Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Doing Weird things to our Welder.

(Robin, I’m sorry-but I just can’t resist printing this picture, honestly I’m not a bad person, I just have a twisted and inappropriate sense of humour.)
This has to be one of the more testing aspects of working on Wendy Ann, the engine room bilges are notoriously inaccessible toward the stern. What’s going on here is that R is continuing cutting out the plates neatly to our (collectively agreed upon) line, and there are a ton of nasty rivets that he must blow out in order to free said plates. Also we need to keep the frames intact so a large measure of skill and care is involved. All this has to be done whilst wedged upside down wielding gas burning gear inside a series of small boxes. Did I mention there’s still the odd trace of scarily flammable bitumen lurking down there? Nice. When he’s done there’ll be a 6’by18’hole in the bottom of the engine room. Bloody Heck, suddenly this looks like an enormous job, I suppose it is really, silly me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Now you see it…

The painted forward compartment looks seriously stunning now it’s finished, and it’s a dull gold colour as planned- Steve, we can’t thank you enough.
This however means that whilst we wait for it to cure off a bit it’s time for overalls on again, back to the scabby stern for me, and on into the engine room bilges for Robin- who gallantly spent all of Sunday cutting a large hole out of the keel plates in readiness for our big midships rebuilding plan.
What did I do at the stern? I knocked out that pesky concrete around our stern tube. No big deal thanks to a bit of deft sideways action with a borrowed jackhammer, it was still soaking wet with seawater despite the fact that Robin cut off the plates that contained it some months ago, I mean, we’ve only been out of the water nearly two years for gods sake, once broken up this stuff was literally dripping. Hold on a minute- removing it IS a big bloody deal because it was the very last bit of concrete in the entire vessel. Over the months we’ve dug it out of every crevice from stem to stern, and now it’s finally gone I feel a sort of hole where fretting about it used to be. Once upon a time I used to forlornly grasp the jackhammer with blistered hands, repeating over and over the bizarre mantra ‘one day it’ll be all over’, and almost unbelievably that day has actually come to pass. Please can I have a cold beer now?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Watching Paint Dry.

This is an odd moment, simultaneously Oh Botheration, grrrr, and er, sort of Yahoo!.
The reasons for my feeling this way are based around that paint job, and it’s driving us ever so slightly bananas, we haven’t had a chance to work on board for three weekends now on account of the painting being started but not completed yet. This is mostly about cash, our painters have very kindly offered us a preferential rate, as long as we maintain patience while they fit us in around jobs of theirs which earn real money, can’t say fairer than that. This seems to translate roughly as, when it’s raining; it’s our turn. I am therefore praying like mad to any deity who might feel like listening for a downpour- all week.
So we’re experiencing another forced hiatus in proceedings, but in a remarkable display of synchronicity Robin is still busy working himself to the bone on a commercial barge, which sounds like it’s in almost as bad a state as our dear ms Ann. So he’s at least not kept waiting too, we can of course work on our own- but it’s not nearly as much fun.
So anyway, check out this picture,

And this one,

Good innit? And that’s just the first coat by airless spray, so can you spot the areas the gun has missed? I can. That’s why the next step is what’s called stripe coating, applied by brush round all the rivets and floor bearers and so on to catch the shadows created by spraying around lumps like rivet heads, and downright totally missed areas caused by general human fallibility. It’s a complex space, especially round the crash stringers and keelson.

By the way, the pic’s are all really similar, and we’ve loads more taken from the same angles because we were too awestruck to walk into the unsullied silver of the space. The forepeak is just too stinky to go near, and regardless, I’m still recovering from spending forever grovelling around in it preparing everything, but it looks the same, trust me.

Cor, Wow.

Since these pictures were taken the first stripe has been applied with the same intershield paint, but in a dull bronze colour that looks like someone’s pee'd in it. The reason for this contrast is so, like tomcats, we can tell where we’ve been. Inevitably though there are still occasional areas that have been missed out so the striping must be done again with a keen eye, before application of a second spray to finish the job.

Meanwhile we find ourselves unable to do any proper work at Wendy Ann for fear of introducing a layer of dust to that beautiful paint (everything we do creates a ton of dust, whichever way we look at it.) This will not matter a damn when the job is finished, but right now however frustrating I’m finding it, it’s silly to allow potential weakness to be included between layers of paint for the want of haste and my desperate desire to continue with the next step.
Speaking of which, we have managed a strategic meeting with a very tired Robin to discuss plans for what’s next. Inside that painted compartment we’ve a spiral stair to install and a temporary floor to put down, both kind of ready, and it’s time to move on to the engine room. Heavy stuff first we’ve some plate to replace at the keel, so learning our lesson from the front end experience, we’ve collectively decided to cut out and replate as much as possible in order to make the job simpler- ok, bigger granted, but simpler. This may sound crazy, but hopefully it’s not. Evident on the existing plates apart from four small holes are a LOT of rivets and nasty pits, all of which would require overhead welding attention, which not only takes ages and ages but is also possibly the nastiest thing one could persuade a welder to undertake, raining fire and brimstone upon him in a very tight space indeed. I know. No, it’s easier to replace the steel completely. Hopefully this’ll also facilitate my getting into the spaces around the engine bearers for another, final clean up. Instead of contorting, folding myself into each bilge in turn (which I’ve done before and I don’t like it, no sir), I’ll be able to just climb up through the bottom. And at the end of it all we’ll have the security of knowing that right at the bottom of the boat all is shiny new and thick as hell.
Can’t wait.