P.S. Lance Martin steaming on the river

P.S. Lance Martin steaming on the river

From the 1990’s Lance Otto has had a dream to build a steam powered paddle boat. A dream inspired by his love of steam power, traditional river boats and engineering.  Now 79 years old, Lance’s dream is coming together.

Lance began the project in the late 1990’s after consultation with steam engineer J.L Walkley of Adelaide. Stage one was the construction of the boiler, followed by the rebuilding of a twin cylinder steam winch engine.

Lance’s original concept was to build a tradition timber steamer using River Redgum, The most common eucalypt growing along the banks of the Murray River in Southern Australia. Lance’s son Paul, a Murray River skipper with some boat building experience, offered to build the boat but insisted that it be constructed from Aluminium rather than timber.

In late 2007, Paul completed a set of concept drawings for a 15 metre vessel and spent the next 8 months working with naval architect Adam Schwetz in Western Australia who computer modelled the vessel and eventually supplied the Otto’s with a full set of plans.

 In mid August 2008, the kit arrived from One Steel in Western Australia with 7 tonne of computer cut aluminium.  Once all of the components had been unpacked and checked, construction began in early September 2008.

 At the time of writing, (July 2009), the vessel is 80% complete and awaiting installation of the steam engine, paddle shaft and paddles. Launch date is expected to be about October 2009. 

The vessel is a traditional work boat with minimal accommodation and will be used for general maintenance and towing work on the Murray River.

We will endeavour to update this site regularly with new pictures and progress reports.

We would love to hear from other steam boat enthusiasts both in Australia and overseas. We can be contacted at illawonga@bigpond.comtop down

Vessel specifications.

Construction        ;     Aluminium

Length overall      ;     15 metres

Length hull           ;     13.08 metres

Length waterline   ;     12.1 metres

Moulded depth     ;      1.75 metres

Beam                     ;      6.7 metres

Draft                      ;      .5 metre

Propulsion             ;      2 @ 3 metre side paddles

Water tanks            ;     2 @ 1560 litres

Sullage                   ;      1 @ 690 litres

Gross weight          ;     10 tonne