Club event reports

if you have a report or comments about an event or rally that you have attended it can be published here. let Rob Gibbons know,

  Approximately 18% of world trade is transported around the world by ships. These are the carriers that work around the clock to deliver every day goods, bulk materials for industry and fuel necessary for our daily life. We rarely give this industry a second thought until something goes wrong. A ship that has sunk, or wrecked on the rocks and spilling oil into the sea then makes headlines. Losing ships this way means human, financial and environmental losses. Despite the risks, huge profit is the reward for those who gamble with investment.
  Paul’s talk was based on the bulk carriers that made significant impact in commerce since their introductions during the nineteenth century, and still do today. Coal fired steam was powering industry and whale oil lubricated fine instruments and clocks. in 1850, mineral oil was being refined by the James Young process so that kerosene could be used to light streets and homes. This new and apparently abundant fuel source could not have come soon enough as 40 years of whaling had virtually decimated the whale population in the north Atlantic. British oil from Burma in 1850 was followed by Pennsylvania oil, which had become a major supplier by 1860.
  The steam and wind powered vessels were basic traders that carried the oil in barrels. As demand for the product grew, it was noticed that barrels waste at least 25% of the space available. In 1861, the Elizabeth Watts was converted into the worlds first liquified oil bulk carrier, able to carry 1300 tons of petroleum. On a trip from Borneo to Australia, she struck a reef near Victoria and was sunk with total loss. The first purpose built oil tankers were being built in 1863. these were open topped vessels where the oil fumes were present in the hull causing nausea and sickness for the crew. This included the first ocean going steam vessel built in Jarrow during 1873 with a gross weight of 2760 tons.
  by 1877, W.A. Riedmann entered the the oil trade. He converted former emigrant ships ‘Adona’ and ‘Derby’ into bulk carriers with inter connected tanks that could be filled with sea water for ballast after discharging their oil cargo. The oil could be loaded and discharged through one pipe and the ship balanced by pumping oil from tank to tank. On 15th March 1888, the ‘Geeste’ making for New York with a cargo of iron and water ballast, became stranded off Great Yarmouth.
  In 1883, Henry Frederick Swan designed 3 vessels to overcome the ‘Free Surface Effect’. This phenomenon where liquids or bulk materials that flow like liquids, can cause a vessel to become unstable and roll over. Swan introduced design features like Cofferdams, Horizontal Bulkheads and Vapour Lines to improve safe operation of bulk carriers. Later in 1903, Combustion engines were introduced to power bulk carriers and replace steam and wind power, as the vessels were becoming larger.
  In 1915, the USS Maumee (14500 tons) was a pioneer vessel that could transfer oil at sea, vessel to vessel. The ships too big to enter port to load and unload, could transfer to smaller vessels, and eventually to and from offshore piers.
  Daniel Keith Lugwig, considered to be the ‘Father of the Supertanker’, introduced methods of construction for even larger vessels in the 1920’s. Welded steel hulls to replace traditional riveted hulls, and placing the engine at the rear of the vessel instead of mid ships. Welded hull construction proved invaluable decades later producing the ‘Liberty’ ships during WW2. Through the 1960’s and 1970’s, bulk carrying ships had grown up to over 500,000 tons, which were more economic for long journeys, caused by untimely closure of the Suez and Panama canals. Currently, the ‘Knock Nevis’ is the largest ocean going vessel at 564,000 tonnes. Her 80 foot draught means she is not able to safely navigate the English Chanel. Political history in the Suez and low water availability in the Panama has from time to time favoured the larger vessels on grounds of economy.
  Despite the steady advance in design of shipping, disasters at sea have had major effects on commerce, safety and environmental health. Paul talked about notable disasters like the ‘Torrey Canyon’ in 1967, where the oil spillage destroyed marine birds and seals and fish. unfortunately, the detergent used to disperse the oil destroyed the same amount of wild life as the oil, but improved and safe clean up solutions are now available. The ‘Herald of Free Enterprise’, a roll on roll off passenger and car ferry sank when the bow doors were left open while leaving dock, took on board huge amounts of sea water and sank, killing 193 people in 1987. Overloaded ferries in the East are to this day are sinking, despite the lessons learned, which all goes to show how relentless the sea is, and that we have not mastered it yet.
Derek England.



   Advertised as “Operation Beehive –Secrets of the Brean Sands Hulks” , our talk on Tuesday was switched to “Surface Raiders and the Battle of The Atlantic”. These are new talks developed by Paul Barnett from his extensive research in maritime and historical subjects. This new talk, about the capital battleships used by Nazi Germany during WW2 to deny shipped imports into Britain, was tailored from the view point of how the Nazis were able to build such a strong fleet in contravention of the Versailles treaty that should have restricted their arsenal to a defence force only.

  The Versailles treaty of 1919 restricted new build naval vessels to specific weights and numbers. The same restrictions applied to all of Germany’s military equipment and personnel, but Paul’s talk concentrated on the the naval program. The coming to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party sought to change the restriction of the Versailles treaty by building a strong economy to gain the support and belief of the German people. This allowed a recently defeated country to covertly rearm in full view and defiance of the world. The Allied nations, who were also recovering from the ravages of WW1 were powerless to intervene and hoped a strong Germany would not emerge again to wage war.

  Paul’s meticulous study revealed later documentation showing how capital naval ships were exceeding the gross tonnage limits set out in the Versailles Treaty. The Washington Treaty of 1935 set out to negate the advantage Germany was gaining over the Allied countries by increasing the limits for all countries. The London Conference of that year installed the Z plan, which allowed vessels of up to 35,000 tons and up to 14” guns. This would apply to all countries, not just Germany. Despite Germany being restricted by treaties, the Allied countries could see that Germany was growing in military strength that could again threaten world peace.

  the British Royal Navy was the largest naval force in the world as it served the Empire and Commonwealth. Hitler resolved to break Britain by defeating the Royal Navy and commercial shipping to Britain by blockading the north Atlantic ocean. His preference was to use large conventional ships like the Tirpitz, Bismark and the Graf Spee to fight conventional sea battles. These “Surface Raiders” were to starve Britain into submission and divide the Empire. Others in the Nazi hierarchy, led by Karl Donitz, were in favour of submarines to control the oceans, but were held back by Hitler until later in the war.

  The days of these “Surface Raiders” were numbered. As we heard from Paul’s previous talk on the Battle of Jutland, major surface vessels alone just eliminate each other. Huge losses on each side without definitive victory was no good to either side in war. mid way through WW2, Hitler sanctioned greater spending on the submarine fleet to seek effective strikes against the Allies in the north Atlantic. Technology moves swiftly in war, and counter measures became quickly available for each new weapon developed. Large surface ships that were vulnerable to submarines before WW2 became subjects of bombs and torpedoes from aircraft that could operate in the north Atlantic. Radar and the breaking of the Enigma machine codes could locate large relatively slow vessels, so they could be hunted down more easily. Hitler’s submarines, despite showing many early successes, also fell foul to advancing technology and eventually suffered the greatest loss for any German armed branch during WW2.

  An interesting talk by Paul that showed a lot of interest from the members present, and one to recommend to other clubs looking for similar talks.


Derek England.



  Tuesday night’s talk was back on a technical theme. Oil, and the thousands of products and services that we take for granted in a modern world, has to be won from the Earth by human effort and ingenuity. Extracting oil from the ground is tough enough, and as the finite sources become scarcer, it becomes necessary to extract from more remote locations, such as under the sea, which adds to the cost of the final product, in both financial and human terms.

  Paul Barnett spoke in detail about the discovery of high grade crude in the North sea, and how this came to be claimed by the countries around that area. For Britain, this would become about 10 percent of North Sea oil production, and so economically important. The 1974 Health, Safety and Welfare Act was suitably in place to cover the operation of British extraction of oil and gas, although this Act was not sufficient to prevent the July 1988 disaster at the Piper Alpha platform that took the lives of 165 crew and 2 rescue workers, as well as destroying the platform.

  Health and safety often appear sufficient until a serious incident shows up the short comings in the system. In the case of Piper Alpha, a whole series of incidents contributed to create one of the costliest man made disasters of all time. Total insurance loss of £1.7 billion (equivalent to £5 billion in 2021) and the loss of 167 persons that in hind sight could have been prevented. The Cullen enquiry ( published November 1990) concluded that short comings in the owners procedures (Occidental Petroleum ltd) had led to the disaster, and recommended a 167 new procedures, including design of platform and information to emergency services, be installed. No criminal charges were raised against Occidental Petroleum ltd.

  This was a new talk by Paul Barnett, and MSRVS were the first audience to hear it. Consequently we received the full contents of technical, political and human material, which lasted an hour and 45 minutes. Paul will tailor this talk to suit his various audiences. Naturally our questions were based on the technical issues, as well as the political and ethical issues. Plenty of content for everyone to comment on, and a talk worth hearing again.


Derek England.


   As autumn draws in, we would hope that club nights would be warm and cosy with good interactivity between our members. After all, that’s what club membership is for. Sharing our experiences and chatting about building and operating steam engines. We had a visitor, David Walker from Stratford upon avon, who came to see what we got up to on our club evenings. I hope he enjoyed the evening as he did stay until the end.

  In that same vein we grouped ourselves into 5 teams to compete in a friendly quiz. Our speaker, Ray Sturdy, had arranged a quiz based on pictures of celebrities, sounds of every day equipment, and popular TV music themes from days gone by. There was friendly banter between the teams as Ray kept the quiz running at a good pace. The quiz was not difficult as the lowest score by any team was 49 out of 65.

  There was plenty of time after the quiz to chat about steam, so another productive and entertaining evening.


Derek England.

  Our first club night meeting in two months! It was a splendid presentation by the members of the Gloucester and District Model Boat Club. Ted Tedaldi brought David, Mike and Brian, with a some of their model boats and associated equipment, to give us a comprehensive and interesting insight into their well organised and studied hobby. Another member, whose name is also Mike, was not able to attend due to medical reasons, but we were told that he specialised in dredgers, with fine detail and operational ability in his models.
  Ted’s introduction made us all aware that the model boat world has modellers who study their subject before building a scale model, in a similar way that steam enthusiasts, like MRSVS members, study a subject before selecting plans and materials to build and operate a scale version of that subject. In the same vein, we all seek the same experience that the creators of the full sized sought when creating the original equipment. Like all modellers, the individual members of the model boat club use their personal choice of materials and methods of construction. Some construct using timber, and others prefer plastics like Glass Reinforce Plastic (GRP) and commercially available Plasticard. These options provide a friendly rivalry between the members, and a healthy club atmosphere.
  Ted introduced David, who brought 3 models of naval class vessels at scales of 1:12, 1:24 and 1:48. David talked of the history of his largest vessel, a nineteenth century motor torpedo boat that was designed to travel at high speed towards its target, release torpedoes from the rear of the vessel, and turn away before the torpedoes reached their target. This class of vessel was so feared that the Destroyer class of vessel was introduced to combat it. The model is powered by two electric brushless motors, independently throttled to provide maneuverability, just like the full sized vessel. Hull is constructed of wood with glass fibre overlay to seal the wood and keep the water out of the vessel. David’s other two models were early designs of live steam powered side paddle driven vessels, also constructed in wood. Later, he demonstrated the steam plant and radio control system of those vessels.
  Ted next introduced Mike, who is well known the boat club as a man who just gets on with it. Mike is not phased by any task. He just finds practical ways to overcome complex modelling problems. Mike’s preferred materials of construction are GRP and Plasticard. He also showed a model made out of cardboard. A comprehensive kit with elaborately printed detail that was primarily intended as a display subject. However by using balsa wood stiffening in the structure, the model could be sailed on the water. Propulsion units, radio control equipment and ballasting for operation upon water is also illustrated in the kit instructions. The model is of the USS Missouri, was finely detailed and took 3 years to build. Mike’s other models used traditional GRP hulls that were molded inside GRP split patterns especially made by Mike for the finished hull. Wood strips bonded to the inside of the hull gunwales providing support for the Plasticard decking and superstructure. Lead was bonded into the hull to ballast the vessel to correct buoyancy at it’s Plimsoll line. Complete with electric propulsion and radio control equipment, these models normally took a year to complete.
  Ted then introduced Brian, who has a passion for the performance of his craft. Scale like wake from the bows and white water trailing from the stern to give authenticity. Brian’s passion is modelling naval vessels, which had all sunk. In a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ moment, he said this is so no-one could check the included details on the models. However, one day at an exhibition, someone studying his model counted the number of portholes on the hull and declared that it was one porthole short on his model! Brian also described the up to date technology used in the propulsion and control of his models. Also, 3D printing has many uses when creating detailed parts, such as scaled personnel, bollards and handrails. These parts are relatively cheap to produce in plastic compared to metal parts, but are time consuming to print. To contrast this, he declared that old technology, such as glow plug or petrol engines were not allowed any more on the clubs sailing ground.
  The club usually meet for sailing on Sunday and Wednesday afternoons at the basin of the Gloucester and Hereford canal at Over on the A40 not far from Westgate street Bridge. They can also be seen at Gloucester docks when events are scheduled there.
  It’s been a long time coming since one of our own gave a talk at a club night meeting. Graham Stubbs, who many will think of as the gentle, mild mannered treasurer, and steam engine operator, gave an informal talk which revealed his Royal Navy service in submarines. There’s more to Graham than meets the eye as he calmly deliberated the day to day life on board both diesel electric and nuclear powered submarines. Starting with his 5 year apprenticeship and 1 year submarine training, leading on to his career move as an Electrical Articifer, Graham described his time in both American and British operations rooms, very carefully including the people he met, and without giving away any military secrets! He did mention that the American operations room was easier than the British one, but that’s the only qualification he would reveal as secrecy is mandatory.
  Graham used pictures and charts to describe the classes of vessel, and how the classes were defined to meet the requirements of duty. Graham served aboard HMS Dreadnought, a nuclear powered submarine armed with torpedoes. He also served on HMS Revenge, a nuclear powered submarine armed with Polaris Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles. A tough environment for the newly qualified engineer to gain experience playing ‘cat and mouse’ with the aggressive Russian surveillance submarines and surface vessels. There are many lessons to be learned when dealing with the very real ‘cold war’ threat, and certainly not for the faint hearted!
  There were many questions asked by the membership who were present, ranging from the nuclear technical to domestic routine. Graham answered everything soundly in copious detail, but you were aware how carefully he dealt with the level of information given. A well trained and disciplined mind at work with a lot of valuable experience being called upon.
  For me, the value of this talk is in the approach the British military take in running an armed force. The tiniest details are well taken care of, from feeding, clothing personnel with families at home, to training for manoeuvres in the face of aggressive and relentless ‘cold war’ enemies. Character building for people like Graham, to say the least, and confidence building for the British public that as a nation, we can rise to the occasion, should that ever be necessary.
      CLUB NIGHT 16th MAY 2023 – A GOOD  JOB WE HAD A PLAN ‘B’
  May’s club night talk was not advertised as a definite event since we had no speaker booked. There was hope that a speaker was able to fill in at short notice, but due to another commitment, he was not able to attend our club night gathering. Fortunately, there is always a plan ‘B’ that can be pulled out of storage for such occasions. A quiz based on the one that Dan Cutting devised for us last November was the idea, so I acquired a general knowledge 30 question quiz online that might do the trick.
  The members and a few guests assembled into four teams, as I presented the questions. Since this online offering had an American bias, our contestants were a bit hard pushed stretching their (imperial?) knowledge, and much scratching of heads with team conferred mutterings was observed. Fortunately, our contestants were made of stern enough stuff to stick to the task, as the post quiz totting up of the correct answers showed some very good results. Bearing in mind this is meant to be a fun filled event for every one, with the opportunity to learn a few interesting facts about the world outside of steam engines.
  The quiz went well enough for the groups to accept a short (5 question) second quiz based on Japanese words and culture. All good fun and not much hindrance as we all returned to talking about steam and club related subjects before closing the meeting. Dan Cutting, standing in for John Kidley, reminded the members of the upcoming events for Blue Lias, Tewkesbury, Fosse and Highnam.
  The regular club meetings are beneficial for steam minded people to gather and share their experiences. Those who build, operate and exhibit steam engines can share this experience with family and friends at our many gatherings throughout the year. Those who do not own or operate model steam engines, like myself for example, can still enjoy and be involved in this educational and rewarding hobby.
Derek England.
  This Talk, Purely By Coincidence, Turned Out To Be A Good Follow On From The Ray Sturdy’s Talk Last Month “The Real Dad’s Army”. Then We Saw How Civilians, Ex Military And Otherwise Ineligible People Stepped Up To The Mark In WW2 To Face Hitler’s Might. This Time, Paul Barnett Gave Us An Insight Into What The RAF Were Up To, Albeit Covertly And In Our Locality, During WW2.
  This Activity Was So Secret That Little Was Recorded For Public Access. Even Now, Little Information Is Available. The Fact That The RAF Were At Saul Was Discovered Accidentally By Paul When Talking To The Son Of The Former Sharpness Pilot Skipper From Those Days. The Son Had Access To His Fathers Log Accounts Of Vessels Guided Up The Sharpness Canal. During 1942 And 1943, A Number Of RAF High Speed Launches Were Guided To And From Saul Junction. What Were These Vessels Doing There? Intrigued By The Reference, Paul Researched Further.
  The Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) Was Formed On 1st April 1918 By Merging The Royal Naval Air Service (R.N.A.S.) With The Army’s Royal Flying Corps (R.F.C.) Thus Creating A New Independent Armed Force. This Could Service The Empire Adequately As Many Distant Lands Had Few Airfields. For Air Sea Rescue Of Downed Aircraft And Crews, The R.A.F. Formed The Marine Craft Section (M.C.S.) As They Considered It Was Their Duty To Deal With R.A.F. Aircraft And Personnel, Rather Than Leaving It To The Royal Navy. Similarly, The Royal Navy Thought That They Should Have Their Own Air Power, So The Fleet Air Arm Was Formed To Deal With Their People And Equipment. Such Competition Between The Military Services Is Seen As A Healthy Way To Maintain Fitness In Peacetime And Readiness For Future Conflict.
  The Marine Craft Section Maintained 150 Vessels During The Inter World War Years, Constantly Updating The Specifications To Improve Speed And Range Of Operation. Their Duties Were 1) Ferry Crews To And From Flying Boats To Shore. 2) Maintain Marker Buoys For Landing Strips. 3) Rescue Downed Crews. Larger Flying Boats Were Also Maintained For Their Greater Speed And Range To Reach Downed Aircraft And Crews.
  During World War 2, The MCS Had To Keep And Maintain Serviceable Craft, And Keep A Reserve, In Order To Remain Operational. During 1942, Four Men Took Up Lodgings In Saul Village In Order To Rent Moorings Along The Stroud Water Canal Arm At Saul Junction. Moorings Normally For One Shilling A Week Were Covered By A £50 Cover For An Undisclosed Number Of Vessels That Were To Be Moored In Storage In That Secluded Area, Away From The Prying Eyes Of The Luftwaffe. The Gated Disused Arm Of The Stroud Water Canal That Continued To The River Severn Was Refurbished Into A Dry Dock On The Proviso That It Be Returned To Derelict State After The War. The Near By Wycliffe College Rowing Club Was Requisitioned For Vessel Maintenance Purposes. The Canal Tow Paths In That Area Were Also Closed To The Public In Order To Maintain Secrecy. Further Research By Paul Revealed That Around 70% Of All Craft Operated By MCS Were Stored And Maintained At Saul During The War Years, Albeit A Small Number At A Time.
  At Lower Lode Near Tewkesbury, The Timber Built Cheltenham Boys College Boat House  On The River Severn Was Used For The Larger Multi Engine Rescue Craft During WW2. Paul Believes That The Straight Section Of River Leading Up To What Is Now The M50 Motorway Bridge Could Have Been Used To Test Engines And Handling Of The Boats Away From Enemy Eyes.
  These Facilities Were Stopped On The 1st December 1944, Leading Paul To Believe That They Were Put In Place To Prepare For Operation Overlord, The Invasion Of France, On The 6th June That Year.