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Aristotle

Kenmure The Continuing Restoration

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Just to put everything in perspective, I’d like to start with a brief history of Kenmure (apologies to those who already know all of this!).  All the credit for our knowledge of Kenmure’s past must go to Brian and Joy (the previous owners) who did a huge amount of research on both Kenmure herself and her original owner, Capt. John Muir Donaldson MC (the MC was awarded for conspicuous gallantry on 15 July 1916 at High Wood during the Battle of the Somme).

Capt. Donaldson ordered Kenmure from the Press brothers on 5th November 1925. Kenmure is identical to another Press yacht named Pearl, indeed the original sail plan for Kenmure (held by Jeckells) is labelled as Pearl 2.  Pearl was part of the Press brothers hire fleet and one can only imagine that Donaldson probably hired Pearl at some time before placing the order although there is no surviving record of this. Search on "Kenmure AND Pearl" in the other forum to see what has become of Pearl.

Kenmure was launched in early March 1926. Her registration fee was 2/6 (that’s 12.5p for anyone not familiar with old money)! The toll was £1 per annum and insurance with Commercial Union £7 per annum.  Her maiden voyage was from Wroxham to Ranworth on 24th April 1926 – C&G Press then charged 10 shillings to bring her back to Wroxham from Ranworth on April 26th 1926!

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:default_hiding: Pun alert!  

Capt. Donaldson was a leading light in the electricity generating and distribution industry. :1_grinning:  He was President of the IEE 1931-32.  There is a short video of him on Youtube (search on "Donaldson 1949").

Kenmure is thought to have been the first yacht on the Broads to have an electric inboard motor, probably installed as early as 1928. Donaldson also owned another Press yacht Morning Calm from 1939 to just after the end of WW2.

The last recorded voyage under Capt. Donaldson’s ownership was on Monday 25th May 1953 from Barton to Wroxham. By 1954 she had been sold to Trumans where she was used as the family boat before going into hire with Trumans and then with Eastwood Whelpton (under the name Wind Lass). She subsequently went back into private ownership before being bought by Brian and Joy in March 1977. We bought her in March 2016 which marks the beginning of Kenmure’s story under our stewardship! Watch this space for the next instalment ……..

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We bought Kenmure in March 2016. The first task was to move her from Wayford where she had been laid up over the winter to Barton Turf where the work was going to be done. 

We knew that she was “a bit leaky”!  Brian and Joy were very open about this in a phone conversation before we had even seen her.  There was a lot of daylight visible between many of the planks and the survey had identified rot in several places below the waterline.  There was also a tell-tale bag of sawdust in the forepeak!  The application of sawdust had been a regular feature of the annual re-launch for a number of years apparently! Part of the kit included in the sale was a small aluminium pan on a broom handle used to administer the sawdust below the waterline!

On the advice of Eric from Cox’s we decided to prime and then caulk all of the worst gaps to make her as watertight as possible before she went back into the water for the short trip down the Ant.  Mrs Aristotle (Pythias :137_princess: - the daugter of King Hermias ) and I spent a morning identifying and marking with chalk on the outside, all the seams where daylight was visible from inside.  Each of these was then primed with Seajet primer and then sealed with linseed oil putty.  As it happened we missed a couple that were difficult to see from the inside and not obvious on the outside!

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To start the process of taking up, we threw buckets of water into the bilges, sprayed other exposed areas of the hull with water and laid wet towels everywhere we could. The next photo shows that we failed to deal with at least one wide seam – you can see the water pouring through from the bilge like a cloudburst!

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You can also see a pad of wood attached to the outside of the hull.  I am familiar with the use of “bibles” on the inside of a hull to support butt joints between planks where the joint doesn’t coincide with a frame, but I never managed to identify the reason behind this unusual external feature.  More discussion of bibles and planking joints a bit later.

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Kenmure went back into the water the following day (15 April) and was left in the slings to start taking up.  The electric bilge pump was operating continuously at full capacity dealing with several fountains of water. However, by the following morning, there was little water entering the hull, the bilge pump operating intermittently for a minute or so every half hour.  By Sunday she was out of the slings ready for the short trip down river the following day.  The trip to Barton was uneventful.  In fact she was so water-tight by now that we took a trip round the broad while we ate our sandwiches in the knowledge that it would be some time before we would back on the water again :37_disappointed:!  She was left safely moored up at Cox’s waiting to be lifted out again!

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You’ll notice that the title of this thread is “Kenmure The Continuing Restoration”. Full credit for the start of the restoration process must again  go to the previous owners, Brian and Joy, who did a huge amount of work to start returning Kenmure to her original configuration. The work they did included:

·        Reinstalled electric lighting (which was an original feature – most yachts of the 1920s would have been lit with oil lamps)

·        Stripped all paintwork and varnish in the cabins and re-varnished throughout (a lot of the interior woodwork had been painted white – probably when she was in one of the hire fleets)

·        Re-fitted the well with new lockers

·         Removed the bowsprit (which was not original and was added sometime after 1974);

·        Re-instated cross-trees which had been removed (again probably when she was in hire. Pictures from 1974 posted by “laughinggravy” on the other forum show her without crosstrees and without a bowsprit. I haven’t reposted the pictures here as I am not sure of any potential copyright issues!);

·        Re-instated the self-tacking jib;

·        Replaced internal cabin doors;

·        Re-instated the hatch in the stern deck (which was a feature of many Press yachts)

·        Installed a Baby Blake toilet (although the original would probably have been one of the “flap” type toilets);

·        Returned her to the original name of “Kenmure” after a gap of 27 years

Watch this space for the next instalment will deal with the work carried out at Cox's ........ 

 

 

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Thank you for all your likes :default_biggrin: but before I post the next instalment it would be nice to have some feedback on whether the pace of the narrative is too fast, too slow, too much detail, not enough detail etc etc.:35_thinking:.

In the event of no feedback, I'll just carry on ...... and on ..... and on .......

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Please just carry on and on!  Ive said before, I love these restoration threads. I know we will never have a woodie , as much as we would like to , but I love history being kept alive  and these wonderful boats being cared for :)

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Very interesting to see someone else with a project. Although we have a very different boat, it is good to see what other people are doing. We are down over the next few  weeks for another week of work and will post a progress report on BG. Still a lot to do but we hope to be on the water and ready to go again by mid-May. 

I really like how you have incorporated some of the history of your boat. I might do the same when I get some time later this week. 

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9 minutes ago, socrates said:

I really like how you have incorporated some of the history of your boat. I might do the same when I get some time later this week. 

I for one would find that very interesting Socrates, I absolutley love finding out the history of these classics :3_grin:

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As Polly commented in a different thread, Kenmure looked in quite good condition before work started! Once in the shed at Cox’s it was time to get a proper assessment of the work to be done. This was approached with a few principles in mind:

Firstly, although I am of an age where I only have a few years sailing left in me, it was important to extend Kenmure’s life for as long as possible.  Consequently the scope of work needed to cover anything that required immediate attention and anything else that was likely to need to be done in the next 5 years. It seemed pointless to have some planks replaced only to have more done in a few years’ time.

Secondly, it was important not to put a time constraint on getting the work completed, partly because this could lead to compromises when it came to making decisions about what to do and how to do it.  It also made it easier for Cox’s to schedule other work that was higher priority (like getting other people’s boats back in the water) and hence give full attention to Kenmure when they had time.  Having no definite timescale also meant that there was less of a problem when anything unanticipated came to light! What a good decision this proved to be!

Thirdly, the aim was to keep Kenmure as faithful as possible to her original design (ref my comments about Aristotle’s four causes in Polly’s “Brilliant” thread) but making small changes where these seemed sensible.  So for instance, the suggestion of replacing the rudder with a more hydrodynamic modern design was rejected, whereas the fitting of additional oak ribs seemed prudent.

So a scope of work was agreed.  This included fitting additional ribs, replacing the keel (of which more later) replacing all rotten planks, frames and any other parts of the hull which needed attention (of which more later) and reinstating the cove line which had mostly disappeared when during previous repairs to the sheer strake. 

The keel.

One of the authentic features of Kenmure when we bought her was that she had been regularly tar varnished below the waterline.  This impermeable layer is a good thing as long as the structure of the hull is fairly watertight, however if the hull tends to take on water (perhaps through seams that aren’t adequately caulked) and if the bilge paint isn’t well maintained, having a semi-permeable layer inside the hull and an impermeable layer on the outside isn’t such a good thing! What keeps water out will also keep it in.

Of course the matter of whether or not to paint bilges or leave them so the wood can “breathe” has been the subject of debate for a long time. There is probably no “right” answer – it depends on individual circumstances – but one thing that I think is true: If the bilges are painted, this needs to be kept in as good condition as the external paint. Obviously water will drain to the lowest point, so if you are a yacht with a wooden keel you need to give very careful consideration to how the bilges are maintained because the holes for the keel bolts can form natural drainage channels down into the body of the keel. 

Whether or not to paint bilges Is a difficult balance: I expect Timbo will confirm from the archaeological record, comparing the preservation of organic material from the majority of archaeological sites with arid areas such as the Valley of the Kings in Egypt or waterlogged places like the Somerset wetlands and Must Farm, the rule of thumb is dry timber = good, wet (i.e. completely immersed) timber = good, damp timber = bad. So do you try and keep the hull dry by painting the bilges, or encourage it to dry out by not painting or accept that dampness is inevitable and find a (chemical) way to reduce the rot.

A big apology if this is teaching grandparents to suck eggs.

MorrisMynah – please feel free to make a “you're talking a load of rot” joke :1_grinning: – oh sorry, I’ve just spoiled the punch line – what a rotten thing to do, sorry!

The efficacy of tar varnish was demonstrated when Eric stuck a penknife through the tar varnish on the keel and produced a rivulet of water which ran down the keel and formed a puddle on the floor. :63_astonished: Kenmure had been out of the water for at least a month at this point so it doesn’t take much imagination to work out the cause of the soft spots in the keel timbers!

There had been repairs to the keel deadwoods in 2005 and 2007. There were also 2 pieces of wood let into the keel in 2005 but no clue about the size or location of these. The keel bolts had been replaced in 2007 and were in good condition but it is possible that some of the keel timbers were original; they were certainly in a very poor state. Fortunately the hog was still in good condition. The new keel was made up and fitted. The old keel had been slightly off-centre – this may have been related to the addition (in 2005) of a “wedge section of oak fitted and epoxied to the underside of the hog to make the keel hang vertically”!  This “feature” was corrected when the new keel was fitted.

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Ribs and frames

The Press brother’s practice seems to have been to alternate sawn frames and bent oak ribs, perhaps the thinking was that a sawn frame was stiffer than a thin bent rib so with oak frames the number of ribs could be safely reduced.  Possibly it was a quicker and cheaper method of construction, particularly when spaced widely apart.  Kenmure was ordered at the beginning of November 1925 and launched in early March 1926 – someone may be able to suggest whether this is a typical length of time to build a 28’ river cruiser but it sounds quite quick to me (particularly since it is thought that Zephyr I was being built at about the same time).

The photo below is a detail from the after end of Pearl – Kenmure’s twin sister.  Pearl was part of the Press hire fleet, which shows that the construction method of alternating frames and ribs seems to have been normal practice, not just a way of speeding up the delivery of privately commissioned boats.  This picture also gives a clear idea of the spacing between the frames and ribs.

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Interestingly, Morning Calm, the other Press yacht owned by Captain Donaldson for a short period does not use this method of construction. She is currently for sale on the Topsail Yacht Brokers site.  Photographs of the forepeak show only bent oak ribs and the evenness of the fixings on pictures of the outside of the hull suggest that this is probably the case throughout.  The Topsail site states that she was built in 1920, so perhaps they changed their method of construction at some time between 1920 and 1924?

As a result of the frame and rib style of construction, it was decided that the stiffness of the hull would benefit from installing additional oak ribs.  Chris, who has done most of the work, says the improvement was tangible even before he started on the planking.

Coming next - Planking, don't talk to me about planking .......

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Yes Briiliant is frame and rib, which I think is a good thing. For me Danboline is a  definite inside hull treatment.

 

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We have been using liberal amount of Damboline as well, it is not cheap. Although, some people have disagreed with this and suggested it is best not to paint at all. Like just about everything else to do with boats, there is more than one opinion. We also use Cupinol wood preserver on any bare wood. Interesting about the tar varnish, when we bought BG the previous owners claimed they had tar varnished the hull, it was evident that this had not happened for many years. On doing research about tar varnish, I was told that the tar varnish currently available is of poor quality compared the original. We now use just anti-foul every year and it seems to do the job. 

Nice work going on here, keep posting!

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Birds tar varnish is just like black water, some swear by bitumen paint as it’s much thicker consistency..

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2 minutes ago, brundallNavy said:

Birds tar varnish is just like black water, some swear by bitumen paint as it’s much thicker consistency..

I always thought that bitumen paint was not eco friendly.

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None of it's eco friendly when you get right down to it. The best option is to use the freshwater stuff I guess but I have always ended up persuaded to go for the red antifoul as being better. None would be lovely but impractical.

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9 minutes ago, Polly said:

None of it's eco friendly when you get right down to it. The best option is to use the freshwater stuff I guess but I have always ended up persuaded to go for the red antifoul as being better. None would be lovely but impractical.

Now this is interesting! I thought I was the only person concerned about the possible (sic probable) environmental impact of anti-foul. It is pretty nasty stuff, and if it was nice then the things it is meant to prevent living on the hull of the boat would be very happy to live on the hull. Get the drift?

According to some people, the original tar varnish was so toxic that it got banned which is why we have ended up with the "black water" version. Allegedly creosote is very good but also banned. So, most of us go for the various brands of anti-foul, which is hopefully the fresh water version. In January, I  met a bloke in a bar in Canada and we got talking about wooden boats because he had one. He told me that some people are starting to use chilli peppers as a form of anti-foul. Now I was not sure if this was the beer talking so I checked it out and, it seems he is right. In the Pacific a lot of people are using chili peppers to keep marine growth off their boats, it is far more eco friendly than the chemical products we all use. 

I would imagine the cost of using chili would be a lot higher than anti-foul, so I have decided not to go down that road. The question I would ask is this: do we need to put anti-foul on a wooden boat every year? When BG came out the water in November, there was not a lot of growth on the hull and a blast of the power wash removed the little that was there. I am seriously considering not putting any on this year and leaving it until next year. Anyone got thoughts on this? 

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43 minutes ago, socrates said:

Now this is interesting! I thought I was the only person concerned about the possible (sic probable) environmental impact of anti-foul. It is pretty nasty stuff, and if it was nice then the things it is meant to prevent living on the hull of the boat would be very happy to live on the hull. Get the drift?

According to some people, the original tar varnish was so toxic that it got banned which is why we have ended up with the "black water" version. Allegedly creosote is very good but also banned. So, most of us go for the various brands of anti-foul, which is hopefully the fresh water version. In January, I  met a bloke in a bar in Canada and we got talking about wooden boats because he had one. He told me that some people are starting to use chilli peppers as a form of anti-foul. Now I was not sure if this was the beer talking so I checked it out and, it seems he is right. In the Pacific a lot of people are using chili peppers to keep marine growth off their boats, it is far more eco friendly than the chemical products we all use. 

I would imagine the cost of using chili would be a lot higher than anti-foul, so I have decided not to go down that road. The question I would ask is this: do we need to put anti-foul on a wooden boat every year? When BG came out the water in November, there was not a lot of growth on the hull and a blast of the power wash removed the little that was there. I am seriously considering not putting any on this year and leaving it until next year. Anyone got thoughts on this? 

Chilies in paint mmmmm this could spark off a load of new name's for anti foiling coastal red hot chilli peppers being the obvious one , thing is I don't discount things off the cuff  n be in interested to check this out further .

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Another great thread.  Proper interesting and thanks for taking the time to share this with us

Griff

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Chilli peppers - what a good idea!

The day before yesterday I was sent by Mrs Aristotle to the local village supermarket to buy (amongst other things) an ordinary red pepper to go in our vegetable stir fry.  They didn't have any but they did have some nice looking small red peppers that were labelled "piment antillais" (:1103_flag_fr:).  I bought half a dozen because they weren't expensive and it was all they had - big big mistake!

Mrs Aristotle, who is normally very trusting, felt slightly cautious and thought it would be wise to have a taste before slicing them all to go in the stir fry.

"Here, you try" she said (having turned a rather strange colour not unlike a red pepper). So I did - second big mistake of the day -   :367_hot_pepper::337_fire: :367_hot_pepper::337_fire: :367_hot_pepper::337_fire: :367_hot_pepper::337_fire: :367_hot_pepper:!

Apparently piment antillais are also known as Habaneros. On the Scoville scale of chilli spicyness they score between 100,000 and 350,000, which is the same as a Scotch Bonnet chilli. To put this in perspective, an ordinary red pepper scores between 0 and 100, a Jalapeño between 1,000 and 10,000 .

Let me tell you - there is nothing eco-friendly about these things :1_grinning:!

But if anyone wants to try, we still have 5 3/4 piments antillais in our freezer :1_grinning::1_grinning:.

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we grew a small pepper, it came in a pot and the chillies were about 1/2" long. after harvest the chillies were dried and flaked and put in a jar, there were about 20 on the plant. we soon learned that for a decent hot chilli con carne all you needed was about 1/8" on the end of a teaspoon (1/4 pepper). we still have about 4 teaspoons on the flakes left, as they dont get used up quickly.

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This is a true story and honest, it WAS a friend of mine. Certain aspects of this story might be thought 'inappropriate' for a family forum, but there's enough educational stuff in it to warrant it's telling. If the mods think otherwise, feel free to remove.

A friend of mine was preparing a batch of very hot chillies for bottling.. during the process his body told him it was time to lose one of his lunch time beers. (now some of you know what's coming.)

He went to the loo and relieved himself, washed his hands and returned to the kitchen. By the time he reached the kitchen, his mistake was becoming apparent.. a certain part of his anatomy was starting to get rather hot, well very hot actually.  The very painfully hot stage was reached and it was getting worse by the second.

Some of you might know that the antidote to this problem is Lactic Acid, and the best source of this, is yoghurt. In my friends fridge was a large pot of the stuff, and delaying not a second longer, he rushed to the fridge, grabbed the yoghurt pot, ripped of the lid and dropped his trousers and pants.

He plunged his appendage into the pot and sighed the most wonderful sigh of relief as the cooling took effect . That was the moment his wife walked into the kitchen. Her response was...

... "Don't put that yoghurt back in the fridge.".  

Moral of this tale?  If you are handling chillies and need the loo, thoroughly wash your hands both before AND after.

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Having caused a bit of a diversion, I think I ought to navigate us back on course :594c04f0e761f_default_AnimatedGifVehiclessaily:.

On the subject of tar varnish, I contacted several well experienced yards/boat builders while casting around for someone to take on Kenmure as a project. A the time, tar varnish was new to me and i asked naive questions on the assumption that it was some kind of archaic anti-fouling. At least two of the people I spoke to stressed that tar varnish was principally for waterproofing, any anti-fouling properties are incidental. They are doing different things thus tar varnish isn't an alternative for anti-fouling just as anti-fouling isn't an alternative to tar varnish. I can only report this view - I don't have enough experience to comment personally!

I've also have the following information on the subject which is interesting:  

If tar varnish is painted straight from the tin it is very thick, however, if you cut it with real creosote to the consistency of honey, it can be applied with a roller. 

During the planking process each plank was dowsed with at least 6 coats of a mixture of clear wood preservative and linseed oil. The first coat (possibly 2) of tar varnish was applied as a primer, thinned to a consistency of soup, to what were essentially bare planks.  Thereafter the "honey" coats.

The benefit of this is  you do not build up a thick tar layer; the paint becomes semi-sacrificial and at the end of the season the upper powdery surface (when dry) can be brushed off for the next application. The preservatives within it do however leach into the timber - possibly more readily.

True tar varnish is coal based (as is creosote), and both can still readily be obtained at specialist outlets - despite the fallacy that it is "banned"; it never has been, merely restricted to professional or industrial users. This is not usually a barrier.

The entire boat was re-planked and tar varnish was used on the bottom. After 6-7 coats and 2 seasons, after haul out and brushing, the grain of the planking is still clearly visible - no heavy build-up at all.

The lasting benefit of tar varnish was brought home when the 3 or 4 remaining original plank ends were removed during the rebuild. These 110 year old planks were infused with tar-like stain their whole thickness and no rot.

 

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