Alwyn Vintcent. Villiersdorp Spring Arts Festival 14th September 2013
The weather wasn’t kind for the Festival! A blustery northwester and some rain threatened that we wouldn’t be able to do our part by manning our Tug for hordes of visitors, while pretending to do some work. In the end, it was the other way around. The weather cleared and although we did have 20 to 30 visitors, we got a lot done!
We are now well into the reassembly stage. There’s a huge amount of welding to do and a lot has to be done in the correct order; last cut, first re-attached. The procedure is that the edges are prepared, by chipping paint off close to the cut line and grinding off the flash as well as any high spots. Unfortunately, in the hurry to refit the prow and rear coaming, this was not done in advance, so preparing and welding those will be more difficult.
We decided to do something noticeable, rather than welding where those two parts had just been tacked, so we prepared the edges of the steering box. Hermann did the lower part of the box and I did the cut-off section. Eniel welded some strips of metal vertically over the cut line. We turned the loose section over into position and we were surprised by how much it had lost shape!
Eniel has levers which he uses to align two edges. He tacks one side of a small flat bar attached at right angles to the end of a lever, to the plate which is too low. His assistant pulls or pushes on the lever until the plates are in line, then he welds the edges. The tack is then broken by the lever being pulled in the opposite direction and any remnant of the tack is ground off. We started at the rectangular part at the stern where the corners gave a datum, and worked around. Other ‘tricks of the trade’ were used, like welding brackets on and pulling edges together with G- and sash clamps. Hermann and I used two heavy hammers on each side of the double-thickness upper edge where rust had forced the metal apart, until the flakes all fell out. These can be clamped together again after rust-treatment and welded along the top edge.
The reason for the skew cut was that it was done in a panic at the last minute on the trailer when we realised it was too high. The final job looks ship-shape, although there is still welding to do between Eniel’s stitches. A lick of paint and it will look like new! The three of us weren’t strong enough to lift and refit the lid!
While Eniel was still welding, Hermann and I started on the edges of the base of the inner funnel. It was important that this be re-attached before any other superstructure could be refitted.
We used the same process; in this case aligning the corners accurately, then worrying about joining up the rest in between. It was surprising how much force was required to align even these thin sheets, especially as the gap between the stitches closed up. The steel inevitably distorts with the welding. Because this is structural; it supports the entire weight of the inner funnel, Eniel welded fully on the outside of the sheeting and reinforced with some long stitches on the inside. The angle framework on the corners got the full treatment from both sides. We refitted one bolt and spacer to each of the heat-shield plates to stop them from flapping in the wind. There is still some painting on the funnel and proper re-shaping to do on them.
Not only is the reassembly impressive, there is now less clutter lying on the deck! It’s very satisfying to know we’re well into rebuilding now!
Another job tackled during the day, apart from showing interested visitors around, was to mop up some rainwater which had entered the boiler through the open manhole. Eniel was in like an eel:
We couldn’t find the sump-pump so we used a scoop and a bucket on a rope. There wasn’t much water and the rest will evaporate after a few warm days, now that we have the metal sheet roped into position over the open manhole again.
The amazing condition of the wet side of the boiler can be seen in the photo above! Part of the reason is the fact that the boiler is fitted with a Hotchkiss circulator, the funnel inlet of which can be seen on the right above. It skims off anything floating on the top of the water and it’s caught in the ball of the circulator and blown-off periodically.
Eniel has been collecting some interesting old brochures:
R10 for adults, R5 for children under 16! The one below comes with the cut-out cardboard model. There is an interesting view of the 1900 Collier Jetty with the overhead conveyor in the background!
There’s lots to do still, and plenty of opportunities for unskilled people to help, chipping, grinding and painting. We’ll spread the word next time we plan to be on board!
15th September 2013