Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Painting the galley

Painting the galleyThe galley is starting to look a lot brighter.

Here you see Pat, paintbrush in hand, in the process of giving the galley a makeover.

The difference is remarkable, and I'm looking forward to the finished product.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wheelhouse ceiling

Work on the wheelhouse roof is very nearly complete .

Wheelhouse ceilingHere you see Fred standing, wondering if the sky is about to fall in on him, just before we finished screwing all the plywood pieces in.

It has to be said that Fred was responsible for most of the plywood in the deckhead fitting together as well as it does.

You can see evidence of the leak between the aluminium and steel sections of the wheelhouse roof at the top of the picture. I'll need to give sealing this another go, with bitumen paint this time.

At some point it may be best to strip all the various sealing attempts over the years off, and start again.

Not now though, too much to do elsewhere.

I've still to cut thin melamine board to size and tack that to the deckhead which, along with hardwood battens over the seams, will really have the place looking smart.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Platform fendersOf course, now Lady Jane has had a paint job all the way down to the water line, I need to put fenders onto the platform so all my good work does not get ruined.

As usual, when it comes to the sizes of things on Lady Jane, the fenders looked fine in the chandlers, but once installed they looked too small.

Ah well, they'll do for now.

Besides fenders will always come in handy, no matter what size they are.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Drive belts

I've been spending time sorting out the various drive belts (V belts) in Lady Jane's engine room.

The main priority has been the fuel return drive belt, shown in the picture.

Drive beltsTo explain, unused diesel from the main engine drains into a tank below decks. The return pump then pumps that fuel back into the day tank above the engine, ready to be cycled around again.

For some (long) time, this pump has not been performing, and the fuel return tank is now full. This means that unused diesel has been spilling when the main engine runs. Not much I hasten to add, but nevertheless a nuisance and an unnecessary waste.

I, with Robin's help at one point, checked all the piping to make sure there was no blockage, thinking that was the problem, when the answer was staring me in the face the whole time - the drive belts were really, really loose.

It sounds dumb, I know, but it took replacing the belts on my 240 volt alternator to realise the V belts on the fuel return pump were the same type and that I now know how to fit them.

The new V belts came with a natty tool and, more importantly, instructions on how a belt should be tensioned correctly.

It looks easy in the picture, however I can promise you that messing about with these belts is not so straightforward.

The main problem being I have no bar to get the leverage necessary to turn the main engine over with human power alone, so I need to use the compressor to raise enough pressure to turn the engine using the air start system.

Fitting a belt needs two people, or lots of ingenuity, plus plenty of compressed air for those frustrating times when the belt slips on the pulley AGAIN and the whole process has to be re-started.

With the fuel return pump belts done, the return tank should now get drained and, as a bonus, I have the luxury of not needing to manually pump diesel into the day tank from the main fuel tanks.

I've also tightened the fresh water cooling pump belts, you could previously turn the pump by hand under the belts, so this will ensure the engine now runs a little cooler.

By the time I was done the tide was well on it's way out, so unfortunately I could not run the engine to ensure all was well after the belts had been re-fitted.

I still need to address myself to the seawater pump V belts, which are not nearly as bad as the others were, but this will have to wait until I get back down there with sufficient enthusiasm for another bout of dirty, frustrating, work below the engine room deck.

Right now I'm thinking "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", or is that just boat lassitude?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This entry is about the templating technique I was shown by Alan, from one of the boats in the little marina next door to Lady Jane.

What happened was, I had cut one of the large pieces of ply for the second last shelf in the steering room and got it completely wrong.

An expensive mistake, as those big boards of ply are expensive and, once cut, are hard to re-use because of their shape.

Anyway after hearing of my problems, Alan, who was on board for some other reason, tried explaining templating to me.

Eventually we had to go across to his boat so he could show me how it was done.

TemplatingThis technique beats just about anything else I've tried, with the key steps shown in the picture:

  • Buy a board of cheap, easy to work, material - I'm using 4mm MDF, and some screws to hold them together.

  • Cut strips of board some 75-50mm wide.

    The width and length ultimately depends on the size of the boards you will eventually cut.

    If you are cutting curves, you may need to cut thicker lengths to accommodate the curve.

  • Cut the strips to the lengths around the edges of the final shape to cut.

  • Where you are cutting a curve or a difficult shape - find a narrow length of offcut, drill a hole, or holes, through which a pencil will go.

    Trace the curve on one of the strips held against the chord of the curve, holding one end of the offcut at 90 degrees against the edge of the curve while your pencil, through the hole on the other end, traces that curve onto the strip.

  • Join all the cut pieces with screws, such that the finished outline exactly matches the final shape you need to cut.

    I find it helps to temporarily screw the strips to the edges of where I'm cutting the board for, then join the pieces on to one-another. Take care so that you can unscrew the whole template without having to dismantle it.

  • Make as many templates as you need before arranging them on your piece of board to cut, so as to get the most possible use out of the board (pay attention to the side of board which will face outward).

  • Cut the board and enjoy the satisfaction of a series of perfect fitting pieces (nearly) every time.

    I find a mallet helps with the more perfect fitting boards

  • Dismantle the templates pieces so you can re-use the strips and screws elsewhere.

This has been so useful for me, I thought I'd pass it on.

It has also to be said that Fred has taken to this like a duck to water.

If you have a better technique, or find success with this one, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Plywood skin

Another one off the list:

This time it's the plywood skin in the wheelhouse.

Plywood skinThis was originally ripped out in preparation for sorting out the holes rusted through the wheelhouse sides and floor.

In the event, sorting out those holes turned out to be a much, much, bigger job than planned.

With winter coming last year I chose to re-insulate the place, as it was the only place fit to sleep in while I was on board.

The holes in the steel would have to be addressed later, when I had someplace else on the boat to sleep.

I had at least got rid of all the stinky wood, and had largely cleaned up the rust though.

Somehow, the plywood skin never got done - It just did not seem necessary to do as it would all have to come back out again anyway.

Now though, I need to have the instruments etc. mounted securely, so the panels have to go in as preparation for building a new console, even though it will only be temporary.

The plywood skin is more work than it looks, and uses plenty of material as well.

I've been using a templating technique shown to me by Alan, from one of the boats across the way.

I'll do a separate blog entry on templating, as it's an invaluable method of ensuring complex wood shapes are cut right every time.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wheelhouse roof leak

Another one off the list:

This is one entry which is sure to bring a wry smile to at least one of Lady Jane's former owners.

Wheelhouse roofI have at last got around to doing a proper job on fixing the wheelhouse roof leak which has plagued me for the last two years.

The picture shows the newly cut and bolted section of steel plate over the hole where the compass binnacle used to sit.

You can see the hole I've covered in the bottom right of the picture, taken just after I'd taken off the cracked plastic cover.

This patch will do until the wheelhouse gets refurbished, as the section I've covered is aluminium and, although I've a rubber seal between the plate and the aluminium of the top of the wheelhouse, the bolts are likely to have galvanic corrosion issues.

I'll also be willing to bet that John, the skipper who will take Lady Jane back round to the River Itchen, will thank me for preventing a steady trickle of water down the back of his neck.

Monday, October 16, 2006

VHF Radio

One of the things on my recently updated list is to install a VHF radio.

Simple enough you might think, just a case of going down to the chandlery and buying one, replacing the old brackets with new, plug everything in then - voila. After all, there had been a radio in there before.

Not so simple, not by a long shot.

The 'going down to the chandlery and buying one' was the easy bit, well maybe not so easy on the credit card.

Ships radioWhen I got back to Lady Jane with my new toy I quickly realised that the coax cable which connects the radio to the ariel was cut on the wheelhouse roof, while the cable from the ariel to the radio was cut somewhere behind where the radio was fitted.

Hmm, problem number one - I needed some coax cable, and probably a new connector, but the chandlery was now shut.

Nothing to do now but read the instructions.

Problem number two. The ariel is not really situated a safe distance from where people will be - a distance of 3 metres is recommended (this may have to do for now though).

Closely followed by problems number three and four. I need a ships radio licence and I personally need a radio operators licence.

I've not gone there yet, and might not for now, but I suspect connecting the radio to the mangy old GPS I have on board will present it's own set of problems.

So far I've applied for a ships radio licence - at least that's free!

A lick of primer

A lick of primerI'm so nearly there with the primer on the forward part of the starboard side.

Just one more coat should do it, then I'll slap on the rest of the first coat of blue.

I really need to get that ballast in soon, so I can finish rust busting, priming and painting at the stern.

I won't get a proper waterline painted until I can get her out of the water, but at least it's an improvement on what I have now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Beautiful Thames

Beautiful ThamesThis is a picture I snapped at the village where I collected my anchor winch from.

It's on the Thames, between Oxford and Reading someplace, though I can't remember the name offhand.

I've been meaning to blog about it for a while now.

Anyway, I'll have to go back to the place sometime soon, when the weather is good, as the place is so photogenic.

There are a few places I've seen there that I really want to photograph, but was a bit pressed for time when I was last there.

Also, there is at least one place I've seen which looks likely for a good Sunday lunch.

Maybe once Lady Jane has been moved to the Itchen and I have the time for a bit of a break.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New ladder

New ladderThe picture you can see here is the new ladder down into what was the fish hold.

It doesn't look too much from this angle, but it's just over 3 metres (9ft) long. Half the length of a new piece of angle iron.

I chose to make it out of angle iron so it will be sturdy, unlike it's predecessor. It's so well built that it's likely to outlast the hatchway its welded to.

There is no doubt in my mind that, for safety's sake, replacing the old aluminium ladder you can see alongside the new one is a good move.

I'm also betting that at least one set of former owners would smile to read that this ladder has finally been replaced, as it was inherited when I bought Lady Jane and was rickety then.

Anyway, that's one more thing off the list.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hull hole

Ok, I've been working on the items on my list.

Because the weather has been pretty foul, I've been working on cleaning up in the fish hold.

I was merrily rust busting away, and had just attacked a piece of rust I'd seen in a corner when suddenly I had water squirting in from a hole I'd punched through the hull below the waterline.


Hull holeI found some wood and jammed it in as best as I could, then phoned Robin. When Robin could finally understand what I was saying through my babble, he said "I'll be right down".

I calmed down a bit, found a better piece of wood and hammered it into the hole. The water coming in stopped completely, allowing me to regain my composure somewhat.

This happened in a place I was convinced the steel was all good, so it had me really worried.

Needless to say, the rest of the day was a bit of a write off as attention was diverted to the hole in the hull.

I spent some time thinking about it and carefully examined the rest of the hull, while waiting for the tide to go out so Robin could weld safely with Lady Jane settled into the mud.

I worked out that the hole was where wood was laid against the hull, which would have been wet against the hull for goodness knows how long. Ideal conditions for corrosion.

I looked at other, similar, spots and, unsurprisingly, found three other places where the steel was rusted right through. I suspect there are more, but Robin wanted to get away for his tea!

It is important to make clear that these patches, although serious, are very small and relatively easy to fix completely.

Once all the suspect patches have been cleaned out and repaired, the integrity of the hull will once again be as sound as was expected.

In a really bizarre coincidence, I'm 99% certain that I was rust busting on the exact same panel when the leak in the fuel tank happened.

It's amazing to me that Lady Jane has been afloat all this time, with holes effectively stopped with rust.

The really scary thing is that these patches could so easily have been missed in the rush to get Lady Jane ready for her voyage round to the Itchen.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Time to go

My sojourn at the Lafarge yard at Fareham is almost at an end.

I've been given notice that I must move on.

My initial reaction was one of surprise and disappointment at loosing what has been a tremendous place to keep lady Jane.

I will truly miss Fareham, as the place has been good to me for all sorts of reasons.

On the positive side, I'm reminded that I've got a big ol boat that can go anywhere, so there is no reason for me to stay alongside forever.

This is probably just the prompting I need as a gateway to more exploration and adventures with Lady Jane. My thinking being that if I can travel with her, why shouldn't I?

In reality, for now, I'll take Lady Jane back round to my own mooring on the River Itchen in Southampton.

I spoke to John, the skipper who originally brought her round from the Itchen, and he's up for taking her out for a spin again.

Obviously my priorities have changed, as I've now got to scramble to get the engineering stuff done so she will be fit for the high seas.

No dates have been set as yet, but my focus is on being safe to travel and, of course, Lady Jane has to look good before she goes anywhere.

The list of things to do, in no particular order at present, is on my poorly maintained website here at www.timzim.com/projects/current.html

Friday, October 06, 2006

Busy, busy

It's not that I've abandoned you or anything.

It's just that I've been busy on Lady Jane, and internet access is patchy at best.

I'll do a proper post on Monday, when I'll have plenty to say, promise.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


CassieIt's coming up to autumn now, so boat activity on the creek is diminishing.

Here you see Cassie, a tidy looking boat, who's fenders have been taken out for a wash by the owners.

I'm occasionally envious of boats like Cassie. It must take no time at all to paint her.

Cassie could not make it to places like Labrador though.

Monday, October 02, 2006


A walk in the woodsI've been away in Ireland for the last couple of days - hence the silence on my blog.

To see a few more choice pictures of Ireland, follow this Flickr link.

It's been a very welcome couple of days break, and a long time since I've done something other than being on Lady Jane.

I'll have to take Lady Jane over and stay for a while at some point.