Monday, 15 September 2014

TSS Earnslaw Queenstown Engine Room Example for Cruising Sailors

Just returned from a few days in Queenstown, New Zealand, where they refer to themselves as 'The Adventure Capital of the World'. For a smallish tourist town with a population of only 25,000 approx. they certainly boast a myriad of, not only outdoor, but extreme outdoor activities so their claim is not without substance. 

In one of the most beautiful settings in the world, it is seething with folks young and old from all corners of the globe. they want to sample and experience their own personal adventures, be it the usual tourist sightseeing tours or the extreme adventure variety. These range from skiing, snowboarding, bungy jumping ( several variations), white water rafting, para jumping off the mountain, Jet boating in the famous Shotover River, rock climbing, abseiling, cable slip riding, tandem sky diving and others that will thrill the blood of folks of all ages.

You may be wondering what this has to do with sailboat cruising? Not a lot really except that there is one cruise that I took that illustrates most clearly the benefits of well maintained machinery and in particular, engines.

TSS Earnslaw docking at Walter Peak for return to Queenstown
The TSS Earnslaw cruise across the lake to Walter Peak farm station, on a fine sunny day is a delight. You are carried across on the steamship TSS Earnslaw, a one hundred and two year old steamer. She is immaculately maintained with all woodwork, bright work and brass fittings gleaming.
Approaching Walter Peak farmstead
She was built in Dunedin, one hundred and twenty kilometres eastward on the east coast of the South Island. She was constructed in parts, assembled in Dunedin, disassembled and trained in pieces to Kingston at the southern end of the lake and launched there in 1912. Quite some feat back then?
Here are her specifications:
Type:     Siemens Martin Steel hulled twin screw steamer with Kauri decking.
Naval Architect:     Hugh McRae of the New Zealand Government Railways Department, Dunedin.
Builders:     John McGregor and Company Ltd., Dunedin.
Displacement:     329.55 gross registered tons, 155.43 net.
Registered Length:     165 feet, 7 inches or 50.47 metres.
Length overall:     168 feet   51.2 metres.
Beam:     24 feet or 7.315 metres.
Depth:     9 feet, 6 inches.
Draught:     6.6 feet.
Propulsion:     Twin coal fired triple expansion, jet condensing vertical marine engines producing 500 horsepower at 145 r.p.m.; cylinder diameters, 13 inches (high pressure), 22 inches (intermediate), 34 inches (low pressure); cylinder stroke, 18 inches.
Boilers:     Two locomotive-type boilers with double safety valves; grate area, 48 sq. ft.; heating surfaces, l98 sq. ft. (firebox), 1,420 sq. ft. (tubes); working pressure, 180 lb. per sq. in. (reduced to 160 lb. in 1961); steam steering.
Engine room well
Speed (1912):     13 knots normal, 16 knots under forced draught 19 knots maximum.
Average cruising speed:     12 knots (120 rpm at 160 lb. psi).
Bunker capacity:     initially 12 tons, later expanded to 14 tons.
Coal consumption at cruising speed: one tonne per hour.
Passenger capacity:     maximum, 1,035; cargo capacity, 100 tons (or 1,500 sheep, or 200 bales of wool, or 70 head of cattle).
Ship's company     11.
Port of registry:     Dunedin.
Bunch of rope in foc'sle museum

Today she is licensed to carry only 389 passengers/tourists and no sheep or cattle!

From the height of one of the surrounding local peaks she appears to be crawling across the lake like a small black beetle, but in fact she is cruising along at a handsome 12 knots! 
Looking astern toward Queenstown with NZ ensign

Being coal fuelled she has two doors per engine through which the stoker manually shovels one ton of coal per hour ( you can see that in the video). Hot work down their where the temperature is forty degrees Celcius!

In these environmentally conscious times she even has a large vacuum device built in to suck up the coal dust and noxious fumes from combustion.

The engine room itself is a marvel of well oiled, meticulously maintained and highly polished, smoothly working and visible engines. Noisy, but not excessively so, and as you listen you can hear in the rumbling rhythm that everything is in concert with no strange interruptions to the flow of sound.

Here we come to the point of this post. All cruising sailboats have a motor, which most of us wish only to turn on for leaving and entering port, motoring in a prolonged calm or in an emergency. However, when we go to turn the key or press the button we want to know that she is going to leap into life and perform to our requirement at that time.......and every time!

Now, there's a windlass!
To achieve this end your engine has to be maintained regularly with plenty of TLC. Because most of us are not engineers, it is easy to overlook or put something off because we are perhaps not sure of the procedure.  This is a no no and as a responsible skipper it is our duty to make sure that we keep right on top of that part of our maintenance programme.

Foredeck winch
It is no good, following some kind of problem involving the motor, or even disaster say on a lee shore or port entry in a storm, saying.......'if only I had....'. In reality, over time, most of us become good engineers of certainly our own motors and motors in general. 

The TSS Earnslaw is a model to take example from. She still has her original engines and working today fourteen hours or so, they are running as smoothly as ever they were over one hundred years ago. 

Specifications courtesy NZ Maritime Museum and video courtesy youTube

You can read much more about sailboat cruising and the cruising lifestyle in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website


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