SS Duke of Marlborough

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SS DUKE of MARLBOROUGH

I recently stumbled across the above photo of the steam ship – Duke of Marlborough and knowing nothing about her put a call into Russell Ward aka Mr Steam. The man is never embarrassed to speak so – take it away Russell, WW is all yours…..

“Once, 30+ years ago, I built up a steamboat called “Gypsy”. So pull up a chair, warm yourselves by the fire and I’ll tell you a story which isn’t about “Gypsy” at all, it’s about the “James Torrey” which became the “Duke of Marlborough”.

But, through “Gypsy”, I met one Lloyd Lewis of Lake Tarawera. He was an ardent enthusiast for steamy things (who wouldn’t be – living on Lake Tarawera.) Lloyd had made a steamer up out of a hull I had sold him a year or so previously and really had the steamboat bug badly. As the late Pete Culler (he wrote a lot about boats and he was a wise man) said “It’s awful, don’t go near it or you are hooked.” And you can’t argue with facts like that, folks. Suffice to say Lloyd got steam enginitis in a big way.

He had Wellington naval architect Bruce Askew design a hull for a 36’ steam vessel following the style of the early 1900 steam boats The steel hull was built in 1987 by Gordon Clark and Brian Starrock in New Plymouth and shipped to Rotorua for Lloyd to complete. He did a fine aesthetic job. She was launched as “James Torrey” and he used her to take fishing tours on the lake. The lads appreciated the warmth from the boiler at times.

Lloyd built the engine – an English design by A.A. Leake and a dashed good looker it is -a traditional open compound, driving a 28” by 42” propeller giving a service speed of 6 knots. A piston valve is fitted to the high pressure cylinder and a balanced slide valve on the low pressure one. It has cross-head driven twin feed pumps and air pump. Exhaust is through a feed-water heater to a keel condenser. There you feel a lot better for knowing that.

But to sum up, working on salt water, you have to condense the exhaust steam or you run out of feedwater real quick. Besides, condensing gives you a useful addition to the power through the vacuum created which, in essence, sucks the piston while the steam pushes.

The steam is provided by a Kingdon type boiler (1900’s Simpson Strickland design) built by Langley Engineering in the U.K and, since you didn’t really want to know, It is a vertical fire-tube type, 34 inches high by 30 inches diameter over lagging, has 3.4 square feet of grate area and has 84 square feet of heating surface. She burns coal and there is nothing better.

Lloyd had quite job actually getting Ed Langley to dispatch the finished boiler although it had been long since paid for. Ed had had his delivery problems over the years…. Legend has it that, in frustration (remember communication was all letters and phone calls that had to be booked well ahead in those prehistoric times); Lloyd flew over to the UK and turned up at the works just ahead of the receiver. Seeing the likelihood of his investment coming to nothing, he took matters into his own hands and loaded the boiler up himself. Lloyd just wasn’t the sort of man to argue with and got his boiler. It is a very handsome job.

Anyway after a number of years, Lloyd tired of his steamboat and Roger Frazer took her to Picton. He renamed her “Duke of Marlborough” and did a lot of restoration which is a credit to him. He has been taking passengers out of Picton for some time. I’m sure the passengers appreciate the boiler’s warmth even more that the Lake Tarawera types.”

I understand she may be for sale………

WoodenBoat Magazine Interview #3 

This week WB editor Matt Murphy interviews Harold Burnham in a live discussion of how, for nearly three decades, he has been instrumental in revitalizing the shipbuilding and maritime culture of his region by designing, building, and rehabilitating traditional vessels for cultural tourism. Harold is an 11th-generation shipwright, and has, at various times, also been a sawyer, mariner, model maker, and sail maker.

Seriously Cool Steam Boat

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Seriously Cool Steam Boat

The above steam boat, owned by Hamilton engineer, Chris Cooper recently popped up on a fb post of Geoff Lewis’s.
All I know, but I can hear Russell Ward duping as you read this, is that Chris rebuilt the boat from a wreck. It has a tripe-expansion engine, in my ignorance I hope it is coal or wood fired and not diesel – I would love this as a retirement boat on a lake…………..
Hopefully we will find out more about her.
AND WOODYS WE CAN GO BOATING AGAIN – NO PRIZE FOR GUESSING WHAT I WILL BE DOING THIS AFTERNOON
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Woody Photo Gallery

Duke of Marlborough

Antares 3

Arima

Moana

Shalom

Woody Photo Gallery
The selection of woody photos above was sent in by Bryce Strong, details and links to previous WW stories below. I hate Digital dates on photos but it is a very simple way to record when the photo was taken – two are dated 2013, interesting to see how the vessels have faired in the last 13 years.
The top photo of the steamboat – Duke of Marlborough, is a newbie to me. I’m looking forward to Russell Ward chipping in with her history 😉
Antares – built in the 1950’s by Supreme Craft. At the time the above photo was taken she was owned by Bryce’s brother-in-law, Ron Phillips
Arima – built in1953 by Colin Wild

https://waitematawoodys.com/2018/12/08/arima/

Moana – built in c.1939 by Sam Ford
Shalom – built in 1973 by TK Atkinson
Anyone Recall Sutton MalcolSham & Co
I have been contacted by Richard Winthrop looking for information on a boat builder named Sutton Malcolm & Co. Ltd of Mt Roskill, Auckland. Many years ago Richard had a Mason Clipper that had the sticker below on it.
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SS Kotare

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SS KOTARE

Today’s photos of the steam boat Kotare come to us from John Wicks. I’ll let John tell the story.

“On my way back from our “walkies”, approaching the launching ramp (Hobsonville-nee-Westpark Marina), the dog’s ears pricked up, then I heard some hissing and farting. As the ramp came into view, I could see steam and smoke rising, and Lo! and behold – the little steam launch Kotare which been launched from her trailer.

By the time I got down onto the pontoon, she was full steam ahead and straining at her mooring ropes, smoke and steam everywhere. Glorious!

Her crew was fairly busy fiddling with valves, levers and suchlike, but I did learn that she was preparing for a steam meet at Greenhithe this Saturday, and a few other details;

  • She’s a woody, quite new, strip planked and glassed.
  • Her owner/skipper (that’s him inboard working on “stuff”) built the whole thing, boat, engine et al.
  • The engine is a 2-cylinder double-expansion one, plus she has an auxiliary electric motor tucked away aft.
  • Just now they’re using diesel to heat the boiler, but they’re turning vegetarian in the near future.

The other bloke in the grey shirt is part of the outfit, though I’m not sure just what part. The couple on the pontoon, I’m in the dark shirt and white cap, her in the orange T-shirt, just turned up purely by chance – in the neighborhood, came down to have a look at the marina. They’re from the West Coast and – would you believe – they have a small steamer on Lake Brunner! Spooky, possums!

Having been warned many years ago that steam is almost instantly addictive, I walked away before harm came to me, and took the broadside shot from behind the safety of a metal fence.”

Russell Ward Input – Famous wooden boat exponent Pete Culler said “Stay away from steam, it’s very addictive -one sniff and you’re hooked.” He was an oars and sail man though and he’s right.
The Auckland Steam Engine Society is meeting at Rame Road reserve Greenhithe Saturday 24 March 2018. High tide 1.30 or so. Fill yer lungs and feast yer ears and eyes.

EVENT UPDATE

Regrettably the steam event Saturday 24 March has been cancelled because of the adverse weather. We’ve never had a steamer melt in the rain and our fearless leader Alan will agree that damp days are often the best!

One of the best boating days ever 🙂 Alan

Input from Daniel Hicks – 

The boat was built by Paul Eaton, and is based on a Simpson Strickland launch of around 1900. Selway Fisher in the UK drew the plans, and it is listed in their catalogue as the 23′ Golden Bay design. Paul started by building the engine, a John York designed compound (3 + 5.25 * 3.75) from a castings kit from Elliott Bay Steam Launch Co in the US. Paul then built the hull and had a boiler designed (based on a steam car boiler) and the pressure vessel professionally made. The whole lot has come together over 17 years!

Kotare has a number of interesting features, as mentioned she is both a steam and electric vessel, being able to be propelled by either form of power, or propelled by steam with the electric motor charging the batteries. Another unusual innovation is the fact she is fitted with a Rice type propeller nozzle!

Yes Kotare is complicated, but Paul wanted to try lots of things out, and have lots of back up systems in place. The machinery may appear to take up a lot of the boat, but it always does in a steamboat, and Kotare is better than some, she just appears worse because of the location of the electric drive system directly behind the steam engine.

Wednesday was launch day, and I was there as I’d offered to help and provided the tow vehicle, my only claims to fame on this one. She floated very close to her marks, she steamed well and goes fairly well, despite a number of snagging issues being apparent. A pretty successful first day out, and superb effort from someone who hasn’t built a boat or a steam engine before!

Update 27-03-2018 photo ex Alan Good

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Norita

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NORITA

Norita started life in 199 as a replica steam launch but was later converted to diesel – a 29hp Yanmar 3YM30 diesel pushes her along. She measure 30′ with a 7’6″ beam.Their boiler is not functional but the rest of the steam engine is still fitted. She is 4sale on trademe, buy her & install a little dry ice > smoke generator in her funnel & use her to take unsuspecting tourists for waterfront cruises.

So the question of the day is direct at Russell Ward who will be able to tell us more about S.L. Norita

Input from Daniel Hicks

The story of Norita and her ‘sister ship’ Eliza Hobson is definitely an interesting one, and is a perfect demonstration of the romance of traditional boats overtaking reality. The story began in 1996, when Alan Brimblecombe was looking for somewhere to work on Swan. A local Warkworth boat building start up, Willis Glenn Marine offered him space in their Hudson Road shed. While working on Swan one afternoon, he invited the company owners for a ride on Zeltic, then his active steam launch. They were enthralled by it. Alan commented that a slightly bigger vessel, of about 30 feet could possibly be a saleable item. Amazingly, a few days later they came to him and suggested that they could start building steamboats, but they needed guidance. At this point Alan suggested that a slightly stretched version of Puke be built, 30 feet instead of 26 with a suitably sized compound engine running at low revs, and a cabin to allow for inclement weather. Alan drew up a profile view of the vessel, gave them Puke’s lines and got on with his work.

A few days later they popped the computer drawn design in front of him, but boy oh boy, it wasn’t what he’d suggested. Suddenly the boat had gained full headroom and had grown in beam by about a foot, but the real issue was below the waterline, Puke’s beautiful hull had been lost to something that more closely resembled a wineglass, ie the buoyancy was very high up, with a fine deep hull underneath. Despite protestations that it wasn’t a steamboat hull, they said they were going to build it! The hull design really bears very little resemblance to Puke, or any other steamboat for that matter. The plug was started, and Zeltic was brought into the workshop for a cosmetic refurbishment before being taken to the boat show. A lovely full colour brochure was produced, and Zeltic was set up at the boat show, providing steam to the steambox while the boat builders re-ribbed Alans longboat. Zeltic was awarded best in show display. At the show, three orders were placed (although I suspect there were only two actual orders, the third being a friend of Willis). Alfie Des Tombes ordered boat number one (Norita), and Alan Lambourne ordered boat number two (Eliza Hobson) for commercial use.

Work started on the boats with a planned delivery of boat number 1 on the 21st of December in Wellington (to be launched by the floating steam crane Hikitia) with Eliza Hobson to be commissioned on Boxing Day at the Maritime Museum in Auckland. Unfortunately reality was very different, and as December approached it was obvious that two boats weren’t going to be ready, one being a possibility. It was decided that the best publicity would be achieved by launching Eliza Hobson first, so Norita was sidelined and a huge push was made to get Eliza in action. With the boiler in place, and most of the engine mounted, the boat was lowered into the water at West Harbour Marina, where she promptly lay over on her beam ends! The computer calculations had said that she needed ballast, but the builders believed that she didn’t need it as the machinery would weigh her down (had they built a stretched Puke this would be the case). The engineers were dispatched to get plenty of pig iron and put it in the bilges. Two days later, and on an even keel, she was towed by John Hager in Matui into the museum for “commissioning”, the engineers having been unable to finish her in time. She was towed to Warkworth, finished off and put through Marine Department survey. With the correct amount of lead in the bilge, she passed her stability test. The only real issue was that the propeller designed for her by Henleys was totally wrong, and she could only do 4.5 knots. Later on a correct sized prop was made and fitted and she worked reasonably well, although the machinery space was made unnecessarily tight due to the proximity of the head compartment (which was right beside the boiler).

With Eliza Hobson delivered, Norita stood a chance of being finished, but then Willis Glenn Marine went into liquidation, building steamboats didn’t actually pay! About this time Eliza Hobson was put into a violent roll by a ferry off Browns Island, sufficient to rolls the drawers out and spill coal from her bunker. Despite the stability calculation, those who had no experience with tender vessels declared she was dangerous, and she was taken out of action and taken to the engineers to be rebuilt. A new hull was grafted onto the outside of the old hull, the head removed, the machinery moved forward and work headed towards a much fatter Eliza Hobson. The hull was subsequently moved to Kevin Johnstones yard in Devonport, and was replaced by Norita. Eliza Hobson re-entered survey with a much larger machinery space, but no forward cabin seating.

The engineers convinced Alfie to build a new set of machinery for Norita, a water tube boiler and smaller twin simple engine, the aim being to give her a lower centre of gravity and less machinery weight than Eliza Hobson, as Alan had convinced Alfie not to have the hull widened. Like Eliza, Norita lost her forward cabin accommodation, the space being taken up her large water tube boiler, with the engine now beside the still extent head compartment. The coal bunker was now located under the foredeck hatch. Norita was launched at Gulf Harbour in early 1999, and both she and Eliza Hobson were both together at Clevedon for that years Auckland Steam Engine Society Clevedon Steam Meet, along with Zeltic, the inspiration for them. Norita was subsequently shipped to Wellington, and used by Alfie for dignified day cruises in the inner harbour.

To finish the story off, Eliza underwent another rebuild of her machinery in Warkworth in about 2002, and we steamed her north to the Bay of Islands in an epic 26 hours of steaming over two days. Alan Lambourne eventually tired of her, and sold her on. She is I believe currently dead on the Waikato River, her new owner having run the boiler out of water. Norita eventually suffered from a few leaking boiler tubes due to corrosion (probably due to rain down her funnel), and the boiler was removed, the engine moved forward and the diesel fitted in its place. The boiler is at Steam and Machinery in Wanganui, and may be rebuild-able, Colonial Ironworks have a partly completed identical boiler. Of the original machinery partly built for Norita, the boiler is now in use in Puke, and the reversing gear from the engine is on the engine in Greenbank.

Norita could be put back into steam, and be a good steam launch, and Eliza with a new or rebuilt boiler would also be good. Both boats worked in their finished forms. I’m certain that Norita would have worked well with the original machinery, I very much doubt it was much heavier than what went into her (and I know the weights of Eliza’s machinery), and she would have been both fast and economical. Eliza definitely needed the bigger machinery in her final form, being a much heavier and less slippery hull.

Hopefully someone gets hold of Norita and does her justice, a few tweaks could make her a lot prettier, and if they don’t want the machinery, new homes could be found for it.

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.

Chris McMullen’s Herreshoff Steam Launch – Part 1

Chris McMullen’s  Herreshoff Steam Launch

I visited a rather special boat shed the other day, shed is a bit of an understatement – I have a shed, Chris McMullen’s one is more like an aircraft hanger.
The reason for the invite was to have a look at the 1933 Colin Wild built launch Wirihana out of the water, but what really made me accept the invite in a flash was the chance to view the 34′ Herreshoff steam launch that Chris has been creating for nearly 30 years.
I use the term creating because every piece of this boat (including the steam engine) has been crafted by Chris’s own hands. Its a little way off launch day but already its a piece of art.

Why would someone undertake a project of this magnitude ? Chris’s view is “the whole project is an engineering exercise and an interesting challenge to recreate what was done 100 plus years ago.  Further, traveling on a fast steam launch is a great experience and there is something about generating your own power from fire and water”.

Click any of the above photos to enlarge 😉

I’ll let Chris tell the story – read on

“I have been building this (lets say) machinery and boat on and off for would you believe 27 years!  I started the project in 1987 –88 the year I sold McMullen & Wing Ltd.  Unlike some of my steam friends in the USA and the UK who are single minded,this has not been my only interest, during the time I have owned or had the use of other boats and done many other things.
The long winded project, is an embarrassment for me being a professional boat builder. It must be explained that I am not a trained Engineers Pattern Maker,  Foundry Moulder, Fitter and Turner, Coppersmith or a Boilermaker. I have had to learn these skills. Believe me, the Herreshoff’s draftsmen certainly did not compromised his design to make it easy for manufacture.  The castings for the engine are complex and thin walled. Several foundry’s kindly allowed me to do my own sand moulding on their premises. It would never have been possible without their cooperation.  I have had four attempts at casting the crankshaft. The only good casting (currently installed in the Engine) is of material not up to spec.  This has been a major blow and I guess my knowing this has set back the job.
The 3 throw crank has been drawn in “Solid Works” with the idea of machining it from a solid 9 inch diameter bar of steel on a NC lathe and Mill. A huge job and still can not be completely finished on these remarkable machines. At this stage there is no way to change the design. Crazy, the original was cast and machined in steel over one hundred years ago!
I went on and built the 34’ x 6’ 3” x’ 1’10”hull exactly the Herreshoff way (with a mould for every White Oak steamed frame) The hull double planked carvel style and glued with epoxy rather than set in shellac (as was the original) The planking was two skins of 5/16 NZ Kauri. So thin it could not be edge set. On the bilge the planks were made from thicker stock as they had to be backed out (hollowed and rounded) Very easy to loose control of thickness doing this and I believe Herreshoff Manufacturing (some how) steamed the round into the planks. I have a steam box, experimented but could not make it form the planks. I could have built the same boat double diagonal in a fraction of the time but the design scantlings would have had to be changed. At the time I wanted an exact replica! To what end? Now, I am not sure. (See below Vapor)
Anyway, the hull is basically finished with the boiler engine and water tank installed ready for the plumbing.
For those interested the design is HMCO design # 263 it was built 1908 as the Starboard launch for the Beautiful Twin Screw Steam Yacht “Cassandra”  Cassandra was built for an American owner by Scott’s at Greenock. Scotland in 1908 .She was 238 f.t O.A.L and could travel at just over 15 knots. Her tender was designed and built in the USA would have been “State of the Art” at the time and most likely the fastest launch available.  It would seem to me there were excellent Steam Launch builders in the UK. Simpson Strickland and Liquid Fuel Engineering (Lifu) and others but the owner chose the Herreshoff design / build. I have a copy of a letter written by Francis Herreshoff (the designers son) stating these launches could do 14 knots. To many, that seems unlikely but I have been on two Steam launches on Lake Windermere that can do  13 knots, so lets say we do not know.  These launches are proportioned closer to a rowing eight than a normal hull. On design #263 The boiler pressure is 250 PSI  The propeller is four bladed 22 x 30 inch pitch. the Hull and machinery is light. The shaft is low angle and the weights well forward.  The speed and shape of “Vapor” a similar steam launch has been discussed at length on Wooden Boat Forum  I have never got involved in the discussion but I am very familiar with “Vapor” and know the owner. Ed Louchard a boat builder from Port Townsend has done a wonderful job of building a replacement hull.  Vapor is the only surviving Herreshoff Steam Launch. The hull had been re planked at some time but the machinery is all original. Regarding “Vapor”, when I started my project I thought there were no Herreshoff Steam Launches in existence. I tracked down” Vapor” and her friendly owner in California about 12 years ago. Now she has been rebuilt it sort of makes my replica surplus.  In some ways procrastination has helped as more information about these remarkable launches comes to light from all over the world. I have enjoyed the research but now I am looking forward to finishing my project but it does get harder as one gets older”

Part 2 – The building of a replica 1898 Nathanael Herreshoff triple expansion steam engine –  https://waitematawoodys.com/2014/07/11/chris-mcmullen-herreshoff-steam-launch-part-2-the-engine/

Update on Vapor on the WoodenBoat Forum 24/07/2014

Vapor photos & kind words about Chris McMullen

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?179519-Herreshoff-Steam-Launch-In-Auckland-New-Zealand&p=4235461#post4235461

And more Vapor – 25/07/2014

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?179519-Herreshoff-Steam-Launch-In-Auckland-New-Zealand&p=4236325#post4236325