This passing month has been a case of ‘much the same’ in terms of the jobs tackled.
Down in the Boiler Room the re-tapping of the stay tube holes continues, but it has been good to have a number of our Young Volunteers down to give us old hands a bit of a lift and to learn and experience traditional boiler making skills. As Kerne is one of the last places to see and work on a riveted Scotch Boiler with screwed stay and plain tubes, the young volunteers really appreciated taking on and learning the old skills from those of us who over the last 40-odd years have been down this track before. We are still able to do it – only slower!!
The Wheelhouse project has been moving on apace, roof covering having been applied, toughened glazing sourced and installed to replace the previous plain glass panes, and refurbishment started on the sliding BECLAWAT droplights and frames. A number of wheelhouse fittings have been refurbished ready for installation, and several coats of grey primer applied. This gave Kerne something of a look of her in Admiralty days as HM Tug Terrier, which was very appropriate given that we have been out and about with our Terrier Exhibition. On this subject, a number of our volunteers took a break from the vessel to attend the Lancashire Steam Heritage Festival held at Astley Green Mining Museum on 18-19 May, George Coles’ Clayton & Shuttleworth Traction Engine attending and crewed by a number of Kerne Volunteers. Our First World War/Terrier Stand together with Mountfleet’s model of Terrier was also on show.
Back aboard and down below, the Captain’s Forward Cabin is now resplendent, with the new timber bulkhead in place, varnished and painted, and the lower panels being carpeted to match the bench backs. Dirty overalls are now definitely banned!!
Whilst we moved positively forward with our boiler repair, we were saddened to learn of the considerable problems aboard the Paddle Steamer Waverley where they have been forced to abandon all sailings for 2019 due to boiler problems. Sadly their two Cochran Boilers, installed only in 2001, are beyond economic repair and will have to be replaced at a cost estimated at £2m. I sincerely hope that the necessary monies can be raised to restore this uniquely important historic vessel to operation, particularly as it was on the Clyde aboard Waverley that I got my first taste of marine steam as a young lad with my family in the late 1950’s. Such news makes us acutely aware how lucky we are aboard Kerne to have a traditional boiler in good condition and have the skills amongst our volunteers to maintain and operate it.