Historic steam-driven tug set to return to service

Historic steam-driven tug set to return to service. Photo credit: Thorndon Bearings
Historic steam-driven tug set to return to service. Photo credit: Thorndon Bearings

One of the world’s oldest tugboats, the 117-year-old, steam-driven tug Daniel Adamson, is set to return to service offering short cruises along the River Weaver, a tributary of the Mersey River in England, after the completion of a project to install new propeller shaft bearings.

The 1903-built steamship, rescued from scrap merchants 15 years ago, was fully restored in 2016 at Birkenhead’s Cammell Laird yard, the original builder of the vessel. Thordon Bearings’ SXL water lubricated propeller shaft bearings were installed last year after competitor bearings failed.

Thordon SXL water lubricated bearings were supplied in April of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 crisis, the project was delayed until November. The coal-fired steam-driven tug, currently in winter lay-up, is expected to resume service in the spring.

“Initially, we were only going to replace the bearing on the starboard shaft, but as the project progressed, it was agreed that the port propeller shaft bearing should also be changed. So, we ended up supplying 203mm (8in) diameter SXL bearings for each shaft,” Chris Simmons said.

Andrea Ward, Director, Daniel Adamson Preservation Society, said, “As a charity, supported by volunteers, we didn’t have a big budget available for the docking and bearing replacement so soon after the restoration three years ago. But after evaluating the reliability and robustness of the SXL bearings we believed it would be prudent to the life of the vessel to replace the existing shaft components with the more reliable, robust Thordon SXL solution.”

Commenting on the success of the project, Simmons, said, “Boarding this remarkable vessel is stepping back in time. Many of the volunteers are septuagenarians but they’re carrying out all of the tasks required to operate a steam engine, including the ‘fireman’ role, shoveling coal. Tough work. I’m not sure I would be able to keep that up for too long – apparently there is a knack.”

Read another article about a historic vessel: Funding campaign launched to save the oldest floating Clyde-built vessel in the UK


Instagram Posts from the IIMS @iimsmarine