Behind the scenes of the TSS Earnslaw on survey

Date: 26 March 2019

The day the TSS Earnslaw starts her annual survey is a day when the skills of the chief engineer, skipper, stokers and crew are put to the test.

Survey dates 2021

The TSS Earnslaw will undergo its annual maintenance from 3rd May through until 24th June 2021 and does not operate at this time. 

All in the planning

For Chief Engineer Peter Dorrington it’s the culmination of a year’s planning. He’s already worked out a detailed schedule, has ordered all the parts needed and sourced specialist contractors from around the country. In the next five weeks between 20 to 30 electricians, welders, plumbers, painters and engineers will spend long hours working on the 106-year-old steamship.

It’s absolutely pushing the boundaries of what is possible in that short time frame.

RealNZ Chief Engineer Peter Dorrington

Winching the TSS out of Lake Wakatipu

Up she goes

Just preparing to winch the 400 tonne TSS up the slipway has been an engineering feat in itself – the old steam boiler and engine taken from the original Paddle Steamer Antrim in 1922 is still used and needs annual recertification. The cradle is put in the water – then it’s up to Skipper Peter Greer to carefully line up the steamship. 

It is important that the team in the engine room are very good at following the telegraph commands because it’s all very fine movements and needs exactitude,” says Greer. Divers are on hand to put the heavy wooden chocks in place to stabilise the Earnslaw in the cradle as she comes out of the water.

It’s a bitterly cold Sunday morning, that still attracts a decent inquisitive crowd. It all runs smoothly and by midday she’s safely tied up. Skipper Peter Greer is sorry to see her off the lake. “It’s a bit of an upheaval really,” he sighs as he heads off to the Fiordlander vessel that will carry visitors to Walter Peak during the survey.

About the author: Will

Originally arriving in Queenstown for a two week holiday, 15 years later he's still here - living the dream. Working in the digital realm means he's never too far from an electronic device and when not in the office you'll find him planning DIY projects he'll never start or enjoying a cold beer with mates.

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