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RESTORATION BEGINS

The original wheel house and accommodation, due to the fire, had fallen around the engine as burnt and charred timber. The heat had also destroyed all the copper pipework, and the engine room, being open to the weather, had partially filled with water. The main hold, however, was in good condition, with all the hatch boards and canvas covers intact, and it proved an ideal space to store all the items brought from Australia. An area was also set aside here for use as a workshop, where all the fittings were cleaned and overhauled.

The first task was to remove the fire debris from the engine room, sorting out all the reusable items, because replacing engine parts would be expensive or impossible for that model engine was no longer manufactured. As everything had to be removed, it was decided to start the whole job from scratch by chipping all the plating back to bare metal on the inside then painting with metal primer. This was possibly the dirtiest job undertaken and the local residents, realising what was going on, showed interest in the project by acknowledging the grubby and tired band of workers who made their way back to the hut each night.

While the hull was being cleaned new steel deck beams were welded in place so that a steel deck could be fitted aft. This was the first priority, because it allowed the engine to be worked on with protection from the weather. The next task was to replace the old chain and quadrant steering gear, which had collapsed in the fire. A more modern type of steering system was sought and, further up the Gota River, a barge with the ideal steering gear was found. As the barge was to be cut down the steering gear would be available. It was of the worm gear type that had been manufactured in Britain and consisted of heavy castings and machinings which were still in excellent condition. For a reasonable cost the gear was purchased, dismantled, taken to the hold for cleaning and painting, then reassembled in all its glory in its new position on the aft end where the existing rudder stock had been adapted to suit.

Spring arrived and with the longer, warmer days more work was achieved. The amount of welding to be done was enormous, far too much for the only man of the group who could do electric welding, so a welder was employed to assist with the work. He was a freelance welder who did odd work about the small shipyards, and, like most itinerant workers in Sweden, came from Finland, where the working conditions were not as good. In addition to his own language, and learning to speak Swedish he also had to understand the jargon of Australian-English, but it did not take him long to comprehend and soon became one of the group.

The fire had badly buckled frames and plates on the port side aft. These plates were removed, the frames straightened, and new plates fitted. The cost of new plating was very high, but some steel which had been surplus to a shipyard's requirements was purchased at a discount through a scrapyard.

Repairs to the stern in dry-dock.

Repairs to the stern in dry-dock.

Conversion of the hold

Conversion of the hold

 


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