Friday, September 30, 2005

Fuel pump

I've not said too much about the engine, or any engine room operations for quite some time. This has mainly been because I've got so much else going on and the engine is in pretty good shape, relative to the rest of Lady Jane, so is low priority.

Fuel pumpThe engine does need to be started, and run, from time to time though. I try to do this about once a month, though I suspect with winter coming on I'll run it more often as it's a great heater.

For a while now, I've known of a small diesel leak in the return pipes from the injectors. I finally got to have a look at this a little more carefully.

To explain the problem means explaining a little about how the fuel system works:

The diesel is stored in one of four tanks in the engine room. These tanks are only for storage, and do not feed either the main or the donkey engine directly.

To get fuel to the engines, diesel is pumped up to what is known as a 'day tank', this sits above both the main and donkey engines. Diesel is than gravity fed, through filters, to each of the engines as required.

Any unused diesel fed to the main engine is circulated to a smallish diesel return tank, below the engine room deck plates, from there it is pumped back up to the day tank by means of a continually running fuel pump. This is the normal mode of operation for the pump when the engine is running.

To pump more diesel into the day tank when it gets towards empty, one of the four fuel tank valves needs to be opened, depending on which tank is to be used, and the diesel is either manually pumped into the tank, or is pumped using the diesel return pump by setting a valve to the correct position. Once the day tank is full, the fuel tank valve is closed and the retun pump valve is set back to the normal running position.

You can see the diesel return pump just to the left of the picture.

The problem I have is that the diesel return tank is full, hence the leaking pipe. What I don't know at this stage is if the pipe from the tank to the pump is blocked, or if the pump itself is broken.

I'll need to run up the main engine again, with the valves set to pump diesel from the main tanks, to work out what the problem is.

Either way, as you can see, it's going to be a dirty job to sort it out.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

(H)arry Pound's

Paula, who came to survey the yard, caught Robin and I sitting about on deck, drinking tea and trying to avoid doing any work.

To be fair, I had been rust-busting on the outside of the hull and Robin had just arrived to help with welding on the back deck. At that point the sun was out and it was very pleasant to just sit about and chat.

Later on in the day, after some welding on deck, conditions became unpleasant with a cold wind picking up from the south, so we opted to visit (H)arry Pound's.

Arry Pound's, which is essentially a ships breakers yard, is an amazing place on a scale which is hard to imagine. It is apparently a shadow of it's former self in busier times when the military was actively downsizing.

The scenes outside, with people standing, shrouded in smoke, cutting up massive sections of some poor ship lying in the dirt, is reminiscent of a Steven Spielberg movie set. There are anchors and the detritus of ships from a bygone age scattered everywhere. I also saw old army tanks, beat up cranes and ships and boats of all sizes. There are even a few submarines tucked away somewhere.

Inside the massive warehouse there are rows and rows of all sorts of interesting 'stuff' (H)arry Pound'sstacked right up to the roof, all covered in layers of dust gathered over the years. A true grown boy's heaven. I truly doubt that anyone knows exactly what's in there anymore. Most, but not all, of the stuff is ship and boat related. Everything is for sale.

The point of the visit was to find some much needed ballast for Lady Jane. After enquiry, and some rummaging around, we found some three and a half tonnes of the stuff. Toblerone shaped pieces of cast iron, apparently out of submarines, each weighing exactly 18 Kilograms (roughly 40lbs).

The 'Toblerone' ballast is perfect for what I need, being light enough to manhandle down into the confines of Lady Jane's bow, but shaped so it can be packed in neatly and securely. I don't think that three and a half tonnes is nearly enough, but it's a start.

Now it's just a matter of getting it all from arry's into the bowels of Lady Jane.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005



This photo montage shows the transition from O 431 Judith, a North Sea fishing trawler, to Lady Jane, a partly converted live-aboard.

Believe it or not, they really are all pictures of the same boat. If you are interested, click on the image, then click on 'all sizes', then click 'original' to see the detail.

The first picture must have been taken when she was still being used as a fishing trawler.

The second must have been taken when she was first moored in the River Itchen.

The third was taken in the Solent, when I brought her round to Fareham.

The last one was taken in Fareham a few months ago, after I had spent a day rust-busting on the hull.

I am grateful to Jean-Pierre Van Elverdinghe for sending me more pictures of Lady Jane, including a few black and white ones which must have been taken when Judith was practically brand new.

I am hoping to add another picture in the series, showing Lady Jane completely painted in grey primer, with no rust showing, before too long.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Galley roof repairs

The job of welding the holes in the galley roof is well under way.

Galley roofHere you see smoke drifting across the galley roof while Robin welds on the deck above.

Welding produces a distinctive, but not unpleasant, smell.

So far we have patched four of the holes in the galley roof. After some discussion I opted to weld patches over the holes without cutting back the rusted metal and cutting plates to fit the holes as we have done elsewhere, simply because I did not want to create any more havoc in the galley than strictly necessary.

The issue of cutting into the galley with oxy-acetalene is that it is very messy, combined with a risk of fire, with hot melted metal flying all over the place.

Right now I have two more holes in the galley roof to weld over, then a vent to the galley and a vent to the shower room to replace and I'll finally be able to prime the back deck.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Stern accommodation

Cleaning up in the stern accommodation space is progressing well, Stern accommodationmostly due to Fred's efforts.

I've still not decided what's best to do, to clean off the remaining pitch then prime and paint the hull from the inside, or to simply smother any uncoated metal with pitch as about half of it is already done for me.

Either way, I have to do something or else the rust will set in behind any insulation and paneling I put in.

I must say, I'm tending towards the paint option, simply because it is cleaner and would not smell. I'm also thinking what it might be like if I need to get in there to do some work if everything is covered in filthy black pitch.

Mind you, cleaning out the pitch that's on the metal at the moment is going to be a dirty job.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

More rust

I know I go on about rust all the time on this blog, but the fact is dealing with rust is a big part of my life right now.

Here though is the last of the 'big' rust on Lady Jane.More rust

Like so much else on board, this is the result of years of neglect.

If I had been thinking about the photo opportunity at the time, I could have saved a much bigger piece.

The rust came from a section in the aft accommodation where one of the outlets to the sea had been leaking at some point. There is evidence of repairs having taken place, but I'll still need to check the pipework carefully to ensure everything is now sound.

As you know, I'm generally interested in boats, the sea and all that good stuff. Here is a web page on some naval traditions which I found fascinating.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005


It's amazing what a difference that first coat of primer topsides has made to Lady Jane.

PrimimgFor those of you who read this blog and have seen Lady Jane in the flesh, you will really appreciate the significance of this picture.

Now I can stand on Lady Jane's deck and hardly see any rust at all. There are patches left, I know, but those will soon be gone.

I have learned an enormous amount about paints and painting in a marine environment. The two biggest lessons have been that proper marine paint is expensive and that you have to do it properly or you are just wasting your time.

I originally started painting on board Lady Jane using Rustroy and the white paint that that the previous owners had left on board. To my mind, Rustroy is a primer and the writing on the white paint tins said Paint, Finishing, Ships so it should have all worked ok. Wrong.

It turns out, as best as I can tell, that the white paint I had used is pourous, and the Rustroy only converts the rust to make a surface suitable for painting on top of, and is no use as a primer in it's own right in a marine environment. All of the white painting I've done on the boat has rust showing through to some extent or other.

There is no real harm done as, asides for the footings on deck, I have caught it in time and believe I can just coat what I've already done with proper primer. I'll have to start from scratch with the rusty footings. Thankfully though, it's a fairly minor task.

The issue of what paints to use is by no means a simple one. The paint system I'm now using is a base of Rustroy, followed by two or three coats of two pack epoxy primer, to be followed by two coats of two pack epoxy paint. Ideally I'd shot blast Lady Jane and start from clean metal with epoxy primer but, due to cost, that is not an option.

I'm also trying two different types of epoxy system, one from W&J Leigh & Co the other from Hemple Marine.

Hopefully it will be quite some time before I'll be able to judge which is the best paint system to use in the longer term.

If anyone out there knows any better, feel free to get in touch before I start on the hull.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Chipping rust

One of the boats in the marina next door to Lady Jane has a parrot on board, not the one in the picture, that's a picture of a Greek parrot which I took while in Kos last year.

ParrotAnyway, the parrot has quite a repertoire of sounds, some of which can be annoying if you start to listen too closely. Amongst the sounds it can do, it seems particularly good at barking like a dog and wailing like one of the many sirens you hear from the emergency services using the road behind us.

I was sitting on board, after a long day's painting, when I could swear I could hear the distinctive sound of a chipping hammer on the side of Lady Jane. It turns out it was the parrot.

Given that the neighbors have 'asked' me not to chip rust on the weekend, as the chipping hammer is quite noisy, I'm not sure that this latest development is going to go over too well.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Workbench in place

The workbench has finally been put to good use.

Workbench in placeHere you see it on the platform alongside Lady Jane. Using the bench like this means I can reach pretty much all of Lady Jane's sides for rust busting and subsequent painting.

I'm not sure how I'll reach the very top bit though, it feels very high when you are up there. The reward for reaching there will be to finally knock off those big flakes of rust you can see in the picture, right at the top there.

I don't know why, but it's immensely satisfying to knock off big flakes of rust. It should be the reverse, I should want to weep at seeing yet another piece of Lady Jane dropping off.

On the subject of rust busting, I'm now not far away from completing the chipping of all of the rust from the starboard side of Lady Jane.

All I have to do is a last, quite big, section at the bow and one final section right at the stern.

Of course I have numerous people to thank for their help at chipping away the rust over the last few months, all of whom have offered more help by the way.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More holes

I have a few more holes to deal with. More holesThese are in the forward section of the wheelhouse block and, as far as I know, were for the drive shafts which used to power the big winches on deck.

These holes had previously been plugged with rags after the shafts were removed more than a year ago by the previous owners, but as part of the process of cleaning up the wheelhouse and galley block they will finally be welded shut.

I've started this cleanup as part of a big push on painting Lady Jane. My thinking being that if there is a chance she is going to be on national television, I want her looking as good as possible.

At least I've known about these holes, not like some of the others I've discovered where the metal has been rusted completely through.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Fred helps

Fred, who is retired and lives locally, has been a willing volunteer on Lady Jane for over a week now. Fred helpsHere he is armed with a hammer, chipping away at the ever present rust.

It is the slow, steady progress against the rust that will win the day. At the moment Fred is putting in a couple of hours a day when he can, partly as a form of exercise, partly for the love of boats and partly as a means of paying back a favour to someone he knew, also from Zimbabwe, who has long since disappeared.

Fred came to help through Malcolm, who happens to live literally right across the road from Lady Jane. I got to know Malcolm through his son-in-law, John, a good friend who lives in the same village as me. It is strange how things work out sometimes, you just can't make this stuff up.

Over the weekend, between Fred and myself, we achieved great things on Lady Jane. Thanks Fred.

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Friday, September 09, 2005


Luke, from the BBC came to visit.DIY SOS I sent the BBC program DIY SOS an SOS e-mail and was pleasantly surprised by the response.

DIY SOS is essentially about people who have impossible DIY projects that they really need help on. I think I probably qualify on that score.

After a few phone calls and e-mails, Luke came to visit Lady Jane yesterday. I must say doing a tour of the boat while being interviewed on camera is a bit strange.

Could be, if things go well, I'll have a huge leg up on Lady Jane's living accommodation and finally get to literally live (on) my dream. The bonus being I'll be on national telly.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More mess

It's inevitable on Lady Jane - One thing that needs fixing leads to another, which leads to another and so on.

To be honest, the back deck did not look so bad to me, so I started work on what I thought it would be a fairly straightforward task, quickly achieved.

The deck was to be a sort of proving ground before I started on the more committing, and expensive, task of properly priming and painting the hull. Also, having that deck painted green would help make Lady Jane look so much better.

The holes in the deck under all the rust was a bit of a surprise, but I'm making progress there. Now though, I've had to take down the ceiling in the galley, so as to make cutting and welding the holes above the galley safe. The last thing I need is a fire on Lady Jane.

After unscrewing what felt like about a squillion screws, (A squillion, is there such a number? It may have been more) More messthe extent of the mess is finally revealed.

One of the last places on Lady Jane that was reasonably clean and comfortable is now starting to look worse than a building site.

I was hoping I could unscrew the ceiling, sort out the holes then put it back up. Not so, there is quite a bit of rust there, and the underlying wood was rotten. I can see some evidence of rust down the side walls as well....

I've got too much else to do, so sorting out the rust in the galley will just have to wait. I'm thinking I'll fix the holes, slap on some primer, then bodge some sort of ceiling back up as soon as possible.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Patching holes

We have made a start on patching the holes in the rear deck.

Here you can see Robin grinding the edge of a hole Patching holescut into the very back of the deck, ready for a new piece of steel to be welded into place.

We have cut back the rusty bits, making a neat line in good steel using an oxy-propane cutting torch. This gives us a good edge to weld the new plate onto.

In this spot the stern navigation light used to sit on a bracket, between two edges of the deck railing. Water had obviously seeped into the gaps, where painting would be difficult, and worked it's way into the underlying metal. The bracket and deck plating were completely rusted away.

The navigation light, bracket and the rest of the stern railing will all need to be restored, but for now the focus is on sorting out the holes in the deck.

So far, on the rear deck, I have two holes fixed and six more to go.

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Painting committee

This boat appeared at the marina next to Lady Jane. Painting CommitteeShe was a lovely motor cruiser, excellently finished.

As the tide went out, the owner, at least I presume it was the owner, cleaned the hull below the waterline using a jet wash, then proceeded to paint the hull with anti-foul.

It was quite a lengthy process and what made it amusing for me was the committee you can see on the right of the picture which had assembled to stand around and watch, and occasionally give advice. Helpful, well meaning advice I'm sure.

As the tide was coming back in I had a brief word with the guy, he looked so pleased to be finished in time.