Waverley Winter Refit – Progress Report – November & December 2021

Waverley’s 2021 season ended on 19th September with the crew departing a few days later for some well earned rest. The last sailing of the season proved to be memorable with the cruise round Bute being well supported.

Waverley passes through the Kyles of Bute for the final time in 2021 on Sunday 19th September.

A great capture with Waverley making herself heard as she strides at pace through the east Kyle heading back to Rothesay on 19th September.

Given that the area around the Glasgow Science Centre was being used as part of the COP26 event it was decided to refrain from starting the winter refit work until mid-November after the event was finished. The opportunity was taken to have a “good clear out” of items in the workshop and storage space adjoining the Waverley offices at Lancefield Quay. Given the company has occupied the offices since 1989 there were a few items gathering dust!

A week before the COP26 event started Waverley found herself positioned between the two secure zones, which meant that she was watched 24 hours a day by security staff. There was in fact someone posted at the temporary gated entrance to her berth over a period of 3 weeks – she had never been so secure!

Waverley viewed from within the “Green Zone” prior to the start of the COP26 event.

Access to Waverley was restricted to just a few Waverley Excursions employees who were issued with security passes by the Police.

One of the first tasks when starting the winter refit work was to clean the boilers (a very messy job). This involves sweeping the tubes to push through any fine carbon deposited on the wall of the tubes. To date the port boiler has been cleaned, the starboard is still on the “To Do” list.

The port boiler with the burner assembly removed and after the tubes had been swept through to remove any carbon.

With the burner assembly removed and the furnace accessible the port boiler was given a visual inspection – all is reported as being good. Since the above picture was taken the burner assembly has been refitted.

This winter the Low Pressure unit of the main engine is due for its 5-yearly survey this winter. Given the diameter of the LP cylinder (62 inches – is this the biggest on any ship still trading in the world?) stripping this section of the engine is hard work and requires a lot of lifting gear.

In order to inspect the big end bearing the connecting rod has to be removed.

An unusual view of the main engine with the LP connecting rod lowered down from the crankshaft. Note the chains and lifting gear supporting the engine.

The connecting rod viewed from underneath on the bottom plates of the engine room.

Another view of the main engine during the survey works.

The condenser is also due its 5-yearly survey and this has now been opened up, inspected by Waverley’s engineers and the MCA.

The condenser opened up, this is viewed from the starboard side of the lower engine room. We can report that it passed the survey.

Following the season a full inspection of the deck timbers revealed that at least 160m requires replacement. Typically during a winter around 100m has been replaced but in order to try and stop further rot a lot more must be replaced this winter.

Work started on replacing deck timbers in late-November. This involved stripping out rotten timbers on the upper aft deck and the rear promenade deck.

New deck timbers on the port side Promenade Deck.

Some replacement timbers on the upper deck aft. This will hopefully reduce the number of leaks in the Tea Bar.

Some of the rotten timber which was removed. Note the new timbers are visible in the background, at this point the pitch had still to be trimmed around the new decking.

Installing deck timbers is a labour intensive task (which makes it expensive).

Those who sail on Waverley will know there is a lot of wooden seating – around the deck shelters, at the bow, around the funnels, on the stern deck and the upper deck. All of that wood weathers and needs re-varnishing to maintain it. To keep it in a condition suitable for a ship described as a “National Treasure” requires a lot of stripping, sanding and varnishing – a task that will take several winters to complete even with more labour.

Fortunately some new volunteers have come forward this winter and made it their aim to tackle the seating which sits around the deck shelters.

The Tea Bar area is used as a workshop for stripping and varnishing the bench seats.

Stripping the old varnish is a time consuming task.

There are a lot of bench seats on Waverley to varnish. Further volunteers to assist with this task would be very welcome.

The work list for early 2022 is growing with many items to be tackled before Waverley is ready to sail for her annual dry docking in April.

Some tasks on the “To Do” list include:

  • 5-yearly survey of the capstan (aft steam winch)
  • Fuel tank inspection
  • Refurbishing the Crew Utility Room
  • Survey of the forward superstructure (steel around the Jeanie Deans Lounge)
  • Further deck repairs – bow area, promenade deck & around the funnels
  • Replacement of catering equipment in the Dining Saloon and Galley
  • Electrical work in the Engine Room, Galley and Lower Bar
  • Starboard boiler cleaning
  • Replacing a radius rod on the port paddle wheel
  • Repairing the lifejacket lockers
  • Repairs to the wooden bridge doors

An area of rotten timber which needs to be replaced on the forward promenade deck.

To help fund the necessary winter work on Waverley a 75th Anniversary Appeal has been launched. Given that the season was delayed till late June due to Covid restrictions and passenger numbers were capped at just 300 until the 2nd week of August income was less than could be hoped for in more normal times.

Fortunately the 2021 season did produce a good financial result given all the restrictions, some funds are therefore in hand to help cover the cost of the winter period. However, there is a gap in funding to meet the full cost of the winter refit and dry docking.

Since the 75th Anniversary Appeal was opened just a few weeks ago over £25,000 has already been donated – a strong start. The target for the Appeal is £150,000, this will then help towards the £450,000 which will be spent directly on Waverley to have her ready for her 75th Anniversary year.

All donations small or larger are most welcome to help Waverley’s owning charity ensure that all the necessary work is carried out ahead of the 2022 season. Donations can be made online via the PSPS or Waverley websites. If you can Gift Aid your donation this will add a further 25p to every £1 donated.

Any individual who donates £75 or more towards the 75th Anniversary Appeal will receive a unique Waverley Coaster in thanks.

75th Anniversary Coaster – sent to any individual who donates £75 or more to the Appeal.

To help support the charity which owns Waverley a new book has been published where 100% of all sales will go directly to support Waverley.

Jeanie Deans Clydebuilt Pioneer of Paddle Steamer Preservation” is out now priced at £25 (£29 including UK P&P). This new publication is written by Fraser G MacHaffie and exceptionally well illustrated. The book is A4 hardback at 180 pages. It covers the full Clyde career of Jeanie from 1933 until she was withdrawn in 1964 before picking up her brave attempt at preservation as “Queen of the South” in 1966 & 1967. This is a must have for anyone with an interest in steamships.

The book can be ordered now directly from Waverley Excursions. Order online or by calling 0141 243 2224.

Cover of the newly published book covering the full career of one of the most highly regarded Clyde steamers – Jeanie Deans.

January 2022