Saturday, March 30, 2013

Patiently waiting...

Just a quick note to say no news yet.  Well, of course there is always something going on here but the all important splash day is STILL not confirmed.

We would never have dreamed it would be so tricky to find someone to do this job for us.  Once we did finally find someone who could not only lift us but also (just) fit us on his trailor, and for a reasonable price too; we've had trouble pinning down a day that is good for everyone.  Tentatively we are booked for Wednesday which is the third of April.  However, Perry; our guy who can, can't be sure.   He is dependant on a bigger and more important job than us getting finished first.

Our creaky step which we were purposely not fixing has finally given out on us, it really is time to go.

Of course all this waiting is not really time wasting as we always have loads to do, but the thing is we need to get going.  Not just because of our visas but also the weather will get unbearable for us soon and also, we've had enough of work on the hard.

It's been great working on Impetuous with the conveniences that we have being on Roger's land.  However, she's a boat and we bought her with the primary goal of going sailing; not to learn how to restore boats.  Given how much effort we've put in and how much we've learned, we still look forward to our restoration continuing; it's just time it happened somewhere else!

We've been filling in time with plenty of jobs from our seemingly ever growing lists;

Glueing up Spreaders


 Varnishing the mast again and again; 12 coats so far.

Patterns for, and then commencing the long and difficult job of cutting those huge boards of teak into much smaller toerail.  Check out the router face; we've got to make a gallery of these.   We've also been to Houston to buy more Teak for this and Spruce for the spreaders.
We've been buying rigging stuff from ebay where possible to help the bank balance out.  Some things you can use second hand, some things you absolutely can't.
Does this photo remind anyone else of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall looking at a chicken?  Just makes me chuckle!  Cutting up replacement bronze for chainplates.

 And FINALLY working towards the hatch.  Can't wait to have a waterproof boat, though it will be sometime after we've splashed as we have to get the toerails out of the teak boards then use up the offcuts for the inside of the hatch.  Sigh.  "Chance of rain" continues to be a problem!
Another router face snap for good measure!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunshine and Setbacks

It's been beautiful weather all week so we've been able to make good headway with the cap rails.  This is Duncan planing the tops flat as the toe rail changes angle all the way along the sweep of the boat.  I'm currently trying to figure out how not to waste too much teak when we cut the caps.  They are quite curved and so each length needs to be squeezed into the board next to another; flipping them over and staggering them to try to make it economical.  We're not going to have enough so it's another trip up to Houston to get teak and some more Sitka spruce for our spreaders Monday.

Quite a bit of time has been spent trying to find someone who wants to move the boat to the water.  It seems hiring a truck with a crane on it isn't an option around here, boat moving companies who have a suitable trailer are not local and therefore it isn't really worth their while getting over here just to do a 15 mile move and in any case they can't get the boat on their trailer so it means hiring a separate crane.  The quotes for the trailer moving 15 miles have been eye watering so far so we're still trying to work on persuading a local trucker to do it. 

The two options we had which meant we didn't need to hire a crane have now fallen flat (better that than the boat!) and so we're going to be sorting out the crane hire ourselves.  None of this has been as simple as it was when we moved my narrowboat "Seth" down the length of England; I called a company that the boatyard recommended, they went and collected it with their crane on the truck and they moved it to where we wanted it; surprisingly easy and not too dear.

We had a big setback with our new chainplates.  We were so pleased with how they came out; as soon as Duncan took over the cutting that is; I so wanted to do it but the fact is that he is MUCH better at cutting straight.

We took them all shinied and shaped down to Roger's friend Jason who owns a marine fabrication shop and who makes stainless chainplates amongst his big rails bending and welding work.  He said he didn't know if he would be able to do it as the Bronze was still about 7/16 and he knows that his machine can not bend 1/2 stainless.  He said he'd give it a go and let us know as he didn't do much work with bronze.

Next day we got the phone call.  Dunc said that's great and looked really happy so I breathed a sigh of relief and got on with my work.  Later I found out the sad truth.  Jason had managed to bend two fine (although his machine had found it hard) but then the next one had snapped.  He then tried heating it as it bent and that one snapped too.  Operation bend the bronze was very much on hold.

 We were really upset about it, not only because the bronze is expensive but also because it's so lovely and we really wanted to use it.  We went through lots of options and called lots of people and then went home to use the magic web to find out more about what went wrong. 

Our friend Steve sent us a link to a wooden boat forum page where several people had written about "annealing".  After further research on metalurgy and reading other forum conjecture we felt much more confident.  We also emailed and had a reply from Brion Toss a rigger who's book we are finding very helpful who said it shouldn't snap if you do it right and that aluminium bronze was a good choice.  Phew!

Moray at classic marine in Suffolk has been really helpful to us throughout our project supplying us with our Cranze Iron, bronze taps, making up all the mast fittings from our drawings (and suggesting some improvements) and knows a thing or two about bronze.  After a pleasant phone call with him we were really heartened.  He was sure we would be able to bend the bronze ourselves after we had annealed it and that you should never try to bend bronze without annealing it.  He said you have to get it really hot, but there is also an upper limit;

      'don't go putting it in a forge or anything!'

So we went back to Jason armed with all this information.  He was really happy to help us which was great as it must have been pretty traumatic seeing those pieces go.  We took some new pieces outside and started heating them with his oxy-acetylene torch.  It took longer than we thought, bearing in mind these things are super hot.  Jason kept looking at us;

    'do you think that's enough?  Thats quite a lot of heat guys...'

I wasn't sure and it was a little nerve wrecking but Dunc stood fast;

    'more heat'

Every few moments we questioned whether we'd done enough; not being sure how it would look, but Moray's words were in Duncan's head,

    'you'll know it when you see it; it's called sub-red'

and so the refrain went;

    'more heat'

And then suddenly it happened and we all went

'ahhh, that's it'

The bronze had been steadfastly black during all that heating and then suddenly it flushed a really dull red, as Jason moved the torch over it the area of red spread out.  We only heated the part that we were going to bend.  A job well done we left the pieces outside to cool.  People suggest several ways to cool the bronze but Moray said to just set it asside would be fine.  It seems other alloys sometimes need to be cooled quickly during annealing.

After leaving it for several hours to cool, Jason put the first piece in his brake press and we stood well back hoping for the best.  It bent straight to the setting with no fuss at all.  Jason said it was 100% easier and we all shook hands and congratulated ourselves and agreed we'd make up the two replacement parts before we come back to his shop to do all the rest at once.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Five favourite sanding songs

I've been sanding away at our bronze for the chainplates and Duncan has been happily sanding away at the mast all day so here's a pertinent thought; Music really makes the sanding go better.

Given that we've had a lot of sanding time to think about it over the years, here's what helps me on;


1.   Pussycat dolls; Jai-ho
2.  Pure Tones; totally addicted to base
3.  Tavares; Heaven must be missing an angel
4.  Beastie boys; super disco breakin'
5.  Basement Jaxx; Do your thing

It was so hard to just choose five from all the disco classics and Dancy tunes I've been listening to.  I've been listening to lots of bootlegs by the 'Freelance Hellraiser' too.   It was easy to miss out the thoroughly embarrassing Backstreet boys and Steps from the list however...

These choices absolutely do not reflect my taste in music more generally, sanding specific tunes are just that; specific.  It's a jolly beat that keeps you going and jigging along.  I find that loud music in the headphones not only helps to ameliorate the persistant grind of our excellent 6" sander but it really makes the difference between an enjoyable day of getting things done and a horrible slog that may never end... 

The bronze has been morphing from this...

to this.

Our Bulgarian friend Ivan who has a similar boat nearby told us that to work with our 3/8 bronze would be "impossible".  Turns out we must have a different definition of impossible in mind.  Sure it was hard, but in my view something is impossible when no matter how hard you try, no matter how many ways you try or for how ever long; you still can't do it.  This job only took a bit of persistance.  Considering what it would have cost us to have them made, the sanding pads and time were very small fry!

Dunc's been sanding away at the mast having finished the planing.  Although he's been trying to keep himself to Michele Thomas' Spanish course, I can tell by the grin on his face he's either listening to Belle and Sebastian or Camera Obscura.  He tells me that Billy Bragg helps him to sand too.

Dunc's sanding tunes  choice;                        Bit of a tall order I found; five songs... I struggle to decide on my dersert island disc tracks. Five sanding songs no chance. Albums maybe; to be honest i select a band and let the music machine make the decisions. But yes, Belle and Sebastian keeps me sanding. Early Fleetwood Mac, (Pete Green years) Howling Wolf, Camara Obscura (again good guess Ruthie) and the Magic Numbers have been a new find since we have been out here.  So to summise either really monotonous samey same music or something that will make you chuckle as you sand. Incidently does anyone know what a googeley moon is?  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Golden Rasta

One of the legends surrounding wooden masts is that of the Golden Rasta.  A creature so called because his tangled locks grow from the shavings of Sitka spruce masts.  It is most auspicious if he pays a visit.  One can be sure of a mast that will remain straight and strong for many years if it first receives his blessing along with a glance of his beloved plane.

With our mast being nearly 60' in length we were hopeful that he might pay us a visit; he is particularly keen on tall masts as he is able to take long shavings from them for his locks.  He's also pretty keen on Caribbean rum.  Fortunately so are we, so every night when we packed up we left a little glass of Flor de cana under the mast in the hope we would tempt him from his hideaway.

Of course wooden mast building is not quite as prevalent as it once was. Indeed it might even be true that more wooden masts are neglected and ultimately perish to rot than are built nowadays.  I tell you this as, according to the legend, sadly each time a wooden mast is destroyed the Golden Rasta loses one of his precious locks. And who can imagine the Golden Rasta with a bald patch.

Well I'm sure you will be delighted to hear that we caught a glimpse of this not so mythical creature this morning.  We were quick enough to snap a few shots of him, plane in hand, before he scurried away with his new lock.

So now the Golden Rasta has been we are all but ready to move on to the final stage of mast building; varnishing.  We might even expect a visit from the Three headed Varnish Dragon of Sitka. So called because one head blows on a blend of uv absorbers in a blend of aromatic oils, the other a aliphatic isocyanate, whilst the third dries it with his flames, enabling them to get all 10 coats on in a day.  It really is the holy grail of varnish and would last years.  But personally, I don't believe such a varnish exists!

<div style="background:url('') no-repeat -1px -1px;">I selected this post to be featured on <a href="" target="_blank">Blog Nation</a>. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!</div>