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Vospers Steam Launch?

Conversion to steam - will it float

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michael howarth 129/06/2020 14:03:03
34 forum posts
4 photos

My wife bought me an ancient Vospers Fire Rescue launch hull a few years ago. It was in a slightly wretched condition and remained under the bench for ages. Then I made a marine engine from some other bits that I had accumulated and wondered whether I could marry the hull with the engine. I knew that I was converting a greyhound to a tortoise but that was no problem. The engine runs well and leisurely and the hull has scrubbed up. This is my first boat as I am mainly a loco man, so it was with some trepidation that I floated it on my ornamental pond. First thoughts were that it seems to lack freeboard (is that the right word?) with about 1.75" at the stern and 2.75" at the bow. When rocked from side to side it seems to right itself without any problem. I have taken some photographs which I will attach as soon as I work out how. I would value any comments on the apparent pondworthiness of the boat.


michael howarth 129/06/2020 14:08:15
34 forum posts
4 photos


michael howarth 129/06/2020 14:11:33
34 forum posts
4 photos

michael howarth 129/06/2020 14:13:32
34 forum posts
4 photos

There are two pieces of lead sticking up at the rear for ballast. They have been cast to lie flat in the stern section of the boat. Perhaps someone with a Vospers craft could offer a comparison.


Malcolm Frary30/06/2020 10:19:24
995 forum posts

Interesting and very different. Freeoard shouldn't be a problem if it is sailed in wave conditions that scale to what a real one would sail in - I would expect flat calm conditions. When used as a Rescue Launch, they will handle a lot of weather, but then, they have a lid on to keep water out and the heavy bits are low down.

When doing the stability test, how full was the boiler? Weight of water high up won't help the ability to recover from being rocked.

ashley needham30/06/2020 21:11:11
7150 forum posts
164 photos

Michael. There is only one way to find out....

Freeboard seems ok...if it passes the wobble test, then really the only way to find out if its ok is to stick it on the (big) pond.


michael howarth 130/06/2020 21:23:13
34 forum posts
4 photos

THank you for your responses Malcolm and Ashley. My optimism for this project has been revived by your comments. The boiler was full when I did the test. The engine/boiler unit is a bit of a chunk weighing in at around 7lb but it is located right down on the keel. In hindsight, I suppose that I could have adopted some more weight-saving measures including building the boiler in a lighter gauge copper. Speaking of which......bench runs indicate a running time of 20 - 25 minutes. Does this sound reasonable?


Ray Wood 230/06/2020 22:08:21
2374 forum posts
831 photos

Hi Micheal,

The vertical boiler is not helping your centre of gravity, but I'm sure the single chine crash tender hull will be fine 😀

A horizontal centre flue boiler boiler would help with the stability issue as it would be much lower , but most steam launches are round bilge displacement hulls, but that's a lot of work !!

Regards Ray

michael howarth 101/07/2020 06:01:25
34 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks Ray. I have been pretty much reassured that the centre of gravity is not going to be a critical problem as the boat rights itself quite readily when pushed over one side or the other and also from previous comments on the forum.There is no doubt that a horizontal boiler would have a lower centre of gravity. This was considered when planning for the boiler but I have to admit I decided on the vertical boiler because I preferred the look of it.


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