Chapter 76

Major Milestone: rolling the hull and melting three tons of scrap lead to place the permanent ballast.

When all of the fabrication was done, the hull and fittings were grit blasted to a class 2 ½ finish and coated with Dinet 5 Inorganic Zinc Silicate inside and outside while everything was upside down. Then the deck plates could be welded in place and the hull effectively sealed getting it prepared for another mile-stone…rolling the hull.

First the cover and frame had to be dismantled and removed and stacked to the side while the hull was made free of its supporting frames. A large mobile crane was positioned so that slings could be put around the hull and the hull and slings rolled until the hull was upright and lowered to sit on two steel bed logs which had been previously placed and levelled to match the six inch rake in the keel plate. The tie down stabilising angles were secured to these bed logs and above to the chain plates each with a large turn buckle to permit adjustment and alignment. The shed framework was re-erected and the tent covers secured over the frames to prevent water getting into the hull and permit me to work in all conditions
Now there was a need for a need for a set of steps to make it easier to get up on deck rather than climbing a ladder so a framework was made for steps and landing with a side hand-rail the assembly being mounted on four wheels.
The next job was to obtain and place permanent ballast. At that time others were experimenting with nail clippings in concrete, or elmenite, tractor roller pins set in concrete or lead in billets or cast in place. Lead, at that time was getting around $1000 per ton so I settled on 3 ton of scrap lead, intending to melt it into billets, set these into the area nominated at the fast of the mast and set the lot in polyester resin.

First off moulds were required and these were made from 3mm thick steel plate to end up with three moulds 12” x 6” x 1” and three 8” x 6” x 1”. The furnace was a cut down 44 gallon drum and I borrowed a ladle fabricated from a thick wall 12” dia. steel pipe sealed off one end and with handles fitted each side to support the ladle on the top edge of the drum which enabled it to be tilted for pouring the molten lead into the mould. Scrap timber was used to melt the lead and by the time I finished there was very little scrap lying around…but the system was simple and worked well. Care had to be taken to ensure the moulds were dry as molten lead poured on to a moist surface splattered everywhere and it was wise to be on the windward side to avoid breathing the smoke from the ladle.

The billets were placed into the ballast compartment in layers, some laid flat, others on edge to fit them as tight as possible. Trimming to size was done with a circular saw using a Tungsten Carbide saw blade. When about one quarter of the lead was placed, polyester resin was poured into fill the voids and I was surprised to see that the 20 litres I proposed to use would go nowhere, so I ended up placing the lead and mixing the polyester with nail clippings as fillers and using 40 litres of resin and approximately 30 litres of nail clippings which left a smooth surface and sealed the area from water getting between the ballast and the hull. The heat from the polyester resin setting was considerable and it could not be placed in the one pour.

Everything I looked at was labour intensive. When it came to the name plates it needed one each side of the coach-house and one across the stern. Instead of having these signs on the hull, the side plates were cut to shape with rounded ends and Rebecca carved into each one. The rear face was routed out to leave a pad each end for securing the timber to the hull and leave leave a ½” clearance for the rest of the name plate. Each end was secured by two No. ¼” s.s.bolts drilled and plugged so the face could be varnished and appear separate from the hull making it easy to revarnish. For the stern I cut 4” letters from 3/16” stainless steel strip and welded them to the curved transome REBECCA with BRISBANE under. Each letter was drawn with a pental pen then the outline was punched using the hand punch to punch a 3/16” diameter series of holes around the perimeter of the letter, making it easy to cut from the plate, leaving a rough edged letter which could be trimmed using hack saw, grinder or file; a good job for a wet day or night. Once welded to the transome the hull could be painted and the name painted in whatever colour you wanted, or the surface of the letters could be polished using a sanding machine…again making maintenance easier in the water, or on the slipway.

Now the hull was upright the work really started again with fitting floors or cabin soles framings for portlights, hatches, dog house, each presenting another difficulty but, one by one they were whittled away.

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