Re-Boilering Waverley – 2000 and 2020

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

Re-Boilering Waverley – 2000 and 2020

2019 was a remarkable year for Waverley. No passengers were carried yet more was given to the ship in donations and grants than would have been raised in revenue had she operated a full sailing season.

It was the first year since 1812 that a steamship service hasn’t been available on the Clyde. As the year draws to a close it’s worth looking back to Waverley’s last re-boilering to consider what is to come in the opening months of the new decade.

The pictures in this post are supplied by Waverley Excursions Ltd. The images of the rebuild were kindly supplied from various individuals including Gordon Reid, Ken Henderson, Nick James, Iain McCorkindale, Martin Longhurst, Stuart Cameron, Douglas McGowan MBE, Dr Joe McKendrick, Ashley Gill, Howard Davies, Albert Plummer, D Lynch and Peter Box. (The quality of digital images from that period is variable.)

Heritage Rebuild – Phase 1

Waverley had closed the 1999 season on the Bristol Channel with the final sailings of the century before retiring to Avonmouth Docks awaiting further instruction. By late November it was announced that phase 1 of the Heritage Rebuild contract had been awarded to George Prior Engineering Ltd. (GPE) and would be carried out in Great Yarmouth.

A week before Christmas Waverley steamed from the Bristol Channel to the Norfolk seaside town where she would spend 8 months. After anchoring off Great Yarmouth for the evening on 20th December she made her way upriver on the morning of the 21st.

Waverley at anchor in the Bristol Channel on 15th December 1999 awaiting a weather window to steam to Great Yarmouth.

The rebuild got fully underway early in January 2000 and cost over £3 million with £2.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim was to return the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world to her 1947 style whilst complying with all relevant marine safety legislation.

Iain McMillan, Project Director for the rebuild, stated:

[quote large=”true”]The rebuild of Waverley is not really about replacing old with new. The project is driven by a regime of conservation, not renewal.[/quote]

An image which highlights the extent of Phase 1 of the Heritage Rebuild. Just three months after this was taken Waverley undertook sea trials before sailing over 1,000 miles for home.

Re-Boilering in 2000

During Phase 1 of the rebuild twin Thermax Cochran Boilers were installed having been ordered in 1998 at a cost of around £200,000. These boilers will be removed in early 2020 making way for what will be the 5th and 6th boilers to be fitted to Waverley.

By the second week of the new century in 2000 Waverley’s funnels were removed to expose the 1981 Babcock boiler. Further dismantling then continued apace in preparation for the boiler room to be fully stripped out.

With both funnels removed the old boiler was visible below the fiddley deck.

The aft funnel ashore, this was not original and was fitted to the ship in the early 1960s. Both funnels were replaced during Phase 1 of the rebuild.

To enable the old boiler to be lifted out Waverley was towed a short distance down river from GPE yard on 25th January to access a suitable crane. The boiler weighed in at 51 tonnes.

Waverley being towed down river on 25th January 2000 for the old boiler to be lifted out. This image shows how much the ship’s appearance had changed in just 3 weeks. Both paddleboxes and sponsons had been removed by this time.

The 1981 boiler being prepared for removal.

The lift starts.

After 19 years of service the old boiler is lifted clear of the ship.

The 1981 installed Babcock Steambloc boiler after being removed from Waverley. This was offered for sale for minimal cost but no buyer was found.

Once the boiler was lifted out there were significant steel renewals in the boiler room and engine room. The fuel tanks had been positioned on the outboard sides of the boiler room but were re-positioned to run across the ship against the engine room/boiler room bulkhead.

This image shows the extent of hull renewals which took place. Many of the ship’s original frames were in good enough condition but some plates were replaced.

The empty boiler room after significant steel work had been replaced.

The new boilers were built in Annan and transported by road to Great Yarmouth to be installed in Waverley.

The port boiler arrives in Great Yarmouth. Note that the left hand side of the boiler has a section which is not fully clad, this allowed the two boilers to sit side by side in position in the boiler room.

The starboard boiler was lowered into position first. It can be seen again that a small section on the outermost part of the shell is shaped to sit adjacent to the port boiler.

Looking forward once the two boilers were installed on 26th May 2000. This image gives an impression of just how little space there is when the boilers are in position. This image also shows that the port boiler room bulkhead had to be removed to allow the boilers to be lowered into position.

The new forward funnel is lowered into position.

The new aft funnel. Note that it contains the exhaust piping for the two diesel alternators while the forward funnel contains the exhaust for both boilers.

The Rebuild Diary produced online by Society Treasurer, Martin Longhurst, can still be accessed online here.

Re-Boilering – 2020

Due to tight time constraints the re-boilering of Waverley in 2020 will be as close to ‘plug and play’ as is possible. The new boilers are currently being manufactured at Cochran Ltd’s Newbie site in Annan due for completion in February. The design will be very similar to the current boilers although with modern control systems. The size must be identical to the current boilers to fit the available space although the boiler shells will be 1mm thicker. Unlike the previous units the new boilers will not burn heavy fuel oil and will only operate on marine gas oil (diesel).

The new boilers consist of a shell which is constructed in two parts. Each half shell is rolled and then welded (longitudinal weld) to form a cylinder.

One part of a boiler shell for Waverley. The longitudinal weld is seen clearly in this image. All boiler parts are stamped “WAVERLEY” as they progress through the works.

The full shell of one of Waverley’s new boilers showing the two parts which have been welded together. For additional strength the two longitudinal welds in each half shell are off-set.

Waverley will move (under tow) to the James Watt Dock in January ahead of the new boilers being installed. Some preparation works have taken place with the boiler room insulation and some pipe work removed. ABB who are supplying the new main switch board have also undertaken some preliminary work by marking cable runs.

The port boiler with pipework dismantled and the insulation removed from the bulkhead. This bulkhead will need to be removed to allow the port boiler to be lifted up free of the ship. The port Scania alternator (covered by blue plastic) can be seen in the lower left hand side.

The port boiler room bulkhead which will be removed. A section of the deck will also need to be removed to allow the port boiler to be lifted clear.

When work commences in January both funnels and the fiddley deck will be removed. As well as removing the old boilers the two electric alternators and the oily water separator will be removed. The sewage treatment plant will be re-positioned within the boiler room to make way for a 3rd alternator. Fitting three new alternators allows for increased electric loads and gives a degree of future proofing to the ship. The bulk of electrical work will be carried out ahead of the installation of the new boilers.

Once the new components are fitted a new fiddley deck will be installed before the funnels are returned. Both funnels will receive a full coat of paint.

The scale of work required is substantial but has been completed before. Following the re-boilering Waverley will be dry-docked for survey. During the dry-docking a new sea chest for the 3rd alternator will be fitted.

Waverley will undergo extensive sea trials to ensure that all equipment is working and operating as expected. Work carried out on the main engine during the 2018-19 winter refit will also need to be proved since the engine was last in steam in October 2018. Subject to cost and available funds some other refurbishment work may take place. Donations to Waverley are still welcome and can be made online.