Sunday, 16 December 2012


The latest set of large portholes have been delivered and they look amazing.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Fuel Cell

Fuel cell technology appears to have made some progress in the last year.    For those who do not know what a fuel cell is it is a generator of electricity that runs on hydrogen.  You supply it with hydrogen and it creates electricity and water is the output.  Its a green technology.  So why have we not all got one?  There are a few reasons.  The first is cost.  Wow, they are expensive.  But they are coming down in price.  When I looked at them a year ago they were around £25K.  There is now one online that produces 3K Watts of power for just under £8K.

The price reductions are parallel to flat screen TVs.  As production ramps up the cost will fall.  I suspect within a few years they will be £2000 - £3000 (guess).  They will be immensely useful things.  The purchase price is only half the story though.  The second issue is the cost of the fuel.  They can use methanol, natural gas or hydrogen.  But hydrogen needs to be 99.999% pure which makes it expensive.

Current estimates show that it is cheaper to run a hydrogen power engine with generator than a fuel cell.  But that will change soon.

With 3K Watt fuels cells now available (one will run from LPG next year) you can see that at 240V you could get a useful 12 amps per unit.  This is a useful addition to the shore power of 16 amps.   At the moment they would not power systems directly as voltage fluctuates a lot.  But they can be used to charge batteries which would produce more consistent power.  The other option would be to feed a Victron Quattro system which would then stabilise the power and if too much power was being drawn it would take from batteries.

There is a solution in there somewhere.  Probably something usable by late next year.   It does then suggest that any design of the electrical system of the ship should enable this to be done.

Monday, 10 December 2012


Having now laid out the rooms in terms of sockets etc it is time to start to look at ring main designs.  The trick is to try and make the ship comply as best as possible to standard house wiring standards as a minimum.  So ring main cable at 2.5mm seems to be standard.  But the distances to various parts of the ship are considerable when you start to run cables (recall what it took to get them out).

What is clear then is that I will need to have a network of local consumer units fed from the utility room consumer unit.   This will also provide a few advantages (but not cost ones),  The main one being that tripping a consumer unit (as seems to happen regularly) will not trip the whole ship (I am guessing).  It should also mean that I can run lighting locally so a tip will not wipe out the entire ship lighting but just local areas.  Not a major issue.  I am considering one unit for each of the cabin areas (so no stairs are required to reset a tripped MCB), one for the mess and toilets and bathroom.  One for the kitchen and lights.  One for the wheel house, radio room and battery room.  Finally one for the main chain room and front bedroom (as it will be).

The advantages are that I will not need to run hundreds of cables out of the utility room to various places but single cables (I think) to the satellite consumer units (the viability of this to be looked into).  My theory is the less cable running around the better.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Things not to do in a wardrobe

There are many things you should not do in a wardrobe and standing in one which is no more than 2ft by 2ft with a concrete breaking device in almost no light is probably well up the list.

But you have to do what you have to do.   There are two sea ports in the hull in two wardrobes.  Both are now sealed up but I have asked Dave to fit two pipes which will run from these ports down to the water tanks.  One will be for pushing air in, the other the vent.  This venting of the tanks is important.  All Dave needed to do was drop the two pipes through the floor.  No problem?

Problem.  Yet again, massive over engineering meant that about an inch and a half of concrete had to be taken out first.  I tried with a hammer and chisel and made a small dent after about 20 mins.  So out with the titan concrete buster and bingo, 2 wardrobes cleared in 20 more mins.  Its all about the tools.

The portholes are now fitted on the other side of the boat and the amount of light on that side of the boat is considerable now.  The views from the portholes is also wonderful.

The wardrobe (top of the pic) is where the new tank breathing pipes will go.

The material in the floor is strange and the smell is like tar with concrete layer on top.  This must be for insulation.

The portholes are now in the other side of the ship.  The difference is here that there is no other boat on that side blocking the light and there is a massive difference in the amount of light the portholes let in.  The good news is that the captains ready room is on this side.

This is the view out of the river side cabins.  Awesome.

Look at how light the rooms are.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Weekend progress

The weekend saw some good progress.  Two more portholes are in and there are two more to go.  That will complete the first 8 in the master cabin area.  Its quite a milestone.  A few minor issues for Dave to complete this week.  The air vent in the wheelhouse sprung a leak (it turns out that its good to have the ship being converted in bad weather.  If the leaks occur latter on we will have a lot more damage).  A few other air vents are to be restored.  They are useful things.   When we are not on board it is useful to be able to have air circulation without opening portholes.

The seaport values (huge bits of bronze) have been removed.  In their place two pipes will be fitted to run down through the floor of the cabin (they are in the wardrobe) to make the breathing pipes for the waste tanks.  The plan is to have one as air intake (pushing air into the tanks with a small fan) and one as an outlet.  This air circulation will prevent the build up of gas and smells (so I am advised).

Further planning work has been undertaken.  The wiring looms for the ring mains now identified and the consumer unit number and location identified.  I am going to go against the advice of the electrical industry and fit 4mm ring main cable rather than the standard 2.5 mm as they are being fitted in conduit in insulation and I prefer the extra capacity breathing space current wise.  The extra cost is minimal.  So why not.

The use of multiple consumer units will mean a huge reduction in cabling but I will need some hefty cables to feed them.  That is still to be identified.  It will mean that if a circuit trips it will only isolate a small area of the ship

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Spray away

The prep of the ship continues but at the back of my mind there is still the problem of insulation to sort out.    I have written about spray foam and looked at the do it yourself kit.  But there are a number of challenges with the DIY kit and that is around heating the tanks.   The alternative is a professional company with a van.  The trouble with that is that we (and the ship next to us) is too far from shore and the van they carry the kit in will not be close enough.

I was checking the web again last night looking to see if the world has moved on.  It had.   There is a new machine out which fills the gap.  Neat.  Its a bit heavy at 70kg but it has many advantages.  The main one being that it will heat the tanks.   I could get one of these, do the whole ship and then sell it.

Crunch time

Now that things are starting to progress well again I though it was about time I sorted out new toilet facilities.  This is not as easy as one might imagine.

There is starting to be a common theme emerging.  Nobody who sells stuff really is able to explain anything useful about what they sell.  Nobody even seems to be able to advise, if you do buy something, what else you will need.

I did manage to pick up an all in 1 toilet from Screwfix.    Nice and cheap and comes with all the parts.  I then bought a macerator.  What parts that comes with is anybody's guess.  The idea is to plumb that in with a single 22mm plastic pipe with no joints.  It will do for a while.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Well, maybe a bit strong for a blog title but blasted they have been and the first set of big portholes are looking good.  Turns out they are not brass.  They are bronze.  Sand blaster bronze (purists with probably cry that one should not sand blast bronze but there really was no other affordable way to get 50 years of paint off) looks strange but the patiner will return.

The newly fitted cabin portholes look good.  A few pictures below.  The cabins now feel less like dark cupboards.  There is not a lot of light (obviously) through them and you will still need interior lights during the day were you to sit in there but the daylight makes a difference to the feel.  Less claustrophobic.  They also look superb.

The last set of portholes were taken up to the engineers this weekend.  They will be blasted and cleaned up and ready for refitting in the next few weeks.  The challenge of the bolts to fit them though turns out to be an interesting story.  It turns out that the bolts needed to fit the portholes (the old ones were all but destroyed to get them out) are rarer that hens teeth.  What else should I expect? So I will be getting the spec and doing a planet wide search for the right ones.  Otherwise they will need to be custom made at a cost that will make one think they were bought in Harrods individually wrapped in silk and hand delivered by an X-factor star.

The new ones look great.  Fitting to be completed but they look the part.

They are hard to photograph.  The rooms are lighter but the picture exposure works for the light outside and make the rooms look darker than they are.

This is probably the first daylight these rooms have seen for 30 years.

The big portholes look strange.  They are big lumps of bronze.  They will age nicely (so I am told) and will go back to the darker colour one would expect bronze to be (and the colour they started off as under the paint that had already come off).

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Mushrooms and light

The mushroom is fitted!  This is the jammed air vent fort the wheel house (clearly no longer jammed and nicely restored.  The wheel house has no opening windows so the restoration of this vent was vital.  A simple screw thread allows it to be raised and lowered (shut).  Good job Dave!

The first portholes are in and they look amazing.  The first light these cabins have seen for probably 20-30 years.  I cannot wait to see them for real.

The picture below shows the gantry that Dave built so he could access the ship side without scaffold and mud!  Its going to be useful when it comes to painting the ship.  At some point.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Fast pace

Dave is now rapidly outpacing my ability to keep up with progress.  By last weekend all the portholes for restoration had been removed and ready for taking off to Craig.  Lots of work done.  The pipe work on the water tanks are now ready for connection to the pump.  The cabin portholes are now all cut out and the supports for hanging over the side to cut off the outer layer of the porthole covers are now complete and ready for Dave to start work there.

Phew, it wears me out just trying to keep up with his progress on the blog let alone the work.  Well done Dave!

He was kind enough to share some of his photos of his work.  See below with explanatory notes.

Before.  Note the square window closest to the camera.  This was used to replace the missing ones at the front.  It had that engine air vent right in front of it anyway.  Also all the rear portholes (the round one for example) are now gone too.

As you can see below the original front of the ship wheelhouse only had two windows in.  You can now see (later below) that all the slots have windows in (5 windows in the front in total).  Makes a huge difference to the view.

Dave on the scaffold.

The pipes below are lead.  They had to be cut into short chunks to make them liftable.

These two sea ports originally carried out waste water from various places.  One will now be taken off and closed up and the other will be the air vent for the sewage tanks (apparently, if you dont vent them you can get gas build up and a lot of smell).

You can see here below the first 4 round discs that cover the portholes up in the cabins. The first 4 from left to right have now been removed ready for the first restored ones to go back in.

All the large portholes from the living areas are now removed.  First 4 have been taken for restoration.

Pipes everywhere!

Cabin porthole spaces now cut out.  Getting close to the point where the new ones can be fitted.

These are the new windows in the front of the wheelhouse.

Hard to see but the two 6000 litre water tanks have now had their pipies fitted ready to be connected to the water pump and the filters.

Lead pipes still to be moved.  I feel my back aching already!