Bedroom work - the subfloor & first walls

We’ve got several months of posts to backfill now, so much in the way of ripping off a plaster/band-aid quickly, I’m going to attempt to fill you all in quickly, rather than take the time to write an epic, detailed post and further add to the delays in showing off what we’re doing!

But on the plus side, we’re only too busy to blog because our spare time is being spent getting on with boat work!

The previous update on the bedroom building was that we’d finished insulation before winter (always a good thing!). Just before Christmas, James and his dad then got to work building in a new subfloor.

If you recall, Hendrik has a sealed, steel cargo floor throughout the hold, and for about 3/4 of the space occupied by the hotel bedrooms, there’s a ballast of sand with a 4” thick layer of concrete on top of this cargo floor, for a total height of about 9 inches, I’d guesstimate. The bedroom, wardrobe, and sewing room will occupy this ballast-free space, meaning they will be dropped in relation to the bathroom, guest bedroom, and snug, which will sit on top of the concrete. We get very tall ceilings in there, but it means a floor needs to be built first!

The subfloor (above the cargofloor) needed to provide several things:

  1. An air gap between the steel and the floor, in case of the inevitable damp from breath/condensation

  2. A space for insulation

  3. An anchor for easier wall building

First they laid a framework with the main boards running along the line of the boat, with braces in between…

Subfloor - level 1

Then a layer of plywood…

Subfloor -level 1

Then another framework with the main boards running across the boat, which were filled in with sheets of thick celotex insulation, and a final layer of plywood on top!

James - insulating lavel 2

And best of all – there’s no bounce when we jump up and down! Nice and sturdy, unlike a lot of the floors we inherited.

With a solid base in place, it was then time to build the first walls. James started with the easiest (and shortest!), the wall between the new sewing room and the wardrobe.

The first step was to build the outer frame:
James huilding the first wall First wall - angled ceiling

Then fill in the uprights and cross-bars to match the width of the 12mm plywood from Wickes:
First wall - from side first wall - detail

Then clad one side with said plywood, ready for electrical cables to be run:
Sewing room

You can see the shape of my sewing room at the end of the corridor right there! Exciting!

James has once again been won over by the Kreg jig and how easy, fast, and strong the frames were to build. It’s easily been our best buy, and James’s most-used tool! We can climb all over our wall frames like a climbing frame, with no movement or creaking at all.

More walls were built more recently, plus we’ve got a drydock report for you, coming up soon…

Comment [2] - posted 25 June 2012, 16:30 in

Insulating a tin box

We’ve been hard at work since we got back from our Hungarian holiday, spending nearly all our weekend time down in the hold trying to get it insulated and sealed as quickly as possible with the encroaching winter.

We chose to go the Celotex route, buying 50mm thick boards for the walls and 75mm thick boards for the floors and ceiling. Unfortunately, the sheets didn’t fit through the hatch, despite our measuring, thanks to some welded tabs to hold the metal stairs in place making the diagonal measurement smaller than expected. Plus the, err, crazy thickness of the boards. So all the sheets had to be sawed in half (with kitchen knives) in order to get them safely inside.

To get them up and in place, each span between the ribs is measured and a corresponding width of insulation is cut with a kitchen knife, then jammed into place, with any errant bits shaved off with the knife in situ. I’ve been finding my L-ruler (A “Sew Easy Dressmaker’s Square”, bought for patternmaking) to be beyond dispensable in making nice, even rectangles! to answer a commonly asked question – no, there’s nothing holding the insulation to the walls, other than the tight fit against the ribs and battens. To answer another frequently asked question, no, we didn’t want to go the total sprayfoam route because it’d mean hiring the pros and having the mess three or four separate times since we’re not renovating the hold all in one go (we do have to live here while we’re doing this, remember!)

Then one of us comes along with the spray foam gun to seal up any cracks and irregularities (like the odd spaces around the portholes). You can see James on sprayfoam detail here:

James sealing insulation

Music makes the job a bit easier, as we found with the wirebrushing and painting!

So far we’ve managed to insulate both the port and starboard sides, and part of the wall with the focastle:

Insulation on the port side Insulation on the starboard side insulation detail

The ceiling requires two people to get the boards up and into place, and it’s a bit tricky considering they’re a good 7 feet up and we’ve only got one stepstool! Our neighbour Lumni has been busy helping us out, too, making quick work grinding off the earlier floor supports (the hotel floor was raised ~18 inches in order to fit the ballast water tanks underneath) so it’s easier to walk around down there now.

He’s also been busy helping us with our main deck. I’m ashamed to say that he accomplished in one (long) day what we couldn’t in 4 years, and gave us a nice, clean surface back. He also rollered on the first two coats of Jotun Vinyguard primer, and then James has put the first green topcoat on over the weekend!

Green deck

We’ve still got another layer of topcoat to go, but it’s the first time in YEARS we’ve had a beautiful green deck! Like Serenity, we are definitely members of the Jotun fanclub!

While I was cutting insulation, James has also been working on building the first replacement skylight cover, too, so our new bedroom doesn’t get dripped on. He’s used sapele wood for the frame and plexiglass surface before reusing the metal grates on top, but we’ll have photos of that once it’s complete.

Comment - posted 18 October 2011, 14:16 in

Maybe we should've just got the painters in

About two weeks ago, we were very happy to trade in our wirebrushing tools…

Wirebrush and face mask

…for a bit tin of Jotun Vinyguard primer, rollers, a touch-up brush, and face masks!

Vinyguard primer paint

The wirebrushing was a physically tough, dirty job so we were glad to see the back of it, but painting comes with its own challenges – namely the unholy fumes! I swear, after a while I started to taste wintergreen in my mouth from the fumes, even through our filter masks.

Luckily, we borrowed an industrial exhaust fan from our awesome welder neighbour Charles, and because it has a concertina which is the perfect size for a porthole, it meant we could leave it on overnight without fear of a certain cat climbing out the hatch. With that running overnight, we could really clear the smell from the boat in a day or two.

The nice thing about painting, though, is that it’s satisfying work! We got to watch the hull go from a speckled-rust colour to a stately silver-grey, and the rivets really popped once painted, too!

Painting hull before and after

We used mini rollers for the bulk of the painting, plus one small paint brush between us to get the tricky corners and particularly long rivets and bolts. And believe me – there were a lot of rivets to paint around, not to mention the ribs every 14 inches or so…

Painted rivets Painted pipes Painted ceiling Painted sewing room Partially painted hold

The thing is, had we been painting a similarly-sized box room, we could have had it finished in a day, but going around all the strange corners, rivets, overhangs, and portals really made it take significantly longer! We reckon it took us four sessions of about 2 hours each with both of us painting to complete it. We stopped for fresh air breaks every paint tray, too…

Finished starboard painting

But of course, as soon as you finish one milestone, another portion of the project jumps forward to take its place, and the insulation is something we need to get in place fast before the weather turns much colder…

Insulation on deck

Yes, that’s our next project, after a well-deserved week’s rest in the thermal spas of Hungary, celebrating our first anniversary!

Comment [2] - posted 15 September 2011, 14:00 in

Skiptruck Day

The problem with destruction is that eventually you need to get rid of all that stuff, and the downside to clearing such a large space is that you also end up with a large amount of rubble.

So last Saturday we booked a truck from Any Junk for the afternoon, meaning we had to get the entire pile from inside Hendrik up to the road in a matter of hours so as to not uglify the moorings. We did what anyone would, faced with such a task – we begged, pleaded, tricked, and bribed our friends into helping.

We started at 10am with just our neighbours Alan and Liz plus James and I. The four of us moved the pile from inside Hendrik, up through the hatch, and up on deck. We had two of us below deck passing pieces up to the two above deck, and we moved the whole pile pretty quickly.

Pile on deck Pile on deck

This also meant we needed a cuppa while we awaited more troops!

Liz with a cuppa

And more troops did arrive, and about ten of us formed a “bucket brigade” of handing off pieces to the next person in the line, until we’d moved the whole pile the several hundred metres up to the road.

Astonishingly, we’d moved the entire pile up to the road by 1pm, and Any Junk came and cleared it all away by 2pm!
Pile at the gate James up by the gate

This was our first time using Any Junk, and we will definitely use them again. Our other two choices were to a) use Tidy Thames to lower a skip onto our deck again (putting it mildly, I’d rather get a full body root canal than ever deal with Tidy Thames again. Awful, awful, horrific company!! And that’s the nicest way I could possibly put it.) or b) Hire a skip up by the road (but we’re on a double-yellow so need special permission, and of course, this means getting everyone’s rubbish added to it when your back is turned!).

Any Junk truck by gate

Any Junk worked out rather cheaper than a traditional skip hire, and a fraction of what Tidy Thames surprised us with last time. Plus, the Any Junk guys were super friendly and were happy to load our pile into the truck themselves, and even came around to see the boat afterwards!

Since their entire truck is a giant scale (so they know how much to charge you), we were able to get an accurate reading on exactly how much we’d moved that day – 1.2 tons! OMG! And this was the third time I’d moved it!

One the pile was gone, we rewarded the troops with pizza, beer, and pulled pork to say thank you to our friends and neighbours. We’re rewarded by an empty hull, ready to complete wirebrushing then priming…

And a rainbow to remind us to stop and look up every now and then:
Moorings rainbow Moorings rainbow

Comment - posted 22 August 2011, 12:29 in

Have you had your weetabix?

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire not made of asbestos.

Pile of shredded ceiling

We know this for certain because we’ve got a certificate with the English language’s most wonderful acronym on it: NADIS, for No Asbestos Detected In Sample. But how exactly did we get here?

Once the walls had come down, the next step was to pull the old ceiling panels down. These were compressed wood fibre tongue and groove panels which were just clipped to the battens so they came down easily, revealing a layer of rockwool and above that the curious shredded fibre insulation boards you see in the pictures. Any attempt to move these boards rained dust down into the boat, and given the age, budget and fireproofing requirements of the original conversion I thought it prudent to call a halt until we could confirm we weren’t working with asbestos.

Shredded ceiling

Google turned up a company called All About Asbestos who were fabulous. I sent a query through their website on Sunday, and on Monday a very reassuring chap called me to talk through the options. He took great care to inform me that there’s “good” asbestos which is cheap to remove and “bad” asbestos which requires the whole ET-house plastic wrap deal. And of course, it was possible we had the “not” asbestos kind.

Their labs turned our sample round in 24 hours for a cost of £50 plus VAT and I have to say that’s some of the cheapest peace of mind I’ve ever had. By the next weekend we were ready for me to pull the boards out, which took about 90 minutes with the help of a crowbar and some sturdy gloves. Above the boards the back side of the deck looks pristine which means we can go straight to celotex there. And we will need to soon, because without the insulation in place the sun turns the hold into a sauna very quickly.

James pulling down the ceiling

By coincidence skipper Stefan was around the moorings during the week and we took the opportunity to show off our progress (happily Stefan now talks to us like proper boat owners!). Of course when we showed off our NADIS certificate he looked at the sample and told us… “Oh yeah, the Dutch use that shredded stuff all the time. I could’ve told you it’s not asbestos.”

Oh well.

Comment [2] - posted 17 August 2011, 14:05 in

Wirebrushing the hull...

I’m not sure how this happened, but we’re over a month behind reality on the blog again, but that’s mostly because we’ve been working on the hull every single weekend so there’s been lots of progress made.

Here you can see some fetching photos of me wirebrushing the hull by hand, with gloves and filter mask:
Melissa wire brushing Melissa wire brushing

We’re doing this by hand because, even though it’s messy and exhausting work, it creates a LOT less mess than wirebrushing by powered drill, and since we only need to remove the loose old paint (not get it down to a clean and virginal state), hand brushing is fine for our needs. But you get so sweaty and covered in rust that a shower is 100% necessary immediately afterwards!

It’s nice to see progress being made, though – you can definitely see the before and after!

Before and after wire brushing Before and after wire brushing
(Hint: The finished panel is on the left, “before” is on the right)

So far we’ve finished the entire port side, half of the starboard side, and so we’ve only got the lower ceiling yet to go. The taller ceiling is in “like new” condition, happily, but more on that coming up…

Comment - posted 16 August 2011, 13:49 in