Saturday, 12 February 2011

You cannot be serious!!

That was the reaction of our girls to news that we were planning to wallpaper the saloon walls in Harry. Well we are. Wallpaper is the new black. Or in the case of narrowboats, the new ash veneer.
The one thing we were agreed on was that we didn't want Harry to have one of those look-alike shiny wood veneer interiors. Too modern. First of all we thought of going the all solid oak route. ("You cannot be serious; it'll be like living in a coffin!" Guess who said that.) We bowed to their opinions - and to the eye watering price of solid oak.
We thought of painting. We thought of scumbling. We thought of using tongue and Vee-groove. And then we thought of wallpaper. "It's traditional for tugs like yours," insisted Ray at Streethay.
All we'll need is a couple of rolls so we can splash out on some expensive remainders off Ebay.
Now all we need to do is agree on the which ones. There are 16,424 items listed under 'wallpaper' on Ebay. Maybe we should ask the kids...

Mission Accomplished!

All panels safely in place
Here's the dreaded blue glue

Last night I confessed I was a wimp. This morning I decided to be a have-a-go hero. I lay in bed, drinking my morning cuppa and thinking about the problem of glueing those veneer panels in place. (All the best thinking is done in bed - that's where you resolve the problems you woke up worrying about at 4 a.m.)
I decided it was worth a go. If I could glue a short board in place then why not a long one using the same principles? After endless dress rehearsals with an un-glued panel I 'went live' – and almost went catastrophically wrong. The spacer I had loosely gaffer taped in place to hold the top edge away from the wall got stuck half in and half out. The gaffer tape was stuck on the glue! Fortunately after much wriggling, pulling and cursing it came free and the panel went down fine.
The rest of the side was done by lunchtime. Fortified by a pork pie and a Mars bar, I then had the other side done before Man U had beaten Man City on Radio 5 Live. So there was still time to glue the bathroom cabin-side panel on before knocking off time.
And then head home to double sausage, double bacon, double eggs and beans for tea. From which dietary information you will have probably guessed that Starwoman is off on granny duties leaving me to eat Man Food.
Oh, and watch 'Action' DVDs. Like last night's Goodfellas!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Frayed nerves

I'd never made a bomb disposal expert. Not that I want to be one of course. My nerves are well and true frayed after glueing the first veneer top panel to my ply linings.
Don't laugh. Everbuild Smart Tack glue came with every sort of health warning from around the boatyard. Knowing chuckles echoed around my ears. "Oh, hoh. You've got to get that right first time! Once it's touched the other surface you'll never separate them."
While the experts in the joinery shop insisted it wasn't hard to use...followed by that damning start to any bit of advice "you've just got to...". 'Just'. How I hate that word. Invariably it means completely the opposite. Rather like 'simply' which tells you you're facing a nigh on impossible task.
Smart Tack's makers call it an 'aggressive bonding agent' which means it grabs and sticks. Fast. Once the two surfaces touch you will not be able to get them apart. And that's a potential problem when you're trying to accurately stick an eight feet long sheet of flappy 4mm ply into place.
I decided to practise on a shorter, four feet board that would be hidden behind the galley units so any mistakes would hopefully be out of sight.
The glue is strange stuff. It's in a spray can but what comes out is a fine spider's web of adhesive rather like one of those party sprays. You spray to both surfaces, wait five minutes until the glue looks dry and 'just' press them together.
I made up some vertical guides to keep the sheet in the right position, a prop to keep the bottom away from the side and a slim batten to keep the top edges apart until everything was lined up. Then I pulled the batten away and worked my way down the sheet smoothing it into place.
And there it was - stuck.
The only thing I remain puzzled by is how I got the stringy glue on the back of my jumper. Good job I didn't lean back against another glued surface or I'd still be shouting for help from inside Harry.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

'Elf and safety gawn mahd!'

A gang* of BW workmen descended on the towpath at Streethay and a couple of hours later we had this very handsome new stout oak signpost warning anglers of the dangers of electric power lines and to always carry their rods, poles and perches horizontally.
Now if you can see a power line anywhere in any direction from here....
It would be easy to blame BW but I suppose it's all down to today's ell pervading fear of being sued by some halfwit who waves a 30ft long carbon fibre pole about like a flagpole right under a high voltage cable and then looks for someone to blame when he's fried with 11,000volts.
Rant over.

*When I say 'a gang' I mean five blokes. Yes FIVE people to dig a hole and plant a post!


A couple of pics to illustrate the slow but steady progress in lining out. By the fifth porthole I'd devised a foolproof (touch wood) method of accurately measuring the position of the cut so things are speeding up. Sort of.
Note the Heath Robinson arrangement of Workmate, scraps of wood and clamps that supports cabinside panels in position while I screw them up (an unfortunate turn of phrase in hindsight).
Unfortunately I can feel a sore throat and cold looming so I might have to get a sicknote from the Boss for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Measure twice...

...cut once, so they say. Or in my case measure about four times, cut and still find you've cut it wrong!
So today's task filled me with understandable trepidation. Cutting the holes in the cabinside panels for the portholes. You think it's easy, eh?
First comes the task of getting the eight feet long panel lined up square on the cabin side - remembering that the side slopes inwards so gravity is your implacable enemy in this job. If you don't get it square then subsequent panels will only amplify your seemingly tiny error. A Workmate and a carefully arranged pile of scrap timber at least supported the base and gave me a fighting chance.
And once you have got the panel up you can't see the portholes any more so the position of the holes has be gauged by accurate - very accurate - measuring. Which is made harder because you've just taken the panel down and have to rely on a variety of pencil marks and a string line to recall where it was.
Understandably I cut a very small hole to begin with. At least I could see glass through it and not sprayfoam! Next came a rather bigger hole (still well within the eight inch diameter of the porthole). And, yes, the glass was still underneath.
Next I trimmed my best (best because it was my only) pencil down to a stub, put my hand through the hole and attempted to mark the circumference of the porthole on the back of the ply. The result when I removed the ply looked like a drunk's attempt to draw round a large beermat.
But there was no more prevaricating. It was time to cut. I worked the jigsaw round what looked the clearest approximation to a circle, repeated the job with the other window and hefted the ply up yet again. Unbelievably the holes were in the right places. Even more unbelievably the porthole liners fitted into them. Well, with a little bit of skimming here and there they did.
Job done.
One panel up. I retired to soothe my frayed nerves and aching tennis elbow with a beer. Only six more window holes to cut.