Still at it

Dear Reader (s). It’s been three months since I put finger to keyboard for this blog that you might have been wondering what had happened. Well, I’m still here, having survived my first Covid Jab (AZ), some cold weather, an essay,  a little work on the boat and an eviction notice.

I brought her back from the painters in late December and stuffed her back in the shed.  She looked really pretty in her coat of blue with white underside, although a little dirty from the trip up the motorway.

I didn’t do much to her in January, as I had an essay to research and write. Post grad research is a bit difficult when all the libraries and record sources are closed – but hey ho – there’s a load of stuff available on line and I even bought a couple of books on ebay, or was it Amazon? I forget. By the end of January 10,00 words or so had been written about the state of the glass manufacturing industry in England in 1760 and I was able wrench my self back to the present day. I’d even been given a delivery date for the arrival of the Epropulsion pod – second or third week of March. That’s when there would need to be some serious inventing to do. But the bathroom shower decided to leak and that needed refurbishing – I could only remove the mixer valve by cutting an access hole through the wall (fortunately a stud work and plasterboard job) and then the mixer valve “repair kit” (a complete new mixer valve) took a week to arrive and the boss white I had for the olive joints was so old it had gone solid.  At last I could spend some time on the boat.

During February I did some really big projects – I made a handle for the forehatch, fitted a cleat to each quarter and bent some strips of brass and cut a length of dowel that would hold the mast in place. And I fitted some cool breather pipes to the ballast tanks and worked out how to retain the grating over the bilge sump. The centre board was fitted in the centre board case and it’s pivot bolt pushed into place. The board is quite a tight fit in the case and need quite a pull to get up (and down!). There’ll be some more inventing required there to devise how to secure the lifting rope.

Then came the bombshell. The farmer/builder has realised that there’s a real shortage of workshop space in the locality and, if he redeveloped the site, with proper shops, he probably didn’t need to farm any more. So I’ve been given my marching orders and have to be out by the middle of April. So I’ve made an appointment with the boat yard to take her to Wales on the 14th April, to fit the mast and sails.

It was time to give some serious thought to the way the pod drive was to fit. I had found a drawing of the unit on the suppliers web site and could now work out how big a holes I was going to have to cut in the hull of my lovely new boat….and marked it out with a felt tip pen. Not totally trusting the drawing, I thought I’d wait until the unit arrived before attacking the floor. I thought I’d just try out the slide arrangement that I’d carefully made up using jib car slides and tracking. The motor mounting platform moved smoothly up and down – but it was unloaded. I thought I’d better try it out with a simulated load – disaster. The whole thing juddered and stuck and was clearly not going to work, so it was back to the drawing board.

Fortunately, I had some 8 mm diameter thick walled stainless steel tube “in stock” and, coincidently, a length of Delrin which had an 8 mm bore (who doesn’t have these materials to hand, I ask myself). The steel slid smoothly through the Delrin, so a new design emerged. Two steel tubes would be mounted in the hull, one either side of the slot through which the motor would emerge from it’s housing. A new motor platform would be made, and pieces of Delrin tube would be embedded in it with epoxy.  Some sort of bridge would be made across the top of the motor well to secure the top of the steel tubes. It would also provide a place to mount a lifting mechanism. Positive bottom stops would have to be place so that the platform was solidly fixed when under power and some sort of thrust block would be needed, against which the platform would push the boat along, to reduce the bending strain on the steel tubes. Building commenced, using hardwood blocks to hold the steel tubes in place. Top and bottom blocks were made together and fixed in a jig. The motor mounting plate was made out of layers of 6 mm ply epoxied together – the Delrin bearing tubes were cut to length and had “flats” cut into the outer section so that the epoxy securing them in place had a positive mechanical lock. It all seem to work. All we need now it the motor.

The build jig for the motor mount