2019 was a remarkable year for Waverley. No passengers were carried yet more was given to the ship in donations and grants than would have been raised in revenue had she operated a full sailing season.
It was the first year since 1812 that a steamship service hasn’t been available on the Clyde. As the year draws to a close it’s worth looking back to Waverley’s last re-boilering to consider what is to come in the opening months of the new decade.
The pictures in this post are supplied by Waverley Excursions Ltd. The images of the rebuild were kindly supplied from various individuals including Gordon Reid, Ken Henderson, Nick James, Iain McCorkindale, Martin Longhurst, Stuart Cameron, Douglas McGowan MBE, Dr Joe McKendrick, Ashley Gill, Howard Davies, Albert Plummer, D Lynch and Peter Box. (The quality of digital images from that period is variable.)
Heritage Rebuild – Phase 1
Waverley had closed the 1999 season on the Bristol Channel with the final sailings of the century before retiring to Avonmouth Docks awaiting further instruction. By late November it was announced that phase 1 of the Heritage Rebuild contract had been awarded to George Prior Engineering Ltd. (GPE) and would be carried out in Great Yarmouth.
A week before Christmas Waverley steamed from the Bristol Channel to the Norfolk seaside town where she would spend 8 months. After anchoring off Great Yarmouth for the evening on 20th December she made her way upriver on the morning of the 21st.
The rebuild got fully underway early in January 2000 and cost over £3 million with £2.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim was to return the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world to her 1947 style whilst complying with all relevant marine safety legislation.
Iain McMillan, Project Director for the rebuild, stated:
Re-Boilering in 2000
During Phase 1 of the rebuild twin Thermax Cochran Boilers were installed having been ordered in 1998 at a cost of around £200,000. These boilers will be removed in early 2020 making way for what will be the 5th and 6th boilers to be fitted to Waverley.
By the second week of the new century in 2000 Waverley’s funnels were removed to expose the 1981 Babcock boiler. Further dismantling then continued apace in preparation for the boiler room to be fully stripped out.
To enable the old boiler to be lifted out Waverley was towed a short distance down river from GPE yard on 25th January to access a suitable crane. The boiler weighed in at 51 tonnes.
Once the boiler was lifted out there were significant steel renewals in the boiler room and engine room. The fuel tanks had been positioned on the outboard sides of the boiler room but were re-positioned to run across the ship against the engine room/boiler room bulkhead.
The new boilers were built in Annan and transported by road to Great Yarmouth to be installed in Waverley.
The Rebuild Diary produced online by Society Treasurer, Martin Longhurst, can still be accessed online here.
Re-Boilering – 2020
Due to tight time constraints the re-boilering of Waverley in 2020 will be as close to ‘plug and play’ as is possible. The new boilers are currently being manufactured at Cochran Ltd’s Newbie site in Annan due for completion in February. The design will be very similar to the current boilers although with modern control systems. The size must be identical to the current boilers to fit the available space although the boiler shells will be 1mm thicker. Unlike the previous units the new boilers will not burn heavy fuel oil and will only operate on marine gas oil (diesel).
The new boilers consist of a shell which is constructed in two parts. Each half shell is rolled and then welded (longitudinal weld) to form a cylinder.
Waverley will move (under tow) to the James Watt Dock in January ahead of the new boilers being installed. Some preparation works have taken place with the boiler room insulation and some pipe work removed. ABB who are supplying the new main switch board have also undertaken some preliminary work by marking cable runs.
When work commences in January both funnels and the fiddley deck will be removed. As well as removing the old boilers the two electric alternators and the oily water separator will be removed. The sewage treatment plant will be re-positioned within the boiler room to make way for a 3rd alternator. Fitting three new alternators allows for increased electric loads and gives a degree of future proofing to the ship. The bulk of electrical work will be carried out ahead of the installation of the new boilers.
Once the new components are fitted a new fiddley deck will be installed before the funnels are returned. Both funnels will receive a full coat of paint.
The scale of work required is substantial but has been completed before. Following the re-boilering Waverley will be dry-docked for survey. During the dry-docking a new sea chest for the 3rd alternator will be fitted.
Waverley will undergo extensive sea trials to ensure that all equipment is working and operating as expected. Work carried out on the main engine during the 2018-19 winter refit will also need to be proved since the engine was last in steam in October 2018. Subject to cost and available funds some other refurbishment work may take place. Donations to Waverley are still welcome and can be made online.