Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Its almost time to take a bow

Just two more sheets and the bow post have made all the difference. Now, from the port side, its not hard to see the size and shape of the whole boat.
Despite Martin telling me how many boats hes made, I still get the feeling this is new territory for him. Trying to make a 3D shape around a compound curve isnt easy which ever material you use but steel has to be one of the more difficult mediums to work with.

But, credit where its due, its looking good at last. I know from doing a wide variety of different jobs, planning and working out how to do it is often the hardest part, after that, its just a case of getting on with it.

Aaron has been welding and grinding all day, and hes slowly but shirley getting through the many yards of welding that now need doing.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Slow go Slow

Not a lot to report as of today. Last Friday was a wasted day, even though all hands were, for one fleeting moment, all pulling in the right direction. After that, it all fell apart and the day went downhill.
The first two hull side plates were lined up and tacked in place, then the port side was prematurely welded fully along one side, resulting in the heat build up which buckled it by an inch over just 18 inches length.
The starboard plate wasnt cut acurately and had to be altered. Martin W finished off the stern before departing on 2 weeks hols. The amount of aimless walking round, time wasting, constant interuptions and confusion just contributes to the lack of performance and progress
I walked away before my blood pressure went balistic.

I didnt even bother to return to the yard yesterday as there would be nothing to see and when I arrived today, Aaron was the only person there. He has tens of meters of welds to do and then grind and linish after, so that should keep him busy for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The day the steel base plate finally arrived.

Another exciting day at the yard. More visable progress and its impressive when its large and makes a big statement.

After all the fuss, lies, excuses, delays and silly games, the steel baseplate finally arrived today. The lorry was nothing more than a basic 3 axle flatdeck, and definately not a STGO, abnormal load vehicle, so that highlights yet another lie which I was told. One of the original excuses I was given months ago for the delay was it takes time to arrange extra wide transport with the haulier and Police.
I know this to be incorrect as Ive moved some loads which have been wider than this steel and the Police declined to be involved. I knew it was all lies and this proves it.

Anyway, a rusty plate measuring 31 x 10 feet and weighing 3.4 tons was unloaded and dragged into the workshop by Aaron and the boy wonder, Alex,(hes such a little cutie and only just left school) who showed their 'mettle' (no pun intended). As they did this, amidst a large flash and shower of sparks, they managed to cut a 3 phase cable in half, while Martin W and myself carried on building up the wheelhouse sides.

Another prospective customer spent a few hours on the guided tour, and no doubt, being flanneled by the bull which smelled like '......we can start work on it early next month and it will only take 16 working days to build........So if you can let me have your deposit cheque, I can book a build slot......' HA - That deposit cheque might just be the one thats needed to buy the rest of the steel needed to finish mine, thank you very much.!! What goes around, comes around.

Me thinks he might be waiting untill after the new year as there are rumoured to be 7 more boats already on the order book.

Whilst im telling jokes, ......Martin the boss, came hurredly across the workshop brandishing 2 bottles of Famous Grouse, proclaiming 'Thats the kind of customer I like' after just spending another half hour gassing out in the yard. Erm, wasnt Scotch I had in mind for a finishing present Martin, so dream (not Dram) on.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Easy Tiger, 2 days on the trot, 2 guys working on MY boat = visable progress. Where are the smelling salts, and I might need a rub down with a wet edition of Canal World

I wasnt flavour of the month when I got to the yard today. Some customers dropped by yesterday, one of whom I have seen there before. So he came over and had a chat with me and said I see thay have made a start on your boat. So I said yes and not before time as its 10 weeks late, to which he replied, thats nothing, Ive been waiting 6 months so far.

Anyway, he cancelled his order in a later meeting. They are now trying to blame me. Cant say im interested or even care. Ive probaly done everyone a favour. Why keep taking on more work when you cant fill the orders? Anyway, no good blaming me, I only told it like it is.

Firstly, a pic of the deck cleats ive been making. Ive always prefered the H type, stronger and more secure than a typical canal boat 'Dolly'

Martin W is now engaged in fabricating the above deck bulkhead, up to the height of the upper deck. This part of it will be inside the wheelhouse and have a flat top.
More pix to follow as and when.

Aaron has been busy making his first keel cooling tank which is welded to the swim side and will be the equivilent of a radiator to keep the engine cool.

Martin W has welded in an angle frame which will support the wheelhouse floor.

Ive grown immune to promises of steel arriving 'tomorrow' or 'in the morning', ive stopped asking because I know its got nothing to do with the weather, the roads, the price, the availablity or the stockholders.

Its got everything to do with Martin Jones not having the money to buy it, but even cynical ole' me was taken aback this afternoon when he aproached me, grinning wryly and he had finaly lost his temper and thrown his toys out of the pram, and demanded 'they' deliver his steel, and that it WILL be there in the morning.
Haha, maybe hes been taking lessons from me, gawd knows ive blown my top with him a few times.

So I take that as code speak for 'He got paid for the boat they sent out last Friday' and at last hes got the money to buy steel for my boat.

I wait with anticipation.

Monday, 19 July 2010

New week, new hope.

No one can ever say im not optimistic. A new week and Im once again hopefull the project will progress, so Ive been back to the yard today.

Two of the guys, Martin W (Martin, employee, known as Martin W) and Aaron have both worked all day on the project and made and fitted the engine room bulkhead, and the stern gunwhales. It sure doesnt seem like a lot to show for a combined 16 hours, but im not paying by the hour, so I cant complain too much.

Ive been making my own deck cleats and the two which are mounted on the stern corners also incorporate the breathers for the two fuel tanks. Pix of these to follow soon.

Last Friday, the sides went on to the swim deck, and the top of the fuel tanks were glued in place.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

I spoke too soon. One week on from my last post and nothing has been done to the boat. Im past words, I dont have enough expletives left to describe my thoughts and feelings towards a certain person.

You might have gathered, im not in a good mood. I went away for a long weekend, during which time my car died and getting it fixed took another 2 days, so ample time for the yard to finish the narrowboat thats in front of mine. So I called at the yard on Wednesday, expecting to see steel and progress, and all I saw was nothing. They promised that a lorry and crane were coming this morning to take the narrowboat, and that the rest of my base plate steel would arrive at the same time, to be unloaded by the crane.
After that, all available labour would start working on my boat.

So I arrived at the yard mid morning to find they have cancelled the lorry and the narrow boat is still there.

I HATE broken promises. If I had been told next year, I wouldnt have liked it but I could cope with it. Being told tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow all the time is .....I better not say what I feel but those who know me will understand.

Its St Swithins day, and its rained. So I guess that spells the end of summer. The nights are drawing in and we have hardly got past last winter yet. When I ordered the boat last March, and was promised delivery in May, I envisaged having it half fitted out by now.

I cant see it being delivered before mid or end of September. Maybe I should then consider taking 5 months to make the final payment and see just how stressed a certain other person becomes.
Im not a happy bunny. - Understatement.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

I wont say it but, .....I could get rather excited soon. Things are taking shape and im more optimistic now than ive been for 12 weeks. Took more pix today, showing the stern being built up to include the fuel tank which is the full 10' 5'' width, divided in two for dual fuel storage, and incorporating the rudder post box. My initial calculations of 108 gallons of fuel appear to be almost spot on. Approx 460 lts. Not the kind of tank you want to fill up every week when you do the shopping, although I would get a few loyalty points.

The square box in the centre is called a weed hatch. It enables cleaning and changing of the prop without the need to crane out or dry dock. A handy thing to have on the canals where there can be ropes, plastic bags, weed etc that can and do get tangled up in the prop.

Also in the frame is a shot of the stern tube gland. Water stays on the outside of a boat, if it comes in, you have a problem. But, we need to have the prop shaft going through the hull, and it needs to turn, so what stops the water coming in through the tube?
Answer is a gland. At the inboard end of the tube, inbetween the tube and the shaft is a graphite grease impregnated rope seal thats held in place by a collar which can be tightened by two nuts. There must be some gap between the two otherwise it would wear rapidly or get so hot it would melt or even catch fire. Having said all that, a minimal amount of water must be allowed to weep through, and this is controled by the nut tightness. If it didnt weep through, you would know the gland is too tight.
The whole assembly is only 12'' under water so the pressure is minimal, but water always wants to level its self, so this seal is essential.

Other examples of this type of gland can be found in all domestic taps, where the handle shaft goes into the body of the valve. The shaft can turn, but water cannot come out of the valve body.

Martin is in a better mood at last. He talking, engaging in eye contact and even smiling now. Two weeks ago he would hide from me when I dropped in at the yard and the atmosphere was frightful.

Apparantly, for some reason, I intimidate him. Cant imagain why though, im always nice, pleasant and smiley, except when im being lied to. Grrrrrr.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I went back to the yard again yesterday. About 3 hours total work was done last week. The stern tube for the prop shaft was welded in and the vee, which was cut off the original base plate has been welded on to form the upper part of the swim.

Straight sides will now rise from that plate and will be all thats visable above the water line. Confused? Wait and see, it will all take shape and make sense when it happens.

This is going to be a 'cruiser' stern, not semi circular like most traditional narrow boat types but square across the full width, with just the corners radiused.
That will maximise floor space in the aft deck wheelhouse.
It will also provide a cavernous engine room and make the engine look tiny.

You can never have enough storeage room for tools, spares etc. A rough calculation yesterday suggests the fuel tankage will hold @ 110 gallons or 475 ish litres.

The engine compartment will also contain the 22 gallon hot water tank - the calorifier, and 24 x 2volt wet lead battery cells which weigh about 1 ton.

Its important that I build in some weight. This type of full displacement hull needs ballast to push it down into the water to make it seaworthy. Its also very important that the majority of that weight is evenly distributed to ensure stability.
Once the whole boat is fitted out, minor trimming might be needed to offset non evenly distributed weight like furniture etc.

A large fresh water tank in the bow will help offset all this stern weight, plus I will have to add 3-4 tons of bricks under the main cabin floor to keep the bows down when water from the tank is used.

I have a friend, James, who bought a yacht in the States, sailed it to the Lebanon where he lives with his wife and kids. He gutted the yacht and eventually rebuilt it to the most amazingly high standard. He replaced all the fittings and equipment and very generously donated some of the bits and bobs to my project.

So at 07.00 one morning, I had a call from the customs handling agents at Heathrow.
'Miss Adams, can you tell us whats in the package from Beirut please'

They had obviously scanned the box and seen a mass of wires, guages and god knows what else. All James told me was he was sending his old intrument and breaker panel, plus a few other things.
I explained it was all a gift with no commercial value but was very important to me, and I hoped they would believe me and not call bomb disposal!!

I had a whole bunch of duty, handling and delivery to pay and wait 5 days for it to arrive. Well, it was like christmas in July when I opened the box. I couldnt risk lifting the box as it was so heavy, so I took out the carefully wrapped items one by one.

Dear James, you are such a sweetie, its as though you knew just what I needed. Thank you
To top it off was a book on boat electrics, my weak subject. At least I can try and understand watts, amps, amphours volts, ohms, AC and DC, not to mention the confusing variety of batteries, chargers, inverters, combi inverters, inverter chargers, trickle chargers,............Now do you see how complex it is?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

This is the start of the stern. Its cut to the Vee shape needed to let the water flow round the sides of the hull to pass the prop and rudder
In centre is the engine cradle, behind that is the base of the engine room bulkhead
Next, the swim sides are being added. The Vee shaped off cut from the base plate will be added to sit on the short swim sides and project out to the full 10'6 hull width.

Here you can see the hole for the starter and the teeth on the flywheel

Another view from the other side showing the bump to cover the starter bendix

This is the gearbox/bellhousing adapter which also incorporates the two rear engine mountings.
I had it laser cut from 10mm plate through which passes the starter motor, and welded on a ring to stand off te rear plate to which the gearbox sub mounting plate bolts.
Yeah, I know, im realy clever.
New month, new blog. In fact its been 2 months almost. Reason; Havent had much of interest to report on the boat front.

Story so far. I paid a £500 refundable deposit to book my build slot which was to commence in May. 2 weeks before the start date I paid 25% of the total build price inc VAT to purchase the steel.
Weeks went by and everytime a vacant spot became available in the workshop, another boat was started but not mine. This happened 3 times.
Over the years ive heard some bull, some good and some rubbish but this guy realy pulled the stops out and must have laid awake nights figuring what crap to tell me next.

Chinese are buying up all the steel.
Theres a world wide shortage.
The steel yards wouldnt deliver in the snow, causing a backlog.
Global prices are shooting up and stockholders arnt releasing the steel.
Stockholders are creating an artificial shortage to justify price rises
Theres not enough capacity to uncoil the steel, they cant process it fast enough.
My keel plate is too wide to move by ordinary transport.
Its uneconomical to bring half loads from the docks.
Its the month end and with the price rise due next month, its mayhem out there
Bigger steel users are getting all the priority
My steel is on the floor, ticketed and waiting to go next
My steel is loaded on a trailer but no lorries are available to deliver it.

There were a few more but I glazed over and couldnt be bothered to listen. Ive heard some real crap in my time but this guy is a born pro. He should be on the stage, -Coach, leaving town anyday soon I hope.

Ive tried so hard to get through to this guy. Ive been nice, Ive pleaded, Ive reasoned, Ive lost my temper, Ive even threatened and Ive explained that he gets some desperatly needed money once hes built it and I thought for a few days he took it on board, but alas, nothing materialised. Another month went by, and I was aware that boat builders are going bust at the moment, and im running a huge risk. If these guys go bust and the Receiver locks the gates, im going to be a long way down the Creditors list.
The yards best welder, Ghandi (Andy)quit, leaving only 1 full time guy. When they did have steel, they still clocked off at 4.30 and didnt work Saturdays to catch up. When your self employed, you work while you have work and have days off when it rains. Oh no, thats Farming, but the same principal applies.

I decided to become a pain in the ass, after all, the squeeky wheel gets the grease, so I was turning up at the yard every other day, putting the pressure on and listening to the crap excuses.

By now I was frustrated, anxious and angry. I was chatting to a few other boat people who made enquiries and told me the following.

The original price I was quoted sounds to be 8k under the going rate, and the yard will be building at a loss.

Steel prices havent risen the £400 odd quid a ton Ive been lead to believe, Steel is available at 3 days notice and this guy is probably up the Swannee financially, having used my money to buy the steel for the last boat and cant afford to buy mine now. When I paid him back in April, he said I was price rise protected as he was buying the steel straight away.
Doesnt sound like that to me now.

Then last week, a chap turned up at the yard, in a foul temper demanding his money back because he was fed up with waiting for his boat. They only offered him 6K and hes threatened to return next week and get violent.
In another strange twist, I turned up at the yard one day last week, dressed in shorts and flipflops and was told I wasnt dressed for work to which I replied, 'no steel no work, so whats the point'. I was assured I would get my boat eventually but if I wanted to cancel and have my money back, I was most welcome.
Oh yeah, you would love that, but I want my boat that you promised me when you took my money, so im going to wait and wait.

So, last Friday they scrounged a rusty 10mm plate 10' x 14' from somewhere and made a start.

The floor space became available because the narrowboat in front on mine was put on hold, and was dragged to one side, leaving the main workshop space open to make a start.
All looking good so far, but they didnt work the weekend as promised, bloody world cup probably got in the way.
Progress through the day is slower than paint drying. Phone rings every 5 mins and with so many people popping in and out for chats, cups of tea, freebe welding work needed on a variety of little jobs, about 12 hours work has been done in 4 days. To add insult to injury, the narrowboat is now back in pole position and will have to be finished first.

My steel plate is large enough to keep them busy for about a week whilst they fabricate the stern, so if I was running the job, I would be getting the next delivery lined up for a flawless contination, but I guess he doesnt have the money, which leads on to the next phase.

When the hull is half built, im expected to pay another 25%, and im betting my boots that hes going to make the stern and call that half way, so he can get his hands on the money, which will probably be used to finish the narrowboat in front.

And some of us thought moron brown was the worst accountant in the world. Is this why so many kids need to learn business studies these days? Its hardly rocket science to see what a mess people get into when they rob one to pay another. Common sense is so uncommon now.

On a better note.

I have made the engine/gearbox adaptor and its super sexi. Well done Ames, a gold star for you.
I collected my windows only to find the plonkers made them to open sideways, so they had to remake them.
I found a great source of 7 laminate plywood, far eastern, good both faces, no voids and £6 a sheet CHEAPER than the next best price I found.

Ive bought the battery out of an electric forklift which will be more than enough capacity for my needs. I also had a visit to Sterling Power and chatted to Charles Stirling who explained the whole charging/inverting procedure, and ive purchased the kit needed at a great price from Marine Mart.

To all you people who have spent an age in the maternity hospital waiting for the birth, I not only sympathise but I empathise with you.