Why Water is Good

Prong One! We did a lot today with the power of good old aitch two Oh. We used a new chinese invention the "Hiya Presha Washa" to blast everything off of everything, the skipper caught a bit of shrapnel in the eye but he's got three eyes anyway so it's even stevens now. I of course was very good and didn't squirt water up Bobs Dads leg at any stage.

I was very quick and hawklike today as well - dunno if you know about the pipework on The Panser but at the moment the sink drains into a bucket. As it was my watch I checked the deisel engine elements and made a quick tour of the vessel - to my horror I realised the bucket under the sink was full. "The Training" kicked in and I immediately turned the tap off, commando rolled under the units, grabbed the overflowing bucket and emptied it into the sink ................................!

Keeping Boats Afloat

I don't know if you're aware of Advocado's principle - something about why 900 ton boats can float and a 2g ball bearing will sink like a stone (Concrete hulled boats - whassthaallabout?) Hang on, an advocado's a fruit or a yellow drink or a football manager - I digress. The plan for tomorrow is to take a 2 pronged approach, remove the last of the soil, gravel and ectoplasm from the engine room and "Pack the Stern Gland", I've had problems with leaking glands in the past and know what effect they can have. So how to do it? Prong 1 involves taking a high pressure jet washer down into the engine room, turning a tap on and filling the boat with water from the inside. Prong 2 involves pulling things out of the stern tube which will allow a brief but vigorous filling of the boat with water from the outside. Should be interesting!

I've always been wary of advocados they make your wee smell - or maybe that's asparagus!

Who's this Archimedes when he's at home?

**/ Skipper's Addendum /**

Avocados are a fruit pretending to be a vegetable and are therefore not to be trusted. Also Weird Al Yankovic sang a song about them. Draw your own conclusions. Archimedes however was clever.

*Running from the Press Gang*

Aye, kings shilling and all that - how could I have seen that little coin in the bottom of my Tankard (pure schpelter) while it was full of Porter? Archimedes was clever he invented the word "Pump" and "Screw" which means that we can all say the words "Fart" and "Shag" in front of our Nannas and Grandads without gettin our legs slapped. Whaddaman!

Tarmac on deck... lets have cobbles in the bilges

Time for a before and after! Spent the last couple of weeks down in the hole, rewiring, emptying the unspeakable bilges, cleaning the timbers and removing the mass of 'ballast' that had been stacked up right in the stern above the prop cutout and over the stern tube, must have been well over a ton and a half of assorted scrap iron, 20kg bags of blasting shot, old batteries etc.... Removed these, then discovered a huge slab of ropey concrete, although it wasn't just concrete. more lumps of scrap iron dropped every where and then concrete poured on top to bind it all together - nice! so a few hours with a kango and we can see the frames once more, and more importantly, we can get at the stern tube, which has a bit of a leak, and needs repacking. So the before picture look a bit like this...

MFV engine room conversion
couple of tons of ballast and rubbish to shift

MFV engine room conversion
what lies beneath! The back end of the engine room before we started

MFV Motor Fifie engine room after clearout and conversion
As she looks today. Almost done, bit more woodwork and paint needed

painting is now almost finished, but as for the tarmac on deck, think that is going to fall into the long term project category

MFV trawler deck coating
the 'tarmacandle'

Converted fishing boat deck after stripping
there's some wood after all!

And finally...... treasure!

a lucky penny found in the bilges of an old scottish MFV
Just for luck?

Small Road Planer Required...

In a fit of Pique today, I decided to investigate the deck... a bit.

First impressions... grey deck paint, possibly with a coat of green underneath. An hour later I came to the conclusion the deck has been tarmaced!! Started gently, little bit of a going over with a belt sander. Anyone know where you can buy a new belt sander cheap?? So time to get tough. Angle grinder with a new flap wheel on, that lasted marginlly longer than the belt sander, and I'd still not seen any wood. so stick a proper grinding disk on. that went the journey quicker than the flap disk. Right, time for the big guns - Electric plane. lots of noise, the grey disappearing rapidly revealing what I am now convinced is green tarmac. With the blades on the plane fully extended and all my weight on it, I managed to remove about 1mm of the stuff when the thought of buying a new plane as well as a new sander caused a rethink.

Blowtorch then. So, fire it up and let rip, finally the stuff is yielding, well a bit, not enough to reveal any wood, but enough for the green goo to go critical and set itself on fire. Very wierd stuff. little lump the size of a 50p burning merrily blow it out and then....poof... in to flames again. Its Green, Its bloody hard, its full of what I guess are small beads of glass (or possibly kryptonite)

Ok so the deck is a hybrid made from tarmac and un-blow-out-able birthday candles. I had at this point though removed enough, in an area the size of a fag packet, to try attack it with a chisel and a mash hammer, and finally the stuff started to move. the good news is the wee bit of timber underneath looks sound as a pound. In places the 'tarmacandle' is nearly 10mm thick!!

Rather more depressing is the fact I estimate its going to take maybe 2-3 hours per square yard to remove. and another hour or 2 to clean and sand the planks and reseal. must be 50 square yards maybe. The whole new deck option is starting to look really attractive

Can you still buy Napalm I wonder?

what price a penny?

Its all going on now! will get some pics taken this weekend of the before and after engine room, even got some of that paint stuff applied now. Not been without its unpleasantness though. Got down in the bilges and removed several buckets full of what can only be described as the contents of satan's arsehole from the bilges under the gearbox and engine, 6" deep in foul smelling, greasy, black silty unspeakableness

Although this wasn't entirely without its rewards either...... In recognition of the unpleasantness Pansy offered up a few rewards, possibly by way of thanks, along the way... a couple of screw drivers, a pair of mole grips, a tape measure, small socket set (boxed - Kamasa), a selection of sockets (unboxed - snap-on tools) several spanners (britool) various nuts and bolts (unboxed - rusty) and, IMHO the greatest treasure of all, one not so shiny penny - dated 1937.

laid there by the builders perhaps when they laid the keel?? Found it wedged between frame and plank right down on the hog, polished it, kissed it and put it back again!

The nappies worked a treat at soaking up the more fluid of the horrors, handful of sawdust helped bind up the remainder a bit, then an hour or 2 of elbow grease and you could even see wood down there once again. least its a job that I hope won't need to be repeated again for a long long time, and hopefully not by us anyway

the tools (apart from the tape measure and mole grips) are all in excellent condition, not much chance of rust when you're immersed in that oily mess.

So out with the paint. The back end of the engine room is now all shiny and clean with a coat of fresh paint, feels like real progress. Going to lay a new bit of 'flooring' over the back end this weekend then thats that bit finished

*Oi Oi*

I took the carpets up and found a patch of soot! Removed a bit of rubbish (got forearms like Popeye's the now!). Sourced a kettle (from the shop) and installed it between some "Futtocks" and a "Shoulder". It works great, makes the water really hot, I poured some over my neck to test it and it's left a brilliant red mark with some fantastic blistering. Also tried to replace three sections of board we'd taken up in the saloon (?) to get at some bizarre pipe work. The total number of possible combinations they could be in must be something like 3 to the power of 3, which is round about 30. Even if you factor in the possibilty of upsidedowness the final figure can't top 30 x 30 (more than 300 I reckon) I gave up after 16.35 minutes and started sweeping things up again. Next visit, boards were sorted - I think the skipper may have fettled them, I did see a bit of sawdust and the odd dint - mellhammer and a chainsaw, why didn't I think of that?

Pansy get her name back

MFV Motor Fifie Pansy gets a nameboard
Pansy in whitehills

The poor old girl has been devoid of any recognition for years, so thought its about time to give her her name back properly.

No.2 had the foresight to scribble her name inside the bulwarks with a pen for the trip back to ward of sea serpents and the like, but apart from that, she's been anonymous to the passer by, so I set too and had a crack at carving some boards for her at the weekend, not bad for a first effort, carved the name based on a wee glimpse of it that can be seen on one of the older pics we've got, so tried to recreate something that was a reasonable facsimile of that, turned out ok, apart from a bit of a scrap between the different paints that were used, one reacted badly to the other, so it does have a rather aged look already, although I might take the sander to it and do it again

Ladies of a certain age.....

ok so she sets fire to herself and wets her pants a bit, thats old ladies for you. but a cure has to be, and I believe has been found.

Down in the hole there is an accumulation of 70 years of oil, grease, soot, dust, rusty bits, diesel, hydraulic oil, and very possibly fish and and past crew members breakfasts, and it all has to come out. So the time has come to boldly go where no cleaning products have gone before. The vile black sludge has to be removed. First job has been to remove what may well turn out to be mini torpedoes, we're still not sure, there's maybe 50 of em, all neatly stacked in the bilges under the engine and tanks. A couple or 3 feet long, 3 or 4" in diameter and of hernia inducing weight when your on your back partially upside down and trying not to breath whilst you're shifting them. But shifted they are, and seeing daylight for the first time this century, alongside some of the other mystery ironmongery we've removed (the big cheese shaped bits, the stripey bits etc)

So how to attack the filthy slurry that remains. the answer came to me in flash as I was stood in the queue in the post office on pension day next to one of tenna lady's best, but evidently least successful customers. Nappies!

So for those likewise infested with bilge blight, get yourself some nappies, open them out and press them down into the offending area and leave for a bit, all manner of nastiness soaks into them, then simply remove and dispose of. If you live in herne bay, I believe the correct procedure for disposal is to leave them on the beach

For those smaller harder to get at areas, sanitary towels (with or without wings) do a similar job.

The plan is, once the worst has been removed to throw some cat litter down there with a bit of sawdust to soak up whatever's left, then scrape that out, hope fully to reveal a nice clean bottom, ready for talc and paint (ok I made the talc bit up)

As a word of caution though. I have it on very good authority that if you leave the nappies down there too long they may well explode.

*No. 2 swings his good leg on board and leaves the spare on the pontoon*

Duck egg blue down below - very nice. How do I know? I spent 137 minutes down there yesterday with 4 elbows, (Elephants have 4 knees apparently) some grease and a laser beam. Managed to expose a postage stamp area of cleanliness ready to accept our lovely white bilge paint. Realised that using your teeth to tear bits off a roll of stockinette doesn't work so squeezed meself into a man sized portion and rolled around for a while to soak up some of the damage I'd done with "The Cleaning" (note to Skipper - there may be a stanley knife blade lurking around point upwards next to some of your "Thingmys"). It all looked quite good by the time I left but then the batteries were just about out which power the engine room lights and my headtorch actually makes things darker when you point it at things. May have to consider putting head torch on the other way round as I'm often startled by a strange white light behind me but everytime I turn around it's gone.

Stranger things have happened

Ford Fiesta - Marine Version

Orrible colour!

Progressing back to square one

'Broons aall roond' as they are oft heard to say in Cowes week, the Panser now starts and runs off the key again, the rats nest, both burnt and unburnt flavours, has been attacked and vanquished. Spiffy new wiring, all neat and accessible, proper isolators, new relays, and emergency over rides all tickety boo (although the alternator is shagged as is the oil pressure sender from the wee bonfire). so we're back where we were as far as getting the girl running, and more importantly knowing where to start looking when she's not running and what to look for when she won't run. The alternator is a curious one, another bog standard Lucas job, model A376, which bizarrely for the 7 litre behemoth lehman engine, is the exact same alternator as fitted to an 1100cc ford fiesta, at least it'll be cheap, unless Ford made a special 'Marine' version of the Ford Fiesta that is!

Elsewhere, I've been researching a bit, about what the crack is with the big post that is sitting between the prop and the rudder, basically along the lines of should it or shouldn't it be there. It seems some Fifies had them, some didn't, and those that did each had there own design. In amongst all this are the various derogations of Fifie - Scaffies, Yawls, Skiff's, and my personally favourite, Baldies, named after the italian revolutionary Garibaldi, for reasons I'm yet to discover (answers on a postcard please). So I wonder if there's a Caribbean version of Fifie called a 'yardie'

*No. 2 awakens*

Our boat is a biscuit! Explains a lot. I've been held up at work a bit this week saving people's lives and creating things of beauty. The Skipper has done fantastically well without me being there - a testament to his quick learning, versatility and levels of energy bordering on "The Occult". I did get down for about 96 minutes, put me wellies on over my best trausers and had a look down below, took a while to get into the engine room as The Skipper had turned the ladders round so I went in upside down. First thing I noticed was how much I hadn't done in the last 143 minutes I spent down there, next thing I saw was some new stuff, wires in a kind of 1920's type of space suit for a very thin man's arm covering. I also saw some other wires and a piece of metal shaped like a fingmy which was a bit less grimy than the rest of the metal stuff down there. I think I might have shouted things like "Fantastic" "Topper" "Cush" "Bonzer" "Ech ma boab" then ran out of things to say. I stayed down there for quite a while to pretend I was sizing other things up, and spotted a few things I need to do - honest Skipper. THIS WEEKEND, I promise .....

No. 2' s lessons in life

OK - so now I know, there are brushes inside of starter motors and soneloids make sparks. It's a funny old world. I have finally committed totally to our lovely Pansy, no going back, went and bought what's known in working circles as a "Boiler Suit". I already had some wellies as my mam makes me put them on if there's any danger of me going round jumping in puddles. Also got some "Knee Pads" just in case we go through another Rattray head moment, they will allow me to pray properly without running the risk of getting a run in my BS (Boiler Suit). It's now covered in John Innes no.5 after removing 14 firkins of SOIL from the engine room. I know she's called Pansy but having an 'erbaceous border in the bilges smacks of silliness. We managed to wake Bob the milkman (he is a milkman, well he sells the stuff, he's not actually made of milk), who lives on the Yot next to us, at 5:00pm last Saturday with the sound of an air-hammer going off in the bilges of an old wooden boat. He must have thought - yup they've had enough and got up to watch the boat sink and observe us sprinting along the pontoon of life, laughing like Banshees (Eh!) and back to normality.

Get Rich Quick and beat the Credit Crunch!

Had a major Eureka moment today. Started with the quest for a new starter motor which 'suffered' in the wee conflagration in the hole. So we've got a Ford Lehman 2715e 6 cylinder diesel, not what you'd call common, but not a rare beast either. The starter, after a full strip down revealed its original Lucas part number, so quick ring round the usual suspects of Marine engineering companies that sell/service big old Fordy's, £399 plus Vat plus a 60 quid deposit for the old unit in exchange. Go to an agricultural engineers, the exact same lucas unit, £110.

So my Eureka moment, off down the town hall tomorrow and am going to change my surname to 'marine' by deed poll. I will then take the relevant papers to the bank, who I am sure, upon seeing my name is now 'Mark No 1 marine', will quadruple the balance in my bank account, and generally credit my account with double what I pay in from now one. Simple huh?? Remember you read it here first! If all goes well next month I will change my name again and add the letters 'MP' as I'm guessing that will have the same effect again

*No.2 is piped a'board*

Already tried the name change approach Skipper I'm actually called "Salmon Marks and Spencers Bang and Olaffson Thompson" it's written on the inside of me wellys and the contract I drew up and signed for our boat owning partnership. (Note to self don't mention "contract" to Skipper!)

Fire in the hole!

Fire aboard an MFV conversion
nothing makes a converted MFV motor Fifie more homely that a real fire
Fire aboard an MFV conversion
nothing makes a converted MFV motor Fifie more homely that a real fire

Oh Dear, all is not well down below, we've had a lucky escape from a wee conflagration. Got there t'other day, major proper work getting started now, thought I'd give the henjin a run, ignition, contact... and... nowt, nada, in fact, bugger all. Open the hatch down into the hole to be greeted by a distinctly burny sort of smell of catching fire type nature and no mistake. Been having a few problems of late when we've tried to fire her up, everything a bit sluggish, batteries perhaps a bit tired... ahh thos e silent warning bells that didn't ring in out ears!

now on the 12V side of things, which is basically the engine, everything else on board runs from a separate 24V system, we have a bank of 4 150Ah batteries, so 600Ah of juice to get her going, the wiring from these we inherited, along with lots of other wierdness both discovered and as yet undiscovered. There's a sneaky switch, hidden under the helm, that when operated, throws a relay in the engine room, which powers the 12v system up. All fine and dandy with a couple of tiny little problems. the relay is (was)! sat in the negative side of the batteries, so even though it may be off, there's still a 12v (and 600Ah remember) supply on all the wiring.

So whats the worst that could happen?? I know, one day when no-ones around, its going to go more tits up than the American economy and short circuit 600Ah of batteries!

A quick bit of O level physics says that 600A at 12V = 7,200W or 7.2Kw for an hour, thats some electric fire we had going there...... directly under neath 400 gallons of diesel..... in an oily engine room.....in a wooden boat, still don't know how it didn't all go up. so every engine room fire has a silver lining. least we now know it was a bitt 'iffy' and have embarked on a rewire, so if anything goes amiss in the future we'll know where to start looking. Slightly sadder though is the fact it melted the starter motor solenoid, so a new starter motor needed

The thought has occurred to me though that the reason it didn't go up is that the Panser actually has a primitive fire prevention system built in - she leaks! and may well have just put the fire out herself to save us the bother!!

More soon, including the cleaning of the bilges which needed the use of an SDS/Kango among other things - No 2 has finally dirtied his new overalls

No. 2 requesting permission to board

After suffering a series of outrageous slurs on my general sea worthiness, urino-genital tract and all round slackness in the "doing stuff" department I feel it is only fair to peep above the gunnels, check conditions using the one-eyed Beaufort Scale and return to my bunk.

going a bit Withnail

time to catch up, been on my jollies for a week or three up that scotland, so thought I'd better go see if she was still floating today and definitely went a bit Withnail when I went down below....

last time out we'd left a few 'Things' in the sink, unwashed cups, that sort of thing, and the plug was in. All the rain recently and we must have a wee leak on deck somewhere, not that bad as the naughty dripping water did the honourable thing by managing to drip in the sink. Although the downside was it provided a nice supply of liquid refreshment for the "New Things" that were growing in the "leftover Things" to really have a ball.

There was definately in the Words of Withnail "Matter' growing in great profusion, a half inch thick scum of gelatinous ectoplasm had formed. Pondered a while and wondered about it's sea keeping properties as a waterproofing agent and should I just let it be, maybe it would grow big enough to cover the whole boat, thus inventing a whole new way of antifouling that is environmentally friendly but decided to be brave and plunge my arm in the sink and ferret about for the plug. The 'New Things" clearly thought my arm was an nicer place to be than the sink and the whole lot decided to attach itself to me as the foul brew that was under it drained away.

went topside and scraped it off over the side. It was last seen floating towards Norway, hope it enjoys the Fjords when it gets there


Converted MFV Motor Fifie
She's is in remarkable good condition considering she's 70 years old, nothing more than a bit of TLC to the odd seam here and there