|Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on February 6, 2017 at 9:25 AM|
Once recovered from the excesses of the Festive Season, it was back to work in the bilges.
The stokehold floor plates were lifted, and the hull plating and bilges were scaled as required and painted; the tunnel between the Boiler and Engine Rooms receiving similar treatment. Our enthusiastic volunteers then moved forward and attacked the platework below the boiler, and up to the deck. An additional job in this area related to horizontal stringers welded to the frames by Cammell Lairds to strengthen the hull as plates were cut away. These canted towards the hull plates forming a water trap, so marine filler has been applied to the angle so any moisture will run off into the bilges. Lovely jobs in cramped surroundings, which ensures that you and your boiler suit emerge sporting a different colour scheme than you started the job with. That said, the lads have done a cracking job, which shouldn’t need repeating for some time.
The pressure gauge job has been completed, with both lines suitably extended and successfully hydraulically tested before a tick was put in the box for this job. The pressure gauge pipe serving the Engine Room runs across the top of the starboard bunker together with the main steam line to the engine, the voice tube from Wheelhouse to the Engine Room, the telegraph chains and exhaust lines from the pumps and generator. These are protected by a U-shaped steel ‘tube’ for which Stuart has now fashioned a removable top cover plate. Previously, the cover was only of light plywood but a more substantial cover was needed due to a change in our bunkering procedures. When we first acquired the tug, coal and coke were the fuels of choice for the ordinary household, the local coal man (of which there were many) had his wagon loaded with hundredweight sacks that they would carry on their backs and tip into the coal sheds of the domestic properties. It was therefore a simple matter in our case for the coal man to merely drop the sacks onto the deck, and a crewmember would tip the coal down the manhole in the deck, before throwing the bag onto the quay. With the severe decline in the domestic market, if you require bulk fuel as we do, it arrives on a tipper and is tipped onto the quay, leaving the crew to shovel if aboard. Whilst we were energetic 30 and 40 year olds, this was not a problem, but shovelling up to 12 tons or more at a time is now something of an effort. Despite now having several younger volunteers in our midst, to alleviate the problem of keeping the bunker lids tight to prevent sea and rainwater seepage, we have sealed the lid s down and now take bunkers via the covers on top of the bunker casing. This is achieved by buying our coal in the large half tonne sacks of the kind used by builders for sand, which are craned over the covers, the bottom of the sack released and half a tonne of coal is loaded in seconds. Much easier!
Above deck, the Stuart has completed the restoration of the towing hooks to operating condition and deck scaling and painting continues as weather permits. Despite attention to our wind generator, it has remained somewhat out of balance in strong winds and the rotor has managed to shake itself off its shaft on two occasions, once almost giving Paul a very short cut of what little hair he still possesses. It is therefore clear that we need some very fine-tuning of the balance of the rotor and it was left to Dave to resolve. Ever resourceful, Dave concluded that the most accurate scales he could think of were at the local Post Office, so he does no more than visit said Office and weigh each blade by hand, then noting the weight on each blade. The Counter Clerk asked -
‘Where to you want to send them?’
‘Liverpool’ replies Dave, ‘but I think I’ll deliver them by hand’ he added before leaving. Nothing like barefaced cheek to get the job done!
Having noted that one blade was a few grams heavier than the other five, a bit of judicious filing will hopefully sort the problem out and when we get a wind-free day we will get the thing back up again.
The necessary timber to re-floor the forward cabin has now been purchased, cut to working lengths and delivered down to the vessel where we hope to start fitting in the next week or two.