Sunday, 30 August 2015

Clements Engineering help barge down river

Clements Engineering has many unusual calls from clients with specific questions on various propellers and propeller related equipment.   A call last year however was slightly more unusual than most.   The call was to help provide a propulsion solution for a 38m long Dutch barge, some 230 tonnes, that had to negotiate the difficult River Wye from its resting place of the last 25 years. The barge was fitted with a 1957 Volvo Engine 96hp@2200 rpm with a gear ratio 3:1.  An additional challenge was to drive the vessel and bring it safely to a stop whilst a percentage of the propeller was out of the water.

The ‘Wye Invader’ needed to get down the River Wye from Hereford to a boat yard on the Severn River and is the largest vessel known to have navigated the many twists, turns and bridges along the way. The owner, Mr Frank Barton, explained about the vessel and how it was essential to maintain as much control over steerage as possible to Clements Managing Director Paul Williams.  Two weeks later after some calculations and drawing on extensive experience a special propeller was provided which had a greater pitch than normal for such a vessel.  The special propeller would help give very precise steerage with the limited water flow.

There were many bridges along the river, which had to be carefully negotiated especially in a river that has previously seen quite a lot of flooding, and was still quite high. In November the Wye Invader set off on its journey, often having to do almost a 3 point turn to negotiate some of the tightest parts of the river or tricky bridges.  On a couple of occasions the cabin on top had to be removed to enable the barge to pass under bridges. After much effort and several stops along the way, the barge emerged at Chepstow and was free from the river and able to continue on to its destination.

Paul Williams stated, “The Wye Invader was certainly an unusual project for us, but as with all enquiries we took in to account the conditions the vessel would have to face and based on that we proposed a propeller to deal with the unusual circumstances of the propellers being partly out of the water.  We produced an oversized propeller to cope which was almost twice the size we would have otherwise used.  We also advised on some rudder modifications which helped to make the Wye Invader steer more easily.

Reproduced with permission from

Can you help?

Since 1989 many photos and video clips have been taken of the Wye Invader either coming up the Wye, moored in Hereford or returning back down the Wye in 2013. We would love to include as many of these as possible on the website. If you have any photographs, either printed or digital or video clips you would like to see on the site please contact the Webmaster via the Wye Invader website - Printed photographs would be scanned and returned and any material used would be credited with your name.

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Impossible Journey?

First built in Holland in 1930, the Wye Invader was originally named “Luctor”. There is some evidence (undocumented) she had an extra section fitted and was seconded by the German Army to become part of ‘Operation Sea Lion’, the German plan to invade Britain by sea that was scrapped in 1940.

In 1970 she was owned by the Hooiveld family who re-named her “Zwerver” and the family lived on board for several years. The Barge had several more owners in the years that followed and was finally bought as “Zilvermeeuw” by Frank Barton, a garage owner from Hereford who re-named her “Wye Invader” and who had plans to turn her into a floating restaurant moored in Hereford, UK.

The Barge crossed the Channel, rounded the South Coast and turned into the River Severn Estuary. At Chepstow she joined the River Wye, navigating several tight, well known bridges and then the famous Symonds Yat Rapids. The journey to Hereford of 75 miles was to take longer than planned due to low river levels that summer and she reached her final mooring just above the Old Wye Bridge, Hereford in November 1989, the actual journey time was 20 hours spread over the 6 month period. The magazine Waterways World published 2 articles about the Wye Invader in 1989 and again in 1990.

See the FULL story of Wye Invader on the website -