Sunday, 23 December 2012

23rd December 2012

The week before last there was a really bad frost, so much so that the canal froze, because the canal froze the pumps on her iced up and tripped the power out as a result of that she sank.

I went last Sunday to reset the trip switches so she would lift herself out and unfortunately didn't manage it, however I did manage to trip and fall while inside her and end up to my chest in freezing canal water! I decided to leave it until I could return with my waders and do it properly.

Today was that day, armed with my waders I climbed aboard and reset all the pump switches and at around 10 am she started pumping herself out, I went to B&Q which is a 20 minute drive away, grabbed an early lunch on the way back, I arrived back around 11:30 and she was almost fully up.  Not bad going for four cheapish dirty water pumps from Screwfix.

I'd worked out last time I was aboard where some of the water was coming from into the rear, it had been nagging at me that there was a lot of water running in from the rear, but no evidence of a major leak, certainly not enough to keep a 150 litre a minute pump busy.  As I was about to leave, I knocked the old water intakes for the engine cooling and noticed the rubber hoses moved. When I checked them they moved up and down by a good half inch or so.

That isn't normal and as I moved them I noticed more water coming in, when I checked the hoses the clips holding them to the skin fittings had rusted to nothing.  Armed with some new clips today I pumped the bilge out, which is full of black water from the rotting leaves and silt that have accumulated over the years. I cannot even begin to describe how bad it smells when you disturb it!

I've started using one of the water pumps to rinse out the bilge and once it was reasonably clean and empty I got to work, replacing the clips. Its a pain in the backside, the bilge is about two foot deep at that point so you have to sit on a piece of timber and bend double to reach into cold, dank smelly water.

However, after a bit of cursing the flood was stemmed, I can still hear a leak in the rear somewhere, so that will be next weeks challenge, to find it and plug it.

I met the people who are going to tow here when she is ready to move to be lifted out and they certainly know what they are doing, which is good.  While they were on board making sure she can be towed they noticed I had some unwelcome guests, no, not eels this time, but mink!  Although, aparently it does explain the eels as apparently the mink will catch eels, bite the back of their heads to stun them, they then drop them into a pool of water somewhere that they can't escape from.  That way they can have a meal easily when they need/want one.  It certainly explains where the eels disappeared to that were in the bilge.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

29th November 2012

I went to carry on working on the leaks on her today, I arrived at around 9:30 and dragged the big water pump from the car and carried it down to the her only to find out that she was still afloat! Its been nearly a week and she was still afloat, I was shocked:


Although she has been afloat for 6 days she is still very, very wet inside as you would expect after being on the bottom for so long, I've taken a load of photos of the inside. The first three are of the front cabin, you can see the bench seats and also the depth of the bilge as she has a very shark V hull:

The next couple of photos cover the toilet that the general staff would have used, you can see the toilet has been removed, however the sink is still in place:

Next is the corridor that leads to the toilet, corridor is used in the loosed sense :) It appears that the wall of the toilet is made from some form of metal, when I restore her I'll clean it up and see.  In front of that is the chain locker:


Next are some photos of the officers toilet, which appears to be fully intact:


Here are some photos of what was the sick bay and the officers quarters, although the officers quarters no longer exist:


The stairs used to come down the centre of the boat, hence the raised stringers below, what you can't get a feel for is the depth, its at least 18 inches, rising to nearly 24 at the rear:

Below is the fabled glove that is being used to seal up a 3 inch hole in the side, its actually doing a very efficient job:

The view out the back, last week this contained two x four foot trees and a floating vegetation mat about 6 foot across.  There was also several large piles of timbers. I moved most of the timber, however due to the harsh frost last night I couldn't do them all as they had frozen together!

There appears to be a largish leak somewhere under those planks, when I next go I need to lift them and figure out what and where its leaking, I suspect at that point she will be afloat without the need for pumps.

We have spoken to the company who are going to do the lift and provisionally its going to happen in January 2013.  With her hopefully being towed to the Marina where the lift out will take place either at the end of December or the beginning of Jan.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

18th November 2012

Today I pumped her out to see what I need to do to patch the hull.  I managed to pick up a 3 inch petrol driven pump, for a reasonable price (£110) and some 3 inch suction hose.

Getting them onto her was a challenge as she is moored several hundred yards away from the lock, on the other side of the canal so everything has to be dragged through a sheep field and the pump wasn't light.

After a couple of false starts I managed to get the pump pumping... quite a sight, a 1000 litres per minute pump shooting water into the canal:


The biggest problem with the pump is the pipe, as the pipe fills with water it puts a huge strain on the pump and even drags the pump across the deck or at one point nearly pushed the pump overboard!

While pumping out the rear I noticed something moving around, initially I thought it was just some debris, until I saw it was an eel, about 18 inches long.  At that point I decided I wouldn't be fitting bilge pumps today, certainly not until I've caught it.  While pumping out the front half I found another one in the front half.

There is the remains of a waterproof bulkhead dividing the front from the rear, the pump out of the rear took about 30 minutes, but in elapsed time it was more like an hour as I had some problems with the pump and it snapping one of the pipe connections.

I've installed mains power, including a pair of 400W floodlights, one for the rear cabin, the other for the front.  The images below give you an idea of the debris that is floating around in her, I've started clearing the inside ready to fix the hull, but I need to come up with another method of pumping her out as it was a little hit and miss.

Looking at the hull it only really appears to be leaking from 2 places, its "weeping" at the rear, along a 4 foot the chine, as its been repaired previously I'll more than likely patch that one from the outside.  The good news is that a small submersible pump is sufficient to keep up with the water flow.

The front is a different kettle of fish, water is pouring in at a huge volume, well more than the 150 litre/min that the little electric pump can dish out, although its no match for the 1,000 litre/min of the petrol pump!


Friday, 9 November 2012

9th November 2012

A Step Closer...

We visited Preston Marina ( today to talk to Chris Miller about lifting HSL 2552 out and the various options that we have.  He wasn't around so the staff rang him on his mobile and while we waited for him we had a lovely cuppa and scone in their cafe, can highly recommend it if you are passing by.  We hadn't rung ahead so it was great that he came in to see us.

We had a really good chat about the options, the initial conversation started off with the fact that they could maybe lift her without damaging her, mainly due to her state to us going for a steel "pallet" to be made for her to sit on which would mean that they could lift her without damaging her and it would also mean that we could move her around once on the back of the low loader without using a crane.

I've ordered the plans from the Greenwich Maritime Museum, who have also been incredibly helpful, once they arrive we'll pop up to the marina again so they can plan in more detail what will be required.

All this has only been possible because of the great help from Ken Hunter at the RAF Museum at Hendon, who has been most helpful in working out where I can find the information I need. I'm hoping to visit Hendon in the next couple of weeks at which point I can thank him in person.

I bought a cheap, yet powerful 1,000 litres a minute petrol driven water pump today that should make short work of pumping her out, I'll be ordering 4 large capacity (18,000 litre per hour) bilge pumps this weekend and also some other bits and pieces so I can pump her out next week, patch the hull from the inside using some underwater glue that I have and hopefully she'll start to stay afloat ready for her epic journey.

The next task is to find a home for her, with her being on a steel type pallet it opens up a larger number of places that she can be worked on.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

5th November 2012

I received an email today from the National Maritime Museum, they have tracked down some copies of some of the drawings for the HSL and for a small fee they will make copies and post them to me.

I only emailed them a couple of days ago, so that is what you call service.

I've also received some mail in the post, as she is now registered on the historic ships register.

I'll be going to pump her out in the next couple of weeks to pump her out and to start clearing her out ready for the tow. I'll take loads of photos while there.

Monday, 22 October 2012

22nd October 2012

Here is my blog devoted to the restoration of HSL 2552.

What is HSL 2552 I hear you say? Well she is a British Powerboat Company type 3 High Speed Launch.  She is the actual prototype that was built for the RAF before they ordered more.  She is a piece of history.

She was built in 1942, so she is 70 years old and she has had a hard life.  I came across her on a forum devoted to old war boats where she was for sale.  I have been looking for a larger boat for some time as I wanted something to keep me busy for a while and to retire to with my wonderful wife Karen, at which point we'll take her around the world.

This blog will chart the restoration of her, the problems, the solutions and I dare say the tears of restoring such a boat.

As you can see from the photos below that she is in a bad way, however she still floats and seems solid. Don't get me wrong its not all great, she lets a huge amount of water, part of her side was rotted that has been resting against the bank of the canal.