The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd


September 2017

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

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.

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