Boiler Hydraulic and Steam Test

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

Record of the hydraulic test 14th July 1978, passed by the inspector.

The hydraulic test on 14th July was a milestone because it proved the soundness of the boiler – essential before investing further work and expenditure on this vital component. Steam was raised for the second time following a period of intense activity Saturday 26th August to Monday 4th September. Led by Lawrie Beal, Chris Jones and Roger Toft, the purpose was to check various valves and accessories. The safety valves lifted at 117psig. The boiler inspector attended on 4th September. Meanwhile many other miscellaneous tasks were progressed steadily.

From Paddle Wheels No. 75

Putting the cart before the horse in view of so much heavy structural repair to do? But, if the propulsion plant isn’t to rights the ship won’t move far. The steam test, then, was a valuable exercise in ensuring that the ‘boiler piping, standby feed system and boiler mountings were all assembled, boxed-up and working correctly. Also. of course, to have the inspector’s 0.K. on the boiler is a relief and the whole steaming programme was a wonderful morale booster. We should have had a recorder for the Mumford pump exhausting into the waste stream pipe when its valves were still set unevenly.

A few highlights from the steaming programme:

Friday 1st September:
Frantic activity to finish all hydraulic testing of blow- down and feed piping and complete fitting part of same. Humping aboard 1¼ tons Cardiff Large, all in WHITE plastic bags. Frequent small fires lit using some of the old coal. Boiler had been filled to ⅔ glass. Steam-raising (first pressure steam) lit at 16.20, first time since May I969. Funnel damper only slightly open to burn very gentry. Banked a bright even fire about midnight and shut all dampers.

Friday 2nd September:

  • 05.00: Burly figure in white vest end pants and black boots crept to the stokehold to find fire burned through bright and even and boiler just starting to sing.
  • 07.00: Smaller figure in pyjamas and took a look.
  • 10.15: About 5psi steam (hardly showed on gauge), but whistle blew a clear note!
  • 16.00: Mumford finally working after extensive valve setting. Steam coming up nicely and safety valve easing gear tried again at 90psi. 110psi at 16.55.
  • 16.55: Much whistle blowing around this time – very powerful and sweet-sounding two-note chime whistle.
  • 17.25: Safety valves lifted at 117psi. Pressure allowed to fall but starboard ‘safety’ not re-seating properly and blowing-by down to low pressure. Fire finally drawn to work on SV on Sunday 3 September. Some success achieved by grinding-in the valve poppet, but will require proper re-machining. Noted that steam is still hot at atmospheric pressure.

Monday 4 September:
Fire had been re-lighted at 20.40 (boiler still hot) the previous night and banked at 00.30, nearly burned through 05.30, pitched 08:00, 10psi at 09.15. inspector arrived 11.30, blowing off again about mid-day, boiler passed inspection and celebration burning of Chris’s boiler-suit — the only smoke produced apart from lighting-up! Friendly houseboat neighbours’ expressions becoming slightly drawn. All shut down with dying fire, whistle removed and its boiler stop left cracked to prevent boiler vacuum when cold. Coal burned: 7cwt from lighting up on the first to full pressure (probably would have been a bit less with a lower water level). 13cwt in total burned over the whole session.

Work Week

A “holiday work week” was arranged for 31st July to 4th August 1978. Four/five people attended during the week. Jobs tackled included:

  • Removal of remaining paddle box frame parts.
  • Manufacture of a steaming box for bending new wood components. The overhauled Murex welder was used.
  • Bilges pumped out and cleaned.
  • Engine mechanical lubricator stripped and checked, cleaned and painted.
  • Chipping engine room deck head.
  • Engine valve gear cleaned and oiled, cylinder drain cocks freed from rust

From Paddle Wheels No. 72

The Wessex Branch paid Kingswear Castle a visit on July 9th and we were more than pleased to welcome them aboard after a journey of over 140 miles to see ‘their ship.” They live too far away to join working parties but their moral support and fund raising efforts are of great help and encouragement to the Society – and not least the ‘black gang.’ The hydraulic test of the boiler was successfully completed on 15th July. lt now remains to get the boiler and feed system ready in time for passing the steam test before slipping. [Completed – see above]