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Building the Boat Part 12

Guard dog watching over the boat while work continues

July 2015 came and went and then into August. We were travelling back and forth to London and when we had more work to do on the boat we would stay on Miss Ellie 1 at our marina -  then travel up to Hillmorton. 

I was constantly driving between suppliers in Rugby, Braunston, Daventry, Northampton, Nuneaton and sometimes further away. The research for materials needed and constantly trying to stay within budget of the original plan drove me insane at times. The ligaments in my hand slightly repairing, then I’d bang it again and it would remind me to slow down. We had taken a loss after all the administration was complete with Hudsons, so hopefully doing as much as we could on our own, we could save a bit and get back on budget.

Liam had finished working in the BMC and we were very pleased with the finish - the stove was now installed and the control for the throttle and gearshift cables fitted. We would have opted for the speed-wheel and gearshift lever that is commonly fitted on a vintage engine, however as the headroom would have been reduced in the BMC we opted for the modern set up. Most of the brassware was now fitted so only a small snagging list was left, we finally had a compartment finished.

The Rear stove is a Lincoln, the usual set up would be an Epping stove but we opted for a smaller stove so we could increase the bed opening width.

With the BMC now complete, the propellor was fitted along with the propshaft, stern gland greaser, support bearings and gearbox output flange.

The propeller was custom made to match the power of the engine and gearbox ratio. I’ll try not to go all technical too much otherwise people will think I know what I’m talking about and then start asking questions I can’t answer. ;)

The fitting of the propellor signalled for the first time that the boat would soon be able to move under its own power, although there was still much to do. I was getting excited at the prospect of finishing, we would soon be ready for the paint shop.

One item we had ordered from Hudsons was a bow thruster - a mini propeller fitted in a tube at the front of the boat - depending on the selected direction, this would assist the bow (front) of the boat to move left or right (port or starboard). So, a bone of contention all boaters come across when you mention a bow thruster is “Girly Button” sometimes said in jest, more often than not said in a deeply patronising manner. Let me be clear...I wouldn’t insult anyone with such a derogatory term, there are plenty of women out there who can handle a boat better than any man, but with that said I do like to manoeuvre as much as I can without using the bow-thruster button, howeve,r in a force 10 gale, pouring rain or any other time...I don’t want to rev the nuts off my lovely vintage engine. I for one am glad I’ve got a bow thruster, the only problem I had though was that the wiring seemed to have been cut short halfway down the boat and the motor wasn’t yet fitted...yet another shopping trip required.

The picture above shows the bowthruster tube and motor flange fitted with integral gearbox for the thruster propellor. The 2 batteries lying nearby are to power the thruster and to power the main water pump, radio and headlamp plus any future electrics. Taking the headlamp and water pump power from here allowed thinner cable to be used particularly for the headlamp, as this could now switch a relay at the front from a switch the back of the boat. A negative and positive charging cable was installed from these batteries back to the fusebox area.

Now would be a good time to state our position on boat style...yet another bone of contention! This is a traditional style working boat of the 'new style'. It has been custom built to carry our wares, we’ve added a vintage engine and Boatman's Cabin for effect, to attract tourists and visitors to come and see the boat. It's a mix between nostalgia and contemporary - but very practical. We have to live on it and earn our keep. We like all boats big, small, vintage and new.

But most of all we like people who like boats.

So I’m not sure we fit into any particular style, we just love our boat and boating, so to be clear we do not pretend to be something we are not!!

Liam had now crafted the storage unit behind the shower, a sink cupboard and a further cupboard over the loo. I carried on fitting the shower cubicle and tray from Wesley Marine windows; a curved quadrant unit with ultra white sparkly upvc shower walls and the shower valve and shower head were from Screwfix. The extractor fan fitted with integral light was from Midland Chandlers.

The picture below shows the stainless steel waste tank, before the sink and toilet were positioned, the oak floor would be fitted on top of the tank to form a step up into the engine room and to disguise the tank.

The small sink & taps came from City Plumbing. We decided to move the radiator position to the opposite wall to give more space on the sink side. Also fitted, an extractor/light unit to the mushroom vent, a switchable light over the sink with an oval mirror snapped up in a Sainsbury's sale.

Liam was now making the cupboards, wardrobe and dressing table for the main bedroom (cabin) and the bed frame. Again, we made a change here. We had the bed rising up sideways on gas struts with large twin drawers on rails pulling out as far as possible - this allows easy access to the rear portion of the drawers. The rails on the drawer can take up to 250kg, and we got these from Handles & Ironmongery in Nuneaton and the gas struts from SGS in Derby - the door knobs from Zara Home.

The heating control panel was positioned near the head of the bed...positioned so we don’t have to get out of bed to switch it on - luxury!!

There was so much work involved in making the bedroom units. Raw oak timber, cut and prepared, moulded to shape and then each unit and door handcrafted. Below is one picture of the bare units fitted, then another with the doors and handles fitted. All of the units were handcrafted in solid oak by Liam Smith, the resident joinery specialist at Granthams.

The picture above shows the bed complete with ventilation holes and under lighting fitted, also the porthole liners were fitted, the bedroom was now complete. We just needed the mattress.

The bathroom would have to be finished at our marina.

we now moved back into the engine room. I was able to fit the fuseboxes into the now formed cabinet. Liam was busy making the internal door liners for all the doors - 6 pairs, 12 doors!! The heating system was filled with an anti-freeze mixture - radiators were bled and the system turned on, after securing some minor leaks - we now had heating at last.

Whilst we were working on the bathroom and bedroom, Chris, one of Grantham's engineers had fitted most of the ancillaries to the engine, the heating unit, the battery bank, isolation switches and inverter. The original Lister engine exhaust port was capped off at the roof and a new outlet formed at the forward end of the engine room. When you see the boat you will notice it has 2 brass exhausts on the roof. The small one is on the old Lister port and is for cosmetic purposes only.

As each room was near completion I wired up relevant circuits to the fusebox. Something we needed for the business side was to install CCTV - a recommended requirement for premises selling alcohol. We had to install 2 extra lengths of CCTV cable that had not been fitted by Hudson's - this proved to be harder than expected as the insulation behind the walls meant it had to be routed elsewhere, taking longer than expected.

The picture above shows the engine room prior to painting the walls and ceiling.

The BMC was now complete. The engine was room was very nearly complete - the bathroom finished except for the tiling and floor and only the floor left to complete in the bedroom.

Another job to do was to have the rest of the internal portholes (windows) lined with oak surrounds, we had these handmade by a specialist via Midland Chandlers, after extensive research, measurements and quotes, Midland turned out to be good for us on quality and price.

Liam's work was done, we opted to finish the kitchen (galley) ourselves and the living area at the front (saloon) - but this would have to be done back at our marina.

The next stage would see the engine test run, then....at last...we would be booked into the paint shop for December 2015 to be painted in Mauritius Blue, Manchester Red, Honeysuckle cream lines, Raddle red decks and a light grey roof.

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