The bathroom- lots of work to remove the old adhesive!
A much shorter day than yesterday, as we had to leave at 5pm to head back to Cambridge.
After a bit of a lay in, we headed over to the delights of the ASDA store a few minutes walk away for a cooked breakfast. As there’s no services on Willow save a solid fuel stove, there’s no way of cooking, so a nice meal cooked by someone else goes a long way! There’s also an excellent Indian restaurant which does two-for-one meals next door to the boatyard; put simply Langley Mill is the perfect place for the job we’re doing, with everything we need very close at hand.
Once pleasantly stuffed with breakfast, we made a start on jobs in the boat. Amy set to the remains of the tile adhesives and grout in the bathroom with my new toy, a Bosch Multi Cutter (although I didn’t pay so much for mine!) which, by the way, is a VERY useful bit of kit, able to cut flush to a surface, sand, detail, and do many other useful jobs.
A couple of the tongue and groove planks in the bathroom that make up the cabin under the metal skin had got wet in the past and warped badly. I used the multi cutter to shave off any high spots and applied “Light Manual Force” (a wooden mallet and the palm of my hand) to bring them back into approximately the right alignment. They aren’t structural, but because we need the walls to be flat to insulate and panel over, I attached a wooden batten temporarily to bring them back into line. Simon very kindly offered to machine a permanent batten out of oak to match the others, so we’ll be able to fit that later. The damp, by the way, was from a leaking roof hatch which has now been replaced.
Amy also started on using the multitool to skim the edges of the planks where they had warped to bring them back into alignment. Unfortunately the blade was blunted by the very hard remains of the adhesive, so we will be getting a more appropriate blade for this purpose and trying again.
I spent the day finishing off fitting the insulation under the gunwales. Having utterly failed to photograph the process over the past two days, I took a series of photographs today showing the various complexities and challenges of doing this.
This is what the underside of the gunwales are like, with the original wrought iron gunwales visible as a two-inch lip, and a gap, below the modern steel gunwales over the top.
The first step was to insert Celotex foil-backed foam insulation into the gap between the old gunwales and the thicker insulation on the sides of the hull. This was trimmed off level with the edge of the old gunwale – avoiding blobs of weld and cast iron distortions with notches and cutouts as needed – using a breadknife. I then filled the gap between the old and new gunwales with expanding foam.
Then the wooden blocks for hanging cables and pipework from could be glued into place. This is in the bathroom where I used 14″ lengths of wooden batten with short lengths of foam cut to fit the protruding bits of ironwork and weld that joined the new gunwale onto the old. Elsewhere in the boat there will be less lengths of pipework to support so I used two inch blocks at 18 inch intervals.
The gaps were then filled with other lengths of Celotex cut to fit the gaps roughly
The edges could then be trimmed roughly to shape with the knife. The next job will be to sand them exactly to match the angle of the grey-painted metal upstand above, which will have another layer of insulation before wooden cappings are used.
The idea is to eliminate as much as possible any areas of bare metal on the inside, so as to avoid condensation wherever possible. The Celotex, with the foil covering, and forms a vapour barrier, and the adhesive I used was gap-filling too and applied liberally, to fill as much as possible any irregularities on the underside of the steel and iron and remove as many gaps and voids as possible to prevent condensation forming.
It was incredibly time consuming, taking the better part of two whole days to fit along the gunwales on both sides of the boat, but it’s good to know that we’ve spent the time getting this bit right; it would have been easy to have fitted one sheet of insulation under the old iron and left a void between that and the new steel, but that would have invited condensation and be really inaccessible to fix or change later.
Simon came over just before we left, and handed over a number of documents, including the Boat Safety Scheme certificate, insurance details (we might try and re-insure with the same people), and other interesting details of the boat’s history, including a copy of an advert for Severn and Canal Carrying Company that dated back to the 1930s and praised the “large fleet of motor-driven craft of the very latest design” (which we’ll scan for the blog later, and then frame and put on the wall!) along with his original receipt from Malcolm Braine in 1979 when he first bought the boat. It cost him £2250, and was bought as a sunken hull with empty cabin. Malcolm Braine took a 10% deposit, which was “refundable in full if vessel found to be unacceptable after pumping up” and refloating it!
We also saw our friend Dan who’s restoring a BCN Joey boat and wooden tug, and his daughter who, at two and a half, was very interested in the packet of chocolate biscuits I’d bought, and worried about the mud on her shoes on the floor! Very boat proud. She had also been well coached by Dan and loved the engine – “Lister! It go bang bang bang bang!”
We caught the train at 5pm and are now writing this in the waiting room at Ely, waiting for our train back to Cambridge – and a very hot and long shower to scrub off the accumulated dust and muck!