Steam Tug Alwyn Vintcent On the Trailer Ready to Go!

During this last week, Johannes Uys and his team from Machine Moving & Engineering (MME) have been busy! They have built, fitted and welded two cradles to the hull, at suitable points according to internal bulkheads and the centre of gravity.




On Friday, unfortunately not witnessed by many of us, he came with his 180-Tonne crane and lifted off the superstructure and engine room and deposited them on two of his trailers. He did the last bit of cutting on the front coaming and lifted that off too. Also on Friday, our Videographer, Monty Swart arrived from Johannesburg; he was luckily able to capture the moment!



A strong team of Villiersdorpers arrived at about 8.30 on Saturday morning, we had sent through our details and identity numbers for the security check in advance, and we found Johannes lifting the vessel just those last few millimetres, so that ALE’s trailer could get in underneath.


Johannes was finding the boat so rigid that when he lifted at one corner, the adjacent corner was lifting as well, so instead of lifting a quarter of the hull, he was lifting half! Most of the weight is concentrated at the rear with the engines; the boiler being about amidships. Once everybody was happy with the height at the rear, the MME team moved the jacks to the front and that was lifted easily. They have a motor driven hydraulic power pack which takes away the actual work of pumping!



The 88-wheel trailer was standing ready for the DAF front prime mover to reverse it in.



The trailer has a power pack too, which not only controls the height of each 4-wheel dolly, but also steers each of them.



A bit of very skilful driving from the driver, plus ALE’s Rudi at the steering controls at the right rear corner, had the trailer perfectly centrally placed and as far under the hull possible, in about half an hour!



Once Rudi was happy that the hull and the trailer were exactly correct, the hydraulics of the trailer lifted the hull off the jacks with ease! The chaining down could then begin. The front cradle is fixed down securely on both sides:



Also at the front, two chains pass down the anchor sockets to the trailer. At the back, from the lugs used for shipping the rudder and propeller, a long chain on each side down to the trailer.



All the chains were tensioned securely with ratcheting bottlescrews. After checking the top, we were ready for the first hundred metres of our epic trip, to the holding area on the other side of the road.



Although the Red Flag Law was repealed in 1896, here is V&A Port Captain Steven Bentley proceeding in front of a motor vehicle with a Red Flag!



He stopped the traffic for us and in a matter of minutes we were parked in the fenced area on the other side and the trailer was lowered to the ground, so that the first job, to measure our actual height off the ground, could begin.



We had all along worried that the rear coaming and the box over the steering gear, in fact parts of the steering gear itself, would be too high. Not only was this the case, but the base of the inner funnel was also higher than we anticipated. Work started immediately on those jobs, while the rest of the team started with the banners, by first hanging cargo net on the sides, pulling it taut to the trailer and attaching banners to that. A steel frame was made for the large banners, one for MME, the other for Villiersdorp Tractor & Engine Club.




After Fanus had done much cutting, the rear coaming was lifted off and loaded next to the front one on MME’s trailer.


We decided to cut the steering box off with a grinder, and dismantled the upper sections of the steering gear to drop the precious 200mm we needed. At the funnel, we detached the outer heat shield and bent it down and cut a section off the inner.


It was getting late by the time everything was done, the last rays of sunlight picked out the port side banners, the other side is too close to the fence to photograph.




The last job was to tie down the tarpaulins stretched across the open top to prevent the wind catching them. Then we were ready for the road, first thing on Monday morning, when the epic trip of 408km to Villiersdorp will begin!


Andy Selfe

24th June 2012


Photos where indicated are kindly supplied by Trevor Wilkins


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