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Work around the ship...

Early months of 2005.

The 2004 Tilbury RSL finished in September, and in the following months some major tidying up and general maintenance work was carried out around the Ross Revenge. We initially expected to be in Tilbury for about 6 weeks, including the 28 days of the RSL, but as events turned out we were lucky to be able to stay at this excellent mooring throughout the winter right until April of 2005. This was an ideal opportuinity to tackle many areas of the ship which had been neglected for some time, and with the new found enthusiasm amongst many new crew members much was accomplished. Both forepeak storage areas were more or less gutted and cleaned out, and new storage areas created therein. The antenna tuner cabinet for the temporary fibreglass mast in 1988 still occupied most of the old "dog kennel" and had accumulated so much junk it was impossible to get into the room without climbing over everything. All this was sorted out into useful stuff, and the junk disposed of. A new framework was built to house the emergency lighting batteries, and the dog kennel was then cleaned down to bare metal before being primed and repainted. This is now a most usable space, though as yet we haven't actually decided a use for this area. Almost all of the work in this area was carried out single handed by Lee who has done a splendid job. In order to remove the tuning cabinet we had to unceremoniously attack it with angle grinders to cut it into chunks which could be removed through the doorway. It must have been an incredible effort in 1988, involving cutting a huge section out of the doorway and then welding it back together, in order to get this cabinet into the ship. All for an antenna which failed on its first attempt to radiate. It must have been a most disheartening experience for all concerned.


Three views of the kennel - On the left, the walls before painting, and on the right during painting. In the centre we see the final remains of the base framework of the old antenna tuner being cut away. All pics by Lee

In December and January a lot of effort was spent rebuilding the old Dutch studio, to bring it up to a modern standard suitable for the very popular monthly broadcasts and any future RSL's. Full details of this can be found on the studio pages. As well as the obvious work in the studio, a new power distribution feed was installed from the trasnmitter room, which also necessitated some work in Studio 1. As the old power feed in studio 1 also provided power to the library (where the light switch never worked anyway), it thus became necessary to provide new power feeds to the library. With all the freshly varnished new woodwork in Studio 2, the common landing area was looking decidedly shabby, as was the library. So, as with most projects which mushroom well past the original intention, we ended up with ceilings down throughout the landing and library, pulling out miles of redundant wiring and installing some new modern stuff.

Rewiring The Library


Three views of the library with the ceilings down for re-wiring. Note that in order to remove the ceilings it also became necessary to remove many of the record shelves, and eventually we had hundreds of singles and LP's stored all over the place, as work progressed. Although Lee is seen wearing a T-shirt this work was done in January and February with the ships heating switched off and it was decidedly not very warm. Strangely, this seems to have kept many volunteers away and almost all of the work is this area was carried out by Lee and Alan.

Rewiring the Landing

Much of the cabling up above the library runs between the various instrumentation panels on the bridge. Where it has not been tampered with most of the ships original wiring is still in fair condition. However, at some time in the past Ross Fisheries rewired parts of the ship with some lead-sheathed rubber insulated cable. This, unfortuantely, has not stood the test of time (though, of course, it was probably never expected to last for 30+ years) and is quite literally in shocking conidtion. Fortunately most of this was used for "dosmetic" services such as lighting and power and not for critical marine purposes, therefore it is not too difficult, though still time consuming to remove it and replace with modern wiring.
The picture on the left shows the landing area with the ceilings down with work in progress. We also took advantage of the mess to install some new wiring to repair the ships PA system which has been out of order for some time, as well as extend items like the fire alarm system onto the bridge area. We also took advantage of the work to re-route the cables which for many years have run up the stairway between the landing and the bridge.

New Look Doors and Woodwork

With the wiring completed, and the ceilings back up and painted, attention tunred to the woodwork. Over the years this has picked up more that the occasional grubby handprint, so much so in fact, that the panels and handrails were almost thick with grime. So, it was out with the sandpaper and power sanders, and over a period of a weekend or two, all the woodwork was taken back down to bare wood. At the same time, all five of the doors were removed to be sanded and re-varnished on deck, and windows were fitted to the studio doors. Although most jocks are happy to broadcast with the doors open and allow visitors to venture into the studio, there are occasions when the jock likes to have the door shut. Putting windows into the doors had often been talked about, but we finally got round to fitting some rather nice sealed double glazed units, courtesy of a double glazing company who shall remain nameless..... All the doorfrmes around the landing were also repaired as some had disintegrated many years before, and finally everything was treated to several coats of top quality varnish. This was all accomplished in time for the easter weekend, when the ship was to host BBC Essex, and large numbers of visitors, both new and old were expected.

On the left we see the rather splendid, freshly varnished door to Studio 2, complete with new window, on air light, and deep mahogony new door frame.

Much elbow grease was expedited in polishing up all the brassowrk and fittings around the doors and handrails, especially the bracketry. Years of neglect and attack from saltwater had taken their toll on the fiitings, but copious amounts of Brasso nd enthusiasm eventually paid dividends. The appearence and shine of the repaired woodwork was commented upon by many visitors over the Easter weekend. Our thanks must be extended to Steve Dack, who, as well as being an excellent stand-in DJ for the station, is a carpeneter by trade, and has performed a superb job at repairing the woodwork around the Ross Revenge.

Shiney Woodwork

Two views of the woodwork around the landing area along with Lee photographing his handywork. Not surprisingly the handrails were amongst the most grubby parts, and some serious amount of sanding and preparation was required to get these to a clean state. Several coats of deep mahogony varnish and a layer of french wax have completely rejuvenated these. Compare these pictures with the one above showing the removed ceilings on the landing: notice any difference in the appearance and shine of the woodwork?

On The Steering Gear

Meanwhile, Nick was busy working down in the steering flats, repairing and testing the steering and navigation controls from the bridge. The ships rudder is operated by a high-pressure hydraulic system, and elctro-hydraulic valves control the operation of two huge hydraulic rams which operate the mechanism. On the left we see a sideways view of one the hydraulic rams, and on the right a front on viw of the same. There are two electric motors which operate the hydraulic pumps to provide the pressure, though one of these has been missing since it was taken off for repair about 15 years ago. After some minor repairs and adjustments we were delighted to find that the controls on the bridge operate the electro-valves correctly, but with no hydraulic oil and no pressure we were of course, unable to test the full operation of the system. However, a hastily rigged up feed from the 24volt DC battery lighting system did prove that the 220V DC hydraulic motor ran, and all seemed well. The centre picture above shows the inside of part of the navigation and auto-pilot control system on the bridge. Efforts will return to this area some time in the future.

Transmitter Room Wiring

As it used to be: a clutter of cables hanging from the Tx room ceiling.

And down in the transmitter room, work has progressed effecting repairs to what has been an eyesore for far too many years. Since at least 1986, a vast swathe of cables which run from the engine room to the forepeak area have broken away from their mountings on the ceiling, and simply hung free. Various attempts at tying them up with rope have been tried by numerous people, but finally, it all became too much and some serious effort was required. It took the best part of a day for Trevor, Lee and Alan, with some addiitional help from Graham, but finally, with some brackets screwed into the ceiling, some long lengths of studding, some new cable tray, and even more elbow grease, the cables started to go back to where they belong. On the left we see Lee and Trevor working to lift the tray upwards on the studding which is hanging from the new ceiling brackets. In the middle is yours truly taking a 50,000 watt power nap to admire the view of the ceiling from the top of the Ampliphase transmitter whilst Lee looks on and Trevor fastens the last bolts. We also see Trevor cutting one of the last lengths of studding with the angle grinder.

The Bridge Stairs

With the studio level landing woodwork restored, the stiarway to the bridge was looking decidedly shabby. Many years ago this area suffered a leak from the bridge roof which destroyed much of the wooden panelled veneer as well as staining more of the woodwork. So, with some (rather expensive) brand new sheets of oak faced plywood to hand, we set about pulling out the old woodwork and rebuilding this area. Above we see three pictures of work under way, with Peter Anderson in the centre and Steve Dack our new found carpeneter on the right. As this work progressed we also took down the ceilings within the bridge area and removed large amounts of scrap wiring. We also took this opportunity to remove the last of the wires which ran up to the bridge via the stairway through two gaping big holes in the side panels. As the majority of visitors in Tilbury have entered the ship via the bridge and made their way downstairs, this neglected woodwork was one of the first thinmgs they saw of the ship, and quite frankly, did not create a good first impression.

Above we see just a small collection of some of the scrap wiring pulled out from behind the bridge ceiling panels.

Painting the Companionway

With a large influx of visitors expected over the Easter weekend, one of our last jobs the week before was to repaint the main companionway corridor. Painting the ceiling was easy enough, although very time consuming as you have to work round all the pipework and cables trays. However, painting the floor is a bit faster but involves some logisitics. It is obviously necessary for us to have access up and down the corridor at all times, so, when initially painted, you have to leave some stepping stones. Only when most of the crew have left the ship on the Sunday afternoon can the last couple of people paint over the gaps. We then have to ensure that no-one walks down the passageway for 2 -3 days to allow the paint to dry completely. This was all accomplished succesfully, and five days later it was Easter weekend, and the old girl, looking spick and span and bright in her new paint and varnish was proudly displayed to the many visitors who came along to visit.

On behalf of everyone, I would like to extend my thanks to all the crew have have helped out with work around the ship during our extended stay on the ferry terminal in Tilbury: Peter, Lee, Trevor 1, Steve, Foster, David, Trevor 2, Graham 1, Graham 2, Vaughn, and many many others.