Focus on Engine

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

On 4th May Ian Watson from Stevenage joined the team. A retired marine engineer with steam experience, he was a most welcome addition. In a quietly spoken Northern accent he would guide volunteers in the task of inspecting and preparing the engines and ancillary machinery for layup and eventual return to service.

Engine room close-up showing well greased moving parts.|John Spring

Engineering tasks undertaken during this period included:

  • Inspection of paddle shaft bearings.
  • Turning gear returned to service.
  • Con rods big ends disconnected and lowered clear of crank pins for inspection.
  • Block and tackle rigged to enable such tasks to be carried out.
  • LP junk ring – “piston still seized but judicious use of a jack will probably free it”.

Ongoing is work on scaling, chipping, preparing, painting internal bilges and frames. For planning and recording Lawrie Beal put a lot of effort into preparation of planning sheets listing jobs with a numbering system. He had a bit of “leg-pulling” over this, but bearing in mind that a completely different group could be required to pick up where others had finished some planning had to be done. Living in Shoeburyness, it was quite a long trip for him at weekends and certainly not always possible. Organisation was delegated to volunteer work leaders, and a lot of the details would be discussed over the phone during the week.

Ian Watson was busy in the engine room – staying overnight on occasions. Here is a typical weekend report:

Restoration Log Book – Saturday 4 May 1974

  • Patrick Taylor: Bilges in forward saloon between frames 38 and 40 behind bar, on starboard side, scaled and water, debris and sludge removed.
  • Ian Watson: Paddle shaft pt and stbd outboard bearings – top half removed and shaft journals inspected. Both journals corroded and require careful clean up as shaft rotated. Both journals greased for protection. Ecc. Rods disconnected from radius links . Main bearing top halves removed and journals inspected. May require some rust spots stoning off. Con rod big ends disconnected and rods lowered clear of crankpins. Crank pins may require some rust spots stoning off. Main journal bearings greased and top halves replaced, but not tightened. Crankshaft moved on turning gear with some difficulty – mainly due to corroded state of outer bearings by paddle wheels. Shaft should not be rotated further without attention to the paddle shaft outer bearings. Suggest a simple plywood cover for to protect each outer bearing journal. All exposed steelwork on engine greased to prevent more rusting. A baulk of timber has been placed in position over the skylight to attach block and tackle for swinging con rods – do not remove please.

Restoration Log Book – Wednesday 15 & Thursday 16 May 1974

Both days: Job D6/40S Midships stbd maindeck – Raked out, caulked, and payed with marine glue. All completed, except 2 outside seams require second run. All coal shifted to sponson decks, secured and sheeted. Finished 7.30pm.

From Paddle Wheels No. 57

Caulking work has now started on the decks and the midships starboard deck (job D6) has been completed to a standard, we are reliably informed, superior to that of similar work done professionally on a well-known commercial vessel. Another four and a hall cwt of Jeffery’s No. 1 Marine Glue remains to be used on the decks so come along and have a go on this vital work.

Engines: These have been largely stripped down (job E1) and bearings from paddle shaft to mains and big-ends opened up also turning gear (job E4) unseized. Some work to be done on paddle shaft journals although the remaining turning pairs are in reasonable condition. The junk and piston rings have been removed from HP. and LP cylinders leaving the pistons to be forced from their taper spigots. The air pump and engine driven feed and bilge pumps have been dismantled (jobs A1, A2 and A3) and the latter two pumps are now in Hertfordshire being worked on “at home.” All these auxiliaries appear so far to be in good condition although some re-bushing may be carried out.

Boiler: Yeoman work has gone on here with a good start on cleaning operations inside and out (jobs B3, B4 and B5) and even the funnel interior will finish up with a coat of heat-resisting paint. All the boiler fittings have been removed (job B2) and preparations are being made for hydraulic test and inspection. The boiler cradle has not been forgotten among all the excitement and this very important structure is being scaled, cleaned and painted.