Firstly, I must apologise to my global fanbase (ok ok, 5 of you and a small Dachshund who just likes the photos) for the paucity of updates recently. I will bring you up to speed in double quick time and then get on to where we are now.
Shortly after leaving dry dock we were contacted by the dry dock manager about a production company looking for barges for the filming of a drama for the BBC. Cut a long story short they want to use Zeelandia as one of the 'hero' ships for the filming. It does mean that Zeelandia will be putting some money into our bank account for once instead of emptying it faster than Nigerian Prince email scammer. As an added benefit the filming will be taking place at Sharpness which will give the dry dock guys a chance to look at the holes in the hull and ascertain what has gone wrong. I suspect a weld has given way letting water in between the plate and the original hull material, but that's just speculation at this stage. It is likely we will have to be dry docked (again) but we cannot afford the fees to dock her (again) and since it is repair work on work already carried out, the dry dock will have to eat the cost on that one, I think. However, Zee will be immortalised on celluloid - well, the digital version, no doubt, and I will do my best to get whichever stars set foot on her, to take photos/selfies so we will have a fun story to tell. Due to Non Disclosure Agreements etc we can't tell you what it is, but as soon as we can I will be blogging the living cr@p out of it... It is due to air around Christmas time so until then I will have to leave you in suspense...
Not a huge amount has happened on the barge since returning to Portishead, primarily due to things like moving my flying base for the gyro to Turweston near Silverstone, starting flying with students, moving home, a thermography course and 2 other jobs. Not to mention my beloved and my first born son turning one....
Anyway, I have made some decent progress over the last few visits. The port side portholes are now sealed completely and I have rust treated a couple of them to stop them corroding. A couple of the previously welded ones will need a little attention but that should only be half a day's work and then I suspect I will be able to skim with filler and paint with the 2 pack to seal everything in.
Bigger news is that on my last trip the drizzle that emanated from the beautiful west country stratus forced me inside the cargo hold. Unable to work on the bilge I decided to rust treat the sides of the hull and break out the airless sprayer and primer. With only about 2 litres of Vactan left I had to go off in search of new rust treatment and having been recommended the Jenolite version I merrily purchased a couple of 5 litre containers at a local paint store. They aren't cheap though at roughly £60 a pop...
One £4 squirty bottle later and I was merrily derusting away like a trooper. However, there is a catch with the Jenolite. It is easier to apply than the Vactan which is much thicker and won't work in a squirty bottle, but unlike the Vactan you have to keep it moving with a brush and if it starts to dry out before its 15 minutes is up you have to apply a bit more.... Which I failed to take note of... Arse. If you let the Jenolite dry, it goes a bit like when you leave salt water to evaporate and everything is covered with a fine crystalline salt. It still does a pretty good job but you do have to keep working it into the steel with a paint brush.
The end result is pretty good but I am less impressed with it than the Vactan, to be honest.
The bottom image shows the difference between 5-10 minutes of working it into the steel on the right and just spraying and spreading with the brush on the left. Vactan doesn't need this extra work. Given what I know now, I would get Vactan instead and having used the airless sprayer and knowing what sort of consistency it can cope with, I would use the airless sprayer to apply it and then a dry brush to spread it around. I will probably need some more in the future so will report back on how this goes, but suspect this will be the quickest and most effective way of rust treatment. It also seems that the Vactan can cope with worse rust than the Jenolite.
Speaking of the airless sprayer, thanks must go to my parents for this birthday present (and more importantly my beloved who pointed them in the right direction):
(note the new concrete plugs sealing the holes in the floor plate)
For spraying the primer on the hull sides prior to either an enamel final coat or spray foam, it really cannot be beaten. In a couple of days I managed to paint the engine room bulkhead and probably two thirds of both lower sections of the hull sides. The sprayer isn't powerful enough to cope with epoxy 2 pack paint, for that you need a serious piece of kit, but for around the £60-70 mark this thing is amazing.
Top tips on using it:
1) Get used to the sort of consistency of paint which works best. If in doubt add a splosh of thinners.
2) Don't use old paint. Solids settle into clumps and unless you get them all out they clog up the nozzle. And let's face it, a clogged nozzle ain't no good for nobody...
3) Orientate the nozzle so you can work left/right or up down.
4) Sticky outy bits like nuts and bolts need special attention otherwise the sides of these get very little coverage
5) Ensure you are working somewhere well ventilated. The cargo hold wasn't the best so by the end of the afternoon I was freakin' orbiting Saturn...
Results are pretty good and the thing is fairly idiot proof (I think I am a good test of this principle).
Hopefully this will stop the degradation of the steel any further. I will be applying another coat of high build zinc primer just in case there are areas with poor or light coverage but then hopefully they will be ready for battens prior to spray foam. The area of the hull above the gunwhale needs some more work on it prior to paint but at least we are making progress. Once I have found a decent fixing solution for the batten I may even start the base woodwork.
I am hoping to get Zee up to Sharpness next week but dates are flexible at this stage. Hopefully with some of the funds released from the barge hire I can order the 2 big skylights for the cargo hold and get them into production. It is a 6 week lead time on them so I would hope they would be ready for August when any restoration work post the filming has been done and I can plasma cut holes in the roof for the windows. This will be a pretty epic job and will need some planning to ensure I don't dork it up.
The real bitch of a job will be cleaning the bilge. There seems nothing out there which can degrease very dirty steel plate to a decent enough level to paint. This is a conundrum I have yet to apply to my 2 remaining brain cells...
Until then, dear reader, I will of course keep you more up to date than I have recently. I know I have been neglecting you but will ensure you are kept abreast of all developments. As ever, get in touch with any thoughts or comments. It's always lovely hearing from you.