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One day in September

How will we get Alma back in the water?
A lift ship similar to this has been arranged for a day in September. Our barge where Alma has spent the last eight years will be towed downstream and Alma will be lifted by two cranes and returned to the water. A hugely exciting moment with lots of work going on in background at present to make it happen.

Deck Reconstruction

Total reconstruction of the deck has commenced with all planks being carefully removed for later reuse. The process involves using a holesaw to drill over the existing deck spikes then levering the planks from their location after having raked out the old caulking.

Where planks have been removed, the shipwrights will assess whether a deck beam needs replacement due to rot or iron degradation of the timber. The deck structure and slope will also be assessed and beams replaced as necessary to ensure drainage of the new deck. The replacement deck will consist of layers of plywood screwed and epoxied in place with an overlay of the refurbished Queensland beech planking. Not a traditional deck, some may say, but replacement beech timber is not available and this method will stop water coming through the deck and pooling in your bunk as happened in the past.

Making Alma more accessible for everyone

Boarding Alma from a dock or other boat will now be much easier as a section of the rail around the topsides has been cut and hinged. A door or other opening between the two stanchions will also be fitted into the bulwark planking. A successful grant application has provided funds to ensure a more accessible Alma. Later work will provide for deck level accessible accomodation and toilets.

More hull items complete

Fitting of the rudder is complete and the propeller shafts fully installed. Restraints have been fitted to the shafts in the engine room to ensure the shafts do not pull out of the hull after the propellers are fitted and the ship is being towed following launching. Engines will be fitted after launching.
The hull now has one complete coat of the four required coats of red antifouling paint. Timber pieces have been added on both bows just above the waterline to prevent damage from the anchor flukes. The bow thruster tunnel has been bolted into the hull around the flange plate and sealed with a welded plate on the end. This will keep the tunnel dry inside the ship so that fitting of the thruster machinery can continue after the ship is returned to the water. The tunnel projections will be cut off at a later time to allow water to flood the tunnel.

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.