September is usually a month of high activity and anticipation for the annual Leigh Arms Steam Party at Acton Bridge. Well, at least we had activity but the usual anticipation was sadly missing as we were unable to attend the event with the tug owing to the ongoing boiler work.
On this particular subject, work is progressing slowly but steadily, with some twenty tubes having now been carefully removed. It is hoped that the remaining tubes will be out by the end of October, but delays have the habit of thwarting the best of intentions!
As ever, there is always a rolling program of maintenance work that we have to keep pace with so the needle guns and de-scalers have been out with the after deck beneath the rope grating being the focus of attention, as has the aft peak tank which has been scaled and cement-washed. Strangely enough, this is not a job that is bristling with volunteers, in fact it is odd how we seem to find other important jobs to do, but to be fair, Mate Paul doesn’t shirk the challenge and once again tackled the job head on. The real trick is once out of the aft peak tank is to get the overalls off quickly before you ‘set’.
As previously reported, the wheelhouse, which was re-built in 1977 from the 1950’s structure, has seen better days. We have been awarded a grant from the Pilgrim Trust to repair the structure, and Moorside Joinery have taken on the task of re-creating the structure using as much of the original as possible. The guys have been provided with a set of drawings of the original that were drawn in 1976 and we now have a plan of action to move the job forward. Firstly, we need to carefully strip out the existing wheelhouse and store the equipment therein, together with the re-usable elements of the structure. The slight stumbling block is that since our return from Cammell Lairds following the hull repairs, our storage container has become something of a dumping ground for all manner of bits and pieces – some useful and some not so useful. The decision was taken to erect additional shelving down one side of the container, but due to the clutter, there wasn’t room to install it. A co-ordinated ‘attack’ was needed. On the agreed date a good number of volunteers arrived, with the Chief Engineer appointed as the sole arbiter of what would stay and what would go. So, as items were removed from the container, the Chief would shout ‘Keep’, ‘Scrap’ or ‘Dump’. Despite there was no mechanism for appeal the exercise without any violence and if a strong case was proffered, it was a case of ‘Well you take it home then’. That seemed to concentrate the mind. The following week, the shelving was duly installed, and stowing of the kept items carried out.
A very worthwhile job well done, but we would all really have preferred to have been preparing Kerne for a trip to Acton Bridge!