Tuesday, 18 October 2016

"Flamingo" - A Boat Temporarily With No Engine.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

(Retrospective Post For Tuesday October 18th 2016)

We didn't know what lay below this useless tray.
I don't believe that any photographic record got made of the full clean up task that we faced once "Flamingo's" engine was removed, which is a shame because we are now unable to prove just how bad it was!

Large amounts of effort had already been made by this stage.
The shot above taken at engine removal time simply shows a large and cumbersome steel tray that had been placed below the engine many years ago, but this was just about totally masking all access to the bilge areas underneath it.  Our best working assumption is that the engine is the same reconditioned Lister HA2 that Willow Wren fitted to "Flamingo" in 1968, and it seems likely it has never until now been removed since.  Hence the oil tray has been masking the bottom of the boat for maybe nearly 50 years.

The bottom at this point is original, we believe - 80 years old.
At some point somebody obviously decided the engine leaked enough oil that they could not be bothered to mop up from the tray, so one corner of it has been attacked by drills and saws, in a bid to cause the collected oil to drop out of it, (only partially successfully!).

Still not looking that clean, unfortunately.
I wish we had taken a picture of the horrors that lay beneath that tray, but it seems we did not.  Initially it was a digging out job, rather than a mopping out job, there being several inches of silt, totally impregnated with spilled oil and grease, topped off with water that we hoped was rain water, rather than canal water.

Detail of pipework and valves that link the two fuel tanks.
By the time these pictures were taken we had already spent many days trying to clean and de-grease the bits we could get to, and upon advice about suitable solvents had consumed large amounts of Jizer, Gunk (including Gunk Ultra) and White Spirit.  Every time you thought you were making some progress, and tried to wipe it down, it became apparent that every square inch of steel, and every rivet head, still had a lot more grime to give up.

Blanked off former water inlets for original National engine.
A truly horrible job that regularly caused me to question our own sanity -  was it ever going to be clean enough to try painting, or were we just wasting our time?  Because the engine was out, we had no capability to make electricity, and were only able to contemplate this work in the freezing cold, because most of the time we could plug into a land-line at Brinklow Boat Services, (we have solid fuel heating, but unfortunately still have a hungry 240 volt central heating pump that needs to be kept running).

Interesting construction with one plate shaped to pass over the next.
An added complication is that more than half of the bottom of the boat was still obscured by the large underfloor fuel tanks.  We had no opportunity to get these out, so undoubtedly a similar mess still lies over most of the area beneath those.  This of course, continually resulted in a black mess flowing out from those areas and further recontaminating the areas we could work on.

The fuel tanks still prevented cleaning other bits of the bottom plates.

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