Activities 2015

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End of season layup work - 23rd October

This year we needed to removed the boiler with the crane then lift the boat out, so there is some prepwork to get things ready.

It takes about two hours to disconnect all the pipework ready for the boiler removal. However we had some great musical entertainment from two ladies singing pop tunes from the 1940's - see below

There is very little spare room when lifting the boiler from the hull so extra care is critical at the start. Once clear of the boat then it's dead easy to place the boiler on the road trailer.

It was great to have several volunteers to help clean off the hull. The amount of fouling was not too bad, so the Debs cleaner makes short work of any dirt. By the end of about a half hour of cleaning she looked pretty good.

The trailer, now loaded with Consuta, was then pushed back along the road to the Cow Shed.

We needed some extra weight on the trailer front to make up for the loss of boiler weight, so three volunteers climbed aboard for Consuta's last trip of the year.

Also as I was pushing with the land rover's front towbar I needed good lookout from Consuta to make sure we kept on the narrow road; impossible to see where we were going from the drivers cab.

As always after the successful jobs we ended up with a very pleasant pub lunch

Consuta meets up with the SBA - Saturday 29th August

We had a full ship, 12 passengers plus 2 crew for the cruise to the Thames and Kennet Marina to meet up with SBA boats who had come upriver from the Sea Cadets base at Henley. The morning started of well with some nice warm sunshine.

The crew polishing the brass while waiting for steam to be raised. Once through the cut onto the Thames the sun was quite warm

We reached the vast Thames and Kennet marina just after midday. A short time after we moored up, five SBA boats announced their arrival with some enthusiastic whistling.

The clouds came over during our return, but there was only one short shower just before we got to Mapledurham lock and then the sun returned. The other photo above shows Consuta passing through the cut onto the Beale Park Lake.

The Reading Festival was on during this weekend so there were large crowds of people walking the towpath and also using a very impressive temporary footbridge across the river. This photo on the way down was by John Emmett

The tripboats were busy carrying people to the festival site as well. We had so many requests for the whistle to be blown - I've often wondered why people like steam whistles? All agreed it was a lovely day out with lots to see - kingfishers, herons, cormorant, grebe and even an egret.

Consuta outings in August

There have been two private party booking for Consuta during August

The Goring and Streatley Regatta - Sat 25th July

Consuta was moved upriver to Beale Park on the Wednesday morning ready for the Saturday show

The weather was very good on the short river trip up except at Cleeve Lock there was a very brief torrential downpour; however the sun then came out and the rest of the day was perfect. The weather on Friday had been very wet so we were wondering if the site would be waterlogged - no problem at all

Public tripping along the rally course was very popular and we even had people queuing at times. Yes that is a jug of Pimms on our table.

This Regatta was in the late 1890's the largest on the Thames, the row of original silver cups testify to the regatta's history. There was an interesting display model of the proposed club boatshouse. Interesting that the club had no trouble obtaining planning permission - compared to our difficulties with planning officers we still wonder why the West Berkshire officers accepted this building right by the river.

When we returned to Beale Park at the end of the day we had to deal with a weed problem on the old pontoon.

The regatta had borrowed our good one for the event.

The Henley Traditional Boat Festival - Sat 18th - Sun 19th July

Consuta was moved down river to the Henley Regatta site on the Saturday morning and returned to Charvil late Sunday

This Rally now named a Festival had not been possible last year because of the river flood conditions. The weather was good and we arrived at the Fawley meadow at about 10:45 after a rather slow transit through Marsh Lock

We were anxious to see if we had a mooring - yes there was one marked Consuta but as it was occupied by a small motorboat we moved to an empty berth marked Bluebird. Correct berthing was soon sorted.

We were moored by Tony Hobbs's Enchantress (1912) which provided an excellent contrast to the difference in umpire launches steam then motor

The rally programme was great with a wonderful variation of displays. We had seen a large number of amphibious vehicles in operation on our initial run to Temple island and return. Alaska was on station carrying tripping passengers during the event. There were the Dunkirk Little Ships which this year included M 102 one of the early WW2 MTB's. Then of course Sir Malcolm Cambell's Bluebird K3, water speed record breaker at 130 mph in 1938, fitted with a lovely 27 litre 2150 HP V12 Rolls Royce engine, the engine was warmed up twice during Saturday - very impressive and noisy. The boat hull was built by Saunders Roe using "Consuta Plywood". Bluebird was supposed to make a special slow speed run of the course (somebody mentioned 15 mph) but had problems.

Glorianna was on show looking splendid with all that gold leaf, I was told she handles very well under electric propulsion and wondered if the same was true under oars?

There were some great aero displays, I enjoyed seeing the Sopwith and Fokker tri-planes. Then of course all the great variety of traditional Thames boats. Below an interesting comparison of Consuta and Enchantress

Too much to put on this web page, more photos on the Consuta facebook page. I will also have additional photos in the summer newsletter due out shortly. Here are a few more photos as thumbnails:-

The river was so busy that we decided that it would be sensible if we only went out for the steamboat parade and just run slow engine while moored up and when people came to have a look at Consuta.

But what's happened? there was a distinct lack of steamboats. Ourselves, Robert Baker's Firebird (with brasswork dazzling) and John Beveridge's Naiad (all the way from Durham), and of course Martin and Carol Steggles with Sabrina; then of course Peter Green and crew on Alaska showing the smoke.

The Henley Festival - Wednesday 8th - Sunday 12th July

Crew at this event were Colin Henwood, David Eager and Nigel Gourley ably assisted by Lucie Henwood

Consuta carried trippers during the first three days (wed - Fri) but was not operational on Saturday as there was pressure on suitable moorings. Despite this we did well for donations.

Sadly the Sunday was a bit wet so Consuta returned to base early during the evening.

Photo provided by David Creasey

Reading Town Regatta - Saturday 27th June

I understand that this used to be known as the working men's regatta in Victorian times, however currently the rowing crews are of both sex and have a wide range of experience from amateur to experienced, so race times vary widely. The course is short at 800 metres with three boats in the race - so their steering has to be good.

Consuta was active between 11:30am to 5:00pm with a one hour break for lunch - lovely weather.

This is a classic photo of Consuta following a race - bow down with 8 persons plus umpire in the bow.

I will provide some comments about this in our summer newsletter due out shortly.

On the right the race control start pontoon with Enchantress on the Oxford station, Consuta about to come along on the Berkshire station.

There were four other umpire launches plus Consuta. The forty foot Magician, Pomeroy and Panache and the larger Enchantress. The photo below was taken during the lunch break




Also during the lunch break we took the opportunity of adding some extra packing on the throttle spindle.

Meanwhile Nigel can be seen resurrecting the fire.

Henley Women's Regatta - Saturday 20th June

The forecast for the day was heavy showers, but by late afternoon we were lulled into thinking that this forecast was wrong. However at about quarter past five there was a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning which last for about two hours.
Unfortunately the Consuta boat crew who worked the last race and then took Consuta back upstream were ill prepared for this sudden downpoor so were soaked. Also Marsh lock was unmanned and only operational by use of the old hand crank system - ie no push button electrics.

The photo above shows a splendid view of the Henley rowing course from the nearby hills of Hambledon.
Below another photo by David E, note the concentration shown by various individuals at a race start

Almost every year there is a minor incident involving the umpire boats. We used to have a bit of a snigger, however it was our turn to blot our clean record. We ran over one of the many buoys and got caught up and stopped by the tether cable which was anchored to the bottom
- Oops a daisy!.

David volunteered to go overboard to sort out the problem. The photos here shows the stainless steel strand wire used, must do better next time.

The last race took place in torrential rain so we all got very wet.

Repositional from Pangbourne to the Charvil mooring - Monday 8th June

Repositionals are always very pleasant, but a bit difficult to coordinate the timings and getting everyone back to their car or rail station. It so happened this time that there were only seven of us which made it all work well. So only Steve and myself were needed for the road transport.

The other requirement is a coordinated time table for the trip - surprisingly the one I prepared worked fine.

The photo above left - leaving the new Whitchurch toll bridge - on the right in company with a fine gig manned by TTBS members.

Arrival at our Charvil mooring by 3:00pm, and packing up. Tony was taken to the train station and then the rest driven back to BP by car,

Beale Park Boat Show - setting up 4th June

We had decided to set up a very comprehensive Consuta pitch, so the Thursday before the show opening was quite busy, fortunately we had plenty of help with the various jobs. The main exhibits were to be the two sections of the 30ft Saunders hull and the splendid half section full size boiler model in wood made by David.

These two photos were taken during our setting up day. The two section of Ulula were laid out to get an idea of a 30ft Saunders hull. For the show the stern section was left upside down to show the tunnel and the bow section turned the right way up to show the internal construction.

Beale Park Boat Show - 5th to 7th June

A small sample of the photos taken during the show

Trips on Consuta were very popular, I think during the three days we probably carried between 600 - 800 visitors, burnt 9 bags of coal. Hard work for the crews but good for the donation box - many thanks to all who help at the show.

Pressure gauge calibration - 25th May

Tony made arrangements to use the dead weight pressure test set at Crofton to recalibrate Consuta's pressure gauge.

On test it seemed that the gauge was about eight psi low throughout the range, so this could only be due to the pointer not being correctly positioned.

The pointer was reset correctly at the 180 psi red line and then checked throughout the full range of the gauge, which resulted in a maximum error of only about 2/3 psi.

These gauges are only good for about 5% accuracy so we were well pleased with the end results.

The boiler inspection - 21st May

The weather was beautiful and warm - wonderful. The inspection is a three part process, the first part is for the inspector to examine the boiler and its fittings while cold and empty with all access mud doors removed. Once the inspector is satisfied that all is well we then move to part two and fit all the doors with new joint gaskets, then fill the boiler to working level. Once this is done we can then light the fire to raise steam. Our inspector always brings his precision test pressure gauge to check that the readings on our gauge are accurate and check that the two safety valves work correctly to stop pressure exceeding the boiler maximum work setting.

The cold inspection was satisfactory, so the fire was lit. Oh dear a problem because our gauge was reading about 10 psi low all through the range to 180, so only showed 172psi when the inspectors gauge was reading 180, however the safeties worked correctly and the accumulated pressure did not exceed 185 psi. Rather than obtain a replacement gauge we volunteered to get the gauge checked and adjusted using a precision dead weight test set.

The other work done for the day after the boiler inspection was to reposition the pontoon ready for the Beale Park Boat Show. Paul adjusts one of the mooring straps.

Will let you know how we get on checking out this small pressure gauge error.

Consuta relaunched - 12th May

Craning Consuta both out and into the water is always a bit stressful. The days started with a bit of drizzle on the drive over to Pangbourne, but this soon stopped by 9:00am. We use the front hitch on the Discovery to tow the trailer from the old Cowshed to the lake slipway. This involves reversing the car backwards pulling the trailer for about a quarter mile, which is a bit awkward.

The craning routine has been well practiced now over the years.

Consuta is lifted from the trailer then held while parts of the hull which sat on the trailer pads get a coating of paint. By this time the sun was out and supporters had fun towing/paddling Consuta across to the pontoon, all completed by 10:00am

       Some of our group had a tea break in the sunshine while a couple of volunteers weeded the pontoon.

Our crane booking was shared with another job which was to lift some replacement pontoon sections from the delivery lorry.

This photo shows a start being made to repair the pontoons ready for the boat show.

Before the funnel of Consuta was lifted into place, an interesting photo looking into the top of the smokebox shows the blast nozzle and the steam blower ring - which has now been repaired.

Both devices increase draft up the funnel which of course increases the air through the fire to produce more steam.

The steam blower is in the form of a ring using stainless steel tube with several small holes pointing up the funnel.

Consuta Spring Work parties - 21st March and 25th April

There have been two Consuta work parties since the Social, following these Consuta is now ready for the 2015 boating season.

Thank you to all who have helped with the various task ranging from brass polishing, cleaning the bilges (how do they get so dirty in just one season?) replumbing the kettle drain to the ashpan, tidying up and repainting the boiler backhead, servicing the injector check valves, repairing one of the small mud doors and that job reserved only for the brave – repainting the antifoul from underneath.

The photos above were taken during the March work party - some of us had a look at Cygnet next door. The photos below were taken during the April work party

Other jobs were to check the engine lubricator, examine the propshaft rev counter which had been intermittent last year and repack the throttle valve.

Paul underneath applying the antifoul - onlookers watch Brian fit the injector and pipework.

So unless we have missed something there are no outstanding problems now.

We had a minor panic when part of this throttle assembly was misplaced; photo above right shows the redundant replacement; the missing part had been carefully packed away in a box of cleaned fittings then forgotten by everyone. The throttle has now been refitted with sealant to cure a slight leakage even when fully shut

Before we could apply for our Thames 2015 licence we needed to renew the Boat Safety Certification, and for this had to purchase two replacement fire extinguishers to replace the older ones. The examination inspector was quite apologetic, because he only needed to look at the boiler paperwork date and check whether the extinguishers were the correct type.

The New Boiler - a full size half section model in wood

David has made a full scale half section model to our new boiler design, this was to check for any construction problems, doesn't it look great? More photos in our newsletter, also could be a potential exhibit for display at the Beale Park Boat Show.

Our Consuta Winter Social - 2015

50 supporters gather at the Beetle and Wedge Boathouse restaurant on Saturday 21st of February for a lovely social in a wonderful position and some good food.

The photos show guests at the social, the tables were arranged to suite the "L" shape of the room and most had a lovely sunny view of the river. The next (bottom) two photos show the bar and a view from outside

The next two photos show the mock wooden firebox model of the new boiler design by David. We will shortly have a photo of the complete half sectioned boiler - in wood, this looks pretty good to me and quite impressive - thank you David.

In the meantime this small section seems to make a jolly good toy garage

Below is an updated model of the museum produced by Tony - note the solar panels on the roof - 30kW.

Consuta's Throttle Valve taken apart

In January we decided to have a look at Consuta's throttle valve which has not been completely shutting off engine steam. The valve is a 1½ inch bore size and the spindle bonnet is screwed into the valve body. The valve itself works in a cage which is held secure in place by the bonnet.

On removal, the valve seat into the cage looked perfect so we concluded that the steam must be leaking past the seal of the cage to the valve body. This photo here shows the grooving on the cage sealing surface, and has probably got worse over some years of leakage - bronze does tend to erode under leaking conditions.

The ideal solution would be to re-cut the cage seat, however as yet nothing has been decided, possibly a crushing gasket would make a good seal.

If you would like to see Consuta's activities and photos for last year or even earlier click here           However if you want to see a video of Consuta working as an umpire launch last year, look below.

Consuta at the Henley Women's Regatta - 21st June 2014

Plug in a pair of headphones, turn up the volume and click on the image below to experience a high speed run down the course.

The reason we were able to run the course at such speed is in fact a little sad. One of the two teams suffered equipment failure and the Umpire requested we stay with them until she was sure assistance was on its way. We then chased after the second team, who were by this time well down the course.

The person doing all the work is the least visible. Without a skilled fireman Consuta would run out of steam pretty quickly and need that pair of oars to complete the course. If you would like to join our group to learn and help manage Consuta, please do contact us by email