Sunday, 2 May 2010

fillin' holes

Pretty much the first thing that happened when we bought the boat was that the skipper taking us to our new mooring drove us into a low bridge, ripping the mast out of the deck. Since that slightly terrifying introduction to the world of barge ownership we have never got round to repairing it, partly because it wasn't a very good mast, and was bolted into the 8mm steel plate of the deck, rather than the huge, sturdy, formed-of-40mm-steel-plate, massive pillar clearly designed to be the base of a loading crane/mast. One day we will have a new mast built, and it will be lovely, and the mounting for it will be attached to this pillar, but in the meantime, ever since we've owned the boat there have been 8 little 10mm holes in the front deck where the bolts ripped out. We had plugged them with silicone but over time this had perished and dropped out, and having taken out the ceiling in the bathroom we could see the sunshine through the holes (and occasionally the rain too). It was time to plug the holes properly.

We bought some 10mmm diameter steel bolts

and then when Lorna had set up all her welding gear on the deck

i poked the bolts through from below, and held them in place while she spot welded them (i did this with a piece of wood, i like having skin on my fingers! The wood was smoking impressively while she welded).

She then added more welds to get the bolts securely attached to the deck

before i cut off the bolts as close as possible to the deck and ground them down a little

then we repeated the procedure, welding up any holes that were still there and finally grinding everything smooth

From above it's now a nice, smooth, waterproof, seamless piece of metal

and from below you can see the heads of bolts protruding, shortly to be covered up with insulation. Only took us 2 years!

back deck to the future

My hour a day of grinding paint off the back deck has paid off, and we had reached a point where we had ground of two thirds of the deck, and couldn't do any more without moving all the stuff on the final third back onto the bit i'd done. So it was time to paint it. I spent a final hour just quickly going over everything i'd done to get the light surface rust off that had formed over the past couple of weeks,

and then Lorna came in with her undercoat and painted all the bare metal.

So nice to see it all looking clean and smooth again!

the (sky)light fantastic

On the front deck, which forms the roof of the bathroom, there was a fairly rubbish skylight, which was ugly, leaked, and was too small.

So we got ace metal fabricator Brian Helmcamp to work up our ideas for what we wanted to replace it with into a workable design

and then come over and start building it. We took the existing frame, which was just wood glued onto the deck with mastic

and levered it off with a pry bar, revealing the hole in the deck itself. This was quite rough edged, looking like it had been cut with an oxy-acetylene torch.

Then Brian began tidying up the edges with a 9" grinder, taking the edge of the hole back to the edge of the rib underneath the deck.

He then cut off the old legs of the generator, which were in the way (and took out the 'mushroom' that covered the vent for the extractor fan)

before marking out the line we were going to cut to enlarge the hole

and then cutting out the two triangles of deck.

The line that we had marked out happened to cut directly through a bolt and a rivet, and it was interesting to see a scientific cross section style illustration of the inside of a nut and bolt and the structure of the deck.

The next stage was to fit a lip into the hole, to stop water running into the hole, to create a 'socket' to fit the actual structure of the skylight over, and to provide structural strength in the deck itself, as the skylight cuts through one of the main ribs supporting the deck that runs across the width of the boat. Brian spent a long time measuring and trimming the sheet steel (this is why having him do it is so much better than us doing it, the level of perfectionism and care was great to see) and then spot welded the lip in place

and added in two little plates to connect it to the back wall

before i made a wooden jig for him to take away that matched the exact shape of the lip so that he could build the skylight back at the workshop.

I covered the hole with a sheet of celotex, and sat back to wait for the main skylight to structure to be built...