As a result of the VIC 27’s boiler having been condemned, the current restorers were obliged to tow her from Ardrishaig basin through the Crinan Canal. (see Ardrishaig to Crinan) This voyage marked the start of the filming process. (visit Caledonia TV’s website to see this film) The restoration team and film makers were delighted at how, even in her ramshackle condition, the puffer drew enthusiastic crowds as she was towed along. A good omen for the future!
Detailed examination of the puffer by Crinan Boatyard staff and volunteers showed the enormous amount of work that needed to be done – as soon as the wheelhouse was removed from the deck, it collapsed! (see The Restoration Begins) The 7 ½ tonne boiler was removed from the ship to lighten the vessel before she was slipped. (see The Boiler) Before she could be brought ashore, a new slipway had to be built – and a hill containing a considerable amount of rock had to be removed and a new winch installed. The ship was then winched ashore onto Crinan Boatyard’s custom built slipway. (see VIC 27 comes ashore)
Her hull plates were pressure washed, revealing major corrosion along the wind and water line. These plates will have to be replaced. The vessel has been thoroughly surveyed and a list of areas to be restored has been drawn up. The hull was sand-blasted and re-painted to prevent any further deterioration (pictures below). While the vessel is not afloat, the only ingress of water can be from above so some areas of the deck are being replaced or repaired as necessary to protect what’s underneath.
With a project of this size, the small jobs turn out to be big jobs. To free up space at the head of the slipway for other work, VIC 27 was moved sideways off the slipway. (see Side slip) We have completed the stern cabin, traditionally the accommodation for the skipper and engineer It now looks as it did in 1942 and has already been used as accommodation for volunteers. (see The Captain’s Cabin)
The engine room has been stripped out, needle-gunned, cleaned and painted. The hull has been repaired under the boiler – this area had been heavily corroded by ash and sea water. The engine has now been re-assembled and it appears to be in remarkably good condition which, 70 years on, is a tribute to her manufacturers Crabtree 1931 Ltd at South Town Iron Works in Great Yarmouth. The engine is a direct acting vertical compound surface condensing 100bhp. Coal bunkers and the hull adjacent to them have been refurbished. (see The Engine)
Meanwhile the boiler has been removed to Cochran’s of Annan, the original manufacturers. After examination, it was condemned – but is being used as a template for a new, more efficient coal-burning boiler. Its original description was a vent cross tube boiler with a working pressure of 120 psi. (see The Boiler – most recent photos March 2015)
Above: Frame marking for hull thickness tests
Above: Duncan & Lindsay painting stern