Teamwork on ASC 26


Teamwork on ASC 26

Yesterday was an important one in the restoration of Armed Steam Cutter 26, one of the boats in Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust's collection. Armed Steam Cutter 26 was one of a batch of seventy 35ft steam cutters, built between 1910 and 1912.  She was assigned new to Town-class Light Cruiser HMS Falmouth, on the cruiser’s completion in September 1911. She served during the First World War and following decommissioning in 1928 spent some years as a private yacht. You can read more about her history on the PNBPT website. She is now undergoing a full restoration to working condition.

With restoration progressing well, it was time to add a rubbing rail to the forward part of the vessel. College students, observed by Instructors and led by by recent students now working as volunteers, were responsible for gently bending and clamping a section of a oak into position. Oak is not naturally a flexible wood; this section was soaked to increase the moisture content and then heated in a steam box to allow it to be bent without breaking. Once removed from the steam there are only 2 or 3 minutes before the heat dissipates and the timber stiffens up again so speed is of the essence. 

With all the available students rallied there was a briefing by the lead volunteers and a quick practice with a cold piece of wood before it was time to open the steam box and start work in earnest. After one false start when the first clamp couldn't be fixed quickly enough, the two sections of timber were in place within a matter of minutes. They will soon be ready for the next stage of shaping and fixing, taking ASC 26 one step closer to her relaunch day.