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
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
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.
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
incredibly generous with advice and details of the problems that they
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
to a conference in Atlanta with a whirlwind five day fact-finding
mission to Denver, Vancouver and Portland (The vendor's location).
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.
highlight of my trip was a few
hours spent on the waters around Vancouver on the launch powered by the
beautiful engine was
a work of art
and was poetry in motion.
Previously smitten I was
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
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
The name comes from C.S. Forester's
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!