Wednesday, 18 September 2019

3 Day tripper

We came down to Tixall Wide last night.


What with one thing and another, I think this is the first time we've taken Erin Mae out of the marina all year. A succession of medical events, coupled with some family things, meant we needed to be in the south a lot. As for the time we'd allocated to sorting out the kitchen windows, which we'd expected to tackle while cruising a bit (or a lot), it turned out much easier to stay put while I worked on them. That facilitated getting a bit of local help when needed, and picking up what seemed to be regular Amazon deliveries from the Post Office every time I decided another tool was indicated.

In addition, it has to be said, August was not a good month weather-wise. Rain and wind made the maintenance work more difficult, and the problems would have been compounded if we were trying to travel at the same time. But now, with the windows done, and a fine week, we filled the water tank, emptied the other, and have come down to what must be one of the most delightful spots on the network.


Mind you, it's turned cold, so I've laid in some SuperTherm and we'll have a fire tonight. The radiators are good, but nothing quite beats a good Squirrel.  Anyway, the Webasto tends to rely a bit too much on the batteries, and even though the clear skies which drop the night-time temperature also mean the solar panel is working well during the day, I like to look after my electrons.

This morning we walked up to the Post Office and then round to Shugborough for coffee and one of their exceedingly good home-made sausage rolls. Back on Erin Mae, it is peaceful and quiet. There are some water birds and butterflies around. We've got to drive home at the end of the week but, for the moment, we're in a very happy space.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Weathertight

Well, the aluminium of the window frame came up trumps.


At both top corners the vertical section coming up to the mitre was bent outwards slightly, but I managed to straighten them with careful use of some screw clamps and a mole wrench, before fixing and sealing the corners with Gorilla epoxy glue. When that was set I applied the neoprene window tape all round the edge and then carefully pressed my long M4 screws through all the holes, piercing the neoprene.

This was my cunning plan for making it easier to locate the screws in their holes. Using long screws as a first step, it was easy to position the window with every screw in a hole. Then, one at at a time, I removed the long screw, squeezed a glob of Sikaflex 221 into the hole and inserted the final fixing screw. I had been concerned about the slight warp in the steel work at the top of the window cut out, but the aluminium of the frame eased itself into shape as the screws were tightened, and it all seems weather-tight.


Overall, I'm really pleased with the techniques I've learned with these windows. Drilling and tapping for an M4 screw now seems pretty ordinary, but I have noted how important it is to have the right tools. My original drill bits and taps were simply not up to the job. Getting pieces of the right quality turned it into something pretty straightforward. Painting has also got better as I've gone along. Thinning the paint appropriately was key to getting as good a finish as I'm going to manage.


A mother brought two of this year's brood for an approving inspection, though they seemed more interested in what was available below the waterline!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Wonky!

Doing Erin Mae's second kitchen window, I've come across an unexpected problem.


My very straight edge shows that the steel work in the window area is not completely flat. I don't know how much the window frame will flex – hopefully enough for its neoprene seal to maintain a water-tight join. Meanwhile the painting of the surrounding block has gone well – the weather has been great for it.


Its being nice and shiny is very pleasing – except that it then rather shows up the dullness of the next section!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Window done!

Erin Mae's first kitchen window is finally back in place, surrounded by a newly painted panel. The one thing still to do is to fit the black gasket that will cover the screws.


It's been an extraordinarily long process, with the need to solve numbers of problems along the way, and sometimes acquire new tools to do so – appropriate drill bits and taps, for example. The last came today – a countersink bit appropriate for aluminium and small enough to get into the channel where the screws sit. Sometimes I faced a problem with deliveries. For eight years we've had all sorts of things sent to the post office in Great Haywood for us to collect. But of late there's been a problem when a package is being delivered by Hermes – something to do with the shop's insurance. Today's Amazon delivery was to come by Hermes, but I didn't know that until I'd placed the order. So I had to go to the Post Office early and negotiate with them to ensure they would accept it when it came.

The painting has gone really well, though a good finish seems much harder to achieve with this red than it has been with green sections. It's encouraged me to think that I could do the whole side. It would be very obvious it was an amateur job, but at least it would be the same shade all the way down.

I now have to complete the work on the window the other side of the kitchen. That will have its own idiosyncrasies, but at least I've acquired some experience in regard to the principal steps.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Kitchen window phases 5a – 5n

The last ten days have seen the window work on Erin Mae proceeding steadily. The most satisfactory part was successfully drilling and tapping the hull with some extra holes to take machine screws that will fix the frame in place.


I've cleaned out plenty of threads before, but these were the first I'd cut myself. Having the right equipment was key – a 3.3mm cobalt steel drill bit, some cutting paste and an M4 tap that was tough enough for the job. In retrospect, I wonder what it was I was worried about. Now the positions of the holes in the frame and those in the hull match each other and I've started on the painting.

The heatwave meant I didn't try to do too much today. I had a BBQ to cook.



My best beloved took the photos so doesn't appear in shot. She looked after the salad and the strawberries. And very nice it was too!

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Kitchen window phase 4

Epoxy puttying was duly completed today. No pictures of the job, basically because it looked very uninteresting, and anyway, how many photos of yours truly working on the kitchen window can you stand? The putty worked pretty well – getting my hands thoroughly wet before handling it helped.


The photo is from the Amazon page. I had some epoxy putty – Milliput – some years ago that came as two separate blocks, so it's intriguing to have it all in one roll. I'm not sure what technique they use for preventing it going off at the interface between the two parts. Perhaps there is some sort of barrier. Cutting off a slice was easy, but gave me a lot of wastage, given the size of the hole I was filling. I am also hoping that it won't have damaged whatever barrier they do have in place.

Rain again tomorrow – possibly yet another day of feet up, book out.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Kitchen window phase 3 – Dremelising

We spent longer in the south than intended, because the appalling weather was going to make window work difficult, and we didn't fancy just sitting inside Erin Mae in the marina while the storms roared outside. Today, however, work resumed.


The new Dremel immediately proved its worth. My first task is to fill a hole where some engineer or other had drilled and tapped too close to the edge of the steel. I have some epoxy putty for that but, as my friend Brian would say, preparation is everything. I attached a small wire wheel to the Dremel - one of about 60 items in a £10 variety pack from Amazon, and it powered through rusty bits and old silicone. I've applied some Fertan and should be able to do the puttying tomorrow.

I can't see any sign of how the wood inner window frame was held in place (apart from the method thoroughly dissed in a previous post!). So today I have also drilled and countersunk four 3.5 mm holes through the hull, and used stainless steel screws to hold the frame tight. I was very glad to have brought my old mains drill – it made a much quicker job of penetrating the hull and cutting the countersinks than my 18v cordless.

At last I feel I'm making some progress. I suspect tomorrow's weather will put a halt to it for 24 hours.