Welders do it in all positions.
Every single last rivet, plate line, pit and insert has now been welded up starboard at midships, including underneath thanks to the amazing Robin. This is no mean feat as this side was by far the worse off - but now it looks infinitely better and the completed hull here stretches two thirds of the way from the stem. Now he’s making a start on doing the same thing to the port side, poor bugger. There’s a LOT of hard work in these rivets, but the (growing) finished area does somehow look and feel so much more solid and reliable, and I have every confidence that this treatment will render Wendy perfectly leak proof in the end. The fact that chunks of daylight are no longer visible from inside is a dead giveaway for a start.
Why on earth are we doing things to this extent? (there being over four thousand rivets on the entire underwater hull.) Well, the greater proportion of Ms Ann’s rivets proved after blasting to be extremely wasted by the passage of corrosion and time. A sea of nasty pits was also evident and so, long ago, the decision was made to weld ‘em all up in order to ensure none of them would give out on us in the future. Effectively the hull under the water line is becoming a continuously welded structure that now just looks like a traditionally riveted craft. But it’s a long, arduous process with tests for Robin such as having to weld overhead whilst lying more or less propped up on the yard floor, and finding a layer of bitumen behind every rivet and seam (I’m told that this is how shipbuilders prepared joints before assembly to create perfect seals), the bitumen catches fire and blows out all over the place under welding conditions. This level of weirdness means it does really take an expert to deal with them, Fun. So I’m thankful to him for maintaining his sense of humour during this latest stage of the evil challenge. He’s amassing an interesting collection of burnt leather garments and an array of seats and stools and blocks of various heights on which to sit and stand. My current favourite is the sort of piano stool affair with the bright green upholstery that appeared a couple of weeks ago.
I guess we all have to throw our toys out of the pram occasionally, God knows I indulge in this sort of behaviour with alarming frequency- but Robin’s being great, even though he knows I know that it’s driving him nuts, he’s still going and to my knowledge hasn’t even run away screaming yet. This is unquestionably a Very Good Thing Indeed. And when, by dint of his efforts port matches starboard, those new plates can go in at the keel (a process which hopefully will have the virtue of being a bit more interesting at least) and that’ll be it, ta daah- all the hull work to the back of the engine room will be done.
Ooh, I make it sound sooo easy and quick- but I admit it, basically there’s a whole shit load more to do before we’re through this phase. And I sort of have a deadline in mind too. Which I suspect is not worth the paper I’ve written it down on, nothing new there then eh? If in the hypothetical future for some inexplicable reason I go completely mad again and decide to buy another boat (in which case I’ll probably require heavy sedation and locking up for my own safety) but I’ll NOT BUY ONE WITH RIVETS! Get ‘em away! I don’t care if anyone says they’re sound, I shan’t do it. God no, Lesson learned. Aaaagh!