Saturday, 25 May 2013

A Beam Becomes A Reality

The foam beam was wrapped up in carbon fibre a week or so ago and there it sat waiting for a warm dry day, that warm dry day arrived today, after several days of cool temperatures and intermittent rainfall.

A generous fillet of fibre reinforced epoxy was applied to the top surface of the beam and fixed in place with a central support whilst heat was applied to ensure a good cure.

In between the rainy days, ably assisted by an electric fan heater, I have completed the hull deck join reinforcement with the addition of a 200 mm wide tape of biaxial glass cloth.

Next on the list is to reinforce the bow area for the new forestay attachment, the beam fillet will require a thorough sanding before being taped to the deck head, then we'll be looking at a bulkhead and forward floatation compartments, busy busy busy!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A Whole Lot Of Grinding Going On

Well it's been a while, hasn't it?!

And what have I been doing?

A whole lot of grinding, sanding, vacuuming...

To start with, the hull deck joint has been sanded, filled with a fibre reinforced epoxy, more sanding, more filling, yet more sanding, OK you get the jist!

Unidirectional carbon fibres have been epoxied to the hull and side deck in the area of the lower shroud terminations, a 150mm wide tape of 600gsm biaxial glass cloth was then laminated to the entire hull deck joint followed by further sanding in preparation for the next 200mm wide tape of the same cloth.

The new mast beam has taken shape, slightly narrower than the beam in Red Admiral, but just as deep which is where the stiffness comes from.

As can be seen from the picture below, a lot of work has gone into the deck head in preparation for the lamination of that new beam.

The portlights have returned from Eagle Boat Windows and have been refitted with a bed of Arbo Mast BR as recommended, the long thin elliptical portlight at the front of the cabin has had a new piece of acrylic fitted.

The two holes left over from the removal of the fittings for the beaching legs have been laminated over and finally, Betsy's bottom has been sanded and some spots ground clean ready for cleaning, filling and fairing.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Back To The Bucket

Sitting in a bucket of water held down by a house brick, lay a piece of expanded polystyrene for one whole month. It was time to conclude this experiment into the absorption of water and remaining buoyancy there in!

First impressions are good, the house brick replaced by the same tub of household bleach as before will not hold the polystyrene under, so we have buoyancy! Now what of the water absorption?

The new weight of the polystyrene is 133.7 grams, minus the original weight of 34.5 grams leaves a difference of 99.2 grams, that's an increase of approximately 287.5% give or take 22 recurring decimal places!

Now that sounds like quite a lot but... 1 cubic metre of EPS70 weighs in at a whopping 15 kilos, if that were submerged for a month it would increase in weight by 43.125 kilos, making a total of 58.125 kilos. Further, 1 cubic metre of EPS70 provides approximately 985 kilos of buoyancy, minus the weight of the water absorption reduces this buoyancy to 941.875 kilos. And that by my reckoning is a whole lot of buoyancy!

Meanwhile, the paint stripper hasn't been quite as effective as I would have hoped but we are somewhat nearer to a bare bottom!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Plastic Fantastic

Finally some mild weather, although a sharp frost most mornings the days are longer and bordering on warm. This has created a small window of opportunity... I have gone to work on the old antifoul and some rather dubious deck paint.

Back in the depths of winter I purchased a large tub of paint stripper, the fancy marine stuff, it does not harm grp and gelcoat, it is slow to work and being water based evaporates before it has time to do its work, the cure for this unfortunate side effect is to apply a thin film of plastic sheeting or in my case bin bags!

The deck paint, applied to the moulded gelcoat areas of the deck is old, flaking and apart from anything else... downright ugly!

Tomorrow afternoon I intend to wash, scrub and scrape it all away and on Tuesday my one month Expanded Polystyrene experiment will be complete.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Nutty Professor

The weather has taken a turn for the worse this week and to add to that misery... I have a cold, the thought of crawling around inside Betsy, wearing a dust mask on a cold damp day, has no appeal whatsoever!

So for now I shall content myself with some indoor activity. The portlights have been cleaned and sent away to Eagle Boat Windows for refurbishment, the two deck vents have been stripped and cleaned ready for refitting sometime in the months to come.

I have acquired a small sample of expanded polystyrene foam... it's the ordinary builder's merchants stuff, weighing in at a whopping 34.5 grams, that being it's dry weight.

And now for the experiment, how much will that same piece of EPS weigh after one month submerged in a bucket of water?

It was reassuring to discover that as I filled the bucket with water a 1.5 kilo tub of bleach would not hold the EPS submerged, it took a good old fashioned solid house brick to do the job! All we have to do now is wait a month and all will be revealed?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Bare Shell

There's only so much grinding I can talk/you can read about, suffice to say that more has been done!

The portlights have been removed for refurbishment.

I intend to send them away to Eagle Boat Windows, they refurbished Red Admiral's portlights for me and did a very fine job too!

Along with the small round portlights, I have removed the long elliptical portlight that face's forward.

The acrylic, or whatever it is?, has crazed and is therefore in need of replacement, hopefully there will be something they can do.

The vents either side of the coach roof have been removed, they appear to be in good condition and only require a thorough clean and then rebedding in sealant.

The toe rail capping has been removed to reveal the deck/hull join.

Most of the sealant that seals the joint has been scraped out, there are some rather dubious rivets along its entire length, but my plans for strengthening the hull deck join internally along with new adhesive sealant and a new rubbing strip should put any doubts at rest.

Betsy was built in 1978 and has a hull identification number of 139, she has red gelcoat under the white topsides and the decks are a pale grey under the pale cream paint that someone has applied years ago, I have the necessary stripper to remove both, it is simply a matter of waiting for warmer weather.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

I Have A Beam

Well... not entirely, you see it's more of a 'lump of foam' in the rough shape of something that might, one day, actually be a beam?!

But as you can see, it's a deeper section than the original and with the addition of carbon fibre and a bulkhead underneath the above... it will be considerably stiffer, not to mention the peace of mind that comes from past experience!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Bog Be Gone

A little here, a little there, slowly the grime and any witness of old fibreglass structure is being erased.

The key from the outboard end of the old prop shaft has been tapped free and the shaft extracted, leaving Betsy with yet another hole to fill.

The last of the Vetus exhaust system and bilge pump hose has been removed from the lazarette, leaving an empty boot and yes... a few more holes too!

The bog that lined the bilge has been scraped, scrubbed and ground away.

The quarter berths that extend under the cockpit seats have yet to be ground clean but they're next, along with the very forward end of the forepeak, tricky areas these, their confined space makes the angle grinder all the more unbearable to use, dust extraction being the key issue.

Having removed the backing pads that supported the mounting point for the drying out legs, I have now ground away the remaining fibreglass, only the holes (yes, more damn holes!) remain.

And finally, a glimpse of what's to come... almost bare interior, stripped of all unnecessary decoration, devoid of what-not and the blank canvas required for the real work to begin!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Murky Depths

I could easily tire of the grinder, it's a heavy tool to use, makes an awful din and scatters dust far, wide and in every crevice. However, it is nothing if not effective in it's work for all the above misgivings.

A little more of the old engine compartment has been cut out along with what remained of the engine mounts.

Betsy was once equipped with legs for drying out, these would have bolted through the sides of the hull, large backing pads were glassed to the inside of the cabin to support the extra load. Now, poor old Betsy is legless! The lack of legs negates the need for fixings or backing pads so both have been cut away.

Some, and I do mean some, of the interior hull has been ground to remove old paint etc, there's dust everywhere but slowly I am starting to appreciate the difference to Betsy's interior, it's a foundation stone for what's to come...

Having removed the last remaining pieces of fibreglass holding the cabin sole in place, I was able to lift the molded fibreglass sole free of the bilges...

...and reveal the murky depths below, large ice cubes were tossed into the cockpit to slowly drain away, what remains is a sludge as old as Betsy's life, a bog of untold history!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Frostbite Series

It's been bitterly cold, there's a couple of inches of snow on the decks and the small amount of water in the bilge is frozen solid!

I've had another little foray with the grinder and the vacuum cleaner, together we've removed the engine mounts, the ends of the quarter berth bunks, a small amount of bilge pump hose and quite a bit of old paint.

As can be seen, there is plenty more to do...

The prop shaft needs removing, the remains of the old tabbing where the beam used to be needs grinding away, the deck head is covered in a patchwork of glue and foam backing from the old headlining and there's plenty more old paint to be removed before any fibre glassing can be done.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


It was indeed the vacuum cleaner waiting for me at the delivery office, collecting it on Saturday on my way home from work, I intended putting it to good use right away.

I spent most of today wrapped up to protect myself from the fibreglass dust, the cheap and cheerful vacuum cleaner is far from quiet and that, combined with the angle grinder, necessitated ear plugs!

It's been a pleasantly productive day, part of the old engine mounts have been removed, a strip of fibreglass, where the old lockers and bunks were attached to the inside of the hull, has been chiseled off and ground smooth. The cabin sole is a molded fibreglass unit which was held in place with a strip of fibregalss tape, the tape has been chiseled off, only where it enters the engine area is it still attached.

And finally, the old mast support beam and small bulkheads from either end have been removed...

...after my experiences with Red Admiral I have decided on a replacement carbon fibre beam.

So now, no matter how much snow is forecast to fall, I have no excuse not to press on with Betsy's refit.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


There is a parcel waiting for me at the local Royal Mail delivery office, I have a feeling it is a cheap and cheerful wet and dry vacuum cleaner, the very thing I need for cleaning out the fibreglass dust after all that grinder activity.

In the meantime I had a socket set to buy, and an old Vire engine to pull out. A little later that same day, armed with my newly acquired socket set, I removed the three nuts holding the prop shaft to the gear box and out the old Vire slid! Roped up and heaved in to the cockpit I was able to lower the engine to the ground and shove it in the garage along with all the other bits of Betsy, I am beginning to suspect that there is more of her in there than sitting on the trailer?!

Once the prop shaft has been removed I'll be cutting out what's left with the grinder again.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

What Not Was

After the satisfaction of removing large pieces of Betsy, aided and abetted by power tools, during the New Year break it was time to knuckle down to some tedious tinkering...

The engine is still to be removed, the prop came off easily enough with two slugs of a hammer, the engine mounts required painfully slow spanner work being limited by space. The throttle and gear cables have been detached and pulled out, various lengths of old hose, clips and anything else generally getting in the way of things but the engine itself sits firmly attached to its prop shaft until I find myself a socket set, or at least that's what I think I need, it's difficult to tell really what with all the rust and confined dark space conspiring against me.

The bilge pump and some of its hose has been removed along with its skin fitting. Some of the exhaust system has been disassembled, the remainder stubbornly refuses to budge due to rusted fasteners and jubilee clips.

The wooden slats that formed the cockpit seats have been unscrewed and stripped from the deck, what remained of the head waste seacock was finally removed assisted by adjustable spanners, a hammer and a hacksaw!

It all amounts to a bin full of what not...

...but it's what not that was and is now no more!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cut It Out!

Yesterday was beautifully dry and sunny, the perfect start to a New Year!

Making the most of the occasion I set about refilling all the holes in the deck with fresh sealant, bailed and pumped the bilges dry and removed some of the more stubborn pieces of old plumbing, wiring and internal what-not. I then made a start on the old Vire engine, various bits of wire, connections and the alternator have been removed but there's plenty still to do.

It rained first thing today, the new sealant is holding up, for once the day hasn't begun with pumping the bilges. I then donned boiler suit, balaclava, dust mask and taped up my sleeves with parcel tape before finishing the job off with gloves and picking up the angle grinder!

I have removed the majority of the internal fibreglass structure of Betsy, she's surprisingly roomy, and I can now start planning the new interior layout for my own individual needs. Consideration will be given to the provision of watertight bulkheads and foam buoyancy, stowage and sleeping arrangements. I intend to rebuild with foam cored sandwich material for lightness, stiffness and added buoyancy.