Thursday 24 December 2009

Steel Is Ordered

I have now ordered all the steel to finish the sides and roof as well as making an integral water tank.  This should be with me in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday 15 December 2009


I was having a real job visualising the front side panel.  This is one of the parts I spoke about earlier in the blog that was a special shape to fit with the upswept curve as the gunwall heads towards the front of cabin    bulkhead.

I had asked the designer to modify the files to do the roof a different way to the original plan.  He did this for me but I still wasn't convinced the parts would fit as I wanted.  I'm not very good with blind acceptance, I need to see things in the flesh.

The original file had already been sent to a local sign-making firm as I know the equipment to computer cut metal or vinyl are essentially the same and can be driven but the same software and files.

The sign-making firm imported the file into Corel Draw and was able to modify the size for me. Once this was done it was sent to the vinyl cutter and in a few minutes I had a full size patten.  £20 well spent IMO.

The bottom shown here is the front, the right is the roof edge

On the left side it can be seen there's a definite curve and the same on the right although its less pronounced. Its not perspective, or a dodgy lens on my camera.

After cutting round this I marked the shape out on an old piece of hardboard and cut that out.  When this was offered up to the hull.......... it fitted and followed the curve :-)  I have left it longer than the original for now as it might help with spacing the sheets that make up the cabin sides.  I will also change the shape of the front detail on the final template.  I shan't bother getting these parts laser cut now, I will do it with an angle grinder.

I have a side, even if it is only made of hardboard!

Monday 14 December 2009

It's Been A "Smashing" Day

The day started off very well, smashing weather for outside welding.  I got the prep done ready for welding the rest of the rubbing strakes on.  This was cleaning the joints with a rotary wire brush to clear the paint and rust and green stuff that has developed over the time it has stood outside.  I then blew the joints out with compressed air to dry behind the strake. 

I have changed to .8mm wire from 1mm for now which needed a new drive roller which fortunately arrived just in time.

I got a good few hours welding done finishing the strake welding.  When it got dark I packed away which is where the day went bad.  The trolley I have the welder on tipped over on some soft ground.  So the new regulator I bought 2 weeks ago now needs a new gauge, but worse than that my Velux welding mask got smashed.

I have had this mask 10 years, and they no longer make it I am told.  It was £140 then.  I know they have dropped in price since but I still have to replace it, and I could not find one with a view window as big as the velux.  I have a standard Jackson mask which will do for now, and have orderd another auto mask form an ebay tool merchant which seems to have good reviews,

Sunday 13 December 2009

Great Website

The weather today has been 'orrible.  So I spent some time lookimg through this web site.

Screen shot

I've had this on my bookmarks for ages but only got around to trolling through it recently.  I can't believe how much information there is in it that's from real life, on the ground (water) experience rather than merchants with products to peddle.  I even have my own blog mentioned on their blog roll along with others now.

Thanks to Ian for a great resource.

Friday 11 December 2009

Hmm! Curvey

Not much done today.  I have got some revised drawings from the designer to accommodate the way I want to do the roof.

The roof beams I ordered on Monday arrived today.

Stored on the bow for now

Here is one the right way up

These have been deliberately left long and will be trimmed to length later.

I am keeping a spreadsheet of the weight I am adding to the hull as I need to have this so I can determine at how much ballast to add later.

I found a neat metal weight calculator on the net.  Here is the result for the trimmed to length roof beams.

So another 525 kg to be added.  Just for fun, I told the calculator to work it out as if  it was gold.  Result  1308kg

Thursday 10 December 2009

Worst Of The Welding Now Done

I have been busy welding taking advantage of the good weather.  I have done what I consider the worst part of the welding.  That being the under sides of the bottom rubbing strake.  To do this has required me lying on my back and welding on my back.  This is never fun as you WILL get burnt.

Like this!

It only takes a small ball of splatter to get stuck somewhere and this is what happens.  Any welder will know exactly what I mean,  If you can wiggle about and keep it moving until it cools you usually get away with it.

Welding the top of the rubbing strake

I need to do some drawings tonight as I intend to change the roof design.  The front profile parts will need to be modified to suit.  More on the roof design change in a later blog.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

At Last Some Welding Done

Since having the boat home the weather has been either too wet or too windy or more like both.  Not the ideal conditions for MIG welding outside.

Today was different :-)  No rain and no wind.  So out came the welder this afternoon.  In about an hour or so I had welded the tops of the rubbing strakes and a weld along the top edge of the front gunwale.  The only real problem was the damp lodged behind the strakes.  As I welded this boiled off into steam and caused some problems with a smooth  flow.  Next time I will blow it out with compressed air first.

The hose in the picture is draning out the inside.  The pump was stopped because I needed the power for the welder, but it continued to syphon so I have just left it.  It is slow but that's OK because the pump is too fast to be efficient now.  The bottom of the boat is divide into section about 5' x 2' x 2" deep and the pump drains them quicker than new water can flow in thus the pump sucks more air than water.

I am still wondering about the best way of doing the cabin sides and roof.  The front approx. 2m is shaped and whilst I have the drawing and files to have these cut, I am considering doing it myself as I want to change the way the roof is joined to the sides.  More on that in a later blog.

I may consider buying or renting a plasma cutter and getting the steel delivered as stock sheets.  I need to have a go with a plasma cutter it think.  I am told they are very easy to use.  Failing that it will the trusty angle grinder.

I have now placed an order for the 24 curved roof bearers so things are happening at last.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Time to level.

With the last lot of rain recently the amount of water in the bottom of the hull was just right to do the final levelling.

A 20t jack was borrowed form Silverton Aggregates They run heavy plant and trucks and kindly loaned me a stubby bottle jack short enough to get under the hull.

A bit of a lift here, bit of packing there, bit of extra support for the back, and an hour and half later it was as level as I could get it.  All the water was in the right place.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Nothing Obvious Done?

There's been no obvious progress on the boat since it was delivered.  I have none the less been very busy making preparations.  The first thing I needed to do was to get a heavy duty power supply to the boat to supply the welding equipment.  I rang the electricity supply company  to ask if it was OK to run temporally run my supply on their overhead straining cable that brings in the power to our house. This is  not as mad as it sounds as the cables are all heavily insulated.  For me this was the safest option, but they re-coiled in horror at the suggestion.  It was their opinion that running it across the ground was safer even though cars will drive over it.  Oh well they know best!?  So I now have a dedicated power cable from the house consumer unit wired into the RCD protected side. Fortunately there was an unused fuse available.

Other things I have been up to this week are sorting out the steel I need to complete the cabin.  There are 3 parts for the front that have to be profile cut.  The rest of the cabin is made from standard steel stock. Essentially the designer (link below) uses, where possible, standard steel stock sizes, if you like "off the shelf" parts.  What he does is design the bow and stern which are the complicated bits.  The middle bit of the boat is up to the builder to put in as require to the finished length or customer requirements.

The hatched parts are builder optional

"Profiling" is where the steel sheet is cut with either gas flame, plasma, laser or even water jet all controlled by computer from files supplied by the designer.  Not a lot different to cutting a dress from a patten, indeed a paper template could me made for me to cut with a grinder.  Its the same process as used by vinyl cut lettering used by sign writers.

Parts I need profile cut.

The small parts are the parts to make the skeg and rudder.

I have also been working on the internal layout.  This might seem very premature at the moment but its not.  Let me explain. The sides of the cabin can be supplied in one part up to 12m long but this is not cheap to do it this way as there is only one company in the UK that can do this length, also the transport from the Midlands will be expensive too, so the other alternative is to do it in shorter parts that can be folded locally which is relatively competitive due to the sizes involved.  Trouble with short lengths is there will need to be joints.  Joints will need additional work to minimise their visual impact once the boat is painted.  To minimise the the joint area will minimise the "making good".  The best way of hiding the joint is to place the windows in the joint area, that way only the small amount above and below the window require additional work.

So to find out where the windows need to go it's necessary to plan the interior.  This is the current plan.

Measurements to come.

The blue lines are the windows the red lines are area divisions.  The length of the living space is 12.75m

I have to admit the basic plan is someone else's, but its mostly what we want so I have used this as a working example.  To make it fit our working area I have had to scale it to 60.4:1  This is accurate to 4mm over the entire length of the boat! A tolerance I can happily work with.

Another thing  I have to consider is the roof bracing.  As I am going to use 5mm sides these will be self supporting and will not require additional vertical bracing to be welded in.  Again any welding to the sides, even inside will cause a ripple so buy using 5mm I can avoid bracing in this area. The roof bracing will be every 500mm centres.  The water tank will be bigger than this and therefore needs to be in the body before the bracing goes in.  I have been looking at the options for this.  The tank will fit under the foredeck, the dark area in the photo below.


Space for the fresh water tank.

The considered options so far are, stainless steel, plastic of some sort or an older idea is to use the boat skin to form the tank making an integral tank.  The latter would give the largest capacity and the least expensive option but would require the tank the be painted with bitumen every few years so a manhole would need to be incorporated to permit access to do the repaint.  Painting the inside of the tank is a sh*t job.  I might consider this option but get it GRP'd or have a flexible liner made. 

On another note all the rain this week has started to fill up the hull.  This is actually going to be useful as the boat is about 99% level at the moment.  The water in the bottom is showing it is sitting level down its length, but about 30mm high on the port (left) side .  I need to find  some jacks to hire to make the fine adjustments and level the boat before welding starts.

I will be speaking with the designer Nick Branson early next week to pay the licence fee for the CAD files so I can get started with the steel order and so get on with the build.

Sunday 15 November 2009


My neighbours have started calling me Noah.  Can't think why ;-) This is the view from my bedroom window.

I did think that with all the wind and rain over the past few days I might actually get the last laugh. I now have another 50mm of water to pump out.  I think I will leave it until I have it closed off to the elements.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Transportation Day

Well what a stressful couple of weeks since the initial news that I'd have to bid for the boat by sealed tender.  Since winning it I have had to move fast to arrange transport, prepare the ground to receive the boat, improve the access for the truck & crane, get the power company to shroud the overhead cables and a whole host of other things like insurance.

Anyway the boat is HOME

At 8am the crane arrived shortly followed by the truck.

Just under 2 hours later it's loaded

And under way shortly after

I arrived about an hour and a half before the truck.  On the way I met the crane which arrived soon after me.  The crane got in the drive :-)  1 down (the small one) just the big one to go. Once in position he got himself set up and ready for the arrival of the truck.


Set up  and waiting

Just over 4 hours from setting off......

The truck arrived.  Would my preparations be enough to get the truck down? If it did could the truck negotiate the bend in the middle of the drive?  As I knew the access was tight I paid extra to have a trailer with rear steering wheels.  If you look you can see them in action.  Without question had I hired a standard trailer this blog would be very reading differently right now!

It fitted thanks to the skill of the driver

Truck in position ready for the lift

Off the truck weighing in at 11.8 tons

With the assistance of the drivers (crane & truck)
the boat was set down and levelled

Thanks Dave (crane), Mark & Colin (truck)

So all in all a very successful day. No incidents, no accidents, no unexpected snags.  The transport was done by Streethay Wharf If you ever need to move a boat or any very long load these are the boys.  I know who I will be calling when its finished to get it out.

Here is a short time lapse video of the loading. I was to busy at the home end to set one up, but have plenty of stills for the album.

Loading this morning Click for video

Now the work begins. 

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Preperation and the water is on the wrong side.

Since work began to clear the land on Saturday I haven't stopped with other preparations.

The boat is being delivered tomorrow.  I have been in the midlands where the shell is currently, since early this afternoon.  As the shell has been outside for some time it has acquired about 250mm of water in the main area and  the engine bay was as full as it could be, about 450mm deep.

Engine Bay

The main body

The outside of the boat is dry its fair to say the boat has no leaks :-)

It took just over 4 hours to get as much of the water out as the pump would get.  Thers's still a bit in it but nothing to worry about.

I have now retired to my B&B for the night.  The crane and transport are due at 8am to start the move. I am going to try to do a time lapse movie of the lift.

Sunday 8 November 2009

What a difference a day makes..

Yesterday was digger day.  In order to get the boat home a bit of "landscaping" needed to be done.  Thanks to skills of Matt the digger driver this is how the day went.

This was how it was at 8am today.


From the other end

1 hour later

1 1/2 hours

2 hours

1 of 2 loads of road planing total 30 tons 

4 hours later

I'm still tending the subsequent bonfire and think I will be for a couple more days yet

Wednesday 4 November 2009


We bought our first boat back in June 2006.  A 60' Narrowboat in "working" condition but only just.  That was OK it was liveable, just about "cruiseable", and was essentially what I wanted.  A project, a first boat.


Since owning it I have totally refitted it.  The previous owners did what they truly believed was a good job.  I know this because I found their blog on the boat build by accident while looking for something else.  A wonderful thing the internet!  At this point I would post the link but having just done a search it seems to have gone.


I have learnt a lot in the 3 years we have had the NB.  This boat has served its purpose in every respect and we still enjoy it.  My wife enjoys it much more now the work is done, and especially since we have moved to a very well kept rural marina.

Engine room before.  It was necessary to walk across the engine to get inside.

Same area now.

View from the top.  I put a much larger hatch on.

Once we got the bug for boating we started visiting the the shows. This was in hindsight not such a smart thing.  Ignorance being bliss an' all. We happened aboard a Metrofloat. My wife had to be virtually dragged of the boat!   So the seed was sown.  The problem was not having £135k to spend on a boat.  Had we, I think we would have bought it there and then.

At the same show was another exhibitor that would build a shell to any level of finish.  I was particularly impressed with the build quality and that it was a particular hull design.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) this builder went out of business before we got to placing an order.

About 18 months passed. During a forum chat I became aware of a part built shell built by the above builder.  I entered into negotiations with the forum member that had possession of the shell.  Right form the outset it was made clear to me the ownership was in legal dispute and that they would not sell it until they had full title to it.  In credit to them they could have sold it to us in dispute and not made us aware of the title problem.

After about a year waiting for the outcome of ownership I was eventually told we would have to deal with the Liquidator.   The terms of the disposal was by sealed tender. So as I am writing this I am sure you have guessed I won the tender.

I have my work cut out!