The Lady Hamilton is a familiar sight in Cornwall’s Helford River

Lady Hamilton

Type of Boat: Fishing day boat, under 10m class

Refit/ Work completed – New engine installation (EFF grant funded)

Mylor Marine Team found and fitted a new engine and fabricated bespoke stern gear for Helford fisherman Chris Bean – part paid for with a Euro-fishery grant – and had him back on the water within a fortnight.

The Lady Hamilton is a familiar sight in Cornwall’s Helford River, from where owner Chris Bean day sails to catch a wide range of fish and shellfish for clients including London restaurants and fish merchants, and his own stalls on three farmers’ markets.

The 8.5 metre gill netter was originally built in Looe in 1972 from one big Iroko log from Liberia. For nearly 14 years it was powered by a Perkins Sabre 130 C diesel engine, which outlasted two gearboxes and even survived immersion when the Lady Hamilton sank following a collision in Falmouth Bay. By Chris’s reckoning, it clocked up close to the equivalent of a million automotive miles along the way.

However, the engine finally developed serious problems and Chris applied for grant aid available from the European Fisheries Fund to replace it with an updated version.

Nathan Percival – now the Mylor Marine Team Engineering Manager – helped his father to install the original here, so Chris naturally turned to us again to fit the new one.

Speed was critical

First, it was a case of finding the engine. A Perkins engine of that size is a ‘prime build’; you can’t buy them off the shelf. The basic mechanical block can be used for a variety of applications, so the completed engine is normally custom-built in the factory to meet the buyer’s requirements regarding electrical power supply, exhaust system and so on – which in turn means an eight to twelve week lead time.

Here, speed was critical; the Lady Hamilton is the flagship of a successful family business employing 14 people, so it was essential she was out of the water for the shortest time possible.

Nathan said: “We obviously understood and appreciated that this is his living. Chris was losing days at sea and needed a very quick turnaround to get back out fishing as soon as possible. We managed to source a unit that had been built for somebody else who wasn’t in any hurry, so we were able to have it straight away.”

Customisation and fitting

Replacing like-for-like meant that it could go onto the original engine beds, but the project still involved much customisation. The unit itself had to be converted from 24v to 12v and the whole of the stern gear was overhauled or replaced. A bespoke new stern tube was fabricated – but inserting it was the real challenge.

It was slightly larger than the original, so a tool had to be made to hand-drill the dead wood. This was complicated by the fact that the seals on the outrigger cutlass housing behind the prop had been weeping – which meant the shipwright had to bore the hole through 1.5 metres of moist timber. That alone took nearly two days.

A new prop shaft was made and installed with a Plummer block for extra support and a new outrigger and inboard stuffing gland were fitted. The exhaust, fuel and water intake systems were also renewed and the hydraulic power take off for the netter was overhauled.

Completing the challenge

As Nathan said, “It is a good example of what we can do. We relish a challenge and we were very pleased that Chris had faith in coming back to us and using us again.”

All in all, a comprehensive and complex project involving combined engineering and electrical work, the construction of custom new parts and painstaking traditional shipwrighting.

Yet, from start to sea trials, Mylor Marine Team managed to turn the job around in just two weeks.

Chris Bean is clearly extremely happy with the result. He said: “I couldn’t say anything other than that the team at Mylor have been very good. There is a lot of work gone in there and – apart from oil and filter changes – I haven’t needed to put a spanner on it since.”