First Steamings


This page is new on 11 March 2004. More pictures will follow soon

First Steaming: 4th November 2003

John Davis was arriving at about 9am with the boiler so I made an early start to get the engine up two flights of stairs from the workshop under the pool. My father, Peter Cowie and father-in-law Norm Costa arrived about 8am and we dragged the engine on its' bearers up a wide plank with a boat winch. Once up the stairs it was lifted with the crane onto its' trolley and wheeled around to the garage via another short haul up 3 steps.

John had arrived by this time and the crane was used to lift the boiler off the truck and onto the garage apron.

A fire was lit by Oscar aged 9 who was tragically too sick to go to school but who had made a remarkable recovery by 8am.

Steam was raised in short time and the engine was coupled to the boiler and warmed through. As I hadn't received the check valves for the feed pumps John had brought a 3/8" Penberthy injector to feed the boiler.

Once warm I gave the engine about 40lbs and wound her ahead and astern to clear the condensate. I was not able to get a revolution out of her and shut down the steam and ensured that there was no pressure before winding her over with the Barring lever to ensure that there was no water in the engine.

After about 15 minutes of rocking I was beginning to get a bit worried and hesitatingly gave her about 60psi with the HP crank just after TDC.

Away she went!

She answered ahead and astern without hesitation and ran up to about 400rpm with negligible vibration. After an hour or so she would run down to about 30psi.

I was VERY pleased!


2nd Steaming 16 November 2003

The check valves had arrived and I was keen to run the engine on my own.

A spaghetti network of pipes surrounded the pumps.

With a full glass in the boiler in case the pumps did not work I raised steam and got the engine turning. Once again I was very hesitant with that first rev being concerned about breaking something (especially the relatively weak LP cylinder covers).

The feed pump required a squirt from the garden hose to prime it and away it went without any fuss.

I had reduced the ram diameter from 1/2" on the drawings to 5/16" according to my calculations on capacity required (courtesy of an article in the NWSS's journal)

The water level slowly gains with the pump on.

I had to restrict the inlets of the auxiliary feed pump and air pump as they tended to knock at any speed. The aux. pump is 1/2" diameter and the air pump is 1 3/16" diameter and is not designed to operate on a gut full of water

3rd Steaming: early December 2003

For a few of my fathers' friends the engine was steamed again and I had problems with the feed pump continually requiring priming. Hindsight suggested that I had used different hose on the inlet side and a hose clip too large that allowed a small quantity of air in.

4th Steaming: 28 December 2003

The engine was steamed for Les Snape our 93 year old ex - neighbour. Les built a number of steam models in the 1930's and has been very interested in the engine's progress. Unfortunately he now lives in a nursing home on the other side of the city and we don't see much of him.

The port side lagging was fitted and stood up well to the heat.

The engine performed perfectly.

5th Steaming: 4th March 2004

The injector (a new 3/8" Penberthy) had arrived via Santa and John Davis suggested that I should test everything before the engine's public debut at the 2004 Sydney Classic and Wooden Boat Festival on March 6th.

Also on test were the injector plumbing, new blower plumbing, new Boiler Pressure gauge and plumbing, new funnel uptake, oil boxes and finished timber lagging.

Everything performed perfectly

6th Steaming: 6th & 7th March 2004

The 2004 Sydney Classic and Wooden Boat Festival: the engine's public debut!

The engine and boiler were lifted onto the back of my father's utility (one tonne pickup truck to non - Australians!) and delivered to the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney on Friday afternoon and set up on the wharf adjacent to the HMAS Vampire.

An early start on Saturday saw the engine plumbed up to the boiler along with Len Lark's 12HP Vosper Compound on its' first public outing too.

By 9.30 the gates were open and we had quite a crowd to observe the warm-up procedure and the first revolution.

I had become a fair bit more confidant at start up and after warming through for 15 minutes with the drains open and a few rocks back and forward on the reversing wheel I shut off the steam, waited for the pressure to drop then gave her a few turns with the barring lever to ensure that their was no water to stop that first revolution.

With the HP & IP drain cocks closed and the HP set to just after TDC I gave her a decent squirt of steam and away she went. My impulse valve (Mk II! is not an entire success yet)

With the exception of a blocked feed pump check valve giving us a few worried moments (60psi and low water) and a screw from the reversing nut falling out the engine ran perfectly. The injector saved the day picking up from as low as 50psi)

The engines attracted a great deal of positive comment and interest with a crowd up to two and three deep on a few occasions.

The boiler battled a bit with both engines running. The inexperienced fireman (me) has a lot to learn! We managed to maintain 90 psi with both engines running for an hour or so on a few occasions but otherwise pressure would slowly drop to about 55psi and refuse to budge up. With Len's engine shut down we would gradually gain pressure to about 70 and then it would be 120 in a flash!

As I was trying to keep the boiler to a maximum of 100psi this necessitated calling on Len's engine and the injector after which the steam would rapidly drop to 60 again.

The boiler was operating under severe conditions with both engines drawing steam, absolutely no boiler lagging, cold feed water and being constantly drenched with rain!

In total the engine ran for about 7 hours with hardly a stop. The boiler consumed a bag and a half of a combination of briquettes and coke.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday but without the pump failure or the loose screw...Just Perfect

A big thanks must go to Len Lark who offered his assistance for the weekend. Len is a ticketed steam engine driver and is the regular engineer on the steam yacht "Lady Hopetoun" fitted with a 260HP Simpson Strickland triple. His advice and assistance were priceless.


The triple and boiler at the 2004 Sydney Classic and Wooden Boat Festival








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