The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd


November 2017

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

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.

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