Late- yes, Embarrassed – some, Nearly There – maybe

I noticed that I had not written anything since the end of March, and I guess (unconsciously) this was because I had intended to have Befur ready for the water on the first of April, and that clearly wasn’t happening – and addressing that fact in print was a bridge too far!

However, we have been far from idle, and I actually do think we should be there for the first week of June (fingers-crossed). So here is a quick review of progress in April and May.

Checking the Solar Panels

As you may recall Befur uses solar panels to maintain it’s batteries and drive ancillaries that have to be on all the time – Bilge Pump, Airhead ventilation fan etc. So we dragged her out into the sunshine to make sure all this worked – and clicked a few photos.

(The Propeller Saga: John Maltby (friend, boiler inspector and ex merchant navy Chief Engineer) stopped by one day, and as he walked past the back of the boat casually said “Malcolm, that prop is the wrong hand”. I tried arguing, but finally realised that he was right! So a panicked phone call to Fal Propellers in Aberdeenshire ensued. They happily agreed to take back the old one in part-ex and modified one they had in stock to provide a replacement – what a great company – thank you Lorna and Mark).

Deck Fittings and a Samson Post

The next job was attaching all the deck fittings – we opted for two fairleads on the fore-deck and cleats on the stern and midships. These were fitted with large (4mm and 6mm) stainless screws epoxied into the deck clamp.

However, the reason for opting for fairleads on the foredeck was that it seems that we might well be on a swinging mooring, and so relying on cleats to moor Befur seemed unwise. So we installed a “Samson-post” to provide a secure point for mooring.

This post is made from a single ~2M length 75mm square Iroko epoxied into the fore-deck, bolted to one of the deck-beams and pegged and epoxied into the keelson (bottom of the hull). This makes a very sturdy locating point for a mooring strop running over the (also installed) bow-roller – which will also hold one of the anchors ready for deployment.

At the same time we fitted the forward navigation lights (this involved making a small mast for the stem light (and VHF antenna), as it has to be a metre above the port and starboard lights.

In addition we fixed two handrails to the cabin roof, to make access to the fore-deck safer. We arranged these to pass outboard of the part of the cabin roof that will finally  be removed to allow the mast-step to pass into the cabin, when we fit the sailing rig – and at the same time managed to pick up some of the cabin roof beams to make sure the rails were secure enough to withstand a panicked grab!

The last job was to fit the escape hatch (we chose a Vetus PLA45L one at almost £200, but it’s an important item) and checked we could get through it in the kitchen (hula-hoop-style). It was a bit tight, but we figured a decent fire on board would provide the necessary incentive to make it through!

Fresh Water, Bilge Pumps & Heads

We plumbed in the sink, which involved fitting a fwd water tank, cleaning & nickle-plating an antique filler, and installing a seacock for the waste (actually a skin fitting and ball-valve, as the seacocks I had acquired at an SBA auction were too small).

Another similar skin-fitting assembly was installed to take the outfall from the bilge pumps. We opted for a Whale SuperSub 650 automatic bilge pump (and associated wiring), which will be left on when we are away, to provide some security, and a hand-operated 25GPM pump. We have fitted two strum boxes with a diverting valve to let us clear either side of the keelson, and wound up drilling a bunch more limber holes as a quick test demonstrated that the ones we installed as we made the hull were too small (or probably full of epoxy from the cladding process.

Sample of the hull which shows two adjacent strips fitting tightly with the glass cladding and paint.,

A good thing about installing the skin fittings was that you get a “core sample” from the hull and for the first time get to see/check what we built about two and a half years ago! Fortunately it proved that we had not sanded away too much of the hull as we finished and clad it (it’s still about 20mm thick) and also showed that the joints between two of the strips were nice and tight! (two different colours of red-cedar strip on show)

Fire Extinguishers and Fuel Lines

We opted for one powder (2Kg)  and one foam extinguisher (2 Litre). While my original plan was to install the foam one outside (as the biggest risk is a fuel leak), I  realised that putting the powder one in the cabin was probably a bad plan!!!

We also installed the fuel-line from the tank to the burner, with an in-line filter and fuel cut-off valve. At the same time we installed the wiring for the fuel gauge and stern-light, all tucked quite neatly under the port deck clamp.

Inverter woes

Both 1500 watt – but as you can see the “pure sine” one is a lot bigger!

At this point I decided to make sure the electrics all worked – they all did, except the inverter which just would not light the burner. It’s really a mystery, which many people put down to me choosing a “modified sine-wave inverter”.

These are meant to power “dumb” things quite well, but I guess the electronics in the flame-failure device were just too smart. So I had to buy a replacement “pure sine-wave” one at about 3 times the price and 4 times the size!!!

A complete triumph – for Louise!

The next job was to make a cover for the boat – something we had both fretted about for a good while. But emboldened by her success with the piped cushions Lou ordered 10 metres of waterproof “canvas” and produced a perfect result!

We had arranged to use a ratchet strap between the cabin roof and rear deck (passing over the funnel) as a type of “ridge pole” and used about 25 lift-the-dot fasteners to hold the cover taught. We had cut a very rough template from an old (cheap) tarpaulin, and with apparent ease (and her 30-year old Brother sewing machine) Lou produced the result below – one very impressed and pleased Malcolm!

So – bringing the blog up to date

As I have written this post, I have started to realise why we weren’t ready on the 1st April – there was a LOT to do.

I really think we are coming to a close now, today I made the tiller for the rudder (just needs final fettling and some varnish), and attached a boarding ladder to the transom (it’s starting to look like a cross between cross-channel ferry and gin palace), tomorrow John is stopping by to provide another head as we finally decide how to route all the steam and feed-water plumbing, and then we might have no more excuses not to launch it… Oh wait a minute, there is the anti-fouling…..

Here are some pictures of the “engine room” to tide you over to next time!

2 thoughts on “Late- yes, Embarrassed – some, Nearly There – maybe

  1. Peter Bourke

    Great work Malcolm and Louise.
    Delighted to read that all is on track.Bit confused over the over the propeller handed? I was under the impression [probably wrongly] that the engine operated in both direction???? Almost finished my engine. Like yourself, the pump drawing has driven me nuts. Anxious to start on my boiler. Still arguing with South Australian authorities over verification of John Kings outstanding drawings.Peter

    1. sybefur Post author

      While steam engines run happily in both directions because they are double acting a little analysis shows that the side thrust on the cross heads are not symmetric. So when running in one direction all the thrust is against the cross head guide, and when running in the other direction the thrust it is away from the cross-head guide.
      So in an engine like the Leak (with a column rather than “trunk” guide) forward rotation should be arranged to be pushing the cross-head against the main column, so that the larger bearing surface is used. This determines the “handedness” of the prop required (i.e. whether clockwise, or anticlockwise produces forward thrust).
      I thought I had done this, but my left/right thinking was confused by being inside the boat as I waved my hands about trying to get it right. What was irritating was the way John just spotted it immediately! – the joys of being an amateur 🙂


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