We undertook the rebuild of Bruin in 2015 for our clients who approached us having never owned a steam boat before. They bought Bruin as a suitable first steam boat, and proceeded to fall in love with her, but required a few changes to make her into their perfect steam launch.
Built by Rupert Latham in 1984 to his Frolic 21 design and showed at boat shows that year as one of the earliest Frolic 21 hulls he moulded to the ever popular design. They typify many of the best characteristics of small Victorian and Edwardian steam launches, but with fibreglass hulls and canopies with mahogany decks and fit-out provide a boat that requires less maintenance than a wooden launch, but with a traditional varnished deck, look quite pretty.
The boat came to us with its original Kingdon steam boiler and a Stuart Turner 6A compound steam engine. The boiler was in its original build and needed a rebuild, along with all new pipework and fittings. It was decided to replace the engine with a smaller, easier to use and reliable high pressure twin engine to Cyril Taylor’s design. With boiler and engine removed all the external woodwork was stripped back to bare timber, some timber being replaced where rot had got a hold, all timber was treated with a preservative and then fully restored with high quality varnish.
New engine beds were installed and the new engine installed, with a new section of propeller shaft being manufactured and installed with the engine being aligned in the traditional manner for a steam launch with no flexible coupling and an accurate alignment making for a rigid and quiet arrangement- a vast improvement over the previous installation.
We crafted a brand new mahogany engine casing to our own design, taking inspiration from the Windermere steam launches that ply on the water a few minutes from our yard, with hinged glazed hatch doors and a brass handrail. This was entirely made by hand and included sourcing some vintage brass handrail stanchions that proved perfect for the casing. Once installed it provides weather protection for the engine, a flat surface for the steam kettle to be mounted on and work surface large enough to make a cups of tea on as well as being a conduit for hiding the necessary pipework for much of the functions of the steam plant.
The hull was sanded, primed and painted in a high quality 2-pack epoxy paint, with hand sign written names on the bow done in house to a bespoke design picked from a few suggested designs that we came up with.
The rebuild of the boiler was contracted out to our local boilermakers who did a great job of fabricating a new firebox, top tube plate and re tubing the boiler. We ensure the safety of our clients throughout the boiler rebuild until completion, as well as the safety of the entire installation by working closely with our boiler inspector who we have worked with on many projects.
With the new engine in, boiler installed, engine casing mounted and new valves and pipework installed and the extensive woodwork restoration completed we embarked upon somewhat of a challenge.
The original specification of the Frolic 21 included a moulded fibreglass canopy covering the full length of the open boat. At some point in her history it was decided that in order to lower it single-handedly the best course of action would be to cut the majority of the canopy away, leaving large holes for the cosmetic canvas cover to droop into and fill with dangerous amounts of water when raining. Faced with a choice of trying to repair the existing canopy, or replace it we came up with a lightweight design in strip-planked mahogany. It utilized the existing mahogany frame from the original canopy which kept dimensions accurate and simple. New brass stanchions were made and the canopy dressed her overall.
In use she has proved to be simple to operate, easily maintains hull speed for long periods of time, has received awards from the Steam Boat Association GB for her rebuild and continues to provide hours of pleasure to her owners and their family at her home in the English Lake District, as well as occasional forays to the Thames.
We are happy to provide more details on request, and should you need similar work undertaking on your boat we can offer a suitable solution tailored to your particular needs.