Museum News 2002

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January 2002.

On the 8th of January the museum took delivery of 3 marine engines, which have been kindly loaned to us by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.   They are:-

1927 Sissons vertical, triple expansion. Cylinder sizes 6ins, 8ins. and 11ins bore x 8ins stroke. This engine was installed in the 105ft long Thames River Steamer ‘Mapledurham’.

1906 vertical, compound, by John Samuel White & Co. Originally installed in a 56ft steam pinnace (high-speed launch), which serviced the HMS 'Agamemnon’.

Another vertical, triple expansion engine, built in 1941, by Charles D Holmes & Co. of Hull.
(As yet the history of this engine is unknown).

In addition to these we have also acquired, from the same source, a rare side-lever engine, which was the port engine in the paddle tug 'Reliant',(formerly called 'Old Trafford'), built in 1907. Worked on the Manchester Ship Canal before being sold for service on the river Tyne. The starboard engine has been fully restored and is on display in the National Maritime Museum.
This engine will require a lot of work to bring it back to life, which will keep the 'Wednesday play group' busy for quite a while. There are some major items missing, which include the piston, piston rod and crankshaft. However, I am led to believe, that part of the original crankshaft is somewhere in Glossop, Derbyshire.

Unloading the Charles Holmes triple expansion engine Unloading the base, crankshaft and column assembly, of the Charles Holmes triple expansion engine.
The 'Reliant' engine:- cylinder casting, with side beams attached, already unloaded inside the museum.
Proud owner, Tom Nuttall, keeping guard.

Note! to the right are the cylinders for the Charles Holmes triple expansion engine.

'Reliant' cylinder casting

23rd Jan.

As you would imagine the museum is now a hive of activity. Excavation has started on the concrete foundations to support the Charles Holmes triple expansion engine, which is estimated to be in excess of 20 tons.

The Sissons triple expansion engine has now been completely dismantled with all its parts ready to be cleaned and inspected. The only major problem to come to light so far was the discovery that the piston in the intermediate cylinder was badly damaged and was not the original.
Some kind person had left a note, sealed inside the cylinder, which read:-

"This old piston has been left in as a pattern. The piston from this engine went to USA in the Oxford's engine."

Work has also started on dismantling the larger Samuel White vertical compound engine.

2nd Feb.

The crankshaft side main bearing, on Agnes, has been getting warm on a couple of Wednesday steaming days. It was decided to remove the top brass for inspection. It showed distinct discolouring at one end of the shaft journal. Further inspection was required, but this was not straight forward. A cradle had to be fabricated, from RSJ's, to allow two 20 ton hydraulic jacks to lift the weight of the crankshaft and the flywheel off the bottom brass. The brasses were then bedded into the shaft by scaping, after which it was all re-assembled.
In the meantime the lubricating oil was sent for analysis with the conclusion that a thinner oil would be used in future. There was also quite a bit of wear on the two, piston oil pumps (one for each main bearing) so this was put right at the same time.

17th Feb.   Major Disappointment!!

On further inspection and removal of the cylinder end covers it was found that the steam pistons and valves were missing on the Charles Holmes vertical triple expansion engine. Apparently this crucial information was not disclosed when negotiations were taking place with the National Maritime Museum about the loan of the engine. There seems to be no trace of these vital parts.
This means that the engine will not now be run under steam and it seems likely that the only way she will turn over is by using some other auxiliary engine or motor. Not what we intended!

24 April 2002

Assembly of the Sissons triple expansion engine is well underway. The damaged piston has been repaired and refitted.
More information about the Charles D Holmes triple expansion engine has come my way:
Cylinder sizes are 13.5ins x 23ins x 38ins and 27ins stroke. It was fitted to the Admiralty Trawler 'Neave', which was built at Beverley, near Hull, by Cook, Welton & Gemmel Ltd.
Later renamed 'Tulipbank' and was broken up in 1979.
Apparently three similar triple engines are preserved: one at the Science Museum, one in the Swansea Maritime Museum and one in Sweden.
Incidentally, no more work has been done to this engine, efforts are on going to solve the problem of the missing pistons etc.

On 17th April the museum took delivery of yet another vertical, compound marine engine, built in 1937 by Yarwood of Northwich, Cheshire. This time on loan from the Seiont II Maritime Trust, Caernarfon Maritime Museum, North Wales. It was fitted to the dredger 'Seiont II' , which worked in the Menai Straits.
The engine has been in storage and has been well protected with lavish coatings of oil and grease etc. so hopefully a bit of cleaning up will have it looking well again.

1st May 2002 - 'Reliant' Paddle Tug - side lever engine

Work has started on sorting out the various parts that make up the paddle wheel, quite a few bits are missing and will have to be made "in-house".
15 May 2002 Most of the engine has now been dismantled. There is a lot of corrosion on some parts and nearly all the various fixing nuts had to be chiselled off.
22 May 2002 Some more parts, belonging to 'Reliant', have arrived. Sadly the crank shaft has been mutilated with the dreaded gas axe. One part has the paddle wheel hub attached and the other has the crank and crank pin still intact. Major surgery will be needed to connect the two together again. There is also the mechanism for engaging and disengaging a crude form of dog clutch, which was used to couple the two paddles together for straight towing or to separate them, so that each one could rotate in different directions and speed, for manoeuvres in confined waters.

The hub of the paddle wheel (attached to the severed crankshaft) and in the foreground is the engaging and disengaging mechanism. Reliant Paddle Hub

Time Capsule!

When dismantling the condensate/air pump a sealed plastic bag was found inside the cylinder. It contained a newspaper of South East London and Kentish Mercury dated Thursday May 21st 1970. Written at the top of the paper was the inscription

"Les Highland; Fred Keeling; Joseph Cakebread; Ray Edwards.
Built in 1907 - Rebuilt here June 1970 By William Cory Ltd of Charlton and the above craftsmen"

Also in the plastic bag was the following:-
  a blank Time Sheet for CORY BARGE WORKS Ltd. CHARLTON
  10 Kensitas Certificates towards a full colour edition of Kensitas Gift Catalogue
  and three pre-decimal coins:- one penny; one sixpence; one threepenny bit.

Contents of 'Time Capsule' Contents of the 'Time Capsule'.

It's possible that these crafstmen are still around, so if there is anyone that knows of them or their whereabouts it would be interesting to hear from you.

26th June 2002

The 1927 Sissons, vertical, triple expansion engine, which came to the Museum in January, has now been completely rebuilt. A temporary steam supply was fitted to enable it to have a trial run, which went off without any major problems.
This has made a lovely engine, which looks quite attractive with new paintwork and contrasting bright-metal and brass.
It now awaits a 'permanent' site within the Museum, but this may take some time - there is still a lot of work to do.

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