Summer 2008 on the Ross Revenge.
The Paintathlon continues.......
With the ship still berthed within Tilbury docks during the summer of 2008 work continues on numerous restoration and painting projects. With most of the portside exterior hull given another fresh coat of paint in late 2007, the winter and early months of 2008 saw us tackle some long outstanding work onboard the ship. The trawl winch has long since been an eyesore, and although some attempt was made to brighten it up for some VIP guests in 2007, it was time to bite the bullet and give it some serious attention.
Before we could tackle much of the rust and neglect we had to remove some of the excess rusted up cabling which had been wound onto the drums many years previously. Here we see shots of Trevor and Lee cutting off some of the cable, and these close up pictures show the general poor state of the winch.
Above: Trevor and Lee manhandling the warp. Below: Lee cutting ends off with the grinder.
It had been many years since the winch had been de-rusted, most previous maintenance consisting of simply painting over the rust. Now was the time to get in with the needle guns and chisels and remove the rust to get back to bare metal for repainting. It didn't take long until we had a large and growing pile of lumps of rust on the deck, and by the time we had finished we had in the regiuon of 10 or 12 large "bin bags" each filled to the point of being just enough to carry by one person, full of rust.
Above: Graham and Roland contribute to the growing pile of rust from the winch.
Below: Roland and Steve both chipping away at the rust.
After much needling, chipping, hammering and grinding, the bare metal must be immediately painted with a protective red-oxide zinc phosphate primer to prevent rust from reforming. Leaving freshly prepared metal unprotected for just one night is enough for the rust to start again.
Above: Part repainted, part in primer, the winch starts to look better.
Below: But to make it really shine takes a womans touch. And who better than the lovely Mandy to give that touch!
All-in-all, it took some 9-12 months with a steady team working on it to bring the winch into a good condition. Whilst the painting and refurbishment was ongoing, we also freed off and oiled the mechanism and bearings, and with some serious elbow grease managed to turn the wnch over from it's driveshaft using a very long pole. After much effort that way, the shaft now turns relatively freely, and we are investigating ways we can couple the mechanics to a small-ish electric motor and reduction gearbox,
such that the winch can be seen to turn when we are open for public display.
Whilst work has been going on around the winch from 2007 into 2008, we have not negelcted other parts of the ship. The side "gunwale" panels always take a beating from the weather and elements, and are in near constant need of painting. During our stay in Tilbury we have treated these to the same thorough process as other parts of the ship. The time honoured tradition of chip and grind to bare metal, re-prime, then re-paint.
Above: Steve and Graham, and Howard and Peter tackling the gunwales with the needle guns.
Below: Lee cutting some rusted deck drain plates away.
There are 44 panels on each side of the ship, and if you were to optimistically estimate that it is one days effort to refurbish each panel, that works out at almost 90 days of effort. For one man working a five day week, that we be over four months of continual effort. In real life it takes more than a day to do work on each panel, but we do have more than one person working on the job. Even so, startng the panels outside the dog kennel in the early months of 2007, we are into late 2008 and still have lots to go.
It will be a case of once all the panels are re-furbished of going back to the first ones and painting them all again. However, with the refurbishment process we undertook it should be a simple case of re-paint them in white, and not chip to bare metal and re-prime. Well, that should be the case for a few years, we hope.
Above: Graham doing a final bit of preparation with the grinder, with the panels under a coat of primer ready for white gloss.
Setting up at a weekend to work on the winch or gunwales is a fairly easy task, and should the weather turn on us, it doesn't take too long to tidy up and retreat inside for some more work. With the arrival of spring and approach of summer we can get more adventurous with our plans, and turn our attention once again to the exterior of the ship. The bow area was almost fully repainted by the end of 2007, so with the prospect of good weather for an entire weekdnd, not to mention long light evenings, it's time to finish off the job.
Manouvering the ship into a position to reach the bows, not to mention carryng the scaffold over the side and erecting it on the quayside, or pulling the old pontoon alongside the ship takes a lot of effort, so it's not something you want to do if you are likley to get rained off partway through the job.
A long time ago, Lee demonstrated his previously undiscovered steady hand with a fine brush and signwriting abilities, and since then has become the official Ross Revenge name painter. Here he is, atop the scaffold, re-writing the ships name along the bow. The name was long since cut into the steelwork with a welders torch, so is relatively easy to re-paint accurately. However, do not underestimate the difficulty of doing the jo neatly when the ship is gently lifting and falling and moving in and out.
Sometimes she can be against your nose and a few seconds later at arms reach!
Once the name is painted, the crew can get on with chipping the rust from the top of the scaffold, working towards the pointy bit. and a bit lower down, we can really get into the rust along the waterline.
Although the bottom pictures look a bit dodgy, David and Roland are not actually walking on water. There is a small shelf below the quayside, literally an inch above the waterline, that you can stand on. Due to the construction of the ship, she cannot move in any further thus crushing the crew, and although the shelf is rather narrow, the guys are in fact strapped on with safety harnesses, which are anchored onto the higher level of the quayside.
Without the aid of the scaffold tower it would be almost impossible to reach all the higher parts around the bow to allow the painting and work to be done. The tower, which was donated by a relative of Andrew Austin, simply clips together, and can be assembled in 3 different heights, with the platforms set wherever required. Below Mandy shows how easy it is to assemble, even without flat-pack intructions!
Also, when we swing the ship into a position where the bows are pulled in tight, and the stern is out, the only way on and off the ship, is by means of a ladder upto the for'ard end of the main deck. Although the ship has long since had a tall rickety ladder onboard, Peter Smith kindly donated a nice pair of double extension ladders this summer. These have made the task of getting on and off much easier.
For the first time with a working party onboard, this summer, we have been joined by memebers of the broadcast crew, for the regular and very popular weekend broadcasts from the ship. Getting the ship ready for the broadcasts is covered in the Easter 2008 Reunion DVD available from the webshop, but over the following months a great comaraderioe has been established between broadcast and maintenance crews.
Pictures of the broadcasts are featured on many other websites, but you never know who you may sometimes catch with a paintbrush in hand!
Johnny the Lad and Cliff Osbourne turn their hands to painting the old girl on a fine summers day.
As the summer of 2008 turned into Autumn we finished the exterior hull, and returned our efforts to the inner gunwhales on the starboard side. Some of this area had been repainted for the RSL in 2004 on the ferry terminal at Tilbury, but now it was time to chip and hammer away the rust back to clean metal again.
It's hard to describe in words and pictures the effort which goes into chipping off and grinding away the old paint and rust, and we all know that within a year or two the rust will return. However, by taking the surface back to clean metal and re-priming we are hopeful that for the next few years we can simply repaint the metalwork without
having to go to the immense effort that we are currently putting into the preparation. Above we see crew stalwarts, Graham, John and Steve along with new crew member Cris. This was Cris's first time onboard, but the bug bit him hard, and he was determined to return whenever he can.
Even after a hard days graft, chipping and grinding, there is no rest for the crew on a warm summers evenings. The floodlights and "portable sunshine" lamps allow us to continue well into the evening. After preparing the surface to clean metal, it's essential to get a coat of zinc-phosphate red oxide primer on before nightfall.
Failure to do so will result in a thin coat of rust in the morning, when the cool night and morning dew take their toll on the exposed metal. And the last thing we want in the morning is to regrind the same metal we ground the previous evening!
One of the last outside jobs we started to tackle in the autumn of 2008 was the lower red stripe along the starboard superstructure of the ship. This lower region always suffers from rust and corrosion, so it was time to get stuck in with the air chisels and needle-guns to give it the time honoured treatment.
Meanwhile, within the ship, there is time to spend a rainy weekend sorting out all those little jobs we keep putting off, but really need attending too...
Tommy, with help from Phil, sanding the last crew cabin to be refurbished - Cabin 7, known as the "Dutch" cabin.
John, fixing the ball valve on the rear toilet.
Lee, having taken down the poster wonders how the heck he is going to varnish the messroom wall in one shade.
Richard the cloggie with bucket of soapy water, cloth and paintbrush cleaning the grime from one of the transmitters.
Lee, attaching a new fuel line along the ceiling of the generator room.
Alan, attaching the same fuel line.
Graham, drying the tea cups.
Mandy, with Richard and Alan, the Cloggies.
A big thank you as always to all of the crew who give up their free time to help keep the old girl looking her best.