Thursday, 13 October 2011

So the wood stove is in and at least I can keep part of me from freezing.  It is amazing just how cold it can get in an uninsulated tin can.  The wood stove is a Morso Squirrel, and technically it is a multi fuel as it has a coal grate and riddle system.  We used to have one in the house and had found it to be very easy to get on with.

It took me right back to Sunday School and the Creation story except this time it was me saying "let there be light".  Four fluorescent strip lights were wires into a switched multi gang socket thus allowing me to switch them individually.  I had a couple of tripod halogen spot lights (courtesy of Screwfix) that gave an intense light and heat and they were used as and when.  It was important to turn things off or the electricity bill got out of hand.  The inside was a dull red colour and always felt gloomy especially as there was no natural light for quite some time.


This photo shows the gloom.  The cream painted hatch cover above the strip light reflects the light so well it looks like daylight.

 This is a bit better and is lit up with the help of those halogen work lights.  Note the outlines for the windows and ports to see if they work with the interior layout.  What worked for the interior layout didn't always look good on the outside so........

The heating system had to be planned and sourced so that the holes could be cut and the bases welded up.  This is in the engine room and the red thing is the drip feed Kabola E7 with the marine hot calorifier behind.  It look similar to a domestic one but it made much stronger to cope with being waved about when at sea.  It also has a high recovery coil as well as a 28mm gravity coil.  Newark Copper Cylinders will make one for you to your spec and very good they are too.

So what do you do first when confronted with 13 tons of steel loosely described as a "replica dutch barge"?

It can be overwhelming but you wouldn't be here if you hadn't given it a lot of thought, I least I hope so.  The list of jobs is endless and the idea is to get them into some sort of order so that you don't mess up what you have already done.  It would have been very tempting to have given the inside a coat of light paint to get rid of the gloom but there are 101 welding jobs to do and that means the paint will get burnt off and everywhere would be covered in smoke smuts.  Paint doesn't really like cold, damp conditions so any painting has to be done when it warms up and stays warm.  We are talking over 10C really and preferably more or it takes forever to go off.

Welding jobs.

Well there is finishing the work of the hull builder who will inevitably have missed at least the odd inch or two off the miles of welding they have done.  Often in a dark corner or in the back of a tank or the awkward bit where the deck beams meet the cabin sides.  Then there is the steelwork to attach the inside of the boat to.  Sometimes there just aren't any frames near enough and you end up having to put in an intermediary.  Anything you want on deck, fender eyes, rigging attachment tangs etc. need to be done before you paint and insulate the inside.  Unless you specify, tanks may only come with one inspection hatch.  That's all you need surely?  Well that's what I thought but try painting the inside when the inspection hatch is in the middle and the baffles stop you reaching the sides.  Hence two baffles means three inspection hatches.  I had three tanks put in and needed to cut and make another six hatches.  Putting the tanks in meant that the builders had to take out the steel frames that would hold the floor.  Lack of attention to detail meant that these were slightly out which meant the floor wouldn't be level.  These had to be cut and re-welded, it is not a criticism of the builder as I bet no one thought it would be a problem.

Kemppi Mastertig 1500 hardly any bigger than a welding helmet.
What did I use for the welding?  A secondhand Kemppi Mastertig 1500.  It cost around £750 and was bought off hire in Holland and is still going strong after overplating another barge and repairing a narrowboat, not to mention the building of Bonnie of Clyde.  You can' beat a good inverter welder.  It is almost light enough to use the carry strap and weld up a ladder.  Not that I advocate such unsafe practice you understand but one does have to reach hard to get places sometimes and 14kg helps enormously.  It may all sound like a load of money but good stuff can be sold on at the end of the project.  If you use cheap stuff hard you end up buying again anyway.  All you need to use the TIG is a bottle of your favourite gas and you can fabricate all your own stainless stuff.  It's nearly, if not as cheap, to make in stainless these days as it is to get things galvanised.


An automatic welding helmet is brilliant too, no "flash" to worry about or the pain of "arc eye" to contend with.  They are so cheap these days, it's not worth doing without.


The R-Tech Speedmaster light reactive welding helmet is a high quality welding mask featuring variable shade from 9-13 so is suitable for all welding jobs. Solar powered with battery backup. 
  • UV/IR Protection up to DIN 13 at all times
  • Large viewing area 96x42 mm
  • Light state DIN 4
  • Variable shade adjustment 9 - 13
  • Lightweight welding helmet
  • Time from light to dark: 1/10,000 Sec
  • Time for dark to light: 0.1-0.9 Sec. Adjustable stepless
  • Power supply: Solar Cells with 2 Lithium Batteries
And all for under £50 from R Tech Welding Direct and the shape means that less hot rocks go down your neck!  And that was just a quick search on the net, my, there is some flash gear around now.  I blame American Hotrod.

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