The Project at 2002



To design and manufacture a 2 3/4" + 4 3/8" + 6 1/2" x 4" triple expansion marine steam engine based on castings produced by the Elliot Bay Steam Launch Co. of Portland US


To install and operate it in a launch of around 26 feet length.



Having always been fascinated by marine steam and triples in particular I first came across the engine while surfing the net looking for steam stuff in 1997. Advertised by the Elliot Bay Steam Launch Co. of Portland USA it's long and tall lines epitomised what I think looks just right.

How I came to buy it

Initial inquiries, just for fun of course, revealed a steep price, the likelihood of lots of work and precious little in the way of what it looked like in the flesh. The vendor was not able to supply finished photos and although advertising suggested that several had been sold in various parts of the world and pictures on the internet showed glimpses of the engine being built, the details of who or where did not eventuate. Further inquiries elicited the fact that the engine was not ready for "production" but could be built by an experienced machinist.

 By 1999 further enquiries had led me to three of the builders, one in the US, One in Canada and one in the UK (building five engines!) Numerous lengthy phone calls,  letters  photos and emails back and forth began to build a picture of a magnificent looking engine with numerous manufacturing problems.

At that stage it appeared that only the Canadian engine had been completed and installed in a launch. I had photos of the prototype engine being installed but have been unable to find any trace of it or its current owner

 All of the other builders  have been incredibly generous with advice and details of the problems that they had experienced.

 Knowing that it could be done I purchased the drawings for the engine in late 1999  (all 160 of them) with a view to seeing if I thought my machining ability (amateur, self taught) would handle all the bits.

 I was fortunate in being able to combine a business trip in July 2000 to a conference in Atlanta with a whirlwind five day fact-finding mission to Denver, Vancouver and Portland (The vendor's location).

 Greg Linden from Denver generously put me up for the night and showed me his exquisite work in a spectacularly equipped workshop. He had drawn many of the drawings currently supplied with the engine and has corrected them as he has progressed.

 The highlight of my trip was a few hours spent on the waters around Vancouver on the launch powered by the Canadian engine. The beautiful engine was a work of art and was poetry in motion. Previously smitten I was seriously hooked. 

My trip to Portland armed with a list of the known problems and the difficulties faced by three different engineers led to the conclusion that with the current drawings, the revisions supplied by Greg Linden, the correct castings (some of which have been modified at my request) and some expert assistance I would be able to build it.

 So, with some trepidation, I bought the castings and arranged freight to Australia.

In October 2000, in a crate that just fitted into the station wagon, 115 bronze and iron castings weighing 400lbs arrived.

What's it for?

It will eventually power a steam launch, the "Witch of Endor"

The name comes from C.S. Forester's "Flying Colours".

Horatio Hornblower has been taken captive after destroying three French ships at the cost of his own. He daringly escapes his French captors while being transported to a firing squad and recaptures the "Witch of Endor", an English cutter taken as a prize by the French. He cunningly defeats attempts  by the French to recapture the cutter  and returns to England a hero into the arms of his true love.

Still in the planning stages, it will be around 26' long with an 8' beam, counter stern,  probably strip planked

Here is a photo of the half model. It is still being whittled away!      


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