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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An update, long overdue!

Time seems to pass by very quickly these days!

We have had a bit of a disaster with the Lady after fitting her new leg.  It goes something like this.....

We managed to fit a brand new 12 x 6 leg to her which was slightly to long.  I hadn't measured her properly and was 'estimating' what I thought was the correct length.  This is a very deceiving business when your on your own.  I thought the leg looked rather short when I measured up, so I added about four feet to my original length.  This was a big mistake.  When she sat upright and settled with the tide, she had heeled over to port quite considerably and this caused her to lean into the sea wall.

As you can see she is heeling over to Port and is tight against the wall.  This was not what I had hoped but I had got the measurement very wrong.  You can also see that the leg is made up of six 12 x 2 planks bolted together.  Whilst this held absolutely fine it is not recommended that any else attempts this, the original order was for solid sleepers but these became unavailable at the last minute and I felt under pressure to get things moving.  The planks were bolted three together and then two sections lashed.  On the whole it was great to get the boat up, but not so great that the whole measurement business had gone to hell.

Obviously you can see this was far from satisfactory so I managed to get hold of the long awaited telegraph poles.  This was in fact one of my better ideas and I had taken advice on the strength of the poles as well.  However...

Here is Richard holding the line from the keel out, this was a pretty accurate way of measuring as you can see in later pictures.  The original leg was marked and the new telegraph pole leg was drilled to the first steel bar from that measurement.  Sadly I didn't get a picture of her sitting level after the leg was fitted.  However.......

If its going to happen to someone its going to happen to me!  You can see the telegraph pole is sitting straight up and down and is also secured at the top in order to give added strength for fore and aft movement.....  We didn't think we would have to worry about left to right movement....

What you cant see here is that the leg has actually under the boat.  There is a rock under the seaweed which is angled under the boat.  This has basically caused the pole to buckle as it slid down the rock, again I don't have a picture of digging it out (which took some effort!).  It was buried into the sea bed by about two feet.
What you can also see is the high tensile steel bars (HT Bars) that have cut through the telegraph pole like a hot knife through butter.  This could have been averted by 'banding' the wood by putting a ring of steel around the pole above and especially below where the HT bars went through.

You can see the damage more clearly to the pole here.  Its also possible to imagine the pole in the seabed and buried.

This happened on a Saturday night and I had arranged for an engineer to come and remove the corroded metal on Sunday.  Whilst his visit was a waist of time for getting onto the boat, in other ways things worked out.  Silver cloud and grey lining and all that.... We managed to have a think and decided that he would make up an H-Beam if we could get the material.  Now Sunday is not the best day in Oban to find something like an H-Beam (To be honest I actually didn't hold up much chance of finding one in Oban full stop!) however Bob (the engineer) actually knew a few wee backwater yards where things like that are stored.  After a tour we came across two 8 foot lengths and surprise surprise the actual owner of the H-beams as well! I explained what had happened and between tears and sobs (OK not quite!) he agreed to give me them.  I have to say a big thank you to John for allowing me to have them at no cost, it is much appreciated!!
So Bob spent the rest of the day welding up the beam and fitting a foot so we would not have a repeat of the 'digging in' issue that had killed off the telegraph pole.

The fitting of the beam was a nightmare for me.  I cant lift much as (you are probably aware of my pathetic back issues) you know, so Bob had to do much of the 'grunt' work, however a Farm foods trolley that had been salvaged from the sea came in very handy for rolling it the length of the pier!

It was then slid down the deck and over the side, with the use of a block and tackle it was hoisted into place so that it would cantilever into place when the boat lifted.

The boat lifting was a huge issue.  I had tried the day before to lift her on one pump.  But I had to switch it off for a few moments whilst the tide was rising and there was no way to recover from the ingress of water.  The following day when Bob was there I tried again and used both pumps.  This made no odds either.  It was then that I realised that I had much bigger problems than I had anticipated.  
When the Lady Evelyn had gone over, she had managed to move about three feet further out and had laid down on the same rock that had caused the telegraph pole to buckle.  This was putting a huge amount of pressure on the seams and in turn was causing a lot of water to come in. 
I honestly though t that this was the end of the project.  I knew that if I couldn't get the boat to lift the next day then that was the end for me, I could not and can not afford to have a professional salvage team involved to right her and I was thinking that this was perhaps the only way she was coming up.

Luckily I was on my own on the third attempt.  I came down early when the tide was just retreating from the hull and I watched where the water was coming out.  I then marked all the areas and worked like a Trojan to get all the seams re caulked that were leaking.  It was then that I also noticed that there was a seam just below the last rubbing strake at the top of the last plank which had no caulking what-so-ever.  This seam had been filled with putty that had gone solid, but had no oakum or cotton caulking material behind it, this left a twenty foot length of open seam at least 50mm wide letting in water then above this I also noticed that the deck had the same issue.  Where the deck was tight against the gunwale there was little or no caulking, let alone pitch, stopping water getting in. 
When the boat lifts the water will come to the top of the last plank and splash onto the deck, the previous day the water was coming well over the deck and causing her not to lift.
With all this done... she lifted as though nothing was wrong and on one pump!  Well I believe that and the fact I told her that if she didn't come up then that was me done and she was going for scrap!
You can see from the next photo that she is upright and absolutely level.

On the tide the beam levered into place and Bob came back and welded her up (Thanks Bob... More about him in a later blog). I took the added precaution of welding the leg directly to the Metal tops on the gunwale.  I reckon that if Bobs welds hold then the whole side of the vessel will come out before the leg bends or breaks!

She is now sitting perfectly level and the weight is directly on the keel, so much so that there is a gap between the harbour wall and the gunwale, the first time ever!

So that's her upright! and the saga that went with it.  We have yet to put on the Port side leg.  This is wooden, but will be reinforced unlike its counterpart on the Starboard side.  But that's another day! 

You can see that I have started to strip off the paintwork and rust.  The back of the wheelhouse took three days to complete with a hammer and coal chisel... but again that's another story!

More soon when I have finished the Port side of the wheelhouse (When I say finished I mean stripped and primed!).

Your Aye

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Upright at last!

Finally we have managed to get the Lady upright and level!

Two days in a row she has been floating with minimal effort from the pump.  A joy to behold...

The wood for both temporary legs was delivered last week but instead of using it for both sides I decided to use the whole lot for the Starboard side, this gives dimensions for the leg at six by twelve inches.  I don't think that she needs too much in the way of support on the port side at present as the starboard side has historically been the heaviest and she is leaning on the harbour wall with her port side.  The two telegraph poles allegedly get delivered this weekend so they will be fitted properly shortly after.  The plus point, in the exercise so far, is that I am able to get very accurate measurements for the length on the legs (since I didn't know what the draft was) which should make for a simple and hopefully quick crossover.

I would like  to say a big 'thank you' to Richard who is one of the volunteers that I mentioned in a previous blog.  Richard came down on both the days to help out with the lashings and manhandling of wood and the Lady.  Between us we managed to get her ballasted and levelled out, the boat moved into deeper water and its his pump that he donated to the project.  His pump looks hellish cosmetically and has an old style starter chord however, it works a treat and was 'puttering' away in the back ground for most of the two days.  Unlike my all-singing and all-dancing piece of junk that seems to block if the wind changes!
Another 'Thank you' has to go to the guys at the council yard who were kind enough to let me borrow six wheelie bins in order to ballast her to starboard.   I was also given two 45 gallon plastic drums as well.  Without those drums and bins there was no-way I could have got her level.  Some of the suggestions for ballasting her have ranged from lowering ton bags of the cheapest aggregate from the builders merchants to buying two two ton mooring blocks and having them lowered to the deck.  The wheelie bins were the best option given that they were easy to move and filled up in seconds with the three inch pump. It was good to get an e-mail from Archie who had the same epiphany during the night regarding the wheelie bins and many thanks to him for the offers of help and advice as well. 
The wheelie bins are not so easy to empty though as they weighed a ton and had to be half emptied by bucket before they could be tipped. 
If my son, yes he's getting the blame despite the fact that he worked VERY hard yesterday, had put them round the other way they would have tipped straight back but he left them hard against the gunwale and to be honest I didn't even think about emptying them. 
It would have been too much hassle to use the pump and to be fair it only really took another ten minutes in the great scheme of things.

The Lady is now sitting, more or less, level and is easier to access.  The next job to do is to fit a wheelhouse door and then to scrape the decks in order to stop them behaving like an ice rink!

We also managed to get a good look under the starboard side of the Lady, which is really the first time I have had to have a proper look.  I cant see any 'sprung planks' or 'but ends' that are pulling out, its not that they are not there though.  There was plenty of seams leaking I noticed but other than that it seemed to be cosmetic.  I guess that once we are in and about her side properly then something will come to light.

I'm having tomorrow off though, my back went into meltdown whilst moving the pumps yesterday and it wasn't as though I was lifting much it was just an awkward movement that set it off.... The joys!!

Thank you to everyone else who came down and offered support and advice.  especially the chap who stood in awe and said "I honestly thought that I would never, ever see her afloat again.....amazing", that made my night.

Some up to date pictures below -

A view of the 'Wheelie Bin' Ballast on her Port side.

Resting on the Bottom, Ballasted and leg on Starboard side.


Afloat and happy the first night with no Ballast

Again afloat and happy on the first night.

Tide dropping after the leg being fitted.

The 'brand new' pump in between one of its 'hissy' fits 

The only visible leak on the Starboard side

Again a happy 'new' pump at full pelt.

The hardest worker of us all, also the one with the most advice!

One leg. Three feet too long awaiting adjustment. 

The only visible leak on the Starboard side again, is she not very clean for a year on her
(Starboard) side??

I will update again at the weekend once the new legs have arrived and been fitted,  unless anything exciting happens. 

Feel free to add any comments or send any questions that you might have!!