Medway Queen starboard paddle box rebuild

When PS Medway Queen went to Ramsgate in 2021 for hull maintenance, one of the paddle-box facias was in poor condition, and on 10 May 2023 after exhaustive planning and risk assessment, to take account of handling a heavy component on the pier and over water, the refurbished paddle wheel fascia was fitted. The ship needed to be riding at the optimum height for the operation so careful timing was required.

The date was chosen as it had a low tide on a morning when the crew were available. Lowering the cover into place was easier and safer than trying to lift it. The fascia was strapped to a boom on the forklift and taken out of the yard across the road to the Medway Queen. Having positioned the fascia, two of the crew crawled across the paddle wheel from the inside to bolt it into place.

EAPL removed the fascia and returned it the ship came back to Gillingham, early in 2022. Refurbishment by volunteers was approved by the Board soon afterwards and, fortunately timber for the work was obtained at a reduced price. Rebuilding the starboard paddle box fascia became a major project for the wood working team.

Volunteers started by producing a “lofted” full size drawing of the fascia from the old assembly and then began creating the necessary parts to produce the “fan” around the central crest, which was also recreated.

From the lofted drawing, templates and jigs were prepared for individual components which could then be cut and shaped as required. A revised assembly method was devised to allow replacement of components in the future instead of always having to recreate the complete assembly.

The project was led by Ron V. with Bob W, Paul T and Bob D. It has been noted that the crest on both paddle boxes faces left, while those on the funnel face forward. Old photos confirm that this has always been the case.

Once the main components had been created, they were assembled with strengthening steel plates added to the top and bottom of each “spoke” in the fan.

Ships Montly - January 2024

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