Chapter 66

Steel work, welding Rebecca’s hull

All in all, 1976 had been an eventful year and with the arrival of 1977 a similar routine followed. The hull shell had been welded ensuring there was a full penetration weld into the 5/8” diameter chine bars. Then on the inside of the hull the chine bars were seal welded to prevent water penetrating the joint with the possibility of causing corrosion. From the beginning of the job there was a lot of grinding and even though I wore safety glasses it was not unusual to get a speck of rust or steel in the eye; I remember I had several visits to the Mater Hospital, late on Sunday evenings, to have specks removed. The trouble was that you were not aware of it until you lay down and tried to sleep. At work they must have wondered what I was doing to myself coming in with my arm in plaster, then on crutches with a busted ankle and now with a patch over my eye. I could not see the point in staying home when I could still do my work in the office.

Now the hull was welded the next job was to place and weld bulkheads to the hull. Rather than try to cut and fit the bulkhead or partial bulkhead direct to the hull I welded flat mild steel cur from 3” x 3/16” flat to the hull to act as a flange. Limber holes were cut in this flange over the chine bars and the bulkhead could be cut to size and welded to the face of the flange with a large tolerance. In this case there was minimum distortion as it was not pulling the hull to match the frame. There was a full, or partial, bulkhead every six feet approximately, and between these there was a lattice truss about 4 inches high with 5/8 diameter chord bar and ¼ diameter diagonal bars. These diagonal bars were welded to underside of the chord bar and to the hull. This was a carry- over from the original ferro cement design and you ended up with a very stiff hull.

The connection between hull and deck consisted of the hull being trimmed to the sheer line and a flat steel bar 2” x 3/8” bent to the plan shape of the deck and welded to the hull. The deck plate was then cut to shape and welded to the 3/8” face of the flat bar. In this way there was a very stiff connection in the event of hitting or being hit by another vessel as well as a strong base for staunsions, pushpit and pulput supports, pulley block anchor points and brackets to secure toe rails providing drainage slots between toe rail and deck. Bending the 2” x 3/8” flat bars to profile was done with the aid of a hydraulic ram and frame. There were 4 20 foot flats to be profiled by adjusting the distance between the restraining braces and applying a force to the 3/8” face of the flat and cold bending. This was a laborious slow job and many hours were spent setting up, bending, checking and adjusting before the bars could be fitted and welded in place.

The hull was built upside-down and at this stage had been welded together and flange flats welded to hull for positioning and securing bulkheads. The next job was to cut and fit deck and coach-house beams so the deck plates could be cut and fitted. The edges of the coach house, cockpit seats and aft cabin consisted of a 2” x 2” x ¾” ms angle bent to profile and the coach house sides and deck plates were welded to the toes of the angle providing a curved frame into which timber was bolted, embedded in epoxy to provide a neat intersection joint, and this was another labour intensive job.

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