Weekly Progress Report 11

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 17 May 2020 08:20
This week saw the achievement of a major milestone. With the assistance of Greg from Comer Engineering, we have at last removed the large sprocket from the rudder post. It took quite some doing as a large bearing puller and lots of heat from an oxyacetylene torch didn’t budge it. Eventually, I had to pull the back end of the cockpit apart and then Greg used a portable drill press that uses an electromagnet to attach itself firmly to the boat to drill and cut the troublesome piece of cast iron loose. Once that was off, I could then clean up the hull underneath. Initially I was pretty happy with the state of the hull given that the rudder post had weeped on a fairly regular basis (a large part of the reason why I was so keen to remove the sprocket) but, on attempting to weld in some doubling plates to strengthen the thinned metal, I blew some holes through the hull and ended up having to cut out a sizeable section and weld a new piece in. Of course, we now need to make a new fitting to attach the tiller to the rudder head, but that was always one of my refit goals so the destruction of the sprocket is not a problem.
The problem sprocket (some 40 cm in diameter) :
The hull under the old sprocket:
With a thin bit cut out:
And welded up:
Meanwhile, up forward, I have cleared the lead ballast out from the starboard side of the compression post just aft of the alleyway and what I found was not a pretty sight. Lots more rust! So, once more the angle grinder was called upon to do some heavy work and more rotten steel has been cut out with more to go.  On cutting out the metal on either side of the compression post, I discovered that the bottom of the post was badly corroded as well. This is a critical structural part of the hull and will need to be fixed. The plan is to get Greg, who is a professional welder, to cut a new section of pipe (with an internal diameter equal to the outside diameter of the compression post) in half and weld the halves to either side of the existing post for about 30 cm up from the keel plate. Once that is done I will close up the holes with new plate. But, before we attend to the compression post, Greg will be removing the thrust bearing for the propeller shaft this coming week. Once this is done I will then, at last, be able to reinstall the fuel tanks, the intermediate shaft and the engine (though I plan to preserve the hull under the engine before reinstalling it).
Not a  pretty sight:
More cutting out:
m_20200513_164128 (1)
All the way through to the other side - and showing the corroded compression post:
Obviously I have lots of work to do but ...
All is well.