Toroa Tales No.46

The Toroa Preservation Society Newsletter, Summer 2021-22

Welcome to Toroa Tales No.46. Yet again, again, progress has been disrupted somewhat by Covid19 and resultant lockdowns – more than a third of the time since the last Toroa Tales has been under Level 3 or 4. Under Auckland lockdown conditions, no physical work on Toroa has happened until recently, apart from the occasional inspection and setting covers and supports to right. However, some matters have been progressed away from the ferry, while others were done before Delta restricted all.

Normally at this time of year, we would be holding the Annual General Meeting of the Toroa Preservation Society. This year no date will be set for this until we have some certainty of the meetings being able to proceed.

Annual membership subscriptions are now due – please see the form at the end of this newsletter – and as usual, donations made with the subscriptions will be gratefully received. The subscriptions cover many of the running costs of the Society and donations significantly advance the restoration.

At Level 3 Step 2 we’ve been able to return to the restoration yard, the volunteers working the usual Wednesdays and following the rules. Morning tea and lunch are al fresco, and masks are worn in enclosed spaces. The next move to red traffic light won’t much change how we need to operate. Monday and Tuesday can also be volunteer days, to attend to engine oiling and cleaning, and any other matters. Lockdown for humans was a free-for-all for noxious plants in and around the site—some extra hands would be very welcome for a concerted weeding effort. Email or phone 027 474 5726 or 021 162 5641 to join in this or any of the multifarious volunteer activities.

Urban Quarry Ltd, suppliers of aggregate and fill, have replaced Downers in the yard north of the Toroa. The layout is now quite different, and it is important for safety to follow the access rules and be alert.

If visiting during working hours, please park on the road if possible. Otherwise use the usual first gate in Selwood Rd then turn immediately left to follow the fence-line to the Toroa gate.
Be aware of moving heavy machinery and trucks.

Our forklift, donated soon after Toroa’s arrival at Selwood Rd, has done sterling work – essential work – ever since. It is now beyond economic repair. Peter McCurdy made a successful application to the St Lazarus Charitable Trust for financial assistance towards its replacement, and we are grateful to the St Lazarus Trust for this second grant from them – much of our work would be more difficult or even impossible without a functioning forklift. Now that we can go shopping, the search is on for a low-hours two-tonner with 4.7 m hoist at a reasonable price. The old machine has been sold but won’t be taken away until Covid rules allow it.

The Toroa was built of heart kauri, the steel skeleton aside (or inside) – keel, posts and aprons, planking, decks, cabins, furniture. Only the rudder posts and the outer beltings were of some other timber: ironwood, meaning any of the harder Australian eucalypti. In the restoration, the significant timbers will be again in heart kauri, all heartwood from long-dead trees, but other timbers of compatible strength, durability and workability will be used where the situation suits. Tony Lyon, our volunteer shipwright and committee member, keeps an eye open for felled trees of suitable species, size and shape when he’s out and about. He suggests to the owners that they could donate their timber to be used in the restoration of the Toroa, and the response has been generous.

Donated timber

Our thanks to these people: Malcolm Craw, for the truckload of macrocarpa logs he delivered. The macrocarpa will be used for
superstructure and seating repair and renewal;
Diana Annandale, for two large totara logs, and Jeff Smith of Swanson Transport for delivering them. Diana herself planted this tree some decades ago. The timber will be used to replace the hull sheathing that protects the planking from teredo and gribble;
Geoff Windust, for a large and long sawn baulk of macrocarpa, intended for a footbridge but Graeme thought we could make better use of it ̶ replacement carlins in the promenade deck is one possibility;
Jason Davis, Auckland Council Senior Arborist and Donovan Richmond of Treescape for macrocarpa logs from Henderson Park. These are from century-old trees decayed at the base and therefore likely to fall over of their own accord, but with sound timber further up.
The larger logs are too big for our bandsaw mill and will require prior slabbing off with a chainsaw mill, down to 760 mm diameter. We have acquired a bandsaw mill frame, and are seeking a grunty, reliable chainsaw to suit—bar up to 48 inch.
Some of the macrocarpa logs from Malcolm Craw.
Swanson Transport unload the second of the totara logs from Diana Annandale
Donovan Richmond of Treescape and Tony Lyon of the TPS inspect an 18-m trunk for potential ferry timber. Unsound at the butt and solid towards the crown, it provided four 3-m logs, and fifteen short logs came from other trees.
Tony Lyon and Mike Walls are building housing to cover the bandsaw mill to enable it to be stored in dry and secure condition on the outdoor railway, thus freeing space in the main workshop. And thanks to Kevin Harvey of The Shelter Station who donated a large heavy-duty tarpaulin that now covers the main timber stack.

donation from bunnings
Bunnings Warehouse Westgate Donation

As a result of an approach by Mike Walls, Bunnings Warehouse Westgate have donated a comprehensive kit of cordless power tools towards the Toroa restoration: drill, angle-grinder, circular saw, chainsaw. In the more awkward corners of the 40-m hull and yard, cordless tools are a boon — not having to run leads saves much time and care. Mike Walls unpacks Ryobi cordless power tools donated by Bunnings Warehouse Westgate, presented by Bunnings Activities Organiser Max Kooyman, at right. Putting faces (or backs) to names, others in the picture are Tony Lyon, Peter Henley, Peter McCurdy and Barry Davis.

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