Allan buys a maritime monster – ship ahoy

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Allan Averis and Helen Cholmondeley, the treasurer of the Geraldine Vintage and Machinery Museum and the 14-tonne engine.

By John Keast

Allan Averis worked on his first engine when he was 13.

He got it going, and that engine is now in an Overland car – ready to roll – at the Geraldine Vintage and Machinery Museum.

So, too, is his next project.

It is somewhat bigger.

Closer to 80, Mr Averis wanted another challenge.

He found it in the 14-tonne, 800hp engine from the good ship Rangatira which, until it was scrapped, plied the Timaru-Chathams route.

The ship has been around the world many times, has carted beer and explosives, and freight and livestock to and from the Chathams.

Mr Averis also spent four years on the Chathams – loved it – and headed to PrimePort Timaru when he heard the ship was going to be stripped, scrapped and auctioned.

He had his eye on the engine.

After some negotiation, he got it, and he and members of his family own it.

His next problem was somewhere to put it as there was little flat ground at his Peel Forest home.

Enter the machinery museum, the engine’s home.

It was put on blocks with the help of a crane from a local log-home company, and PrimePort and fishing company Sanford also helped with logistics.

The next step is to put the Danish-made Callesen engine on to a steel frame and the engine, when taken, say, to a show, will be put on a 20ft-container trailer and towed by a R-model Mack truck.

The immediate goal is to have it ready for the museum’s annual crank-up day on Saturday November 3, 9.30am to 4.30pm.

“It’s given me a lot of pleasure. It’s got my brain going,” Mr Averis said.

He said the engine was in good condition and on the Chathams run, it was never cold.

The Rangatira plied the route for 15 years, around two and a half days each way, depending on the weather.

It also appeared in the film, The World’s fastest Indian.

The Rangatira was built in 1970 as the Bokul Ronne in Denmark.

She plied the coasts of Northern Europe carrying Heineken beer then, renamed the Jenka, carried explosives.

The ship made her last trip to the Chathams in 2015.

Mr Averis, who worked as an engineer for the National Mortgage fishing company on the Chathams, said the biggest challenge was getting in a year’s groceries in advance.

Mr Averis said his youngest grand-daughter wanted to be a marine engineer and “I said when I’m gone, you can look after it”.

Mr Averis also snared something else for the engine.

He noticed after he bought it that the triangular brass maker’s plate was missing.

One day, as he brought out scones he had made, and butter, for helpers, he realised he did not have a knife.

Someone said, “here, use this”.

It was the brass plate, and Mr Averis took it home with him.