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    Samson & Oates (formerly Esquimaux)
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  1. Thanks for that. Nansen II appears to be in a variant of BWB colours of the time, which would be appropriate for the date of the photograph but the butty is in colours I have not seen before, unless it is the remnants of DIWE dark blue with the yellow having gone? I have read the engineering records, have linked up the two boat books and I have what is probably the only surviving copy of the 1858 boat list (the original was in Gloucester but disappeared c.1982 and has not been seen since) but records get quite sketchy when you go back pre-1865 or thereabouts. I would like to think the early engineering records will resurface (they did once which gave indicative dates for Laplander and Antartic) but in the meantime the actual date for Oates remains a bit of a mystery. I should have thought to ask a few people who would probably have known around 20yrs ago, most notably Fred Heritage who started at Bradley in 1947, but unfortunately I didn't. Alec
  2. He did, but the BCN is not included in Colours of the Cut. Any ideas whether he may have published them anywhere else? There are black and white photographs of the painter's boat at least (one of the former wooden ice boats) so cabin colours survived into what should be living memory. For my purposes (what colour to repaint Oates) the BCN is the pertinent entity - it was stationed on the Dudley No.2 post-incorporation but was always a BCN boat rather than a Dudley boat so far as I am aware - its origins are lost in the mists of time. It was certainly a BCN boat for long enough that this would be the most relevant. Of course it never originally had a cabin but some compromises have to be made in the name of practicality. I wasn't aware that the BCN operated a coal carrying service, so effectively they had their own carrying fleet for a while. The BCN boat record books start (from memory) in around 1876 and the purpose is generally recorded - they had a fair few boats at that time but carrying is not specifically mentioned. Alec
  3. Although the BCN company did not have a carrying fleet, it did own and operate a lot of boats - everything from open boats to dredgers, ice-boats, a painters' boat and various other special purpose boats, including in the latter days a few ice-breaking tugs (Sott, Byrd and Nansen among them). Some of these boats had cabins, so does anyone have any idea whether the BCN company had a colour scheme, or did it just slap on some gas tar? Alec
  4. I think there are issues with definitions. It runs the risk of disappearing into hair-splitting but: 'Historic' is defined by age. 'Long distance cargo-carrying boat operating in the modern era' is defined as you have specified - registered domicile and commercial licence. The difficulty is whether there is any clear definition with regard to 'working' or not. There are a whole load of types of boat which are historic but were not long distance cargo carrying. For example, joeys were not long-distance and were not registered domiciles but definitely carried cargo; tugs were not long distance, did not carry cargo although they did transport it and were not registered domiciles. Any boat sold out of commercial operation pre-nationalisation would never have carried a commercial licence, take for example a SU fleet boat which operated its entire existence on their own network and hence had no licence or gauging at all. You then have other types of boat (ice-boats, spoon dredgers etc) which were for maintenance so were not used in cargo carrying at all. The term 'working boat' is therefore necessarily a very loose one which could include hire boats unless/until the definition is formalised otherwise. Alec
  5. I suspect the blue colour is iron tannate rather than dissolved blue paint. This can be fairly easily dissolved in various acids - oxalic is the least likely to damage anything else but hydrochloric as found in some household bathroom cleaners will do the same job more quickly but requires more precautions. The problem is if the iron tannate is bound within the vinyl matrix, in which case there is nothing that will sensibly remove it chemically without major paint damage, so mechanically abrading it back is about the only option. Very careful hand sanding with fine wet alumina paper from a car finishers is probably the best available option - 320 grit is about right as a start, stop if/when the surface is cleared and then move on up the grits (600 and 1200) followed by a car polish is probably about as good as it will get. Bear in mind that you will need to remove the permeable oxidised paint layer on the surface as part of this as the Vactan will have soaked through it. It is unlikely that the paint is permeable enough for any of the Vactan to have soaked in particularly deeply before it cured out, but if for some reason it has reacted together then overpainting will unfortunately become the only option. On the (very slight) plus side, 320 grit is a really good preparation for this. Alec
  6. It has an engine that goes, a hull with a leak rate lower than the bilge pump rate and a cabin with fewer drips. Add a bucket and what more luxury does Tom need? After all, we are talking about a man who quite literally sleeps on a pile of bits of Kelvin! Or alternatively: 1. Enter the Challenge. 2. Break down somewhere remote - top of The Crow or the Curly Wyrley are my preferred options, thereby failing to reach the finish. That’s been my approach on two out of three attempts anyway!
  7. Tom didn't fancy single-handing her down then? Alec
  8. This effect gets very interesting when you have a hydraulic drive, as we do. If you knock back the engagement of the swash plate then the fluid is pumped at lower pressure so the propeller (and hence the boat) slows down. However, the engine is then working less hard so the revs actually go up. It gets quite funny watching people come leaping out of the cabin red-faced and ready to shout about slowing down, only to realise we are crawling past. I once got filmed by an angry boater on the S&W as we went past at near full revs but less than 0.5mph! Alec
  9. Coincidentally, I saw it yesterday at Ellesmere Port. Quite a good gathering there this year. Alec
  10. Thanks John - I have been through these and nothing relevant to Empress, but some very interesting records relating to The King which I hadn't seen before and have passed on to the owner, including the best photograph I have seen of it. Alec
  11. Thanks John, I have started working my way through the photos (there are a fair few of them!) Nothing yet but I remain hopeful. It's a strange boat to have disappeared completely, as it should have been in reasonable repair, and a lot of effort to go to if someone broke it up. Alec
  12. I wondered whether anyone who was involved in the Coventry restoration in the 1970s might be able to clear up a mystery, or at least maybe help fill in some of the gaps. The BCN had six iron ice boats built. The whereabouts of five of the six is fairly well known but the sixth, originally named Empress, was last seen being used as a mud hopper by the Coventry Canal Society. It was a heavily built wrought iron rivetted hull, around 35' long with a rounded bottom - it was originally horse-drawn and by that stage had not been converted. Does anyone happen to have any photographs which might show it, or any idea what happened to it? Alec
  13. agg221

    J cylinders

    R.W.Davis don't have any. Not many J parts left there now. I'm wondering if there might be enough demand to get a batch cast now? Bridport foundry would certainly be an option, as would Taylor's Foundry in Haverhill (actually their ferrous castings are made in Stoke on Trent). Alec
  14. Sort of heading back on topic, we were at the top of Tyrley on Tuesday, so just north of Woodseaves. A couple of CRT boats had been through the area clearing floating debris. It didn't look as impressive as a boatload of sawlogs though. I also fear that, in the wake of Dudley and Eunice, they will now have to go through and do it all again. Alec
  15. Apologies if my reply came across as a bit sharp - treating the terms 'volunteer' and 'amateur' as derogatory and automatically inferior is something of a hobby horse of mine and I probably jump to automatic subconscious assumptions. My experience with volunteer groups is that they span the full range from well-meaning but totally clueless and probably best kept away from anything as sharp as a pencil, through to out-performing professional teams (ever had any dealings with the Wendover restoration? That is one seriously impressive amateur team). I have a similar response to people who make derogatory comments about all scientists (being one myself). I wonder whether the best way to tackle the cuttings wouldn't be to bring in a forestry team. Some of the teams which work the Welsh hillsides are used to that level of instability and angle, although it's mainly softwood. Given that it would be near clear-felling, certainly of anything large, it might be an appropriate approach, possibly using a skyline to get the timber up to the top. I personally wouldn't want to take it on either - dropping the odd standing dead oak in woodland without taking out anything around it is more my level of entertainment (even has canal content, as it's usually then milled for boat work) Alec
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