|Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on April 9, 2016 at 6:45 AM|
This month has seen steady progress on several fronts.
Whilst the boiler casing had been tacked in position prior to the re-floating, the gaps between the tacking welds had acted as gutters allowing the recent volumes of rainwater to cascade down into the Boiler Room and bunkers and onto our lovely new steelwork. This, together with the erected scaffolding in the Boiler Room, considerably delayed our program of repainting. The good news is that the casing is now firmly attached to the rest of the vessel, and rainwater now runs across the decks to the scuppers where it is supposed to go. Once the internal scaffolding was dismantled, painting commenced in earnest and the stokehold flooring replaced. The scaffold’s removal was only temporary however as this had to be re-erected to allow access to the smokebox uptake to facilitate the welding to the base of the funnel on the underside of the boiler casing. This has now been completed.
The attention of the ‘Decorators’ has now moved on into the bunkers. Once dried out the areas were treated with a rust preventative coat before 3 coats of 2-pack epoxy paint was applied. In unseen areas such as these, we tend to use any spare paint we have around, regardless of colour. The spare in this instance just happens to be pristine white! I can’t see it remaining that colour for long, but at least it will make visual assessment of the quantity of coal we have in the bunkers a bit easier.
Meanwhile, the Engineers have been busy refitting valves, pipes and other equipment, which include the safety valves. These are a story in themselves. When we acquired the tug back in 1971, she carried ‘Ramsbottom’ standard spring valves, which as the boiler pressure reached the maximum working pressure of 180 psi gradually lifted. As the springs had became a little tired with age the safety valves had a tendency not to close fully as the pressure dropped wasting valuable steam. The solution to this problem presented itself when the redundant steam plant in the Wallasey Docks Impounding Station was being scrapped. This included the boilers, which carried sets of ‘Cockburns Marine Improved High Lift Safety Valves’ in very good condition. A set of these was acquired and after overhaul, was fitted to our boiler. As the name implies they are ‘high lift’ as anyone who has witnessed these valves blowing will testify. In stark contrast to the old valves, they literally go with a bang when full working pressure is reached sending a column of steam high into the air with a tremendous roar. They close in similar fashion when the pressure has dropped.
Away from the vessel, we attended two events in March at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port with our exhibition stand, namely, the Model Boat Show at the beginning of the month, and the annual Easter Gathering over the Bank Holiday weekend, both events being well supported.
Whilst we still have work to do, the progress in refitting the vessel has been very encouraging, and once the yard completes the few remaining jobs, we will be towed back across the river to Sandon Dock.