On the Slip / Stem Replacement

Up to this point most of the work I had done had been to try and make the exterior appear as it should have been originally.

In the back of my mind I was pretty worried what the hull itself might be like underneath the waterline. I’d bought the boat afloat without a survey or even having seen the underside.

With this in mind and with the new funnel, wheelhouse and exhaust system meaning the boat was once again moveable it was arranged to pull her out of the water on the slipway at work.

The plan was to burn off the old paint below the waterline and re-paint and hopefully to replace the stem which had turned out to be badly rotten as well as having large sections missing which had been hidden by wooden cheek pieces bodged on by the navy.

I’d already removed the deck and rotten beamshelf from the bow area to gain acess to the back of the stem (called the apron) which had also turned out to be rotten to just above the waterline. I’d replaced this whilst afloat but the stem on the outside needed replacing down below the water and the presence of a rusting iron shoe which covered the forefoot meant I wasn’t sure how far down the damage went.

These photos show the work that happened whilst on the slipway -

Looking forward a couple of days after the boat came out, I’d removed a badly damaged wooden and copper shoe from the keel by this point and had just started burning off 40 years of toxic antifoul:

Looking aft:

Up on deck this was the current state of the bow – The apron has been replaced as well as several frames and a couple of stringers to try and stiffen things up a bit:

Crap photo but the red thing sat on the cabintop by the bow is the new stem knee ready for fitting:

New stem knee fitted in place. you can see just how rotten most of the original timbers were on the right of the photo:

The damaged and rotten parts of the stem were cut back so an idea of the timber required could be made. What you can see in the top half of the photo is the new apron which the hull planking is fastened to. The lower half is the remains of the stem which is bolted to the outside of the apron:

Lower part of the stem with the rotten wood removed (this was eventually trimmed right back to the keel scarf on the far right of the photo)

Joe came down to give me a hand burning off around the waterline, whilst I continued burning the antifoul from below the waterline. A tedious job but a very good way to familiarise yourself with the condition of the hull!:

Luckily the teak hull planking was in exceptional condition:

A few damaged areas of the sacrificial hull covering above the waterline were removed ready for replacement:

Eventually the bottom was all burnt off, sacrificial planking was replaced and the hole from the watercooled exhaust was replanked. The timber for the new stem was overdue by about 3 weeks by this point which meant I was stuck on the slipway for another set of tides:

With the bottom painted in special grey underwater primer:

There aren’t any photos showing the stem being laminated as the timber had only turned up the day before Joe went back to the mainland so I ended up fitting it on my own.

Basically its laminated out of half inch thick planks 12ft long by about 5 inches wide which were steamed/boiled in a 6″ pipe which I’d welded an end cap and some legs to so that it sat at 45 degrees over a large gas burner.

After half an hour the planks were taken out of the steamer and screwed into position with bronze screws. After being left for a couple of days to take the shape and for the moisture content to reduce again they were removed, belt sanded, pasted up with epoxy resin and refitted.

Once the resin had set the stem was drilled and bolted to the apron with M20 stainless studding above the waterline and bronze below the waterline.

These photos are all taken whilst I was planing the finished stem to the correct shape:

This is where the stem is scarfed onto the oak keel, a fairly flawless transition:

The hull was antifouled:

The Propeller was dressed to a good finish with a grinder and new zinc anodes were fitted to the steel rudder:

She was then re-launched and as there was rumblings about the EU forcing red diesel taxation on uk boat owners  I took her down to the fuel barge to top up the diesel tanks with 145 gallons of finest cherry (thanks to a Payday Loan from the Bank of Joe!). This photo actually shows her coming out the water again the same day due to a leaking water intake valve for the engine:

The large bronze valve (a bastard design known as an Orseal Valve) which relies on a series of “O”Ring seals which are supposed to be forced to seal by high pressure steam obviously didn’t like being used for seawater rather than steam!

it had probably been leaking unnoticed since the day the boat was built.

With some *quality shims cut from 80grit sandpaper the valve was reassembled and the boat re-launched for the second time:

I’ve since sourced* a replacement valve but have not fitted it as the sandpaper seems to still be doing its job!

*its previous owner probably isn’t missing it

Dave