Friday, 25 May 2012

Work of art

Very close to finishing now. Ecky Thump is in dry dock, the bottom is already blacked and the chunky 24" x 22" Crowther prop fitted. Although this will load the JP2 nicely, I would have preferred a larger diameter with lesser pitch, but the modest draught Steve now builds his boats to,  with good reason given the lack of dredging on many canals,  precludes such.

A stationary boat in the covered area of the dock lends itself to having the external artwork and signwriting added as well. Not surprising then meeting Kevin, a thoroughly nice chap that Steve employs to do this skilled work. Born in the same year as myself, Kevin is very much old school with forty years experience, and it shows.

My take on an Old Thumper beer bottle label celebrating the engine and painted between the cabin portholes, is left until last, but as can be seen the majority of the work is already done and will be completed early next week.  Inside roses and castles already adorn every spare space, on the inside of exterior doors, cupboard doors and BMC table. In the picture of the rear doors, you can just make out on the right a slot above the interior decoration for the marine VHF radio. Above that are the bowthruster controls.

Given the time constraints, whilst Kevin weaves his magic outside, work continuous at a frenetic rate inside.

The engine installation is near completion although time hasn't allowed the alternator mounts to be tackled yet. Nevertheless I was told the engine had started first time the day before once a bit of red diesel was bled through. It was a proud moment when Tony gave me a quick demo. Hardly a half turn of the flywheel before it fired and settled into a steady slow thump. Almost an anti-climax, it was though it had been there ever since it was built nearly eighty years ago. If they still made threepenny bits, I swear one would have balanced on the rocker covers such was the smoothness. Note the neat oil tank installation mounted on a custom bracket, exactly as I had hoped, allowing easy draining with access to the underfloor area below.

Whilst there is no engine charging yet, the fruits of of Tony's continued work on the electrics are a complete working bow thruster installation. Two batteries located in the forward part of the starboard well deck locker power the Nobels 9 hp unit. As usual the cabling hooking it up via isolators, fuses and shunts is to Tony's high standards.

Both stoves are now installed and in the bathroom the quadrant shower, loo and finally the vanity basin tap are fitted. Still awaiting a matt black towel rail, but that is work in progress.
At 24 inches this is the largest prop that can be fitted comfortably between uxter plate and rudder stay. Note long swims, a Hudson trademark.

As Steve was having trouble obtaining an appropriate gas solenoid valve, with more time on my hands I managed to source a "CE" approved one with the ½" BSP fittings to accommodate the piping demanded by the BSS examiner. This will allow me to remotely turn off the gas supply in the bow locker, failing to off, prevention being better than cure.

A small re-think on the service battery circuits adds a substantial 600 amp BEP isolator for all the devices that need access to the batteries even when unattended.  I also won't have to worry the chargers and alternators have a load whilst functioning since this will be normally left on. The original smaller BEP isolator will now control the feeds to the main distribution panel. This allows complete isolation when needed to attend the batteries themselves. Since this will involve replacing the existing isolator with  the larger one then finding a new space for the former with attendant cable changes, Tony nodded politely to my request with a sigh - whoops!

As alluded to in previous postings, there is a prior commitment requiring  Ecky Thump to be positioned elsewhere for a few days. Remaining work is essentially the alternator and the Mikuni diesel heater installations, plus heating hook-up to the engine. Although this will require a further two weeks work, she will at least look complete by early next week and be able to make the appointment under her own steam. It will also provide an excellent opportunity for snagging any last minute issues.

I can now reveal that Ecky Thump attended the four day Crick boat show as one of S M Hudson's three exhibits. The 52 mile 28 lock journey was made in just two days without issue. I was lucky enough to assist in the return journey also made in two long days. A very instructional exercise despite the miserable weather on the second day. The engine sounds fantastic and the boat steers well, although I'm definitely in need of close quarters handling experience. The 11 inch Francis searchlight performed well illuminating tunnel sides superbly as the beam was flooded, especially the infamous 1800 metre Braunston one.

Completion and handover will be within three weeks to allow for some minor snagging. There will also be another visit to the dry dock for a second coat of blacking and touch up of minor scrapes received during its trip to Crick and back, one of which was attributable to me - whoops!

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