Saturday, 14 July 2012

Welding Day

Grinding sparks
Yesterday we closed the hole in the aft bilge.  We prepared the area very well, wrapping all cables and hoses, sealing all holes with masking and gaffa tape and covering all our new paint work with core flute sheets, and damp towels.  The team arrived from Luck Engineering and the fun started.

We should add here that Ley finds this work quite stressful, whilst I enjoy it !  I love improving the boat and I guess I'm not so concerned about the process itself - it is just welding and grinding.

One of us did fire watch, with wet rags and a spray bottle at the ready, the other one of us paced and worried!  We checked and doubled checked everything, then the guys (so casually) started out - no stress from their point of view.   First step was to grind a V on the top and bottom edges of the hole and on the new plate. This V provides space for the top and bottom beads of weld. The new plate was then tack welded into place.
Neil helped with positioning the plate                                 Tack welding and using the steel bar as a lever
I helped with plate position, as we wanted a perfectly flush finish - Crystal Blues has no filler on the hull below the water line. When the plate moved a little they just welded on a long piece of steel with a foot on it and levered the plate back into position.....we were impressed with their welding skills.

 So Ley remained inside the boat, damping down the wet rags and watching sparks and flashes. I paced like an expectant father, inspecting the bottom welding and then climbing the ladder and checking inside. When the external weld was completed and ground the team moved inside the boat. Then we did fire watch from below. Then we changed positions again. The third bead of weld was carefully completed (on the outside again) and then the weld was attacked with the biggest hand held electric angle grinder we have ever seen. Sparks flew everywhere, shoulders ached and the weld seam was ground level with the hull. We are a whole boat once more.

Tomorrow and Sunday will be sand blasting days .... we know that at the end of each session we will be sore and filthy dirty.  Crystal Blues will be covered in a fine film of sooty dust and the vacuum cleaner will be working overtime. The good part is the job will be done properly, the boat will be better than new, and we'll never have to look at that area again. 

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