The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd


November 2018

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on December 6, 2018 at 7:00 AM

In the month when the Nation remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War of 1914 -1918, we paid our own respects, particularly to those who served aboard HM Tug Terrier (as Kerne was named in Admiralty Service) and other members of the Admiralty Yard Craft Service who served in the conflict. 

Despite the on-set of winter, there has been no let-up aboard the good ship Kerne.

As reported in last month’s entry, we have been fortunate indeed to have received several generous grants, and we have wasted no time in pressing on with the work these grants support. Starting down below, with expert assistance from Rory with the cutting torch, our Engineers and new engineering volunteers have really got stuck-in with the onerous task of removing the 60 stay tubes, all of which are now out, despite the fact that we had to remove a number of plain tubes to get the cut stay tubes out of the water space. Other than the problems with the treaded areas on a small number of the stay tubes, they are in remarkably good condition. Work now progresses with the dressing and re-cutting the threads in the 120 holes in the smokebox and combustion chamber tubeplates. This is not a job for the faint-hearted; it is skilled but hard, time consuming manual labour, but we are up to the task and this is going well.

Moving to the Aft Cabin/Galley, fitting of the new sink has been completed, with appropriate modifications to the fresh-water and Aft Peak taps, welding of an overboard discharge and installation of an electric ‘Gulper’ waste pump. We are fortunate, that as Kerne has a 24 volt electrical system, we are able to utilise narrow-boat technology in the form of this pump and the Aft Cabin automatic bilge pump, which are ‘off-the-shelf’ items, saving a lot of time and effort. 

Topsides, the wheelhouse project has also moved on apace. Firstly, all the navigation and ancillary equipment comprising compass, VHF radio, satellite navigation and distress system, echo sounder, navigation lights, the electrical installation etc. was removed to safe storage together with the ship’s wheel, furniture, chart table, telegraph and various fixings. Thereafter, glazing was carefully removed together with the drop-down windows that were once fitted to British Rail Mk 1 carriages following which we were then able to start dismantling the wheelhouse structure.

Having carefully removed all that could be used in the re-built structure, we set about the skeletal remains with bow and chainsaws, crowbars and sledge hammers. Despite the age and apparent poor condition of some parts of the wheelhouse, it certainly was reluctant to leave the vessel!

Once this and the flooring was removed, was could make an inspection of the top of the Boiler Casing on which the wheelhouse was secured, and it was not a pretty sight. As we had suspected, the steelwork was in poor condition, and after some attention with the chipping hammer it was concluded that something in the order of 75% of the casing top beneath the wheelhouse should be replaced. To this end, and to provide protection to now-exposed areas, a scaffolding tent was been erected and the welding is now in progress. 

Finally, the sterling work and dedication of our volunteers has been further recognised, as National Historic Ships UK has Certified the Society as ‘Highly Commended’ in the Marsh Volunteer Awards for Historic Vessel Conservation 2018. 

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