Petestack Blog

27 May 2018

The Cell of ‘Little Ease’

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 3:00 pm

Long ago, at primary school, we learned of Guy Fawkes being imprisoned in the cell of ‘Little Ease’ (which I recall first hearing as the cell of little ‘e’s!)… a space too small to stand, lie down or even sit comfortably. I’ve thought of it many times while trying to paint Fly’s heads compartment, where relatively quick-drying primer and undercoat have been awkward enough, but sticky gloss unsurprisingly proved more testing yet. Not necessarily ‘torture’ in normal use, but the stuff of nightmares when needing to brace yourself against surfaces you might or might not be able to touch, access a paint tin you might or might not be able to put down, and get past your own body to paint what you might or might not be able to reach or see properly:

So nothing’s perfect when neither physically awkward working conditions nor the impossibility of keeping air, surfaces or brushes 100% particle-free allow it to be, but it looks OK in the photos and at least it’s white in real life unlike that almost pink sunlit glow you see above! Forecabin painting/varnishing’s done too, if no better and not that much more easily than the cell of little ease (the unaccountably missed splash of white paint on the varnished bulkhead will be sorted!):

And the port partial bulkhead and shelf edges are varnished, but not yet the main bulkhead facing (still pending more galley/battery locker work before it can be done in a single sweep):

15 May 2018

Two-man relay team?

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:15 pm

What you’re seeing in tonight’s blog is nav. shelf fitting and cool box construction done by Twig mostly when I wasn’t here, but I’ve also got plenty to do while he’s elsewhere, so still good teamwork!

The new shelves for the navigation area are now fitted and edged, but remember there’s also a folding chart table to shut these off as securely as a cupboard door:

The space behind the (currently absent) sink is now turning into a useful cool box with floor raised above the waterline and drain (visible in the third but not fourth photo) to join the sink outlet before the galley seacock:

And here’s a couple of more general cabin shots to show how the above all fits into the wider picture:

We’ve also got two of the three seacocks apart for overhauling as described on the Impala site (the galley seacock still awaits dismantling), and I’ve still got enough surface preparation, painting and varnishing to keep me busy for, ahem, a while yet… ;-)

10 May 2018

Just doing

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:56 pm

No undoing to report tonight, so just more satisfactory doing…

Twig was here again last Friday, when we had the folding chart table back in the boat to check its pivot points and spent some time adjusting these (clearly not right before!) to get it to sit parallel to the main bulkhead before starting work on new shelves to go behind it. These will be bigger than before because we’ve decided to make the table fold vertically instead of in line with the pilot berths’ folding fronts (which double as settee backs), but that lower shelf’s currently just dry-fitted and not sitting quite right because I knocked the clamp holding its support when I was painting the heads again on Sunday (we’ll sort that tomorrow):

This shot of the galley shows where the cool box will be built (sink fits to left, cool box to right, and cooker to front, all as you look at the photo):

And the satin-varnished wood is looking better now I’ve got to grips with how this particular varnish handles. I’ve got three coats (done Monday, Tuesday and tonight) on the companionway bulkhead facing and engine box since the previous weekend’s ‘undoing’, but note some of the engine box was stripped right back and some wasn’t, so the non-slip area on top (which was) still needs restoring to match the lower one. And the chart table in the background is one of many parts still awaiting stripping and refinishing:

30 April 2018

Doing and undoing

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:41 pm

Some more doing (and even a little undoing!) since last weekend…

I got another coat of varnish on the companionway bulkhead facing on Wednesday evening, then started the forecabin woodwork undercoating while Twig worked on the galley on Friday afternoon (NB Highland high schools now finish Friday lunchtime). Finished that first coat of paint Saturday morning, then some stripping/sanding to the engine box, sanding to the bulkhead facing and varnishing of both thinking that was the final coat to the facing. But I didn’t like the finish at all (think the thickness of the varnish has been encouraging me to keep working it too long when ‘wet’ in pursuit of a nice, even spread), so spent part of Sunday undoing much of Saturday’s work ready to try again with thinned varnish and quicker brushwork.

More good doing on Sunday, however, with Twig’s new partial bulkhead getting fitted to the port side. We could have refitted the old one but, with peeling unnecessary Formica on one face, peeling varnish on the other and redundant cutouts for switch panels etc. we’re changing, a nice, new replacement looked the way to go:

Also got a new piece made for the divider behind the cooker after a carelessly knocked chisel in an increasingly chaotic workshop took a Saturday lump out of the good surface of the one we’d planned to use (it wasn’t my day, was it?), and utilised some leftover mixed epoxy on minor repairs to the detached section of battery locker. And decided at some stage over the past week to build a cool box into the space behind the sink, which coincidentally turns out to be labelled ‘ice box’ in one of the original Impala brochure drawings but nowhere else I’m aware of:

Now I’d got a beat-up old cool box with Fly and somehow (perhaps because of that drawing?) misremembered it fitting there when the available shapes and access spaces just won’t take a commercial offering of much more than lunchbox size. So Twig suggested (just like the water tank) building one in to fit, and that’s what we’re planning to do. While it will extend to the hull sides, it won’t be as big as suggested by my red outline because the drawing shows the full width at deck level. And we’ll need to get the bottom above the waterline (which, with even minimum-weight boats heavier than designed and typically quoted in reviews, is further above the bunk tops than the Impala plans optimistically suggest) so it can drain to the galley water outlet for easy cleaning afloat, so I’ve been doing some careful checking from all available evidence there!

24 April 2018

Working after work

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:19 pm

Nine days since my previous post, and seven of those at work (the day job), but does that restrict my boat work to weekends? Absolutely not now we’ve got lighter, more pleasant, pre-midge evenings, so just have to be disciplined about seeing through good intentions to do this or that when I get home…

What you see here is basically yet more stripping (photos of the battery locker, though I also still had woodwork to prepare in the forecabin and heads) followed by some priming (Saturday/last night) and the start of the varnishing (tonight). Twig was here on Sunday doing some more work on the galley, but I’ve no photos of that because it doesn’t look obviously different to last time.

It was only after I’d spent a good hour or two stripping paint from the inside of the battery locker that I realised the glue holding it to the boat had gone and there were just four screws stopping me taking it off to finish more easily:

The painted areas of forecabin and heads are primed where necessary but still need undercoat and gloss to finish:

And there’s a first coat of varnish on the companionway bulkhead facing. It doesn’t look great here because it’s satin finish and you’re seeing a mixture of still wet and shiny and starting to dry, but should be good when done:

15 April 2018

Galley slaves

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:12 pm

Two weeks of Easter Holiday gone (work tomorrow!) and most of it spent on Fly (some with Twig and some without), so where are we now?

The bow well repairs are complete (Twig’s work) and the forecabin hull surfaces are fully stripped and epoxy-coated (mine). The forecabin and main bulkhead facings are stripped for revarnishing (my doing), and the top and outer edges of the former have also been properly filleted to the hull (Twig’s) as done with the main bulkhead facing back in October. The last remaining areas of under-bunk and bulkhead coating at the aft end of the main cabin are done (Twig’s work), with the heads compartment ready for repainting and deckhead in there clear of old liner glue (mine, noting that the central section of forecabin deckhead is still to do). But perhaps most exciting of all in terms of seeing the boat coming back together is the galley rebuilding work done on Friday and today…

With damaged Formica peeling from the galley bulkheads and some other components suffering, we’d long thought we might have to rebuild the galley from scratch. But closer inspection last week suggested we could (very usefully!) retain the two bulkheads and locker front while replacing the old shelves, dividers and sink-surrounding top. So the next three photos here show Friday’s Formica replacement job, noting that the tired, warped top with cutouts you see in the first is also due for replacement and just retained as a temporary shaping piece for now:

And so to today, with a careful dry galley-refitting job followed by a more rapid repeat with epoxy on some crucial surfaces. The new shelves aren’t fixed yet and the blocks/wood strips etc. supporting things are just temporary, but the two bulkheads and locker front are now stuck in place. You can also see one of the Formica faces we did on Friday (the other is the reverse side of the near bulkhead), along with areas where I thought to strip back the varnish in what would become awkward corners before permanent refitting made them so:

Still a long way from launching, but what a long way we’ve come since Fly’s darkest days and I’m starting to smell the sea and the wind again! :-)

9 April 2018

Easter Fly

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:34 pm

It wasn’t a great winter for Fly. Consistently cold temperatures, flu and other things contributed to losing most of December, January, February and March, so we find ourselves coming into spring well behind a logical projected schedule from the summer and autumn. But some limited work was achieved in February, and enough’s been happening again since Easter to discuss another collection of photos here.

The first six are from February showing the underside of the bow well (from which yet more port-side wood was removed this week to reach solid laminate above), opened-up bow void and fully-coated water tank:

Next we have two from last week showing Twig’s internal bow well repairs complete and one of the companionway bulkhead facing’s back getting epoxy-coated on my workshop floor (at which point I must observe that Fly’s restoration here would likely have proved anything from significantly more difficult to impossible without the 2016–17 creation of said workshop!):

The next three show the forecabin paint stripping as complete as reasonably possible. I had just awkward corners left from the autumn, but these can be as much effort (requiring yet more care to take as much paint and little laminate as possible) as more substantial flatter areas and there’s a definite ‘leave well alone’ stage protecting both laminate and those last, most solid, deeply recessed specks of paint. There’s still old glue to remove from the deckhead before that can be relined, but (unlike the hull sides) any paint left up there can stay:

And finally seven where Twig’s coated the external bow well floor (the bow tarpaulin came off for good today!) and I’ve done the forecabin surfaces. You might not see the shine in every photo, but should catch the limited pigment confirming they’re not just more of the stripped surfaces. Most of this will be covered by cabin linings, but the bottom sections won’t. I now have what seems like acres of white-painted and varnished surfaces (both fixed and movable) to sand and refinish, and we have a galley to rebuild with some original parts and some new over the new main cabin starboard bunk top:

10 January 2018

The Lindsay System Chanter and MakerSpace

Filed under: Music — admin @ 7:09 pm

Conventional Scottish pipe chanters have a nine-note diatonic scale. This is true for all the main types: the Great Highland Bagpipes and their various smaller derivatives, the Border Pipes and the Scottish Smallpipes. There are thousands of good pipe tunes using just these nine notes, and many great composers and pipers who’ve remained eternally satisfied with that limitation. So why do some of us want more, and isn’t that a bit arrogant for those (like me) who’ve not even got full control over what’s there?

Well, it’s not quite that simple! Border Pipes have historically been able to get some extra range by overblowing, with a (natural?) capacity to produce chromatic notes through additional forked fingerings developed and refined by modern makers. Some accidentals can also be produced on the GHB (Great Highland Bagpipes), and some of our very greatest recent pipers (e.g. Gordon Duncan) have exploited their possibilities. Some Border Pipes (like my Garvie set) have keys for extended range in lieu of the reed compromises necessary to get the same notes by overblowing, and some SSPs (Scottish Smallpipes) also have keys for extended range and/or accidentals. To which it might not be too much of a digression to add that modern Irish Uilleann Pipes and Northumbrian Smallpipes have also evolved considerably from their respective ancestors in terms of range, keys etc.

Now the nine-note chanter is standard in Scottish piping and (quite properly!) likely to remain so. Nobody’s trying to replace it, but some of us are naturally excited about complementing it. While there are many great native (nine-note) tunes for it, some of us just wince at the number of octave-folded or chromatically-altered notes spoiling imported parts of its repertoire, some have come to the pipes from other instruments with more notes, and some are simply inspired by the creative possibilities of Scottish pipes with extended range and/or chromatic capabilities! Some, like the hugely-talented Callum Armstrong in collaboration with pipe maker Julian Goodacre, are doing really exciting things with double and triple SSP chanters, extended-range, overblowing, keyed SSP chanters and even rapidly-tunable/switchable drones. Others, like Donald Lindsay, have approached the challenge from different angles, with Donald’s Lindsay System Chanter utilising clever design to be a 3D-printable (as well as conventionally-buildable) keyless two-octave instrument with some chromatic capability. And Donald’s system, for its very simplicity and reproducibility, is the one I see as a potential ‘standard’ for the typical player (like me) itching to get their hands on a set of extended-capability SSPs.

A few years back Donald ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign to launch the original run of Lindsay System Chanters, but development continues and now he’s hoping to record an album at Watercolour Music featuring the instrument in stimulating group contexts with a starry list of collaborators. So he’s back to Kickstarter and looking for backing at MakerSpace : Donald WG Lindsay & Friends : Album. I’ve committed to the price of a chanter (which will need further adaptation for my missing finger if I want the low D, which of course I do!), but you can pledge as much or as little as you like… ‘rewards’ range from keyrings to multi-packs of albums and chanters, but for me the real reward would be in helping Donald bring this very special chanter design to the prominence it so richly deserves. He’s also running a competition for new tunes for it with the winner to be included on the album, but I’m rather looking forward to being able to try my entry on my own Lindsay System Chanter! So I’m inspired, and perhaps this wee blog piece might help to inspire others? I hope so because this campaign needs support with just 21 days to go and this chanter really is the greatest thing since sliced bread (in SSP terms anyway)!

8 January 2018

Spray-on ice!

Filed under: Kinlochleven — admin @ 10:21 pm

Spray-on ice, Kinlochleven-style… discovered too late to photograph yesterday, so back with the camera this morning and again with tripod just before dark. The tripod was only used for the afternoon videos (because the handheld video was bugging me when checked at lunchtime), but the later stills were also shot with smaller aperture because some of the first set I’ve not used here seemed a little blurry in the wrong places. I was working against time on both occasions, so just had to take what I could get, and what you see is all pretty well straight from camera (I have the RAW files for the stills, but nothing currently installed to process them).

21 November 2017

Constructive progress

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:25 pm

Three weeks of construction and renewal with no real associated destruction to show here!

The water tank is now pretty well done just pending coating the outside, enlarging the top hole for an inspection hatch and fitting of further necessary fittings:

The original void in the cockpit bulkhead is now less void than before:

Most of the main cabin hull surfaces I spent that hundred hours stripping have now been much more rapidly epoxy-coated. These might yet also get painted with an appropriately durable paint where they’ll remain visible (e.g. under-bunk lockers), but will again be covered by soft linings elsewhere (e.g. above bunks):

And the ugly truth of the rotting bow well has been revealed; holes where the drains meet the floor have probably been letting water in since the boat was built, but have now been fixed. There’s still further cosmetic work to do on the outside and rebuilding from the inside, but the paths for water ingress should be gone. Might add there must be other Impalas or similarly-constructed boats with this problem (something only discovered on Fly because I was stripping out all the linings), but someone else will find their rotten bow well when they put their foot through it sailing!

Well floor cleaned ready for repair:

And with two layers of glass cloth epoxied over offending holes and all (sporadically crazed) corners:

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