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Hull finishing and antifouling.

Prime coating ( grey paint) of steelwork is being completed near the stern on the port side. Over coating with the red antifouling paint then proceeds over the steel components and hull timber.

Moving closer to Alma’s return to water.

The first layer of belting timber installed on the starboard side.
Stern tube bolted to the hull at right, stainless steel propeller shaft in final place through the A-frame and bearing. Awaiting the fitting of the propeller which will be retained by the bronze nut. Similar work proceeding on the port side.

Works in progress prior to re-launch.

  1. Lead sheathing along the timber part of the keel is 90 percent complete after approximately 4000 copper nails have been used to secure the lead.
  2. Volunteers continue to work on the through hull fittings and finalising internal valves.
  3. Painting of internal surfaces is proceeding. External surfaces will be coated once the fitting of stern tubes and bow thruster are complete.
Bow thruster tunnel and hull plate partially extracted from the hull to allow full welding to be completed without damaging the hull timbers. Temporary steel supports will be cut off after full welding. The assembly will be painted, pushed back into the hull and the outer plate bolted to the hull.
Belting ( rubbing rail) has been attached to the planking just below deck level. It consists of two layers of 150 wide timbers, some of which required steam bending prior to bolting to the hull. The belting is at the widest part of the hull and protects the hull timbers when alongside a wharf or other vessel.

Progress on propeller shaft works

The stainless steel shafts have been lifted into the engine room and placed on temporary supports while the stern tubes are welded ready for final fitting to the hull.

The stern tubes and shafts are shown here in their final location, although this was a trial fit to ensure correct alignment prior to welding the stern tubes and hull plates.
One of the bronze propellers ( 1.3 metre diameter) awaiting installation after the stern tubes and shafts are finally fixed in the hull. The marks on the blades are the final buffing work completed after shaping. They are a work of art and will only look better once installed on the ship.

Items nearing completion before return to water

Application of sheet lead flashing along the keel is intended to prevent marine worms from attacking the keel timber. Black mastic sealant is applied under the lead with many copper nails securing the edges of the lead. In the middle left of the photo can be seen one the through hull fittings which allow cooling water to be drawn in for the engines and generators.
The rudder post has been secured in the bearing block seen here bolted to the deck beams. The post top has been squared off to receive the black steel capping seen to the right. The ships wheel and steering mechanism is then connected to the metal cap allowing the rudder to respond to turning of the wheel.

Brilliant paint work

During March and April our shipwrights and volunteers caulked, sealed and prime coated most of the hull planking. A major effort in the week after Easter resulted in the starboard topside finish coats being applied before the weather turned bad. A fabulous result.

Hull exterior finishing

The port stern tube exits the hull in the red area above and aligns with the A-frame propeller shaft support in the foreground. The red rectangle is a timber mock up of a steel plate which will be fabricated, bolted to the hull and welded to the stern tube.

The hull planking shows a recently completed section with all caulking and sealing of the plank seams complete and undercoat applied. Over coating and application of anti fouling paint will be required to finish the hull surface.

Engine room work

This picture shows the starboard engine beds bolted through the frames to the outside of the hull and capped with steel plates to which the engine will be attached. The stern tube hole was drilled through the aft bulkhead and through the hull planking and now has the steel stern tube in place through the bulkhead. Identical work is complete on the port side. The next phase will be to insert seals, bearings and propeller shafts in the stern tubes, thus making this area of the hull watertight. All areas of the engine room have been under coated except the original bilge stringers seen at left and the keelson on the right.

Propeller shaft work

A steel tube has been fabricated as a boring bar to enlarge the pilot hole previously drilled on the propeller shaft alignment. The hole will be enlarged till it matches the stern tube to be inserted through the planking and frames.
Inside the engine room showing the recently completed engine beds for the starboard engine and the boring bar.

Progress update – courtesy Alma Doepel Newsletter

Alma Doepel Newsletter – February 2021 
We hope all our supporters are staying safe and well during these challenging times. The Covid restrictions have slowed down progress on the restoration, but we have come through it and full steam ahead! Here is our progress report.
Restoration News  
Alma with all but 1 plank in place. Caulking 90% complete with caulk sealing now underway
Work on completing the hull has progressed slowly during the Covid lockdowns and restrictions. There was a time when donation funds literally dried up through hardship and uncertainty – when along came a small number of saviours who could see the value of the project and were in a position to help out financially.

I am delighted to be able to report the planking stage has been completed. A total of 350 planks have been used.  The final plank (known as the “whisky plank”) is about to be ceremoniously put in place as I write. As this is a traditional occasion for shipwright celebration the event requires as many of those involved as possible to be in attendance to witness the final nail!
All the while the caulking phase has been underway – calculated at approximately 3 kms of caulk to seal the hull. Volunteers have been trained to assist with the sealing of the caulk to give an effective watertight finish. There is probably another month of work left to do to complete the remaining 10% of the caulking.
The caulk sealant is applied with this Bosch sealant gun generously donated by Bosch who have donated many power tools to the project over the past few years. Thank you Bosch
Other work that has been in progress – the ship’s rudder is ready to be put in place. The stock has been faithfully re-created from grey gum and the old blade, still in good order, has been reassembled with lead sheathing to protect the stock from attack by marine borers.
The new engines have been delivered and the gearboxes are on their way from Germany. The bow thruster tunnels are in place with just the flanges to be welded in place. The propellors have now been made and delivered to be fitted to the new shafts – we are in a good place! The engine beds are being laid down as I write. The existing bolts are being refurbished and will be installed to hold the beds in place ready for the engines to be installed once Alma is back in the water.
The engines, under wraps, sit in the shed for the day when they will be fitted to AlmaThe bow thruster tunnel under construction. This is now complete
A shipwright skillfully drilling a hole through an engine bed, frame and plank to secure the engine bedsThe bronze engine bolts used to secure the engine beds, undergoing final refurbishment
Water lines have been marked on the hull. These have been calculated using old images and regulatory approved formulas.
Notwithstanding funding, COVID-19 has presented the project it’s challenges. Unrelated, but presenting challenges, remedial work is underway at North Wharf to repair piles making access to the site difficult. This work is expected to take several months and during this time North Wharf has been closed to the public. Development Victoria and the Alma team have developed a safe working plan that enables the Alma project to continue throughout the remediation works.

Plans are underway for the Alma’s hull to be refloated around April/May. The exact date will be advised as soon as possible. It is important to distinguish the “Return to Water” of the hull and the completion of the project. The hull needs to be refloated as quickly as possible to prevent drying out of the timbers and new caulking. The next phases of the restoration involving completion of the deck, rig, engineering and accommodation will then commence. The estimated cost to do this is $1.5m and is expected to take 2 years.
This final refit is an expensive and complex task as it requires the ship to be compliant with strict maritime regulations and still retain as much as possible the historic character of the original vessel built in 1903. The refit requires:Repairs to the deck beamsRefitting the masts, booms, gaffs and yards. 16 of the 17 spars are fully restored or rebuilt Rigging and fitting of sails Plumbing and electrical installations Fit-out of bunk rooms, wheelhouse, mess rooms, navigation cabin and engine room

I have posted a section of the Alma Doepel Newsletter to inform as many people as possible of the great progress being made in the resoration of the Alma Doepel.