Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Warmer weather

Who would have thawed it?

The ice and snow have been repelled by a warm front for a few days and im glad for the respite, even though its still cold enough to need the warming properties of Idris my stove.

For those of you who maybe live over the pond or in a time warp, Idris is the dragon in a cartoon called Ivor the Engine, and Idris lives in the firebox and heats the steam. You can see Idris on the side plates of the stove but due to his magical abilities, he will appear as a Squirrel. (its more realistic if your pissed and have a vivid imagaination)

Ok, I confess, ive been drinking and can only offer gibberish. Its been another busy week, constructing the shower stall and the other bulkheads which form the head (bathroom). Ive bought a wash machine online from Tesco and whilst it might have been cheap, it sure raised my blood pressure trying to navigate my way through the bollox website which must have been designed by a retard. So I emailed them to complain and today received a reply which did nothing to address my email but simply to offer a standard reply which directed me to engage in further time wasting. Grrrr

Untill the machine arrives next Tuesday, I cannot move forward as I need the exact dimensions, so Ive diverted my attentions to the bedroom wardrobes. I will take some pix when there is sufficient daylight.

So, we end this year in a very different place to which we started. 12 months ago, I hadnt a clue what I was going to do with my life, one door had closed and I couldnt even find another through which to take a look.
Now look what ive gone and got myself into. As one cheeky sod put it, I own a dredger. He would say that as hes the owner of a new Oyster 46, but he does admit I have more value for money.

My dream is growing more real every day.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

My blogs are like buses, - nothing for a month, then three come along all at once.
Although its deathly cold down on the faaarm at the moment, it stops me from standing still for too long and ive been getting loads done.
When I woke this morning it was minus 13c and the condensation on the inside of my double glazed beedroom windows had turned to ice. Im glad it was w slightly warmer -11 at the boat and now ive got the hang of lighting the stove, it soon warms up.

Today, ive mostly been making the shower cubicle. Framed out with 3x2 and ply covered, it has the plumbing coming through from the engine room and a hole cut ready in the floor for the outlet to run into the Whale pump beneath.

Other bulkheads are taking shape, incorporating hobbity style doorways.

Friday, 24 December 2010


You can tell work is slack as I finally have time and patience to post some more pix.
Its Christmas eve, the darkness has decended, rather warm outside compared to temperatures of late, a respectable minus 2c and about 7 inches of snow. Its been the nicest day of the week with clear blue sunny skies.

Im chilling out with a glass of vino rosso, listening to Don Giovanni, wishing I was somewhere warmer, but sat here with an oil lamp for company instead.

So, here are some pix of the Squirrel stove. Ive made a steel base and corner piece with masterboard behind for peace of mind. The vent grill will allow ducted air from outside to meet the ventilation needs so I dont have to sit in a cold draught.

I had to drill out holes in the backplate for the back boiler pipes to pass through, and I also made 4 bolt on feet so the stove can be fixed to meet safety regs.

Ive given up trying to add more posts. Ive written so many and this useless net connection has lost the lot, so here are some pix. Ok, seems like they are finally going. Ive included some winter scenes just to show you softies what minus 10 celcius looks like, certainly no fun to work in, even with the assistance of my trusty boat stove.

Finally got the canvas roof fitted on the wheelhouse. Colin and Steve delivered the pair of doors and its taken me a week to fit them but they finally fit the holes and keep snow out, just need some architrave around them. Door locks wouldnt fit in the door stiles so ive mounted them in the steel door frame, just to be different. So now the door handle isnt in the door, im sure that will confuse anyone hoping to break in.

Ive had some stainless channel folded which not only provides a frame for the canvas pop studs to clip to, it also stiffens the whole structure and makes a door lintle with rain gutter.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

I have the power

It seems like it was an age away now but back in the summer I bought the battery from an electric fork lift truck.
It was 48volt, made up from 24, 2 volt cells wired in series like this one

The steel box they were in was split and rusted and the first job I had was to cut the copper links joining them together and lift them out. Easier said than done as they weigh 28kg each and were packed in like sardines. When they were first installed in the box, they were dry, then the water was added. That weight of that water causes the casings to spread and makes it almost impossible to pull them out. Once out, they spread and the water level drops inside causing the lead plates to be exposed, so they cant be left in that state. I made a plywood box in the new sixe and shape needed to fit the space in the engine compartment where they will need to go.

So, I made up temporary handles from insulated wire, twisted round the two poles and lifted them very carefully using an electric hoist. They stand 28'' high and I couldnt lift them manually over the sides of the steel box. I cut off the remainder of the copper links, removed the auto top up tubes and drilled down into the top of each post to accept a threaded insert which has a 6mm thread inside.

For almost 4 months they have been patiently waiting for a new home, not quite dormant, occasionally belching and bubbling hydrogen gas as they slowly discharge. Getting them installed in the new configuration and back on charge has been the priority goal but ive had to delay untill the engine room was weatherproof.

By last monday, things were finally ready and I took them out of the ply box, took the box apart so I could fit it through the wheelhouse floor framework and put it back together. Then I started the painful task of carrying them out of the shed, into the wheelhouse and lowering them into the box.
Its bad enough having to do it once as they weigh almost three quarters of a ton, but once they were all in, I noticed the base of the box was sagging and there was nothing for it but to take them all out, strengthen it and replace them again.
It was an all day job and when it was done, so was I.

It agrevated an old back injury and I needed two days off to recover.
I bought a length of copper bar, 5mm x 19mm, measured the distances between the poles, drilled holes and cut to length to make the links which go between the cells so I can make up 4 strings of 12v batteries comprising of 6 cells each.

Today ive bolted all the links up and sealed round the tops of all the cells to prevent overspill of water from the cell tops. This is what caused all the corrosion and mess in the old steel box, and I certainly dont want acid swilling around the engine room bilges.
Nest step is to get them on charge.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Its an ill wind........

Its been a terrible week, weather wise. Worst storms of Autumn so far, and ive been kept busy for most of the week trying to keep the hatches battened down and the pumps running.
OK, I exagerate but on Monday I had to pump 50 ish of our UK gallons (count them)out of the engine room and fix the roof with a thicker plastic sheet to try and prevent anymore rain getting in.
Mission imposssible in these gales, so I resorted to desperation and secured it with battens nailed through into my beloved gorgeous timber. What else could I do? I hope a liberal coating of teak oil will sooth the damage.
Even the planks on the roof were being thrown off by the violent gusts, so I upped the anti and weighed it down with a few pallets.

I had a guy come and measure for the glass last week, but in typical provincial fashion, no one seems to be in a rush to get the job done and ive been phoning the guy all week to see where the glass is. Land line was set to fax and mobile went to answerphone. I must have got him out of bed at 08.30 uk time when he finally answered his phone, the bloody Dominican republic. Surprise surprise, hes on vacation.
So I had to go and collect the glass myself from another guy who was contracted to actually cut the glass. Grrrrrr

Despite the horrendous gales, ive risked life and limb to get 10 of the 15 fitted. It was so scary in the gusts and I couldnt but help think of the photographer in 'The Omen' whos time was cut short when he lost his head over some glass. It must have been a real pane.

Another break through with the wheel house roof. Ive been phoning round to find anyone who can make a canvas type roof cover. It seems a fair few makers cant quite get their heads round a 9'1''x 10'3'' cover with 3 inch sides. They want to make it so complicated beyond all logic and then charge the earth for doing so. Grrrrrr

So I eventually found a tarpaulin maker who also makes boat covers and gave me an over the phone rough quotation. But as usual, the course of life cannot run to plan. His man failed to turn up and measure at the designated time. No doubt, hes on a provincial timetable that has a large element of 'Manyana' allocated to it. Not even a phone call to tell me why. Grrrrr

Im a peak of temper, I took the angle grinder up on deck and cut a 6.5'' hole for the stove flue. Job done. Who says you cant cut a round hole with a cutting disc?

Im tired now.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Miss Marple stabbed me

Its been a tough week, what with the wind and rain, and all the up and down, up and down in the engine room and wheelhouse

Its been my intention for some time to get weather proof so I can get the batteries installed in the final resting place. It was too wet on monday to get the covers off to sand and oil the woodwork, so I concentrated on batteries. I soon realised that other jobs needed doing first like get the holding tank and water tank in place because I cant manover them in after the batteries block the access.

One job becomes ten, and before that, I want to clean out and paint. So there was rusty water to empty from the bilges, welding to finish, lumpy paint to scrape off, etc etc.
I have an old Marples chisel which I affectionately call Miss Marple. Its used as a scraper, pry bar, lever, gouge, punch etc, and an all round usefull tool.

So there I was, levering the lid off the paint tin when Dear Miss marple slipped and bit me in the palm of my left hand. A first glance showed a scratch but 10 seconds later, the blood issued forth.
I had fits of laughter as I recalled the Al Wilson song, 'The Snake'. google it and listen to the lyrics, its very poinient.
Then it occured to me that I had been attacked in the wheelhouse by Miss Marple using a chisel. Some people wouldnt have a Cluedo what im talking about but it was kinda funny at the time.

By Thursday, I had done finished welding, sanded and oiled the front half of the woodwork, fitted the bolts and draft strip to the front doors, been down the Forest and brought back 4 more of the 205 lt drums im using for water tanks, and applied one coat of red oxide and one coat of white to the engine room.

By yesterday morning the first coat had dried and I just had time to get the second coat done when it started to rain. And it rained, and the sheets leaked and the paint got wet and it kept raining and leaking and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
So now the engine room has 3'' of water in it again and when I look at the weeks work, it all seems a little pathetic. Im dog tired, the cold I had last week is still bugging me, my hands are sore, my legs are bruised and I need a break.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

In the doghouse

Its all Hallows eve, the last day of October, one month since I was soaked whilst loading the ballast into the bilges and a lot has happened since.

I spent a few days in Oswestry with Colin and Steve to get the doghouse parts made and they came to help fit it all today.
It started off over cast but dry, but then turned to rain for almost 1 hour, and despite pulling sheets over everything, all the wood got wet. We eventually got the base frame bolted down with the sides hinged to it.

All looking good now and I have so much to get on with. It all needs easing with the router and then another good sanding before applying several coats of teak oil. Then I can get the glass cut and fitted.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

No pix and no progress

No pix for this post as there is nothing much new to show this week.
Ive had 4 days off and still dont feel well but the show goes on. I spoke too soon about the hatches not leaking as once again, rain is trickling through, this time bypassing the seals.
Im going to wrap the whole lot in cling film for winter if I cant find a satisfactory solution.

Im hoping to have a change of direction and make some headway with the wheelhouse structure over the next few days, weather permitting.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Where does the time go?

Every day is groundhog day at the moment. I get up, go to work, do stuff for 9-10 hours and go home, day in, day out, week in, week out, while the nights start earlier and now the frost has started. Yet I dont feel as though im getting anywhere fast.

Maybe I need a break, maybe I cant see the woods for the trees anymore.

Anyway, the reality is ive done most of the wiring. I had put it off for as long as possible in the hope I might miraculously develop the inspiration I need to get involved in doing something I dont enjoy and dont understand too well. Its my weakest subject. But, its been holding up other jobs so Ive had to bite the bullet and get on with it.
So far ive run 150 mts of 2.5mm, 50 mts of 1.5mm and 100 mts of 0.5mm cable, but its about done.

Ive kept working away at the maple planking but I can only manage a few hours at a time before the neck ache sets in and I need a rest. I have made a start panelling the deck sides and with the change in the weather to an unseasonaly cold spell, im trying to get 115mm dia pipe to make the stove chimney. Im not going to cut the hole in the deck untill ive got all the parts ready.

I have also taken out, cleaned up and reinstalled the forward deck hatches using silicon and so far there is no sign of a leak.

So, thats where the time went, yet it feels as though ive stood still.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Doors

Ive had another rewarding day in the glorious Autumnal sunshine. Its no good putting off those jobs you would rather not do, like hanging doors.

Colin, Steve and myself made them last week and I gave them a liberal drink of Teak Oil last night. This morning they were dry and smelled of Linseed.

First task was to decide whether to square up the frame to suit the bulkhead opening, or to suit the doors. I decided they have to suit the doors, so I packed it all round with wedges to centre it in the hole and checked for square.

The doors needed some planing, and as per usual, I went too far. Have you ever tried cutting your own hair? A snip too far on side and you then have to do the same on the other side to match. Before you know, its out of hand and your trying to limit the damage.

Anyway, they are fine,

I drilled the frame and marked through the holes to the steel bulkhead frame, drilled that and tapped with M8 threads.

Counter sunk (counter bored for the Americans) and refitted the frame. Cut out the hinges and hung the doors. A little bit of fettling and they are looking good.

All I need now is some bolts and a lock. Ive ordered the glass and will get some architrave next week when I go to Colins to get the wheelhouse construction underway.