My steam vessel’s name is “Perseverance”, so named because she took 15 years in the construction!
“Perseverance” is 20 foot long and can cruise at 4 knots while brewing tea in a winder mere kettle mounted forward on the boiler! She is a replica of a steam Launch that would have been seen on the Thames during the Victorian Era. She requires a crew of 2- engineer and helmsman. I brought her to South Africa about 5 years ago, and she generally cruises Island Lake, Swartvlei and the Knysna Lagoon.
She was designed and built by Hugh Cawdron on the banks of the River Thames and launched in 1989. Her hull consists of 4 laminations of 3mm mahogany and her oak keel was made from old church pews. She carries a twin cylinder compound engine that was hand built by Hugh Jones of the Beaumaris Instrument Company of Wales. The water tube boiler is fired by 2 paraffin burners, mixed with a little diesel to provide lubrication for the fuel pumps. It takes 25 minutes to raise steam.
To give some idea of the operating procedures, I outline them below from start up:
- Check level of water in boiler and hot well and check that there is sufficient boiler treatment added.
- Switch on fuel and ignite single burner to heat water in the boiler.
- Bar engine over 2 revolutions with 6 starboard drain taps open.
- Using steam and wick oil and molly slip, check that the 2 oil reservoirs are full, and fill 6 oiling pots, four small cup ends and 8 link ends. Thereafter the oiling process is automatic.
- Exercise reversing gear without steam pressure.
- The burner automatically cuts out when the steam pressure reaches 140 psi, and she is ready to go.
- Open main cock and introduce steam gradually to the engine, and by rowing reversing gear, see if engine will start.
- If not, use simpling valve to pass steam from high pressure steam chest to the lower. The object is to gently encourage her to start! Close 6 drain cocks and continue trying until she starts to turn over.
- As the steam pressure drops the first burner will automatically ignite. A second burner now needs to be manually ignited to get steam to the correct temperature. Under pressure this is well above 100 degrees centigrade!
- Under way, exhausted steam passes through a condensing tube under the hull and is reintroduced into the system via a hot well which filters out steam oil. The engineer must check water levels in the boiler and hot well, bleed pumps and check the operating balance of the craft as she warms up to ensure that the batteries are properly recharged. This process can only start once she is under way. This is important as the whole efficient operation of the boat is very much dependent on the voltage being optimised.
Hence the need for a dedicated engineer!