There has been definite progress on Zee over the past couple of weeks but there have still been ups and downs. I made the executive decision to start getting rid of a lot of excess cr@p in the hull which I had been saving. I had a load of old hose, some valves, old sheets and some cargo boards and old pine tongue and groove. None of it was in great condition so with the aid of a 50 Gallon drum and a blowtorch the wood was released back into the carbon cycle and the other stuff was skipped for recycling. This has released a lot of space which we so desperately need.
You can see Jim working in the background welding away, removing the old rotten steel and fixing a new plate internally
I had the assistance of Andy again for a couple of days which was a huge help. We managed to clear a good portion of the hull and move some of the smaller ballast blocks to get at the floor. We spent a good few hours sweeping up and chipping away at the delamination which seemed to have been made more obvious after the flooding. Fortunately, knowing the extent of the replating which had been carried out underneath on the hull we felt we were pretty safe in doing this. That was until Andy hit a rivet and it popped straight out. Daylight through the bottom of a hull is never a good thing. However, Jim, our trusty welder was on hand to make repairs. He has been working full time on the barge for the last 3 weeks pretty much, making repairs, welding the outside and removing rotten steel and plating the inside as well. It may be overkill in some respects but I believe it is worth making the investment (however financially painful) at this stage.
We also managed to slap some paint around as well. We mixed up some of the 2 pack Jotamastic (in itself an art form and tricker than it sounds) and painted the vertical sections of the hull around the anchor winch. Whilst Andy manned a brush to get into the hard to reach places, I used the roller to paint the larger surfaces and the majority of the handrails. Note to self though - wear nitrile gloves when mixing and painting...
Unfortunately whilst cleaning out around the winch some more holes showed up. These are not too bad and I will have a template made up and a plate cut which I will weld in place before painting with Jotamastic on top. I was advised by the resident filler specialist that most 2 part car body fillers are suitable, but that you have to make sure the steel underneath has the rust converter applied, otherwise you will have the filler popping out eventually and a rust patch developing underneath.
Also on the list of 'crappy annoying jobs' was de-seaming along the side of the cargo hold. There used to be rails on each side which ran almost the entire length of the raised portion of the hold which seemed to serve little purpose so I cut them off. Unfortunately I was left with a big ugly seam which stuck out like a dog's reproductive organs so I had to grind it off. My little 115mm grinder patently was not up to the task so I hired a much larger one for the job. It worked, but leaning over holding a 7-8kg machine on the thin walkway was not a pleasant task and it took the best part of 4 hours for each side. Once I get some decent weather the virgin steel will be wire brushed, anti rusted and then I will use car body filler to smooth off the pits and wrinkles. Once that is dry it will get a preserving strike coat of Jotamastic.
The side of the cargo hold de-seamed. Just below the roofline ridge in the distance you can see a line of raw steel where it has been ground down. Some time spent with a wire brush, rust converter and some car body filler will make it more pleasing to the eye. You can also see the stripped handrails
On consultation with the guys at Jotun, they have recommended using Jotamastic 87 in the bilge, and a nice thick coat as well. There is delamination under some of the frames but this seems to be pretty solid as it held in place with the rivets, but in order to stop it getting any worse it would seem sensible to paint over it with a layer which will keep out the air and stop any further decay. We will have to do this in stages as I can't get access to the entire bilge at one time. I also want to wait for warmer weather to make sure the bilge is as dry and clean as possible before applying the paint.
For the tool nerds out there, I thought I would report back on the Tercoo Rotary Blaster I purchased. Below shows the difference between the handrails which were stripped with a wire wheel on an angle grinder (right) and the rotary blaster (left).
The blaster leaves a much better keyed surface for painting which will provide greater purchase for the 2 pack paint, so from that perspective it is a good piece of kit. My observations are:
1) Easier to use than an angle grinder and wire wheel as the drill is lighter.
2) The rotary blaster struggles to get into nooks and crannies but if you have a large area of fairly flat steel (hull/deck etc) to strip then this is definitely worth purchasing.
3) I am using a Bosch drill with a little left/right lever above the trigger to select direction. Wearing big thick gloves it is easy to knock this and then have the blaster going in the wrong direction which I suspect it why I have lost a tip or 3 from the tool.
4) Edges - always have the tool rotating in a way that when you get to an edge it doesn't snag because when it does it does so quite violently and you can damage it. At £66 a pop these aren't throwaway items.
There is still plenty of use for the wire brush, especially general gash work, or work which is around lots of edges where a £7 wire brush is a sacrifice worth making or where you just want to lightly whip over a surface to get some corrosion off. For the real nooks and crannies the small shot blast gun I have should do the trick.
We also have a new 'doula' or 'berthing partner'. She is having some pretty serious rudder repairs and is a pretty imposing beast. We are due to be refloated on Thursday when another commercial vessel comes in for work. Let's just hope the weather plays ball so we can get the paint finished. Once I have photos of the end result I will post them. Until then you'll just have to use your imagination.
On another note, I am not looking forward to the bill for all the work. Since the repairs were far more extensive than hoped, the bill will be more extensive than hoped. For that reason I have for sale 1 kidney, lightly used, one careful owner. PM me if interested....