Monday, 17 March 2014

Good news and bad

The good news is that after after a couple of weekends of frustratingly slow progress some visible signs of things getting done have started to appear. The bad is that I discovered that when the boat was hauled out (an event that I missed) she was apparently "covered in the worst growth ever seen after 1 year".
The quote is from Richard who owns the clinker boat next to Arctic Smoke on the hard standing. He also works at the marina and it was he who hauled AS out of the water. The news is particularly bad because last year I spent about £500 on a type of copper anti-fouling which has clearly not worked.
There was also a strange reaction going on around the area of the anode because as can be seen from the photos below it the anti-fouling has changed its appearance. This was also where there growth seems to have been at its worst. I am left wondering whether the reaction covered the whole boat to a lesser extent but which was enough to neutralise its properties. Kiwi Chris used the same stuff at the same time and plans to dry out in a couple of weeks so it will be interesting to see what that reveals. In the meantime I have contacted the manufacturers and await their response.

On to the good news. At about 1700 yesterday and after about 2 hours work with the angle grinder I finally severed the last of 3 nuts on the bolts holding the bow chain plate.
The operation started at about 1000 with my head and torso upside down in the chain locker and arm fully extended wielding an electric drill with a hole saw attachment lent by Chris. I was attempting to remove the fibreglass covering over the chain plate in order to remove it.
In order that the drill bit itself did not ground against the plate underneath the fibreglass I had to retract it from its normal position. This meant that the clamping bolt no longer pressed on the flat part of the shank that was there especially for that purpose, but on the round working part of the shank. As a a consequence it kept slipping off. However, I finally manage to drill out a hole and could see the chain plate underneath. I then switched from hole drill to angle grinder to cut away the rest and after about an hour with my head deep in the chain locker with fibreglass dust everywhere (I was masked and suited up) I had fully exposed the chain plate.


The screw heads can just be seen in the above photo.
I had assumed they were coach bolts screwed into the fibreglass behind but when I removed the bottom one it was clearly a machine screw and a nut must have been secured behind the small bulkhead. Of course the next two just went round and round when I turned the screw - the nuts clearly fixed on them.
"Bugger" that meant I was going to have to cut  a hole in the deck above to get to them.
First I had to remove the sizable piece of deck metal work that was over the top for the anchor rollers and through which the chain plate went.
A couple more hours got me to here:


Pretty eh!
The original plan for the weekend had been to make progress fitting the Aries self steering gear. Tony had kindly helped me make a start the previous weekend and after my false start had (thankfully) persuaded me that more preparation was required. He therefore took the backing pads with him to laminate a further section so that they could be shaped around the internal bulge of the transom. Yesterday Tony finished that job by shaping the pads with a chisel and then we added some gunge before securing them in place temporarily while the gunge set ... The text is courtesy of the Co-op plastic shopping carrier bag used to prevent the gunge sticking to anything. Now ready to be fitted.



The other job yesterday was replacing the stern chain plate. Actually in common with all the others except the bow it wasn't a chain plate but a U-bolt through the deck albeit a well reinforced one (unlike the others).

This is the old one


That plate on the stern is part of the reinforcement - inside there's a stainless steel plate under the deck that curves down the interior of the stern with another plate welded at right angles to it to prevent it flexing. All pretty substantial and if it were not for the fact that the U-bolt was probably as old as the boat I would have left it well alone. To my great surprise the start of the job of removing it (done last weekend) was relatively easy - there were no seized nuts. However, as I removed the nuts on one of the legs it sheered. I was immediately grateful to Kiwi Chris who persuaded me of the necessity of replacing all the U-bolts and bow plate, by pointing out the dangers of crevice corrosion.

However, far from the now broken U-bolt making the job of removing it easier, I bent one hammer and broke another trying to remove the wretched thing, but budge it would not.

Out came the angle grinder again. Actually it was the old one because I subsequently shredded the grinding wheel on a later job and the only way I could get another one quickly was to buy another grinder!

I cut the U off above deck and rather pessimistically commenced the job of drilling out the remains of the bolts. I've never had much success with similar operations but to my surprise and relief I managed to extract the old bolt legs in this way.

Next came the much more pleasant job of fitting the new chain plate that Howard had hammered into shape  in his workshop. Chris had given me an old chain plate to act as a backing plate. I had tried to re-use the old re-enforcing plate but it was during my attempts to cut this up that I shredded the angle grinding wheel.

Here it is - not finally fitted because my countersink bit was not big enough to make holes big enough to accommodate the machine screw heads. However, it fits like a treat and being bronze will last me out. I was particularly pleased to get the angle right - it points directly at the mast head fitting - and that the stay just runs under the bottom rail of the Pulpit without fouling it - a fact not unfortunately revealed in the photo.
By the way if you're wondering what that blue stuff is above the stern - which had me scratching my head for some considerable time - it's the sky! 18C on March the 16th!