Boiler Passes Steam Test!

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

The big event of January 1977 was the boiler steam test. Although no pressure was raised, it was sufficient to test the various fittings and maybe find any defects. It was the first time the boiler was steamed since 4th May 1969.

First steaming of the boiler.|June Bushell

In Their Own Words – From Paddle Wheels No. 67, Lawrie Beal

Kingswear Castle restoration progress, while not rapid due to intermittent working sessions and sometimes low-strength work parties, is nevertheless undergoing a significant acceleration of late. The working strength is beginning to improve and this is reflected in the amount done, its quality, better organisation of jobs and a general uplifting of spirits. An important turning -point in KC’s fortunes has been reached for in mid-January the boiler was steamed.

We have a hardworking but adventurous time ahead of us. I do not think the members will fail our ship in terms of both financial and practical help in the present and forthcoming months for there is surely a great reward to be gained in having KC sailing again.

It is not an easy thing to keep faithful to a mass of steel and timber for four years without seeing it work. Much of the working time has had to be spent repairing decks which leaked like a sieve: lying scraping and painting beneath the hull with plates inches from one’s nose and sometimes getting soaking wet in-to the bargain; knocking off scale and grovelling in the most awkward and confined bilges. Both skilled and unskilled workers, men and women, have cheerfully thrown in their lot with the ‘dirty’ gangs in their fight to literally stop the rot. I offer my sincere thanks for all who have done and are doing so much.

Following the steam test there was much to be done on the boiler. An insurance inspection was planned for February, so the team was occupied with drying out, scaling, cleaning out, and dismantling of valves. Studs were replaced, sometimes with difficulty, where wasted. The successful inspection took place on Monday February 7th. Work immediately started on preparation for hydraulic test. The overall plan was to ensure the boiler would be capable of further use before spending a lot more effort on the superstructure.

Fitting the steam vent pipe.|Margaret Scroggs
 |Margaret Scroggs
Inspecting the boiler top valves.|Margaret Scroggs

Restoration Log Book – Monday 7 February 1977

Boiler inspection by Mr. L Denham, British Engine and Boiler.

Boiler passed, but following comments noted:

  1. Approximately 1/8th” thick scale on parts of back end of combustion chamber.
  2. As above, under combustion chamber.
  3. Fairly severe pitting on water side of some combustion tubes.
  4. Some wastage generally generally in bottom of drum.
  5. Some pitting in way of fwd. boiler seat (blowdown valve may have leaked in the past).
  6. A feedwater treatment was recommended.

So work continued with cleaning and overhauling the various valves and manhole covers, cleaning associated steelwork and treating with heat resistant paint. Meanwhile Lawrie started inspecting the slipway and planning the task of making and fixing the blocks which had to be in position for slipping on the spring tides. Whilst all this was ongoing, Colin Harrison continued with organisation of materials brought to the ship, all via the narrow sloping gangway, there were several visits by the Wildernesse School group and Ian Watson continued his work on the main engine. He noted on Sunday 13th March a visit by Mr. Austey from Australia whose grandfather (Mr. Fred Austey) used to be a Captain on the River Dart steamers.