Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Hi all

This is my last post before Christmas, so here's wishing everybody a brilliant Christmas and even better new years.

For those of you who, for whatever reason, do not do the Christmas thing, here's wishing you all the best in the holiday season anyway.

All I have left to do now is to get the turkey and beer in. Pretty much everything else is done.

Till the new year - 2010 (seems weird typing it).


Monday, December 21, 2009

Sides completed

Sides completedFinally, the sideboards are up and painted.

Here you see Fred relaxing in the watery winter sunlight after giving the final sideboards a first coat of paint.

I suspect we will have to slap on another coat of paint before I can say that this phase of the job is complete.

Next will be to build a hatch cover, then cleanup and paint the deckhead.

I suspect we will also need to put some insulation into the deckhead, to prevent condensation raining down on us.

Only once the insulation has been done can I then think about lighting.

What initially seemed to be a quick, straightforward job back in August has turned into a bit of a marathon effort.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Engine fun

Engine funNow here's something I think is really fun.

I love things that work, whatever they are.

Usually, the bigger the better, though this tiny Honda engine is an exception.

It's an amazing 25cc four stroke engine, weighing almost nothing, but producing one horespower (0.72 kW).

The possibilities are endless.

My plan for this little beauty is to connect it up to an alternator and produce 24V to charge my battery bank when the wind's not blowing.

By producing 24V directly from an alternator, I maximise the efficiency of producing power.

This engine should be able to top up my battery bank using a fraction of the fuel any of my other mains generators would do.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


TowingWe watched the coastguard ship you see on the right there leave Falmouth in the afternoon.

The next morning, we watched her towing this huge ship in.

There were, in total, four tugs bustling about, ready to take the ship under control as it entered port.

I presume that this sea rescue service would cost the owners a pretty bundle though.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


CuteI saw this while on a recent visit to London.

I thought it was a rather cute and original idea.

Monday, December 14, 2009


HolidayStill no progress on the boat, for all kinds of reasons.

As a result I've no option but to subject you to some of my holiday snaps....

This was taken in Falmouth.

Friday, December 11, 2009


WorkbenchMoving into the new workshop space has meant the workbench has to be pressed into service on deck as a work table.

I can't, for the life of me, find the original set of four scaffold pole legs, so have had to resort to the longer legs I sometimes use.

The idea of different leg lengths gives me flexibility when working on the outside of the hull. No doubt the right legs will turn up sometime soon....

The 'right' legs were originally cut so the workbench was at the same height as the other table and saw horse, making cutting large plywood boards easier.

The only downside of using the workbench like this is the danger of cutting into the steel edges with the circular saw. Something I've already inadvertently done with the new table.

I have absolutely no desire at all to find out what happens to a circular saw blade when, at full speed, it tries to cut into steel.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I received this email last week:

"Hi Tim,

I found your blog surfing the net and was surprised to find the boat that has been standing on my mantelshelf for the last 45 years or so. I think you will like the pictures below. The maquette is about 90 cm long, 62 cm high and 20 cm wide.



Luc is from Belgium, where Lady Jane was built.

I've never heard of a maquette before, but the word is just perfect.


From the pictures Luc has sent me, I see all kinds of detail about Lady Jane on the model that would otherwise have been lost forever. For example the hand rails and the way the winches were setup. Those colours are also Lady Jane's original colours.

Lady Jane was called Judith, and her number was Z431. Judith was built in 1963, so Luc must have got that model when Lady Jane was nearly new, if not brand new. Sadly his parents cannot remember where they got the model as a present for Luc all that time ago.

Some things are just so unreal, you couldn't make them up if you tried.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Side boards

Side boardsThis recent bought of wet, windy weather has played havoc with any plans to get things done on Lady Jane.

What has now effectively been four weekends washed out has obviously also impacted on the blog, so sorry to one and all for that.

The picture you see is the last two boards to go up on the sides of the workshop space.

Oddly enough, Fred and I were working out on deck in a freezing wind before I realised we could just as easily work in the new workshop space and not suffer.

What I now need is a dry spell, so I can get those last boards on and painted.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Free power

Free powerSorry for the lack of updates.

It's just that the wet and windy weather this last week has put a bit of a damper on things here.

Nothing constructive has been done on board for a while now.

All I have left to waffle about is the wind and it's fortunate, for me, consequence - free power.

According to my monitor, the wind generator produced 1,247,000 amp seconds in a week, which roughly equates to 9.5 Kwh.

It doesn't sound much, but that's the same as burning an old style 60 watt bulb for the entire week - for free.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Calm after the storm

Calm after the stormWhat a wild Saturday down on the River Itchen!

I don't think I've ever been on board Lady Jane when the weather has been so wild before.

I've also never seen the wind generator producing as many amps as it was doing on Saturday (14.7 amps was the top I saw, with an average of just over 8 amp hours = 0.224 Kwh).

Needless to say, the wind generator produced too much power. So much so that I eventually went out into the storm and stopped the blades. No point in wearing the thing out unnecessarily.

The picture shows my wind generator amp monitor on the Sunday, in the calm after the storm. It's showing 436 amp seconds produced in the last hour in virtually no wind.

Overall, I would guess the wind generator is now producing about triple the power than it was doing before.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Workshop space

Workshop spaceFor all kinds of reasons, this last weekend has been a lazy one for me, so far as progress on Lady Jane goes.

One thing that has been progressed slightly is the sides for the workshop space.

If you look carefully at the picture, you can see the bottom of the boards is slightly narrower than the top. This is in preparation for the sideboards.

The recent wet and windy weather has helped emphasise just how important the side pieces will be in keeping us sheltered from the elements when working in there.

I know it doesn't look it, but that was a full day's work for both Fred and I. Getting the first of the side boards on either side measured up and correctly cut.

Why is it, I wonder, that the tough looking stuff takes almost no time but the simple looking tasks take forever?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Wind generator yaw

Wind generator yawThis weird looking contraption is an easily reproducible experiment, to clearly demonstrate the issue I've been having with my wind generator.

The issue has been the wind generator turning out of the wind, reducing it's power output.

After an anonymous comment suggesting I try stopping the generator, then watching how it performs, I figured out that the generator was not turning out of the wind, but was, in effect, too sensitive to changes in the wind.

I've now tied a piece of rope around the mounting pole, using a clove hitch, then tying the other ends around the generator. This effectively dampens the yaw.

This had an immediate effect, with the generator now consistently pointing into the wind, yet still turning as the wind shifts over time.

As a conservative estimate, I'd say that I've doubled the overall power I'm now getting from the wind generator, as the blades no longer stop then have to run up again due to being pointed out of the wind.

I can only estimate the power output as, due to the nature of the wind, it's impossible to say definitively.

By way of a demonstration of the improved performance I'm now getting, I thought I'd setup an experiment so that anybody interested could get an idea of what I'm talking about.

I took a ballpoint pen, round, and using bungee chord attached a 2.5mm welding rod to it. If you are in the UK and have no bungee chord, just follow a postie for a while and you will soon collect yourself a rubber band you can use.

If you have no 2.5mm welding rods to hand, simply use squish a wire coat hanger to achieve the same effect. With the welding rod, I wanted to simulate the mass of the wind generator as it swung round, so the cross piece needs to be a reasonable weight and length.

The tail piece of the demonstration is simply a few pieces of duct tape stuck onto one end of the welding rod.

The whole construction I then put into a convenient piece of pipe I found, and taped that to the work table on board.

Because the ballpoint pen has virtually no resistance to turning, on account of it standing on the ball, it turns freely in the wind. Perfectly demonstrating the over-correction I see on the wind generator to tiny changes in wind direction.

For the second part of the experiment, I stuck some duct tape on the other end of the ballpoint pen, such that the duct tape gives some friction inside the tube (no sticky bits showing though), slid the welding rod to the other end of the pen and put the whole thing into the tube the other way round.

In the second position, the welding rod now consistently points into the prevailing wind without swinging wildly around, emulating the damping force the rope now gives the wind generator.

Rough and ready, I know, but it does the job.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wind generator

Wind generatorHere's a picture of my wind generator in action.

The eagle eyed amongst you will see the tail has a home made extension stuck to it.

The issue I'm having is that the wind generator keeps turning out of the wind, for no apparent reason.

It's really frustrating, as the wind generator is not producing the power it should as it turns out of the wind, slows down then turns back into the wind and speeds up again.

There is no specific pattern to which direction it turns out, and no particular wind speed or direction either.

I've been working with the folks at Eclectic to resolve this. They have been extremely helpful, to the extent of replacing the whole generator for me.

I am now sure it's not the generator, but something in the setup on Lady Jane. But so far I just can't work out what the issue is.

I know it's not:

  • The cable, or for that matter any of the connections, from the generator to the batteries, as I've changed all that.
  • The connection, as this is all connected up securely and correctly.
  • The inverter, as it still faces out of the wind with the inverter disconnected.
  • The battery de-sulphinators, as they have been disconnected to test this.
  • Any of the boats 24V systems, as they have been isolated to help find the problem.
  • The voltage regulator, as this has been temporarily bypassed.
  • Any turbulence, as the generator has been moved to endure this is eliminated.

The best I've been able to do is to extend the tail, so the generator turns back into the wind as fast as possible. This maximises the power I can get from the generator.

Any ideas anyone?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I blame the RNLI

I blame the RNLII blame the RNLI for this one.

After seeing the pristine clean, white, decks of one of their boats on TV recently, I thought "No reason Lady Jane should not have that".

Well, after the work to get this far, I can now think of several reasons.

The bright, clean effect keeps me going though.

Eventually all of the engine room deck will be this colour.

A great project for those rainy days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More primer

More primerHere you see Fred and I have now got that all important second coat of primer on.

Experience has shown that unless we get at least a second coat on pretty quickly, the rust does not take long to peep through what must be microscopic holes left in the first coat.

As you can see from the small stretch of red there, we ran out of the grey just before the end.

I'll catch up the missed bit as part of painting the second coat on the next section I rust bust.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Solar power(less)

Solar powerI've been looking into augmenting my wind generator with solar power.

For me, the bigger panels I need for my 24V system would cost around the one thousand odd pounds mark (US$ 1,600), so some research makes sense.

The concept seems idyllic - slap in a couple of solar panels and job done. Free power for the next twenty odd years with no maintenance other than an occasional clean of the panels.

After looking into it a little more, I must say that I'm somewhat under whelmed by the whole idea.

Green issues aside, solar power looks very expensive for pretty poor returns.

The panel you see is one of two different types I bought for my solar power experiments. This one for my on-board 12V system.

Forty quid that cost me, and it only produced a sorry amount of power over the course of the last few weeks. Not even enough to keep up with my intermittent use of the radio. Oh yes, and the battery is in really good shape as it's quite new.

4.8w output I think is promised on the box, but in reality I think it only does that when it's pointed directly into blazing sunlight. That's not going to happen. Especially here in England in the daylight savings months.

Before we go any further, bear in mind that this panel could not keep up, so I'd have to use a generator to top up the power at some point anyway.

So here's my, very rough, calculations....

Forty quid buys me forty litres of petrol. At .4 litres per hour (1/4 load from here), this gives me 100 hrs (6000 minutes) generator runtime. In reality the generator will use less petrol than that, as the load to charge the 12V battery is not that significant (say 10 amps * 12V = 120W vs 500W for 1/4 load).

I estimate it would take a maximum of 5 minutes generator runtime to produce the same amount of charge that panel did in two weeks.

Based on the above, 2.5 minutes runtime per week, that forty quid on the solar panel buys me the equivalent of (6000/2.5) 2,400 weeks, or 46 years, generator charge time.

End of experiment.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


PowerboatsWhile I was happily painting away, suddenly the river came alive with powerboats of all sizes streaming down, heading out to sea.

This is definitely one of those times when a camera cannot do a scene justice.

The noise and spectacle of what must have been forty odd boats cruising by was quite something, weather you like powerboats or not.

One thing that surprised me somewhat, was that they were all more or less at the speed limit. Usually one boat goes a little faster, then another, then the one that's being overtaken speeds up and suddenly it's an all out race!

Monday, October 19, 2009


PrimingAfter rust busting comes priming, of course.

I know it looks a bit, well, red. But that's only the first coat of primer.

There is more rust busting to do on the port side, but I think the worst of the rust on this side has been dealt with now. The rest should be, relatively, easy. Watch this space.....

The idea of the red primer is that this is followed with grey, then white primer. That way, as I work towards the bow on the rust busting and subsequent priming, I always know how many coats the various sections have been painted with.

Hopefully the weather will co-operate for at least a little bit longer while I get this section done.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rust busting

Rust bustingA bit of a contrast to the last post!

It's been a while since I've been down on my hands and knees chipping rust, now the muscles in my arms are paying the price.

The rust on the port side there is really the result of not doing the job properly the first time round.

Originally, while in Fareham, we just painted over the rusty bits. Now it's time to do the job properly (see the rust bleeding through on the extreme right of the picture).

Just the short(ish) stretch you see there has almost filled up that 20L tin in the foreground.

That's on top of the chippings Fred produced from this section almost a year ago now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


GleamingSo that's the wheelhouse block all painted white then.

There's only the red and black detail to be doing, then that whole section is done.

Next on the list will be the inside of the port side bulwarks to rust-bust and paint.

I'm hoping this will go fairly smoothly, as there's not THAT much rust to deal with.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Voltage trace

Voltage traceSo here's the voltage chart I was going to do.

This shows the battery bank voltages over the course of Sunday. During the morning, the only things running were the pc and, periodically, the fridge.

The afternoon was a little busier, with the paint mixer and lights on at various points. There was also a little wind about, which helped maintain the battery voltage. The really deep dip you see is because of the water pump, which only runs occasionally to top up the water pressure (must have been teatime then).

A little disappointingly, this is very similar to the chart I posted in September 2008. I had this chart in mind as a comparison, which is why I ran the generator at 10.00!

Looking at the two charts, I'd say that there has been no significant improvement in the batteries performance in the last year.

I had previously been running the generator whenever practical, to give the de-sulphination unit as much chance as possible to work. After seeing these charts, I think I'll change tack and only run the generator for an hour or so to recharge the batteries when the voltage drops below say 24.4 volts. My system is, after all, setup to work like this.

The 24.4 volts is a little arbitrary, but should leave more than enough charge to last through a cold evening with the heating running, without needing to run the generator at an unsociable time.

Ideally, I should not have to run the generator at all. Any power I use should be restored over time by the wind generator or, possibly, solar power.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Battery de-sulphuring device

So there have been a few questions about my de-sulphuring device, which I posted on some time ago.

Rob, how are you getting on with yours by the way?

Anyway, my battery refresher, or de-sulphuring device is still very much in use.

I see it's been over a year now and the batteries are still steadily improving. It has been a long, slow process. Longer than expected I suppose.

Please bear in mind here that the refresher needs at least 25.6 volts before it starts working. To get this voltage needs either a really strong wind for the wind generator to keep the voltage up or for me to run the generator. It is impractical for me to run the generator for more than say 10-15 hours a week, so the refresher does not get that much opportunity to actually work.

Obviously as time goes on and the battery improves, so the refresher works for progressively longer because of the wind generator.

Initially, the batteries took ages on the charger to get up to 25.6 volts. With the generator off, the wind generator could not keep this up at all, even in a stiff breeze.

Some time later, achieving above the magical 25.6 volts was faster, but as soon as the charger was turned off the voltage dropped - even with no load. The wind generator could still not keep up, except in a really strong wind.

Before the new inverter/charger, 25.6 became easy to hit and the voltage stayed above this for say half an hour or so, with no load, before dropping off again. The wind generator needed a really good breeze to keep up.

With the new inverter/charger the voltage stays above 25.6 with the fridge and a few small lights on for about half an hour. I suspect that's down to a combination of both the new charging regime and the inverters no load efficiency.

The wind generator is away getting serviced at the moment, more about that later, but on it's return I would expect it to now keep that voltage above the magical 25.6V relatively easily.

A new voltage trace would be both interesting and definitive. I'll have to see what I can come up with...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

TLC for the batteries

TLC for the batteriesJust before I installed my new inverter/charger, I serviced the batteries. Giving the tops a good clean and topping up the cells with the right amount of distilled water.

I know I should do this at regular intervals, but have not really got around to drawing up any kind of schedule for that kind of thing.

Anyway, I immediately see that the batteries are holding their charge so much better as a direct result of the proper charge cycle delivered by the inverter charger.

The now redundant charger, which you can see in the foreground, never delivered the amps the inverter charger delivers. Consequently I'm sure the batteries ended up not being charged as they should have been.

The new charging regime has an 'absorption' phase, where 50/60 odd amps are poured into the battery at the start of the cycle. This has the acid inside the battery bubbling away furiously, giving the contents a good old stirring up in the process. I gather this helps eliminate the stratification of the acid and water in the batteries.

This seemingly quite aggressive charging seems to be good for the batteries, whereas there's me thinking I was being kind to them these past years, only applying relatively low amperage charges.

More learning...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Top bit done

Top bit donePainting the white topcoat may be a cruise, but there's lots of it to be done.

Here you see the top section of the wheelhouse block has been completed.

Unfortunately the difference between the done and not done bits does not seem so stark in the picture, but from a distance the fresh white really shows up a treat.

There is a small section to complete topsides, on the starboard side, then there are the rails and the much larger bottom section to be done.

Although there is not that much of them, the rails will take quite some time to do as they are so fiddly.

One thing though, this white paint is best applied when it's not sunny and bright, else the glare is so bright that you can't tell where you have just painted.

Sunglasses help, of course, but you still need to step back to see the bits you've missed.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Going white again

Going white againSome jobs on board are really satisfying. None more so than slapping on that coat of beauty paint.

Here you see Fred just starting with the first few strokes of repainting the wheelhouse white.

During the summer we have dealt with the rust, and have painted some quite large patches of the wheelhouse block over with primer.

The relatively easy, and very rewarding, job of the shimmery shiny top coat had been saved for an appropriate day.

Soon the entire block will be white again, with no rust or primer peeping through...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Workshop front

WorkshopFinally, I've got the front part of the workshop complete.

I must say, I'm pleased with how it looks so far.

I know it's been a while, but it's done now.

Next will be to weld on the supports on the sides, then attach the boards to them.

I had previously welded up the side supports, but had to cut them back off as when I came to fit the boards I discovered I had welded them up all wrong.

Looking at the longer term weather forecast, it looks like I will have the timing of completing this just about right.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More inverter charger

More inverter chargerI'm posting more on the inverter charger, simply because I can't get over just how significant this is to Lady Jane and all who sail on her.

First off, it's a Studer XTM-3500-24. An pure sine inverter/charger which I bought from Barden at the boat show. Following some negotiation, I got what I consider was a excellent price for both the inverter charger and it's accompanying remote control/display unit (RCC02). By the way, I'd say the remote control is pretty much essential.

Previously, I'd been planning on buying just a 3kva pure sine inverter. As it works out, it costs about the same for an inverter charger as it does for an inverter, with the advantage that the inverter charger does more.

Again, it was mainly on price that I opted for the Studer inverter charger. This worked out at close on half the price of the inverter I had been considering. Plus the XTM-3500-24 is capable of far more.

The main thing is that the inverter provides 3.5 kva, which is more than the 2.0 kva generator I normally use for most power tools and certainly more power than the 1.0 kva pure sine inverter I bought because of the central heating. More powerful than both of them put together in fact.

Having this power available to me directly from the battery bank means I can pretty much do everything, except welding, without using a generator. All kinds of things now become possible without any special thought to the power likely to be consumed including:

  • Using the microwave
  • Making toast
  • Power tools of all descriptions
  • Patch's hair dryer

For any of the above, I previously had to start up the generator specially.

What had become an issue for me with the previous setup was the automatic switch-over between inverter power and generator power had a small time delay. This was enough to cause a power failure in whatever was running at the time:

  • The central heating system relies on power to cool it after it's been running. This would just shut down, and sometimes play up on a manual restart. I had to resort to waiting for the hot water/central heating system to stop completely before I could switch to/from generator power.
  • The radio I use on deck would shut itself off during switch over. In doing so, annoyingly, it would reset back to it's default settings, so needed fiddling with to get back to the station I was on (I tried using rechargeable batteries, but that was not a big success).
  • If the fridge motor happened to be running during switch-over it would, for some reason, consume a huge amount of power running at full speed when the power went on again.

This new inverter charger acts like an interruptible power supply (UPS), so there is no power failure on switch over. Even the radio carries on as if nothing happened. Now I can start and stop the generator pretty much at will with no problems at all.

With the new inverter/charger, my thinking on generator power is changing. It now more fulfils the role of a battery charger than it does that of a mains power provider. This is mostly because I'm no longer concerned about that switch over from battery to generator power. That automatic generator startup on a defined voltage level really comes into it's own now. I am developing more on this, so will post about it when I'm further down the line.

Sometimes, new visitors to Lady Jane don't grasp the significance of appliances and their power consumption, and just leave things running. I'd have the generator running then sometime after shutting it down would discover the inverter had tripped and that the fridge has been off. Obviously this should no longer happen.

This inverter seems to be vastly more efficient than the last inverter, as evidenced by the higher than usual voltage showing the following morning. I suspect that it's ability to hibernate when there is no power demand is a big part of that.

The remote control shows all kinds of cool stats, this helps me keep a close eye on things like the battery voltage and mains amps being consumed.

I now have two easy to program relays on the unit. One of these will be used for powering a socket, initially only when a generator is running. I could also use this to power my Christmas lights each day between 5.00pm and 11.00pm come December. The other, I have yet to decide what to do with.

The inverter/charger also saves me that valuable space the battery charger took up.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New inverter charger

New inverter chargerWhat a difference this makes to life.

I've had this installed for one day, and already I'm enjoying the benefit of my new 3.5 kva inverter/charger.

To step back a bit, Andy and I sat down and discussed a plan for Lady Jane's power sometime in late 2007. An almost all day discussion if I remember rightly.

The core of the plan was an entire system for Lady Jane's power, revolving around the battery bank and external power supplies featuring:

  • The batteries would provide 24V for the lights and other boat related functions.
  • A big 3kw, pure sine, inverter would provide the mains power from the batteries.
  • The batteries would be topped up using the wind generator.
  • When the battery voltage dropped below a certain point, a generator would automatically start to charge the battery.
  • The system would automatically switch power between a deck input (either one of my 2 deck generators or shore power), the donkey engine and the inverter.
  • A separate mains power socket would be active when a generator/shore power was available to run things like a battery charger.
  • 240V mains sockets would be installed at key points on the boat.

All that time ago, delivery on the plan seemed like an impossible task as some of this stuff neither of us had any idea about.

Of course, some elements of the plan such as the 24V lights and the wind generator were already in place and just had to be incorporated into whatever we were doing.

Since then, the highlights have been:

Now, as a result of a visit to the 2009 Southampton boatshow, I have the last of the major pieces of the original plan installed. The slightly bigger than planned pure sine inverter which is also a battery charger.

Suddenly, with the addition of this new inverter/charger, everything has come together beautifully.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Steering box

Steering boxHere you see the steering gear all boxed off, and that valuable storage space now available to me again.

The major leak in the steering hydraulics was tracked down to one of the solenoids. I kind of knew that anyway, but had not really had the time to address it properly.

Now the troublesome solenoid is temporarily off until I can get that sorted. In the meantime, I made up a blanking plate which, along with a gasket, has stopped the oil leaking for now.

I'm pleased to say that all the oil that had pooled on the deck below the steering gear has also been cleaned up. Yuck.

If you look carefully, you can also see the emergency steering arm in the background there. This, along with it's locating pin, has now been rounded up and safely stowed.

I know the very place to take my leaky solenoid, it's just getting the time to go there as it's the other side of Portsmouth.

In the meantime, the steering does still work using the manual pump in the wheelhouse.

Monday, September 21, 2009

LJ on her mooring

LJ on her mooringAs things progress, and conditions on board Lady Jane improve, I find it harder and harder to leave the old girl and return home.

Warm, calm, evenings only serve to increase the difficulty of leaving.

A few weeks ago, as part of the procrastinating over returning home, I stopped in the middle of the river to take some pictures. Here you see one of the best I took.

The quality of these 'evenings on the river' pictures always varies so wildly due to a mixture of the light and the constant movement on the water.

As it happens, this also answers ValleyP's questions about what size and type vessel Lady Jane is.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Predator 130

Predator 130Late on Friday night this beauty cruised by me on the River Itchen.

Sorry about the rather dark picture.

To give you an idea of it's size, it's bridge is as high as Lady Jane's wheelhouse. Something I don't think I've seen on any other yacht around here.

I believe its one of the new Predator 130's from Sunseeker, being launched at the Southampton boat show which started on Friday.

Now there's some serious money.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rubbish (garbage) day

Rubbish dayOn board I have a whole series of tasks that need doing periodically.

I should, I suppose, make a list of these routine tasks so I can stay on top of them.

Removing the rubbish (garbage) is just one of those routine tasks that left too long can take on epic proportions.

I hasten to point out that this is boat project garbage only. The normal household waste is taken off the boat at the end of the weekend, with recycling taken off as and when the respective recycling bins are full.

The poor Old Sow was loaded to the gills with the rubbish accumulated over the last six months or so, carefully avoiding sharp edges against the tubes.

This in turn got loaded into the truck and sneaked into the council tip (dump).

The reason I say sneaked is that the rubbish from Lady Jane tends to be rust, paint chips, old rollers and generally awful stuff. I compare this to the lampshades, beautiful wood, old chairs and other quite good, sometimes useful, looking things 'normal' people throw away.

It almost feels criminal tipping in a tin full of rust and debris from Lady Jane in amongst all that other stuff, so I have this weird fear getting thrown out for having unacceptably bad rubbish.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Steering mechanism

In response to an anonymous comment yesterday, I thought I'd explain how Lady Jane's steering mechanism works.

Please bear in mind that I'm no expert, so this is simply my understanding....

First off, the 'lump' in the middle with the wires from it, and connected to the arm, which is in turn connected to the rudder post, is the rudder position indicator sender. At a guess, this sender is a variable resistor which probably operates between 0 and 24V. This in turn is shown as the rudder position in the wheelhouse, with the midships position likely at 12V on what is probably essentially a moving coil volt meter. Hard port would be say 24V, while hard starboard would likely be 0V.

I do not doubt it is very handy for a skipper to be able to see instantly where the rudder is positioned, regardless of the steering mechanism involved.

Now Lady Jane has three separate mechanisms for steering, which are all achieved by moving the rudder via the rudder post you can see right in the foreground of yesterdays picture.

The crudest, and simplest, mechanism is steering using a lever which will go over the post there. I have the lever, and key, floating about on board somewhere. (Makes mental note to get this together and stowed safely).

I've not tried to use the lever, but suspect it would take two people with ropes and pulleys to actually move the rudder with any semblance of control over Lady Jane. Oh yes, and a lot of shouting and cussing from the wheelhouse!

The second, and currently most used, method of steering Lady Jane is by using the manual hydraulic pump directly connected to the wheel in the wheelhouse. The pump in the wheelhouse holds a reservoir of hydraulic oil which is pumped through port or starboard steering pipes down through to the rams which in turn push the rudder. You can just see the pipes entering the steering room from the deck to the left there.

The way hydraulics work is a force on a small diameter piston over a long distance (the wheel) causes a proportionally larger force on a larger diameter piston over a short distance (the rudder).

Turning Lady Jane using the manual pump takes plenty of turns of the wheel from full port to full starboard. I forget how many, but it's loads.

The final method of steering Lady Jane is electrically, using the hydraulic power.

The hydraulic power is provided by a 110V DC motor, which drives the hydraulic pump. This unit, and it's reservoir, is visible right at the back of the steering room there.

The two hydraulic systems are totally independent of each other, so using the autopilot does not move the wheel. I presume there are some one way valves in the piping somewhere which makes this possible, though I don't know where.

Currently, to operate the steering, there are two buttons in the wheelhouse, red and green unsurprisingly, which turn Lady Jane to port or starboard. These buttons operate the 110V DC hydraulic solenoids, one of which is visible to the right of all the hydraulic pumping gear you can see at the back there. I've taken the left hand solenoid off, as part of fixing one of the leaks I have in the system.

The solenoids can also be driven by Lady Jane's autopilot, but this system, although still connected, is defunct as it's compass etc. was robbed off of the boat at some point in the past. I had been toying with the idea of developing my own auto-pilot, using the NMEA signals produced by the on-board GPS.

John, the skipper, reports that using the buttons to steer Lady Jane is 'too slow'. This could be an indication that the hydraulics pack needs work. By the screeching noise the 110V DC motor makes, I'd say that's very likely.

Anyway, there you have it. Obviously there is more than one project relating to the steering awaiting my attention.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Steering hydraulics

Steering hydraulicsTo say I've a lot of projects on the go at the moment is maybe somewhat of an understatement.

The variety of things I've got to do is great, both in terms of interest and challenge, but not so good in terms of structure and planning or completion.

The steering gear hydraulics is a case in point. In amongst everything else to be done, I'll also need to set aside time to address the various oil leaks in the system.

Each of the four separate leaks is trivial, but collectively they represent a sizeable chunk of work that has to be done. The longer this is left, the more mess there is to clean up afterwards.

What I'm starting to realise is I must set up some kind of plan - and stick to it.

I know me. If I don't make a plan, I'll continue to drift onto new, and therefore interesting, things while leaving a trail of projects with the challenges resolved, but left unfinished.

I remember how constructive the plan I had when leaving Fareham was. Then most things actually got finished.

Step 1 - make a list ....

Monday, September 07, 2009

Workshop space

Workshop spaceHere's a peek inside the new workshop space.

Obviously the sides still need to be completed, but I just wanted to show off the space itself.

What is quite strange is that the main deck space does not feel any smaller and, even more strange, this space under the whaleback now seems to have grown larger.

In fact the usable workshop space is 2.7m (9 ft) by 4.3m (14 ft), so a good size then.

There is still plenty left to do, including rust busting and painting the roof space there. At least that can be done in almost any weather now.

I'm also pretty sure that come winter, condensation dripping from above will dictate putting in some form of insulation into the deckhead.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Wiring in

Wiring inAndy was back on Lady Jane over the long weekend, to help finish the electrics in the new workshop space.

One of the first jobs was to put in the necessary wiring from the consumer unit through to the workshop.

Now after years of frustration in trying to unroll wire from rolls using all kinds of methods, including rolling the things up and down the deck, culminating in slashing open Fred's hand with a sharp edged roll at one point, I decided enough is enough. Time to make a proper wire dispenser.

The picture shows my new portable wire rack, made out of a bit of angle iron and some conduit. Simple, but effective.

I measure the reel holder's success by the fact that pulling wire through Lady Jane's engine room and holds was completely trouble free, although it took the efforts of Fred, Andy and myself to achieve it.

With this done, and more work from Andy, the mains electricity to the forward hold and workshop is now all working 100%.

By way of a bonus, we also have a working mains socket installed in the fish hold as well.

The luxury of all these sockets now available is going to take some getting used to.

A big thanks to Andy for making it all happen.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Completed door

Completed doorFinally, the door is complete.

In the end, the actual fitting was not as much of a problem as I'd envisaged.

Andy proved an enormous help though. In the event I know I would have really struggled to actually hang the door by myself.

The biggest single issue we had was the ply the door fits into was twisted in the frame I'd built. After re-designing the supporting struts slightly, all was well.

A lick of paint on the front there, and all evidence of any screw heads and clamp marks will be disappeared completely.

Oh yes, and the door closes with a satisfying click. A really good result I'd say.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


ConsternationI don't think I've ever done anything on board that has caused as much consternation as this table has.

Last I posted about it, Fred had been working on the construction of the frame.

We have subsequently also cut, sanded and glued the table top - out of plywood as planned.

Last week, after Fred had gone, I sealed the table with PVA, then gave it a few coats of varnish.

I used varnish purely by way of experimentation on how the varnish I'm using would survive out in the weather.

Now I've created myself a problem, as Patch, Andy and Fred are all horrified at the idea of me using it as a work bench.

With Patch going so far as to refuse to put mugs of hot tea on it, for fear of marking it.

Too late now - working on my new door, when nobody was looking, has already christened it with a few scratches.

I'll admit it does look rather good at the moment, but it is, after all, only a bit of plywood.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Door frame

DoorframeThe picture shows the progress so far on the new workshop space I'm creating.

As you can see, I've just finished putting in the doorframe.

The frame itself is a planed down section of 2" * 2" piece of timber, with a section so the frame 'sticks out' from the surrounding ply and has a flat edge for the door to rest against on the opposite side.

I already know the completed door fits width wise, but not length wise.

I'll trim the door exactly to size once the frame glue is properly dry and I have the time to measure it all up correctly.

Now is not the time to make any hasty measurements and/or cuts.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


SpitfireJust recently, John swung by in his new patrol boat - Spitfire.

It certainly looks a big improvement on the old patrol boat.

John's visit serves as a timely reminder that it's high time Lady Jane went out for a spin.

Plans are afoot...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Making the door

Making the door 1The whole workshop project is coming along nicely.

You can see in the picture the gluing up of the first half of the door.

I put extra supports in the middle of the door to help prevent it from warping.

Making the door 2After putting glue all over the first half, I then immediately glued the second side on.

It's obvious I don't have enough clamps, so had to resort to using whatever heavy weights I had to hand.

In retrospect, the extra supports in the middle were probably unnecessary, as the door is now pretty heavy.

To late to change anything - short of startting again that is.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Old Sow

The old sow - a dirty bottomGiving the Old Sow some tender loving care in the bottom department has been long overdue.

My experience with jetwashing the underside of the rib has taught me that the underside of boats that stay in the water for any length of time need regular cleaning. The more often the better.

The build up of marine growth you see attached to the Old Sow is an indication that I've let things go just a little too long.

The old sow - Fred is in thereMy old jetwash was useless, so I had to start this particular task with the purchase of a brand new one. I've already killed two Karcher jetwashes in the time I've had Lady Jane, so opted for a Bosch one this time. Only time will tell if it's going to survive.

Early indications are that it's a good one. So good in fact that I think I'm going to have to hide it from Fred, who you can only just see through all the spray there, as he seems inordinately fond of jetwashers.

The old sow 3 - ready for actionThe net result of all this blasting away at the poor unsuspecting critters that had made the underside of the old sow their home is a transformed old sow.

Initial testing has the sow once more skimming gracefully upon the ocean wave... Get real - it's still a pig, but a clean one.

One thing though, there seems to be seawater coming in from somewhere now. It's probably from the fitting for the home made bars the previous owner put on.

That's boats though - always something...

Friday, August 21, 2009

The door

The doorI've made a start on the door to the workshop space.

By way of sizing, I've made sure that it's bigger than every other door on Lady Jane. Still, it does look small when I'm stood by it, as it will be installed some way above deck, so you have to step into it, like you do the rest of the doors on board.

As you can see, I made up a trial section with two bits of ply and a bit of wood in the middle. This 'trial' piece helps get the dimensions right for the frame, along with checking the hinges, handles and locking mechanism for size.

The plan is to glue the whole thing together, fit the frame, then finally hang the door.

I'm not to worried about making the door, nor am I worried about making the door frame.

What worries me is fitting the two of them together!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Silver rain

Silver rainI've been drilling a series of holes in Lady Jane's bulkheads, to make way for the new wiring for the workshop.

So many, quite big, holes in fact that the metal from the actual cutting process started to look somewhat like a magical little silver rainfall. My mind had been drifting somewhat...

The upshot of all these holes is the installation of a proper ring main to the forward part of the boat. The third hole you see is for the energy efficient 24V lighting I'm planning on installing.

The picture also shows one of the newly installed, but yet to be wired in, weatherproof sockets I now have. An even more completely weatherproof socket has also been mounted on deck.

I'm really looking forward to finally having sockets available where I'm working with power tools on board, instead of trailing extension leads all over the place.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A lucky escape

I saw this and just had to post it. There is so much wrong here.

I try to always wear a life vest, but confess I rarely wear my kill-chord (it's always such a hassle). You obviously need both!

Changing the way I do things and clipping the kill-chord to my life jacket, like I've seen Ken from Maggie Best do, should fix this completely.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Making things happen

Making things happenAndy came down for another visit.

This time to help with getting mains power into the new workshop space I'm creating on board.

The huge advantage of having Andy help is his insistence on doing things right.

If it was left to me, there would probably only ever be an extension lead trailing through to the workshop. If I was feeling really enthusiastic, I may even have routed it below decks somehow.

Needless to say, doing things right needs power tools of every description.

You would not believe just how long it took to tidy up after this particular day's work.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New table

New tableWell this was fairly inevitable...

The poor old table you can see in the background is now in such a sorry state it just has to be replaced.

Despite my best efforts, the slats below the protective covering have been falling out. Somewhat reminiscent of those prisoners bunks in the great escape.

Also, the legs are now so wobbly it's not even safe to try to sit on the table, let alone do any work on it.

I was originally going to replace the table with a new, wooden, one.

After thinking it through, and a suggestion by Fred, I've opted for a wooden frame with an overhanging wooden top, probably plywood, attached.

You can see the frame that Fred built slotted neatly onto the steel table below.

This gives me the flexibility to do either steel or woodwork on the same table, simply by changing the top.

Yes, that poor old table has also been on fire on account of cutting steel plate on it with oxy-acetylene.

All I need do is remember to take extreme care when using the circular saw on my new wood top.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Frame built

Frame builtI've made a start on the frame on the port side.

At the bottom, you can see I've welded in a piece of angle iron to hold everything in place down there, without needing to worry about the wooden deck.

I did the welding of the angle iron using some of the low hydrogen welding rods left by the contractors. I had been told that using the rods was 'quite tough', as the flux tended to melt and flow over the electrode after stopping welding, making it hard to subsequently arc up again.

After some experimentation, I found that keeping a small flat file nearby, then cleaning the flux from the tip of the electrode before restarting welding was all it took to produce consistent, good welds using these rods.

Reading up on low hydrogen rods on the interwebs, I see that the whole idea of the rods is to keep moisture from getting into the welding process.

From what I can understand, relatively high levels of moisture in the welding rod yields a high hydrogen content in the weld, which in turn makes the weld weaker and susceptible to cracking.

As far as storage of my welding rods on Lady Jane, all the fancy low hydrogen rods count for nothing as I've just kept the rods in their open packets, lying in a crate in the stern compartment.

Apparently the first step in keeping the moisture content in welding rods low is to store them at high temperature after opening the packet. Obviously a problem for me here with no power on during the week, and very conscious of overall power consumption on board.

I've seen some disparaging remarks about the effectiveness of using a small box with a 100W light bulb in it. It seems that for the purist, only a special purpose oven kept permanently on will do.

I think there must be a better option - vacuum packaging the rods when not being used maybe, and only heating them just prior to use?

My personal view on all this is that none of welding I've done so far, or intend to do in the immediate future, is critical, so the storage of 'wet' rods is not really an issue. I may, though, think of a way of storing them better and heating my rods before/while using them in future. This seems like a reasonable compromise.

If I'm to do any welding that could be critical in future, I guess I'll have to consider buying smaller packs and simply opening a new packet of rods just for those jobs, then keep them heated while the job is on.

All interesting stuff to learn about though.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More mess

More woodDespite my best efforts, my deck is even more untidy than before.

Here you see lengths of 2*2 scattered about, the last of a load of new wood I've shipped out to Lady Jane.

This wood, in part, is going to be used in the construction of my new workshop space.

The new sheets of plywood have already been stashed inside, out of the inevitable wet weather.

I've got how I'm going to do it pretty much mapped out in my head now.

The toughest part is most likely going to be the doorway.

I've never tried to make a door before...