The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd


Latest news from on board.

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July 2018

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on August 13, 2018 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (1)

This month was dominated by preparations for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service presentation held on 7th August, so it was all hands to make the Old Girl look at her best for the occasion.

Before we got too stuck into things, there was a change of scene and subject as some of us spend the first day of the month at the impromptu Road Run of Steam Engines around the lanes of Cheshire, loosely arranged by the Lancashire Traction Engine Club, which featured Kerne member George Coles’ 1913 Clayton & Shuttleworth Traction Engine and Jonathan Bregazzi’s Stuart Turner-powered ‘Steam Buggy’.

It was soon back to work with paint brushes in evidence, including the Chief’s repainting of the funnel colours, completion of the deck painting and hatch varnishing. Due to our ongoing boiler tube issues, we obviously cannot raise steam, so the WWII veteran tug Seaport Alpha was again pressed into action to move Kerne along the quay to a more salubrious location for the Award Ceremony. The downside to this was the presence of a huge flock of feral pigeons scavenging for grain from the nearby grain store. They obviously don’t like the vessel’s colour scheme as they seemed intent on converting it to a colour and texture infinitely more unpleasant than the usual red, black and buff!

Down below in the Forward Cabin, the absence of the new oak bulkhead (yet to be completed) creates something of an eye-sore as we have stored wood in the forward area, so to tidy this up, curtains were put up, giving the Cabin the appearance of a theatre. We only needed a magician to emerge from behind the curtains to make the illusion complete. One further element of the Forward Cabin restoration is however complete, this being the seating. To achieve this, away from the vessel a group of volunteers formed a production line in order to cut to size the plywood seat-backs, then cut carpeting to fit, glue the carpet to the plywood, add brass-effect edging before returning these to the vessel to be drilled and fitted. The seating now looks good, and the fitting of a new timber facia behind the access steps greatly improves the appearance of the cabin.

Work has started on removing the boiler stay tubes and a new carrier has been fashioned to lift the starboard side steering chains off the aft deck, where they have been rubbing for some time.

As the month drew to a close, Brasso (other metal cleaning products are available) was applied to beading to the engine, pipes, gauges and anything else that could be polished with very pleasing results ahead of our Big Day on 7th August.  

May & June 2018

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on July 17, 2018 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Firstly – apologies to our ardent readers who have wondered why things have been so quiet on the News front, and the reasons are-

I have been away on holiday (great), we have had serious family health issues (not so great), problems have been experienced with the Website (annoying), my PC ‘died’ on me (complete pain in the backside). The good news is that things are back to normal (hopefully!)

Undoubtedly the big news, as reported in our June bulletin and on Facebook, was that we have been honoured by Her Majesty with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, this being the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a Voluntary Group and is the equivalent of an MBE. As with all such Royal Honours, we were told of the award some time before the official announcement, but were sworn to secrecy. We were immensely proud and delighted by the news, but just about managed to keep it to ourselves. We had been aware for some time that we had been nominated, and when we were advised that an assessment would be conducted by Captain Hugh Daglish LVO JP DL, former Royal Navy Commander of HM Yacht Britannia and His Honour Judge John Roberts DL on behalf of Her Majesty, we knew that matters were getting serious. I have to admit to feeling a little nervous when these two eminent gentle arrived on the quay for a conducted tour of the vessel and a discussion on the history and activities of our group, but I need not have been; they took a real interest and were extremely complimentary on our achievements. We must have done something right as we now have the privilege of being the only Historic Vessel Group to be honoured in this way. To accompany the honour we received two invitations to attend the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, the Ship’s Mate Paul Kirkbride and the Chief Engineer Chris Heyes, who were two of the original protagonists in the saving of the vessel in 1971, attending on behalf of the Society. The actual award will be presented to the Society on behalf of Her Majesty by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside on 7th August at the vessel’s mooring in Sandon Dock.

More good news to report – We have also been awarded a grant of £5000 from the Pilgrim Trust towards the replacement of the vessels wheelhouse which has seen better days. An order has now been placed with Moorside Joinery for the manufacture of the structure.

Despite the obvious euphoria of the Queen’s award, and also as a consequence of it, we have had to re-plan our summer as we are determined to have Kerne looking at her very best for the award ceremony; scaling, painting, polishing and general tidying up has been the order of the day (or should I say month). We did however have a very successful weekend in Albert Dock for Steam on the Dock, albeit that as a consequence of our boiler tube problem we had to be towed to the venue by the WWII veteran tug Seaport Alpha. Well over a thousand visitors ventured aboard over the weekend, with many more taking the opportunity to view her and talk to the crew from the quay. We also attended the Lymm Historic Transport Day on 24th June with our Exhibition Stand, which once again attracted a large number of visitors.

As regards actual ‘work’ aboard, in the Aft Cabin a new grate has been fitted to the galley stove, the automatic pump to the bilge has been replaced, and work continues at our Davyhulme workshop on new units, sink and plumbing to this cabin. In the Forward Cabin, the seatbacks have been removed for re-upholstering, but the focus remains on having Kerne looking at her best for 7th August! 

Queens Award for Voluntary Service

Posted by Admin on June 3, 2018 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (1)

We are extremely pleased and honoured to announce have been awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

This is an MBE equivalent and the highest award given to a voluntary group.

It is the first time a historic vessel preservation society has been honoured in this way.

The award was created in 2002 by Her Majesty the Queen to celebrate the anniversary of her Coronation and recognises excellence in voluntary service and activity carried out by groups in the community.

The assessment process for recommendation to The Queen for the award was conducted on behalf of Her Majesty by Captain Hugh Daglish LVO JP DL Royal Navy ex Commander of H. M. Yacht Britannia and His Honour Judge John Roberts DL. Who I hope had an interesting day aboard the tug.

The award citation honours the rescue and preservation of Kerne,

In 1971 Kerne was the last coal fired steamship to work commercially on the Mersey when our preservation group stepped in and saved her from the scrapyard. Since then, the steam tug has relied on the voluntary effort of its members, public donations and awards granted from The Transport Trust, National Historic Ships, The Pilgrim Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund plus the support of many local businesses such as Cammell Laird, United Utilities, Mersey Tanker Lighterage and Peel Ports.

Chris Heyes and Paul Kirkbride are attending Buckingham Palace on Tuesday for a Royal Garden Party and The Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside is to make a presentation aboard Kerne at a later date. #QAVS2018 #bbcradiomerseyside #liverpoolecho #wirralglobe #shipsmonthly #transporttrust #oldglorymagazine #merseymaritime #peelports #thepilgrimtrust #unitedutilities #nationalhistoricshipsuk #merseysidemaritimemuseum #historicdockyardchatham

April 2018

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on May 9, 2018 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (0)

At last – a glimpse of sunshine, but only a glimpse!! However, this was enough to warm things up to enable us to complete the Aft Cabin painting and insulation. We can’t be accused of cutting corners on this, in fact so many coats have been applied that the headroom has been lowered!

Firstly, a coat of Granville Rust Cure (not to be confused with ‘Open all Hours’ although Dave does have a touch of Granville about him!), then 2 coats of epoxy primer, followed by a coat of epoxy polyurethane and finally 6 coats of Temp Coat 101 ceramic insulation, (as carried by US Warships) albeit that ours is in a rather fetching ice blue colour. The cabin now looks somewhat like a steel riveted glacier!

Following that new slatted seat-backs were installed and the seat cushions re-upholstered. This cabin is never intended to be salubrious, but it does look a whole lot better than it did. Away from the vessel, new cupboards are being manufactured, and once installed we can fit and plumb in a new sink. We also need to fit a new grate to the galley range as the original is nearing life expiration. Work in the Forward Cabin has stalled somewhat, as the joiner is now unable to do the job of manufacturing and fitting the oak bulkhead, so we will need to think again.

As reported in last months News, two boiler tubes have failed. There is never a good time for things like this to happen, but when you are readying for the years first steaming, this is definitely the wrong time! Whilst we have removed the offending tubes, there is insufficient time to effect repairs to enable us to be in steam for the forthcoming ‘Steam on the Dock’ Event on 12th & 13th May, also the work required in removing the tubes has diverted us away from other jobs we intended to finish prior to SOTD. To add to our woes, the weather has severely delayed our exterior painting program.

We are nothing if not resilient, so before the collective tears of anguish flow, we WILL be at SOTD thanks to the venerable old tug Seaport Alpha that has towed us from Sandon Dock to our position in the Albert Dock. Seaport herself is an interesting craft – built during the Second World War in 1943 as the steam tug TID 43. These vessels were deployed during the D-Day landings and were built in double-quick time in pre-fabricated sections using female factory labour. Now motorised, she is still able to do a job of work to this day on lighterage work around the docks and river.

Come and join us over the week-end – we will look forward to seeing you in the Albert Dock.


March 2018

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on April 9, 2018 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

It is fair to say that progress on the vessel during March is best described as ‘mixed’. 

At the forward end of the vessel we moved slowly towards completion of the cabin; the installation of the document cupboard is finally finished after a lot of messing around to get the thing to look right. That is the trouble with curved hull plates and benching at different angles and heights – but it now looks pretty good after final touches of paint. The boardroom table is now in-situ after some modifications to its support legs to get it on an even keel. The method of testing was to place my lunchtime apple on the table and if had not rolled off onto the deck when I finished my sandwiches it was level enough – and it was!

Some further modifications have been necessary to the steel frame for the false bulkhead as the doorframe was found to foul the lighting conduit. We are now waiting for the joiner to way up the oak facing.

Those who follow this column may be wondering what has become of Dave whose misdemeanours regularly feature. The fact is that the poor lad has been under the weather for some time, but he is now fully recovered and back in the swing. This is classed as a mixed blessing. Throughout his absence, his ‘contraption’ to which I have reported on in previous Newsletters has remained perched, unused and unloved above the low-pressure valve chest. Unfortunately, time is now not on our side to undertake the valve re-facing before the steaming season, so the contraption has now been dismantled and will in all probability, re-appear next winter.

Work in and around the boiler has been moved on apace with the installation of the scum pipe complete, shell valves overhauled and replaced, safety valves removed and checked and the boiler filled with water in readiness for steaming.

Down in the Aft Cabin, following the removal of the seating, the steelwork has been de-rusted and painted, and the seating re-upholstered. After much thought and discussion on the continuing problem of condensation in this area, we have decided to alleviate this by having a ceramic insulation coating applied to the deckhead and bulkheads. Dates were fixed with the contractor to carry out the work, but the continuing cold and wet weather has not only delayed this but has also prevented any painting of the exterior superstructure or decks. In short, a lot of work has been done, but there is little to show for it.

I referred above to progress this month being ‘mixed’. This was typified on the last day of the month when during boiler preparations we discovered two leaking boiler tubes. So we grit our teeth and add another job to the list! 

February 2018

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on March 12, 2018 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Just when you think Spring is round the corner, with lovely sunny days at the beginning of the month, an Arctic blast swept across from the East, confining some of us who live away from the flat lands of Merseyside and the Wirral to barracks. Never daunted, work carried on by those who live nearby, despite the freeze.

A replacement for the corroded skum pipe that was removed from the boiler has been fabricated, leaving the small job of reinstallation. To achieve this task requires skill and patience, the ability to get inside the boiler and be lithe and supple enough to work in this somewhat cold and claustrophobic area. Nowadays, this rules me and certain others out, although I was able to stick my head down through the top boiler access door and offer words of encouragement to those within. The muttered replies seemed to sound more like insults than words of thanks!

The Forward Cabin was the place to be as the cold winds blew, accompanied by the warmth of our new stove, where there are still a few details to finish off. These include the installation of the document cupboard, the tubular steel false bulkhead frame, and modifications to a donated former boardroom table for adaptation into its new home. We are now looking for someone to manufacture the oak facing for the false bulkhead.

As we move forward with the minor finishing touches, the next big project – the Aft Cabin, continued. The removal of the seating and some of the work surfaces allowed access to the inside of the ships hull and framing and these areas were duly scraped, treated with rust inhibitor and painted. It is our intention to modify and improve the facilities in this area; our plans include improvements to the ventilation, the installation of a sink and pumped discharge, an overhaul to the solid fuel range and a wiring upgrade. What we now need is some decent weather so we can set about exterior painting in readiness for the forthcoming season, which is only some 2 months away.

For those who subscribe to the magazine ‘Old Glory’, you will have seen Paul Kirkbride’s excellent published article on Lidgerwood engines, of which Kerne’s engines are probably the only surviving example. For those who don’t, the article can be viewed on our Facebook page and is worth a read.  

January 2018

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on February 13, 2018 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The New Year came in with work continuing down in the Forward Cabin, but now it was warm, with the new stove proving to be a very welcome and efficient addition to this refurbished area of the vessel. It is perhaps not to surprising how much easier fiddling jobs become with warm fingers, which brings us to the topic of the Forward cabin lighting. After much wasted time testing and re-testing what remained of the original 24 volt installation, a unilateral decision was taken to scrap the lot and start again. So, the conduit was cut back and all wiring within, plus that that lay behind the deckhead was either pulled out or cropped off. As we were to convert the original tungsten lighting to LED we were able to increase the number of light fittings without increasing the load on the installation, so it was decided to install two brand new lights and resurrect two of the originals. We also found in our stores a period switch that was capable of renovation. After installing new conduit, light fittings and switch, the grand ‘switch-on’ took place on 20th January.

It seems that the new stove and warm cabin had become something of a magnet as whilst the rewire was in progress, other members of our volunteer force descended forward to trial-fit the tubular steel frames which will form part of the cabin’s forward partition bulkhead and also to work upon the new cupboard which will house our various ships diagrams, surveys and other necessary documents. For a while the cabin resembled a scene from ‘It’s a Knock Out’ where the game was to see how many people you could cram into a Mini. All we were missing was Eddie Waring! All’s well that ends well, and after the trial fitting, the frame was removed and taken away for galvanising before being returned and installed in three sections, bolted together so this can easily be removed in the future if necessary.

Whilst this partition bulkhead is yet to have it’s timber facing installed, the cabin now provides a suitable space for us to relax and take lunch in relative comfort. This gave Paul Kirkbride the opportunity to set about the next major cabin job – namely the stripping out of the after cabin to enable us to scale and paint the hull plates and frames in this area and to re-model the cabin in order to maximise available space. In the blink of the eye, a pile of timber components previously forming seating and work surfaces appeared on deck. One of the problems with the below-waterline spaces is condensation, so in order to dry the area out, a de-humidifier has been installed and this is doing the trick and de-scaling has commenced.

In the Boiler Room final cleaning of the boiler, both inside and out, has been completed ahead of our annual boiler inspection, and a new scum blowdown pipe is in the course of manufacture. Unfortunately, most of the work on the latter item has to take place on deck, which has proved a very chilling experience for those concerned.

December 2017

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on January 11, 2018 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (0)

With the year drawing to a close and thoughts moving towards turkey and the trimmings plus a small libation or two, our intrepid gang of volunteers pressed on to the bitter end (well, until 23rd December) when we allowed ourselves a short break to over-indulge and enjoy a bit of R & R.

During the month, work continued in the Forward Cabin, the most welcome element of which was the installation of our new coal-fired stove. In order to comply with the MCA recommendations, the stove sits on a fire-resistant hearth and nearby woodwork is protected by heat-resistant tiles. This has now been fully tested, transforming the Forward Cabin from a shivering ships compartment to a warm, welcoming space. This newfound warmth allowed further painting and varnishing to be carried out cutting the paints’ drying time from days to hours. We are now into re-wiring, the former installation suffering from the hasty strip-out in Cammell Lairds’ drydock during our HLF Project.

Down in the Boiler Room, the boiler interior has finally dried out, allowing us to vacuum out the remaining dust and debris, the bilges beneath the boiler being similarly treated. Several valves, which were removed for routine overhaul away from the vessel have now been returned in fine fettle and await re-fitting. Access to the main steam stop valve, and valves to the whistle, injector, auxiliaries and pressure gauges is via the Valve Chest adjacent to the funnel, and unfortunately, with the continual lifting of the hinged cover, one of the hinges gave up the ghost. Now one would think it would be a simple job to replace the hinges, but not a bit of it. Apart from the cover being rather heavy steel, this is also of convex construction, whereas the chest onto which it sits is flat. This means that spacers are required to the underside of the cover so that the hinges are attached to parallel surfaces. To add to the problem, the locating holes to the new stainless steel hinges did not match their predecessors, so new holes had to be drilled whilst holding the cover in position. The good news is that no fingers were lost in undertaking this job!

Work on the Low Pressure Valve of the Main Engine has stalled somewhat. This, Dave assures us, is not due to any lack of enthusiasm or commitment on his part, but to what Neddy Seagoon famously described in the Goons as ‘The Dreaded Lurgi’. Dave has recently described in somewhat graphic (unpleasant and un-repeatable) detail the nature of this condition. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Our year ended with the very good news that Kerne has been granted a Restoration Award of £1,000 from National Historic Ships UK, which will be put to good use in funding essential repairs.

Happy New Year indeed!!

November 2017

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on December 6, 2017 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

As the days shorten, and the fingers get cold, Kerne’s intrepid team of volunteers carry on regardless with our winter program of maintenance and repairs.

Our first priority was to prepare the boiler for survey by the boiler inspector, so the cleaning of the fire, smoke and water spaces of the boiler started in October continued. Various valves have been removed as part of our rolling program of valve checking and refurbishment, during which we decided to remove and replace the corroded internal pipework forming part of the scum blowdown. This consists of a shallow tundish, which sits at boiler water level within the boiler and is connected via the said internal pipework to a valve on the boiler shell. When under steam, the valve is opened and the top surface of the boiler water is ‘skimmed’ off taking with it the layer of scum and pollutants that float on top of the water. The valve is piped to a discharge on the shell of the hull.

In the Engine Room, the High-Pressure valve of the main engine has been removed as we have found in previous years that the rings of the valve, which is of the Piston type, rust with condensation and stick in their respective grooves causing steam to leak past the valve when we are back in steam. Unlike the rest of the engine, the valve has the pleasure of spending the winter in someone’s warm cosy house!

At the other end of the engine, the rather large cast slide valve to the Low-Pressure cylinder has been lifted out of its valve chest. Observation of the engine’s gauges when in operation has lead us to suspect that this valve, which is operated by the engine’s motion, has been leaking, so it has been decided to re-face the valve and its seat. This is not an easy task, due to the confined nature of area that requires attention. This has once again given Dave Lowndes the opportunity to invent some sort of contraption that will assist in the task. Sporting a woolly hat, giving him the appearance of a 6 foot dwarf, he has been observed wrestling with various bits of steel, wood, large nuts and bolts whilst balancing precariously on ladders, his response to the numerous quizzical looks and requests for an explanation of his plans, is merely ‘Wait and see’ and so we will. Dave knows only too well that the price of failure will be a stream of good-natured abuse and leg-pulling.

Finally in the Forward Cabin, we are getting to the stage of virtual completion of the bench re-construction. All frontages and bench tops are now complete, suitable heat resistant surfaces applied to the benching and flooring in the vicinity of the new stove, and all new timber primed and gloss painted. The original oak panelling that was re-constructed a couple of months ago has been left pretty much as is, as we are keen to preserve the period appearance of this feature. What we are now left to do is re-upholster the benching, construct a removable intermediate bulkhead, a corner cupboard and reinstate the lighting. Our new volunteer Ken Perrins has produced a superb set of CAD drawings to enable a sectional steel frame to be constructed in Peter Sutcliffe’s West Yorkshire workshop, which will be installed and suitably timber-faced to retain the period appearance. Once this is in place, the other jobs can be completed and then we can turn our attention to the Aft Cabin/Galley, which has taken a battering over the last couple of years in its role as the vessel’s mess-room. I had hoped to be able to relinquish my position as the oldest trainee joiner in Liverpool and trade in my carpentry bits and pieces for some proper engineering tools, but I fear that ‘needs-must’ will scupper that plan for now.

Away from the vessel, we are delighted to note that Mountfleet Models have now sold in excess of 20 of their Kerne kits, which had received a very favourable review in the magazine ‘Model Boats’. Whilst I am obviously biased, I think it must be very satisfying to build a model and be able to see and get aboard the real thing.

October 2017

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on November 7, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (2)

We moved into October with match in hand and furnaces to be lit ahead of our trip up the Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver Navigation for the annual Leigh Arms Steam Party at Acton Bridge. Warming fires over the next few days saw steam raised for a rather choppy departure from Canning Half Tide Dock into the Mersey on Wednesday 4th October. Unusually, there was a bit of traffic awaiting entry into Eastham Lock, Kerne finding herself fourth in a queue for entry, so we amused ourselves for an hour or so with a few circuits round the channel coupled with a number of running adjustments and a few cups of tea. Once into the Ship Canal we had a good run up to Marsh Lock and into the Weaver, where apart from our usual ‘grounding’ in the mud by Dutton Lock, we made good time to Acton Bridge. However the delay at Eastham resulted in our arriving at Acton Swing Bridge after the bridge staff had finished for the day. This was all a little frustrating as our designated mooring was, literally, ten yards upstream of the bridge meaning an ‘out of steam’ move the following day. Not to be daunted by this inconvenience, the crew followed the same routine as we have over the last 40 years or so: – clean up, wash up, lock up and up to the pub.

The next two days were spent cleaning and bulling-up the vessel ahead of public opening on the Saturday and Sunday 7th and 8th October, with special attention being paid, as usual, to the Engine and Boiler Rooms.

The Leigh Arms Steam Party is very much an informal event, greatly enjoyed by the crews of ships, boats, steam engines and other vintage vehicles alike, and in the spirit of the event several of us arranged accommodation so that we could fully appreciate the fun and camaraderie of the Friday evening. After a hearty breakfast on Saturday and a touch more spit and polish we started to welcome visitors aboard, who were able to witness the lighting of small fires in the boiler to keep the boiler hot over the weekend and be given explanatory tours round the vessel by the crew. All things went well with a good number of visitors aboard and onlookers on the quay, but things suddenly changed as the rain started to come down with a vengeance. Suddenly the warm dry Boiler Room of a steamship became a very desirable place to be as the quay emptied and the vessel filled up. Sunday dawned with fine weather and good crowds in attendance, over 500 visitors being counted aboard with several hundred others meeting and talking to the crew quayside.

For a number of logistical reasons we had decided to delay our return sailing to our winter mooring at Liverpool’s Sandon Dock until Tuesday 10th October, the voyage going without a hitch and without the delays at the various bridges and locks that often seem to have a habit of holding us up.

So, that was it for the 2017 steaming season, the following weekend seeing the start of winter lay-up. The boiler water has now been drained, the fire bars removed, the boiler tubes swept, furnaces and combustion chamber cleaning commenced. The carpentry team are back down the Forward Cabin where the final bench carcase has been installed and the facing and bench top added, leaving the forward bulkhead to be constructed (CAD drawings having been completed) and the new stove installed.

Hopefully we can have a nice warm cabin to enjoy our lunches as the winter weather begins to bite.


September 2017

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on October 2, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The new month dawned with fires in the furnaces and steam being raised in preparation for our sailing from Sandon Dock to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port via a run up the Manchester Ship Canal to Runcorn. Engine trials were carried out on 1st September in order to test the work to resolve the low vacuum issue with the condenser, which we seemed to have resolved. The following day, ropes were cast as we left our Sandon Dock berth, heading north up the dock system to Langton Lock and the river. Two things happened during this short leg of our voyage-

Firstly, vacuum pressure dropped again which produced a lot of head-scratching. We felt we had covered every base in our efforts to find the cause, so what could it be? Every possible reason was investigated and to our relief we found the simple answer – the recently refurbished tail valve was not fully shut off, so a twist of the wrist and the vacuum was up again.

Secondly, we have discovered a new unit of measure. As Kerne was built over 100 years ago all her dimensions were recorded in Imperial measure, as are thread sizes, so we tend to talk in feet and inches not metres and parts thereof. It could be said therefore that Kerne has effectively been an active participant in Brexit before Brexit was even thought of! To return to our ‘new’ measurement, this came about as we discussed docking at Ellesmere Post and the length of our gangplank. Various lengths were suggested, 10 feet, 11 feet etc. ‘I’ll get the tape measure’ was my suggestion, and as I proceeded down the portside deck to the Engine Room I had to stride over the figure of Dave Lowndes who was lying on the deck inspecting the steering gear adjacent to the stored gangplank. As he slid further up the deck I noticed that the gangplank was exactly twice his prone length and knowing that he is 6 feet tall the gangplank is therefore 12 feet or 2 Lowndes in length. I knew he would come into use for something!

On arrival at the bottom lock entrance at Ellesmere Port we had four successful days of public opening before we set sail back down the Ship Canal and into Canning Dock on Wednesday 6th September. Whilst we usually berth adjacent to the Pumphouse pub (which has its obvious advantages) on this occasion we were allocated the prime position on the quay along Strand Street where we were on full view to the passing public.

We opened the vessel to the public on numerous occasions during our stay, and we had many interested folk aboard with particular interest being shown in our impressively clean Engine and Boiler Rooms. Our public opening didn’t entirely stop work, some painting was done in the Engine Room, a number of traditional Liverpool Lighterage fenders were manufactured, (old tyres with holes cut out for rope lines to be attached) and some further work on the Forward Cabin reinstatement.

We are now preparing for our last (and arguably our most enjoyable) event of the year – the Leigh Arms Annual Steam Party held at Acton Bridge on the River Weaver, south of Warrington on the A49. The vessel was turned by hand on Saturday 30th September; boiler and fresh water were taken on board. Fires were lit the following day in readiness for our trip up the Ship Canal and River Weaver on Wednesday 4th October ready for public opening at the Leigh Arms on Sat/Sunday 7th/8th October. As in previous years there will be ourselves and the Daniel Adamson on the river in the company of numerous other boats, whilst in the pub car park there will be an array of steam rollers and traction engines, vintage tractors, cars and commercials. Make sure you can make it down to see us before we return to Sandon Dock on Tuesday 10th October.

August 2017

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on September 7, 2017 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Attention on deck continued in August with the de-rusting of the anchor chain and the overhaul of the cat davit on the starboard side of the forward deck, which is used to lift and swing the anchor overside and to retrieve same when the anchor is lifted. The davit is not an original fitting for Kerne, but was salvaged from the 1936 former Isle of Man Harbour Board steam dredger ‘Mannin II’. Having been purchased for preservation in the 1980’s, she spent several years moored alongside Kerne in the basin of Ellesmere Port Boat Museum. Although in working condition, she became somewhat neglected and was moved to Weston Marsh Docks in the early 2000’s and sadly sank at her moorings in 2003. She finally succumbed to the cutter’s torch in 2009 - useful equipment, (including the davit) having been removed.

Also on deck, some needed modifications to the steering gear have been carried out arising from the replacement of the steering chains and repairs to the rudder quadrant. Whilst every care was taken to ensure that the chains were of identical length as the original and that the quadrant had the same profile, when steering hard to port, the starboard side aft shackle connecting the chain to the side rod, via the adjusting turn buckle, was fouling the guiding sheave. After much messing about repositioning and adjusting the chains with little success, we concluded that the easiest solution was to move the sheave. This was cut from its’ original position and welded to the bulwark some 18inches aft of its’ previous position. Problem solved!

In the Engine Room, after much cursing and groaning, the aft condenser door was carefully lowered down to the rear of the engine and offered up to the condenser itself. After attention to the condenser face, the door, together with Dave’s finally-finished rubber joint, was bolted into position and fingers crossed that the low vacuum issued was now solved. Time and engine trials would tell!

Work still carries on apace in the Forward Cabin. At the outset, it was decided that for ease of future maintenance and to achieve the best access to the forward bilges, the seating would be constructed in removable sections. To achieve this it would be necessary to construct seven separate seating sections, and just to make things a little more difficult, they would all be different due to the changing curvature of the hull and the sloping nature of the Forward Cabin floor. Each section frame was made off-site at Bob Stead’s workshop/garage and transferred to the ship where final adjustments were carried out before securing via removable stainless steel pins to the floor structure. The facing panels and removable tops were then made to fit in-situ. To date six of the seven sections have been fitted, leaving the final section and the backing boards to be fitted. To further complicate matters, when the cabin was stripped out in Cammell Lairds yard, we had also to remove our small pot-bellied coal stove, which, on inspection, was condemned, and the decision taken to replace with a more substantial unit. Accordingly, a new ‘Boatman’s Stove’ unit was ordered from Northern Fabrications and once this is trial fitted, the final seating section can be designed.

On Monday 28th August fires were lit with a view to carrying out engine trials on 1st September ahead of a trip up the Manchester Ship Canal for display at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port and then on to Canning Dock Liverpool.

Check out our Calendar for details.