Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Flashdance (What a Feeling)

Progress has been pretty slow of late due to other commitments, however, we have made some steps in the procurement and design department - attending the Crick Boat Show was crucial, as we purchased a lot of hardware and made many decisions regarding the design.

This week we've been laying the floor (a dedicated post will follow when it's complete), while today we have employed the help Colin aka the project manager and Terry the engineer. Their main task was to improve the engine bay doors. In their original form they consisted of two thick steel plates, that did the job but were hard to lift and were not lockable. We wanted a more elegant way to accessing the engine room.

The solution was to hinge them on removable pins that are retained by 'R' clips. The pins then slot into sockets that are welded into the deck's drain channels. Gas struts were mounted, which takes the weight out of lifting the lids and hold them in the upright position. Secondly, they installed a flush fitting lock, which we purchased from Timage, a company that makes parts for high end yachts. We do not intend to keep this locked when the vessel is carrying passengers as this would be unsafe should the engine room ever need to be accessed in an emergency, however I like the idea of having the ability to lock it when we are away for any extended period of time. As a finsihing touch, the fellas have added a 'finger pull' handle, welded into the lid.

Another key bit of progress is the steel shelves we had welded in. These will house the 75l calorifier (hot water tank), Hurricane heater (diesel fired boiler) and the battery banks. The inlet/port welded into the diesel tank will provide the route for the boiler's fuel return feed.

With all the exposed metal caused by welding there's a fair bit of priming and painting to do to tidy things up. On the plus side the welder was quite impressed with our Jotun paint job, as it didn't come off easily.

Thursday, 6 April 2017


Boaty's floor will be made up of reclaimed floorboards and while these will be clamped together as tightly possible leaving minimal gaps we are still aware that cool air can travel up from the bliges into the cabin. So the solution is a layer of thermal insoluation boards. Cut to size and suspended between the floorboards and the ballast.
To access the bilges floorboards can be removed to reveal 20mm thermal insulation board. The thermal insulation board is cut and joined by foil insulation tape, which can be removed to allow the boards to be lifted the bilges to be accessed. The boards are cut down the centerline of the boat and 60cm either side of the center line.
We have decided to employ the expertise of a Marine surveyor. On his first visit to the boat he informed us of the essential requirements in order to meet the RCD (Recreational Craft Directive) and offered lots of advice on our build. Anyone embarking on a self build projet should get RCD compliance, although not everyone does. We believe employing an expert will prove to be invaluable in the long run.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

It's Not Unusual

After doing much research into heating, electrics and other aspects of our build we came across a fellow blogger called Tom, who has written extensively about his own build and beyond.

His blog can be found here

Tom and his wife Jan have a beautiful and exceptionally well designed boat. You can see the passion and attention to detail that they have put into their boat and it she repaid them handsomely. As non-natives they have explored England via the waterways and now could be qualified to write the Britishness exams if they should wish.

With their adventure coming to an end we wish them all the best in their next adventure.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Get on the floor

Today we took our first meaningful delivery. Our first steps towards fitting out. We've managed to get hold of some reclaimed floorboards, which we will sand, recondition and stain. We have enough for the kitchen and lounge but not for the master bedroom. So we will have to either find a similar batch or look at other options.

Long term family friend Rob, who owns Castle Antiques in Bedford, gave us a great deal on these boards and they were very kindly delivered by our new friend Peter who generously passed on his floorboard laying expertise whilst helping to unload the boards.

The picture shows the boards laid loose.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Hello, I Love You

When she arrived from her 3 hour motorway journey, to her new home in Sawbridgeworth, we found a 75 tonne crane waiting to do the lift, when we had ordered a 100 tonne. We also found a crane driver (seen in orange) who did not think the lift was possible.

So we had our boat loaded onto a truck, complete with driver. We had our pitch complete with fresh timber sleepers. Now all we had to do was convince the crane driver not to go home and leave us in a world of shit. The acting site foreman, Andy (seen in blue), insisted that the lift was possible having done this several times previous with his preferred crane driver, who was unavailable due to ill health.

The point of disagreement surrounded the cranes maximum distance on a pivot from the truck to the sleepers. The driver finally and begrudgingly agreed to set up to lift, measure out and prove Andy wrong. He huffed and puffed and paced out the distances before accepting that it might just work. So we went ahead.

Many thanks to Andy, without him, we would have been helpless.

Last Goodbye

As with any project you look for milestones and today was certainly one of those. The boat, formerly known as 'Boaty', would now pass from the experiened and wise hands of XR&D to a pair of charlatans masquerading as boat builders.

Walker Cranes provided the initial lift, out of XR&D HQ in Nottinghamshire. A 100 tonne crane lifted the boat onto a low loader, which would be driven down to the A1 / A14 / M11 to Sawbridgeworth.

We followed our driver, Ben, down the motorway and supposed that this would probably be the fastest that our boat is ever likely to travel.

We would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to XR&D, particularly but not exclusively, Garry, Lee and Abdul. We are so happy we chose to go with them. The process was relatively stress free and quite often enjoyable. They made every effort to accommodate our 'on-the-fly' approach to design and guided our aesthetic ideas without compromising functional considerations. We found them to be reliable, trustworthy, personable, professional and talented. Hope to see you guys again soon, perhaps for a jaunt down the canal...

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Heat

As we edge closer to moving the boat down south, it is going through the final stages of the build - as far as XR&D are concerned. The pictures show the control panel for the BETA Engine, the internal battening and foam insulation. We also decided to insulate our water tank, which should minimise the condensation that usually drips down the side of these stainless steel tanks.

The foam insulation is sprayed in, at a minimum coverage of 25mm in thickness, which is a fairly modern technique for boats and will help to retain the heat.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Still Grey

As the boat is nearly ready for the second stage of the build, which will involve it being fitted out on hard standing in Sawbridgeworth for the next 6 months (MINIMUM!), we wanted to get a coating on top of the primer. XR&D graciously let us use their hanger for the weekend, though our target was to get it done in a day. We set up camp on Friday evening in Travel lodge Retford, after making the long drive up North.
With Adam as lead painter in tow, we arrived at XR&D base on Saturday morning at around 8.30am.
The first stage was prep, which involved lots of sweeping and then using tack rags to get the surface clean. Then taping from the end of the blacking, we would paint everything above the gunwale. Then we painted: the idea is to keep the wet edge moving, only letting areas dry as you finish them, but this gets complicated by the fact that you don't want to over roller any particular area and ruin the finish. Then add in the fact that you have to walk across much of the area you want to paint, it becomes a harder tasks than it looks.
We had to work out a methodical to route to take when painting, with surprisingly minimal arguing we found a rhythem and worked our way through the boat.

The shopping list:
  • Jotun Hardtop HB BS381C 676 Light Weatherwork Grey 5l - x7 (worth noting we only need 2 tins for 1 coat). 
  • Polyurethane Thinner 1.0l 
  • 4" and 9" foam rollers 
  • Tack rags

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Prime us

With the steel work finished, the chaps at XR&D polished up the boat and prepared it for priming. If we look after the thing, this will be the last time we see its shiny metalic body.

They then used a High Build two-pack Zinc Phosphate primer by Dacrylate, followed by a black pitch epoxy blacking system for the hull. Results can be seen bellow.

Our engine has been placed in it's final resting place, along with the ballast. Finally, our windows have arrived and can be seen through the bubble wrap. They're weighty units both in mass and price, double glazed with thermal break. 'Top Banana', as my neighbour used to say.