Update on a snowy day

Another snowy day in Heggerscales

As April begins the weather returns to snow and cold, so it seems a good time to provide a progress report.

We are working towards getting Befur into the water for 2019 – I was hoping for April 1st, but (as always) I am behind plan. However, it really is too cold to be on the water, so we will remained chilled about our position.

So, here is a list of the main activity of the last few weeks:


We finished fitting the replacement crankshaft, and tidying up some outstanding items as we rebuilt her. The main changes were:

  • Resealing the HP valve chest to cylinder joint – using Heldite Universal Jointing Compound. We used Rocol Steamseal last time and had some leaks, so I hope this is better. It seems more “liquid” so it might be better. I also used this to reseal the cylinder covers.
  • Lagged the main steam pipe and auxiliary steam feeds. Used plaster of paris bandages and high temperature paint.
  • Remade the cross-head oil feed union, this is a very cramped spot, and the old one was not very secure.
  • Pulled the condenser apart and pressure tested it – it became clear that it was a colander!!! I found about 60 pin-holes in the tube-plate-to-tube joints, and spent two happy days attempting to re-solder these. It’s much better, but not quite perfect. These are soft soldered joints, so a lot of plumber’s solder, active flux and the application of a centrepunch to seal the final few holes – hopefully a better vacuum in 2019.
  • Tightened up the clearances on the feed pump drive to make a little more room, and better control crank end-float with the new crank.
  • Made and fitted a more secure condenser strap form 1/2-inch brass strip.
  • Stripping all the cladding from the boiler, to allow our SBA boiler inspector to do the annual cold-inspection, the steam/accumulation test will be done when we get back to Ullswater.

Testing on air went OK, not entirely sure that the new timing key-ways on the crank are in exactly the right spot, but decided to try them as is.

Refitted the engine into the hull, with the assistance of a mini-digger in  “crane mode” with a chain-hoist to provide fine control… all seems OK.

Here are a couple of pictures of the re-built engine before fitting of cleading, lubrication etc.

The final two jobs were fitting an outrigger bearing on the end of the crank to provide some extra support to take the loads from the belt-drive to the propshaft. This is a simple 1.25″ plumber-block bearing attached to the steel-work for the belt tensioner. (sorry no pictures, it’s snowing too much).

Having completed this job, I decided that the existing tensioner bolts, were now entirely inaccessible. They had always been really awkward, but with the outrigger in place something better was needed. So, I manufactured some “captive nuts” so they could just be tightened from the outside, but as the steel-work is a channel form, we also needed shaped spacers and tube-nuts to make the whole thing workable,

Hull Related

Roof repairs

The main discovery on fetching Befur home, was that we had suffered from water getting into the cabin roof ply, causing a deal of delamination – very disappointing. This seemed to be caused by water ingress around the antenna and navigation light cables. I had noticed a small drip, but did not think it was a problem – how wrong I was. 😦 It also seemed that some water had gotten into the ply around the edges of the roof.

A complete fix would be to remove the cabin roof and replace it, but this is practically impossible without somewhere dry to work. So, we fixed it as follows.

  • Drill a number of 1/4″ holes over the delaminated areas, attempting to penetrate half way through the ply,
  • pump (warmed) neat epoxy into the holes in an attempt to re-secure the separated plies.
  • use some steel angle and ratchet straps to close up the delamination at the edges of the roof, while the pumped epoxy set.
  • re-finish with 2-part epoxy filler,
  • re-paint with 2-part Epiphanes paint.

The result seems secure, but not very beautiful. The good news is that when we fit the mast a large section of the roof will be removed, so some of the worst damage will be cut out.

Echo Sounder & Holes in the Hull

You may recall from an earlier post, that we have a Seafarer 5 Echo sounder that we wanted to fit. This required fitting a transducer through the bottom of the hull. Force4 Marine do a nice kit to help with this, including an external fairing, sealant etc.

At the same time we needed to fit a new skin fitting for the bilge ejector (a steam-driven bilge pump) and fit the cabling for the stern light. Each of these activities require drilling holes in the hull, and the risk here is that we let water get into the epoxy-sealed strip-plank construction. So each hole was cut oversize, and neat epoxy painted into the holes to ensure that we had sealed the exposed strips.

Here are pictures of the holes, with components fitted!

Other Woodwork

Halved and refinished forward cabin sole plate.

The Cabin Soles had swollen-up over the winter (bloody wood!) and jammed themselves into place. A few days with a fan heater in the cabin, reduced their size until they could be removed. I sawed them both in half to simplify refitting and provide a little more “slop” to allow for this happening again.

We then set-to on a varnish fest, refinishing these sole plates and also all the cladding on the boiler, the finish of which had suffered somewhat from a year in service.

Before we are done we also need to sand and re-varnish all the external woodwork (rudder, tiller, cockpit combing, side decks etc). This is important to make sure we protect the underlying epoxy cladding from UV exposure, which it does not like.

Water Filter, with removable strainer bowl

We needed to provide some fixing points for the Echo Sounder display unit, and the new water filter for the cooling circuit (to keep weed and fish out of the donkey pump). This job left me scratching my head, as both items made most sense to be attached to the inner hull – however, screwing directly into this is a “no-no”, again for reasons of water getting into the hull construction… Eventually, I got over my “anti-botch” mindset, and secured new mahogany mounting pads directly to the hull with external grade No-More-Nails. Yes, I know, but….

We also fitting some nifty catches to keep the cabin doors open.


With the fitting of the new stern navigation light, a cockpit compass, and the Echo Sounder we needed to re-purpose some of the cores of one of the cables to the rear-deck locker and wire in these new components. A simple-enough job, but I have also taken the time to re-draw the wiring diagrams for the boat for my records.. Wiring Plan

Jobs still to be done

New Whistle and Valve

  • Re-fit the stub-mast for the antenna and bow navigation lights.
  • Re-fit all the plumbing, including modifications for the new whistle and hotwell bypass valve and gauges.
  • Make a small hatch in the cockpit sole, to allow simpler access to the stern-gland greaser and cooling water seacock.
  • Touch-up the interior paint damaged by removing the jammed sole plates.
  • Re-Varnish exterior woodwork
  • Fit some of the needed ballast. Eventually we need to add about 400kg into the bilges, but for now we are going to fit some sashweights donated by Nigel. The plan is to place these in the forward bilges, and then pour a mixture of polyester resin and sand over them, to secure them in place and minimise future corrosion….
  • oooh, and I almost forgot! Fit the lovely new bunk/seat cushions Louise has made!

Louise’s latest handiwork – fab new cushions for the bunks!!!

All in all, probably another two weeks work – if only the weather would improve a little!




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