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FMB 43957. "Ark Royal"

Printed From: BMPT Forum
Category: Boats (In alphabetical order)
Forum Name: 43957 & 441341
Forum Description: Discussion on 43957 & 441341
Printed Date: 26 June 2019 at 12:40am

Topic: FMB 43957. "Ark Royal"
Posted By: Pathfinder
Subject: FMB 43957. "Ark Royal"
Date Posted: 08 September 2007 at 7:47am

Ark Royal in Hythe Marina August 2007.

Introduction. (8/9/07)

Welcome to the next, and final  phase in the restoration of the Fast Motor Boat (FMB) 43957, once the Admirals barge on the aircraft carrier HMS "Ark Royal" (4th). The history of this boat can be found elsewhere on the BMPT site, go to "The Boats", and it is the first boat at the top of the chapter.

Her sister FMB441341 was beyond economical repair, and was returned to her owners on the closing down of the sheds at Marchwood.

(Rosie -FMB 441341 -before the return to her owners)

The Trust managed to gain a £19,000.00 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund a few years back, whilst we were still in the sheds at Marchwood. The restoration work was progressed by a  team of our BMPT mermbers led by Rodger Woodhams, and the results were first class.

Over the last year or so however, the boat has been stuck in limbo, having no home to call her own, and being the subject of great interest between parties who could not agree on the route to follow to complete her, and thus reach the situation where the Heritage Lottery Fund could "sign her off" . 

We have been extremely lucky in that the HLF have been supportive with regard to the requests we have made, for a number of extensions to complete the work, but the time has now come, when we either get the job finished, or we will be asked to repay the grant to the HLF.

Once again, thankfully, the HLF have agreed to give us a new completion date. We are now approved by the HLF, to continue the restoration, and have the date of May1st 2008, to present the boat for final approval.

The trust owes the HLF management team in charge of our grant, Michelle Howard and Tim Parr, a great debt of thanks for their continued patience, and support, without which we would not have been able to achieve the required result for the boat, let alone survive as a Trust.


The present situation.

AR (as I will call her in this text) has spent the last 10 months in an ex USAF hangar, at Upper Heyford, near Oxford. This site was kindly offered by our then partners EISCA, from whom we have mutually agreed to part, for the storage of the AR.

AR was recently moved from Upper Heyford to a berth in the Hythe Marina in Hythe Southampton. She was towed , on her trailer (!), from Upper Heyford to Hythe. She spent a week in the Marina Park, being checked over for any problems which could have precluded her floating when launched, and finally launched to her berth.

Sea trials were then planned and carried out by David Ross and John Oaten, to ascertain the fitness of the mechanical side of the boat. These trials have shown that we have problems with both the gearbox, as well as the main engine. The engine is a Perkins P6M and the gearbox is an MR10A Self Change Coventry hydraulic box.

After extensive investigation, of both the boat's situation as well as the financial apsects involved, it was decided to approach the HLF with a proposal for the boat to be removed from the water, and her propuslsion unit to be overhauled or replaced. This proposal has been accepted, and we have, as advised above, been given until May 1st 2008 to complete the job.

236 days to go, and we need every one of them..


The Plan.


We are extremely gratefull that in that the Medusa Trust (Mike and Alan thank you indeed) have given us space in the worshop at the Hythe boatyard, Southampton, to house and work on our engines.

With the assistance of our friends on the Forum, we have located and purchased 2 x P6M engines with MR10A Self change Coventry gearboxes. these have been collected and are now in the shed at Hythe.

One has been rebuilt to working, using new parts from the block up, and the second has been partly rebuilt using new parts from the block up.

We have work to do on these 2 engines to get them complete and suitable for installation in the boat, and this work has now started. We are in need of a variety of parts, ie gasket sets, air filter housings and dynamo, along with other parts which will become apparent as we progress. These will be put in the regular reports made here, and if anyone out there has any contacts with anyone who has Perkins P6 parts then please let us know.

The gearboxes are untested and need to be attended to in a serious manner. This means we want to be assured that they are 100% when attached to the engines. This will happen in due course. 

We intend to have one unit in the boat and a second unit available  and stored, for rotation servicing.

It never ceases to amaze me how soon responses are received to calls for help, and we have already been sent 2 very promising leads which we are following up, thank you all for your assistance, it is very much appreciated.

The boat will be removed form the water in mid November, and wintered in a safe place. The existing propulsion unit will be removed at the same time. During the winter period, attention will be given to the boat to prepare her to receive the new unit, before she is once again launched, probably late march 2008.

We will then undertake sea trials after which we hope to present her to the HLF for "signoff" on or before May1st 2008.


Progress reports.


I intend to put regular reports here, probably twice per week, or as events prescribe. Included will be photos of whatever is interesting, and I hope that this will maintain your interest and comments, as well as attract attention to the project.



The first real day at work.


The part rebuild engine, which would not turn, was left over the weekend with diesel in all 6 pots. Today it turned with a bit of gentle persuasion using a crow bar on the ring gear, thanks to Phil our 1502 engineer. The gearbox is removed, as it has to be checked anyway.

 The engine is turned upside down so the crankshaft can be examined. One of our mrembers, Jeff donated a chain hoist safe to 1.5 tonnes, so we now have our own and can return the hired one. A variety of tools from the depths of garages, make an appearance, and we are in business. 5 members turned out today, and excellent progress made Phil Sexton, our Perkins expert, recomends we should rebuild both engines, so that is now the plan, one at a time. We will be able to reuse 90% of the existing parts.

More to follow.

Pathfinder - Forum Moderator

Posted By: Garethep
Date Posted: 08 September 2007 at 9:17am
Do you have any further details of the problems with engine / gearbox?  If  it is decided to replace what are the rules regarding originality (P6's are easy to come by but MR gearboxes less so, could you utilise a BW72 for example?)  I have a pdf copy of a service manual for a MR10b gearbox (I don't know what the difference between A & B are and whether this is any good or not).  Best of luck let us know how things progress.

Posted By: Pathfinder
Date Posted: 08 September 2007 at 1:19pm

Hi Gareth,

Will continue the story on Monday, but we have 2 engines as you know, they need to be finished etc, which I think we can do, as allways funds are the big problem.No problrms with originality as these boats had a choice of 3 different engines.The P6s are fine.Gearboxes are the problem as we know who can deal with them, but we need to find the funds to have them done..£520 per box strip , check, and rebuild with new seals etc, but no other repairs if they are needed.!

The MR10B has its own sump, whereas the 10A has a common sump with the main engine..have workshop manual for both engine and gearbox, from Perkins thanks.

Thanks your input.

Pathfinder - Forum Moderator

Posted By: Pathfinder
Date Posted: 30 October 2007 at 5:03pm

Tuesday the 30th October 2007.


This morning a fire in the Hythe Boatyard destroyed all our engines, gearboxes and parts which we had sourced.

We were going to start the rebuild on Wednesday, but now need to start all over again.

Fiancial problems will now bedevil the work, as the money spent so far has gone up in smoke, and there wont be any more from the source we had found.


The fire did not affect either the Medusa hull, or the Ark Royal hull thank goodness.


The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

Pathfinder - Forum Moderator

Posted By: Pioneer
Date Posted: 01 November 2007 at 9:47pm

Some shots of the devastation caused by the fire.

While the dingy off 'Medusa' has survived

Pioneer - Forum Moderator

Posted By: johnk
Date Posted: 01 November 2007 at 11:37pm

Oh my word, what a mess, thankfully the fire was stopped before it reached the Medusa, very like the fire at Newsons, took the shed but the brigade stopped it spreading to MTB 102 on the slipway outside.



Posted By: Pioneer
Date Posted: 12 January 2009 at 3:56pm
Richard asked for this to be posted;
Good afternoon all,
In wet and windy weather, and mostly dark and cold, AR was lifted from her beds this morning at 0730.
By 0800 she had been lowered into the river Beaulieu, and checked for leaks whilst still in her slings.
No serious ingress of water ensued, and she was handed to a mooring, double banked on a yacht, close to the lift.
The original plan to wait till later in the morning to start the engine,was abandoned, as the weather was very unfriendly, and strong winds and rain forecast for the rest of the day.
Accordingly the yard decided to get on with the start up, and at 0830, her new engine sprang into life, at first touch of the starter button.
Checks were made of all the engine connections to make sure no leaks were evident, and after 15 minutes neutral running, the ahead selection was made on the Morse control.
James, our Yard Chief Engineer, had made sure the correct attachment had been made to the gearbox selector, and with a gentle surge ahead onto her lines, we started the first hour of running under load.
A very slight vibration through the deck, and a quiet throbble emanating from the exhaust, all testimony to the  excellent work performed by the "Team James" at Agamemnon Boat Yard Beaulieu.
We are very grateful to the Management and Staff at the yard for their patience, efficiency and diligence, to achieve this result. Thank you.
With this major milestone achieved, we will run her over the rest of this week, including runs out on the river, to see how she behaves.
The attached photo shows her with ahead selected, alongside in Beaulieu.
I will report on each days events as they unfold.
Kind regards

Pioneer - Forum Moderator

Posted By: johnk
Date Posted: 14 January 2009 at 8:55am
Hi All,
Indeed, what a great day for the trust and all those who have worked so hard, congratualtions to everyone, she will be another great example of what can be achieved for our marine heritage, and I think proudly joins all the others such as MTB 102, Medusa, 1502 .

Posted By: Pioneer
Date Posted: 21 January 2009 at 9:19am

Good afternoon.
As promised an update of today's events on the river.
The day dawned misty and murky, cold but not wet.
Minimal wind, and the river flat calm.
Three Trust members, Terry, David and myself arrived on the pontoon at 1000, to find the boat still afloat, having been moved from the double banked position to alongside the pontoon.
This made the untarping much easier, and as you will see from the pics, we stowed the cover over the centre cabin, apologies for this, she will look better for the press tomorrow..!
First check the bilges, and these showed slight amounts of water, which tasted more fresh than salty. This must have come in with the driving wind and rain of yesterday.
Soon mopped up, and the boat tidied a bit , as the weather much more friendly.
We called James, and at 1030, the button was once again activated, and the engine burst yet again into Perkins Overture No 1.
We ran the engine under ahead power for half an hour, and when james advised he was ready to go, it was let go fore and aft for the first time with her new heart beating. The river was flooding so, as we were berthed at right angles to the tide, she lifted off without anyone having to do anything.
Then the first selection astern, and into the river we backed. From astern to ahead and apply rudder to stem the river, and slowly increase the revs. She behaved like a  Lady, and we headed down the river for a while ,before turning and coming back.
All the temperatures and pressures behaved perfectly, so a happy engineer. Along the way, the sound of machine gun fire from the after cockpit caused an instant shutdown. Serious increases in blood pressure and voice levels ensued. James disappeared, as engineers do, below the boards, but came up smiling a minute later. The bonding bridge strap over the flexible coupling had come adrift at one end, and was flailing away at whatever it could find. Problem solved, as was a small leak from an exhaust connection, and we were under way again. A few more twists and turns. The simple approach to the pontoon ended the day with an easy tie up, and shut down.
She is proving to be very sound so far in all departments, and what a pleasure it is after the long slog to get here.
Early start tomorrow for the Press, so more anon.

Pioneer - Forum Moderator

Posted By: Pioneer
Date Posted: 21 January 2009 at 9:32am

From left to right. Peter Baillie (BMPT Chairman)  James (BHBY Engineer) Terry Ford. Director and Treasurer. Chris Clayton (MD BHBY) David Ross (Director)


This morning an absolutely beautiful day in the New Forest. The early morning mist lifted slowly with the rising sun warming us through. We removed the cover completely today, so that the boat could be well viewed..!

This boat came to the Trust for restoration in 2002, donated by Mr J Rollings, who had bought her out of service and used her himself.

All that was needed this morning, was for us to give her a serious wipe over from stem to stern, and she looked first class. When you remember that she has not been attended to for about 4 years, this is surely testimony to the first class restoration carried out.

This was undertaken in the first instance by Powerboat Restoration, with Phil Claburn leading a team of volunteers from the Trust, led by Rodger Woodhams.

Rodger’s team of Little Jim, Big Jim, David, John and many others who gave freely of their time to recreate the hull and upperworks, followed by the insertion of the old P6, took many years. The effort was well worth it, as she needs little work done today, so many years down the line.

The need to replace the engine is well known. Briefly, the P6 and gearbox were showing sign of distress, as was the driver one trip, when he had neither ahead, nor astern!

We intended to replace this with another P6, but this work was consumed in a fire at the yard we were working in. The decision to replace the P6 with a modern Perkins M92B was based on firstly, extending the operational life and reliability of the boat considerably, and secondly, we were able to raise funds for a new engine more easily than for a 60 year old one. Parts for the P6 and the gearbox were found too extremely difficult to source.

This final phase, which has taken over 2 years of hard work and dedication on the part of the Board, Peter, Terry, David, Tony and myself, has finally seen her on the water where she belongs, and in fine mechanical fettle at last.

The press visited us today, and we gave them all the information for which they asked.

The results will be available on -

in a day or so. Go to the “Video” button to see her on the water, and to “Photographs” for  stills.

Tomorrow we are visited by the heritage Lottery Fund, so once more onto the river. I hope the weather remains as superb as it has been today.


Pioneer - Forum Moderator

Posted By: Pioneer
Date Posted: 21 January 2009 at 9:39am

                                                                      The last day


Friday the 16th January 2009, dawned wet, cold and drizzly.

We removed all the borrowed gear from the boat and when we had her upright and steady, marked the waterline with a pen.

This is necessary, as the waterline where it crosses the chine up forward, is always difficult to get right.

The photos we have will give us the exact lines, and before she goes back in these will be painted on.

The trailer duly arrived, and after many adjustments, we found the right settings for the supports, and she has been settled down for the duration.

The next time afloat will be early May, when we have a month available to us in Hythe Marina.

If you want to try her out, let us know closer to the time and I am sure we will be able to accommodate you.

We hope that you have enjoyed this week with us, and look forward to more news as we progress.
Richard Hellyer


Pioneer - Forum Moderator

Posted By: johnk
Date Posted: 23 January 2009 at 7:33pm
Hi Richard,
Indeed, enjoyed the great news and coverage of AR very much, well done to you all for keeping going and getting this fine vessel back on the water.

Posted By: Pathfinder
Date Posted: 04 August 2009 at 10:25am
FMB43957 is now resident in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in a fully oprational condition.Big%20smile

Pathfinder - Forum Moderator

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