One of the biggest snags I have when I visit the Boatyard is not lack of enthusiasm, but lack of electrical power. There are plenty of 240V points but Zee is at least 75 yards from the nearest point meaning I have to get enough 240V extensions from around the yard, ensure they have the right plugs, lay them all, and then no doubt check where the weak link is when whatever I have plugged in doesn't work. At least 2 hours of faffing each time I want to fire up anything electrical.
Since the filming was done, we worked out a rough plan for the amount of diesel we'd need, added a bit for luck and then ended up massively over, so I have about 160 litres of red to use up. Onboard we have a 9kVA generator which should be more than enough to power anything I wish to use on board tools wise. However, on the first trip up to Sharpness I left the genny running as I was paranoid about an engine failure and having to top up the air. The cooling water stopped running through so I assumed the impeller had failed. Having changed that last week I fired up the genny which started ok but cooling was minimal so I had to turn it off before any damage was done.
With Andy's able assistance we managed to blow through the main supply line to the generator from the sea cock which obviously had some of the beautiful 'Severn Estuary Gunk' in it. However, after starting again and seeing the miserable dribble from the outfall it was obvious we hadn't found the answer. After some head scratching and help from one of the fitters at the boatyard we saw that there was a 'Y strainer' in line which was almost completely blocked and the ball valve upstream of this had also clogged either side of the valve. The ball valve had corroded around the connecting screw thread so this broke whilst removing it. A quick internet search and some judicious 'flashing the plastic' and new ones were winging their way to me so they can be replaced and the generator returned to full operation.
With no power on board I was limited with what I could do so I turned my attention to the Skipper's cabin. My thoughts are that if I can get a new steel floor in that plus some battens and ply floor I can move all the spare portholes, tools etc out of the cargo hold giving me better access to the bilge for when it is treated. I knew the floor of the cabin just by the steps was in poor condition as I found a couple of thin steel plates riveted in place from the engine room which was literally holding the rust in place. I described these once as a 'Kardashian' fix - looks good but is actually pretty useless (see below)
However, on closer inspection I am going to call this a 'Trump' repair - it's ugly, ineffective, does nothing to solve the problem and really should never have been installed in the first place. As you can see, the thin steel plate was riveted in place not to add any structural integrity but merely to hold the rust in place and stop a casual observer form noting any serious corrosion. And by casual observer I definitely include our surveyors, Selles and Van Dijk. You would have thought Fozzy and Gonzo who inspected the barge might look up and wonder why this was installed and dig a bit further, but no. They were too busy thinking of their fat paycheck for a day of making it look like they were knew what they were doing to actually perform anything of real use to the person who hired them.
Once the last bit of wood flooring was removed the true extent of the corrosion became obvious.
Since the engine room was directly underneath I wanted as little of the debris falling down as possible so it was slow going picking the rust out manually and putting to one side. Eventually I managed to remove all the old scale rust and get at the 2 offending 'Trumps' underneath and remove them. What was left will be cut away with the plasma cutter in due course. I know there is more behind the wooden joist as I can see the corrosion from the engine room but this will be for another day when I have some of the skipper's cabin steeled over and can move stuff around.
I won't be welding the steel to the hull of the barge as I have paid a lot of money for a posh paint job and don't want it ruined so it will be welded to the angle cross members and the plates to each other. I will probably put some additional supports towards the edges welded to the cross supports to give some stability at the edges for the 3mm steel plate but then I will run a fat bead of Puraflex 40 around the edge as a seal to the air. Apparently it is very similar in behaviour and physical properties to Sika Flex but for about £4 a tube instead of £7 for the Sika. I will leave some mouse holes with some plastic tubing inserted for any water to drain especially in the corners where the floor has rotted away.
After the removal of all the detritus and Trumps what was left was pretty shocking. More shocking was the fact the surveyors didn't pick up on it...
Next job is to get the genny back and running, fire up the plasma cutter, attack the remains of the water tank, weld in a support beam which had corroded, get some more support beams between around the edgesget 14 square metres of plate cut to size and tacked into place then welded fully, zinc prime it, get wood battens in place, flooring, move tools and crap out of the cargo hold, sit back and admire the 2 days work... Ha... In my dreams... Still, one can hope right? Right?