WINTER REFIT 2010 2011

November 2010:  Balmoral is entered into the ‘Peoples Millions’ where the public is invited to vote for their favourite local charitable project – each regional winning project receiving £50,000 of National Lottery funding.  Balmoral was the winning South West regional project, with the funding going towards the refurbishment of the Forward (Britannia) Lounge and replacement of the fore deck, as far aft as the after end of the engine room casing

Work parties started at the end of November. Pre-Christmas work tends to be preparatory for the main jobs to be started in the New Year.  Jobs like – covering the engine room alleyway decks with hardboard, setting up workbenches, deep cleaning the galley (in preparation for the Xmas lunch) and, finishing off any little jobs that weren’t quite completed the previous winter.  This year the November and December work parties were badly affected by the snow – I missed a couple (and the Xmas lunch!)

In the New Year, work started in earnest.  The scaffolding arrived.  The new deck timbers arrived – but, were found to be the wrong size (the planks are ordered rectangular in section, they are then machined to have a chamfer on either side, so that when planks are laid alongside each other, there is a V shape gap between them, which is filled with oakum and pitch, to make the joint watertight)  Luckily, the planks were oversized, so were returned to be machined again. (1st delay)

The scaffold was erected on the fore deck and a number of large lorry tarpaulins placed over it to form a tent, to keep the area dry. Work could then start on removing the old deck timbers  and anything attached to them – ventilators, mooring bitts, fairleads etc.   In the Brit’ we removed the seating units and uncovered some of the original floor covering (a very heavy grey linoleum) which was stuck to the deck with very heavy duty adhesive – still effective after all those years.  Work started slowly – as anyone who has been involved with Lottery funded projects will know, you don’t receive the money until your match funding is in the bank and you can’t start work until the Lottery funding is in your bank – this didn’t happen until February. (2nd delay)

The lottery funding did enable the hiring of 4 Polish shipwrights – Waldemar, Kristoff, ……………

Meanwhile, below deck other jobs were in hand – the port side generator was being stripped down.  The emergency generator and fire pump were due a survey so they too had to be stripped down, checked and rebuilt.
'tent' covering foredeck
8th March:  I’ve bought a new digital camera to better record the progress. The first new planks are being laid on the fore deck, In the 'Brit' panelling is being removed from the bulkheads and ventilation trunking removed from the ships sides, exposing  steelwork in a poor state.
Bob with emergency genny stripped down

first deck plank being laid
22nd March: Fore deck progressing well.  In the Brit’ the deckhead is being removed.  The hot water pipes (above the windows) were in a poor state and had to be replaced but they were lagged with asbestos.  Work in the lounge had to stop for a couple of days whilst a specialist firm removed the offending substance.

5th April:  The cast iron fittings from the fore deck have returned from the specialist rust removal firm and are being repainted.  On the fore deck, two teams have been working – one on the port side, the other on the starboard side.  Today they met in the middle so we had a little celebration at afternoon smoko (teabreak) - we had Ollies cake and bubbly!

12th April: The pictures show the fabrication of a ‘cut out’ (there’s probably a nautical term for it, but I have forgotten most of the ship construction I learnt nearly fifty years ago) that’s to be fitted where mooring lines pass through a bulwark.  We can’t pop down to the marine superstore to buy parts for a 60 year old ship – everything has to be made on board – in this case by (bosun) Jan.

19th April:  The Britannia Lounge was originally, in Red Funnel and Campbells days, the ships dining saloon with the galley forward on the starboard side.  In this area, the steel deck was found to be bent (over a distance of about 18 inches it fell by almost an inch) as if some very heavy weight had been standing on it.  Barry and Kris can be seen grinding and cutting through the deck and after several days work (the big hammer may have been used) managed to straighten  and reweld it.

7th May:  The decking is complete as far aft as the stairs to the bridge deck.  In the Brit’ sections of the hull steelwork are being replaced, mainly in areas where water had gained access via the gooseneck ventilators on the promenade deck and had then been trapped inside the trunking – also, where water had got in around 3 of the windows.  Nigel Coombes can be seen varnishing one of the 60 or so windows.

14th May & 24th May: More steelwork removed  - 3 windows had to be made by volunteer Tony Horne.
On deck, the port side decking is nearing completion. The planks being bolted down while Nigel supervises and  ‘Henry’ looks on with interest.

27th May:  Waldemar has been replacing part of the wooden ‘belting’.  With the deck planking removed from alongside the engine room casing, starboard side, Mike visually checks the beams for corrosion and possible replacement.

I went on holiday at the beginning of June, so missed the trip to Sharpness for dry docking. It had been planned that Bal would have gone there about 10 days earlier than she did, but there was a problem with the dock gate not being able to be shut. (more delay)

14th June:  A large piece of corroded hull plating has been cut out from the after end.  Work has started on repainting the hull.  Recaulking of the foredeck is receiving the final touches. Bob is completing work on the new foredeck ventilator butterfly valves.  In the ‘Brit’, rotten planking  at the ships sided has been replaced with new.

17th June:  In  the ‘Brit’, the metal framework is being fitted ready for fixing the new deckhead panels.

21st June:  Repainting of the hull is complete.  The new panelling is being fitted in the ‘Brit’ and the  rewiring is well underway.

25th June:  The flooring contractor has laid levelling compound over the ‘Brit’ deck in readiness to lay the new deck covering.  The new section of hull plating has been fabricated and welded into place.

28th June:  The deck covering in the ‘Brit’ has been laid – this took the contractor a day longer that estimated (so another day lost where we couldn’t do any work in the ‘Brit’)

2nd July:  Saturday - The dry dock flooded and Balmoral afloat.  Bal was actually due to start the Bristol Channel season today but, with several days work still to be done plus crew training and safety drills to be carried out, she didn’t start the season until Friday 8th July.