Monday, November 02, 2009

The Outside In Gunpowder Plot.

Right. I’ve been fantasizing about actually getting as far as this for a long, long time.

We’ve made a start on the process of battening out the hull with that 2x2- when finished and insulated around, this will provide a solid fixing surface for the lineout material.
Indeed, we hired the previously mentioned Hilti Gun. This contraption deserves the second capital letter, being quite the most entirely brutal method of fixing I think I’ve ever used. For anyone who isn’t completely mad and therefore may not have encountered one in their everyday business it is basically, wait for it, a gun. Yes, unlike other powertools that call themselves guns this one’s not messing around. You load it with gunpowder caps, then a whacking great steel pin, press it against your wooden batten, aim very carefully and pull the trigger. Done right it’ll fire that pin through the wood and the 8mm thick steel frames of our boat easily. So far so good.
Although it is completely savage in its power the ‘carefully’ bit is clearly still supremely important, not only is it a device which is probably quite capable of killing you if you’re really stupid; but you’ve got to concentrate and fire that pin absolutely perpendicular to your chosen steel. Not always so easy. If the angle is even slightly out or you’re being at all namby-pamby about how you position yourself while you hold the gun, what happens is that the pin doesn’t penetrate the steel. It bends double on impact instead and your chosen batten vandalises itself quite badly by more or less shattering (this in spite of drilling pilot holes in the wood first). On Sunday afternoon one broken bit flew across the engine room and hit Becky on the left tit, which raises one of the more amusing health and safety issues I can think of. Becky rallied magnificently from this insult with the choice words “never mind, we will have to persevere, just like we always do” as she passed me yet more gunpowder, nail and block.
Also, whilst lining the thing up straight you’ve to think quite hard about recoil, both the certainty of it and how to minimise the effects. By Sunday lunchtime and over three hundred firings later I found myself soundly bruised about the wrists, knuckles and elbows after many wallops upon the hull during kickback- and I silently offered up these strange sort of exhausted hopeless prayers immediately prior to inducing each loud bang. Oddly this seemed to help, or maybe by then I was simply getting the hang of the damned thing. However, when I was just limply hanging off the trigger The Hilti Gun would then immediately make me inexplicably angry. Well, if you had to keep detonating small explosives in your own living room and bits kept flying everywhere I’m sure you’d get a bit hot under the collar too after a while. Wouldn’t you?

So, in the end we got the forward accommodation completely done, and managed a decent start in the engine room, which not only gave me the opportunity to wake a cold stricken Becky on Sunday morning by shouting ‘Look Snotface, I made your boat stripey!’ at the top of my voice- but also led us to believe that after moving those four ton sodding water ballasts we could probably do the rest of the hull in a single weekend’s hire (and another four hundred bangs) as that pile of wood I prepared seems bigger than first thought, or maybe it’s the softwood equivalent of the magic porridge pot. Yep, it was a violent, loud and arduous, but incredibly fast process.

Postscript: the included pictures really don’t do this any justice at all, somehow the sensation of being surrounded by all this lovely battening just refused to be caught on film. And for the record: the black stuff is visqueen, a damp proof membrane that’ll be trimmed back later. Becky (pictured with gun) did have a go at firing a few nails too, although she seemed mildly terrified afterward, and preferred to dominate the chopsaw instead. And the pictured frames are forward, where there’s really not that much curve to the hull. By the time we got to the engine room where the frames are distinctly, and quite tightly curved- following them presented us with a few challenges. We tried little cuts which worked on the less curvy ones, I suggested steaming each batten to fit, a suggestion which was scorned as being ‘far too fussy’. But we eventually sussed out how to do it- in lots of little bits... I’ll be running a drawknife over them later to sweeten them up then. Because yes, I’m fucking fussy ok?