The Maid of the Loch paddle steamer is to be hauled out of the water on Thursday in order to undergo a full ultrasound survey before her £1million refurbishment takes place.

The historic slipping will see the 191-foot long and 555-ton vessel lifted onto the Category A listed Balloch Steam Slipway by the original winchhouse.

The survey, which is expected to take around a week, will provide a definite report on her condition and a true picture of the hull, so that repairs can be identified and costed.

John Beveridge, chairman of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, told the Reporter: “She will be on the slipway for a few weeks, but we are not sure how long.

“After the survey, a report will be prepared and in the meantime we will repair the port-side paddle box because fendering is missing and we have new wood to put on.

“Then we will start contracts for refitting the inside of the ship with contractors doing rewiring, plumbing and outfitting work.

“We are going to refurbish the after deck shelter on the top deck and return it to how it looked in the 1950s. The after saloon on the main deck will also be returned to the 1950s original style.

“A big feature is we are going to get the engines working. A tender process is underway for the engine room pipework and we will have a squad of people in doing pipework and overhauling what is there.

“The idea is that by this summer we will have the engines turning again for the first time in 40 years and visitors will be able to see how they work and we will have the paddles going around as well.

“It will be a huge transformation having the engines in operational condition. We are not able to afford a new boiler to install it, so a small boiler will be sitting on the pier to give steam to turn the engines while the Maid is docked there.”

John hopes to have most of the £1million refurbishment completed by Easter, although some aspects may take until the beginning of the summer.

This week’s slipping is weather permitting but all being well will begin at 12pm onwards and should take between four to five hours.

Volunteers, who have worked tirelessly over the years on the campaign to restore her, will be present and members of the public will also be able to take footage and pictures of the event from various vantage points in the area.

John said: “Everyone can come along and watch and there will be places to see it. The last time we did this was when we rebuilt the slipway and we only took her out for an hour to test the slip, before putting her back in the same day. That was in June 2006 and lots of people came out to see it. The more the better.

“We just need the weather to be good. It can be done in the snow and the rain, but we just need to make sure the wind is not too high.”

The development is a huge step forward for the project, which received a £950,000 capital grant from the Scottish Government and £50,000 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in December.

John admitted, however, the team are still getting over the multi-million pound funding request rejection by the Heritage Lottery Fund in September, but are hopeful that the progress made in the coming months will stand them in good stead to receive future funding from the HLF.

John added: “For the first time in forty years she will be partly refitted which is super and this is the start of serious business to get the maid sailing again.

“A million is fantastic and a huge step forward but the eventual aim is to get her sailing again and we will need a few more million to get to the next stage.”