Chapter 63

Preparing the build site

After moving all my gear from 8 St. James Street to Hemmant, I left there at the end of November and took recreation leave for all of December to really get going on the site.

The site was marked out and 12 pipe columns concreted in place and the six arch trusses erected and braced and the roof purlins of 1” diameter pipe bolted in place. The tents were opened up and dragged over the purlins and laced in place. These A type army tents were ideal because they had all the ropes and eyelets for lacing together and securing in place and I soon had a 40foot x 20 foot shelter whose apex was about 15 feet about the ground. Everything was bolted together in order that it could be dismantled when the hull was to be rolled over and then re-erected until the hull fitting out was finished. This worked well. Next came the erection of a braced pipe column each end of the shed. To these columns two datum lines were fixed one upper and the other lower. These consisted of piano wire set so that each was level and the upper wire was plumbed vertically above the lower wire and all dimensions were referenced to these lines. Then the steel was ordered the quantities being checked from the model of the hull and had to include angles for framing upon which the hull framing or trusses were set up. There was a glitch with the hull material.

We were in the period just after metric conversion and when I needed 14 sheets of 3/16” plate, 20ft. x 3ft. I ended up with 7 sheets of 3/16” PL 20 x 3 and 7 sheets 5mm plate 6m x 9mm. These sheets were stacked on edge on timber packs 10 each side secured to the tent columns. As steel rack was made outside the tent using the columns for securing brackets for the rack to make it easier to find the sections needed. I now had the shelter and the materials.

The next necessity was a mark-out for the floor for the frames that had to be set out full size from a table of offsets provided with the plans. This mark out floor or loft was made using three of the 3/16” plates tacked together to form a flat surface 20foot x 9 foot set level on timber pallets. I used the line of the two joints as horizontal reference lines along with the edges and marked out a centre line through the centre of the plates by nail punching each end and scribing a line connecting using at 1”x 3/16” steel flat bar as a straight edge. Before scribing the cL I checked the cL was at right angles to the horizontal joint lines. Then I secured the batten and scribed the line. There were fourteen number frames and/or bulkheads in the design. The method of construction was unusual. Temporary frames were used. The offsets referred to the inside surface of the plate and the intersection of two plates gave the chine position. The table of offsets located the chine position at each frame. So I marked out several frames centre punching the chine position and scribing the inside line of the hull. Temporary frames were fabricated to allow a gap of 2 to 3 inches clear of the hull. Each side of the chine a l/2” diameter rod was welded to the frame with its end flush with the scribed line for the inside of the plate. Two holes centre punched into the temporary frame lined up the chine position. A lot of this work was done at night under lights and after I had made several frames something did not tally. It was then I discovered, when scribing the cL, I had inadvertently positioned one face of the 1” straight edge to one centre punch and the other face to the other, hence the cL was 1” out of plumb. This was too much to ignore so I remarked the frames and modified the few frames I had made, pleased in knowing I had located and fixed the mistake.

So the fourteen frames were made and braced. Cutting of the steel flat and bars was made easy with the purchase of a Mubea guillotine which could handle both sizes. After the frames were fabricated the floor plates were separated and stacked back along the side with the others. Next the base lines were established using piano wire and everything double-checked. A stand was made for each frame using 2” x 2”x3/16” angle concreted into the ground and braced to take the load from the hull. The top angle of this supporting frame was positioned with the toe facing up and the angle level. The reference centre line was cut into this upper toe with a hacksaw. The overhang of the truss frame gave a means of adjusting the truss frame on erection using G clamps to keep the matching faces in contact. Once adjusted I had to weld the truss frame overhang to the upstanding toe. These temporary frames required diagonal bracing to prevent deflections when handling the plates and this had to be positioned such that you could walk, or crawl, through the length of framework for the upturned boat hull when working inside the hull.

I would not like to experience another year like 1975 but we all survived and had our own way to go and our dreams to fulfil. In hindsight my way was through work. Membership of the Yacht Club, RQYS, gave me a place to mix with others interested in sailing and I became a regular on Friday evenings. I would call into the club in the valley on the way home and found it practically empty with the new establishment at Manly boat harbour attracting the members. Once I moved to the house-boat at Doboy Creek I made a point of going to RQYS Manly on Friday nights after calling in to see Dad on the way down. Again I found it a clique club and was about to give it away when I met Stanley Davey who remembered me from 10foot skiff sailing when he would help capsized boats right themselves. He had a sharpie and enjoyed sailing in the bay and introduced me to a circle where eventually I felt at home. Stanley, from Manly, was a character and I appreciated the help he gave. I was soon allocated to the rank of dreamer and progress on the boat was a topic of conversation. I also became involved with the Structural Group of the Institution of Engineers, Queensland Division and would attend meetings where papers of interest were presented.

I now had accommodation, basic, but convenient, a car for transport, a site to lease and I was only ten minutes or so away from Dad. I was busy at work in the office and Oscar and Rebecca had adapted to the changes in our lives. I can’t remember discussing the situation with them and probably did not, but their well-being was foremost in my mind, and I decided it was pointless to continue the ‘hurt’ or ‘why me’ syndrome and to accept things as they were and get on with living. I feel I had always kept myself busy doing things but now I was in work up to my neck. Again in hindsight I feel this was a deliberate move so there was no room for anything or anyone else.

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