A Quiz

A Quiz photo ex Harold Kidd With todays post we are looking to put a name to this Auckland steam launch, her build / launch date being just post the WW1 period. She was twin-screw, twin Simpson-Strickland tandem compound-engined. Her boilers were by Price, 40 ihp per engine @ 250 rpm that pushed her along at very impressive 24 knots.

Anyone able to ID her or provide  more info?

27-05-2015 A Confession from Harold K

Alan has suggested that I come clean and confess that I was winding up Russell aka vintagesteamer.
Daniel was a bycatch.
I bought the postcard on which this image appears many years ago and immediately thought it was a spoof for all the reasons that Russell and Daniel advance. The Simpson Strickland, 24 knots etc were poetic licence on my part.
In the original image there appears to be a shimmer of heat from the forward “funnel” which smudges the rigging of the little coastal steamer at the wharf. That does lend verisimilitude to the steamer thesis.
The point that Frank Stoks makes never occurred to me, that the conventional oil launch nearest the camera was conveniently juxtaposed in front of a twin-funneled steamer. I am not at all sure that’s the case as the same objections would apply to the boat behind which would have to be jolly small (and a fake itself perhaps). I did think that the boat behind (if there was one) could be some kind of smart Naval picket boat or pinnace from, say, one of the many visiting warships during the interwar period but can’t find a suitable prototype in the British, US and Japanese navies.
I now think that the two funnels are dummies done as some kind of visual joke…but why?
And why have those two short clerestories, which would seem to serve no purpose, unless they are dummies too?
I trawled through newspapers of the time and can find no reference to such a spoof taking place, nor can I id the launch, sans accoutrements. I have been busy and haven’t followed up one wild line that might explain the spoof. Will do so and report.
However, it’s time to confess and congratulate the contributors on their display of erudition and common sense.

39 thoughts on “A Quiz

  1. There’s something visually amiss where the aft clerestory meets the wheel house… Looks to me like the wheelhouse windows are all on this side of the clerestory.

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  2. You mad steamers should watch Tales of Para Handy and the Vital Spark on you tube rather than winding us all up 🙂

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  3. An American Fleet came again in August 1925. I did think that the 2 clerestories might be to accommodate 2 steeple compounds…………..just kidding.

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  4. It might have been a pisstake at the time the US Great White Fleet came to Auckland…..
    Good one though, HDK!
    No that was 1908-9. Something to do with WW1: a parade or somesuch? She is not scrubbed up enough for that really -looks bit end of season.
    Two clerestories -easy. You have to stand up to put on yer trousers or hoist yer drawers, one in the gents’ cabin and one in the ladies…. Rest of one’s onboard existence can be done sitting down or crouching.

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  5. I cant decipher if there is a genuine steamer behind or some blokes on the dock were having a laugh with some surplus oversize spiral wound cardboard tubing and a handsaw.

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  6. What a delightful epistle of eloquent “voca – bulary” from Harold to orchestrate his “conscience stricken confession”

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  7. Alan has suggested that I come clean and confess that I was winding up Russell aka vintagesteamer.
    Daniel was a bycatch.
    I bought the postcard on which this image appears many years ago and immediately thought it was a spoof for all the reasons that Russell and Daniel advance. The Simpson Strickland, 24 knots etc were poetic licence on my part.
    In the original image there appears to be a shimmer of heat from the forward “funnel” which smudges the rigging of the little coastal steamer at the wharf. That does lend verisimilitude to the steamer thesis.
    The point that Frank Stoks makes never occurred to me, that the conventional oil launch nearest the camera was conveniently juxtaposed in front of a twin-funneled steamer. I am not at all sure that’s the case as the same objections would apply to the boat behind which would have to be jolly small (and a fake itself perhaps). I did think that the boat behind (if there was one) could be some kind of smart Naval picket boat or pinnace from, say, one of the many visiting warships during the interwar period but can’t find a suitable prototype in the British, US and Japanese navies.
    I now think that the two funnels are dummies done as some kind of visual joke…but why?
    And why have those two short clerestories, which would seem to serve no purpose, unless they are dummies too?
    I trawled through newspapers of the time and can find no reference to such a spoof taking place, nor can I id the launch, sans accoutrements. I have been busy and haven’t followed up one wild line that might explain the spoof. Will do so and report.
    However, it’s time to confess and congratulate the contributors on their display of erudition and common sense.

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  8. Oh, thank you, Daniel for joining my crusade. Let the record show that Capt Hicks and I agreed on something -our discussions are frequently spirited!.
    Work the problem through. A boat doing 22 kn is going to be travelling 26734.4 inches per minute. I have just opened a learned chapter on propellor variables and, at the sight of all those complicated graphs, have glazed over and my astrocytes are over revving. My first cut is that the prop is going to have to have 26734.4/250 equals 107 inches of pitch if it was 100% efficient -which it ain’t gonna be. Say it was 70% efficient -not unattainable with a high pitch efficient setup according to chart D on my page here. we have to have a pitch rather bigger than that.
    Yuh ain’t gonna fit two of them under that tuck.
    Defies logic to steam that boat. If you wanted to get 22 kn out of her, what petrol engine of that day would you use and how many HP would it develop at what revs. What engine would you use today?
    So the reference to SS engines and Price boilers is in reference to another boat. The coastal steamer in the background will have Scottie built hull and machinery and won’t do much above 10 kn so it isn’t her. The wharf isn’t going anywhere and nor is the headland. So it doesn’t refer to anything in this pic QED. It must refer to another pic in that pile, so let’s have a butchers at her!
    And who is this motoboat in steamdrag and who built her?

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  9. Further to that, the 40IHP Simpson Strickland engines were rated at that at 400rpm, not 250. Kapanui’s 30ihp engine does that at 425rpm swinging a 29 inch prop, so for 40 ihp at 400 rpm those are probably at least 31 inch props. As Russell said while I was working on my reply, its not likely that she’d be doing 24 knots with a pair of props that big.
    Daniel

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  10. If I may point out to both our vintage steamers the title of the post is A Quiz.
    Nice to hear from you Daniel. We sat and had chips and admired Zeltic down on the river other day.
    So does this mean where not building the Simpson Strickland…

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  11. I’m sceptical about it all too. As Russell says, no evidence of any safety valve escape pipes, and having two funnels at that spacing suggests two boilers, so each should have a safety escape pipe. The oily looking mark on the hull sides suggests something else is amiss too.

    I have no idea why Alan has posted that picture of a Simpson Strickland launch, as it really has no connection to what we are looking at, being a big singlke crew vessel with what appears to be a triple expansion in it.

    As for the claims about its machinery, yes Simpson Strickland did produce a compound of 40ihp, the next size up from the 30ihp one now in Kapanui (ex a tender to the cable ship Iris), but these engines were work horse engines, not racing engines. To get 24 knots out of that hull on 80ihp is dreaming. Simpson Strickland themselves built a racing steamer in 1907, the ‘Rose en Soleil’, that did 24 knots, but that had about 200ihp, and was an incredibly lightweight small racing boat. If this boat is what its claimed to be, and if it could do what it is claimed, why have we never heard of it?

    Daniel

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  12. I still think she’s a sham and not steam. I wonder if it is a oil engined boat dressed up for some occasion. I’d like to know the source of the info about her machinery because it doesn’t stack up if you’ll forgive the pun. Looking at the pic closely The aft funnel has to be a sham because you can see through that second to aft scuttle through the boat to the other side and the funnel doesn’t appear to have an uptake from the boiler which would obscure the view through the ship. So it might be there for appearance bit you wouldn’t want to burden a speedboat with extra windage.
    Also, a boiler making enough steam to get that speed is going to be getting quite hot in the funnels: It is hard to see but the funnels don’t seem to have any special connection to the deck. They usually have an outer casing with the boiler uptake inside so nobody gets burnt. There is no suggestion of this. Why make the funnels circular and not streamlined on a fast boat? They look too plain: I’d expect to see a whistle on the fwd side and a waste steam pipe too.
    The hull looks a bit dirty which would fit with a steamer but a boat going at that speed would have a huge amount of air going through the furnaces which is why the old steamers had a few big cowl ventilators. This dear has got but one fwd of the anterior funnel. No steam plant would poke out an oily discharge as we seem to be seeing beneath scuttle two unless it’s a bilge pump discharge. Alright, she has done enough work to have scars on the hull but the funnels are soot free. One would expect the top part of the chimbleys to have a sooty residue.
    Simpson Strickland did some really classy high revving engines when trying to compete with oil engines. Top of the range was a tandem quad which had four cylindricals two atop the others. It was not a tandem compound. The Simpson Strickland compound in Kapanui at Warkworth is two cylinders one behind the other and nothing like what is supposed to be in our star here and it throws a huge prop at 250 rpm or more.
    This poor thing has to drag all that gear down aft to support a propellor that must have been HUGE each side. Go figure, pitch gives speed but you have to have diameter for power and you’ll need some power to get 24kn. A SS quad engine which would have been state of the art for the time would rev considerably more than 250 rpm. Go check on the web -my SS catlogue is in storage. So I think that the engine being referred to as tandem compound is incorrect- if it was going to get anything like the power, it would be quadruple expansion (as Harold’s old boat Greenbank had fitted after he owned her.
    What would drive a man to commission Prices to make boilers (sic) to fit two expensive engines to prove what? If it is true, was it an advert for SS? If so, it was not advertised much.
    Simpson Strickland had an active agency over here and sold a few engines on the coast several of which are extant and the steamer Flirt has an imported one.
    I’ll leave it there. Must go.

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  13. It’s such a straight sheer line. Had she been designed with more sheer those ports may have looked more pleasing to the eye.
    Perhaps they could have been placed equal distances from the belting and that rubbing strake and better still the ports could have diminished in size as they went forward. But then it would be hot in side the cabin so probably purposefully kept them big.
    So is that a clue as to who drew her up. I tend to think Wenna’s ports might sit just like hers.

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  14. Could be any Auckland launch builder of the time. However, apart from the amazing steam installation, her twin yellow funnels (a la NZ Shipping Co and P&O) and her undoubtedly huge speed potential, there is an odd feature. Note that the four ports on the cabin side are located the same distance from the top of the cabin top, not equidistant between the top of the cabintop and the sheerline, as one would expect. Somewhat clumsy, don’t you think?

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  15. I don’t think its her skylight the shadow is on, which threw me at first. Look at the front face of the wheel house, i.e the starboard forward mullion, and the alignment of that mullion with the starboard window in the wheelhouse. I think the two tram sections (one with the funnel shadow) are on the vessel behind. And the black “scuttle” is centred on the deck in line with the wheel house of our vessel of interest.

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  16. Yep, Frank, the funnels are hers -look at the shadow of the skylight on the aft one. Most steamers have the safety valve running up the outside of the funnel -look at Alan’s posting of the SS drawing.
    No steamer in good fettle would put out that sort of oily discharge overboard -well it looks oily to me. Someone is doing a leg pull with those funnels I reckon.

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  17. Granted, Harold -the engine (especially SS who were trying to prevail against oil engines in the early 1900a) is usually the lightest part of the steam plant. But the boiler/s ancillary plant (condenser/s), engineroom crew and their libations and fuel -coal or oil are the heavy part. They are her funnels -witness the shadow cast by the skylight on the aft one.
    Why twin engines and funnels though? Would have been cheaper to have a hull twice as long if one wanted to make a point. The Thornycroft torpedo boats did 17 kn flat chat and were 63′.
    Was there a rabid steam enthusiast afoot at that time and if so why aren’t the steamers still lifting a glass to him at the AGM? Who was he so we can!

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  18. The Simpson Strickland was a model of compactness and lightness. Image sent to Alan.

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  19. Looks to me she is on the port side of another vessel with the stacks and has her own wet exhaust.

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  20. If this had been posted on 1 April, my pulse would still have raced at Harold’s description. I’m skeptical Something strange about this. That machinery would have been very weighty. Where did the engines come from and where did they go? SS had an active agent in NZ and Oz and a few engines were sold here and some remain. No safety valve/waste steam outlets in sight. 24 kn takes a lot of achieving with a hull like that -was it a gestimate? What is that oily(?) discharge level with the fwd funnel? What is the provenance of that picture? Any more pics extant? Pics that show three or more exhausted engineers taking breather topside?

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