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?


Blogger Sweetpea in France said...

O 'tis indeed stripey! You two are quite scary with your power tools! The shrouded item is quite intriguing too! ??

2:09 am  
Blogger bowiechick said...

Aww...while some of us call our beloveds things like honey or sugar or "Magic Brock" like Jamie callse Brock on the KJ, you guys call each other Snotface. How sweet is that?

Anyhow the Hilti endeavor sounds like a real blast and it looks good. I am digging the spiral stairs too!

10:52 pm  
Blogger Tim Zim said...

Hilti gun - what fun :)

11:29 am  
Blogger rob said...

I once spent three weeks in a two foot plus steel drip tray over a station in the depths of london about (73)shot firing expanded metal onto concrete with penny washers. I think I used ear defenders most of the time but not all and suffer from acute deafness now in my great ageing. A short story for your delectation, I have used these rools for years way back when rhey used to be fired by hitting them with a hammer and there was very little safety involved. But on one of my very latest foray with the most recent magazine type (ie the rounds feed almost auromtically ) a couple of foreign workers were using one in a semi occupied officebuilding, refurbishment when the concrete beam they were fixing to and slowly working along suddenly became a pipe casing (they didnt notice) and shot a nail straight through the occupied office next door much to the annoyance and terror of the occupance. Later, if my memory serves me well, one of the same workers climbed up onto a saw horse, more or less, using the Hilty as an aid and accidently shot tough his foot. So do be careful wear eye protection and ear defenders (chunks of rust metal, chips and indeed cordite can injure) I guess that the kit is much better now than when I used it, on the safety side, but they do get worn particlarily when on hire fleets. take care , love your site.

6:11 am  
Blogger IsmilebecauseIhavenoideawhatsgoingon said...

Thanks all,
Tana- you should hear what she calls me! Ever heard of Victor Meldrew? he was the central character in a british sitcom called 'one foot in the grave'. I don't believe it but she still persists, usually saying it with great glee.

Rob, thanks for the, yes rather delectable short stories. It seems you've confirmed that this world is indeed a big enough place to contain someone stupid enough to shoot himself in the foot with one of these things. Thanks for confirming my faith in human nature!

6:34 pm  
Blogger bowiechick said...

I can't say I've heard of Victor Meldrew. I have to have a hunt for that on-line sometime. I have cable but I just never watch TV at all anymore so I am clueless to all the latest shows and such. But you two seem like great fun and I'd love to be able to meet you guys someday.

7:14 pm  
Blogger rob said...

have a look here Tana

4:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ma & Pa

5:19 pm  
Blogger Andrew Tognola said...

Hi Seb
I still follow your fortunes on your blog , and never cease to be impressed.
I have some bits left over from the Strathspey such as a Kabola b17 pressure jet boiler if interested let me know
I paid £600 for it .

11:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so, the story thus far: our intrepid duo are talking about returning for a second weekend with the weapon of mass construction. And then - nothing! Could it be they've nailed themselves to the hull and are even now waiting for the metal to rust, or the timber to rot, so they can escape and tell the tale? Or, like the little Dutch boy in the story, they're punctured the tin can they call home and are sitting with fingers patiently in the dyke awaiting rescue? Enquiring minds worldwide eagerly await the next update!

Chris, Sydney, AU :)

5:46 am  
Blogger rob said...

In some of the poccies you are using long nails is this a concious descision or could you use nails of the right length (cheaper maybe). If you want to break the excess off try using an old style rawlplug tool bit holder and place it over the excess nail and just wiggle it about until it drops off.

10:36 am  
Blogger Sweetpea in France said...

Cher le deux,
Je sais beaucoup ... mais je voudriais dire BON NOEL et aussi une BONNE ANNEE a le deux ..... J'espere que vous avez plus chance pour faire progres avec le projet.

Donc... vous avez beaucoup de courage et ca c'est necessaire pour la VIE.

You WILL be able to continue climbing the mountain because I have faith in you, my son and his busy bee. NEVER GIVE IN. Look from whence you have come avec Wendy Ann 2. For all your projects, problems and opportunities I send you both my very best wishes and love.
Madre in France Missing you both xxxx

9:52 pm  
Blogger Sweetpea in France said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR from SweetpeainFrance xxxxxxxxxxx

11:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over the past 48 hours I have read with great interest - almost - every word that you have written in this heart rending saga. An epic. Like others I would like an update since my husband and I are deciding our future together based on your experience (maybe a bit OTT), but nonetheless, want to know if there is a happy ending.
And what on earth all this has cost in time and money!
Shall we buy? Shall we not buy? Shall we buy? Shall we not buy???

Acqua Alta

9:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, no - not enough questions. Forgive me, but how did you know about doing all this stuff to your boat? Burning the midnight oil reading books? Local knowledge? You know the right people in the right places? Hit and miss?

Fascinating reading - especially the ffffing and blinding...

I think I will avoid anything with bolts in it as you got to be really murderous at that stage of the operations, and I know I have a very short fuse and don't think I could take that many bolts without fusing myself.

Brilliant on all counts. Hats off to you, your lady and your determination and consistency. Do they give out medals for this kind of thing?

Acqua Alta

10:06 pm  

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