The engineering team at Peter Freebody & Co have the resources and knowledge to handle all aspects of classic marine engineering - petrol, electric and steam power - from servicing and maintenance through to full engine rebuilds.
The use of inboard petrol engines on the River Thames began in the 1920's and '30's. Engines at that time were often marinised versions derived from car and lorry engines of the era. Some early examples such as the Gardner, the Gray and the Boulton & Paul engine, although rare, can still be found adding to the charm and authenticity of the original launches which they power. Other later engines such as the Austin 6 cylinder and BMC Morris Vedettes from the middle part of the last century remain very popular today. Painting, chroming and upgrading can be carried out to the owners request.
The boatyard's work with Rivas includes the rebuilding and servicing of the intoxicating and charismatic V8's from the 1950's, 60's up to modern day.
Surprisingly, electric propulsion was introduced onto the Thames and became the must have means of power during the late Victorian era, with many charging points set up along the river at that time. This gave rise to the development of the beautifully elegant and efficient hull shapes synonymous with this period. Electric propulsion, alongside steam power, was falling by the wayside in the early 1900's due to the development of internal combustion engines for marine use. However, in recent years there has been a resurgance in the interest in this environmentally friendly form of power once again, with modern day chargers, motors and batteries giving rise to a truly enjoyable boating experience. Peter Freebody & Co are at the forefront of bringing these exciting new technologies into traditional craft.
Steam propulsion is perhaps one of the most charismatic and enchanting forms of power with its mixture of low revving, methodical movement of piston and propellor, alongside the smell of burning coal and steam oil mix. From lighting the boiler to raising steam pressure, the ongoing involvement which a steam engine requires during operation, is a truly engaging and hands on experience. Over the years, Peter Freebody & Co have been instrumental in bringing many of the early Thames steam launches back into commission, most notably "Alaska" from 1883 and "Windsor Belle" from 1901. The boatyard have also built new steam powered launches for inland waters of the UK and Europe.
In line with the bespoke nature of the works carried out at Peter Freebody & Co, the machining workshop is a necessity for bespoke boatbuilding. Here, cast brass slipper launch fittings are fettled, canopy stanchion supports are milled, brass banding is drilled and countersunk on wooden jigs, steering wheel spiders are set up on the lathe and the smell of cutting oil fills the air.
The workshop shelves are lined with spares to suit both early and modern engines, to enable the engineering department to offer a full service, winterization and re-commissioning programme