Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Compact and neat

Not enough time this morning to start anything new.  So it was simply a case of tackling the rear deck pile. With all the wall panels and ceiling panels in their original size the whole space was taken up.  It had reached the point where you could only just get to the door to get into the boat.  It had to be tackled.

3 hours of cutting all the panels into small bits and stacked at the back of the boat made a huge difference.  The rear deck is now mostly clear, swept and nice and clean.  All the internal rubbish from the last few days is also cleared out.

I have uploaded some photos from the last few days.  I won't try and inject them back into old blog entries (too hard).  

Photos in the lantern room look weird.  Or it could just be my brother.

The new stove and green kettle.  Does the job although I reckon the gas canister is only good for about 5 kettle boils.  

Toilets duly restored after their coating of dust from the cutting disks.  Finally disposed of the horrid boards and spent a while scrubbing the black and white flooring.  Very eighties.

Bathroom now clear of bath.  Clear view of the rust built up behind them too.  Nothing serious.  Looks worse that it is.

Kitchen now clear of all shelves etc

Staying over means you do get to enjoy the evenings.  The view of the marina from further along the river.  Just outside the marina is one big mudflat when the tide is out.  Lots of wildlife there and lovely views when the sun goes down.

Radio room now stripped of its gear and all moved over to the other side.  Wiring very much thinned out now.

Thats it.  Need to think through next steps now.  I think I need to get the fog horns and lights working prior to fixing them up.  So I will need to do the wiring through the ceiling and into the lantern.  Then see what happens when they power up.

I did some measuring one night to see how much space there is on board.  I did not measure all the rooms but ...  all in metres

Mess  2.45 * 5.3
Toilet 1 1.44 * 0.8
Toilet 2 1.44 * 0.8
Bath 1 2.00 * 1.5
Bath 2 2.45 * 1.5
Galley (just the room section)  3.2 * 2.45
Radio room 3.6 * 3.9
Battery room 1.6 * 3.6
Wheelhouse 4.9 * 2.8

Chain room 7.1 * 5.9
Chain bucket 1  2 * 4.3
Chain bucket 2  2.2 * 3.5
Chain bucket 3  2.2 * 3.5

That totals to 129.21 square meters.

On top of this I have all the cabins, the windlass room, the front locker space and the engine room.  Plus some smaller spaces which could be opened up.  Should be plenty.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Day 2

I decided to stay over again today.  I have an appointment tomorrow late afternoon so I will take advantage of the extra few hours.

So how has the day gone?  Well, not bad actually.  I have been flagging lately and focused on non labour intensive work.  But hard work cannot be avoided for long so I pressed on today.

Recap the target

1) Rewire some of the radio room units.
2) Remove the units from the walls and move them to the right side.
3) Remove the last wall panels
4) Remove the water pipes from the whole boat.  Starting with the piping in kitchen and corridor leading to the bathrooms.
5) Cut off a number of ceiling bits and trunking (might as well while I have the saw out).
6) Dismantle the UPS battery chargers in the wheel house.  Keep the transformers and store the rest.  

1)  Done.  Rather than try and undo the wires in the cabinets which is complicated I figured I would label each cable twice and then cut the cables.  That way I can get away with putting the whole lot through junction boxes and rather than have to fiddle in the cabinets I know that a simple like for like connection will do the job.  Saved a lot of time.  Still had to label nearly 25 cables twice.  The

2) Done.  With the cables freed I was relatively easily able to remove the two fog horn units.  I also unwired the long round the room loop of the optics cabinet and labelled all those too (twice).  The radio room is now almost free of wires in many parts of the ceiling.

3) The wall panels came off relatively easily.  The final one was behind the fire FM2000 (or whatever the stuff is) tank.  That had to be removed.  The down side is that it weighs 67Kg.  Thats a lot more than me.  (I know the weight because it is written on it).  That took some moving.  Luckily I was able to walk it to the other side of the room.

4) Done.  Although it nearly killed me.  The reciprocating saw does not do well with pipes.  Holding a heavy saw above your head trying to get the right angle not to plough the blade into the ceiling is hard enough.  But if the pipes have ANY movement in them at all then they start to move against the saw and trap it.  The result of the blade being trapped is one of two things.  The first option is to snap the blade (which happened once).  The second is like you would expect in a road runner cartoon.  The blade is gripped and the saw starts to reciprocate, with me on the other end.  This ALWAYs results in pain.  Apart from the fact it feels like every bone in your hand has been shattered it normally results in slamming your hand into a ceiling metal panel and getting hammered.  Ouch.   Anyway.  You learn a few tricks.  The first and main one is that to avoid the pipe gripping the blade at the end of the cut you need the pipe to be falling downwards from the end away from where you are cutting.  That way the pipe's own weight pulls it down and opens the cut rather than closes it.  The downside is you get a heavy pipe in freefall right over you.  Which is why I wear big boots.  Thank god.

All the water pipes are now removed (on this level).  The only remaining ones are in the toilets and they can wait as I have only just cleaned the loos and cannot face another round.  They will not take long and can be done when the loos are finally removed.

5)  Lots of small bits and pieces removed.  The two fire bells in the corridor and the fire alarm button, the showers in the shower rooms and lots of smaller bits on the ceiling.  The wires that connect to the fire tanks (fm2000) run in steel pipes across the ceiling for some reason.  So I cut those down as well.  A couple more to do yet but again they are not urgent.

6)  Cmon.  Give me a break.  I was working for 9 hours solid today!  I ran out of time.

All in all a good day.  Lots done.  The place is a mess again.  So tomorrow will be tidy up time.  The outside (rear deck) is now so solid with junk you cannot get out of the door.  I will not have time to get that off the boat but I will be able to restack it into neater piles and get it away from the main access door.  I may have a session with the saw and cut up the vast quantity of plywood into smaller strips and store it for burning.

Its a strange feeling but the calories put into each screw, each bolt removed, each wood panel cut away is never represented by what you see after.  You do all the crippling work and all you are left with is an empty room.  So in years to come when I look back at this blog I will need to remember clearly

1) everything hurts, every day
2) every screw is rusted, every bolt painted, bent and threaded, every panel weighed a ton, every wire was 5 times thicker than needed and impossible to cut.
3) everything hurts, every day
4) its worth it.  Every scratch, cut, bruise and ache is worth it.

Well, I think I have earned my shiraz tonight.  I have the outside power lines into the ship tonight so I can power my little heater.  So the wheelhouse is nice and cosy tonight.  I wont leave it on at night as it is too noisy but it will make the evening a lot more pleasant.

Morning all

A much better night than last time. The mattress is actually quite comfortable and the biggest issue was simply getting used to utter silence.

First coffee of the morning from the new stove. Warm water to washin hmmm mm. Luxury. Just tucking into a no. 5 breakfast in the cafe. Doing blog on iPhone is the equivalent to key hole surgery.

It was a lovely morning. Awoke to seagull crys and warm sun.

Right, breakfast and the start work.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Windy day

Wow.  Not sure why it is that when I decide to stay we end up with hurricane winds.  Oh well.  I was a bit late starting this morning.  Sadly, not due to the effects of alcohol.  Just general fatigue I think.  But managed to get on site by lunch in time for a ham, double eggs and chips.  Need my strength.  What for I am not entirely sure as I have not done any heavy labour today due to the fatigue mentioned earlier.

As I am going to attempt another overnight stay I thought I would try and bring the living standards up a bit.  I realised yesterday when my brother and SIL visited that, despite having cleaned the place very well, I did need to get some more basics in place.  So off to the local home, leisure and garden store in the Chatham outlet centre.  Strange place.  Sort of like a Woolworths/dept store cross.   But they had the right stuff.  A couple of big plastic 70litre boxes to store stuff in and keep clean.  One for cooking stuff and one for food and crockery etc.  Then I bought a gas cooker (camping) which is compact and runs off gas in what looks like aerosol cans.  Not bad for about £12.  Then a whistling kettle.  I had consider an electric kettle but I would like to boil the water for a little longer than an electric one would allow.  It also puts more pressure on the yet to be modernised electrics.  So a 1 litre shiny green kettle was purchased.

Next on the list was 2 mugs and a couple of plates.  Then some cutlery.  Nothing too expensive.  lol.  OMG.  I have managed to find the worlds cheapest ones ever.
In the film the Matrix, Neo goes to visit the Oracle.  Before he goes in he witnesses a small bald child with a bent spoon.  The child gives the spoon to Neo and says: 

Child: "Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth."
Neo:  "What truth?"
Child: "There is no spoon."
Neo: "There is no spoon?"
Child: "Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself"

Well all I can say is that the Oracle did not buy her spoons from the same place as I just did.  Mine are so thin that when I gazed at the first spoon it did bend, mostly from embarrassment at how thin it was.  But the child is right.  There is no spoon.  Well, not after about the 4th wash I think.

The other win was that I already owned a cooler which ran from a car 12v socket.  The shop actually had a mains converter thingy that turned the 240v to 12v with a standard car socket.  So I now have my milk in the cooler running off the mains!  So coffee in the morning is now available.  Phew. 

The kettle also allows for some warm water to wash in.  YES!

I had my first meal onboard tonight.  Pot noodle.  Yes, I know.  But the pots are useful.  

So not quite home yet but now equivalent to a comfortable (ish) camping experience (as the Americans would say).

I did do some work today.  I traced and confirmed the wiring from the fog horn units down to those odd heater elements in cages I discussed in a much earlier entry.  Turns out they are ballast loads for the fog horns.  Is that clear?  Nope.  Still no idea what they are for.  I am sure the drawings will help.  I also looked at the various radio room unit wiring and I have decided to label all wires, disconnect them, move all units and then rewire them.  One shot to get that right.  That will then enable me to tackle the remaining panels in the radio room and shorten the wiring between the various optics, fog horns and ceiling wiring exit points.  Not sure what to do with the balast heater units.  There are 4 of them and clearly their job is to dump power into which they turn into heat.  So its not like I can hide them away.  I will need to think about that.

I also marked out the hatch.  For the love of god, not one wall or floor or ceiling is level or upright or at right angle to anything else.  Its amazing.  How they managed to weld all those panels together I have no idea.  You would think it straight forward to just cut a rectangular hole in a metal wall.   No.  The floor level on one side of the wall differs to that on the other.  One wall is shorter than the other, the two vertical sides of the walls are different heights and neither are vertical.   The ceiling seems to be level (lets say flat) but is covered in beams and nobbly paint which prevents any kind of straight edge.  The floor is as far from flat as you can get and still call it a floor.

Its a crock.  Now add to that problem that you have no idea if the boat is itself upright.  So you can put on a level and not know if the ceiling is not level or that the whole boat is slightly leaning.  Or both.


So I have a solution.  I picked on likely corner of the rectangle.  Drilled a hole through.  Thats the starting point.  Now I know the size of the hatch I want to build so I will go home and get a large piece of paper and cut it out to EXACTLY that size and perfectly square.  Then bring it here and tape it into place using the starting hole.  Adjusting the whole piece of paper until it looks like it will align roughly with the ceiling (I decided that level was less important than parallel so at least to the eye it looks ok and if it does slope I can just say the boat is leaning :->).

Tomorrow's jobs then.

1) Rewire some of the radio room units.  
2) Remove the units from the walls and move them to the right side.
3) Remove the last wall panels
4) Remove the water pipes from the whole boat.  Starting with the piping in kitchen and corridor leading to the bathrooms.
5) Cut off a number of ceiling bits and trunking (might as well while I have the saw out).
6) Dismantle the UPS battery chargers in the wheel house.  Keep the transformers and store the rest.  The weigh a few tons each (I suspect, but certainly more than I can shift in one go).

Right, I hear the sound of my bottle of Shiraz crying out to be opened.  I think I will need a drink before I tackle the new inflatable mattress.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Still light

Amazing how quick the day stays long.  Its 20:45 and I am still in the wheelhouse doing a bit of planning and listening to the stereo and noted that its still light outside.  Time to go I think.  Not staying on board tonight.

I had my second set of visitors today.  A tour of the ship, lunch at the cafe, complete the tour and then a walk to Upnor Castle.  Really windy today but the tide was out so no major rocking of the boat.

Right.  Home.

Back to work tomorrow.  Time to plan and mark out the hatch.  Then back to wiring clearing.

Radio room clean up

Having reached nearly knee deep on the floor in waste wire, nails, wood etc from all the clear out of the radio room it was time to do a clean up.  But it did not stop there.

Dave had undertaken the work to remove bits and pieces from around the boat.  Another great job completed but this time he had to use cutting discs on his angle grinder.  It took nearly 5 hours of cutting to remove the bathroom floor I beams.  I cannot imagine doing this.  I spent nearly 5 hours cleaning the ship yesterday.  Sweeping first, then hoover, then mop.  A fine metalic cutting disc dust was everywhere.

It was enlightening though.  I now know that Pompeii may not have been down to the volcano but actually down to one of Dave's ancestors down on the port working on some boats.

The radio room is now all but cleared.  I will need to do further rewiring due to the way the remaining units are wired.  For example, the light cables (for the main lighthouse light) run from the unit (6 of them 1/2 inch wires) from the unit along the ceiling all the way to the other side of the room where they turn and turn again and run all the way back to the unit and disappear through the ceiling to the lantern tower conduits.  Why!!!!!  I will need to do some careful labelling, unwiring, shortening and rewiring.  Must get it right if I want the lights to work every again (they also drive the motors to spin the lamp).

There are two fog horn units on the wall with the portholes.  I may unwire those and move them over to the units next to the fog horns and try and keep all the stuff in one place.  Shorter wires and easier to manage.

The radio room appears to have a hatch in the wall.  I am not sure yet whether it is metal or wood as it is behind a wall and is painted over on the outside.  What is clear is that either now, or in the past, it has leaked and the inner wall is heavily rusted.  Best look at that and ensure it is watertight before I put new walls in.

I will try and upload some photos later.  But today is a day on the boat with no work!  No work clothes! Just sitting in the wheel house listening to radio 4 and browsing the web.  I have two books on iphone app programming (groan).  I have already built my first calculator app and it worked fine.  Need to expand my abilities and start to look at more advanced apps.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Next steps

Firstly, my wife reminded me that she had taken a lot of the early photos I have used on my blog and had forgotten to credit her.  So credit where credit is due, photos by Beatrice used with great thanks.

The last trip was productive enough to see the light at the end of the cable pulling tunnel.  The remaining cables are now identified and will be replaced as new consumer units and circuits are fitted.  Which leads me onto the next subject.  Time to decide what solutions to fit on heating and lighting.

As a gadget freak I cannot help but spend way too much time looking at silly solutions.  But luckily one of the latest things is LED lighting.  Its benefits are clear (lower power than even the CFL) and almost no heat.  The other benefit is that you can get some amazing control gear (DMX) for them which enables you to programme each zone in terms of colour and brightness from your ipad (finally a real excuse to get one). It certainly looks like right way to go.  Low power and clever automation.  Can't be bad.

The second challenge is heating.  As I am close to completing the rip out stage of the boat I will need to consider where and what to put in with regards to a heating solution.  It is looking like a straight forward boiler/calorifier solution is the way to go run off LPG (propane in this case).

As usual, there are lots on the market, all written in heater speak or lighting speak and nobody to translate.  So lots of reading to do.   If I am to do underfloor heating solutions I will need to ensure that whatever solution I put in is big enough to drive the underfloor system.

But I am getting there slowly.  Buying stuff always seems as hard as trying to sell stuff for some reasons.  Perhaps if suppliers could understand better the needs of customers in terms of solutions rather than rocket science product specs they may well sell more.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Builders

The Builders.  A great episode in a great comedy series.  It will probably need very little introduction.

Why is this relevant to my boat.  Well, Gannet was built by the English but as it was a boat for CIL (Commissioner of Irish Lights) but all the subsequent work (maintenance and conversion) was done by the Irish.

It turns out it was actually undertaken by this guy

Mr O'Reilly.

I have been cable pulling for a long long time now and today it came to various cables that went through the external walls to feed the external lights and floodlights.  I had checked all the fuses and the fuses for all but internal lighting and a few sockets were removed (better safe than sorry).

Rather than risk taking the cables out (they are sealed where they pass through the wall) I decided to cut them about 6 inches from the wall leaving the seal (for now) in place.  All was going well until I came to the rear door.

As I cut, there was a flash and a puff off smoke!  Luckily proving that a combination of my boots, insulated cutters, fuses and RCDs etc all combined to make sure I did not end up with an Einstein type hair do.

I quickly got to the bottom of what had happened and can imagine the conversation

Mr O'Reilly.  "Well Shamus, we have to fit dis new flood loight, should we fit it to the roight fuse box, t one on dat wall, or should we fit it over dare"

Shamus.  "Oy have no idea Mr O'Reilly, its shorter to dat box on dat wall so lets do dat den"

Mr O'Reilly.  "Good oydea.  But won't dat mean that the cable carries more of dose amp tings?"

Shamus. "To be sure, to be sure"

Mr O'Reilly.  "Not t worry, well just double up on cable toies"

The stupid bas***ds connected the flood light to ...... drum roll

Yes, you've guessed it, the 6 amp fuse marked for the mess TV socket and mess lights.  Nice.  Just where you would expect it.  The fuse does actually feed the TV socket and mess lights.  But they thought it a good idea to slip and extra wire onto the fuse to feed a floodlight, rather than wiring it into the floodlight fuses in the other fuse boxes.

Apart from that, it was a good day and a lot more cabling has now been removed.

What next I here you say!

Well, for now, I'm off to see Mr O'Reilly dear!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Radio room progress

Despite the rough night I managed a good amount of progress during the day.  The radio room still had the wall behind the fog horn controls in place so I had to remove 2 cabinets, and the wall and then put the cabinets back.  I also managed to remove the remainder of the ceiling.  Lots more cable removed and the saw took care of the inch think heavy cable.

I did manage to get some lights in place so have caught up on the photos

The wheel house ceiling is now almost clear with the only remaining cables being the in use lights and one socket.  There are 4 cables which go through to lights on the roof of the wheelhouse which will be replaced.  Need to removed the last trunking.

This is just the debris from the afternoon's work.  The back deck is now covered in building junk.  I have no idea where I will get the energy to move it all to shore and a skip.

There is still a dozen cables going through to the windlass room.  These will need to be tackled.

The battery room is now almost clear of cables.  Only the lights remain.  These will be rerouted and the trucking removed.

The majority of walling and ceiling has gone and a lot of cable removed.  There are still a lot of cables remaining.  Most of these crisscross the room from the various units.  Moving the units together will reduce a lot of the cabling. 

The boxes here are the old 24v and 12v fuse boxes, the bilge alarm panel and a couple of transformers.

What was interesting in the radio room was that the rear wall was a false wall and a large gap behind.  The frame for this wall supported a lot of the kit.  But the welded it in and it must have been done relatively recently as it looks like they removed none of the wood first and a lot of it was charred where the welding had set fire to it.  This wall will be useful.  It will mean that there is a big cupboard space or wiring space to route a lot of cables through.

You can see the amount of cabling that goes up through the ceiling into the lantern.

Lots of cables pulled through today which disappear into the engine room.  I had pulled through a number of cables through to the engine room with Toby but still lots to go.

And finally I managed to get the chain room lit well enough to capture the amount of cabling that has been pulled through over the last few weeks.

Friday, 13 May 2011


Every morning I wake up in my flat in London and watch the Cormorants spread their wings and warm themselves in the sun.  Now I know why.  A rather disturbed night which was more to do with the mats not being very comfortable rather than anything else.

But it was not too bad.  But this morning it was really really cold.  Good job the sleeping bag is arctic level.  No hot water meant a cold wash.  Shiver.

Need to sort the mattress issue and I think all will be fine.

First night nerves

I am not sure that choosing Friday 13th is the best day date to spend ones first ever night onboard the boat. But clearly if my dining experience is anything to go by I am in for a night.  Went to Hoo fish and chip shop with a view to eating it in the village square on this nice evening.  Waited 10 mins for chips and finally got them open as requested, with lots of salt and vinegar.  Just what was needed after a hard day cable pulling.  I asked for a chip fork.  No sorry, we are out they said.  How am I supposed to eat these then?  The issue was I had filthy hands (3 cleans still had not done the job).  I had paid for them, but I just handed them back bloody annoyed.  Why did they not tell me they were out of forks when I order them open.

Anyway, rant over.  I had a toastie in the local cafe and it was very good.  A nice bottle of Riesling and a plastic glass and back to the boat.

I have decided tonight that sleeping in one of the dark cabins (yet to be cleaned) is a step too far.  So I have literally set up camp in the wheel house.  A couple of self inflating mats (camping mats) and an uber sleeping bag.  Quite cosy.  But sitting up here I am noting the wind and the constant creaking of the boat. Tide is coming in too and that in combination with the wind normally makes for a lot of noise.  But I am sure it will be ok.  Lots of windows will no doubt mean an early morning wake up.

I have a little heater to take the chill off the morning air and then it will be wash and brush up and off to breakfast at the cafe.  Thats the plan anyway.  We shall see how the night goes.

The day's work did not go as well as I had hoped.  A late start due to some idiot causing a spillage in the blackwall tunnel made the east end a car park again and this was only mid morning.  It took and hour to get back to Rotherhithe tunnel and out via Greenwich.  So a long trip here followed by lunch meant a late (13.00) start to the work.  I pressed on in the radio room.  2 more wall panels removed and all of the remaining fuse boxes and switch boxes.  I now only have the fog horn and light for the main lighthouse control boxes in place.  Tomorrow should see the remaining ceiling panels and cables removed.   Light at the end of that tunnel.  I will try for more photos tomorrow as I now need to set up lights in there to make it bright enough.

Now its time to see what is on BBC Iplayer or equivalent (I forgot I also have a LoveFilm account)

More wine!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

All change

It had become evident over the last few days that the radio room was not the place to store all the tools and junk.  Trying to work in there with most of my tools in there was just getting dangerous.  Today I made some impromptu shelves and tables in the chain room and migrated everything down there.  I now have a place to work and store stuff in a more controlled way leaving the rest of the ship now clear to work on (safely).  
I also managed to clear most of the cables from the wheel house and the overhead trunking.  It is now starting to look like a clear room ready to insulate.

But what was nice was to spend a few hours cleaning up after nearly a week of ripping stuff out.

Some photos from the last few days

To give you some idea of cable thickness we have been trying to pull through trunking.

This is hard to see but the chain room is now covered in old cable.  I will try and get some more light on the room to show how much cable has been taken out.

The storage of kit and tools in the chain room

Table and shelf now put in on top of the railings.

Wheelhouse now with far fewer cables

The only cables left going down through the floor are the lights and the two floodlight cables.  The 24v spinning window cable will need to be replaced but that can wait.