|Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on September 8, 2016 at 12:25 AM|
This past month has seen a lot of activity aboard (nothing new there) but our goal of completing engine trials remains annoyingly close but incomplete.
There are no major issues, but we have been frustrated by a number of niggling problems pertaining particularly to boiler valves. Whilst all the boiler valves were removed and the boiler ‘openings’ blanked off before the boiler was lifted from the vessel in June last year, this hasn’t prevented teething troubles when replacing the valves. Contractors overhauled the majority of the valves before being returned to store pending refitting to the boiler, and despite every care being taken, there have inevitably been minor issues with the flanges, probably due to small pieces of rust or other debris getting where they shouldn’t during refitting. Whilst such issues are fairly easy to rectify, they often don’t appear until they are hot and under steam pressure, which means that you have to let the fires out and the pressure disperse before we can remove the valve to sort it. If the valve in question is below the water level of the boiler, you have to drain this as well. All very frustrating, not to mention the cost of the coal used! So, in a nutshell this has led to the temporary delay in the engine trials.
Still with other jobs to do, our volunteers have got stuck in and made significant progress in other areas. Painting of the Engine and Boiler Rooms has moved on a pace, with the cold-water pipework receiving a coat of rather bright blue paint, floor plating having black applied, and a light lime green adorning the bulkheads (and Dave who seemed to be wearing most of it). Our carpentry team have done a great job in rejuvenating our somewhat tired –looking wheelhouse, the remaining navigational equipment being refitted, together with the windows (glazing having been previously removed) timber repairs, chart table and a repaint internally and externally. The protective steel tunnel that carries the main steam line, telegraph chains and voice pipe through the starboard bunker has been fitted and our concession to renewable energy in the form of the battery-charging wind generator has been rewired and returned to serviceable condition. The appearance of our after cabin/galley has suffered somewhat over the last year as this had doubled as our washroom, office and shelter, but this has been brightened up by the application of black-leading of the galley stove. Funny how such a small thing can have such an uplifting effect. Painting of the decks and superstructure continues and the WC compartment has been thoroughly de-scaled and painted.
Away from the vessel the safety rails that are fitted above the bulwarks are being refurbished and a new support structure for our auxiliary generator was fabricated and welded into position on the foredeck. We also had a visit during the month from Adam Slater of Mountfleet Models who is in the process of building a prototype model that will be available for purchase in kit form in due course both as Kerne in her present day guise and also in her original form as HM Tug Terrier. Whilst we had provided Adam with a comprehensive set of drawings, he wanted to take a good look in the ‘flesh’ to ensure accuracy.
Our focus is now to push on and if possible complete the outstanding jobs to enable Kerne to make her public ‘reappearance’ at the Leigh Arms Steam Party at Acton Bridge, south of Warrington on the A49 on the weekend of Sat/Sun 1st/2nd October.
Fingers crossed for that, but if the vessel does not make it, our exhibition stand will still be there along with traction engines and other vintage vehicles. Hope you can come and see us.