Replacement of the after decks was the main activity during this period. The removal of the old deck planking revealed the extent of the severe corrosion of the structural steelwork. The after end of the ship was stripped right down to the hull plates. Also large sections of the bulkheads were removed giving an unobstructed view of the boiler from the stern. Repairs got underway immediately. The port side was tackled first. Defective deck beams, carlins, stringers, margin plates sister keelson and frames etc. were either replaced or repaired with new sections welded in. The new plates were cut to size on the shore and then manhandled aboard and tacked in position. The welding of the bulkheads required considerable skill to ensure the plates were kept flat and true.
Although the KC might look to be in a state of-utter chaos, these latest pictures by Bernie Thompson give a clear indication of the thoroughness of the restoration task. In the picture(left) the after saloon is seen looking towards the stern with the aft bulkhead in the process of installation after the plates had been cut to size ashore.
From Paddle Wheels No. 92
Both bulkheads are now complete and the door frame for the saloon entrance has been refitted. Replacement of the decks is now underway. With so much depending on welding we must once again thank ESAB Ltd. for their continued supply free of charge of welding electrodes.
In the engine room various adjustments to pumps and boiler fittings have been required following steaming trials so that when the next steam check takes place the maximum benefit can be achieved. Coal even for tests is an expensive item and we have been fortunate in receiving a donation of spare coal from Chatham Naval Base. It had to be collected – if collecting is the right word to describe clambering down into the stoke hold of an old barge, shovelling the coal out of the old bunker, bagging it, lugging it to the KC. by car and van, carting on board and thankfully tipping into the bunker.
The damage to the steering quadrant has been repaired by the Glebe Centre in Walsall. This is a training centre for young people and is run by the Walsall Christian Council with government funds. It is happy to help preservation societies with peculiar problems.
All this work is incurring considerable expenditure and we are pleased to have the sustained backing of the PSPS Central Committee. We are also pleased with the support from all the branches and especially for the £4,000 appeal being promoted by London Branch. So far this has produced £500 and we have had a recent donation from the Wessex Branch of £150. The Steamboat Association of Great Britain have donated £100. The KC workforce with the help of the London Branch committee held another jumble sale and cleared £90. A thank you is due for all these efforts and also to those individuals who send donations. We have still to reach the target of £4,000 which will be required to get the vessel mobile so further fund raising efforts are always welcomed.