Summer

So much has happened since I last updated this site and it is hard to know where to start. It has been a summer of highs and lows and very little work on the boat. If you’ve logged on eager for spit and sawdust, tales of finely honed blades whisking wafer thin shavings from fine timber you’re going to be disappointed, but I hope you’ll indulge me as I spill a few of the aches, the pains, the losses and gains and the joys on to these pages.

Aches and Pains

My mother died unexpectedly after a short but beastly illness (when is cancer ever otherwise?) and her going has left a void that I’m reminded of daily. I think of her when I see larch trees, or an old fishing boat, or taste a particularly good apple. I think of her when I drive to work and I think of her on my return, I hear her voice agreeing that the sunrise really is beautiful today, or that there can be nothing more sweet than a blackbird’s song in the twilight. She has coloured my view of the world my whole life, and my actions are filtered through memories of her. Those memories are not sad though, more an acknowledgement of her passing and of how much she meant. An acceptance that everything fades and even the most stalwart succumb. During her illness I carved that sign for the woods I’d been promising her for months and after she was gone I filled her Shepherd’s Hut with her books on gardening, woodland, and fruit growing. It’s a place to sit and contemplate, as it was always intended to be, though sadly mum never got to sit there.

I fixed the water pump that is nearly as old as me and connected it to the pond in the top field. Though she’ll never use it to draw water for the greenhouse I know mum would be pleased that it’s still going strong.

Filling the water butt every weekend was how we earned our pocket money back in the ‘good old’ days…. that and keeping the compost emptied, the rubbish burnt (yes I know, but we didn’t know about global warming then) feeding the chickens, collecting the eggs, letting the geese out, getting chased by the geese, oh yes, and getting in a couple of barrow loads of wood for the Rayburn…. kids today, don’t know they’re born!

They say death, divorce and moving house are the three most stressful things in life…. so, not content with just one out of three, and fingers crossed divorce is not on the horizon, we moved house, and despite swearing in the past, to never, ever move ourselves again… we decided to eschew the tea guzzling, box humping services of the removal firm we last moved with, and do it ourselves, one laborious van load after another! Next time we’re definitely, definitely, no really… definitely, not moving ourselves.

Losses and Gains

There was a little time for making, though not all of it related to ‘the big project’.

The stitching on my Leatherman sheath finally lost its battle with gravity, but the speedy stitcher was pressed into service for the first time and proved easily up to the task. Youngest son had a ‘beach’ party so of course we had to make a surf board. I discovered the blacksmith (who I’ve praised in previous posts) had not been particularly careful about replicating the profile of the steel frames for Flamingo when repairing them. Annoying given how expensive his services were and though I managed to heat and bend one into shape on a makeshift anvil, the first blow of the hammer on the next one saw it practically fall apart! Better to find out now than mid ocean I suppose, but I now have to mark up templates for each one and take them back to be repaired properly.

The Joys

We took a much needed break and joined friends for a sailing trip in France where much Rosé was earned (those Atlantic swells are tiresome!) and consumed. There was time for reflection at Weir Cottage with some home brewed cider. The absence of the second glass of cider is a reflection of my wife’s rather more discerning palette.

 

August saw the family embark on a fantastic Canoe trip across Scotland along the Great Glen. Armed with tents, stoves, waterproofs and a lifetime’s supply of snacks (consumed in three days flat) ten hardy comrades paddled and portaged and poohed in a hole, cooked on a campfire, surfed waves and swam in Loch Lochy, we marvelled at mirrored Lochs in the sunset, trembled at crashing waves and high winds the next day, we drank water from mountain streams, explored castles and shipwrecks, lathered ourselves in anti midge creams, potions and lotions and generally had a wet and wonderful time!

Despite the wet July, with Weir Cottage on the market, the summer saw a lot of mowing activity and the big power scythe had to be pressed into service to tame the long grass in the orchard. Wet summers, curious dogs and nervous frogs, this beauty had a narrow escape! The frog, not Chester…. though of course he is beautiful in his own special, hairy, Highland, slightly smelly way.

We welcomed a new member of the family. Indy is a Spankie, the product of an unplanned union between a Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie) and a Springer Spaniel! We’ve no idea what she’ll turn out like  but she’s absolutely gorgeous.

Indigo

So a mixed summer, hopefully there will be more boat restoration to report on soon, ’til then keep your blades sharp and your eyes on the dream.

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Spring

So suddenly it’s spring and whole garden is a riot of blossom, and birds feverishly nest building.

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the garden is blooming

The bank, vestigial remains of the millpond’s retaining dam is covered in milkmaids this year, as is the orchard and I’ve decided not to mow under the fruit trees until autumn thus releasing about two hours a week from mowing servitude to spend on boat building! In truth, I’m going to need every hour I can get as I have provisionally signed up for a sailing event next August! It’s the Old Gaffers Association 55th Anniversary and there is a regatta in Cowes on the Isle Of Wight. It is an improbable time frame but not impossible…..maybe. 🙂

A Shepherd’s Hut has arrived

The apple blossom in the top orchard is beautiful, notice the crab apple beyond the Shepherd’s Hut…. a Shepherd’s Hut!? I hear you exclaim, yes, mother has splashed out on a little wheeled retreat to retreat to or to simply sit and contemplate whatever it is mothers sit and contemplate when they’re not pruning, planting, watering and weeding. It took several hours of sweaty labour to get it from the road to its resting place as it weighs about 1.5 tons!

a trusty old bottle jack helped the levelling task

Another few hours of fossicking about underneath the chassis with an old bottle jack that, remembering the cobwebby, cedarwood garage of my childhood, I realised is older than me and still going strong, and the hut is level (ish)

Deer protection on some new fruit trees.

For some reason despite the plentiful supply of grazing, the local deer seem rather partial to young fruit tree bark. Something to do with the high sugar content I think. A bit of work with some old sheep wire and they are hopefully safe from the depredations of the rascally ruminants.

 

Crikey! I hear you mutter, I though this blog was about boatbuilding not a bucolic ramble through an East Sussex Orchard! Ok, so the warm spring weather and some time off over Easter meant some actual honest to goodness boat restoration got done! Here is (hopefully) the last laminated frame under construction.

the ‘last’ laminated frame underway

Having lovingly honed all my edged tools it was almost painful to plane the glue soaked wood, ‘poxy resin takes the edge off a blade very quickly!

Blunting my freshly sharpened plane on ‘poxy resin

I’ve long been a convert to the church of hardpoint saws, they last so long if you take care to avoid nails and screws and they are so sharp and so (relatively) cheap it seemed nonsensical to spend time hand sharpening a traditional saw. That was until I bought an old carpenters tool box at a car boot sale. £12 bought me a nice old box with quite a few old tools still in it. I felt almost embarrassed to be walking away with such riches for so little, but the seller seemed more than happy. Anyway, remembering that one of the saws was a fairly coarse one, and that in a recent spell of displacement activity I had sharpened it, I got it out and ripped (quite literally) through this sawn frame to trim it down to the correct thickness. I’m now an evangelical convert to the church of the traditional sawyer and next time I’m faced with a tricky task on the boat I shall procrastinate and spend some time sharpening the other two saws (one fine, one medium)

It’s a real pleasure owning a traditional tool chest, I probably spend too much time working out the best order to store the tools and it’s almost impossible to pick up once it’s full, (in fact I’ve adapted an old wheelbarrow to transport it from the house to the boat to save my back) but there’s something about it, I feel some sort of connection to all the carpenters who’ve used similar chests, or even this very one. It has also made me more fussy about what tools I put in it. I’m using the William Morris test, it either has to be beautiful, or useful, otherwise it is consigned to the ‘junk’ tool bag. I’ve become so fond of it I’ve even sanded off the more obvious paint splatters (whilst carefully preserving it’s patina of age and authenticity of course) and given it a coat of wax!

Ripping down a sawn frame with a proper saw.
Planing the sawn frame is sooo much nicer than fighting through the glue of the laminated one.

The sunshine and warm weather has meant more time up at the boat and this little job patching in a hole in the keelson was satisfactorily knocked off the to do list.

preparing to fill in a rotten bit of keel
Glued and screwed

Next on the list is getting hold of some Polysulphide Bedding Compound to bed the frames in without breaking the bank, and working out how to repair some of the oversize bolt holes. I’m thinking some sort of router jig…..roll on Summer!

Autumn

Very little work on Flamingo has been done since my last post 😦 it’s a common thread running through this blog…  Looking back, instead of woodworking, boatbuilding and tool making there has been lots of displacement activity like parties, picnics, sailing and such. …. surprisingly few rhino though…. I’ve always maintained, no blog is really complete with a couple of these leathery skinned, quadrupeds so here are some rhino to redress the balance.

Putting the Rhino to bed with a last snack.
Putting the Rhino to bed with a last snack.

These two handsome beasts are being cared for as part of an endangered species breeding progamme at Manor Wildlife Park in Wales where we went for a half term holiday. Tilly even got to put Sudocrem on their sore bits!

Along with trips to Wales there have been lovely autumn walks

beautiful sunny autumn walk

Gathering wood for the winter.

Splitting logs is so satisfying

Making baseball bats for ‘The Purge’ Halloween costume.

Baseball bat making on the pole lathe

Harvesting apples

Apples ready to go to be pressed

In amongst this veritable cornucopia of displacement activity there have been a few, a very few boat relevant jobs. I finally managed to gather together all my bladed tools to take to father’s workshop to use his water cooled grindstone. All chisels, planes, spoke shaves etc need their bevel regrinding at some point and mine had been crying out for some attention for far too long.

Smoothing plane dismantled for de-rusting, sharpening and cleaning

Once I started sharpening I realised just how the damp atmosphere down in our misty little frost pocket has rusted my tools, so both planes were stripped down cleaned up and put back together. I spent hours sharpening and fettling and there’s still all the carving chisels to do!

It was lovely to be in a proper workshop with all the right tools in all the right places like a One Republic lyric.

Knocking out the bronze bolts that hold the steel floors in was harder than I thought as they seem to have been bonded in with some super sticky gloop. Consequently I got a bit impatient and over enthusiastic with a hammer rather than a more forgiving mallet…. the result was a whole set of bolts with crushed threads. Very poor!

 

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Bronze bolts sadly misshapen after my over eager bashing

Luckily my father’s godfather Kenneth was thoughtful enough in 1959 to give him a set of BSW taps and dies… perhaps not with this exact job in mind but nevertheless, a wise, thoughtful and exemplary godfather.

Taps and Die
Kenneth’s gift.
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Cunning bolt holder

So with a bit of cutting fluid and a lot of care the threads were re-cut and the day saved. Helped along by this little gift that, in my absence, like a little workshop pixie, father made to assist better gripping.

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side view of bolt gripping gizmo

I said it before and I’ll doubtless bang on about it until I get my own workshop…. it’s so good having all the tools and a proper space to work in.

No Autumn would be complete without a trip to ‘the Ladybird tree’. These tiny little bugs hunker down for the winter in the cracks and crevices of an old tree in the woods near us and always signify the start of winter for me.

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the Ladybird tree

A trip to Bristol and a walk around the harbour was inspirational.

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A pilot cutter underway at Underfalls Yard Bristol

As was a visit to Iron Wharf in Faversham

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A lovely lady waiting to be rescued
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Lengthening shadows and golden hues

So that was Autumn and now we’re through the festive season, out the other side and looking forward to spring, but with a house move in the pipeline I doubt the pace of work on Flamingo will be any faster, but she’s safe enough under her tarp until the days are longer and outside work more inviting…

Compression

The summer seems to have slipped away in a haze of holidays and lawn mowing, but without much progress on Flamingo, and now, as we sink slowly into what Keats may have called the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but in our dark little valley is a time of mould and mildewed futility, I am slightly regretting the lost time. Still, the weekend saw me tackle a job that has been on my mind for a while, namely the engine. It is an almost new Beta Marine 14 that has spent the last two years languishing in the shed and before that a year or so in Peter Gregson’s (www.woodenships.co.uk) cellar. I was concerned that the damp and cold of yet another winter without starting would be having a detrimental effect. A quick query to ybw Forum and an email to Beta Marine reinforced this fear and I quickly knocked up a frame for it to stand on. Apparently turning it over by hand once or twice a month will be enough to keep it lubricated and moving freely.

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Rustic, but functional.

Then, realising that no matter how much gym time I put in, lifting 90kg of engine on my own was not going to happen I made a sturdy goal post out of the timber salvaged from the doomed boat shelter and using an ebay purchased chain hoist, hauled the beast into the air.

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I really need a bigger shed

Obviously I carefully measured the distance, calculated the stretch in the rope, the height of the cross beam, the access for the frame and got it dead right. OK I guessed it all and luckily it worked… just.

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With only a couple of links left, the engine was just high enough to slide the frame under!

With the engine safely stored the right way up I tried turning it over by pulling the fan belt, no joy, using a spanner, still no joy. Back to email and ybw Forum for more advice (I really am a novice when it comes to engines) and the consensus is good compression is stopping me. “Simply” remove or loosen the injectors…. so next weekend if I get a chance I’ll see if I can discover the whereabouts of the injectors…

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Upright, safe, but uncooperative.

After a week resting the right way up the issue has solved itself! I can now, with only a modicum of difficulty, turn the engine over. Back to working with something I understand, wood.

Having bought some more timber from Wealden Oak  a great timber yard where there are mountains of off cuts that languish, valueless until someone like me turns up, whereupon, after a quick look up and down to assess the cut of my jib/size of my wallet and the barest hint of measuring, the proprietor declared; “£40”. I ‘d like to say I haggled him down mercilessly like a Berber in a Moroccan Carpet shop, but I probably just looked confused and a little resigned.  He looked me up and down again and, perhaps noticing my frayed collar and dire need of a hair cut, randomly tapped his calculator again and said, “my mistake, £30”.

Back at the workshop I cut out the remaining sections of frames, then it was back to the boat to remove more screws from the old frames. They look in reasonable condition and though I might feel happier replacing them with new ones, the cost of bronze screws might be prohibitive!

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there are 100+ screws in various states that probably should be replaced…£££! not forgetting the 60+ Bronze coach bolts! 😦

Meanwhile the Oxalic Acid I bought to remove some stains from the cabin trunk has been put to a different use; lighting this kitchen table. It will always be a knotty pine table but after scraping off the accumulated stains of colouring pens, curry, red wine and oil, and a couple of treatments of acid it lost its ‘orange’ hue.

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the kitchen table mid treatment

So not a very boat busy summer really, time seems to have compressed it into the blink of an eye, the mornings are dark now on my way to work and the evenings dark on my way back. Looking on the bright side the sky was alight with a sliver of moon and millions of stars this morning, lack of light pollution yet another advantage of living out here in the sticks. Hopefully now the garden is making less demands on my time I’ll get more done. Of course, though there is always something higher up the list of priorities, not all of it is unwelcome…like some actual sailing!

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A lovely weekend on Moonshine Blues

Distractions

Distractions come thick and fast, half term has been and gone but not without some progress being made.

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Washboards fitted
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Unsightly holes left by the door hinges
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Fillets of teak glued in.
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Planed and sanded flush.
Screw holes filled with teak grain plugs
Screw holes filled with teak grain plugs
Distractions

Regular readers (oh alright who am I kidding, reader), may remember this picture from a previous post.

Lost its head
the sad demise of the first tool I ever made…. back in 1981

I broke my old mallet a while ago and to split a piece of Oak to make a the head of a replacement it I needed a…. well a mallet…..with what shall I hit it dear Liza dear Liza? Luckily as a man who firmly believes you can’t have too many tools, I have another rather cumbersome mallet that is great for hitting things really hard but a bit weighty and awkward for lighter tasks.

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An off cut from the Oak Barn, split with mallet and hatchet

Next step make the lump square, then octagonal. At this stage it reminded me of a croquet mallet and I decided to leave it that shape.

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Roughing the lump of oak into an octagon

There is a limit to how much time I want to spend planing a knotty bit of oak so a quick trip to father’s workshop saw it sawn to a more even shape and sanded on the disc sander. Next a handle; an old broken spade handle provided the raw material and after a lot of work with the spokeshave I had a lovely ash handle. It’s actually very therapeutic with a sharp blade and clear idea of the shape you want, repetitive but really satisfying.

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Hole drilled and handle roughed out.

A small saw cut in the end of the handle and an oak wedge to fix it in place, more spoke shaving and hefting it to feel how it handled, (pun!) and job done.

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Handle and Head united

The spokeshave on the right has a rounded sole, it’s fiddly to get the blade just right with only very crude adjustment but once it is set up it’s a great little tool.

A lick of tung oil, (another one!) and here’s the finished article.

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New Mallet

My children will bear testament as to how strangely excited and proud I am of this simple tool, some people might think 4 or 5 hours making something you can buy at your local DIY merchant for £6 is a foolish way to spend your time, but I’m not so sure. I spend my days designing studio sets for television, these transient structures only function is to look good, it really doesn’t matter how it is made, or what it’s made of, as long as it looks ok on camera and lasts a season. Getting from drawing board (Mac) to workshop, to studio, is a long, drawn out, torturous process of budget constraints, high level sign off, massaging senior egos and compromising the concept. By contrast the only design that went into this was subliminal, the materials are reused, there is no budget and its form is almost entirely dictated by its function. So I think this probably is a worthwhile use of my time and hopefully this one will last as long as its predecessor (33 years)

 

Sandboats, Washboards, Wildlife and Steam.

Spring brings longer, lighter, sunnier days, perfect for boat restorers…. also perfect for the garden to burst into life requiring boat restorers to spend rather a lot of their time mowing, strimming, clipping and digging instead of sanding, scraping, sawing and scarfing. Perfect too, for the sweet siren call of a day at the seaside to take precedence over Daddy’s shipwreck.

A different kind of Boatbuilding

A school sandcastle competition (none of that book learning rubbish at The Wells School) saw us building the traditional RR sand boat. Not that we’re competitive but, as the boys like to remind me. “if we’re in it we win it” We didn’t hang around, Canute like, to see the tide come in but with seashell styling like that, surely it would be unsinkable?

Building on the beach
Boat Building on the beach
Traditional RR sand boat. Cowabunga!
Traditional RR sand boat. Cowabunga!

Nature’s Bounty

The garden, woods and meadow really are bursting with new growth, some things I’ve never noticed before, like these flowers on a Spruce. It’s absolutely laden with them!

Spruce trees laden with flowers
Spruce trees laden with flowers

With a cornucopia of fresh food bursting from the ground you have to wonder why the mice in the shed felt it worthwhile eating the lid of this Tung Oil Tin….

There are some very hungry mice with very strange appetites
There are some very hungry mice with very strange appetites

and it’s not like there is a shortage of hedges and trees down here, but if you leave anything in one place for a few minutes someone has either eaten it, or moved in! There are birds nests in camping chairs in the barn, a very large mouse (we say ‘large mouse’ because we don’t like to use the R word) has taken up residence in the anchor chain box, there are moths in the awning, a queen wasp starting her paper home by the bilge pump and a very unwelcome guest in the shape of a large hornet who burst out angrily as I whipped the cover off! Not to mention an enterprising wren (?) who has turned this heaving line into a mossy des res.

a heaving line being put to a rather different use
a heaving line being put to a rather different use

Some visitors are more welcome than others. This pretty Brimstone moth looked beautiful against the woodwork.

A pretty visitor

A slow-worm in the nearby compost is pretty too but in a slightly creepy way…

the compost heap provides a nice warm refuge for these slightly creepy legless lizards
the compost heap provides a nice warm refuge for these slightly creepy legless lizards

Back to the Boat

While I’m marvelling at nature’s bounty, someone has been busy in the workshop. Father’s washboards are on board and ready to fit. Very smart!

Father's washboards ready for fitting.
Father’s washboards ready for fitting.

Before the washboards can be fitted I have to fit these battens or runners. The previous owner had cut the originals off and hung some rather shoddy doors instead of washboards. tsk! tsk! So unseamanlike…. 🙂 My workmate fits neatly on the cockpit floor so I can avoid too much up and downage on the ladder. For those of you imagining a colleague or friend supine on the deck, by work mate I mean one of those portable work benches so beloved of the DIY enthusiast. It’s tempting to just sit in the sun soaking up the atmosphere and imagining I’m riding at anchor in some idyllic bay, the lap of the waves, the clink of a beer glass… of course there’s no time for that, in the life of a busy boat restorer…. obviously!

Washboard runners ready to fit
Washboard runners ready to fit

Teak seems to blunt the plane fairly swiftly, requiring frequent trips to the sharpening station. I know some purists might say using a guide is cheating….. but it does make achieving a nice consistent bevel much easier. I make sure my whetstone is a wet stone (the water lubricates and prevents clogging) by keeping it in a tupperware filled with water.

Keeping the blade honed
Keeping the blade honed
Meanwhile, outside the cosy cockpit….

pottering about by the keel I decided to investigate (for investigate, read stab) this dodgy looking timber…. the knife slid deep into  the wood worryingly easily. Not quite like a hot axe through butter but definitely not right.

should it be this easy to stick a knife in?
should it be this easy to stick a knife in?

Soon chunks of rotten wood (it looks like Elm) were being scraped/falling out. I fetched a chisel and mallet and set about chopping it out properly. It only seems to extend about a foot (that’s 304.8mm Toby) laterally and about 3 inches (76.2mm) deep, but I’ll probably cut out more just to be sure.

mmmm this doesn’t look good

The last frame I laminated took a little persuading to get the laminates to bend around the jig so a home made steamer had to be made…. at home….. thus neatly explaining the term…. anyway moving on.

Simply take, a bit of old drain pipe, an old kettle with no spout, a paraffin stove, a bit of scrap ply and a small child, preferably your own but if not, do ask the owners permission. People can be very odd about bloodshed and bruising when it comes to their little darlings. It’s a lesson learned I say, and after all they’ve got nine more fingers… unless they’ve visited my workshop before… in which case they should know better, and…

Tilly helping make a steamer
Tilly helping make a steamer

Steel pipe would have been better as the plastic developed quite a droop before the oak was sufficiently ‘cooked’ but it worked.

The Steaming in progress
The Steaming in progress

It’s a bit distracting being  surrounded by all this burgeoning plant and animal life, but I’m looking forward to next weekend and shaving a couple of millimetres off the Wash boards to fit them and maybe scavenging for the last bits of oak I need to finish the frames…. maybe some more soaking up the sun and picturing Flamingo finished who knows 🙂

Keel Bolts, Cupcakes, Crystals and Kant

So it has been a while since I put pen to paper, (or finger to keyboard), and updated this blog. No excuse really, just life getting in the way and lack of funds…. who knew glue could be so expensive!? Anyway, there has finally been some progress, prompted in part, by my eldest who apparently looks forward to his father’s, loosely boat restoration based ramblings and has commented on the dry spell.

Glue purchased, laminating jig thoroughly tested, preparation table prepared, sunny day….. there really were no more excuses.

Cling film to stop the glue bonding to the jig
Cling film to stop the glue bonding to the jig
All ready for gluing
All ready for gluing

It was quite hard to find any information about how much filler powder to use and consequently the first mixture was a bit thick.

Glued up and clamped up
Glued up and clamped up

Quite tricky getting enough pressure to create the shape but not so much as to force all the glue out. It was so cold that I didn’t dare un-clamp it the next day, so it languishes in this state ’til next weekend.

Meanwhile, despite working in TV, I didn’t have “one I prepared earlier” with which to show you the next step, so I looked at my ‘to do’ list and thought I’d attempt a keel bolt extraction. Like a tooth extraction, I have not been eagerly anticipating this job. It has hung in the back of my mind like a bad smell in the back of a fridge. You know you should investigate it but really don’t want to find that ‘way past it’s use by’ product. All the advice I have gleaned from forums and websites says inspect your keel bolts regularly. However much of a pain it might be, it’s not going to be as painful as the keel falling off in the middle of a storm, or a smiling joint allowing water ingress and the inevitable rot.

Flamingo is up on blocks, and if I’d thought this far ahead I’d have made them higher. Instead I had to dig a couple of holes in order to drive the bolts out from inside the boat.

Holes dug to receive the keel bolts
Holes dug to receive the keel bolts
Undo the nut, drive the bolt out..... simples!
Undo the nut, drive the bolt out….. simples!
The 'wet' end of the bolt
The ‘wet’ end of the bolt appearing

The nuts came off remarkably easily, and using a lump of wood to prevent damaging the thread, the bolt was driven out reasonably quickly. With bated breath I clambered out of the hull to peer under the keel and see what condition it was in.

The sight that greeted me was of the shiny bronze shaft of a keel bolt looking as good as the day it was made, as my father might comment, ‘my cup runneth over’ or indeed, ‘let joy be unconfined!’

Shiny bronze bolt
Shiny bronze bolt

I was sorely tempted to simply drive it back up and leave it at that but remembering one of the worst areas for corrosion is the join between keel and hull I decided, for piece of mind, to take it right out.

500mm Bronze Keel Bolt
500mm Bronze Keel Bolt

A quick clean with parrafin, (thanks be to Brian) and here it is. Apparently the discolouration is nothing to worry about (thank you Vyv (engineer33)) and there is no pitting or thinning at all. I don’t know if these are original bolts or whether they are replacements. If original they have done fantastically well to survive 86 years in such a hostile environment. Driving out two more showed them to be in much the same pristine condition, so a job that could have ended in tears and the expense of bespoke made replacements has gone better than I could have hoped.

But where are the cupcakes and crystals?

I hear you ask…. or was it a random title chosen for it’s alliterative value with little or no basis in reality? Life intervenes in boat restorers dreams and crystals and cupcakes are just some of the distractions.

Breakfast Cupcakes
Luke’s Breakfast Cupcakes

Sadly I’d already eaten, but Luke made these delicious looking breakfast cupcakes; roll some bread flat, line a muffin tin with it, line that with bacon, crack in an egg and sprinkle with cheese. cook in the oven ’til it’s done. Top (hindsight) tip from Luke….. GREASE THE TINS!

Meanwhile, nearby ….. Tilly is growing crystals in a beautiful shade of blue, and Joe is sitting at the kitchen table writing an essay in which he argues whether God’s perfection is proof of his existence or proof that he only exists in our imagination…. eat yer heart out Kant.

Crystals
Crystals

Not wishing you to get the idea that all is sunshine and roses here, this worrying photo shows a large slice of lead peeling away from the keel! I’m hoping to find this is perfectly normal, like a snake sloughing away an old skin, but I fear that is just wishful thinking and this is more like the drooping ear of a dog who has done something so nasty on the carpet it’s going to ruin your day.

Worrying delaminating Lead Keel
Worrying delaminating Lead Keel

’til next time.

Wet Weekend for a Dry Run

It’s been blowing a hoolie all weekend with plenty of rain too, so it was a perfect opportunity to work under cover. The laminating jig is finally finished, and a dry run clamping the Oak laminates produced a reasonably satisfactory result, so no chance to use my, ‘the jig is up’ gag that I’ve been trying to shoe horn into this blog. 🙂

The curving ranks of little Clamp Clones awaiting my bidding
The curving ranks of little Clamp Clones awaiting my bidding
Clamp the template and push the clamps up to it.
Clamp the template and push the clamps up to it.
Laminates ready to clamp
Laminates ready to clamp
Softly softly catchee monkey
Softly softly catchee monkey
Some ominous creaking at this point.
Some ominous creaking at this point.
Home and dry!
Home and dry!
Socket Wrench and wing nut gripper.
Socket Wrench and wing nut gripper to ease the burden on my tired old fingers.

Of course the whole process will be fraught with difficulty once there is glue sloshing about all over it and the jig may not just be ‘up’ it may be stratospheric! 🙂

Goblins, Sawing, and Getting Jiggy

I sent a whole day sawing Oak last Friday, the noise grinds you down a bit but the smell is fantastic! Sawing great lumps of Oak into 5mm thick slats creates a startling amount of sawdust, very expensive sawdust, still I can’t see another way round it. The beast of a saw at my father’s workshop has a very sharp new blade with a 3mm kerf which means to get 70mm of laminated beam I need around 125mm to start with.

The startling amount of sawdust settled on an equally startling amount of wine storage, (father has his priorities well sorted) which meant about an hour of sweeping and vacuuming at the end of the day.

The Oak started the day like this….

IMG_0926

Once it was all sawn, this is what I was left with…

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I hadn’t really thought through the amount of wastage so it will be back to the sawmill at some point to get some more. Meanwhile I’ve ordered some mild steel angle cut into 50mm lengths, from the The Metal Store, some bolts washers and wing nuts it’s time to make the jig!

time passes…..

Snow falls and 9 year old daughters must be appeased with snow man making.

Snowman or Snowgoblin?
Snowman or Snowgoblin?

He came out a little more martial then we were expecting with his teasel trident and ice shield. He lasted almost a week, looking more like a small white duck towards the end but still clinging on to ‘life’.

Eldest son, (usefully training to be an engineer) was cajoled into getting his hands dirty filing off burrs, and then the slightly warmer, inside by the fire, but rather tedious marking out. Now if I can just persuade son #2 and #3 to study Navigation and Sail Making we could have the makings of a pretty good team!

Filing of the burrs with Toby
Filing off the burrs with Toby

Back to the leaky workshop and before drilling 84 holes in 28 bits of steel angle, first get the trusty old drill working. After several years of neglect sitting under a leak in the roof, its more rusty than trusty and the belt shredded within moments. New belt from Lenco Motors, a squirt of oil, and the removal of some spacers to get the belt to fit, soon had it up and running.

Trusty old Drill
Rusty but Trusty Old Drill

Next job, make a jig…. yes I’m making a jig to make clamps for a jig… to make frames for the boat. It does seem a bit of a long winded process as my wife sweetly pointed out.

The Drilling Jig in use
The Drilling Jig in use

The conversation went something like this;

“What are these bits you’re making, dearest heart?”

“They’re clamps, my own sweet darling”

“Why, wherever do they go on the boat, you clever man?”

“Well my love, they don’t actually go on the boat…. they are more like tools… to make bits… that do go on the boat…”

“What?! You mean you’re spending all this time and money making things that aren’t even part of the boat?!” (thinks; “Dear lord what have I done to deserve this nincompoop?”)

Meanwhile, back in the cold and damp, a happy day is spent drilling, next stage, wooden pads.

Clamps ready for the next stage
Clamps ready for the next stage

Some leftover Walnut worktop seems a bit extravagant for clamps but its too small for any other use so…

Leftover Walnut worktop cut into blocks and marked up ready for drilling
Leftover Walnut worktop cut into blocks and marked up ready for drilling
Screwed onto the steel angles
Screwed onto the steel angles
Rounded off and squared up...
Rounded off and squared up… does that make any sense at all?

The advantage of a bench disc sander is getting everything nice and square.

Finally! The finished clamps.
Finally! The finished clamps.

Next up, make the bed which might look something like this…

Drawing for the frame laminating jig
Drawing for the frame laminating jig

I’m sure this project is making very slow progress for anyone reading it, (don’t kid yourself man, there’s no one out there) but I’m starting to feel like things are moving forward. 🙂

Paraffin, Presents and goodbye Shipwreck

So here we are, a few days in to 2016 and I’d like to have something more momentous to report other than the strong winds, tail end of storm Dave, Eva or Frank or whoever, which ripped the tarpaulin off the frame requiring a morning spent wrestling it back on. But the fact is, for the last month there’s  been nothing more than some ineffectual pottering, inconsequential scraping, untimely stripping, and a morsel of polishing, in fact anything that puts off the moment of biting the bullet and actually starting to laminate frames. “It’s the weather.” I tell myself as another drip finds its way down my collar. “I need a workshop” I mutter as I squelch about in the mud. However, Christmas spending has depleted the workshop building pot to non existence so work will have to continue on a weather permitting basis.

On a more positive note 25 litres of paraffin have found their way into my possession (thank you Brian!) and with this seemingly inexhaustible supply I fired up the old blow torch for some nice warm paint stripping.

Paraffin Blow Torch getting scarily hot
Paraffin Blow Torch getting scarily hot

It’s a bit of a fiddle getting it fired up and it’s heavier than a gas one but there is something satisfying about a tool that’s on its third generation and it certainly keeps you warm!

More paint stripping...
More paint stripping…

It took a couple of hours to get to this stage (below) and there is still many hours of picking, scratching, scraping and sanding to go to get all trace of paint off…. where are my boys when I need them?

Lesson learned here is never paint wood if you might ever want it unpainted!
Lesson learned here is never paint wood if you might ever want it unpainted!

In these dark winter days the interior of Flamingo’s cabin is dim at best. Luckily my lovely wife bought me this old brass lamp for Christmas, with half a dozen more like this I may even be able to read a chart in there….

Despite much rubbing, no boat building genie appeared...
Despite much rubbing, no boat building genie appeared…

The arrival of the paraffin lamp prompted the removal of the nasty lighting and wiring, legacy of a previous owner.

Shoddy cabling...
Shoddy cabling…
Lights and wiring stripped out
Lights and wiring stripped out and all looking much cleaner.

Realising the little lamp was not giving quite the output required for working, I filled up and fired up an old pressure lamp. It adds heat and light in about equal measure and if I had portholes and wash boards in, might have actually made Flamingo, dare I say….. cosy!

Faithful old pressure lamp kicking out the heat
Faithful old pressure lamp kicking out the heat

The extreme weather continued and days of rain culminated in the stream by the house rising about 1.5m in a few hours bringing it perilously close to the house. Remarkably an hour or so after the rain stopped the water level dropped back down to more normal winter levels. Still I think some sand bags might be a wise precaution.

This being the time of year for promises and plans I am adding another resolution to the ‘no alcohol during the week’ one that ‘we’ have decided on. I have shortened and prioritised the mahusive Schedule of Works from September last year, into a smaller, still daunting, but hopefully achievable list of jobs for 2016. I wont bore you with the details, but if I can complete it, I will have a watertight, seaworthy hull before the year is out and Tilly will no longer be able to refer to this project as ‘Daddy’s Shipwreck’.

’til next time…

 

The Tracks of her Years

Scraping and sanding the varnished cockpit coaming reveals repairs and reinforcements, witness to the passage of time and hard use of the past 85 years. Far from detracting from the look of the boat I rather like them, imaging the events in the past that led to these scars brings her history to life. Was it a storm straining on the cleat that split the teak, did the boom get dropped on it, or was it some clumsy oaf getting too enthusiastic with a winch handle?

Coaming Repairs
Coaming repairs bear witness to the past.

At the stern is a Tiller Comb, a long piece of timber with holes for pegs that are used to trap the tiller on a given tack, a kind of auto pilot if you like. It cleaned up rather well… #2 Son did sterling work with the hot air gun and scraper, well done Joe.

 

Tiller Comb and Cockpit Coaming all sanded and lovely.
Tiller Comb and Cockpit Coaming all sanded and lovely.

Sunday morning dawned frosty and blue and having treated ourselves to a sausage and egg onion bagel I left Tilly in the warm embrace of ‘USA’s Cutest Kittens’ or some such nonsense and ventured out for more sanding and musings on the tracks of Flamingo’s passing years. The muddy path to the field had tracks of a different kind, this part of East Sussex has a burgeoning population of deer and they are rather partial to apple trees, much to mother’s despair. Venison for Christmas?

Tracks of another kind show the orchard had some unwelcome visitors in the night
Tracks of another kind show the orchard had some unwelcome visitors in the night

The cold weather and the shorter days have prompted me to set up this beauty. A cast off from work, the lamp blasts the bench with light and a bonus warmth too! I think some sort of spigot clamp would work better than the tripod though, as it eats up a rather large amount of floor space.

Improved lighting in the workshop
Improved lighting in the workshop

Though it is lighter now, the old workshop is still gently rotting from the ground up, the pillar drill is slowly disappearing into the floor and the roof leaks seem to be breeding, so I’ve cleared a space around the shed by the boat to build a new one….

IMG_0844

Meanwhile, in a much smarter workshop, the Bosun has been beavering away making some lovely teak washboards.

Flamingo washboards. 19 Oct 2015
Washboards nearly ready for fitting.

Can’t wait to get them fitted and give him his next project…… saloon table maybe? Teak grating for the cockpit….? Hand rails for the coach roof….

 

Late Post

I found this post from Spring lurking in my drafts… so here it is.

A beautiful sunny day and no school run = lots achieved on Flamingo. The mast step is finally finished and I scale the ladder with some trepidation partly due to the massive lump of English Oak on my shoulder and the wobbliness of the ladder but mainly because I have spent a considerable amount of time and effort to get to this stage and this will be the first time I see whether it fits. It doesn’t. The mismatched bolts it has to slide over, project from the keel at jaunty angles – mocking me. Undeterred, a bit of work with mallet and chisel and a bit of sweat and grazed knuckles… and it’s on! I have to admit to being slightly surprised. My woodworking skills are ok but copying the crumbling original with no square or flat surfaces to use as a datum there was always going to be a hefty dollop of crossed fingers and guesswork in the process.

The old mast step is a crumbling lump
The old mast step is a crumbling lump

Reversing my wobbly progress back down the ladder I applied a generous coat of linseed oil to the Oak. It was a little green when I bought it and sitting out in the sun, wind and rain is drying it a bit too quickly. Hopefully a good soaking of oil will help slow the seasoning down a little.

Having mixed up far too much thinned down linseed oil I cast my eye around for anything else that might also be suffering  from Mother Nature’s affections. The rudder, a huge laminated slab of teak was looking a little dry… its not now. 🙂

I spent some time last weekend making some trestles to store the spars. They were languishing under the boat exposed to the elements that the flash coat of varnish was fast losing the battle with. They are now more convenient to access and better supported to limit any unwanted bend in the mast. Lots of sanding and a large jar of thinned down oil later and the Mast, Boom, and Gaff are looking very nice and all tucked up under a roll of DPM to give them some protection. Whilst cursing nature’s effect on my wood, I am of course aware, that I’m working whilst standing in an orchard surrounded by apple blossom and primroses, bumble bees lumbering through the periwinkles, a ubiquitous robin chirping nearby and the rat tat tat tat of a woodpecker down by the stream. So I guess, given the entertainment she’s laid on, I’ll forgive her the depredations.

Primroses and Periwinkles in the spring sunshine
Primroses and Periwinkles in the spring sunshine

 

Last Days of Summer

Thursday dawned warm and sunny and my bonus four day weekend (one day all weekends will be made this way)  looked like being a fruitful one. Still putting off the making of frames, (my current excuse being I need more workshop space to lay out the laminates) I carried on stripping varnish and sanding the sides of the coachroof. I’ve invested in velcro backed rolls of sandpaper and what a difference! Gone the frustration of trying to clamp reluctant 80 grit into poorly designed clips that ping open at the slightest provocation. Substitute instead, a stack of pre cut sheets ready to be popped on in seconds. Of course the extra time sanding has had a negative effect on my back muscles but every silver lining has a cloud.

More sanding
More sanding
Some nasty black stuff has been used to fill the cracks...:(
Some nasty black stuff has been used to fill the cracks…:(

The thought occurs, as I curse the orbital sander marking a clattering trail of little dents into the deck, that some sort of rubber edged sander would be a good invention. Yes yes I know, It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools but it is really hard to get right up to the edge without bashing the adjacent wood…. must try harder.

The pulpit was getting in the way, so off it came. Does she look cleaner without it….?

Pulpit gone.
Pulpit gone.

Maybe a bit, but I wonder whether someone wrestling with the anchor or hanking on a foresail would be glad of its steely galvanised (and galvanising?) embrace, and more than happy to compromise Flamingo’s traditional lines for a bit of safety….. Well, we’re a long way off that point so I’ll not worry too much about it now. It’s many a mickle makes a muckle,  as like as not as makes no nevermind….

Pulpit pushed overboard
Pulpit pushed overboard

The whole site is getting a bit untidy so I spent some time clearing up, sorting out, and stacking the various bits of the interior and then covering them with a tarp.

A surprising amount of stuff when it's all collected
A surprising amount of stuff when it’s all collected
All wrapped up. Chester checks my handiwork. He's a bit sniffy about it but deems it OK
All wrapped up. Chester checks my handiwork. He’s a bit sniffy about it but is probably looking forward to all the mice it will shelter…

Lots of strangely shaped pieces are carefully stashed. These two bits are a puzzle.

Puzzle pieces
Puzzle pieces

I’ve labelled them and obviously while doing so fondly imagined I would remember more about their function….. I’m thinking PA (Port Aft) PM (Port Middle) but of what? I can’t for the life of me think where they’re from.

The leaky workshop continues its frustration, Father’s canvas Ditty Bag has to be dried out and its contents find a new home in a Whiskey tin (thanks Sarah)

It always seems a shame to throw away the tin...
It always seems a shame to throw away the tin…
So I didn't.
So I didn’t.

Meanwhile, Tilly discovered a Fairy shoemaker’s last, proof if it were needed that the little people are all around us…..

Tiny stone last for making tiny shoes upon. Fairies exist. Fact!
Tiny stone last for making tiny shoes upon. Fairies exist. Fact!

Turas math dhuibh.

NOT UNDER OR OVER, JUST WHELMED

There has been very little work over the last few weeks. Life has just got in the way. This weekend will be no different as #1 Son has flown the coop to University so we’re “popping up” to see him. Driving to Manchester with a post birthday party hangover will be stretching the phrase popping up but it will be good to see him in his new digs.

There are, of course, lots of little jobs that could be done in the few moments I have had, but I’m a master of procrastination so the workshop has remained untidied, the storage shed likewise, the grass and brambles grow unchecked while I –  make lists…

Lots of people ask me; “How’s the boat coming along?” and “Nearly finished?” or, “Is there much to do on it” It’s a bit like asking “How are you?”, no one really expects an answer, certainly not a seemingly never ending list of what needs doing…. gabbled out excitedly in some sort of nautical code language. As I talk I see their eyes glazing over and flick from side to side (is there any rescue from this boat bore?)

So for all those who feign interest, for the list makers and procrastinators, here is the ‘To Do’ list. It’s by no means exhaustive, though it will be exhausting.

The endless list
The endless list

I’ve found the trick is, to look at the list, and then add a new item, that way I can feel I’ve achieved something. 🙂 Otherwise I could feel overwhelmed, and lets face it no one likes too much whelm in their life do they?

Helping Hands

A week at home should have allowed for more progress on Flamingo but the weather was so awful it dampened my enthusiasm for outside work and even when I did grit my teeth and get out there it was difficult to see in the dim light below decks. Still there were a few bright moments and wonder of wonders, some helping hands!

Stripping and sanding varnish
Toby sanding the toe rail and Luke removing sealant from the cabin sides.

With some difficulty we removed the portholes so we could better sand and seal the cabin sides. I think at some point in her history the portholes were replaced with these rather too large ones with the result that the coach roof trim overlaps them.

The Portholes were fitted before the coaming.
The Portholes were fitted before the coach roof trim

It wasn’t a problem for the stern most ones but towards the bow where the coach roof tapers, the top screw was completely hidden. I decided to simply chisel out a small half round to access the screw, it was still a real struggle to get them off so the permanent solution will probably be to use the porthole as a template and reshape the trim around it. This will make it much easier to remove them in the future.

All eight portholes removed and labelled.
All eight portholes removed and labelled.

You can still buy these at www.davey.co.uk for £379.81 which means the portholes would cost more than I paid for the whole boat! No wonder the previous owner was worried someone would buy her to break up and sell as parts.

As usual there were many distractions;

an afternoon rock climbing at www.evolutionclimbing.co.uk

Climbing fun
Climbing fun

a day spent clearing brambles nettles and sycamore from the old chicken run.

Preparing for some new feathery friends
Preparing for some new feathery friends

and an afternoon making a new, smaller axe handle…

A new handle roughed out ready for finishing.
A new handle roughed out ready for finishing.

Note to self, don’t use a wooden mallet to drive an axe head on to the handle.

the sad demise of the first tool I ever made.... back in 1981
the sad demise of the first tool I ever made…. back in 1981

So now I’m back at work on a very quiet Bank Holiday Monday (hence having time to write this) and though we didn’t really achieve a huge amount, I feel progress is being made, the toe rail looks lovely all sanded back to its natural warm teak colour and now the portholes are out the cabin sides shouldn’t take too long to strip back. At least then it will look like things are changing, unlike my adding one or two more frame templates to the ever increasing pile…

Steel, Sisal, Tufnol and Bronze.

No, not a dubious firm of solicitors, nor the latest colours from Farrow and Ball. My kids would call them Resistant Materials, apparently they don’t do Woodwork and Metalwork any more, and I’ve not worked out what would constitute non resistant materials… surely everything resists to some degree?

STEEL

So, steel. I picked up the floors from the blacksmith (MichaelHart) last weekend, not galvanised in case I need to make any adjustments. Hopefully the welding process hasn’t distorted the shape too much. Each floor was laid on the work table, drawn around and then the new flat steel pieces were welded on before cutting the old corroded parts away.  I think this method should  limit any movement… £170 seems quite a lot for a bit of welding but each piece had to be individually cut to size and angled to suit. Sand blasting and galvanising will be a further £130 if I can piggy back on a larger order. Its not cheap this boat business! Though maybe in the middle of an ocean, with a strong wind and a big swell, £300 to hold the boat together will seem like money well spent!

Newly repaired steel floors alongside the rudder metalwork
Newly repaired steel floors alongside the rudder metalwork

Templating frames is as tedious as ever but if I needed persuading how necessary it is, this ‘repair’ had to be removed to access the original frame and revealed just what a poor state some of the woodwork is in.

Frame repair showing signs of age
Frame repair showing signs of age

 

Nail sickness? Gulp!
Nail sickness? Gulp!

 

TUFNOL AND BRONZE

So seeking inspiration I decided to dismantle the winches (well why not?) and see if I could get them to run more smoothly. The shiny chromed, two speed winches on Moonshine Blues are a far cry from these tufnol and bronze relics and I think the smooth clickety clicking of those modern Lewmar ratchets might be a bit of a tall order. However once I had dismantled them (one screw!) cleaned the accumulated gunk of years of neglect, and despite one spring somersaulting gaily though the sunshine into the long grass, I got them back together and was pleasantly surprised to find they work slightly more smoothly! I quickly stepped away lest I was tempted to meddle some more and undo all the good work!

An old tufnol and bronze winch, dismantled ready for cleaning.
An old tufnol and bronze winch, dismantled ready for cleaning.

A bit of brasso and a glob of grease and they’ll be like new!

SISAL

So on to Sisal… nothing to do with the boat, just a spot of Outdoor Darts with the extended family. Apparently compressed sisal is what dart boards are made of. Who knew?

I wonder if this is what mum had in mind when she planted the walnut trees all those years ago?

Outdoor Darts with offspring and their hangers on.
Outdoor Darts with offspring and their hangers on.

 

Summer days driftin’ away…

 

The summer is sliding past as if it were greased. Weekends are packed with things to do but not many of them are that productive as far as Flamingo is concerned.

If you want a small prison for chickens though…

The hens are being 'trained'
The hens are being ‘trained’

Or maybe a giant flying slug?

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Or trees climbed…

Tree climbing at the aptly named, Lepe Beach
Tree climbing at the aptly named, Lepe Beach

Or a picnic trampled…

Ubiquitous Pony picnic invasion.... so unoriginal!
Ubiquitous Pony picnic invasion…. so unoriginal!

Or an Island sailed around…

Round the Isle of Wight on Moonshine Blues
Round the Isle of Wight on Moonshine Blues

Then it has been a very productive Summer!

TEMPLATES, TEMPLATES, AND YET MORE TEMPLATES.

There has of course been some work on the ‘shipwreck’ as my daughter still insists on calling it.

I’ve made a template for the companionway and commissioned a local craftsman (my father) to make me some lovely washboards. She had doors on when I got her, well, one door, the other was hanging on by one rusty hinge, but was originally fitted with washboards. There is some discussion between us as to whether doors, or washboards, or a combination of both would be best….

Washboard Template underway
Washboard Template underway

I’ve also been making templates of the frames that need replacing. It’s fiddly but quite satisfying.

Alarming number of frames in need of repair!
Alarming number of frames in need of repair!

Every now and then I break off from the tricky work of template making and do something that requires very little cerebral activity, like removing old varnish. It helps me think things through, plan the next steps. Though if I let myself think to far ahead I find I am staring, motionless out of a porthole imagining how it will be in a few summers time, anchored in a quite bay, the sun setting on a nice cold beer, my comfy bunk calling, the days sailing fresh in my mind…

“but oh those summer nights”

Cracked Frames, Saw Teeth and the passing of old friends.

Another short window of opportunity opened last weekend and I leapt out of it and into a more thorough investigation of the cracked and sistered frames.

Looking at the way some of them have failed really highlights why sawn frames are just not up to the job. I guess grown frames were hard to come by or more expensive, or both, and in 1930 there was not much laminating of frames going on.

Starboard midships frame failure
Starboard side midships frame failure
Portside midships frame failure
Port side midships frame failure

Both these frames have been reinforced and are in such an awkward place I’m going to leave them.

This one however, has been ‘mended’ but has failed again where the bolted on ‘sister’ frame finishes.

Failed, mended, failed again!
Failed, mended, failed again!

This picture shows the rather slapdash original repair…

Straight butt join.... not good enough!
Straight butt join…. not good enough!

I think the butt joint (if you can call that a joint!) allowed too much movement and simply transferred the stress to the next weak point, with inevitable results.

Taking the bull by the horns, or at least the screwdriver by the handle, I have released the screws from one section, of one frame that needs repair, near the bow. I used an old spoon bit with a handle and a heavy duty awl, to chip out the old filler and expose the screw heads.

Old tools
Old tools

I love old tools! That screw driver has been with me since I started work at a cabinet makers in 1981, I made the mini gouge from an old spoon bit at about the same time and used it for wood carving. The heavy duty awl came ‘free’ in an old carpenters tool box I picked up at a boot sale.

Some screws are more reluctant to leave their little hidey holes. Awkward buggers!
Some screws are more reluctant to leave their little hidey holes. Awkward buggers!

This weekend, if I get a break from daddy day care duties, (Tracy is away on a course) I will, with fingers crossed and a small prayer to St Nicholas (patron saint of seafarers) Take a saw to the frame and cut a scarf ready for a new section of frame.

Maybe best to hedge my bets and throw in a couple of words to Isis, Posiedon, Neptune, Mazu, Njord, Tangaroa and any other seafaring dieties I can think of. 🙂

TIME PASSES…

So I did get some time on the boat despite my day care duties. Actually if I’m honest I neglected the day care in favour of too many milkshakes, cricket on the lawn, movie nights, nerf gun battles and late night snacking. This shocking neglect also meant that someone went to school on Monday having not had a bath since Thursday, but hey, how grubby can a small child really get… oh.

Anyway, back to the boat, I made a couple of templates for the new sections of frames but actually cutting out the dodgy sections was so scary I embarked on some displacement activity.

I salvaged a whole load of 3mm ply from a skip at work. Perfect for templates
Making a pattern for the new section of frame

Along with a selection of hand tools in that old carpenters tool box I bought for £12 at a car boot sale, were a couple of old saws. I hadn’t really paid them much attention until I watched this video;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XthOkO-wsK4

Seeing Jimmy Furey build a beautiful boat, largely with traditional hand tools reminded me those old saws are a classic design that has evolved that way for a reason. I’m so used to disposable, all purpose jack saws now, that the idea of having a saw for ripping, one for cross cutting and one for fine work seems a bit over the top. However, as a displacement activity to put off actually sawing chunks off Flamingo, saw sharpening is right up there! It’s time consuming, fiddly, satisfying and sort of needed… ok I don’t need them, but they are lovely old tools, and I am a sucker for old tools…

I needed a jeweller's loupe for this close work which caused much merriment from youngest daughter
an old saw clamped in the vice for shaprening

Friday’s activities were interrupted by the sad passing of Mrs Black. She died with her friends around her and the sun was shining. I guess there are worse ways to go…

Mrs Black two keeps vigil for her perch partner
Mrs Black #2 keeps vigil for her perch partner

Sunday was gardening day, various family members came down to lend a hand working through the list of chores the Head Gardener had left on the blackboard. Not that the Head Gardener takes a hands off approach, oh no, despite her nearly eighty years she was mowing and trimming with the rest of us.

The Head Gardener

Next weekend is a shake down sail training weekend getting ready for the Round the Island Race with some friends. So no Flamingo work for a while. 😦

 

Forward floors and keel – done!

Feeling inspired by this blog of a beautiful boat being restored to her former glory and I thought I’d share it here.

"between wood and water"

Drilling-to-fix-floors-to-the-keel

A major watershed in Dorothy‘s restoration was reached today as Tony drilled 4 silicon bronze bolts into the new floor straps, fixing them firmly to the keel. (see above. Below are the forward floors as viewed from the hatch last May, with mast step removed.)

Forward-floors-before-restoration

This structural repair up forward has been a long-thought through process that began last April (see photos in this news update) as Tony ripped out the floor and straps, pried up the mast step, knocked out the galvanized bolts that were loosely knocking about in half inch holes because the metals had corroded the wood, and began seriously contemplating how to pull together lap joint that had become separated by about 3/8th” from the keel and stem – if it were even possible…

Tony-looks-at-the-floors-and-keelThis last piece of business is quite serious, because all of Dorothy’s spot repairs over the years have been done around…

View original post 535 more words

Increasing Daylight, Increasing Distractions.

Despite having a week off work, and despite that week being largely sunny and dry, and even though the injections in my knuckles are finally starting to take effect, events have conspired to keep me distracted from my boat building. An Easter weekend invasion, a welcome one, but an invasion nonetheless, kept us busy with campfires and singalongs.

Beer from mugs, sunshine and a warm fire. What could be better
Beer from mugs, sunshine and a warm fire. What could be better
Surprisingly roomy dining room.
Easter Family Lunch

 

The Brian Flynn medley in full swing.
The Brian Flynn medley has been sung, now Toby takes a turn to entertain us.
It isn't all beer and singing, there are chainsaws sawing and,
It isn’t all beer and singing, there are chainsaws sawing and,
Processing the Hornbeam we felled with Billhook and Cleaver
Cleavers swinging
Marshmallow suger rush!
Easter Funday
Things got a little damp at this point.
Things got a little damp at this point.

 

So it was an action packed sunny break and back at work I’m wondering when I am going to be able to squeeze in some boat work. The mast step is very slowly progressing and I’ve been scavenging plywood offcuts to make templates for replacement frames. General consensus seems to be, that sistering frames (bolting a new frame or section of frame next to an existing one) is a bit of a bodge, resulting in weak spots and extra weight. It looks likes there are around half a dozen frames that could really do with replacing so the next job will be to make templates with a hot glue gun and skinny ply then make a former and laminate some up in oak. Squeezing them in in one piece may be impossible so I might need to look at making them in two bits.

I also tried my hand at converting some of the felled larch into beams….. and despite my little hairy helpers.

Chester and Rafferty helping out.
Chester and Rafferty helping out.

The result was less than satisfactory.

This is a good as it got
This is a good as it got

I’ve invested in a chainsaw planking guide from http://www.fisher-direct.co.uk/ (arborist supplies and equipment). It is reasonably priced and I’ll let you know how I get on. An article in Classic Boat about a builder who bought a plot of woodland and felled enough larch and oak to build a 26 foot yacht has inspired me to think about planking and seasoning the larch rather than make it into beams for the deck of the cabin in the woods. After all Flamingo will need a tender, 🙂 and larch might be a good substitute for Pitch Pine when it comes to her own planking repairs.

The restoration of a 1930's Gaff Cutter