Monday, 23 March 2015

Flamingo - Sky Blue and Orange?

Posted by Cath

This is not a boating post, this is part of an occasional series, which chronicles the work involved with getting Flamingo refitted to our taste and requirements.  It won't be a blow by blow, this is what we did on each day, but more a 'these are the things we did this week'.

Flamingo's previous owner had very different requirements to us. She was permanently moored, and connected to mains 240 V electricity, and was used as a regular 'pied a terre' for the owner who regularly worked in nearby Coventry, some distance from his home in Scotland. He didn't need to consider how much mains power he used, and he fitted a large diesel heating unit in the engine room, which he seems to have used to run the central heating most of the time. There is also a large multi-fuel stove, which can run the radiators, but we think that he ran the heating by diesel most of the time.  There is also a massive bathroom, with a full sized bath. At the moment, for us to have a very shallow bath means running the stove hard, with the radiators turned off, to get the water in the tanks hot enough.  Why are we not using the diesel heater, then? Well, it uses a lot of diesel, and on the one occasion Alan tried to get it lit he managed to singe a lot of his hair and beard - I put a veto on it at that point. We are considering getting rid of it as it is not really practical for our needs, and takes up a lot of space in the engine room, making any engine maintenance difficult.

Our needs will be very different. Flamingo is a historic boat, and was one of the last boats to deliver grain to Wellingborough mill in Easter 1969. Our intention is that she is a cruising boat to replace Chalice, but we also want to take her to as many historic boat festivals as possible. She needs to be comfortable and warm, be able to have guests on board, but she needs to be able to do this largely on 12 V as we will be away from 'shore power' while cruising. We will have an inverter to give some 240 V, but this will drain our battery power. At the moment the central heating pump is 240 V, so we need to think about alternatives, especially as the pump is extremely noisy when run on the inverter.

We will need to get rid of the bath in the future, as it uses so much water, and considerable amounts of fuel to get that much water up to temperature. This means that the bathroom can be much smaller, which will give us more space for the kitchen and living room.

While we were prevented doing very much to the boat at the beginning of the year by Alan's health issues, and because we were getting Chalice ready to go to the brokerage, we have also been thinking about what we want to do with Flamingo, and where we might start what is going to be a major refit. We didn't want to rush into this, because we wanted to think about where the best place to start might be, given that anything we do will have some repercussions elsewhere - for example, anything which involves the plumbing will mean that we cannot then run the central heating.

Fortunately, Flamingo has a back cabin, with a small stove, so whatever state the main cabin is in, we will aways be able to retreat there. However, when I took the mattresses from the cross bed home to get the covers dry cleaned our sons complained about the strong smell of diesel in the house. The foam mattresses had been permeated with this smell, so I washed them in the bath - this was a mistake. The resulting stench of diesel filled the entire house and was so bad that I got the mattresses out of the house to go to the tip by getting our son to throw them out of the bathroom window. We have now ordered new mattresses on line, but one of our tasks while we are here this week is to find out what it was that caused the mattresses to smell so strongly.

This week

We spent some time first on Chalice, polishing things and making sure that she was clean for the brokerage. Then, the following day, we went boating on William (already blogged by Alan). Then we had to think about getting on with sorting Flamingo out.

Alan lifted the floors in the back cabin which confirmed that there was no liquid or any problems under the cabin. However, we know that there is a quantity of oily water under the engine - we think that this is the most likely cause of the diesel smell in the mattresses in the back cabin which is right next to the engine room - unless the previous owner had stored oily rags in there.

Alan's tasks this week have been to look at the liquid under the engine and try to sort out the electrics to be more suited to our need.

Several times in my life I have understood electrics enough to get through exams, however, as soon as the exam has been over the information has left my brain. This does not worry me in the least, I know that I am never going to need to use it.  Alan has so much better and deeper knowledge and understanding of all things electrical that I couldn't possibly pit my paltry understanding against his. If there is an electrical task, then he is the man for it. I don't bother to retain this information, why would I need to?  I generally leave him to it when there is something electrical to be done.  If necessary I can hold things, make coffee, supply biscuits, but if he needs a second opinion, I am most definitely not the person to provide it.

So, Alan spent several days testing electrics and batteries, and pumping mucky water out from the engine room.  How did it get there? We don't know, until it is investigated we won't be able to make any guesses.

My first task was to try to reduce the clutter in Flamingo. 

Last week we moored Chalice at Flamingo's mooring before taking it to the brokerage, and emptied everything on board into Flamingo - which has a great deal more space, but a great deal less storage.  The general effect was something like a very untidy garden shed.

Over the previous week we had visited our local second-hand furniture store, and bought a fairly large pine cupboard (which Alan had to modify to add another shelf). I spent much of the day going through the bags of dumped items from Chalice and the few cupboards on Flamingo to rationalise what we want to keep on board - and then find space to store it - either in the ridiculously limited kitchen cupboards, or the new pine cupboard (mainly crockery) or the set of drawers that we had bought a few weeks earlier. I was left with several large bags of clutter and duplicates to take home.

The following day I was supposed to be rubbing down and undercoating the steel cover that Alan had attached to block off the old cat flap that made it impossible to fully open the doors and so made it hard for Odin to get into and out of the cabin. However, I thought that I would just rub down the paintwork which had been tar damaged from the chimney, and then I found some other bits that needed attention...

Eventually I had rubbed down large areas of the back of the main cabin.

In medieval times they used to reuse vellum documents when it was considered that they were not needed any more.  They would be scraped, or washed down to remove the old writing. These are called palimpsests, and are of interest to historians because traces of the original writing can often be recovered. I found that Flamingo is something of a palimpsest, with traces of the old colour schemes underneath the Willow Wren livery that she sports these days.  The most surprising is the sky blue roof and orange back to the cabin. 

The formerly orange back to the main cabin on Flamingo. Alan's repair to the cat flap is currently in pink primer. The black markings is anti rust treatment prior to a coat of primer.

Nowhere to Nowhere else
Miles: 0, Locks:0

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