The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd


May 2017

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on June 5, 2017 at 10:00 AM

We left the month of May with a newly issued Boiler Certificate, coal aboard and all required documentation for a short trip from our winter home to Canning Half Tide Dock for the Steam on the Dock weekend. The few days lull until we were due to sail enabled us to get some cleaning done, particularly down below in the Engine and Boiler Rooms where we ‘bulled’ up the machinery, washed down the bulkheads and polished the brass to good effect.

A leisurely trip down Crosby Channel towards the Bar on Wednesday 3rd May, whilst waiting for our high-water entrance to Canning, gave us the opportunity to give the engines a run and give Dave chance to practise his newly acquired skills as Engineer-on-Watch. All went well until we approached the dock entrance at a somewhat tight angle requiring Skipper Nigel to do an astern manoeuvre to straighten her up. The telegraph rang ‘Full Astern’; there was a hiss of steam from the engine and then – Nothing. Dave had managed to get the engine stuck on dead-centre and whilst he was moving the engine round by applying steam to the low pressure cylinder via the impulse valve, we glanced off the knuckle of the dock entrance which put us back on course. No harm done, (apart from the paint) but a chorus of ‘Stupid Boy!’ buffeted Dave’s ears. Lesson learned – he wouldn’t do that again.

We tied up at our designated position alongside the pontoon at the head of the dock in good time for us to shut the boiler down, lock up and get a drink before heading off home for tea, just leaving the job of rigging the gangway for the weekend ahead. Or so we thought.

Access to the pontoon is via a set of stone steps at the head of the dock, and on the Friday evening, the day before the event, officials of Gower Estates who are responsible for the Dock, deemed the steps unsafe for public access, and if we wanted public access, we would have to move. There lay the problem; after two days of being tied up we were without power (now being out of steam) and other vessels took up all the available quay space. Fortunately, at the eleventh hour, the event organisers and our friends on the Daniel Adamson agreed that we could moor alongside the Danny, and they would rig a gangway between the two vessels. This provided the only viable solution, but as it would have taken us over 24 hours to raise steam again, we still had to find a way to move her back down the dock. The strong prevailing wind provided the answer as this, together with human muscle power hauling on ropes, moved Kerne down the dock to her new position on the last minute. Phew!

There followed a superb weekend of maritime, railway and road steam attended by over 60,000 souls who enjoyed these and the many other attractions on offer. Despite being somewhat hidden by the larger tugs ‘Brocklebank’ and ‘Daniel Adamson’ we were kept on our toes by a constant steam of visitors numbering in excess of three thousand who came aboard. Our efforts in cleaning down below were rewarded by the disbelief of some of our visitors who simply could not believe that a coal burner could be so clean.

Monday 8th May saw us with full boiler pressure as, along with the Motor Tug Brocklebank, we left Canning for our short hop up the river to the Gladstone Lock and back into Sandon Dock.

Once the boiler had cooled down, ash was removed from the furnaces, and work resumed down in the Forward Cabin where we have started to re-construct the seating. Painting of the outstanding deck areas has progressed, the Wheelhouse floor has also seen the paintbrushes out, and we have carried out some modifications to the gangway and replaced the aluminium stanchions with more substantial tubular ones.

At the end of the month, we once again, attended the Bolton Steam Museum Open Days on 28th and 29th May with our Exhibition Stand. Whilst some people think the Kerne’s engine is big, the Mill Engines in the Museum make our WVV Lidgerwood example look a little on the small side!

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