Souvenier d’Antan

Souvenier d’Antan

In January 2005 we received a phone call from Souvenier’s owner to say she had been badly damaged in storms. She had been in her boathouse and due to the deep water level, had smashed into the building roof. Waves had also pushed the 100-year-old boat on top of the jetty post and all 5 posts had driven holes along her under that water line.

We arrived to see her cabin roof smashed, combings splintered, doors broken, and the boat 6ft under the water. We lifted the boat the next day and slipped her to have a look and work out what needed doing. On our surveillance we found that the double planked hull was also soft in many places, so the outlook did not look good. It is a credit to the owner that he decided to go ahead with such a major restoration, perhaps many owners would have given up.

Upon arrival at our Hawkshead workshop, the boat was carefully measured and photographed. Every fitting was documented and removed, some put in to storage and others sent off to specialist metal workers for repair and polishing. The engine and boiler were removed, cleaned, oiled and also put in to storage. Drawings were done, and photographs taken of everything aboard the boat, and the interior was carefully labeled and removed piece by piece, as was all the plumbing, electrics, steering systems etc.

A full inspection of the hull was made, the result was not good: 87of the 94 frames needed replacing and 95% of the inner hull was rotten, deck beams aft were rotten, and the beams up forward were split and cracked from the storm. The stem was so soft we pulled it out with our hands. The keel, the stringer and beam shelf was thankfully sound.

The decision was made to go for it and the slow but steady process of taking frame patterns and then laminating up new oak frames began. This resulted in the boat retaining her shape exactly as she was. After all the frames were in, the outer and inner planking was removed, about 12ft at a time, and double diagonal 6mm planking glued and roved in to position. This process took around 4 months, after which the hull was complete and the boat was epoxy sealed and faired with epoxy fillers where required.

The interior was then replaced. The owner wanted some changes both to the layout and to the systems aboard. The cabin and decks went back. The boiler had a full strip down, clean, and repaint and was reinsulated.

The engine was inspected by our local steam expert Rodger Mallinson.

The oil fired boiler used to need a generator to supply the 240v blower, this system was replaced by a complex invertor/charging system, silent and very efficient. This means that the boat now has lots of power, so there are fridges to keep the wine cool, better lighting systems, improved safety systems, and electronics for depth and speed. The system means that the owner can arrive at the boat and get up steam in under 4 minutes at the flick of a switch.

With the structure back in and the systems in place the cosmetics were seen to. The boat was finished in Epifanes varnish and Awlgrip paints, the polished brass fittings were replaced and a new brass rubbing strip applied.

She is the pride and joy of her owners who had the courage to see the project through. Souvenier can be found steaming on Lake Windermere.

Souvenier d'Antan