Seriously Cool Steam Boat
Seriously Cool Steam Boat
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;
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.
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
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.