons of scrap has been removed from the ship. Everyone will be sorry to hear that Lawrie Beal has announced his resignation as Project Leader. It was Lawrie who, by stepping forward in 1972, when no-one else seemed able or willing, probably saved KC from the breakers’ yard. Lest anyone think that he has lost enthusiasm it should be appreciated that he is still vitally concerned with the assembly of the paddle wheels and other jobs away from the ship.
North of the Border – Maid of the Loch lost £176,000 and Glen Sannox £200,000 last summer on cruising and it was confirmed in January that Glen Sannox would be withdrawn from excursion work but retained on the Clyde to provide ferry back-up.