• The rebuild

    The deck has now been replaced and the funnel has also been replaced. The funnel has been modified to accommodate the smaller exhaust outlet of the new boiler.

    26th November,
    A new oil fired domestic boiler has been fitted, This is to heat the hot water for showers etc.but also to run the central heating system that was installed in Challenge to keep condensation down to a minimum in the winter months.
    The new re metalled main engine bearings have come back from the Bluebell Railway. The refurbished OBU has been reinstalled.
    Work is continuing very well with much hard work put in by our volunteers.

    18th December
    Because the boiler is somewhat smaller than the original and there is no "smoke box" to speak of we are installing a new deck in the boiler room. It is at the same level as the old access gratings but will be much more easy to get to.

    28th December
    Work is progressing steadily. The new boiler room upper deck is almost finished and the restored air vents will be fitted soon.
    The slow process of rebuilding the main engine is going well.


    27TH March 2012.


    A historic Dunkirk Little Ship has been saved from an almost certain future as baked bean cans thanks to a confirmed restoration grant of £909440.00 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) it was announced today. The money will enable the 1931 built Steam Tug to return to active service, as a fully operational, educational & public accessible reminder of the thousands of similar vessels that once thronged Britain's ports & harbours.

    See full press release below.


    Challenge back in dry dock

    After her survey and preliminary work earlier this year Challenge is back in dry dock for the real work to be done. The work includes replacing the propeller shaft and intermediate propeller shafts, replace the stern gland.replace the rudder and new quadrant, replace parts of the hull that were found to be thin, replace the sacrificial anodes, etc. etc.

    When the work here is completed she will be re-floated and taken back to her berth at the eastern end of the dock where the work will be completed, including the fitting of the new boiler, refitting the decks, funnel and all.

    Monday 24 Sept, saw the work completed in the dry dock and Challenge was re-floated again and taken back to her berth at the eastern end of the dock.

    Removing the old boiler

    26th May saw the start of the major work on removing the boiler starting with the removal of the manhole door to allow easier access to the inside of the boiler. Most of the fire tubes have been removed.

    You can see from the picture just how far Larssen Engineering have progressed with removing the boiler. Larssen Engineering are no stranger to Challenge as they removed the propeller and shaft when Challenge was dry docked back in August 2007. They came recommended by the late and much missed Fred Redmond and they are doing a great job.

    As soon as it is all remove then the volunteers can set to and steam clean and paint the boiler room in readiness for the new one.

    Thanks to Chris English for the photos in this section.


    I visited Challenge on the 16th June. In spite of not being a proper full working day there were plenty of local dedicated volunteers all doing useful work on her. The main work is still, of course, the boiler and this is going very well with the team from Larssen Engineering doing a great job.
    The aft accommodation is getting a very welcome repaint. And the crankshaft was being checked for wear on the journals.

    A week later and all of the boiler has been removed completely, and you can see that Challenge is now very high in the water. Now everything is almost ready to prepare for the new boiler. The bulkhead at the forward end of the boiler room is to be cut open to allow us to install two tanks under the saloon area. One is for fresh water and the other will be for waste.

    New boiler under construction

    The new boiler is being built by Byworth Boilers Ltd. Keighley, West Yorkshire. A family firm founded in 1968 by Dennis Baldwin. His son Peter is the managing director and his son Robert is production director, still very much a family firm.

    The Boiler has now been built and pressure tested to one and a half times the working pressure. This is 22.5 bar or 326.25psi, the working pressure is 13.8 bar or 200psi.

    The basic dimensions of the boiler are 3640cm diameter (12ft) and 5088mm (16.5ft) long including the burners

    It weighs approximately 25 tonnes dry and is designed to produce 7 tonnes of steam at 200psi per hour.


    Why we chose a two burner boiler.

    We had the option of one, two or three burners. One burner would have been the cheapest option but would not have sufficient turn-down ratio to cope with the varying steam demand and there would be no redundancy if the burner failed. (We could have gone for the two boiler option which sounds attractive but we would have struggled to fit two boilers into the space and it would have increased the initial cost and doubled the maintenance/survey load)

    Two burners can sustain a much wider range of steam demand and also offer redundancy should one fail.It is also the most economical solution in terms of initial cost and maintenance/survey.
    The third burner would not add anything to the operation of the boiler and would dramatically increase the cost (possibly as much as 40%).

    Clive Purser
    Chief engineer

    The pictures to the right show the boiler in various stages of construction.

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