Wednesday, 29 February 2012

First Trip on Waiouru

Three tasks done today and a first trip on Waiouru.  All the plywood sheets for the floor were dragged out of the timber rack and placed against the fence.
Two coats of a waterproof sealer on either side and then stacked back in the rack for when they are required.
The Waxoyl was in the chandlery where it had been kept warm and “hopefully” the viscosity will be sufficiently thin to apply. 
It was not to be!  The stuff was the consistence and colour of clarified butter and simply wouldn’t pour out of the cap opening.  In the end I used a hacksaw and cut the top off one of the cans.  It was then a case of quickly and roughly spreading it on the baseplate between the steel joist with an old paintbrush.  The fumes were rather strong….. hence the heading “First Trip on Waiouru”!  Only one 5 litre tin was required so the second was returned to the paint store.
The plan is for the fumes to evaporate overnight.  Last job of the day was to carry all the tanalised pine for the floor battens from the workshop to the side of Waiouru for easy access tomorrow where (hopefully) a start will be made on laying the floor.

No more damned foam!

Am I going to sleep well tonight!  My morning was spent with a cross cut saw in one hand and a straight edge in the other.  The foam has now been cut back on the walls above and below the gunwale.  I’ve decided to leave the ceiling until the floor is installed as it will be the most difficult part of the whole job.  I can confirm cutting back foam is a messy job.  It get in your hair, eyes, pockets, socks, bellybutton and nether regions.

The afternoon was spent cleaning up in preparation for the Waxoyl.  I adopted a two step process.  First I removed all the large foam offcuts using a broom, kitchen tidy and rubbish bin.

I took approximately 20 rubbish bins of foam to the large industrial waste bin and it was full by the time I finished.  Others in the boatyard will also need to dump their rubbish in the waste bin so; using a small stepladder; I climbed into the bin where I stomped around as if I was pressing grapes. My actions resulted in the foam being compressed into the bottom half of the bin.

Then I used a paint scraper and cold chisel to clear all the foam overspray off the baseplate and out of the drain holes at the ends of the steel floor joists.  Finally I vacuumed the baseplate so the surface will be clean for the application of the Waxoyl tomorrow morning.

We now have two inches of well applied foam insulation.  Waiouru should be warm in winter and cool in summer!  We could have left the insulation in it’s original state but I’ve always believed If a job is worth doing…… it’s worth doing well!  I know we won’t have to worry about the quality of the insulation.

Meanwhile Paul was checking on the boat painting being done by Richard and Mark.

The four blue hire boats are being repainted before the start of the season. 

Jan had gone off to chat with the new neighbours.  They appear to be settling in well and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jan doesn’t start feeding them.

Apparently a fox got the chickens so the farmer is going to restock!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Will they…. Won’t they!

Well, would the spray foam contractor arrive?  10.30am came and went with no sign of them.  Jan started to get very cynical but then at 11.00 a white van arrived.
There were two of them and when they first started asking me about the job I thought they were from eastern Europe.  OK, I’m attempting to get used to the various accents and I’m also slightly deaf. Smile Eventually I realised they were English and had driven 4 hours from Doncaster leaving at 7.00am.
They did a quick inspection of the existing insulation  in Waiouru before telling me the foam had been very poorly applied with numerous areas needing removal.  I was somewhat disappointed as I’d already removed some poorly applied foam.  If I’d known how to identify the remaining substandard foam I could have also removed that prior to their arrival.  We set to it and ripped out the remaining substandard foam.  The technique is to gently tap the foam with your knuckle.  If it make a “ringing” sound it’s OK.  A “soft thud” means it hasn’t correctly adhered to the steel.  If it hasn’t adhered to the steel then a layer of condensation will build up between the foam and the steel.  Eventually this will rust and the spray foam will fall away.

I’ve always been of the belief that Ben Harp personally applied the spray foam to the boats he built.  I base this on a comment from Tim Tyler that Ben had asked him (Tim) if he (Ben) could spray foam the shell after ours whilst it was at Tim’s premises.  Also, our surveyor had seen spray foam equipment in Ben’s container.  Today I did a more detailed search of the online records at Companies House where I found this……..

Name & Registered Office:
ST16 3FZ

Company No. 06754708

The same address as Ben Harp Narrowboat Builders
The company status: Dissolved 13/07/2010 (NO ACCOUNTS FILED)

So; another failed Ben Harp company which he has walked away from leaving behind a mess.  I suspect he’s just as incompetent a spray foam applicator as he is boat builder.

[Back to today’s work]

My standard of masking the timber battens was acceptable so the contractors started applying the foam.  I was warned there would be a significant amount of foam to be cut back after they had finished.  This was because the existing foam was unevenly applied.  They also wanted to ensure all the steel was adequately covered.

Do not adjust the colour on your screen!  Yes, some of the foam is actually purple.  It’s a new type of foam and the remains of the last job were still in the lines. 
We now have a 2” layer of foam on the walls and ceiling.  The contractors showed me how to cut it back using a 26” cross cut timber saw and then left for Doncaster facing another 4 hour journey.  Four hours may not seem much when driving empty roads in Australia but it’s somewhat more of an ordeal on busy UK roads.

Before they left, the guys advised me to cut back the foam as quickly as I could.  The longer I left it; the harder it would be to cut.  I immediately started by first stripping all the masking tape off the battens.  Then I commenced the cutting back using the saw.  By 5.00pm I had cut back one side above the gunwale line.  I estimate this is about a 5th of the work completed.  Tomorrow I intend to finish all the walls.  At this stage my plan is to leave the ceiling until the floor has been laid.  The ceiling will be the most difficult part of the job and having a level floor will make the task easier.  I’ll also be closer to the ceiling.

So I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

What a Blast

Doug returned to clean off our first attempt at blacking Waiouru.  This time the grit was white rather than the usual black!

I just hope all this grit blasting hasn’t worn holes in Waiouru! Smile

Jan and I then repeated our earlier painting performance and managed to get one coat of two pack blacking onto the bare steel before it was dark.  Only two more coats to go! Sad smile

We were both rather ‘bushed’ after spending most of the day either kneeling, squatting or bent over.  The evening was spent removing the black freckles from our faces.

Blacking seemed to be in fashion as Paul also blacked the lower half of Cygnus.

Now we must wait on the spray foam contractor’s arrival tomorrow.

Crane Day

Another of those crane days at the boatyard when the hire crane completes a large number if lifts.  First it was Paul’s recently purchased butty (Cygnus) which arrived on a Tuckey artic lorry.  It was somewhat of a squeeze but the driver eventually made it to the wharf.

Cygnus was temporarily placed into the water as the truck lorry had been booked to take one of the boats on the boatyard hardstanding to its new home.

Next nb Greyfisher went back into the water.  No, she isn’t going over the top of Waiouru.

Two more lifts, including Cygnus coming out of the water, and then Andy decided to lift Waiouru……. all of 6 inches!

Yes, that’s me in my blue ‘playsuit’. I just needed to push Waiouru 12 inches to recover my pencil.  The objective of the exercise was to level her on the dunnage for the joiners.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Making Donuts

Jan isn’t the only person in the family who can make donuts.  Today I successfully made 22 of them.

Richard and I started making them as a single cut out but then Richard realised this method would result in a large timber wastage rate.  We changed the method to half donuts and significantly reduced the required number of sheets of plywood. 

They will go around the porthole opening and act as a frame for the liner. 

There are 11 portholes and each requires three frames to pack it out to the level of the cabin lining.  After the frames had been cut I scraped the foam insulation from around the porthole surrounds so the frames could be installed.  Jan and I then glued and screwed two layers of frames around 10 of the portholes.

The eleventh porthole is the one I had previously cut out with the jigsaw.  It didn’t have any fixing screw holes through the steel, and as Jan and I had previously discovered the old holes don’t line up with the new portholes, I decided to glue and clamp the frame.

Now remember Waiouru had previously been lined and the portholes installed.  So how did the previous boat builder manage to fit the timber porthole linings without there being a timber frame around the porthole?

The last task was to tape all the exposed surfaces with masking tape in anticipation of the spray foam contractor’s arrival on Monday.

Whilst reading blogs yesterday I noted from the photos on Trudy-Anne’s blog that David has the same make and model of digital gauges <photos here> as I would like on Waiouru.  His photo provides my first opportunity to get an idea of their actual size.  I’ve specified four (water, waste tank, and two fuel tanks).

Friday, 24 February 2012

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tyle Mill

After yesterday’s bitter cold we woke to a warmer day and I decided to walk the 11 mile round trip to the Sainsburys supermarket at Calcot.  The majority of the route uses the towpath which gives me an opportunity to see what has been happening along this stretch if the Kennet and Avon.

The river and canal regularly join and separate along the route which enabled me to confirm the advice I’d previously received that where they combined it would be ice free.

Tyle Mill is the approximate halfway point.  There is a lock, (Tyle Mill) permanent moorings and a BW facilities block.

BW facilities

Waterscape describes the available facilities as a water point plus rubbish and elsan disposal.  The majority of the permanent moorings are above the lock with a very small number of moorings opposite the BW facilities

Up stream of Tyle Mill are facilities at Aldermaston Wharf whilst there don’t appear to be any facilities downstream until the Thames.

Oh…… I’m in a little difficulty over the shopping.  I was sent on my way with a written shopping list.  However I appear to have a “man shopping” habit.  This habit manifests itself by walking around the supermarket and throwing anything that looks slightly interesting into the trolley rather than confining one’s selection to “The List”.  Apparently this habit can be controlled supressed if one is accompanied by a female.

Anyway, we are now the owners of two packets of chocolate biscuits, four blocks of chocolate and a large tub of double cream.  None of these items were on “The List”!   I’m informed have to curb this habit as it is playing havoc with Jan’s budget.  The additional weight in my daypack rucksack is another incentive.  Still, the thought of now having the ingredients for lemonade scones with whipped cream and blackberry jam will probably result in another lapse!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bouncing Around

Suddenly Ufton started to bounce around on her mooring.  She was being dragged fore and aft as the water surged around us.  The mooring ropes groaned and strained. The air was full of the noise of adjacent boats grinding together.  Then I heard the sound of an heavily reving engine.  It’s the off-season and the hireboats are moored four abreast against the wharf.  There is plenty of room for a narrowboat to pass but this was a broadbeam, and it sounded large.

Peering out the saloon window I could see it was Nelson, the BW broadbeam workboat, and it was towing a large dredging barge containing a tracked excavator.  The canal is shallow on the far side and Nelson was making hard work of attempting to tow the barge which was constantly running aground.  As the barge passed us I could see the excavator operator was assisting by pushing with the excavator bucket.  BW have been repairing the canal embankment one lock downstream so I assume they have finished that task and are moving on to the next job.

Well that was the daily excitement………..Smile


Thanks to the wonders of Skype we’re able to speak on a weekly basis with the rest of the family living at the bottom of the world.

My mother told me last week she’d had a fright when she woke to find “Zilla”, her dog, lying like a log beside her bed. Since mum became a widow he has appointed himself head of the house and now ventures into areas previously forbidden. These days he’s very old cantankerous mongrel, almost 18, blind, deaf and afflicted with the greek disease... arthritis!   Before age caught up with him he was an ornery critter, prone to biting the legs of unwanted Jehovah Witnesses and vacuum cleaner salesmen.

Initially she though he had gone to dog heaven, but then realised his little belly was slightly rising and falling at a very slow rate. He wouldn’t respond to any of her efforts. Mum left bowls of water in his favourite spots around the house and then went to the local chemists on her mobility scooter to collect a prescription. She voiced her concerns about Zilla imminent departure to the chemist who very kindly offered to collect him and take his remains to the vet for cremating should he depart this world.

Mum returned home to find Zilla still beside the bed and comatose. The next morning he was beside the bed unmoved. By midday mum had decided to take her mobility scooter to the local vet where she asked the receptionist what a cremation would cost. To mum’s surprise they still had Zilla’s records on their database (he hadn’t been to the vet for 12 years!). Cremation was $40 and if a needle was required to ease him on his way it would be an additional $47. Mum couldn’t bear the thought of Zilla suffering so she resigned herself to finding $87.

When she returned home Zilla wasn’t beside the bed. In fact she couldn’t find him in the house! Grabbing her walking sticks she hobbled to the back yard where she found a “frisky” Zilla prancing around the garden watering the trees and sniffing for pussy cats!    He’d lost 10 years.... What the #$% had happened to him?

Later that afternoon Tania; mum’s cleaner; arrived and started vacuuming the bedroom. She called out “Julie, why is your little pill case empty and on the floor beside the bed?” This is the case that contains a single valium tablet for mum’s emergency use during the night.

The bloody dog wasn’t near death. He’d taken a two day trip without leaving the house! Smile

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

First Look at Portholes & Hatches

We made a number of boat design decisions at the beginning of this project.  Portholes instead of windows, and houdini hatches to let in more light plus allowing summer heat to escape.  The houdini hatches will have blackout and insect screens.  Minimal brass; I’ve polished enough of that in my life thank you! We wanted to be cool in summer and warm in winter.  Hence the decision to double insulate the walls and ceiling as well as having insulation under the floor.  Finally we decided all the glass would be double glazed.

Today we unpacked our portholes and houdini’s so we could finally see what we had ordered.

First impression was, they are very solidly built.  The top half opens which allowed me to see the thickness of the frame.

The distance between the inner and outer surfaces of the double glazing is approximately one inch (25mm).

The houdini hatches also have a very solid feel about them.  Prior to examining them I though they might be the security “weakpoint” in the boat but I’ve now changed my mind.

They are actually quite heavy and the thickness of the double glazing is very similar to the portholes.  We are quite pleased with the quality of the product. 

Hopefully they will all be fitted either later this week or early next week.

Monday, 20 February 2012

More GPS Points of Interest (POI’s)

No sign of the spray foam contractor today, so we will have to wait for Andy to return from holiday tomorrow to find out when the insulation will be completed on Waiouru.  Hopefully it will be later this week as the carpenters are waiting to work on the installation of the floor.  The can’t fit the floor until I apply the Waxoyl to the baseplate and this can’t be done until the spray foam is fixed.

This morning I scrapped all the damaged foam insulation from around the filled in porthole in the hope anticipation the contractor will arrive very soon.

I’ve spent much of the last few evenings collecting and filtering information from the internet which may be of use to us whilst living on Waiouru.  This has been added to our Garmin gps database.

The first thing I wanted was the location of every Calor Gas outlet within walking distance of a canal. There are a significant number as can be seen from the following screen dump.

Of course this information becomes more legible as you increase the map scale.

Jan has been making purchases from Dunelm Mill so I’ve collected that information.

I even made the small Dunelm Mill icons.  Other poi’s collected and saved include Lakeland, Julian Graves, Homebase, B&Q, etc.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Rear Cabin Doors

I’ve been concerned about the weather and the potential for the new rear cabin doors rusting since they were installed so I was up reasonable early to give them a coat of primer. 

The first thing I noticed was the method used to fix them to the door frame.  When the doors arrived from Nick Thorpe I noticed each hinge had two holes.

I thought these holes were to enable the doors to be bolted to the frame.  How mistaken I was!  The welder actually used the holes to weld the door to the frame and then filled in the weld to provide a flush finish.  This is a much more secure way of fixing the door to the frame.

The hinges and edges of the door have now been given a coat of primer.  I also used the time to paint the bare metal on the filled porthole.  Now we must wait the arrival of the spray foam contractor.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Three Valleys

Woke to a mild day and decided not to pass up the opportunity to get some time walking the countryside.  Meanwhile Jan had decided to bake scones and whip some of that double cream I’d purchased from Calcot the previous week. 
I’d earlier programmed a route into the Garmin gps from the OS website and headed off along the towpath towards Woolhampton.  Scarcely had I left the wharf when I was hailed by Bill, a blog reader and owner of nb Sea Vixen.   It’s always good to meet one of our blog readers.  I need the feedback if I am to improve the quality of the blog!  Bill informed me he had read my latest post regarding the proposed position of our bow thruster and mentioned his was also offset.  He then offered to show me his installation, which I willingly accepted.  Whilst we were discussing all things related to bow thrusters he mentioned the thruster being offset did result in a slight variation in thrust between sides.  However I think we can live with that.
The walk took me west to Woolhampton and then north before heading east.
Whilst walking beside the main road I came upon a milestone.  Although I’ve read about them, this was the first I’d seen.  The writing was illegible but a mile further on I came to a second and it was possible to just make out the word “London” and 48.
On the left side I could see the faint word “Reading” and 9
I crossed two ridgelines and three valleys but didn’t manage to find any serious hills for a strenuous workout.
Initially I thought I’d come upon a pub but apparently not.
Then the signpost opposite caught my eye.

I just had to walk along Cock Lane to “Tutts Clump”.  Can you imagine telling people you live in Tutts Clump! Smile
On my return I downloaded my exact route from the Garmin to the pc whilst simultaneously stuffing into my mouth home baked scones with blackberry jam and whipped cream.
Exactly 20 kilometres.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Some Progress

Day 5 and still no spray foam contractor <sigh>!  However the welders arrived this morning to fill in the incorrectly positioned galley porthole.

There are some blemishes on the join so it will have to be covered in filler and sanded back before I give it the mandatory two coats of primer.  I wanted the first porthole filled before they cut the adjacent porthole as I was concerned about potential distortion of the cabin wall.  Once the porthole was filled there was a discussion about the best way to cut the new porthole.  In the end the decision was made to use a jigsaw and cut it out using the same technique as I used on the previous porthole.

Now the wall oven will fit into the galley!

Pete and his mate went on to fit the steel cabin doors at the stern.  We’ve had a discussion about this task and eventually decided an additional horizontal steel strip will be welded across the inside face of the rear hatch.  This will act as both a weatherproof stop and provide a strong edge for the tongue of the mortise lock to fit behind.

I hope the spray foam contractor arrives early next week as we can’t proceed any further until the insulation is finished.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

An Answer

Two days ago I wrote about the location of the bow thruster in the tube.  Since then I have written to the supplier regarding my proposed location and asking whether there will be any issues.  I want to position the thruster towards one end of the tube thereby improving the available unrestricted storage space. 

Top view of the bow thruster locker

I want to locate the bow thruster to the left of the weed hatch [A] whereas the boatyard suggest it go in the middle of the tube [B].  I suspect there may be sufficient room above the thruster to fit the two 12v batteries.  This would then give us the entire area to the right of the weed hatch for storage.

The bow thruster supplier’s reply to my query was that my proposed location would work but there might be a very slight difference in the amount of thrust at opposing ends of the tube.  I’m not surprised by their comments.  Although I’m no hydrologist, I consider the basic principles of the movement of water to be very similar to electricity.  I know a little about distributing electricity.  Voltage is the pressure applied to push the electricity down the wire.  Current is the amount (volume) of water being moved.  Resistance is the restriction on the movement of current (volume of water) caused by the size of the wire (diameter of the pipe) Obviously the further you want to push the current (volume of water) the greater the resistance.  To overcome this you must either increase the required voltage (pressure), or reduced the resistance by having a larger wire (or pipe).  Power is the voltage (pressure) multiplied by the current (volume of water).

The size of the tube isn’t going to change.  The amount of pressure produced by the thruster impeller isn’t going to change.  So we will have more resistance at the long end of the tube and consequentially get less power at that side of the boat.  But the tube is only 4ft long so I consider the loss of power at the furthest end will be minimal.