Serious Steelwork Preparations

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

Drawing for manufacture of paddle box frames.|Lawrie Beal

During this period of cold weather and limited daylight hours, work on the ship was somewhat slowed. Lawrie Beal’s time was increasingly taken up with planning, drawing, and manufacture (off site) of steelwork and engineering components. Responsibility for continuity was increasingly carried by other volunteer work leaders, with Colin Harrison playing a leading organisational role. Also worth noting is the continued effort required to maintain the mooring and access via the long gangplank over the mud.

Restoration Log Book – Saturday 14 January 1978

  • Ship had moved during high winds and tides during the week and was re-secured by Mr. Knight.
  • Gangplank was dislodged and split at landing stage end. Lifted back into position and re-secured.
  • Handrail post replaced.

Restoration Log Book – Saturday 21 January 1978

  • Ship hauled closer to jetty to bring gangway further over block (at landing stage). Chains adjusted to suit.
  • Safety valve casing gear cleaned ready for priming.
  • Bottom boiler doors removed.
  • Wood for paddle boxes re-stowed on flying deck aft.

The log files show the continued constraint of keeping all materials and tools on board. It was not permitted to leave stuff on shore, and not practical to have tools in the small work hut away from the point of use.

The log files also indicate the continued preparation of the boiler for pressure steam test. The boiler inspector attended for the second time on 23rd March and gave the clearance for a full pressure steam test. New paddle box frames were delivered and inspected on 18th March. They were found to be “correctly rolled, but straight sections not formed. Straight angle has been supplied so that they can be welded in”.

Measuring up for the construction of new wheels was done in 1977. This picture shows the original starboard hub prior to dismantling.

From Paddle Wheels No. 71

Kingswear Castle’s paddle shafts are in course of repair after finally parting them from their wheel hubs (which have been shot blasted to reveal good condition). Quite a bit of fun was experienced in the shaft-pulling operation despite, as we already thought, the spigotting and keying interfaces being in good order. The port shaft assembly yielded very well after welding 20mm studs to the key heads, building-up the wasted necks to resist the tension, then setting to with a spanner and four foot tube. “Get the keys out and the shaft should slide out fairly easily,” the man said. Well it did after warming up the hub to about 100 degrees centigrade and driving the first inch with sledge and copper dolly! All the surfaces were found to be in fine condition and coated with black grease.

“The second shaft should be no problem after experience with the port one,” we said. This shaft decided not to follow so meekly and the keys only yielded after appreciable warming of hub to achieve some radial relaxation on the keys. The final key was a real brute but finally shifted with a crack like a pistol shot, it having started to just pick up. lt took four sessions of hotting the hub and flogging all the way before the shaft was freed, care being taken of course not to throw any load on to the flanges of the cast iron hubs in these operations. Mating surfaces were found to be fairly dry in the second case with powdery rust, hence the stickiness.

Other work has slowed a little due to the Christmas season and also a setback in the supply of paddlebox frames which has caused some delay, the items now having been placed with another firm. Engine-room skylight base and bulkhead are going ahead now which will make a great improvement to the daylight down below, also the ship will look better with the skylight in its correct position. The boiler is being prepared for hydraulic testing. It is hoped the boiler will also have been pressure steamed by early March.

In the Bigger Picture

Work on new paddle wheels, shaft and hub rebuilds, and steelwork components was most generously supported by Stone Manganese Marine (SMM). Cdr ER May, managing director, visited KC on 11th March. The contribution made by this company has not been widely acknowledged, partly because the firm wanted this work to be kept low profile, and confidentially with respect to their main business of ship propulsion equipment development meant that photos on their premises were not allowed to be published at the time. Lawrie together with other skilled employees worked out of hours on KC components carrying out tasks that could not be done on-site.