Friday, 18 May 2012

A new Britannia Middy engine,circa 1930

Now on display in my office entrance passage, a new Britannia Middy motor. I have placed an order for the missing air intake cover.

I say new and this is correct, as while the motor is around eighty years old, this motor has never ever run, not even had petrol in the tank!

I have decided to refurbish and not restore this motor, I will clean it and keep as much of its original finish as possible?   Is it really new? well it is and we even have the original shipping crate. The engine is not just the power head, its also an alloy power leg complete with a gear and pinion which powers a 7 1/4 inch solid bronze three bladed propellor!


The heads were coated in grease, there was no rust to speak of, now degreased and later coated with Fluid Film they are in perfect condition.

The carburation is via a twin jetted Amal and is controlled with a short lever arm, all quite neat and uncomplicated. The Champion number 7 spark plugs are original, the spark plug caps are not, they are from a Jaguar XK 3.8 liter engine dated 1966, what were the plug caps like in 1930, does anyone know?

 On a static test with a pull rope from a British Seagull, the spark plugs give a very healthy spark. The magneto is in fact made by Villiers, the same company who supplied British Seagull. Note the high quality of the engineering.

There is a very neat crank in there, as both pistons come to compression and fire at the same time. This was before cleaning and taking the packing grease off.


This is after a coating with Fluid Film, which will leave the surface rust free.

This is the cast alloy exhaust collector box, very well made and has a stainless steel removable inspaction plate.

As opened, the inside of the plate was coated with grease, I wonder why?

The petrol to oil mix and running instructions are on the tank lid!

Note the small wire filter in the carburetor bowl lower end.

With the ignition and carburetor being used by Seagull engines, those parts are more or less easy to find, I have just placed an order for the missing carburetor choke cover from my Seagull engine supplier.

The copper pipe on the right hand side goes from the hull plate to the exhaust collector box, is that a way of causing a ballance? The tiny chrome insert at the center rear of the leg is a grease nipple?

All tricked out and nearly ready to run,s you can see its quite a new motor and just look how modern it was, an inboard leg on a 1930s out board motor!

This is neat, there is no cooling water pump on this engine, as long as the propellor is turning it forces cold water towards and into the alloy fitting you can see on the right.

All pictures by R McBride
How old is it, seems its about 80 years old, made around 1930 to 1933, or there abouts. Its for sale, either as it will be when re assembled, or as a boat and engine package. Possibly a Victorian river punt or a classic motor boat. I will not start this motor, I supect part of its value is the  fact it is so old but has never been run? Its output is said to be 4hp and the engine runs at 3000rpm.

More on this later,check here to see one running.

That is the original crate? sent here to Cape Town as a private import. The two exhaust silences are in the crate.


Found on the web:

Does anybody have one? The engine is called "The Britannia Middy Inboard Engine". It is a 4 horse power, "Mariner" Inboard Motor. We think it was built in approx 1930. It is an English boat, and English engine, and the company that built them may have been called Britannia, perhaps the Britannia Motor Company, or Britannia Motor Boats. Other Motor Specifications that might be of use: Medium speed, twin cylinder, 50.5 mm. bore, 41 mm. stroke; 105 cc. piston

displacement, develops 4 h.p. at 3,000 r.p.m.

News just in, 23/03/2013

I have seen your blog on your Britannia motor and thought I'd let you know some facts.

Your engine is a wartime issue one as evidenced by the aluminium leg. There were used in two places - the airborne lifeboat, designed by Uffa Fox, and the Mk 8 cockle canoe. If the exhaust, which I can't see in you phots is as I suspect - yours is a canoe motor. I can give you more info if you are interested.

Chris Jones - UK

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Alwyn Vincent harbour tug

The TBA were regulars on this ship, we even took it around the harbour and helped stoke the coal fired boiler!

 Photos by R McBride

   One of our famous and very well attended TBA braai meetings.

The guy on the right is Robin,  a founder member of the TBA, he owns a Shearwater 39 named Pinta, thats his wife, Leticha in the white blouse and looking towards the camera. Mark Lory is in the yellow tee shirt with his hand on his head.

Two more TBA members, they also owned a Shearwater 39 named Dunvagen.

I understand the boat will be moved in land to a theme park, at least the old girl will then be restored and given a new lease of life. How old will she be, sixy plus I guess?

The wheel house is teak, it was full of gear when I was last in there.

As we can see, the parts are mainly removed, safer and lower for a road trip voyage.

Rivited iron sheet plates, we were told she was gong to join a sister ship down in Australia but the voyage across with a coal fired boiler was impossible and a tow too expensive?

The stern of the boat sure dates her!

That propellor is nearly as far back on the hull as its possible to put it.

Lots more on this later, as I have a selection of pictures when she was still in the water, tey include the inside of the pilot house and shots of the boiler being fed with coal by one of the TBA members.


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dix Designs new Didi Retro 29 is announced

Breaking news, you saw it first here!

We have been aware of the very new concept boat being drawn by Dudley Dix for a proffesional sailor. The idea is a race boat that looks traditional,the boat was based on an enlarged version of the well known Didi 26, a yacht that has already prooven it can be made larger or smaller.

Performance with Classic Looks
~ Developed from Didi 26

~ Economy of plywood

~ Radius chine hull

~ Round bilge from sheet material

~ Within abilities of amateur builders

~ Gaff cutter rig

~ Lifting or fixed keel options

~ Fast cruiser/racer for classic fleets

~ Comfortable weekending for the family

~ Pre-cut kits and foils

This will make a fast cruising boat in a traditional style, retro is in style once more!

go to to see a 3D image of the hull and keel.

This design was commissioned by a client who likes the concept and features of theDIDI 26 but wanted a more classic appearance. He plans to build it himself in Hout Bay, South Africa from a kit supplied by CKD Boats.
Most of the boat is the same as the DIDI 26, with some obvious differences. The springy sheer curve was achieved by adding bulwarks that are 100mm (4") high in the bow and taper down to normal toerail height for the length of the cockpit. This gives safety for working the foredeck but allows crew to sit comfortably on the rail at the cockpit.
The cabin has been changed to a more boxy traditional configuration with the sides and ends close to vertical. The roof has compound curves that might mot be easy to skin with plywood, so it will be done with strip cedar glassed over. The cabin is a bit narrower, giving wider sidedecks that on the 26.

Lots of space in the layout, if the shorter cockpit is chosen, there can be an option to place a double berth were the two singles are?

This boat is expected to be built this year and in Cape Town.

How good is that!


A review has just come in from a well known yachting writer, Justin Phillips.

Huh! This is going to be interesting!

Do you remember the craze when people took old VWs, made them look as standard as possible on the outside, but inside they had huge performance engines? I can only imagine when this thing does its first “classic race” somewhere. Even more when it does some kind of offshore race – it will give anything modern a really good run off the wind - and still be quite competitive round the cans . . .

This is quite an extreme example of one of Dudley’s tricks! – Lotus underneath and Model-T on top.

In some ways it reminds me a bit of a high-tech RCOD – fairly narrow and easily driven, I think it will smoke-em downwind, heel a bit upwind (but it has strong keel), and point very well for a gaff. In light airs it will be particularly impressive – with large flexible sailplan (incl full-roach main), and easily-driven at that. This is a boat that will continue to surprise all who see her, and skipper will enjoy the bar talk! On the Mykonos race, or Governors Cup, this will get all the headlines!

Some interesting tricks I have noted – the sheer on the transom gives it a nice classic look as if to say “I am older than IMS, I0R and any silly box rules”, while the plum-bow makes up the waterline and will benefit her upwind angles, helps to give a flat run underneath, and still looks classy. The rig- while pretending to be an old-fashoned gaff, is really a trick to get loads of sail at instant disposal, and easily handled by one or two, ideally grey-bearded old buggers with navy caps on, and a few good tricks up their sleeves.

Maybe a good boat for that little engine Roy?



(the engine he mentions is my brand new, still in the box Britannia Middi engine)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Singer Chamois Sport Imp is back home again

Home is Scotland, the country where the Rootes Car Company Scotland, built a brand new factory at Linwood to build the Hillman Imp motor car. With the first car rolling off the assembly line in May 3rd 1963 its very near fifty years ago now.

Well, it’s back in Scotland! I picked it up at Aberdeen Harbour this morning….


Andy Bain (owner)

Badged as a 1966 Singer Chamois Sport, its car number 610 of around 2500 made, the Scots light is back on the car.

Prepared by myself as a race or competition car, I look forward to seeing how the car stacks up against its competition.The car is now forty six (46) years old.
Can we build you a similar car?


Monday, 14 May 2012

A ship on the beach in Clifton,Cape Town.

News update, Friday 18th May 2012 and they managed to pull the vessel off into deep water. The boat will then be taken to Cape Town Harbour but who will pay for this salvage?


It  was foggy a few mornings back, so foggy it seems that one ship lost all its navigation instruments? At least one source is suggesting the grounding may have been deliberate.

 The long liner fishing boat firmly beached at Cape Towns Clifton Beach, its named the
Eihatsu Maru.

Cliftons First beach, the countries premier beach now has a problem.

Said to have 90 tones of fuel oil and a load of Ammonia aboard.

Men can be seen on the aft decks, there were tow lines to her yesterday, I do not see those now.

Thats Lions Paw rock there, we are lucky the ship missed that on its way in, the tug may have a long wait,spring high tides were some days back.

Named Z Tug she is at anchor, check the Black Ball forward of the wheelhouse.

The NSRI did a great job of taking the crew off, they used rubber ducks off the stern of the ship, you can walk ashore today.

All pictures by Roy McBride

Comment by a regular blog viewer below.

Roy - I would LOVE TO KNOW how on earth they managed this. No bad weather – besides fog, and engines working fine . . . did the helmsman fall asleep or go for a pee? Did the GPSs and the radar and the depth-sounder and the compass fail together? Insurance scam? Were they doing a tourist exhibitionist like Costa Concordia at 5am? The mind boggles. As you say tides are no longer in their favour – they will need to unpack the boat – but I understand it already quite light . . .

How hard can this be, when we as amature sailors who take our navigation and boat preperations so seriously, how can a proffessional crew do this?


News story from Times Live, with thanks.

The Eihatsu Maru long line fishing vessel, a Japanese ship, ran aground at 5.15am on Saturday in thick fog.
In total, 90 tons of diesel and 50 tons of fish were on board the trawler, Solomons-Johannes said.
The cause of the ship's grounding had not been established. Its engines remained in working order and generators continued to work.
It had not been damaged by the stranding.
A tug boat was sent from Simonstown to tow the boat on Saturday night, but the tow rope snapped as the trawler proved too heavy.
Marine engineers would fit a metal plate to the ship to enable it to be tugged, Solomons-Johannes said.
Inflatable barriers had been deployed around the ship to prevent a possible oil spill.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) confirmed that the crew members of the trawler were rescued by Saturday afternoon.
"Two NSRI rescue swimmers were placed onboard the vessel and Taiwanese consulate staff and the ships agent assisted the NSRI with language interpretations between the... crew and NSRI rescuers," spokesman Craig Lambinon said.
Of the 28 Taiwanese crew members and dog on board, 19 were evacuated. The dog remained on board at the insistence of the captain, the animal's owner.
The remaining crew members and the captain were required to stay on board under international maritime law, said Solomons-Johannes.
The NSRI took part of the crew off the boat.

The local ward counciler says the boat has moved in to land by around 25 meters since going ashore?

Salvage officials look on as a tugboat attempts to refloat fishing vessel Eihatsu Maru which ran aground at Clifton, one of Cape Town's most popular tourist beaches. 

Attempts to salvage a 50-metre-long fishing trawler off First Beach, Clifton, have been hampered largely by low tides.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

How to service the Zenith Stromberg CD125 carburetor

Seems to me that the ' How to ' series of blogs gets lots of interest?

Zenith Carburetors made the Stromberg carburetors fitted on to the 1966 Singer Chamois and Sunbeam Sport series of cars, they also made for many others, including the Rover V8 Sport and Triumph Stag, lots of cars use this carb, just the sizes change.

This is basically what they all look like, some details such as cable links will change from car to car and the side elbow which fits the Rootes Car Co Imp sports engined cars may not be fitted.

Once stripped and cleaned, they should end up looking like this.

Keeping  things clean is the first issue, so clean the assembly with water soluable cleaner and wash clean, you will be doing this a number of times, an air hose to blow the water off helps here.

When the main body is inverted, those black floats should be 16mm high at their highest point from the edge of the carbs body. This is one of a pair of carburetors bought new from the Hillman Imp tuning experts named  Hartwell of Bornemouth in England. They have seen service on our 1967 Singer Chamois for  about 18 years, still in fine condition but a leaking paper gasket on the lower float bowl on one carb,  had me change them for a spare pair. This way I can service them and still use the Singer.

When the floats are swung back the retaining pin can be removed and then the brass float valve can be removed. You may not find a suitable spanner in your tool kit, its an odd size in todays world, probably a BSF thread, Whitworth sockets will fit, or use an adjustable spanner?

The jet and adjustment assembly, you will need new O rings of the right size, there is also a very small one inside the washers next to the spring on the right.

As mentioned I needed to make some new gaskets, I used the correct Flexoid gasket paper from England, hand cut it with a Stanley knife and cut the holes out with the correct tool, the one I made is in the center. Note the two others are slighty different from each other, the one on the right will fit the bowl  with the gasket on the left but not the other way around!

Most float chamber boawls on the CD125 are the same shape on each side, this pair has the corner shaped different on the left hand side. Hence the special corner on this gasket.

 Note the central needle, this must be in perfect condition.

By this stage I have beadblasted the parts clean, re washed in water soluable cleaner, dried and then washed again in a two stroke petrol 10:1 mixx, you would be amazed at the amount of dirt that comes off the parts when this final clean is completed.

Check the brass jet in the center, the workshop manual says we should free off the lower brass body and tap it with a spanner to centralise the jet, I have always found the best method is to sight it by eye, you can move the jet easy enough with a small screwdriver, then re tighten the lower brass body.

The jet has to be central or the body with the needle in it will not seat correctly, when lifted with a finger, or in the case of this carb, a lift pin that is outside the body, thats it on the right hand side, will allow you to do it that way.

The center body with its needle, the spring which holds it down and the cap to the main body.

The needle should never be bent, it will not bend in use, you would have to bend it when removed from the carb, so be carefull how you handle it.

Now refitted to the water heated alloy Imp inlet manifold, we are at the end of what turned out to be a six hour job, or was it more?

Now ready to refit to the car, note the foam bubble wrap in the intake elbows to stop any solid body falling in.

Nice job for a winters day!


To be continued!