The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd


April 2016

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on May 5, 2016 at 4:10 PM

At last, after what seems to have been the wettest winter for many a long year, spring has finally sprung. Whilst this is great news when it comes to painting the exterior of the boat, we just happen to be concentrating on the darkest recesses of the vessel.


Work has continued down in the Engine and Boiler Rooms, with painting being completed in the lower areas of the bunkers (albeit in our ‘spare’ white paint). Work then extended into the stokehold bilge area where the ingress of rainwater that accumulated whilst final welding of the boiler casing was undertaken had settled. This area had to be thoroughly dried out and wired brushed to remove the surface rust that had developed before a rust inhibiter could be applied followed by an epoxy topcoat. To achieve this it was necessary to remove the Boiler Room floor plates that had been temporarily replaced to prevent anyone finding themselves lying in the bilge when walking through the tunnel into the Boiler Room.


Whilst this work progressed, the Engineers continued with the task of replacing the boiler valves and pipework. As ever, there are always complications with any job on a vessel of this age, and despite the relative ‘newness’ of the boiler, (it being installed by the Admiralty in 1936) a thorough inspection by our Engineers and the Boiler Inspector, revealed a number of studs on the face of the boiler that merited renewal. Of course several of the studs stubbornly refused to part company from the shell, so they had to be drilled out and new studs made and installed. One of the quirks of having an Admiralty-built boiler is that they appeared not to differentiate between a boiler destined for a warship to that being installed in a tug. This is great news for Kerne as the specification, quality and thickness of materials used in the boiler construction was far greater than would be expected in a vessel such as ours. Another quirk relates to the 1936 boiler valves of which several are still in service on the tug, evidenced by the stamp of ‘HMT Terrier’(Kerne’s Naval name) on the valve bodies. Instead of the flanges of the valves being flat faced, they have a spigot that extends into the boiler itself. This is secured in place with a pin that has to be inserted from inside the boiler by a non-claustrophobic contortionist. This is in addition to the usual studs and nuts on the outside of the boiler. This was apparently an Admiralty requirement to avoid valves blowing off from the boiler shell due to what is described as ‘Impact’. This is a euphemism for shelling and torpedo damage. We are hopeful that this situation will not arise in the tranquil waters of the North West coast!

Away from the vessel First Mate Paul has been able to secure a plaque bearing the Royal Navy Ships Crest, which was presented to non-fighting Naval ships that had served their country. We are not sure where the vessels original crest ended up, but Kerne shall wear this one with pride, given her unique position as being the only surviving operational coal fired Naval steamship that served in both World Wars.


Our exhibition stand was out again over the Bank Holiday Weekend at Bolton Steam Museum, where the Northern Mill Engine Society steam their very fine collection of engines. This weekend was special as Fred Dibnah’s sons and daughters were in attendance to witness the steaming of their father’s workshop engine after 12 static years following their generous loan of the engine to the Museum.





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