PS Hjejlen
Built :- 1861
Length:- 85 feet.                            
Width over paddleboxes:- 12.5ft. 
Draught:- 5.5 feet.                           
Engine:- 2 cylinder oscillating, with Stevenson’s linkage.                       
1st day in service:- 24 June 1861
Status (January 2012) :-  Still operational.
151 Years Old ! This Year
PS. Hjejlen being turned at Silkeborg harbour, ready for the 2 pm trip to Himmelbjerg and Laven, on the 11th og July 2004.
Although “Hjejlen”  is proclaimed by the Danes to be the oldest paddle steamer in the world, this is not strictly true, as the Norwegian paddle steamer “Skibladner” claims that title, having been built 5 years earlier in 1856. However the Danes insist that “Skibladner” is not in original condition, having been lengthened modernised and re-engined twice during its lifetime, whereas “Hjejlen” has had only a few small modifications over the years, and the engine is still the original, except for the crankshaft which developed a fault in 1947 and needed replacing.  The engine is a 2 cylinder “oscillating” engine, but not in the true sense of oscillating, as the engine has Stevenson’s valve gear, the cylinders rock on a pivot at the bottom of each cylinder.
The Danish paddle steamer “Hjejlen” leaving Silkeborg, and making its way down the river to the lakes and Himmelbjerget.    July 2004.
The steamer is kept in wonderful condition. The crew do maintenance work on the ship during the winter. The 1st class saloon is beautifully restored in it’s original state. The original gold leaf decoration had at some point been painted over, and some years ago, when the saloon was being repainted, the old paint was scraped off  and the gold leaf was exposed. At the end of the saloon one can use the original toilet, a very fine example, in perfect condition.
The engine room is just big enough for the engineer and stoker. The boiler is situated astern of the engine, so the small space gets rather warm. The boiler is fed with water from the lake. During the first couple of weeks of service each summer, water is pumped into the boiler from the mechanical water pump. However I am told that the intake gradually clogs after a while so the pump cannot keep up with demand, so common practice is that the boiler is filled with the injector before the steamer leaves Silkeborg. By the time it arrives at Himmelbjerget approximately 1 hour 15 minutes later, the boiler water  level is quite a way down, so it is again filled using the injector. A new boiler was installed in 2005.

     “Hjejlen’s” season usually starts in June, sailing at weekends for the first 2-3 weeks, then by the last week in June she sails daily, 2 round trips each day, she was also sailing an evening trip in 2004. Officially the steamer is scheduled to cease sailing by the middle if August, but it seems that she continues to sail when there are expected to be a good number of passengers,  also at weekends. We have visited Silkeborg in the middle of September and have been surprised to see her still sailing. She is also available for hire by private parties.
A  video of the steamer and it's engines, taken on the 11th of July 2004
     A trip on “Hjejlen” is thoroughly recommended. She is based in Silkeborg and sails to Himmelbjerget (Sky mountain) stopping at a number of jetties picking up or dropping off passengers who want to explore the magnificent countryside surrounding the Silkeborg lakes. After arriving at Himmelbjerget, the steamer sails across the lake to a small village named Laven. A round trip (Silkeborg to Laven) takes approximately 3½ hours, and the ticket price is very reasonable. On arrival at Himmelbjerget the passengers have time to climb up the “mountain” (a hill approximately 400 feet high) and have a look at the view, and if they are not quick enough to get up the hill and down again before the steamer returns, they can get one of the motor boats back to Silkeborg.

Details of the steamer, it’s history and sailing times can be found here:-   http://www.hjejlen.com
 
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