The Hull is Black Again

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

Priority is given to painting the hull. Step by step, tides permitting, sections between defined frames are dealt with, first with ferro plumbate and then with red rotarista . A determined effort is made to get protective paint and varnish on the upperworks of the ship. As always the preparation – chipping, scaling, stripping old paint, filling and sanding takes a large part of the time but the team is not daunted by the knowledge that this can really only be a holding operation to try and halt decay.

General view.|June Bushell

From Paddle Wheels No. 55

Mike Spring working on the wheelhouse.|PSPS Collection

“Bottom Plate Painting.” How many members have been pestered to come along and finish this horrible job? Those who came will breathe a sigh of relief at the news that this job is now complete, together with the top sides, although at decent waterline has still to be “cut in”. It is probably safe to say that all other jobs on Kingswear Castle will be more pleasant and interesting than painting the steamer’s broad bottom.

Progress has been made on preparation and varnishing of the fine teak deck structures although all is not yet finished. The wheelhouse, very much a focal point, is looking quite smart, although the roof has to be re-canvassed. The bridge companions are half done and will be finished under cover, having been dismantled from the bridge. The funnel now sports a smart steel hat to keep out the elements, for the original canvas cover was losing its water- tightness. Painting of the funnel is under way and rather looked as if it had gigantic measles on open day, having been patch-primed.

On the bridge wing.|June Bushell

Steelwork above deck, mainly bridge structure, has been given scaling and priming treatment, although part of this will form a holding operation until new steel is let in where needed, mainly at the base flanges of the bridge stanchions. The curved after boiler casing is now spot primed in bad places to get it through the Winter, after which all the old bituminous paint will be stripped and a proper job done. Steel plate and bar arrived in September for repairing wasted areas in the bow and bulwark areas, while more stock is to come for re- placing the forward well deck bulkheads above deck level, the sections below were quite sound. Boiler overhaul has been a priority job but frequent manpower shortage has prevented the engineering contingent from getting down to the machinery space due to the vital exterior painting and protection. A start has been made now however, and a spare hundredweight of coal has been discovered that careless stokers chucked over the brick bridge into the combustion chamber! The boiler lagging and fittings will all be completely stripped so that no part of the boiler remains unexamined. Parallel work has also to be done on the auxiliary pumps etc. if these are to be easily restored to good order.

Tea break by the work hut.|PSPS Collection

Members will be pleased to know that the deck, while certainly not completely sound, will nevertheless respond quite well to preservative treatment followed by re-caulking, and all materials have been obtained for this work.

Our screwcutting lathe has arrived and is a superb little machine in excellent condition, complete with motor and three-jaw chuck. Thanks go to Mr. Johnston for this extremely generous and useful donation.

This report would be incomplete without heart-felt thanks to all those who are supporting restoration by various means.

In Their Own Words – From Paddle Wheels No. 55 – John Millar

Our first “open afternoon” on Kingswear Castle was held on Saturday, September 22, and proved to be an interesting, well attended and enjoyable affair, which gave members, their families and friends, and guests, an opportunity of seeing at first hand how restoration of our Steamer is progressing.

A well supported ‘working party had gathered in the morning to prepare KC, and as our visitors assembled they were rewarded by the sight of “men at work” — some of the workers in fact took the advantage of the fine afternoon to continue their tasks, leaving no one in any doubt that work is taken seriously.

Following shot-blasting and the real hard slog of applying two coats of red primings to the hull, the first coat of black has been completed. The ladies’ team had made their special contribution by scraping and varnishing the wheelhouse and bridge ladders. The maker’s plate and brass whistle were mounted and the mast stepped for the occasion, with PSPS flag proudly flying, to give a foretaste of things to come. All in all KC looked smart and attractive. The saloons, although stripped of fittings, were open to inspection and lights were rigged in the engine room for those who cared to climb below — which many did.

By 3pm the ship was pleasantly peopled with a cheerful crowd. Tea, sandwiches and cakes were served on deck between 3 and 4pm. One of our young lady members did sterling work pouring tea, while a procession of kettles were boiled on the work-shed stove and carried aboard to replenish the pot.

Members and friends came from a wide area, with a good contingent from Wessex Branch. Bill Prynne, our Chairman, and Nick Knight were in evidence, and over 50 people attended during the afternoon. While it would be invidious to pick out individuals for mention, we can say that it was pleasant to see Mrs Pritchard looking fit again after being laid up earlier this year. Most of the stalwarts of the working parties, men and girls, were there.

The accurate and attractive isometric cut-away drawing of Kingswear Castle by Mr. Simmonds was on view and attracted favourable comment. Perhaps the best measure of the success of the afternoon was that no one seemed in any hurry to leave – but by 5.30 the best of the day was gone and our visitors went with it, offering good wishes and encouraging expressions of satisfaction with the visible progress on KC’s restoration, and with their afternoon’s visit.

Postscript: The large measure of constructive work achieved during the past nine months does great credit to all those who have given of their time and laboured with the work parties, but it was evident also that a great deal still remains to be done before Kingswear Castle is restored to operation. Re-caulking of the decks is an obvious job which, with more help, should have been quite possible of achievement during the recent good summer. The challenge we face is hard; the rewards are great and exciting; progress is clear for all to see; we must keep the momentum up and build on the encouraging start which has been made. The appeal goes out again, therefore, for more and more hands to hasten the work, which will continue through the winter.