Monday, 26 November 2007

Slow progress over the summer; I needed to get Mike to put more steel struts in the roof, but once that was done things were a little more solid. Inside steelwork got nearly as much paint as outside; red primer, 2 coats of grey undercoat and then a layer of domestic gloss. I could then put some battens in - inch and a half for below the gunwhale (matching the depth of the existing strengthening strut) and inch for above, again matching the metalwork. Although I did use grab glue on these, they were all alos held mechanically, screwed in in various ways, some using small homemade L shaped brackets, one arm of which was rivert to the square section metal struts. I've put in lengths of 18mm ply directly under the gunwhales; the sides overlap the gunwhale internally, so the battens could be be screwed into that via 4mm holes in this overlap. I got through a fair few 4mmm drill bits, I must admit.

Again with half an eye on future condensation, I used sprayfoam insulation, a DIY kit. It suited me to do it myself, whilst saving myself some money it is was probably 50:50 whether it would have been worth getting a professional in. Anyway, the tanks were warmed up courtesy of Tony on Highlander's bath, and it went in OK, even under the floorboards in the outer thirds of the floor (some of which may need to come out for ballast in time). I wasn't sure how easy it would be to cut out the surplus, but a large panel saw did the job fine, which meant I could really go for it on the second pass.

It's made a huge change - the boat is now of course warmer, reatains heat for longer - and also quieter. It sounds like other people's boats, rather than a tin box, which of course it was.

I've started on the lining itself, putting in the boards under the gunwhales first. Some of the sheets of ply have got water damaged whilst on the roof (I actually couldn't get them inside until the flimsy front wooden doors were actually taken out completely), so the worst bits have been placed whether they won't be seen when fitted out.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Big changes - after investigation into how rusty the sides were (they'd rusted completely through in a few places just under the junction with the roof - possibly condensation from the inside as much as poor paintwork on the outside) the recommended action was new sides. On the way to a certain well-known Middlesex boatyard for a quotation, spotted a guy who did welding from a workshop boat who also quoted for the work. The upshot being that the boatyard couldn't be arsed to get back to me for a price with the work, so I went with Mike anyway. A month later he'd fitted new sides, and cut a much reduced window layout, as planned. I had the Cowley wet dock booked anyway, so after spending last week in there, she now looks like this:

lack of prep time before getting into the dock was a pain, so the gunwales & upper hull didn't get half the sanding & filling I would have liked, just primer, undercoatx2 and then a coat of black. The cabin & roof had a better time of it - primer, two coats of undercoat and three of topcoat. The Blakes 'Bordeaux Red came out a lot brighter red than expected, but it's the darkest one they do - apparently the now discontinued Cherry Red would have been darker. Oh well - it's a lot, lot better than how it was.

I've finally put in the raised ledges as a temporary measure on the inside - I've had one as a bed for a while, but now they're all the way down both sides, meaning I can not only put thinsg down without them sliding, but I can really start to play with the internal layout, see hgow it'll work - and I think it will work well, actually. I've also got a draining sink again, and somewhere sensible to put the electric cooker... ;-)

Next jobs will be mainly on the inside - replace a roof support strut, then primer on the new metal inside, battens, insulation, and the fun bit of the fitout... ;-)

Friday, 27 April 2007

The floor/bilge in the main body of the boat (i.e. not engine space under the back deck) has now been scraped/cleaned of residual bitumen, most of which had been dissolved by the leaked diesel... that's been painted with grey primer/undercoat, and bilge paint in the middle third, the bottom of the 'V'.

New flooring has gone in; simple inch-and-a-half battens, framed on each side, with long runners in the angle iron that runs longitudinally in the boat, supporting the flat centre section; here's a picture of work in progress:

I've ended up using glass fibre loft insulation under the outer boards; I'd semi-deliberatly but the battens at 16" spacing (3 gaps per 4' length of floor) to allow for this. At time of writing I've done the full length of the boat, bar the awkward front where it starts curving up into the prow.

I've started turning my attention to the outside of the boat; being moored on the outside of another, I had no towpath access to the side, so ran up the engine and took her over to the other side of the canal, and took out the windows:

This was back in my mooring, where I do at least have mains power; I could lean out of the window with the angle grinder, with a wire brush fitting...

After window removal and cleanup with a chisel, the sides were in this state:

Wire brushing out the loose stuff gave me clear confirmation of the horrible truth; Tortoise was once painted yellow:

(strata go from exisiting green, down to red oxide base).

Chiselling out raised paint to expose the rust underneath confirmed what I expected - the sides are reasonably sound, but there's some rust, some of which has gone right through under the eaves. I'm hoping to have a lebgth of new metal welded on the inside of that, giving me something solid to fill against; what treatment/filler I need to use, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

About time for an update, I suppose. The front half - everything forward of the kitchen - has been stripped out, I've started repainting the metalwork inside to prevent future condensation causing rust - it's a bit rusty in there in places, but mainly in the top; the hull is pretty sound, which is a good thing in a boat, I find. I've been scraping out bags full of oily gunk from the bilge, that's been building up for years; it'll be clean one day, I swear. Last week's snow was pretty; the canal froze over, too, but thankfully the stove & a bag of coal kept me warm enough, as did being dragged off to the pub, and being boarded by others in search of tea and an update on how I'm doing.

There's a lot of thought & planning going on, outside as well as in; internally it'll be similar-ish, but with a lot more flexibility and oak veneered rather than badly applied white emulsion. Outside, though; more significant changes. It needs a new paint job anyway, but I'm tempted to lose a couple of surplus windows, partly as the stove will move to in front of one, and I'd like more wall space. On the downside of that you'd lose part of the pretty much panoramic views from inside the boat, but who's going to hide inside when travelling? I certainly won't get the benefit.

I realise my photoshop skills wouldn't even fool your average downmarket tabloid, but hacking about an old photo:


all of hull painted black:

the dark red I think I'd like for the sides:

middle windows gone, and also small one by back door:

(n fact that's not really the red I was thinking of, intended a deep burgundy rather than a rusty pink. I'll take more time choosing the paint than I did on the computer, when it comes to the real thing.)

The windows can be welded over relatively easily, which will also add warmth in winter, and a small amount of extra security - and a good place to put the name/logo I'm planning, too. I'm fond of the quite elegant proportions of Tortoise, the proportions of somehow a much larger vessel, and don't want to ruin the elegance; it's a case of weighing up what's important.