Activities - 2018 to 2019

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Our Project Activities assistant had arranged several Thames boating talks during 2019.

Click here to see full list of all the talks.

Work progress 2019


Left above:- The final section of the 2.5" diameter copper exhaust pipe being check out before brazing.

Right above:- The new engine casing fitted onto it's new support base. This casing is some 4 inches lower and is closer to the original build height, it's also a little shorter than previously installed - the new pipework required some detailed changes.


The photo above left shows the wider removable side deck sections which have to be removed when lifting the boiler.
Photo on the right shows the route of the engine steam and exhaust pipes. Currently the steam pipe is being made up in screwed steel pipe sections, but once the layout is OK it will then be made up in 1.5 inch ID copper pipe.

An interesting question is should there be provision for accomodating length changes in this pipe caused by heat expansion, perhaps not needed as it's fairly short?


Now that the new boiler has been fitted and funnel erected, members from the Thames Valley Traction Engine club came and had a look at the project progress work.
Also a few of our active supporters came to see the work and start helping with the cleaning prep job of getting Consuta ready for relaunching; more picture shortly.


We had a visit from David Gallagher with his wife from the USA. Dave has made a scale model of Consuta.
On the right a photo of a project lecture given by Ian Rutter and John Winn at Marlow - tea break time.

Note there are more talks arranged for the Autumn please, look at our calendar page.

The new boiler at our shed arrives complete with cladding and then being lifted out of the trailer.


These two photos above are of the boiler now complete with lagging while being lifted onto the trailer ready to be moved to Beale Park and fitted into Consuta. The weighing gauge gives the weight as 1588 lbs or 0.72 tons. Note this is without the boiler mount, boiler fittings, the firebars or the ashpan.

Above are some of the new steam manifold parts and fittings which are to be used.

While on the topic of fittings we would like to obtain some historically accurate drain cocks for the engine drains. Note all are 1/4" BSP thread to screw into the engine cylinders, the ones we presently have are a mixture of styles.

The photo:-
Bottom left; a correct Desvignes style drain cock,
Top left; a bent nose bib cock would be suitable,
The middle bottom; is not historic, The middle top; does not have a screwed outlet;
The one on the right; is a nice modern one, very reasonably priced from China.
If you have any that might be suitable, please do get in touch


Two new steering pedestals have been cast in LG2 bronze. One of our supporters made the patterns and arranged to have two cast at a very reasonable cost. Just need to have them cleaned and polished up. Oh dear this means more brass polishing once Consuta is back in service.
The photo on the left shows a 1.125 inch hole being bored in the pedestal for the steering wheel shaft. The photo on the right has the unpolished pedestal temporarily mounted on the deck to obtain some important measurements. Skippers will be pleased to know that the wheel will be a bit higher than the old one.


Late January as the weather was good with plenty of warm sunshine we were able to spend a whole day at Consuta base - quite warm really. Some of the woodworking tools were temporarily moved here - don't like to leave them because the shed can be quite damp with a high humidity.
The boiler casing frames have now been located at the correct height and some of the new woodwork cut to shape. We are still thinking about best pipework arrangements for the two steam injectors

We carried out a steam test at Kintbury on the 11th January. The test was to check that the new pipe work arrangements of check valve and stop valves will be okay for good injector performance, and also to see how well the injectors worked at different steam pressures.
One result of the test was that even though using the original Consuta pressure gauge, the new safety valve (yes only one is to be used) started to lift at 160psi. This new valve had been set by the venders to lift at 180 psi. This discrepancy is a concern and will need further examination to see which is wrong.
A later test of the gauges indicated that the pressure gauge was wrong!!

Lifting the boiler off the road trailer ready for the steam test.

Photo on the left shows the trustees checking over the new boiler.

Other work on the boiler has been to get all the lagging finished off.

Work progress during 2018


There has been a lot of ancilliary parts of the boiler designed and constructed ready for the boiler steam test. Most of this work has been off site at various locations. Have a look at Consuta's facebook to see some photos of this work.

Mid October

The new boiler casing frames have been made and are being checked for position in Consuta using the half mockup boiler - see below. Other parts for the boiler such as the smokebox, boiler mounting and ashpan plus a new silencer are now ordered.

The frames are not fully down in the photo above, they will be about 2 inches lower when finally finished - see photo above of tape measure.
Some minor grinding trim work in the photo above.

Late September

All the bilges have been throughly cleaned and repainted

The cleaning and painting of the engine has almost been completed and the engine, mounting frame plus oil drip tray has been fitted, re-aligned to the thrust block and prop shaft then finally bolted down ready for work.

Lyn one of our regular photographic contributors, taken by David E.

Construction drawings for the new metalwork have been completed and we are now waiting for some costs estimates, also a pattern has been made for the new steering columns.

Below - Much activity and discussion.

On the right checking to see if we can reuse the old engine casing; can it be cut down in size?

We are hoping to use as much of the removed casing wood as possible so that it will match in with the rest of Consuta. Colin says that the wood originally used was quite a high quality mahogany so we need to reuse this whenever possible.

Below discussions about the various new parts that are needed.

Progress - by late July

Our shed is now being used to house the 1870's steamlaunch Cygnet and the two sections of Ulula's stitched hull a Saunder's 30 footer - almost a mini museum.

Most of the plywood mockup for the new boiler and engine casing has been completed, our aim is to match the original dimensions which can be measured from old photos.

We're carrying out some cleaning and maintenance work on the engine - not strictly part of the project but will be worthwhile to have the engine in sparkling condition, more on this later.
The engine weighs in at 657 lbs and the mounting frame adds an additional 180 lbs.

Photo below - supporters who came along at the last work party.

Progress - by mid July

The engine mounting frame has a short shaft for the thrust block mounted on it, and uses shims to mate correctly with the engine crankshaft. The frame itself then has to be align accurately with the propshaft.

The photo on the left shows an error which required adjustments between the mounting frame and hull bearers - not sure why there was an error here, has this always been out? The alignment has now been adjusted using feelers and micrometers, the barring lever is used to check that the shaft rotates freely.

The engine can be lift in and out very easily for these critical adjustments, and it also needs to be in place to obtain measurements for a mock up of the new engine casing - more on these details later or in our next newsletter.

Progress - by start of July

Cleaned and painted bilge area under engine, first time cleaned since 2000

New boiler undergoing a 2nd hydraulic test to 360psi, ie twice working pressure.
Oops 370psi - the gauge belongs to Oberon with a boiler rated to 250psi max.

Some of our helpers arrive in style - 1920's Morris Oxford (flat nose)

Progress - 22th June

Looking at the engine we discuss the various jobs to be done. The engine will have some restoration attention while it is easily accessible.

The valve rod assemblies show excessive wear and have been removed for refurbishment.

The photo is courtesy of David Creasey and is set with the back drop banner of the old Saunders shed.

Facilities at the shed are very limited, so much of the work will need to be carried out off site.

A mock up of the new boiler casing - couldn't resist placing the old funnel on top for these two photos

Left - results of first cleaning work on starboard bilges; right - grime of many years to be removed.

Progress - 18th June

Mock-up frames for the new smaller boiler casing which will be narrower and much lower.

Project work - 8th June

All the old pipework and other associated items have been removed. The bilges under the coal bunkers (also removed) have been cleaned.

The wooden mock boiler and ashpan assembly was fitted which allows accurate measurements to be made for the new boiler casing.

The two photos below give a comparison of a workshop scene from 1900 and now. The plank on the tressels (in the coloured photo) is part of the old boiler mahogany casing side - it's about 11 inches high. The new casing will be about 5 inches high at the aft end, lower at the front and about 10 inches narrower than the old casing (changes as measure from old photos).

Project work - 18th May

All Consuta's bilges have now been cleaned using the wetvac, just need to clean the area under the long bearers and once done the whole area will just need a final mop down before preparing the surfaces for a re-coat of Danboline paint.

This interesting photo on the left shows all the boiler and engine top hamper removed - now ready for the new lower structure.

Below:- removing the starboard coal bunker and unscrewing the front part of the metal boiler casing frame work.

Project work - 5th May

The engine subframe was held quite firmly but it finally came out, and just needs cleaning now. The dirty bilges under the engine show 18 years of oil slops, however because our generator wasn't available for the wetvac, this job will be done later. Photo on the right taken on the 18th, shows the result of the first cleaning using the wetvac - an impressive result?

The main wooden side framework of the boiler and engine casing is almost ready to lift out - what a lot of screws. We've decided to separate each of the side panels to preserve the mahogany for future use - and also makes it much easier to handle - but what a lot of plugged wood screws to remove - below right.

The main tasks for our volunteers was to start cleaning the engine and see if anything needs repainting etc, The other job was to removed the engine mounting frame including the oil sump.

The engine had a lot of dirty oil residue has to be removed and will also need some minor rust marks cleaning from the steel work.

Our gantry has been checked good for lifting 10 kN or about 1 ton. and we will shortly have a crane weight gauge to check all loads being lifted.

Using our new gantry to lift the engine out - 1st May

Three photos give an idea of the lifting arrangements.

The gantry has been checked good for lifting 10 kN or about 1 ton. We will shortly have a crane weight gauge to check all loads being lifted.

The engine needs some work to repair wear in valve rod bushes, a major clean up, a check of the oiling pipe positions and replacement of the worsted wicks in the oilers.

How about a competition to guess the weight of the engine? send your estimate of the engine weight to email. So what do you think Consta's engine weighs? The chain winch used to lift the engine is rated at only 1/2 ton maximum.

Come along on the dates shown on our calender to see project progress.

Consuta is finally moved under cover - 5th April 2018

The photos above shows one end of the shed now enclosed, seen from the outside and inside. The other end of the shed has also been enclosed.

All very cosy now so the real work on Consuta can start, just need to fit the access door.

We were a little concerned about moving Consuta's trailer in the wet field, fortunately the day before the moved was dry and sunny. The rudder and prop were removed first to avoid any grounding and pleased that the move went well without any problems. The left photo shows Consuta now under cover - the shed ends are to be closed up soon ready for the refurbishment work; the other - a few of us relaxing close by during the sunny day.

Several more photos of the move can be seen on the Consuta's facebook website.

Getting everything ready to move Consuta into the shed

Consuta's prop has already been pulled off, and now just getting the rudder ready for removal before Consuta is transferred to the shed. The other photo shows all our wood that has been removed from the cowshed - this is the remnants of the poly tunnel we had way back.

The covered base at Beale Park for work on the project

The photo shows the extended covered shed at Beale Park. The Consuta Trust have had to pay for the improvements work but we now have agreement for the free use of of this shed for five years. The covered area is roughly 80 ft by 15 ft wide, access through a field gate

The ends of the leanto will be closed in with heavy duty canvas. We are planning to move Consuta in here very soon - will notify supporters by email. Sadly the old Shallop (a 1960's film prop) will have to go, it is now in a very poor state. Would anyone like to have it?

The Consuta Social - February 17th

Sensible folk stay inside, but a few hardy soles brave the cold for some splendid river views

For more photos of the Social have a look at the facebook section

Thirty three supporters and friends came to the Beetle and Wedge restaurant for our Consuta winter Social. The weather was cold but bright and sunny and large numbers of rowers eights and fours were out practicing on the river.

The Trustees were able give updates about the Consuta Project. The boiler refurbishment work will now be carried out during the Summer season this year. This change of plan was needed due to an unplanned lack of covered space at Beale Park, so an alternative covered option at the park is being prepared - see photo. Sorry about the delay in our boating activities, but we think that it will be much nicer to carry out the refurbishment work during the warmer weather


A lovely late Autumn scene in 2017 - overlooking the park lake and looking towards the river.

For latest about Consuta's new boiler Project

Please click The Consuta Project page

Looking back at Activities since mid July 2017

Craned out on 20th October

The weather forecast was reasonable but we left home in the rain, however by the time we arrived at Beale Park this had stopped. The boiler was first lifted onto its trailer then Consuta was craned up and the hull cleaned thoroughly on the outsides, this always comes up looking smart. I think we must have had about 14 helper/watchers on a nice sunny morning

Once safely on the trailer we set about cleaning those dirty bilges using a generator and a wetvac, see below for why so dirty. There were some minor problems at first, but these were soon sorted and after less than an hours work the bilges under the boiler were beautifully clean - Daboline grey - what great paint it is.

Consuta and boiler were then moved back near the Tithe Barn and sheeted over. Don't ask why not into the barn for the major project work ahead - we hope this problem will be sorted soon.

Two photos:- one shows a group of experts? trying to work out why the generator was going into overload - Eco switch in wrong setting, and the other one shows the present temporary parking place. For more photos of the crane out please look at the Consuta facebook section

We finished work by 1pm then some of us, after a job well done, went for a well earned lunch at the Bull.

Engineer work 13th October

The work carried out was to prepare the boiler for lifting out before Consuta is craned out. This involves disconnecting all the pipework to skin fittings and removing anything to allow clearance for the lift.

Paul discovered that our engine steam silencer had two small holes in the base which had allowed engine steam oil into the bilges. This has made a mess and this leak also explained the frequent lack of water in the ashpan. the silencer drain goes into the ashpan to keep it wet and burn off the oil. Oh dear another dirty bilge wash out ahead. So why did the steel corrode with so much oil; around??

Two photos below show how much higher Consuta rides in the water with the boiler empty. I'm hoping that this will be the normal floatation level with the new boiler (if we've done it right).

Friday 6th October

The weather during later September had been rather fickle so we ran out of options for a supporters out, so instead arranged to steam Consuta on a day when the weather predicted no rain. Friday was the day although with a northerly breeze it was cold. We aimed to get to the Boat House in at Wallingford for a lunch stop they may be go a little further up river before returning to Beale Park. The main purpose of the steaming was to raise steam and blow the boiler empty - always a good idea to do this hot so that any water remaining in the boiler will boil off.

Thirteen people booked for the trip and once we got to Wallingford the sub was out and it was quite warm sitting outside the pub. The food here was considered excellent.

Saturday 19th August

A private party booking by the Berkshire branch of the Cambridge Society. We ran three short one hour trips up and down the river from Beale Park and carried about 24 people on during a lovely day.

Saturday 22nd July

Our intended operation at the Goring and Streatley Regatta had to be cancelled. It was a difficult decision finally made when the forecast for the Saturday was rain showers and the field would be already wet from earlier rain.

Supporters repositional

Tuesday 18th July

This was delightful and quite relaxed trip upriver. We needed to move Consuta to Beale Park in time for the Goring Gap Regatta to be held on Saturday 22nd July, the rally site is just above Cleeve Lock. We only had a few supporters come along for the outing, possibly due to the short notice given about the date,

Crew having a cuppa while raising steam at Charvil.      An Iconic building above Caversham bridge.

Thames Traditional Boat Festival

Friday14th - Sunday 16th July

Consuta was moved down river from Charvil on the Friday, Coal and fenders dropped off at our mooring, then it was up to the museum landing stage to pick up our private party (The Worshipful Company of Plumbers). Friday is always a fairly quiet day at the Traditional boat festival. We set up a small display explaining details of Consuta plywood, right by the mooring pontoon. This attracted quite a lot of interest.

Saturday started off raining so we kept the stern and bow covers on but Mark our engineer decided he would raise steam regardless, so by about 1 o'clock we decided because of requests to have a run round the rally course - ie up to Henley bridge - turn round down and round Temple then back to the mooring; I suppose about 2 -3 miles. This was popular so I think we made another three similar trips - trying to join in the steamboat parade - not sure if we made this though.

Under front cover - What's all this then?          Budding new recruits?

Sunday was a much nicer day and quite warm. We probably made about three trips, then had to set off back for Charvil at about 3:30. After a long wait at Marsh lock with a very helpful lock keeper, the rest of the trip was just perfect. Arrival time was about 5:30pm.

                                  Mike Bell's new steamboat.

Thanks to all our supporters, who helped manage Consuta throughout the weekend - an excellent event.

The Reading Town Regatta

Saturday 24th June

We had agreed to get to the Regatta site on the Dreadnought reach by about 12:00, the rowing course using three lanes is just downriver from the Kennet mouth.

Crew getting ready and raising steam at Charvil.          Launches moored alongside during lunch.

The day was quite windy and much cooler than last week and some very light rain early morning. The regatta course is set as two thirds of the width for racing and one third for the normal river navigation. Travelling up to the start I think the measurements must be from the bank as there are rows of willows hanging over the water reducing the navigation width even more.

The Henley Women's Regatta

Saturday 17th June

This event is a three day event but Consuta only attends on Saturday which is the busiest day. The weather forecast was for 30 degrees and a start of lighting up was made at 7:30am. Consuta was at Temple island on the Henley reach by 10:00am ready for a long hot day.

Getting ready for a race - Alaska in background         Approaching Henley bridge on trip back to Charvil.

The relief crew arrived a just after 2:00pm and the last race was just after 6:00pm. Consuta then returned to Charvil by 8pm, a delightful cruise with lots of boats out enjoying the fine weather. Consuta was packed up by 9:00pm. A very long day for some.

The Beale Park Boat Show

Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th June

Setting up day (Thursday) for the boat show was a busy time. Cygnet to move down to our pitch, the marque and gazebo to be erected, and the mooring pontoon to be serviced and made safe for the public.

Many thanks to all who helped with this vital work. Below are some pictures taken during the four days.

Pre Season Work party News

The boiler inspection carried out on 28th May

David our SBAS inspector, thoroughly check the boiler cold and empty, then after fitting the boiler doors we filled up with water and lit the fire to raise steam.

The steam test with safeties roaring was carried out to the inspectors satisfaction and we were complete by about 2pm. Do you know we didn't even test the engine as there was so much other work that needed to be done for the Lottery grant project.

Re launching Consuta 23rd May

What a lovely day

As usual we only took about an hour to touch up the antifoul then get Consuta lifted back into the water.

This craning always has risks but we certainly manage well on the day.

Thank you to Roy our crane operator.

Also many thanks to all who came along and helped out, even cleaning up our mooring jetty ready for the Boat Show.

Final prep work on Consuta 5rd May

There were three main tasks for our helpers, 1st to paint the boiler backhead, 2nd finish maintenance work on some steam valves, and 3rd to start re-painting the hull antifoul.

After the morning's work some of us had a jolly good meal at the Streatley Bull. Following lunch Paul Lyn and myself returned to Consuta, Paul wanted to check out for any wear or adjustments needed to the engine and also continue work on antifouling the hull.

The backhead first coat - looks a bit glossy to me            stern section now antifouled

The next major work task will be to help at the re-launch Consuta now arranged for Tuesday morning 23rd May, help always welcome or just come along and watch.

Also if you are interested we are hoping to take delivery of our exhibition unit very soon - if you want to know more about this, please contact me by email

Work on Cygnet and Consuta on 21st April

Despite access difficulties we managed to get quite a bit done, even under supervision.

Part of the morning was used to moved Cygnet's trailer into the tithe barn and get ready to place Cygnet on it. This will involved the purchase of a few items to make Cygnet secure on the trailer.

Moving Cygnet's trailer then untying the two sections of Ulula, a 30ft Saunders hull cut in half?

Well that's the bow bit sorted but what is the best way to move the stern?

It is surprising how much can be done with half a dozen folk lifting

If you are wondering why this early 30ft Saunders hull was cut into two pieces I don't know, but it should provide a useful future exhibit for the museum showing how stitched hulls were made.

Above shows a scratch sustained at the Boat Show last year, a bit of touch up here should cure this.

We've had a lot of trouble finding a paint that will stay on the backhead of the boiler. Lots of different paints have been tried. This time - on the left is an undercoat called Bonda Rust primer and - on the right is an undercoat called Corroless S Rust Treatment Killer Inhibiting Primer, good for 200C. The topcoat will be finished in Hammerite smooth black, over the top to see the results.

Greg S has suggested "Fortress" black satin paint from B&Q has been successful on Gondola's boiler - decisions - decisions, what shall we do?


Sad News - Richard Howard died - Saturday 18 March 2017

Richard Howard was Chairman of the Child Beale Trust, this Trust's popular wild life park had been managed by Richard ever since it first opened some 60 years ago.

Richard was a keen ornithologist following in the footsteps of his great Uncle Gilbert Beale and has been the main driving force to help keep the park viable for 60 years; quite a challenge with all the modern options that vie for the attentions of young families.

Richard's other main hobby was model boats; he amassed a collection estimated at over 2000 models, some of these are on display at the park pavilion.

Richard has been a valued friend of the Consuta Trust and a personal friend of mine - we shall greatly miss Richard. Our condolences to all the family.

The funeral was held Wednesday 29th March for the family.

First work party of 2017

March 24th

Never sure how many supporters will be coming along, so pleasantly surprised that we had 10 helpers plus three visitors

First task was to remove all the extra covers placed over Consuta in November. There was now plenty of space in the shed with room to set up the table and chairs inside

The photo on the far left show results of a bit of polishing, was this a competition?.

You know I don't think we ever did clean the tubes during the 2016 season, mind you a hard burst on the engine usually does this quite well.

Looking at boiler drawings, and sizing something up - now what's this all about? - more later.

All went reasonably well except one of the boiler feed check shut off cocks was seized and the spindle sheared when applying a little force - oops! So how do we fix this?. However we now have a very nice vice courtesy of Adrian, so only need the work bench?

The Consuta Winter Social

14th February 2017

Yes we did have a Consuta social this year but needed to change the venue at short notice

Twenty Consuta supporters came to the Swan near Pangbourne where we had the use of the whole gallery which overlooks the river; for more about the social look at our facebook page for photos.

Any suggestions for a venue for next year?

Consuta moved under cover for the Winter

A Working morning 19th December

A small work party moved several large items out of the old cow shed to make room for Consuta.

The photos above show Cygnet with temporary dust sheets in the Tithe Barn and a large model of the Bismark being moved. Other boats moved from the shed to the barn were a flying fifteen and a 12ft sailboat. The front tow hitch on the disco was very useful. We were then able to move Consuta into the shed out of the winter weather; it just started to rain at this point.

Consuta activities in October

Lifting Consuta from the water Wednesday 26th October

The crane had been booked about three weeks before the date so there is never any guarantee about weather conditions. Fortunately on the day it was not too cold even the sun came out by about 9:30am. Roy with the crane was there before 9:00, Consuta was already by the slipway when we finally got the trailer into the field. The craning went like clockwork, the hull was cleaned and washed down, but then there was a problem putting her onto the trailer, eventually resolved and due to one of the pads not being in the correct position.

Consuta now on the trailer, was soon back by the Cowshed at about 10:30, unfortunately we were not able to put her under cover so she has to remain out in the open.

.............He thinks I can't see where we are going ............ All sheeted up ready for leaving out in the open

It really is a great shame that such an important historical launch has to be kept outside.
We then adjoined to the Bull at Streatley, which had some new menus with special discounts for the day; everyone enjoyed a lovely luncheon after a successful mornings work.

The season has all ended well so that's it until next year; but we have some exciting plans for 2017.

If you would like to see all the stories during 2016 click here