Sunday, 18 October 2009

A bit closer

Had a phone call from Dave from Bluewater on Thursday to say that he was not happy with my last blog entry but none the less he would come down and sort out the weed hatch. Unfortunately on Friday I learned that Ben was not prepared to allow any Bluewater staff onto his worksite.
Hey ho, the fabled ouzlum bird and ever decreasing circles comes to mind.
I haven't spent the last 30 years sorting out all sorts of problems and mishaps to let a minor hiccough like this put me off my stride. So down to the boat on Saturday armed with plenty of files. Got the weed hatch open and wedged it half way up, and spent the next hour and a half working away at the opening on each side working round the hatch best I could. In all, I probably only removed about 1mm of metal but it was enough to persuade the baffle plate through and another 5 minutes with a large flat file just to clean things up had the hatch dropping through cleanly. A layer of paint where I'd been working and some nice new sealing tape to replace the temporary gasket from the last time. Sorted, but working at some funny angles was I glad of a good hot bath when we got home.
Karen and mum Kath were busy cleaning and polishing and generally looking in all the nooks and crannies for the last vestiges of sawdust. Kath has decided the boat is the wrong colour - cos it'll show all the muck - bit late now!
Tried to run the engine to charge the batteries but faced with constant alarm. Ben disapeared into the engine bay to check the electrics and stated domestic batteries not charging, probably belt off. Engine covers opened but belt in place and eveything rotating as it should. Looks like the alternator has failed. Ben will check it out thoroughly and if necessary get Beta to come out next week. He, Mike and a couple of other lads were busy lining out Humdinger while we were there trying to make up for lost time. It looks absolutely huge inside.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Visitors and Problems

Down to the boat again on Friday and Saturday just moving bits in and tidying up - you know, all those little bits that make a place feel like home. Even had our first visitors come calling who invited themseves round for tea. Poor photo but they wouldn't stay still.
At last a picture of the sign writing, we have a name at last. Didn't have a chance to talk to Andy as he was painting this, other than say hello. He was perched on a plank between boat and jetty working away and it seemed prudent not to disturb him.
Ben has sorted the stiff steering found last Sunday and the wheel is much more comfortable.
Karen busied herself cleaning the roof down muttering about the amount of leaves from the trees. Thought better of mentioning that it happens quite a bit this time of year.
But she's also been busy in side and things are starting to look very homely and I think this is going to be a very cosy home from home.
As for me - I tested the chairs
Now we come to the problem. Ben spotted water apparently coming from the rudder bearing when the boat was being moved under its own power but on closer inspection this it was probably coming from the weed hatch as there was no seal and running past the rudder to disapear into a void at the stern. That in itself can soon be remedied but this has brought further problems to light.
Firstly there is no easy access to the void where the water was running. Ben has removed what he can by usung a wet/dry vacuum hose pushed into the hole but owing to the shape of the stern the water probably runs forward collects behind the weed hatch.
Secondly the weed hatch will not come out. The baffle plate is wider than the access hole lip. Presumably the weed hatch was constructed so that the baffle plate had to be presented with a sideways angle to the hole to pass through but now that there is a fuel tank either side of the catch this cannot be done and rotating forwards or backwards makes no diference.
A few e-mails to Sharon at Bluewater where the hull was built has just returned some ineffective advice and silence. The impression I am getting is almost like dealing with one of those firms that get reported on BBC's Watchdog - I most certainly hope I'm wrong.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Open day

Been down to the boat a few times recently but not done any blogging so I'd better put that right. The builds coming along nicely and all those little finishing touches are coming into place but either forgot to take photo's or forgot to take the camera.

Last visit was on Sunday to see Ben's open day and by all accounts it has been a success with people coming from all over, and while we were there it was an almost continual stream of visitors. Met up with Kev and Ann off 4Evermoore and their staffie, feels like we've known them for ages. Kelly was there with her folks and loads of other boat minded people and we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Best was yet to come. At the end of the show Ben asked us to take her back to the mooring - What just us? That was it, drop the top and let's go.

The maiden voyage - up to Haywood Junction - wind and back to the mooring, at least a quarter of a mile. Think I need power steering as I found the wheel very heavy to turn so that's a job for the snagging list. Even so I can't blame it for my rubbish driving, if we had left a wake it would have resembled a snake track! Kelly was up on the road bridge by the junction taking plenty of photographs- there was plenty of opportunity with my five point turn and everywhere at tickover.

Stayed behind to get the chairs on board, the mattress is already in, brought it over on Friday lashed to the top of the motor. Everythings easy, just remove the skylight and drop it through no hastle whatsoever.

Think I should have left the dust cover off for the pic.

One last cuppa at the end of the day.

A few problems and we have put back the trip to Pillings to November now to allow for some bits to be sorted, not all of Bens I hasten to add.

I see we now have a fifth follower - Welcome.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Picture update

Just got these photo's that Ben took today. I couldn't get a decent shot so Kelly has forwarded a couple which I just had to post. I'm sure you'll agree she's starting to look the bees knees now.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

A battleship no longer

Not many photo's this time. Couldn't get far enough back in the paintshop to do her justice. Wheelhouse and skylight have been removed for painting and almost everything is still covered in masking paper. The windows are on site ready to go in and the solid oak flooring has been fitted throughout. The floor has been given a couple of coats of danish oil which has brought the grain out a treat and all the interior has been varnished but with the masking in place it was too dark to photograph.
Sharp end which just needs the winch to be fitted winch to be fitted.

Middle bit with windows going in this afternoon.

Blunt end with wheelhouse to refit.

Think it's a real smart spray job? Think again, Ben and Mike have painted this all by hand and I've yet to find a blemish. I bet we've all seen the boats presented at shows with droopy runs down the side so it's good to see pride being taken in workmanship. Once Andy's signwrighting goes on that'll be about it.

Just a few final jobs and the soft furnishings. Ben's just presented us with the key to the wheelhouse doors.

Not long now. Got to go to work next week but the week after we hope to be taking some of the bits down to the boat to load up, and with luck we can clear enough room around the house to be able to have freinds over to stay again.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Leaps forward

Lots of things have changed since our last visit, especially in the case of Karen, who hasn't been able to get down to the boat for over a month, this is the first time she has seen it with the wheelhouse on and loves it. The first thing to be seen is the new wheelhouse floor, rear cabin doors and steps down into the galley. Lots of little things are coming togeather such as the mushroom vents on the roof.
Most of the work has been out of sight, the engine is now up and running, Hurricane central heating boiler installed, calorifier in, inlets/outlets for water and black water. All that gives the game away for all this work a a string of chrome 'holes' appering around the hull.
On top of all that the batteries are in and the fridge/freezer is in and working. Whew!
With all this extra loading she is now sitting lower in the water and as steady as a rock. Checked the bilge at the engine which is still as dry as a bone, so she hasn't sunk and is not sitting on the bottom, though she must be drawing about 2' 4" at the stern. We want about 2' 6" to bring the air draft down to 5' 10" so once the gas bottles are on and the tanks full of fuel I don't think we will be far off.
It's not just happening down on the boat either.The anchor and chain has arrived and so have the recliner chairs for the lounge. Can't get into the middle shed for boxes of stuff and the back bedroom is full of bedding and electrical stuff. Think we must have two of everything.
Popped up to Mexborough to take the template for the matress to the Edwardian Bedding Co. - sould be delivered next week.

Did I once say it was like waiting for Christmas? -- Nope it's not a patch on this.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

God news - bad news

Sky light has joined the wheelhouse on top of the boat and is looking good.

You can see the ash lining better now that it is in place and there's plenty of glass area to let the light in ad both sides are hinged for ventilation. If it gets too hot then the whole top will be removable but the main reason is so that we can get larger furniture in without having to struggle though the wheelhouse. Before anybody asks - won't it be cold in winter? - the plan is to have a cover that will match the wheelhouse top. The crossways stay is just for lining things up during construction.

Boy does it make the whole lounge area light and airy. The bits lying around are the engine covers.

Yep the engines in with the hospital silencer on the swim to the right. It all looks a bit blue because of the blue tarpaulin over the wheelhouse and to be honest I just haven't had the time to do any colour correction in Photoshop but there will be plenty of opportunity for engine bay shots in the future. Main thing is that the bilge is as dry as a bone.
Been shopping during the week and bought a pair of recliner chairs for the lounge and an alloy anchor which I have had to shorten slightly as it was too long for the hawse hole. Everythings coming along fine. No major changes this visit but lots of little tweaks and jobs a bit further down the line. Karen was working again so it was a case of plenty of snaps to keep her updated.
The bad news - well work is slipping behind schedule, but the big problen is Ben can't get the boat in the paint shop until the last week of August which may mean a completion date towards the middle of September. Now it's a mad dash to rearrange time off work and it looks like we may have to have a split holliday. Ah well hopefully it won't be too long before I start my big holliday and all being well Karen shorly after.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wheelhouse takes shape

Haven't been able to get down to the boat for over two weeks due to that thing called work getting in the way, but Ben and Mike have been beavering away. The wheelhouse frames have been completed in sapele. Ben popped the parts into position so I could see how they would all fit into place and he was able to show the side hinges in operation. As you can see they lie tight into the side as planned. Boy oh boy am I chuffed to bits, there had been quite a lot of concern at the beginning that my bright idea would not work and I think even Ben had a few reservations before the hinges were in place. Thankfuly he had enough faith in me to carry on with the plan .
And now see how she looks with all the pieces clamped into place, Ben has hinged the top of the door so it folds outwards to collapse. This means that there is nothing to remove apart from the cover so no frantic stowing of loose bits if the top needs to come down.
I had intended to make a template for the mattress to take to the bedding company but the bedroom was full of dog box. This is also being made in sapele but is being lined with ash to match the saloon interior.

The sink is now in place and the hob is waiting to be fitted and it looks like all cupboard doors and hatch linings have been completed. Windows will not be fitted until the hull is painted which will be in about three weeks time.
When I left yesterday the lads were preparing to varnish the wheelhouse woodwork, with the boat being moved down to Anglo Welsh yard to have the engine fitted today. Completion planned for the end of August is looking good. Only 5 weeks to go.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Fortnightly Fix

Down to the boat again this Friday to get our regular boaty fix. A lot of changes have taken place again. New shelves in the kitchen with microwave fitted and there's a belfast sink under the units ready to go in. Still only temporary windows but the proper ones should be delivered shortly. Windows and vents will be chrome finish to save on the polishing lark. Yeah, I know we're wimps, but brass has to be polished regularly to look good and we believe in trying to make life easy for ourselves.
Looking forward through the bathroom and the wenge top is on the bathroom sink stand with a new cabinet above. Bed base with cupboard under and another cupboard under the forward hatch. No shortage of storage here.
Dresser unit in the bedroom. We were a bit worried that the bed base was going to be too small, but usual story, Ben and Mick have got it all sorted and we will have a full 4'6" most of the way down. Don't know why we worry sometimes, the lads are always one step ahead of us.

Shower cubicle waiting for plumbing, Ben asked what tiles we would like which floored us - hadn't given that one a thought, but after talking about it on the way home we think we will go for plain white with a dividing line of tiles with a diamond motif to continue Bens diamond theme.

Finally remembered to take a couple of photo's of the wheelhouse hinges. They dont look much but have caused a few headaches. In the wheelhouse up position. The rear third will go down with the back window, which when raised will give a rigid 'C' section. Thats the theory anyhow. The front window will be of similar construction.

Open or wheelhouse down.
Looks a bit of a mess, should have cleaned up more after filing the holes out.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Work in progress

Back down to Great Haywood yesterday to meet up with Ben and it's definitely work in progress. So much has developed since the last visit. I was amazed to see that the oven is already in and the wenge wood work top has been fitted, just needs the cutouts for the hob and Belfast sink. Ben tells us that it is a horrendously hard wood and it sounds like it's great for blunting router bits. Eee but it looks grand lad. Talked over the lounge area layout, and, because we've lost space by having a longer wheelhouse have decided to abandon the stove idea to make more room and are looking for a beefier heating system to compensate.
With the cover off the roof opening for the skylight (Surely it's too big to call it a dog box) the interior looks realy light and airy. This is the view from the bathroom door looking towards the wheelhouse. Ben says he will be building in a curved corner unit by the steps down which will house the microwave amongst other things.
Even on Saturday afternoon Ben and Mick were beavering away to keep up with work. It sounds like thery have plenty of jobs in the pipeline, which has got to be a good sign in these times. The stand for the wash basin in the bathroom is being made to match the cupboard in the lounge and its a marvel to see the work that goes into each piece.

In the bedroom the bed base is in covering the bow thruster and poo tank, ( So if it leaks we'll be the first to know about it) but there's still room for drawers underneath.

Done it again - so busy drooling over the interior forgot to take a picture of the wheelhouse hinges. Ah well there's always next time. Finished of the day with a cuppa at the cafe at Haywood lock and did a bit of gongoozling. Dream on - back to earth with a bump and off to work for a 12 hr night shift.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The shape of things to come.

Firstly a couple of pictures of the launch from Ben and Kelly which I promised. Our only regret was that we weren't there to see it for ourselves. Three weeks ago and the time has just flown.
Went down to the boat on my own today as Karen was at work to fit the wheelhouse hinges cum handrails which Mick at TR Fabrications in Nottingham had made in stainless steel. Spent the day filing out the holes in the lugs to try and raise the mounts as they were a bit lower than intended. Now they are bolted in place and work as anticipated but the proof of the pudding will be when the wheelhouse sides are fitted to them. I've thoroughly enjoyed today being down at the boat with Ben and Mick but I realise that getting the boat fitted out professionally was a good move. Forgot to take any hinge photo's because I was so blown away by what Ben and Mick had been up to down in the interior. Amazing how people disappear when the camera comes out.

This will be the breakfast bar end of the kitchen area,
oven and hob will be fitted on the other side.

Bens taken our request for no low open shelves that dog
tails can clear to heart and come up with this splendid item.
Can't wait for it to be finished, when the woodwork is oiled/waxed/varnished or whatever so the grain of the wood can be seen at its best. Probably be next month before we can get down again but got to earn a crust to pay the bills.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

We are afloat

Well this is it folks on the water already. No photo's of the boat being craned in as we were both at work on the day but Ben has a pile of pics of the event and will forward them to us. I'll post a few for posterity when they arrive. Here she is already got the foam insulation and battening fitted and preparations being made for first fix wiring. Ben is certainly cracking on. Glitches found to date is the 4 blade prop came with a different taper to the shaft but this should be rectified in a week or two and the most confusing one is there doesn't appear to be a filler opening on the fuel tank. Ah well life would be too quiet without a few hiccups along the way.
She looks good on the water where she belongs, but still lots of work to do. Apparently there is hardly any ballast on board but with the 15mm base plate she nearly draws 24" already, which is good as I'm looking to reduce the air draught to 5'10" if possible.
Popped down to the moorings at Pillings Lock Marina and see that the power hookups have now been completed to the pontoons at our end and everything is looking good. Stopped for a quick cuppa and cake in the cafe.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Busy week-end

Down at Bluewater again on Friday for one last look at the hull before it leaves Bluewater. Couldn't see much as it's in the process of being shot blasted prior to being primed and having 2 pack black on lower half.
Managed to get up and take a few measurements for the wheelhouse hinges but rushed it and still need more, but the next time we see this beastie it will be down with Ben at Great Haywood. Thanks again to all the people at Bluewater for time and patience in dealing with this novice and providing such a shapely hull.

Following day, Saturday down at Crick for the show, trying to keep spending urges in check. (some hope). Met up with Ben and Kelly on their stand and admiring the display units and wondering how best to fit them into our build. Lots to see and do, got plenty of rope,( Can't ever have enough of that) mooring spikes with covers and all manner of sundry items. Most important of all were a pair of lifejackets for the dogs. I doubt if they'll be used very often but it will be peace of mind for us if we venture out onto some of the larger rivers or tidal reaches. Not too sure at first but the pups soon go used to them.

Back to work on Sunday and the rest of the bank holiday -- such is life, but pays the bills, roll on retirement!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Quick visit

Back down to Bluewater again yesterday to meet up with David and Ben as there seemed to be a problem developing over delivery dates and work to be done, but on arrival I find all problems have been sorted and delivery date has been moved back to next Tuesday after the bank holiday. My fault I suppose wanting this big fancy wheelhouse has made a lot more work than expected. Ben appreciates the extra work and has ageed the later delivery date. David is putting as many people on the job as he can fit round the wheelhouse, and I'm still going to get a cracking boat that hasn't been spoilt by rushing it. Thanks chaps!

Work on the forward hatch.
Work on the wheelhouse seats

Two views of the extra large gas locker which will take a dustbin as well as two bottles and collapsable bottle cart. Side hatch on the bottom shot looks complete. There certainly has been some work going on since last Friday.

Rogues gallery - Ben and David all smiles after problems sorted. Perfectionists hard at work!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Coming On

Bluewater again yesterday, and there has been more progress. The last photo's taken are on Ben's website from last Friday show main cabin on, but now the wheelhouse is up and the windows and hatches have been cut out. My worries about the wheelhouse sides to take the handrail cum hinge that I have designed are just perfect but no mounting lugs fitted yet so I cant take measurements for the final drawing. Once again I think I've been lucky finding the right man (or should that be person these days) in contacting Mick at TR fabrications in Nottingham who can make the hinges, which will be 5ft long and leave an exposed handrail with either the wheelhouse up or down, in stainless steel.
Still plenty of work to do though, and David at Bluewater thinks he will have to send the handrail mounts away for drilling to 27mm to accept the handrail. Offered to do it at my workshop at home as I have facilities here if he could provide the steel, but he reckoned he'd got it covered. Even so looking at the work still to be done considering it was Friday afternoon and there was still plenty of seam welding to be done, dog box to cut out, bollards and gas locker to make plus the hatch frames and rudder to fit before it can be shot blasted and painted. I think the delivery date of next Wednesday is highly optimistic, but at the end of the day I'm not complaining as the care and attention to detail is second to none.
Tried to take a few photo's while we were there but the camera started acting up. B***er.
Karen took some shots on her phone but I cant get them to upload to the computer. Double B***er.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


Back down to Bluewater a couple of times over the past few days, mainly to explain what I want doing in the wheelhouse to try and gain a few extra inches of leg room. Unfortunately the idea of being able to turn the wheelhouse dinette into a put me up bed have been knocked on th head owing to the fact that I hadn't taken into account the fact that this nice shapely hull turns in much earlier than the normal narrowboat rear. David at Bluewater is going to taper the wheelhouse to follow the gunnels and then step in for the wheelhouse upperworks. I'm sure he thinks my idea will spoil the lines of this curvy hull. On my own head be it.

Anyway time will tell on that one, back to the build at present, the work continues to move forwards and with the longer wheelhouse the engine bay is going to be huge - perhaps we should take up smuggling! Got a better look at the inside this time and you can see the fuel tanks with weed hatch in between.

The hawse hole has been added to the bow and chain locker installed. Looking from ths angle the bow looks like it was taken from something that fought in the battle of Jutland.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this blogging lark but still plenty to learn. Thanks for the tip Bill.