On this page I will write about how and why the project to build a new steam tunnel tug came about.
After building a couple of Stuart Turner model engines I decided at the age of 40 it was time to do something bigger.
I really wanted a traction engine, but not just any traction engine, a Fowler ploughing engine. I knew they were expensive but a bit of research rapidly made it clear that this wasn't an affordable option so I started to think about something smaller and cheaper however after looking at a couple of very tatty portables I began to realise that I was being a bit unrealistic, daft even. This was because I lived in a terraced house near to Coventry City centre with no rear vehicular access or garage and a garden the size of a handkerchief. To enjoy any agricultural engine fully whether it be a Fowler ploughing engine or even a small portable you need somewhere to store and steam it, but I had neither.
I have always liked narrowboats and inland waterway craft of all types so I regularly watched Waterways World on the TV. In one episode they featured Sean Neil and his steam tug Laplander. As soon as I saw this I knew what I wanted to do and as I got Internet access at just about the same time I soon found details of the Steamboat Association of Great Britain (SBA) and joined.
It was through the SBA and a local engineer Terry Yates that I first got in touch with Philip Martino, Captain and part owner of the Steam Tug Adamant. Phil was at that time and still is the most welcoming and friendly chap who invited be to join him as a crew member of Adamant on a short trip from the moorings at the Blue Lias on the GU in Stockton up the locks to the Boat pub, I think about 10 locks. Along with steerer and other part owner Chris Stubbings we took adamant up the flight in about 1 1/2 hours and I think I learned more about a full size marine steam installation and its management in that short time than I had in all of my previous model steam engine experiences.
I now needed to start drawing up plans for my boat, find the engine and boiler and bring it all together. The first plan was to keep it simple and build a basic canal steam boat based on a cheap old narrowboat hull, something like a Springer. I think my initial budget was £12k. This would have everything I needed, a steam engine of reasonable size, moored on a canal which removed the need for a garage or shed and 2000 miles of water ways that I could steam on without being a hindrance to other traffic.
The budget was the first thing to go when I started getting prices for a boiler at £10k - £12k and an engine in the region of £6k. It seemed that the cheapest a reasonably practical canal steam boat could be built for was about £35k. What a blow, time to start saving up.
To be continued