Waverley Work Parties – Highs and Lows

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

Waverley Work Parties – Highs and Lows

Following on from Stuart’s Chairman’s Blog I thought it time bring everyone up to date.

Waverley’s band of enthusiastic volunteers have been working hard on everything from boiler cleaning, electric motor testing, painting and varnishing to deck caulking.

What is deck caulking some may ask? Read on…

One of Waverley’s many traditional features are her wooden decks. Made from Iroko which is sourced from West Africa, the grooves between each timber plank is filled using a cotton and pitch combination known as caulking. Without caulking the deck would not be sealed against the weather. The following photos show the basic procedures but should not be taken as the definitive lesson!!

For caulking you require:

Cotton Fibre (sometimes Cotton / Oakum).

Caulking Iron.

Molten Pitch.

As can be seen below the first stage (once the groove has been cleared of any residual pitch or dust etc) is the insertion of the cotton fibre into the groove between deck planks.

Next, the fibre is packed into the groove using the caulking iron and a suitable hammer or mallet.

With the fibre securely located in the groove you are now ready for the molten pitch.

The pitch is normally poured in using a receptacle with a long narrow spout and a large handle (to stop the heat burning your hands). In this case Waverley’s deck crew have fashioned an appropriate item from an old teapot!

Finally, slowly pour the liquid into the groove covering the fibre – taking care not to overfill as this will cause it to spill onto the deck planking. This process is known as “paying”. A shield was being used here as there was a bit of a wind blowing. The end result should be even application along the lenght of the deck.

So moving inside to the Lower Bar. This space is undergoing a minor refurbishment this year which is being funded by the Scottish Branch. Works include repainting with a brighter shade of paint, cleaning and “bronzing” of the portholes, refurbishment of the bronze deadlights and upgrading the AV equipment already donated by the branch in 2007.

The newly painted hull plating and “bronzed” portholes – volunteer and branch committee member Shelagh Holt is undertaking this work – Shelagh (pictured below) is no stranger to painting on the ship having painted the Upper and Lower Engine room single handed in 2005!

Volunteer Margaret Skee refurbishes one of the starboard side porthole deadlights.

The wooden frame which sits in front of the AV screen is re-stained (not with tomato juice!) to match the other wooden fittings in the bar by volunteer “Jim the Joiner”.

One of the problems with the location of the LCD screen in this space has been that the volume level had to be uncomfortably high for the people sitting in front of it to allow it to be heard on the other side of the bar. To overcome this a sound system has been donated by Waverley’s fireman Ian “Corky” McCorkindale. Four small speakers will be installed, one in each corner of the bar, which will allow the sound from the screen to heard without inappropriate volume levels. The wiring for these speakers will be installed in the void spaces behine the seating on either side of the bar. Trunking has been installed in these spaces – the above photo shows Yours Truly inside the void space installing this equipment. I can tell you there is not a lot of space in there!!

Improvements are also underway behind the bar – namely the installation of additional lighting to illuminate the stock more effectively. These are 12Vdc halogen fittings which are fitted to a type of parallel wire system – one wire is the +12V and the other the 0V supplies to the lamps. The wires are strung between the wooden partition at the port side end of the bar to a bracket mounted on the deckhead on the starboard side. The wires are then tensioned the fittings positioned where they are required along the lenght of the wires and then clamped to the wires via small pinch screws. This means that any lamp can be repositioned if required very easily. The photo above shows Branch Chairman Stuart Mears posing proudly beside his makeshift wire tensioning device used during installation of the wire system.

So there you have it – work continuing apace – all helping Waverley Steam Navigation Company ready the World’s Last Sea-going Paddle Steamer for the 2009 season.

Finally, in case you were wondering what the Highs & Lows part of the title of this article was referring to? Well the caulking was carried out on the Aft Boat Deck – the highest passenger deck on the ship and the refurbishment works are being carried out in the Lower Bar which is the lowest passenger space on the ship!!

Erm… perhaps I should sign off now.


[signature name=”Gavin Stewart”]