Happy New Year to all our Friends and followers.
In the month of Christmas cheer, working on our fine vessel had to make way for the festivities; but not entirely. After all there is a limit to the amount of food, drink and jollifications one can cram into a calendar month, so work continued, with the odd short periods of respite.
The two major projects of Boiler and Wheelhouse remained the focus of our attention throughout December. Following the erection of the protective and weatherproofing ‘Scaffolding tent’ over the wheelhouse area, the corroded sections of the casing were carefully cut away with an angle grinder. Whilst this is a slower procedure than using an oxy-acetylene torch, it gives a cleaner, more accurate, edge to which the new plating can be welded. Ultimately, only a small section of the original platework around the steering windlass was deemed to be in sufficiently good condition to be retained, this area having been protected by the years of lubricating oil that has been applied to the windlass and run off onto the plates. Welding of the new plating is not a simple task due to the curvature of the casing, which is directly above the Boiler. It is a case of welding one edge of the new plate down and gradually bending and welding to the adjacent curved platework. Thereafter, upright metal strips to the four sides of the casing had to be welded into place, these being the anchors to which the timber wheelhouse will be secured in due course. The finished platework is a fantastic piece of welding skill and should see most of us out. It was then time to get out the mag-drill in order to drill out holes for the various wheelhouse fittings. Other wheelhouse items, such as navigation light boxes that require attention have been distributed to volunteer’s home workshops for refurbishment, and we have had a further clear-out of various stored items that required disposal. The scrap timber from the wheelhouse structure has been cut down to manageable size, that size being the door of a certain volunteer’s wood-burning stove! The work on the wheelhouse has resulted in quite an accumulation of debris on top of the boiler and in the Boiler Room bilges which we now need to remove (lovely job) as well as the decks and vessel in general, so a clean down is on-going.
Below in the Boiler Room work on the re-taping of the tube hole threads is progressing, albeit somewhat slowly. It is a hard manual task and to help with this we acquired a piece of hydraulic kit to assist in the turning of the tread-cutting taps, but sadly this gave up the ghost and is now away for repair. We have also taken the opportunity to send the taps away for sharpening and to do other preparation work for installing the new tubes. The main issue is that the new tubes are some 8 feet long and the distance between the tubeplate and the bunkers at its’ maximum is only about 7 feet. In her commercial days, the boiler would have been lifted out for re-tubing, but for us this is not an option, so we have cut out sections of the bunker bulkheads to give us the space required.
We have now passed the dismantling stage on both these major projects, and we now progressing to the next stage – re-assembly. Exciting times!