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Diary of a Steamboater - April

30 Apr 2015 19:40 | Deleted user

During 2015 Philip Webster is giving us a monthly update on his adventures in Banjo:

April, showers an' all! Takes more than a bit of weather to deter this 'Gentlemen's Luncheon Party'. The gale a day earlier had lifted the canopy off the locating cleats, leaving it a couple of feet askew and the windows following suit.  Needless to say we were a few minutes late getting away but once we had steam up and air lock cleared we beat most of the Good Friday rush at Surlingham.

This week the advised late start was due to the fitting of 'exciting new equipment', i.e. two whistle valves, proper ones, thank you 'Ernie'. They work very well and do not leak. The single note whistle came off the first Frolic 18, now converted to electric. I had the boiler in Banjo for a time, the whistle came with it.

I think it was jealousy. A mile up river the engine laboured, vacuum disappeared, and 'oh dear', 'oh dear, oh dear', the v...........pump seized. A rapid by-pass was skilfully deployed whilst surrounded with canoes and 'humorous' suggestions. A 'Gremlinic' influence is suspected as on inspection in the workshop the pump freed off! A detailed inspection, with bright light and spectacles is scheduled for Monday morning.

We started off with high hopes. The vacuum pump, simplified to single acting, without the seizing guide bars, gives the impression that it would suck a barnacle of Walrus. However as I turned the crank on warming through a loud thud welcomed in 'plan B'. The HP con rod had parted company from the small end yolk, the lock nut hadn't. A Monday morning routine!

Plan 'B' swung into action after coffee ,scones, and a big think. Tug Liberte started faultlessly, steered well and the hooter must have frightened all the clouds away. The therapeutic effect of an hour on a big wheel worked wonders on the blood pressure!

The 'duty fitter' earned his reward this week! Not only does the vacuum pump work, but the new con rod fits!  The simplified design, i.e. less threads and lock nuts brings to mind the old  saying 'simplicity is the cornerstone of efficiency'. Ah, but it it the simple solutions that are harder to come by.

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