This web site describes the history, design process, construction and launching of a 15 metre aluminium paddle steamer P.S. Lance Martin. It was constructed by Lance and Paul Otto with the help of many others near the small town of Swan Reach on the River Murray in South Australia.
P.S. Lance Martin in transit
On the 20th November 2009 the paddle steamer was loaded onto a drop deck semi trailer using a 25 tonne crane. It was then transported about 6 km’s to the launching site opposite the town of Swan Reach on the Murray River in South Australia. The crane lifted the boat from the trailer and placed it onto a track which we used to roll the boat down the river bank and into the water. ( I should say push! As the rollers were not very successful). However, after about 2 hours the boat final slipped into the River.
It floated exactly how the naval architect had predicted. At this stage we had no water in the tanks so it floated about 100mm above its designed water line.
We loaded on some supplies and used the auxiliary outboard to get the boat back to the family property “Illawonga” about 4km’s down stream. That night we filled the flocculating tank ready for a steam test run in the morning.
P.S. Lance Martin being lifted by the crane
By 10.00am on Saturday morning we had transferred settled water to the boiler feed tank visa the water treatment plant and had steam up ready for our test run. After paddle tests, off we went. We immediately found that the force of the paddles was exerting huge pressure on the paddle shaft, chain drive and engine mounts and so we kept the steam engine to about 100 revs per minute ( about 16 paddle rpm.) The boat slid along quite well doing about 7 or 8 kph.
After a few kilometres we noticed that the key had come loose in the flywheel and also that the engine beds were flexing. We shut down the steam engine and went home on the outboard. Over the next two weeks a 32mm aluminium plate engine bed was installed spanning the four existing engine girders. The flywheel and key was reset using Locktite 620 and everything was reassembled.
P.S. Lance Martin launching
Following discussions with some more experienced steam boat men, we decided to remove one of the 3 – 100mm by 25mm aluminium members that formed each paddle float. This achieved we took the boat for another test run and was joined by Geoff Hamilton who had rebuilt the steam engine 6 months earlier.
After a short run, Geoff suggested that we still had too much load on the paddles and so we removed another member making each paddle float only 100mm high and 1100 long. This seemed to do the job and the boat rolled along nicely. According to one crew member’s gps, we were making about 9 kph at about 130rpm or about 22 paddle revs. Later, on the Christening day, we achieved 150rpm and everything seemed to run nicely.
On Saturday 5th of December the boat was christened “PS Lance Martin” after my father and 3 short cruises were run for the guests attending the ceremony.
Steam engine running
Although the boat is running reasonably well we still have a lot of fine tuning to do. We have a small heat exchanger ready to install that will improve our supply of steam and take some of the ‘shock’ out of pumping cold water directly into the boiler. We also have a few adjustments to make on the Stevenson’s Linkage and control. We are considering a steam injector to enable us to add water to the boiler when the engine is not running and the engine driven pump is not operating. At present we have to start our generator and use the electric vane pump when the engine is not running. My father would also like to add a couple of inspection and cleaning ports to the boiler casings.
Saloon soft furnishings
The vessel seems to handle nicely and is very responsive to the helm once we reach about 2 or 3 kph and steers nicely into a stiff breeze. Perhaps our only criticism is that the boat rolls a fair bit from side to side as passengers move about the decks. I am discussing this with the architect and we may be able to improve the comfort by changing the weight distribution. In the end I think that the relatively narrow hull and sharp bow entry are the features that allow the boat to slip through the water along nicely and that we will soon get used to the movement.
I will continue to update this site as we improve the vessels performance.