Tale of two engines

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything about the boat, fact is I’ve been too busy with it and many other things to find the time to piss about with websites.

Anyway, below you will see the head (bathroom) being constructed and clad, all seems so long ago. This included steaming a piece of timber to fit the curve under the window. I didn’t build a steamer, I just wrapped the wood in rags and poured hot water on it. The last pic shows my colour LED lighting..


Next pictures show the stow cupboards in the wheelhouse and cladding of the rear Cabin, loads of tricky curves in there!
What does every living space need? a good set of speakers. My studio has a set of PMC TB2 speakers, these are a transmission line design and I’m a big fan of how they detailed they sound, they also produce accurate bass to 20hz. The transmission line design places the driver at the end of a long passage folded into a box. I was considering putting a set of the smaller DB2’s on the boat but I needed something smaller. I’ve been mucking around with small digital amps and speakers for a while and was impressed with Monacor SP60 Driver. I decided to build a transmission line speaker with them. A year later I had them built, I did loads of research and calculations to get them right, how do they sound?  F**ing Ace!!!
My dining table has now been taken over by synths, so no change there….


Synths need electricity, so next I fitted some solar panels, 800W tied to 420Ah of lead acid batteries. I specced the system to produce enough power even in the depths of winter, this means in the summer I have loads of left over power. I wasn’t keen on chucking it away so fitted a dump load water heater to my hot water tank. This turns waste electricity into heat. Handy as in the summer the stove is not running to heat the water, the result is loads of lovely 60deg water.
BSS states that gas cylinders must be installed in a locker after sorting this I plumbed in the rest of the gas system including  bubble tester to check for leaks.


One of the boats engines is missing. I’d acquired a cheap motor as described in the last post, I spent quite a while reassembling the engine from the various bags  and gradually got to the point of trying to start it.
But sadly I never got it going, it almost ran a couple of times but then locked up. On further investigation I found that a main bearing had failed due to a tiny bit of rust in the oil hole, TBH I took a risk not checking it and in this case it didn’t pay off!

The second pic below is of the engine complete and ready to be wrecked, after a few beers I stared looking for the parts to fix the crankshaft, the bearings and regrind would come to £200, however I found a rebuilt engine on ebay, for £125!
After swapping the injection  pump and fitting some new glow plugs I tried to start the 3rd engine. I tried everything to get it to run, heat guns in the intake and all, for 8 days I charged up the batteries and wound the engine endlessly. The problem with diesels is they need to generate very high pressures to heat the air to the point where it will burn fuel. These pressures are not reached until the engine is bedded in. The rings don’t fit the bores  to create a good seal. When a engine is professionally rebuilt its run on a dyno until the compression is high enough. Without dyno you have to do this with the starter motor.
So it took 8 days, I was going to give up but decided to try the potato trick, this involves stuffing a potato into the exhaust manifold to help build combustion pressure! Well it worked, the engine runs really well and after I’ve fitted the gearbox, I’ll be putting it into the boat.
The last few shots show the boat in its final coats of paint, coat 7 in fact! I decided on battleship grey and used the exact same paint and shade used by the navy. I guess Royal Navy internet paint enthusiasts do have a use after all!

So the million dollar question? when is launch day? I always say “next spring” and so far its been 4 years! But the fact of the matter is that it will be ready when its ready, its not a good idea to float a boat that’s not ready, after all it might not float!


Gearbox, wiring, plumbing and fit out

The last time I looked at the gearbox all seemed well. It wasn’t until later when running the engine I noticed some really horrible crunching noises. I looked at the output shaft and it was flapping about horribly.

I pulled off the rear gearbox housing and found a pile of utterly shafted ball bearings imag2015.jpg
Here they are, I’ve never seen them do this before

The reverse gear selector didn’t seem right either, so I pulled the casing off the middle section

Below you can see the planetary gears for reverse, a brake band acts on the shiny metal cylinder stopping the hub and reversing the motion. I was referring to a crusty scan of a 1940’s manual for a vaguely similar gearbox to get an idea of how to dissemble the box and how it worked.
To keep it short I’ll just say it was a bitch to take apart, plus you are always worried you’ll mash up  some un-replaceable component by not understanding the weird old technical language in vaguely related manual.

Here is the other broken bit, this is the end of the brake band that applies reverse gear, its cast iron and the lug has snapped off. Cast iron is difficult to repair and there is no chance of buying a replacement.

That pile of coal like crap is the old output oil seal, this was also going to need to be replaced.

I took the broken brake band to an engineering firm to see if they could weld it and started the search for a replacement bearing. One place had a new old stock bearing that would fit for only £160! However more searching found a modern equivalent of higher spec for £40. Below you can see the new bearing after drifting it into place.

The brake band returned with the lug brazed back into place, apparently it would have been difficult to get proper penetration with welding.

Brazing uses an alloy of copper and zinc in much the same way as soldering uses lead or tin.

Below is the new output shaft seal, these are made of felt (not coal) turns out one from a classic tractor fits!

It took a day to put it all together again, glad to have it sorted as I’d be going nowhere without a gearbox.

Its bloody cold in a metal structure in winter, whats needed is insulation, so that was the next job. Here I’m framing out the partition wall for the bathroom

I’d given the bilge few good thick coats of paint as its going to spend a lot of time time wet.

Sheets of 50mm celotex where shaped to fit alongside vertical battens which the cladding will be fixed to.

The insulation makes a difference straight away, its quite quick to fit but makes loads of mess.

Below is the calorifier (hot water tank) this was fitted after making an un-boltable section in the wheelhouse floor frame.

I’ve also plumbed in the remote oil filter. this is needed as the engine wont fit with the original one. This one is off an old rally car.

I solved the problem with weird sized chain by extending it with two turnbuckles.

The steering cable pulleys needed moving to fit the water tank in.

I cleaned up the fixings for the hand rails, under the flaky chrome was bronze, much nicer!


This is the main control panel being made, I also wired it in including the charging circuit, glowplugs, heating duct fan and water pump circuits. Took a lot longer than writing that sentence!

To pass the BSS test the stove has to have shielding to stop it setting fire to the boat. Fireproof board is expensive so I used aluminium sheet spaced away from the hull with rubber spacers to stop heat transfer.

At the start of April I moved the boat to a new location so I can live on it while working on it, this means more money to spend on the boat and has been really useful while designing the living space.

Good to see the boat from some other angles, moving was much cheaper this time due to using a scrap firm instead of a posh boat mover.

However it nearly went tits up when the boat slipped round in the slings, I was under it at the time moving the chocks, next moment it was swinging around banging into the nearby wall and smacking into a caravan. Still, no damage apart from to the caravan!

Next job is to fit out the interior, because I’m living on the boat the motivation to make it livable is quite high, stuff like seating and storage start becoming a priority. I used left over floorboard to make a sofa/bunk with storage underneath.

Not having running water gets boring pretty quickly. I’d already bought a 200 liter flexible water tank, this fits under the bed in the back cabin.

While in there I laid a floor with the last of the pitch pine floorboards.

The tank attaches to the water pump

The water pump attaches to the accumulator that smooths the water flow and give the pump a longer life. I’ve since moved the accumulator as it needs to be vertical, I also had replace the pump as the ebay one was 150psi and should be more like 40psi.

So there you go, water coming out of a tap. Quite a novelty after not having it for a month. I’ve also plumbed the hot water tank in, this heats from the engines coolant using an internal coiled pipe, similar to a back boilers system.

I found a place that restores stoves like mine in France, they had a door to fit my old stove. They had some restored stoves exactly the same as mine, for only £900.


With the insulation complete and a bit more storage/furniture made I could start the tongue and groove cladding, this runs horizontally to look like the planking on a wooden boat. It also exaggerates the length of the boat making it feel more roomy.





I’m really chuffed with the way its turning out, its great for all these ideas to finally make it into the physical world. Living in a space you have created is a very satisfying feeling.

That’s all for now but let me leave you with this beautiful sight! This is a Newage Commander engine I found on ebay for £50! One of my engines is missing so its great to have the full compliment. When rebuilt and fitted the boat will have 4.5 liters of diesel torque and nearly 100hp.

Only one issue, this engine was under water for 3 months when the Thames flooded……

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Fire in the Hole

imag1777.jpgWith the exterior of the boat approaching completion I’ve been working hard on the inside, December weather means lots of cold rain so inside seems a lot more appealing.
I needed to get the inside of the boat ready for paint before anything else can happen.
There was a massive chunk of concrete in the bow of the boat that needed removing to inspect the steel. This was really inaccessible and working was really cramped. I used a diamond blade on the grinder to chop the concrete into a grid of squares these can then be chipped off with a cold chisel. In all it took 2 days of cutting and chipping, noisy, dirty, dangerous work, on one occasion the grinder snagged and flew out of my hands ricocheting around in the tight space. After pulling the plug and recovering the grinder I noticed that the laces on my boot had been chopped, in fact the blade had gone through the boot and 2 layers of sock (3 pairs in the cold). Its always a big relief when no blood is spurting out!

imag1785.jpgThe pic on the left shows the inside of the bows after all the concrete was removed, I had to rebuild the corroded ribs and re-plate a couple of thin sections, so worth all the effort to remove the concrete.
Next job was to clean up the inside of the hull, removing all the loose paint and rust, took about a week with a rotary wire brush and various scrapers, messy dusty work.
when the steel was in a satisfactory condition I coated the hull with a coat of Amerlock Sealer, evil, nasty epoxy due at least in some part for my migraines. I was really careful this time wearing an organic filter and making sure no skin was exposed (gloves gaffa taped to arms covered in plastic bags). The sealer is really thin and drips off the ceiling as you paint, if it gets on your skin it soaks in like oil.
In the cold weather the epoxy took over a week to go off, and stunk the yard out in the process.

imag1792.jpgThis pic shows the chain from the steering gear that I’m having a problem sourcing, I’ve been in touch with loads of chain suppliers and none of them have it. Its a 3/4 pitch but the rollers are 10mm as opposed to the normal 12mm, it looks like a giant bicycle chain. I’m either going to salvage the old chain or fit a sprocket that takes a standard chain size.


With a bit of better weather and the boat still stinking of epoxy I decided it was time to address the last few bits of metal work needed on the exterior.
In the pic below you can see 2 holes in the deck, the one on the left is where the anchor chain passes through. The one on the right was the filler for the old water tank. The deck under the chain roller at the tip of the bow had also seen better days.
imag1936.jpgThis is the anchor winch made by Simpson Lawrence & Co in Glasgow so probably a later addition.

imag1940.jpgHere the deck repairs are complete, The deck had a thick layer of galvanising, I ground it off on the outside but couldn’t get to the other side to do the same. Galvanised metal has a layer of zinc which vaporises when you weld it and as most welders know the vapour is really toxic causing metal fume fever. I thought I’d be OK as I was outside but managed to get a couple of lungfulls of zinc fumes. That had me with a bad case of the chills in the night and big black rings under my eyes for a week. Your body can deal with zinc if its a mild dose but well worth avoiding!
I was going to make a wood burner from an old gas bottle until I spotted these bits lying on the street outside a squat in Bristol.

dsc_0070.jpgI thought it was a Chinese reproduction but its original, french, in the Art Nouveau style and an antique!
Seeing as the boat was still reeking of epoxy and uninhabitable without breathing apparatus I used the time to fix up the stove.
The stove had an internal firebox made of thin steel and it had rotted away. I made a new one from 3mm steel  it should last a couple of hundred years given that the old one was 1mm!
The pic below shows the firebox under construction, the curved bit is the baffle, I’d decided to move the flue to the side of the stove, the enameled panel was smashed and not visible so I could relocate it there.

I welded a chunk of 8mm steel to the top of the stove to make a hotplate for cooking, the lid opens on the top of the stove to give access, should be able to get two pans on there.
I didn’t have the top ring when I first found the stove, Till my mate Gaz turned up with it! He’d been fixing a van and the bloke He’d dropped it off too had seen me fixing the stove. The ring was dumped in a trolley on a site near to where I’d found the rest of the stove. Not a bad little stove for nothing but a bit of effort.

imag1978.jpg Its pretty cold working on the boat in January and when the sun goes down at 4pm the desire to keep working starts to wane. So better get the burner fitted!

I cast a hearth out of concrete and then spent a couple of days making a flue, you cant buy 75deg bends for flues easily, nor 160deg ones for that matter. So like most things on a boat you have to tailor make one.
Anyone who has fabricated anything out of tubes knows its a right bugger getting the ends of the tubes profiled so they fit together without big gaps. Luckily I found a site that lets you make custom miter templates  see here.



imag1981.jpgThe flue goes up through the deck













imag1982.jpgIt comes out of the deck near the front of the wheel house.









Im going to extend the flue up through the wheelhouse roof and put a chrome guard on it like a Peterbuilt truck.







imag1984.jpgThere you go, it works!

I’ve found a door on the net, and in the mean time I’m using some steel plate.
I found it very difficult to leave after the fire was lit, gets the boat pretty toasty despite the lack of insulation.








Stove sorted, its time to have a look at the galley, this is going in the back of the wheelhouse.


I wasn’t sure about the small sink from a caravan I’d bought. However next to the bonfire with the dead fox on top of it was a full size one.
imag1973.jpgIt fits the space really well. Its cut in two here as you need to lift up the hatch on the right to get access to the sleeping quarters, not sure if I’m going to use the chopped off bit yet, but was thinking you could overlap it like a roof tile.

So the bedroom is going to be accessed by opening the door under the sink, pretty quirky eh? not sure where I’m going to put the carrier bags and bleach though!

Inside and Out

Its been over six months since I last posted, so there’s a lot to get through. Last post I was welding in the supports for the Sole or floor of the boat and putting  the windows. This meant I could take off the tarp and see what the new wheelhouse and cabin top looks like.
The 360 degree windows in the wheelhouse let loads of light in.
Shortly after getting the covers off I got a ring from a mate saying He’d got some reclaimed pitch pine floorboards for me. Makes a big difference being able to walk around again. 
The boards are much narrower than modern boards, I wanted this way so I can match them to the tongue and groove planking that’s going on the sides. The floor will curve up the sides to give the effect of the inside of a wooden boat.

With some good weather I started building up coats of paint on the hull and cabins, each coat takes a day, topsides need 3 coats, the underside needs six then two coats of antifouling.
Makes a big difference when all the steel is one colour, you can really see the swoopy lines of the hull, the new wheelhouse is looking pretty good, glad I spent some time putting a bit of a point into the windscreen.

Moving back to the inside I started removing a section of the bulkhead between the wheelhouse and fore-cabin. I wanted more of an open plan feel with this part of the boat.

wpid-imag0796.jpgThis made such a difference I cut out the section on the other side
Makes the boat feel much larger inside, before you had to squeeze through a narrow door.
The wheel just floats in mid air (well bolted to a Bracket) and the steering chain will be exposed.

wpid-imag1678.jpgThinking about putting the instruments into separate stainless binnacles, like a motorbike.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, in the case of this pic they would all be swear words. The engine ran briefly  maybe a year ago, I thought I’d better rig it up properly and try running it again. Firstly I needed an exhaust system, this I fabricated from the existing “hospital” silencer and some bends scavaged from the local exhaust shops skip.  With the exhaust now venting into the atmosphere not the cabin the engine could be run safely.
But would it start? in a word, no! the starter was really sluggish so I took it apart again and found that the insulation on the stator had broken down, I fixed this with epoxy and replaced the card insulators between the windings and casing, then refitted it.
Still no good, I took it off and disassembled the starter clutch thinking it might be slipping. It wasn’t but the inner boss was slipping on the shaft. This was a press fit when it was made, I peened the shaft and epoxed the boss in place. This worked for a while then the boss started slipping again. It turned out that there was a crack in the boss. As a last resort I ground a notch into the boss where the crack was and welded the boss to the shaft. This bodge seems to be holding up well, but I’ll look for a new starter clutch.
Next job was to plumb in the cooling, fit the keel coolers and rig up the alternator and fen belt. Now the engine could be run for longer than a minute and it runs really well, with new glow plugs it starts easily, ticks over and runs really sweetly. I even gave it an air filter!
An engine needs a transmission and the gearbox needed attaching to the prop shaft. I couldn’t work out why the coupler (the silver thing above) clamped to the prop shaft, the net produced a manual and after rebuilding the coupler and greasing the internals it was clamped firmly to the prop. I then attached  the greasers and put new packing in the stern gland.
With all this done I could test the gearbox which was filled with water originally and in an unknown condition. After testing I realised it was stuck in reverse with no neutral. Selecting forward stalled the engine and made the oil in the gearbox smoke, not good.
I found a manual scan for a similar gearbox online, looked like it was written in the 1940’s complete with ink illustrations and  historic oily fingerprints. After a couple of hours adjusting the linkage and clutch it was working fine, tbh there was very little to go wrong in there.
The gearbox needed to be connected to the gear lever and this needed a dog leg linkage that goes up and over the silencer, jobs like this seem really simple but can easily take most of a day.
There’s still a couple of repairs left on the deck, like the one above, and the new rubber rubbing strakes have to be fitted but when thats done and the deck is painted the exterior is nearly done.
I’m now at the stage where the boat could be put on the water and with the steering gear connected  be driven around but that is going to wait until the basic fit out has been done (insulation, framing, paneling, wiring plumbing etc).  Still a lot of work but it feels good to have got this far.

I almost forgot to mention that I found another of these boats for sale on ebay. I found out earlier that 12 of these boats existed originally, so at least one other survives.
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The cabin tops are different, there’s no rear cabin and its been converted to a single prop. But its still obviously the same hull (despite all the overplating) The curved transom gave it away, as did the countersunk rivets.
I contacted the seller but received no reply, the listing gave no indication of its heritage so maybe the seller thought it best swept under the carpet.

Nazi Bilge Torture

wpid-2015-03-12_18-07-14_hdr.jpgYou don’t get a chance to use a title like that very often and it fits the experience very well. The hull repairs where complicated and pretty extensive. Made difficult by the fact that the boat had been over plated and the inner plates had been consumed by rust. wpid-imag0590.jpg Choosing what to keep, what to remove and all the extra complexity of the double layer of steel made things a massive headache.  The last two pics show the hull repairs complete and the new ribs being welded in. one of the ribs by the prow had to be made with an odd concave profile to fit around a big dent, who knows what caused it, battle scar or shopping trolley in the canal?
With the ribs in place I welded in some floor joists with a small section also welded to the end of the ribs by the keel. This makes a stiff triangle that inspires confidence, previously this was a triangular sheet of steel with a wooden joist. hopefully this will be a bit stronger.

wpid-2015-03-20_16-07-23_hdr.jpgwpid-imag0623.jpgSo that’s the bilge pretty much complete as far as metal work is concerned.  Sorry about the blurry pictures, my phone is finding it difficult to focus in the bilge gloom, I know how that feels.wpid-imag0672.jpg

I’m planning to remove the fraying tarp covering the boat to paint the exterior of the cabins. So everything needs to be rain proof. The gap around the base of the windscreen was paneled in by riveting composite panel and sealing it with PU mastic. The same mastic was used to bond the windows, you need to get creative with the clamping and wedging of the glass, a third arm would be handy here.

wpid-imag0671.jpgwpid-imag0674.jpgI did the cabin windows in a different way. Having nothing to clamp to I drilled some holes and bolted long bolts into the holes. The glass is supported by the bottom bolts while the mastic sticks and penny washers nuts clamp the glass to the cabin side. Tidy eh?
Hopefully The tarp will be off next time, I’m really  interested  to see what all the changes look like!

Cabin fever

This post details the trials and tribulations of the Forecabin, this space is going to be the main living space of the boat and will include the head (bathroom).
In my last post I’d started raising the first section of the cabin roof to give full standing headroom. After that was done I could fabricate the windscreen of the boat.
wpid-imag0a484.jpgI decided to put a slight angle into the screen so the centre post is slightly further forward than the sides. It was much more complicated to make than a flat screen but was worth the effort visually and looks a bit like cockpit of a messerschmitt 109 to my eyes.
wpid-imag0a485.jpgThe angled screen creates a bit more space on the inside, this area i going to be part of the kitchen so might be a good spot for growing my fresh herbs!
I’d decided to cut the cabin roof into sections to make lifting easier, the whole roof must weight half a Ton in total.
wpid-imag0113.jpgOn the right you can see the middle section cut out, I managed to drop the section into the boat while moving it around, somehow I manged to lift it out by myself!
I used a length of angle iron to lever it up and blocks to support it as I went, I’m glad I wasn’t under it when it fell!
wpid-imag0116.jpgWhen it was back in the right position temporary supports where tacked into place.
The existing sides of the cabin are a real mess and rusted through in loads of places, due to moisture being held against them by the rotting wooden interior. Loads of it needs cutting out and replacing.

wpid-imag0121.jpgThis in the front window, all rusted away where the wooden frame touched the steel

wpid-imag0123.jpgThe roof was really leaky, turned out after removing the ceiling it was full of holes, previous occupant had just thrown a tarp over it!
Next job was to weld flat strips into the gap made by moving the roof up, this completed I could move onto the final section at the very front of the cabin.
wpid-imag0210.jpgThis job was complicated by needing to extend the cabin forward as well as raising the roof. Reason for this change is to make more room in the Head for a stand up shower. In this picture the front of the cabin has been cut away. wpid-imag0212.jpgThe next one shows the  extension being constructed. I used the section of deck cut out as the roof for the extension. Forming the curves at the corners was tricky and I toyed with leaving them out, but I think it looks a lot better with them and preserves the character of the boat.
Around this time I got fed up with the cheap welding rods I’d been using. The welding shop recommenced some Primafix rods at £70 a box!! they did them for £50 cash and the difference was amazing, cleaner welds, easy striking and very little smoke making it easier to see the weld. Shame about the price though.

wpid-imag0215.jpg I just cut the window out larger rather than replacing the rusted metal, more light cant be a bad thing in the bathroom.

I said earlier that the roof was full of holes, you can see here how bad it was around the hatch. This all needed cutting away. I said earlier that the roof was full of holes, you can see here how bad it was around the hatch. This all needed cutting away.

Here’s the hatch aperture again showing the poor state of the surround. I cut away all the rusted bits leaving a gaping hole that I welded a large plate over. Then I cut a new hole for the ships window I’d acquired to replace the hatch.


wpid-img_20141103_180914.jpgAfter sorting the hatch I then replaced all the dodgy sections of steel in the roof, the corners of the sides, sides and deck/cabin join. In total a couple of weeks work. This was then all filled and coated in sealer.
Last job for the front cabin was to remove all the concrete in the bottom. This is a bodge done to boats when they are on their last legs. I needed to inspect and repair the underlying steel and tried removing it at first by hand and with an  air chisel. This was slow hard work so I borrowed a big electric breaker.
This made short work of the concrete but went straight through the bottom of the the boat! This was due to the thin pitted steel near the keel. Water had got between the concrete and hull and rusted the boat from the inside. I knew there was work to be done in this area but wasn’t prepared for the horror revealed by removing the concrete.  Most of the ribs where rusted through and long sections of the hull where totally shot.
I’d envisioned a few repairs as the outside of the hull had given them away but not quite on this scale. Only one way to approach it really, get out the grinder, hack out all the crap and weld in some new metal.
wpid-imag0289.jpg wpid-2015-02-20_17-41-06_hdr.jpg

The left pic shows the concrete in the process of being removed, the big hole is a plate I’d already found as suspect. The picture on the right shows the hull having new metal welded in, this is where I am at the moment, new ribs will be welded in when both sides are complete.  Its hard to believe the boat was still floating with all the problems under the concrete.

I forgot to say that while I was working on the cabin sides I heard someone banging on the side of the boat, I poked my head up and there was a bloke stood there, “Last time I was in one of these it sank!” he said. Turned out he’d been in the admiralty and knew the boat. He said there where 12 of them taken as spoils of war by the British navy, I’m yet to speak to him further and get the full story but its interesting its served in both the Nazi and British navy!

The Last Four Months

Its been a long time since I’ve posted anything about the boats progress but things have moved on a great deal in the last few months. Firstly the engine is back together and with help from my mate Gaz we managed to get it running. This required a bank of big batteries to crank the motor and beeding of the injectors by loosening the feeds to the injectors one at a time while it was being cranked. It fired a few times and then burst into life. It was pretty loud due to there being no exhaust pipe, and pretty smoky too, I expect this to clear up after all the excess oil from the rebuild is burnt off. See the vid below for the results..

Not bad but still running a bit rough, the second go had it running much cleaner.

I have to say this was all  very encouraging, getting the engine running is a big landmark in bringing the vessel back to life.
wpid-IMAG1649.jpgIn my last post I’d finished the metalwork on the superstructure of the rear cabin. There where lots of screw holes in the sides used to attach the interior woodwork. These where filled and then then the sides where primed and top coated. After that the new window glass lifted into place and bonded to the cabin side with PU mastic. A few more coats of paint and the rear cabin exterior will be done.

With the engine running I needed to sort the transmission, or to be more precise attaching the gearbox to the propeller shaft. The shaft already had a coupling loosely slotted onto the end of the shaft. The pictures below show the prop shaft at the top of the pic, coupling in the middle and the gearbox output flange and gearbox below. It seemed a simple matter of bolting the coupling to the gearbox flange and then clamping it to the freshly greased prop shaft. however no amount of jiggling and chocking up of the engine would get it to line up.
wpid-IMAG1683.jpgwpid-IMAG1685.jpgI decided to take off the flange and investigate, turned out the 4 bolt  holes didn’t line up, so there is no way this setup has ever worked in this boat. Solution to this was to enlarge the bolt holes in the output flange, this allowed the coupling to mate up squarely.

Around this time I also sorted the engine mountings, again these didnt line up and had to be re-drilled, this leads me to think that someone tried fitting this engine but never got to the point where it powered the boat.

With the exterior of the rear cabin watertight I could start working on its interior, this space is going to be the sleeping quarters.wpid-IMAG1695.jpgFirst I laid down the wooden spars that would form the sides of the bed framewpid-IMAG1696.jpg

I then added the top and bottom spars and cut some OSB board to make the bed base.
wpid-IMAG1739.jpgNext job was to insulate the space with 50mm Celotex, this was fitted around timber spars that follow the curves of the hull, later on the timber cladding will be attached to these.

I’m nearing the end of the repairs to the hull, the pics below show the before and after of one of these repairs. This was the first nasty hole I spotted the first time I saw the boat
wpid-imag1766.jpgIve been avoiding this suspect plate down by the keel on the starboard, its inaccessible, quite large and the inside side of it has a thick layer of concrete behind it.
I cut out the steel and used an air chisel to slowly chip out the concrete. This was slow painful work not aided by the flint pebbles added to the mix.wpid-imag1770.jpgwpid-imag1771.jpg
wpid-imag1772.jpgAfter much swearing and eating gravel enough concrete was removed to weld in new steel. The pic below shows the 20cm space I had to work in under the boat, I wish I’d put the keel on higher blocks when the boat was moved here.
wpid-imag1773.jpgI thought I’d better start work on the wheelhouse while the weather was good. The rotten wood leaked like Ed Snowden and the whole thing needs replacing. I’ve realised mixing wood and steel isn’t a good idea on a boat exterior, everywhere they come into contact with each other corrosion is accelerated. So the new wheelhouse is going to be metal and glass.
wpid-imag1780.jpgAbove and below you can see back of the wheelhouse being torn down
wpid-imag1781.jpgI then started framing up the bay window at the back of the cabin, The old wheelhouse had sloping windows. The new one has vertical ones, the sink is going here and it creates more space, it also looks better, kind of like the wheelhouse on a dutch barge.
wpid-imag1819.jpgIn the pic below the roof is being welded inwpid-imag1820.jpg
wpid-imag1822.jpgFollowed by the short wall below the window aperture
wpid-imag1826.jpgHere’s a nice view of the stern, all coming together nicely!wpid-imag1837.jpgBelow the port side wheelhouse wall has been removedwpid-imag1842.jpgThis was then framed in steel and a sliding door frame was fabricatedwpid-imag1843.jpg
I’d used galvanised sheet to fill in the area around the bottom of the windows on the rear of the wheelhouse. But this was time consuming to weld in and heavy. For the side walls I decided to use composite sheet. This is a sheet of plastic sandwiched between two layers of aluminium, its light tough and I got it for free. The sheet is riveted into place after priming the steel frame mastic helps the bond and makes the join waterproof.

wpid-imag1886.jpgAbove the roof has been removed and the starboard wall is being fabricatedwpid-imag0357.jpg
then the roof was welded into place, made from 2mm galv
wpid-imag0359.jpgwpid-2014-08-08_18-16-31_hdr.jpgThat’s all the paneling of the wheelhouse completed only the windscreen needs fabricating now. Whilst removing the windscreen frame I found this ameythist, I took it as a good omen.
wpid-imag0450.jpgwpid-imag0452.jpgwpid-imag0460.jpgThe last ever pic of the remnants of the old wheelhouse, you can also see the temporary A frames I’ve welded to the deck and roof to make a tent to work under, Autumn is on its way and I need to remove the roof of the front cabin to increase the headroom. Currently its five and a half inches and I need it to be six foot two.
wpid-imag0464.jpgThats the windscreen demolished, revealing lots of lovely corrosion where the wood touched the cabin roof.
wpid-imag0467.jpgBefore I can raise the roof of the front cabin I have to rip out all the interior..
I found this written under the paneling I tore off it says “Fixed by Mick and Gail 1993, God bless all who Bail in her”. Well Mick and Gail, maybe using metal to fix the boat instead of silicone sealant would have reduced the need to bail her out?
These are the throttles for the engines, they might be original they look the part, anyway I like them and they are going to stay.
Above shows the front cabin looking forward, the windscreen has been removed.
Here I’ve cut out a section of the cabin roof so it can be raised to increase the headroom. I decided to do this in sections due to the weight of it.
I propped up the roof on lengths of timber and chocked it to the right height, then I welded in sections of angle to tack it into place.
At the moment I’ve welded in the plate for one side of the cabin wall, when the other side is done I’ll start work on the framing for the new windscreen.

Above shows the new windows being fitted to the Wheelhouse. I got these made from 6mm laminated glass. I had the rear cabin windows made from 4mm toughened but after one exploded whilst moving it I decided to go the laminated route instead.

That brings this post to an end, I reckon I’m about 60% of the way through the restoration after a year and around 100 days of work, I should have it on the water by spring with a bit of luck!

Crust, Crud and Coatings

Good weather has meant that I can finally get some top coat on the boat, it looks white in the pictures but is actually a light grey, the paint supplier described the paint as the same shade as grey primer but its a few shades lighter. I like the colour and its similar to the shade the boat would have been when it was built.wpid-IMAG1559.jpgThe pic above shows the hull coated with sealer and ready for the top coat. I had to remove some of the sealer from the bows due to it not hardening. I must have got the mix wrong, its hard dealing with ratios when the fumes are getting to you!wpid-IMAG1564.jpgwpid-IMAG1566.jpg

It hasn’t looked like this for a very long time.
wpid-IMAG1575.jpgReally satisfying to see what looked like a load of scrap starting to look shipshape.
I hadn’t looked under the tarps covering the boat for months, in fact I’d only seen the top of the front cabin a couple of times since I acquired the vessel. So I pulled off all the covers to have an explore.
wpid-IMAG1582.jpgNice to see a bit of light through the wheelhouse windows, one day soon I’ll be making and eating my breakfast in here.wpid-IMAG1603.jpgwpid-IMAG1597.jpgwpid-IMAG1598.jpgThe shape of the fore cabin is really unusual with rounded corners and slab sides reminiscent of a tank or something, utilitarian as military vehicle would be. Some of the ships boat models I’ve seen have a similar shape.wpid-IMAG1601.jpgwpid-IMAG1599.jpgQN45Fwpid-IMAG1605.jpgAll the metalwork for the stern cabin is now complete and painted with Amerlock sealer. The curves on the back of the cabin are also similar to the model pictured above.
wpid-IMAG1607.jpgThe inside of the cabin has been sealed too, I’ve also test fitted one of the windows. I would have fitted them both but one of them exploded while I was moving it from the van. Turns out toughened glass does this sometimes when there are faults or inclusions during manufacturing. Its a strange sensation when a 1.4m sheet of glass suddenly disappears, my hands flew up as they were no longer supporting the pane!

Next I turned my attention to the engine, I re-fitted the starter and decided to inspect the valve seats. Good job I did, see below:
wpid-IMAG1615.jpgSome of the inlet ports where full of shite, rusty particles that had fallen down the open inlet manifold and then welded them selves to the inlet ports. The seats looked pretty good, only one needed grinding.

Some of the valves had a load of rusty crud on them too, a wire brush on the angle grinder polished them up.
wpid-IMAG1624.jpgAll of the engine bay was full of a mixture of water, oil, paint flakes, rust and general rubbish. This was all shoveled up and carried out, felt more like gardening than boat restoration!
wpid-IMAG1625.jpgNew head gasket on, not a cheap part, the top end gasket set cost £90!! I then refitted the pushrods and rockers, including the ones that I reground. The engine is now back together awaiting a battery big enough to start the bugger!
I’ve spent the last week stripping the paint off the starboard side. It took a day of air chisel then a day of wire brush to get it back to bare metal. Almost sounds easy when you put it into a sentence, especially if you miss out the words, noisy, heavy, painful and toxic!
wpid-IMAG1634.jpg  Above shows what the hull looks like after air chipping.
A day of wire brushing then acid etching and sealing leaves it like this. Happy days!

Stern cabin and Starter

The weather is finally starting to get better, its been raining so much I’ve been joking that I wont need to move the boat to launch it I’ll just have to wait for the flooding to float it off the top of the hill.
I sorted the other cabin corner, pretty much a re-run of the other side
I also rebuilt the cabin side, both sides are ready for the windows to go in, I ordered some toughened glass which was pretty cheap at £42 for both sides
In the above pic the cabin side is being built up, surprisingly fiddly with all those corners. The cabin roof had also rotted in a long section where the wooden wheelhouse joins, another example of wood accelerating corrosion. I reckon this is due to rotting wood creating an acidic environment as well as a damp one.
You can see my cardboard template on the right, I make these by pressing the card into the sharp edge of the hole cut in the steel, you get a crease that you can then cut along. Often this needs to be trimmed a bit until it fits neatly into the hole. The card is then used to cut a new piece of steel.
The rain came back after I finished the cabin so I went back to working on the engine. If the engine is ever going to start again its going to need a starter motor. I’d read that the starters suffer on BMC 2.2’s fitted to boats, they get wet when the bilge floods as they are mounted low down.
One of the bolts holding it on was really hard to get to on my boat, I’d had a go before but couldn’t get a spanner or socket on it. This time I lifted the engine with a long lever and propped the engine spar up on a couple of sockets. You can see this in the picture above, it was more stable than it looks, last thing I want is a hand crushed and trapped under the engine with no-one around. This reminds me of the time I got my little finger caught in the primary gears of my motorbike whilst working on the clutch. I accidentally pressed the starter while undoing the spring bolts. Ended up scrabbling around trying to reach a spanner so I could turn the engine backwards to get my finger out!
You can see above the state the starter was in, looked like it had been at the bottom of sea for years. The pinion was seized and connecting it to a battery resulted in a dull clonk from the solenoid. I chucked the lot in a bucket of diesel and waited for a week.
These starters are a strange design, massively over complicated in my opinion, its as if a someone tried to design a starter that cost a fortune to develop and manufacture an order to extract the maximum cash from a government subsidised motor industry. Why else would you have a multiplate clutch in a starter motor? Sure it disengages the drive as soon as the engine starts but so does a sprag clutch with a tenth of the components.
Above is the clutch after removal from the starter armature. All the plates are rusted into a crusty lump.
The bearings, commutator and armature looked ok, one brush spring was broken but the brushes looked fine. I cracked open the clutch and prised apart the plates. These things must have cost a fortune to make with all those bits.
Plenty of scraping and scrubbing got rid of all the rust on the thrust plates and shims, the friction plates where bronze so un-corroded.
Here’s all the plates back on the hub.
and the clutch and pinion re-united with the armature
All back in one piece and working fine!
Removing the starter meant that I had access to the ring gear on the flywheel. My previous attempts to free up the engine hadn’t worked so I’d left the engine to soak with lots of diesel and old oil in the bores. I poked a big screwdriver into the starter aperture and tried to turn the ring gear and……. IT MOVED! the pistons had un-stuck from the bores. I did a couple of complete rotations and then had a look at the condition of the bores expecting to find pitting or wear.
The bore above was the worst affected by the moisture but looked totally fine after a quick clean. You can even see the honing marks right around the bore. It looks as though the engine hasn’t had much use since its last re-build.
I’m waiting for my gasket set to turn up so I can put the engine back together. With a bit of luck a gasket set, starter brush spring, bleed off pipes and oil and filter is all I’m going to need.  Can’t wait to fire it up!

Engine, gearbox and Stern Cabin

The weathers been crap so I’ve been looking for things to do that don’t involve waving mains power tools and 140 amp welders around in the rain. No point painting cos the air is cold and damp, working under the boat is dark and damp. So I decided to have a look at the engine.
What I have here is a probably  pre 70’s BMC 2.2 litre diesel. I think it spent the first part of its life in another vehicle as it lacks a heat exchanger, instead using a Keel Cooler. 
Morris Marine Navigator Gearbox
I‘m yet to find out what model the gearbox is, I think its a Newage B type or BMC B type. Its been modified, the pipe on the top of the inspection cover goes to the diesel tank, either this was a breather or maybe the gearbox was modified to receive oil from the engine and the diesel tank was being used for oil?
First I pulled off the rocker cover
It didn’t look to bad in there, I’d poured several litres of old engine oil in there months ago  to keep everything wet with oil, so no rust up here
Next to come off was the rocker spindle. The rockers didnt look to bad, no play on the rocker bearings but some wear on the tips, see below:
The rocker on the left is unworn, the one on the right has a recess worn by the valve stem. This can be re-ground fairly easily.
Next job was to remove the manifolds and then the head, it didn’t look too bad in there. The rear cylinder had some surface rust in the bore and the piston had some corrosion. Obviously the valves on this cylinder where open while the engine was stood. There was virtually no wear on the bores, I suspect the engine has been re-built at some point.
The head looked pretty good too, although I will need to inspect the valve seats at some point.
The original water pump has been removed and blanked off. A Jabsco pump has been fitted instead. I presume the Jabsco is a tougher design than the original.
The oil filter has also been modified, where the original casing was there are now two take off stubs for a remote filter, this was done due to lack of space next to the hull.
The engine is seized as I expected, so I filled the cylinders with a mix of diesel and old oil and let time do its work.
Encouraged by what I found in the engine I turned to the gearbox, removing the inspection cover.
What I found was a layer of gearbox oil mayonnaise floating on loads of filthy blue water. Not a great find, the water must have got in through the bolt hole that had been modified as an inlet for oil?
I siphoned out the water, after a mouthful of toxic water and gunge I realised I had bought some large syringes to mix paint. Using this I got all the slurry out of the box.
I expected to see loads of rust, but the layer of mayonnaise had kept the air out. The forward reverse selector works and the thing even turned. I filled it with a mix of diesel and old oil to moisturise its aging joints!

A day without rain meant that I could have a look at the stern cabin top again. The corner at the rear was rusted away, this is what it looked like after  cutting out the dead flesh.
Here it is with new steel welded in.
The second sunny day this month let me get on with the starboard side of the stern cabin. This wasn’t as badly rusted as the port side but was still a mess.
All the bottom of the cabin side was cut away and some of the deck at the rear. On the other side I’d had to cut away loads of the deck.
Above, new sections of deck are being welded in. When that was complete I formed a new cabin/deck join from angle iron. This should stop the cabin side and deck rusting. Previously the riveted join had created a crevice for corrosion.
Chances are this repair will last another seventy years. So I doubt I’ll be doing it again!