1913 steam tug Kerne is back!

Posted by Chris Graham on 23rd February 2022

After more than three years of hard work, 1913 steam tug Kerne has returned to steam, as Paul Kirkbride reports.

1913 steam tug Kerne

1913 steam tug Kerne blowing off at 180psi for the boiler inspector, at the end of last year.

Volunteers from the Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society have replaced all 60 of the heavy-walled stay tubes on 1913 steam tug Kerne’s 1936 twin-furnace Scotch boiler. This was a difficult task as each tube is threaded to the tubeplates at both ends, and each thread starts in a different position. After tube removal, the thread positions were gauged using a tool devised and made by the team, before the tubes were thread-cut to suit each tube position.

As the boiler is of riveted construction, this traditional method of replacement was adopted rather than welding the tubes into place, as it was both better for the life of the boiler and also helped to preserve traditional boiler-making skills.

The work was supported by small grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Historic Ships UK, The Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund and The Foyle Foundation, plus private donations from supporters.

The last stay tube successfully fitted by (left to right), Chris Heyes, Paul Ogden, Jon Bregazzi and Andy Calder.

The Kerne volunteers were delighted to win the 2021 National Historic Ships UK Shipshape Network Project Marsh Volunteer Award for this work, and chief engineer, Chris Heyes, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement certificate for his voluntary work aboard the tug.

Work will be continuing aboard the tug at her Sandon Dock restoration base in Liverpool over the winter lay-up period, with the prospect of a full season of steaming to public events in 2022.

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