Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Future is Now.

Becky and I went to the boat for four whole days last week. It is simplest to say that we had about the best time it’s possible to have whilst boatbuilding on a shoestring. I absolutely love the rare occasions that B is able to pull herself away from work and join me on the big dream.
We had all these enormous plans as usual, and as usual knocked our guts out attempting to get them all done, but common to all building projects Wendy Ann has this way of making everything we do take longer than we thought it would. By now we know all about his phenomenon and were well braced for it, so there is no sense of disappointment whatsoever at what we didn’t manage to cross off the list.
The big idea was to concentrate on ONE area of the vessel and attempt to make a huge difference. So after much obsessive planning on my behalf Becky persuaded me to drop some of my wilder, more addled ideas and we chose to dedicate our efforts to the wheelhouse and cabin interior.

Here’s a list of what we DIDN’T manage to get to in those magic four days:
Sprayfoaming the steel cabin floor and rear bulkhead wall
Second layer of insulation and vapour barrier the walls and ceilings
Installation of oak lining to wheelhouse ceiling
Mousing through all electrical cables
Floor and lower wall sections cut from 18mm ply

And here’s a list of what we DID:
1/4 ton Concrete slab laid on steel bridge deck
All electric conduits installed
Wheelhouse lining ply cut, backed with glassfibre and fully installed
Ply lining of cabin walls all cut to fit and dry-fitted
Steel cabin floor battened out ready for sprayfoam

As a bonus B also found time to cover our new access staging in chicken wire to provide a bit more grip underfoot in wet weather, so now our staging has the Littlehampton look- as every fishermans wharf this side of the river seems also to be covered in the stuff.
So you could say we’re halfway through the list, that’s possibly a bit misleading though. The reason I say this is twofold, firstly getting all our electrical conduit in the right place was one of those thinky thinky carefully type jobs which required a two brained approach. So that took the best part of a day. Secondly those (incidentally top notch quality hardwood WBP ply) linings that feature largest in the photographs look simple. But there’s almost not a right angle in the things and cutting them ate up two days. I’m proud to say that I cut nearly every one to fit within a half millimetre tolerance. Bevel gauges and really sharp block planes are truly marvellous tools for helping do it right. The only slightly gappy ones are in the wheelhouse linings, where the lining meets at some severe angles two of my mitres are ever so slightly (fit a credit card between ‘em- which is actually quite thick) off. But hey, there are more layers going over here so B persuaded (read ‘drunkenly heckled’) me after the evenings first bottle of red that maybe I should just try to be a little less anal about the fit. She says she knows it’s against my nature, I have absolutely no idea what she means.
With the exception of the wheelhouse panels, all the others are merely slotted in position right now as time just ticked out on us again, but as Sunday progressed B and I shared a rising sense of excitement at the rapid transformation of the first part of our vessel’s interior which is finally beginning to look like you could almost live in it instead of the ‘very expensive shed’ aesthetic I’d grown so used to.
In my day job I’m currently spending an awful lot of time at the top of some insanely tall ladders, but I’m hoping to get back down to Wendy for a few days around this weekend to move this project significantly further forward, and I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed that Becky might come for a day too. So I’m fervently hoping that we’ll get as far as trying out the sprayfoam that we ordered up special on the exposed bits of steel, as for moving on to that oak ceiling lining, well, that’d be a dream. I’ll let you know how we get on.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thing 2.

Do you remember me posting about Thing one, my wooden access ramp and staging that I constructed last summer? Well, perhaps calling it thing one was an ill portent because recently I turned up to the boat with a car boot full of heavy stuff and the buggering thing had disappeared, gone! I can only surmise that the combination of a very high spring tide and some gusty weather took it away and (hopefully) out to sea, as there have been no sightings of it since. At least it’s (hopefully) not floating up and down the harbour endangering the fishing vessels but for a few weeks the hole left by its absence has made gaining access to Wendy Ann 2 interesting to say the least, as I was back to just a shitty ladder for a while. Thing one was heftily bolted to the old wharf where Wendy lies, but clearly the old wharf was more rotten than I thought as a chunk of that has gone too. At least the bolts didn’t snap I suppose.

Me and de leathermann Jan hatched a plan to build a new access staging last weekend, in preparation for the big trip I was planning with Becky, of which more next. I decided that whatever we built should be significantly less likely to float, as I really don’t fancy having to build thing three, but you never know. This is why thing two stands on scaffold poles hammered four feet into the ground.
So, without further ado here are some pictures of what me and Jan got up to. Yes, they are the ones I took on that ridiculous new phone of mine. No, they do not really show it to its best advantage, but that’s life.

If by any chance you live in Littlehampton and have seen my original staging, please don’t tell anyone.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Kick up the Arse.

Big tings a g’wann. I’ve been down to the boat absolutely loads lately, as B and I are working on something radical which will hopefully bear fruit next week. So it’s been all go with me making regular forays boatways to prepare, either long day trips or overnight stays. I am currently spending a lot of the time wearing a big grin, God I love the springtime. And when I’ve not been doing that we’ve been organising, discussing, ordering stuff. And also I’ve been in the workshop loads ( that thing is turning out to be such a flippin’ godsend) preparing various weird and wonderful timbers, of which more soon. The unexpectedly odd knock on effect of all this is that rather than not having enough time in spite of finding hours, days to graft at boat stuff, so far B and I have instead found ourselves mostly more organised and productive in our regular worklives. This HAS to be good. The only problem now is that I find myself with about five blog entries queuing up to be written, and feel somewhat guilty that I haven’t shared my recent progress and good fortune with de blog. There is a spurious reason for this in that I have a superdooper new phone which seems to have a good camera and therefore I’ve taken photographs of significant moments upon it. But because I have this sort of mindblank trouble with the kind of technology that you don’t have to oil I haven’t yet mastered the art of getting my phone to talk to my computer and hand over the pictures. Maybe I should be less Manly and just read the bloody book that came in the box with it- there’s a thought.
Anyway, it’s all a bit of an excuse really, so on that note please make do with a reasonably abstract pair of pictures to illustrate one of the many things:

It’s the battening which is now lining the cabin and wheelhouse. I should really have tried to get an overall pic as the result of my efforts is quite cool, but since Becky’s camera can’t fit it all in you’ll have to make do with these close ups. Yes. I have found a use for cheap white pine. It dun’t be much, a mere snippet in the long haul that is boat construction, but believe it took two long day trips to complete, and I’m now working on battening out the floor in the cabin which is a steel surface, but not for long. Wendy gave me some gorgeous teak floorboards to play with you see…

I’ll do my best to get some more descriptive stuff of goings on up here before midweek, at which point theoretically we’ll be boatbound together for several big days (eek!!). I know that if I don’t get scribbling quick a couple of things I really want to write up will inevitably be lost in the melee and will never get done, which would be a shame.

NB: the above bracketed squeak(!) is an exclamation of excitement, not fear, or anything else. I’m beside myself with anticipation at having my lady join in with me on my other lady again.


No hang on, that’s not right is it?

Er… I’m looking forward to Becky coming.

Nudge nudge.
Oh for God’s sake.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Oy Mark, Look no Lungs!

And for my Dad too...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Small but Significant.

After weeks of arsing about, procrastinating, getting obsessed with other aspects of the project and so on, yesterday I pulled my finger out, went to the boat and tiled the woodburner hearths. I’ve never done any tiling whatsoever before. So I was surprised when it went well, too easy really. I’m not sure I’d like to tile an entire room with those little blue ones though, as lining them up right were a bit fiddly. The big slate yins obviously have to be polished and sealed too before I plonk the woodburner on top. Before you say ‘oy!- you haven’t done the sides’, be aware that I have a plan for them…
I’m dead pleased with how they look, and at the time of photographing I knew that Becky would love the pictures. I now cannot wait to see the hearths grouted and ready to rock, I’ve got grout and everything. Incidentally, that orangey timber you can see behind the blue tiles is (we think) some sort of mahogany. It has made it into the photo simply because I was spreading it out to see if I had enough of it, as I’ve had it for an absolute age and I badly need to find somewhere useful for it to live. It turns out that the amount I have’ll fit that little raised area of floor like, perfectly.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Workman’s Hands.

Warning; this post contains a comedy grossout lower on the page. I’ve included it mainly to give my mum the jitters, sorry mum.
I like having hardworking hands, I’ve always wanted and for many years now have the rock solid calluses and good leathery palms which work well in all conditions, but there are limits.
Mark always tells me that power tools are a good way to make the same mistakes, only quicker, which I think relates well to this post as compared to my last. Yep, think I must’ve hexed meself; after having wound myself up silly about the danger inherent in my new router table thingummy I went ahead and put the T&G into my oak with no fuss. I then spent two days hand sanding the whole lot after which it looked gorgeous. (I like hand sanding, it gives a nice finish, but after that little lot I’ll be glad to do something else.) Anyway.. I went to de boat today and managed to do this to myself whilst getting a load more timber ready to visit the workshop of peril, not with any kind of scary power tool- but with a humble (if sharp) hand saw:

Yes, I tried to saw my own thumbnail off.
With a bloody hand saw.
Like the man says, same mistakes…

PS. After a good rinse in cold water and the liberal application of sebo’s patent industrial plaster (some gaffer tape) I mopped up the blood, aimed straight and cut the wood.

PPS. Do you know what really pissed me off about this? I couldn't roll a decent cigarette for about four hours after, I mean, what's the first thing you want after the blood stops and the adrenaline wears off? Grrrr.