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

  • 16 Jun 2014 12:22 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The SBA website will not be available on Saturday June 21st.
    System maintenance will start at 7am UK time and last up to 10 hours.
    Apologies in advance - why not take the day off to go steaming?
  • 13 Jun 2014 16:51 | Deleted user
    We hope to charter a Thames Passenger Steamer for an SBA outing from Windsor, or near by, if enough members are interested.

    If you would like to be kept informed on date and cost please e mail Richard Havard who is organising this outing.
    At this stage it is not known if enough members are interested  and until we know numbers we can’t talk with the steamer operators about costs, dates and venue.

  • 09 Jun 2014 17:43 | Deleted user

    The entries for the first ever Steam Outboard Motor Challenge are described below. This event was highly entertaining and warm thanks must go to Kingsley Robinson, whose idea it was, and to all who built entries and ran them at Beale Park. The Host Boat, providing steam from its kerosene-fired boiler, was Chimera II.

    David Avery was all set to change the face of steamboating as we know it. What he made was a neat arrangement of pipes and ball valves, the idea being to gain propulsion by means water ejection. Steam lifted the water from the lake ( in theory) and pushed it out of the ejector tubes to thrust the host boat at high speed across the water. Using a fair bit of Chimera II's kerosene to produce as much steam as possible, it emitted an interesting bubbly farting sound and projected the boat approximately 28mm.


    John Barnard
    's entry had a strong whiff of Briggs & Stratton about it and his conversion of a 4 stroke lawn mower engine was as elegant as it was effective. This nifty engine used the original engine valves simply with a much altered camshaft. Linked to a plywood paddle made of old bookshelves this creation pushed Chimera II manfully across the lake showering everything and everybody in a wild deluge. It was impressive and cost just £17 to build.


    John Winn had remorselessly confiscated a neat vertical single from the workshop of a friend in Didcot who shall remain nameless unless you read further. Mounted on a Seagull leg and gearbox it put up a fight initially by breaking its piston rod. John burned a candle until the wee hours back home in his workshop and the restored engine put up a very creditable run on the last day. A look at the pictures shows that Chimera II was ballasted for this run with some of the SBA's serious heavyweights (names like Rudall and Schofield stand as charged) and had some of that excess lard been shed, or used for lubrication, John is pretty sure his entry would have skimmed effortlessly across the lake and blown away all competition.


    John Schofield
    's creation was powered by another small vertical engine and this was the only entry with the potential to go backwards if desired. But to have gone forwards would have been an impressive advantage. Thus all the technical innovation was immaterial since drive to the wooden paddle was by bicycle sprocket and chain and the thing had no desire to hang on to its chain for any worthwhile length of time. A credit to the mighty workshop facilities that built Magic Dragon it was a frightening machine and an affront to the H&E executive, but it showed promised for a few microseconds before disintegrating entertainingly and lapsing into sullen non-cooperation.

    undefinedMike Robinson presented what was most certainly the most imposing and technically awesome entry. It was twin-beam atmospheric - i.e Newcomen - paddle engine. It was beautifully and extremely elegantly engineered, the massed expertise of Robinsons in Wales and Sheffield having been pressed into production of components, including exquisitely neat floats to enable it to be anchored to the transom board of the host boat and supported at its other end by the water itself.

    This monster had two runs, the first using direct condensing water injection into the cylinders resulting in hydraulic lock-up and a fearfully bent piston rod on one side. This was repaired and condensing water on the next run was squirted on the outside of the cylinders, with the help of skillfully wielded of plastic cups. It looked fantastic, was enormous fun, the audiences loved it, and we can report with some pride that it did make a revolution or two under its own power. To overhear the development team discussing technical moves had all the intensity of a F1 team discussing how they might extract a further 0.3 of a BHP out of a highly-stressed racing engine.

    On reflection to be able to get as much as 0.3 of a BHP out of Newcomen's 18th century mine pumping technology would have been impressive. This engine was though, as aforesaid, an awesome beast and we hope to see it again!


    Ian McAlpine
    , though, deserved to be declared the winner. There are not many forms of steam engine left untried or unmade by Ian and his four-cylinder cruciform engine had poppet valves and went like a rocket. He disdained mounting a steam engine on the remains of a superannuated Seagull, and made his own leg, bottom end gearbox and prop. He even polished his steampipes and arrived at Beale Park with this machine neatly affixed to a Zimmer walking frame which in some subtle way conveyed a message to the many SBA members present. No doubt some old person in the Didcot area had to spend the entire weekend unable to get up to go the loo, but they can be assured it was all worth it. The engine ran as impressively as it looked.

    Mark Rudall

  • 15 May 2014 21:16 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    undefinedScottish and North Western Members enjoyed a memorable weekend cruise up the Falkirk Wheel and on the Union Canal to Linlithgow on the 2nd and 3rd of May.   A professional photographer, Nils Härtel, joined the trip and you can see his album of pictures here.
  • 09 May 2014 22:49 | Deleted user

    It is with great pleasure that I can announce that the new interactive Steamboat Register is now officially ‘live’. Some of the more sharp eyed of you have already noticed that we have been doing some advance beta testing and have already been having a go – thanks for the feedback. For the rest that have been waiting patiently (well most of you have been patient!) for this moment you can now hit the keyboard and update your boat details.

    The new system works in ‘real time’ (which means that things go live as soon as you press the keys on your keyboard); therefore no more waiting for updates to filter through the system - YOU are in immediate control. Please note that the username and password that you need to access the Register are NOT the same as your SBA website username/password – this is partly for technical reasons and partly for security reasons. There is an instructional video on the Index page of the new Register which should point you in the right direction.

    Those of you who have a boat that was already in the ‘old’ Register should have had its details migrated across to the new Register and so, as long as your email address is correct, you can get your username/password emailed to you by clicking on ‘Help, I own a steamboat in the register but don’t know my log in details’ on the login page.

    If you didn’t have your boat in the old Register you can easily create a new username/password from scratch on the same login page.

    If you have any problems please email me and I will assist you in getting ‘Registered’.

    This is the culmination of many man-hours of work behind the scenes over the last year or more and is a very great milestone in the Register’s history for which our immeasurable gratitude for making it all happen must be extended to our resident software guru: Kingsley Robinson.

    Happy Updating

    Kevin Slater CEng
    Register Curator

  • 04 May 2014 19:08 | Deleted user
    Members with historically significant boats will be fully aware of the consultation document to which responses are sought by early July. If you are not aware of this and your boat has somehow slipped through the net, please take a look at:

  • 18 Apr 2014 19:10 | Deleted user
    Ronnie Hart (owner of steam launch Souvenir d'Antan) passed away on Wednesday 16th April. He has been ill since before Christmas and in hospital for a second time for the last 9weeks or so suffering from septic shock.
    His funeral is on Tuesday 29th at 12.30pm at St Mary's Church, Eccleston, near Chorley , Lancs.

    He was a great character and will be sadly missed on Windermere.

  • 12 Apr 2014 13:28 | Deleted user
    The European Maritime Heritage (EMH) the European association for traditional ships in operation is holding its 8th Congress with the theme "MARITIME CULTURE ACROSS FRONTIERS". As befits its title, this event will be shared between the traditional port cities of Flensburg and Aabenraa, in the German-Danish border region, from 4-7 June 2014. 

    See the EMH website for more information and the registration form. (

  • 26 Mar 2014 19:03 | Deleted user
    On 7th March, very peacefully, Peter C M Arnot, Major Rtd, The Durham Light Infantry.
    Dearly loved by all his family and friends.
    Private family cremation.
    Service of Thanksgiving at St Mary's Church, Prestbury, on Saturday 5th April 2014 at 3 p.m.
    Family flowers only.
    Donations for "Cotswold Dialysis Unit" may be sent c/o Selim Smith & Co, Cheltenham. 01242 525383.

    The family says: "We would be very pleased to see Dad's friends from the model engineering and boating worlds at the Thanksgiving Service on 5th April, and afterwards for tea and light refreshments in the Royal Oak, Prestbury from about 16:00.

    It would be helpful if those wishing to attend could let Major Arnot's son, Tom, know via email ( so he can finalise catering arrangements.

  • 09 Mar 2014 09:28 | Deleted user

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