In the years 1860-1865 about 100 steam launches were built in Sweden. Why? One explanation is that new processes in steel production had produced better steel for the boilers, allowing higher steam pressure and engines with higher speed that made the new means of propulsion – the propeller – practical and economical. No steam launches with paddle wheels were built after 1855.
The propeller was generally adopted early in Sweden; probably due to the disadvantages of side wheels in narrow locks and in icy waters where the wheels “climbs” up upon the ice.
Gerda was built in 1865 by Lindholmens Shipyard in Gothenburg for Stockholms Ångslupsaktiebolag (Stockholm’s Steam launch Company). Stockholm is a city built on a large number of isles, and during the second half of the nineteenth century steam launches were an important means of public transport in the city.
By the 1890’s bridges and trams had replaced many of the boats, and Gerda was sold in 1894 to Haneberg manor by Näshultasjön (Lake Näshulta) in county of Södermanland, 120 km west of Stockholm. In 1895 a short canal was completed, connecting Lake Näshulta to the railway station in the village Bälgviken, and thereby Gerda became an important means of transportation for the farms around the lake. On some occasion during the years 1915-1920 the original steam engine was replaced by a crude oil engine.
In 1932 busses and lorries had taken over transportation of passenger and goods, and Gerda was pulled ashore where she stayed until 1996.
In 1978 Gerda was acquired by the municipality of Eskilstuna, but due to insufficient financial resources her restoration did not start until 1993.
Most of the hull plates had severe rust damages and had to be replaced by new ones, but no short-cuts were taken like welding the hull. Gerda’s hull is still completely riveted as it appeared in 1865. The crude oil engine was replaced by a “new” steam engine from round 1900, similar to the original one. In 1996 the restoration was ready and Gerda sailed again, after 64 years ashore!
Gerda, restored to her 1865 appearance, now every summer sails in the waters around Eskilstuna. One of the most important activities is ordered traffic. Groups and parties can charter the vessel from May to Septempber. For more information on charter and timetable, send an inqiry to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +46 (0)70 559 18 65.
Length 13,98m / 46 ft
Beam 3,32m / 11 ft
Draught 1,07m / 3½ ft
Displacement 9 metric tonnes
Reciprocating single-cylinder high-pressure, piston valve and Stephenson’s valve gear.
Power 8,4 hp
Stroke 180mm / 7,1”
Cylinder bore 150mm / 5,9”
Wood-burning, fire-tube type
Max pressure 8 bar