The Steamboat Association
of Great Britain

to foster and encourage steam boating and the building, development, preservation and restoration of steam boats and steam machinery

to stimulate public interest
in steam boats
and steam boating

to promote high standards
of workmanship,
safety and seamanship


Topical notes about the SBA and the world of steamboats

  • 11 Apr 2015 11:29 | Deleted user

    During 2015 Philip Webster is giving us a monthly update on his adventures in Banjo (a bit late this month due to a forgetful webmaster):

    A 'bewtiful' spring day  to start the month. With two guests, making a total of six plus one small dog, made a full load for our second 'live' test run up river to Surlingham. Andy, our once a year guest had just returned from New Zealand, where he had travelled on a 'real' steamship. He had also learned how to guarantee another trip in Banjo by observing that Beryl (the engine) runs much smoother than last year.

    Friday the …............................................................! Whilst not being the slightest bit superstitious these  special days seem to clock an extra tally of woes. Before we had started, George, our No. 2 phoned to say he had had a tumble, nothing broken, the missed day's steaming hurting as much as the bruises. On arrival at moorings, plan 'A' had to be cancelled as the water had turned into mud. We had planned to go down river then up the Chet to 'Lim's' for fish and chips, the best in Broadland, but floatation did not happen until eleven thirty. Option No. 2, another nice meal at Surlingham.

    'Gremlinity' did not end there of course. The leisurely lunch allowed the fire to burn out , the rekindled job lasting to a mile from home, then fading miserably. Frantic stoking beat the tide and rising head wind, just averting a night in the reeds. By the time we had docked we had a lovely fire, then triumph of the day, my modification worked!

    The fire grate is round and in three sections. The half moons used to fall off the support ring when dumping the fire, so I have welded on two pegs to each to locate behind the support ring. The centre section now lifts on it's own, the fire neatly extinguished in the ash pan.

    We must go down to Lim's again
    For fish and chips and peas
    With just a little salt perhaps
    No vinegar for me please

    The Grenlins must like chippys too
    They could not find bad things to do
    Accept to pull the clouds across
    To keep the eclipse from our eyes

    Last Friday in the month and the sick bay is bulging! In spite of the lack of crew, No.1 helped me clean the tubes. 35 hrs. steaming with lots of Cyprus logs, although 2yrs. Old, were very sticky up the flue.

    Cruising along at six knots we had good feed pressure and a bit of vacuum, but at 3knots, as we crawled up the Chet, the feed was a bit below par and the vacuum likewise. The drive ratios had been altered to quieten the feed pump and 'test' the vacuum pump capability. The ratios have now been restored to last year's spec..

    Whilst admiring my handiwork a voice over my shoulder enquired 'is that a crack line on that fitting'? Sure enough there was a line, my new torch illuminated a groove in the metal. Not a crack, it looks like an attack with a grinder! This 1/2” T piece has been fitted on the infeed water for the last 20yrs. ! It has been replaced with a new one. Another pair of eyes are always useful.

    We did get the 'BIG' whistle to sing eventually, but is way out of character and will move on to a ship equal to it's size. Now that all others have aligned their clocks,i.e. Banjo Steam Time, we can look forward to some longer trips. Chris has discovered a new curry mine near the limit of navigation, that's a definite target.
  • 31 Mar 2015 18:36 | Deleted user

    Mairead Maclean, a researcher with the BBC’s Science Unit is working on a documentary about Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace and needs a steamboat to film on:

    Ada Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage to write up his blueprints for what is now considered the first computer, the Difference Engine.

    For our programme we would like to film with our presenter Hannah Fry on a steam boat sailing up the Thames. We are filming for this programme between the 22nd and 30th of April so filming on the steam boat would take place between these dates.

    We are trying to locate a steamboat to film on. The boat we are looking for would be what would have been sailing on the Thames during Queen Victoria’s era. The boat need not be large - just large enough to accommodate a film crew of up to 5 people (most likely 4 people). Our filming will be taking place in London so are looking to film on a boat on the Thames that gives us a sense of use being in London, ideally we would love to sail past the Houses of Parliament as part of our story touches on politics at that time.

    If you can help or require further information please contact Mairead by email at and by phone on 07968 505419.

  • 12 Mar 2015 20:23 | Deleted user
    The request for star lots at the AGM Auction has resulted in a Frolic 18 being offered for sale at Gaydon on Saturday 21st March.
    Steam Launch "Firefly" which is a 19' long x 4' 6" beam Frolic, built by Creative Marine in 1985. She has a fibreglass hull and Pine and Mahogany deck. In addition there is a full set of upholstered cushions and stainless steel frame and canopy. She comes with a 2 wheel braked trailer and lighting board and straps. She is powered by a Newton Coil coal fired boiler built by D King also in 1985 and a Stewart Turner 5a engine. The boat will be supplied with a full history and current boiler certificate.

    Buyers need not be concerned at having to tow a boat home unexpectedly, the boiler requires its inspection to be completed and the boat will be available from the owners home as soon as the boiler inspector returns from holiday! Collection from Leighton Buzzard area when test is complete.

  • 08 Mar 2015 12:17 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dinner at the AGM 21 March. The Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon

    While we have 105 people for lunch on AGM day, we have some spaces for evening dinner, following which there will be a brief but probably inspirational entertainment. Don't miss out on joining in the 'craic' (as Irish members might describe it!) at the end of this important day, and If you'd like to come contact Mark Rudall (outgoing Chair) at or call him on 01252 645486. Cost is £20 per head and you would need to be at Gaydon for about 5.30 when you'll also get a ticket to look round the museum without the bother of other visitors being present!

    If you are coming to the AGM and have not yet booked, click here!

  • 08 Mar 2015 09:39 | Deleted user

    John Dodwell, Chairman of the Montgomery Canal Partnership writes:

    This is something different - not another speech!

    I am also chair of the Montgomery Canal Partnership (local authorities, canal and environmental restoration groups). Our application for a near £4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has been accepted in principle (i.e. got past stage 1) and Canal & River Trust (CRT) staff are now working up the detailed stage 2 bid. Total costs estimated at £6m.

    Part of the HLF bid relates to showing the project has public support. Much of this is being done on-line via a survey but more public support would be most welcome.

    Can you please complete the quick and easy survey on this link? -

    The physical works to the Canal will be supported by a four year programme of community engagement activities. The details of these activities are currently being drawn up, but initial ideas include boat trips, nature walks and talks, canoeing and angling taster days, education programmes with schools and other young people’s organisations, arts workshops, performances and festivals, and many more. You now have a chance to have a say on what you think could be included.

     The restoration works to be done will include:
    • Volunteer led re-lining of the dry canal bed to get to Crickheath Basin. This will then enable navigation from Maesbury to Crickheath (about 2km - 1.25 miles), building on restoration already done over part of the length by the Shropshire Union Canal Society.
    • The Canal is an important SSSI - housing important wild life and plants. Part of the works involve extending the existing nature reserves at Aston as a home for these. This will not only allow the section to Crickheath to be restored but will also allow other restoration
    • Dredging in parts of the Welsh section which is in water
    • Repairs to some of the bridges and locks in the Welsh section
    So you can see the work isn't only in the Shropshire section and that the work will help later restoration phases, I hope you can support this and please circulate around.

    NB Responses are needed by 27 March 2015

    Best wishes


  • 01 Mar 2015 21:29 | Deleted user

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

    As if by magic, the temperature has taken a dive, so the greenhouse heater is doing something worth while, in the boiler! The workshop stove is eating sticks, the new trailer taking shape.

    I think they call it a 'senior moment' when you forget something. I forgot the last 50 years when I lifted what should have been on a hook. A couple of days off and a hot bath (that will be two this year), the trailer should be mobile by the end of next week. Or next.

    The bung is in and the date set. Feb 20th will see us afloat, Capt. Chris has a large whistle that needs dusting!

    King Dick rules o.k. This is not a statement or recommendation of aristocratic rule, but an appreciation of the old tool that I inherited from Dad. This much used and abused adjustable spanner has served at least two lifetimes of active service. It has now found a new use, as a brake shoe lifter. I was not familiar with the brakes on the Bradley axles, so, inevitably , when I removed the first hub a shower of springs rent the air. When all were found and hooked into the correct holes, I needed a 'special' tool to lift the upper shoe enabling refitting of the activating lever assembly. This old fool found the old tool did the job in seconds. A learning morning well spent. The second hub was much quicker!

    Didn't we have a bootiful day ! No snags on the journey, launched easily with the extension pole and my feet never got wet. Just as well as the water was freezing.

    One lesson learned, coal sacks float! For a short while that is, just long enough to drift out of reach! Fortunately we carry a 'fender grabber', a recycled hoe handle with the business end formed into a hook. I must confess that I have never bought a fender. I have copious stocks of 'rescued' flotsam
    and jetsam, all collected as 'navigation hazards'.

    So that was winter, I hope. We of tender years remember 1947, and the POW's that dug us out of the snow, in March! This year we have only had a sprinkle of the white stuff, the snowdrops making a better show.

    Steaming dates anticipated in 2015 will be every Friday as usual, plus:

    20 May - Ladies Day.

    5,6,7 June - Steamy Weekend at Buckenham, all welcome

    12 June - Passage to Museum of the Broads

    14 June - Museum Steam Day

    19,20,21 June - Surlingham Ferry, carnival.

    3 July - Passage to Beccles.

    4,5 July  - Beccles Regatta

    26 July - Reedham Race, escort.

    19 September - Triple 'B' turn boat on Breydon.

  • 25 Feb 2015 19:02 | Deleted user

    The steam powered outboard motor competition will be returning again after the success of 2014’s competition (see here and here for what people got up to last year).


    Entry is free to any SBA members, who can take part either individually or in small teams. If you are interested in taking part in the competition but are not an SBA member why not join the Steam Boat Association?


    Form of the Competition

    The SBA will provide a boat to which the competitors attach a steam outboard motor.  The boat will include a boiler (with a fireman) to provide steam for the engine.  The entrant will then race against other entries in a time trial.

    Definition of a Steam Outboard

    For the purposes of this competition any device which will mount on the transom bracket of the host boat and receives steam from the host boat fits the definition of an outboard motor.  

    A steam control valve is required on the engine for the entrant to control the engine.

    There is no requirement for the use of a traditional outboard motor leg or even to use a propeller. Similarly the engine does not have to be of the conventional steam engine arrangement.  Be as creative as you like!

    The outboard motor does not have to include a steering system as this will be provided on the host boat (although it may if you wish).

    The Host Boat

    This year the host boat will be specially assembled for the competition (she will be a similar size to last year’s host boat - Mark Rudall’s Chimera II.) She will have a water tube boiler producing saturated steam at 100psi. 

    Steam will be supplied to the engine via an insulated flexible hose which will be fitted with a 3/8” BSP male fitting.


    Form of the Competition

    The competition will be in two parts; a time trial and the judges’ selection for technical excellence.

    1 - Time trials

    The time trial will involve timed runs around a course, the fastest of the runs will count.

    The fireman of the host boat will attempt to maintain a boiler pressure of 100psi (likely to be lower at the engine).  The entrants are responsible for control of steam supply to the engine and for steering the boat around the course.

    2 - Technical excellence

    The judges will decide on their favourite entry, based on innovative features, quality of workmanship, presentation etc.  The judges’ decisions are final.


    Location of the Competition

    The competition will take place in the course of the Beale Park Boat Show which is on the 5th-7th June 2015.  Entrants will be able to have several runs throughout the duration of the show.

    Safety & Environmental Considerations

    Entrants are responsible for their own safety when operating their plant.  It is suggested that you complete a simple risk assessment to identify risks of your design and take the necessary steps to mitigate against them.

    The outboard motor must not pollute the environment and measures to prevent oil escaping from the outboard motor MUST be taken.  Minimal cylinder lubrication may be necessary but care should be taken that excess oil droplets do not find their way into the lake. The judges will need to be satisfied that your engine will not pollute the lake before allowing the engine on the water.

    The judges and the fireman of the host boat reserve the right to stop the competition at any point for reasons of safety, to prevent damage to the host boat or other craft or to prevent pollution.


    For more information or to register an entry for the competition (

    as soon as possible to help with planning) contact Kingsley Robinson at:

    Phone: 07985 931299


    Post: 13 Caer Castell Place,



              CF3 3PW

    Click here for a printable copy on these instructions.
  • 24 Feb 2015 17:07 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Documents relating to the 2015 AGM are now available for members to download.   Follow this link.

    If you intend to come and have not yet registered or booked refreshments, follow this link.

  • 24 Feb 2015 07:58 | Deleted user

  • 01 Feb 2015 17:51 | Deleted user

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

    Happy New Year and good steaming in 2015. Banjo will be 118 and I seem to be catching her up!  We always steam up on New Year's Day, usually on the water but, but this time a test run on the  work shop 'patio'. This was actually the third test run, and all went well. The feed pump welcomed the return to double engine speed, the vacuum pump relishing the four to one reduction. The smooth slow running of Beryl 2b prompted a unanimous vote to stop tinkering and install it! To day I completed the installation of the mounting frame, engineer's floor and the ash pan. A few licks of paint and we shall be ready for the big lifts when the 'gang' arrives on Friday.

    Beryl and Betsy on their trolleys
    Wait for lifting, Friday's follies,
    Onto frame secure and solid
    Pumps and pipes to link between
    Sharing water when we steam .
    On Saturday the gang are noshing
    At the Artichoke, no 'troshin'.
    Later on no doubt they'll hanker
    For a super Banjo banger.

    All is safely lifted in. Only snag was Mr. Mate's arrival, in an MX5, boys will be boys! Coffee break got a bit extended so the pipes will have to wait 'till Monday.

    Fifteen steaming associates gathered at the Artichoke for lunch on Saturday. I shouldn't really worry about engine noise, their noisy chatter would drown a big end!

    Most of the pipes and bits are fitted, and passed the 'should have cleaned the paint out of the threads before fitting' stage, but the 'clamping the glove under the collar' seems to linger a bit.

    Perfect weather for varnishing is as rare as a Venus hand shake, so said Antonio Stradivari (1644- 1737), or something similar. The main problem is the humidity, dust being a rare commodity in the car port this time of year. On Wednesday, 14th. It was cold, but as dry as a steamers throat. The boat had been rubbed down ready for some weeks, so a quick dust off and the job done by coffee break, and I needed it, if only to warm my hands.
    First to arrive on Friday was Mr. Mate, he operated the vacuum cleaner hose as I cleaned the tubes with the counter balanced electric drill. This ancient machine, bought for a pound at a jumble sale has a thee quarter stainless steel wire brush attached . The 103 copper tubes were soon cleaned, the six stay tubes being steel are blanked off. I hope the latter will at least out live the former!

    The other two 'boys' arrived in time to lift on board the 'bay window'. This assembly consists of the starboard bow quarter windows, 3 fixed, 2 opening, enabling access to engine room and galley for refit.

    When I fired up my trusty steed early this morning I was informed that the temperature was minus four Celsius, O-dear. I had meant to wrap the engine and boiler in blankets, some pipes were frozen. A gentle fire of sticks warmed them through with no harm done. A few more sticks and all ran well, and now wrapped up nice and cosy.

    I dropped a clanger yesterday (Friday 23rd.). The best way to find faults, I recon, is to get someone else to run the plant. Accordingly, the crew were detailed to simulate a steam up river to Norwich (on the drive). Steam was raised with sticks by George, Mike kept an eye on the water and John put the galley in order. I passed up all the odd bits of 'essential' equipment that had been secreted in the workshop. I soon had a small list of desirable tweeks, then a loud chorus of 'where's the clanger'? The ship's bell had lost it's dangly bit en route, but soon found, five bells rang and coffee served.

    Yesterday (Friday 30th) we had the third, post refit steam test on the drive, without problems. She is now wrapped up against the frost, awaiting relaunch as soon as the temperature rises above worry.

    Today, our No. two, George, is 80. A valued crew member, we had a surprise party for him. It may come as a surprise to some of you, that George is a SNOTY! I shall explain. When I first met George, as a young paper boy, and an ex RAF typist, I new he would make a good crew member and signed him on as Shore Staff/movable ballast. He soon proved his dedication to the job by pluging into the mud whilst quanting Banjo into moorings. He lost his favorite cap, and a bit of dignity but gained a lot of brownie points, and was promoted to Assistant Helmsman. Having had a boat of his own, he knew which way to turn the wheel and how gently. One day, around Polky's Mill, we slid gently on to the mud and no body noticed. We had a two hour lunch 'till the tide turned. His next station was stoker, a steam boat goes nowhere without a good fire. As one might expect, a Geordie knows a thing or two about steam coal. Judging the size of fire for the job in hand is not a simple task. George's specialty here is to steam us into dock just as the last ember goes out!

    In addition to his dedicated crewing, he has regularly contributed rice pudding, peaches and beer to our steamy lunches.

    In recognition of his devoted service, he is promoted to SNOTY 2015. That is, STEAM NUT OF THE YEAR.

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