Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Late an' Long

Cor! We’ve done some Blood, Sweat and Tears in the last few months, but we’re getting there.
We finished the spray foaming, quite successful if I do say so myself. Brian the Carpenter came back and finished the lining and a fantastic job he did too. All the electrics are complete (for this half of the boat, anyway). Actually, talking of electrics, a piece of advice, don’t hold a terminal block in one hand while trying to hold the wires in place while screwing it up. Chances are the screwdriver will go through your hand or at least far enough to lift the skin on the other side. At least that’s what happened to me and I ended up in hospital for 2 days over New Year and I had to have it operated on to clean all the nasties out. The surgeon did suggest that I use a clean screwdriver in future, so I will be adding an Autoclave to my toolbox. Next, and still in progress, is the mammoth painting job (this is inside, never mind the outside). This involves filling the 8 million screw holes, sanding them down and applying 4 coats of emulsion. Over a space of 15 metres by 5 metres by loads - this is taking forever, but it’s getting there. We are now sick of the sight of white paint and are permanently suffering from snow blindness. Dulux should give us a whacking great discount on the amount of paint we have used!

Our gangplank (an engineering marvel that possibly competes with the Forth Bridge) is held in place by a network of shackles, meaning that it can move in all directions, so that whatever Real and the pontoon do it always remains in place. Shackles…Shackles… another piece of advice, regularly check the bolts on your shackles. The gangplank has been in place for about a year now, we’ve moved loads of material off and loads of material on, up and down the gangplank, we’ve moved 3 wood-burning stoves, a kitchen, vast amounts of rubbish, loads of scrap metal, up and down the gangplank. On what was probably the coldest day this year (it snowed), I needed to get rid of more rubbish. So I waited until high tide as it’s easier to move stuff when the pontoons are level with the car park, and off I went to get a trolley. The gangplank threw me in!!!!! That water was f-f-f-freezing! I called out to Maureen, but she had the radio going and didn’t here a thing, I swam over to the pontoon and held on, I couldn’t pull myself out as I was cold and very heavy (loads of clothes, cold day don’t forget). By pure chance Maureen came on deck as she ‘had a feeling’. She had to go and get a neighbour to help pull me out. I went inside and stood in front of our little Calor gas fire, shivering, while Brian the Carpenter who had just turned up to take some measurements set the gangplank upright and tied it up with rope. I then had to strip off (we hadn’t got proper heating yet) and ended up dressed in a spare fleece and a dustsheet. I looked like some very poor Buddhist monk. I had to walk to the car like this! I did wrap the sheet around my legs a bit tight so it was difficult to walk. How do women walk in tight skirts?? Fortunately there was no one around, although I bet it’s on the marina’s CCTV, and could well be on You Tube.
Basically what had happened was that one of the bolts on one of the shackles had worked loose so that when I stood on it, it just tipped sideways. We now have all the bolts wired up, plus extra steel cable wrapped around so the if anything comes loose there’s still something left to keep it together. We got a note from the marina advising everyone to check their shackles. Horse – Door – Bolt.

Brian came back a couple of weeks ago. He is the most reliable contractor I’ve come across, starts when he says he will, finishes when he says he will and costs what he says it will. He’s now fitted a lovely new roof on the other half (I’ll get some photos posted soon). It’s been done in such a way, that this is also the ceiling, the insulation’s built in so no spray foaming necessary. Barge purists may be spinning on their windlasses at this, a wooden roof on a barge! Well it’s a cost and time thing, so there! We don’t ever intend to take Real out, she’s a static houseboat and the roof looks good, we like it. Actually it looks better than the steel roof on the living area. This is the half we haven’t even touched yet, but will become the bedrooms and main bathroom. So now we’re water tight, no more rain dripping in, which means we can use this area for a bit of storage. When we look at this space it does help remind us what the living area used to look like and does keep us motivated.

Plumbing is in and almost complete, just waiting for the boiler to be set up and we’ll have running water at last. Plumbing isn’t my favourite bit of DIY, it doesn’t matter what you do leaks sneak up on you. Electrics, no problem, they either work or don’t work, and as long as you don’t grab hold of live wires there’re no problems. Plumbing on the other hand, it doesn’t matter how nice a job you make or how careful you are, a leak will appear, and usually where you can’t get to it. At least that was the case until I discovered ‘push-fit’ connectors and plastic pipe. We’ve used Hep2o, and it’s brilliant! Less joins as it bends round corners, and when you do have joins you just push it together and it’s done. No leaks. Leaks in a boat, bad!

So, when are we going to be able to move in? I don’t know, but it’ll be soon, and once we have we’ll then start on the outside. So that’s 130 feet times 2 plus the deck and the roof of the living area, wheel house…

2 inch brush and 4 matchpots ought to do it.
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