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Kenmure The Continuing Restoration

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On 4/5/2018 at 11:48, Aristotle said:

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. 

I've had permission from Bev at Topsail to use the photos I was referring to above.




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To misquote Samuel Pepys: And so to planking.

Don’t talk to me about planking!

There seem to be various rules of thumb regarding how joints between planks should be spaced, for instance, at least 4 feet and two planks apart i.e. if there is less than 4 feet horizontally between joints there needs to be at least two un-joined planks in between (I think this is the Lloyd’s List specification for wooden yachts),  3 feet and 3 planks apart (the specification of our retired boat builder neighbour) etc.  It is important to understand the principles behind these guidelines, but generally I’m with Harry Day and his view that rules are “for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools”, so for small vessels, and those restricted to the relatively benign conditions of inland waters, there can probably be some flexibility in the way these “rules” are applied.

Brian and Joy provided invoices from 1999 to 2015 which gave full details of all the maintenance work done during that period.  Being someone who likes to gain understanding by analysing the data, I decided to take a closer look at the detail of the repairs done since 1999. The results were interesting!

On the starboard side there had been 18 pieces of new planking (a total length of about 120ft) with an average length of 6’ 8”. The port side had 25 new pieces of planking (a total length of about 136ft) with an average length of just less than 5’ 6”. Of course averages only tell part of the story:  Over 70% of the port side planks were less than 6ft in length. 50% of the starboard planks were 6ft or less.  I haven’t done any calculations but keeping to the rules of thumb with this number of short planks would be difficult if not impossible.  Certainly, visual inspection showed that there were places where joints on adjacent planks were as little as 12” apart. As someone commented – it’s a bit like having a zip fastener down the side of the boat.

It was clear that there was planking that would need to be replaced to ensure the stiffness and stability of the hull even if the planks didn’t have any serious rot.  Nearly all the old repairs had been butt jointed with reinforcing “bibles” (nearly enough to open a religious bookshop) which is not necessarily a problem if done properly but isn’t aesthetically pleasing. There were also quite a lot of short “splints” supporting areas of the planking.

The other feature of the historic maintenance was the number of repairs to plank edges:  9 on the port side, 15 on the starboard, in total about 60ft of edge repairs.  The photo below shows a cross section of a plank with repaired “edges”. 


The risk with repairs taken to extremes like this is that when the plank takes up, it won’t swell evenly, or consistently with the surrounding planks, which introduces additional stresses into the hull.  Not serious in isolation but if there are too many repairs like this combined with a lot of short lengths of planking, it all starts to undermine the stiffness and stability of the hull’s structure. This is particularly important in a yacht where all sorts of stresses are resolved through the hull while sailing.

The boat builder who maintained Kenmure for Brian and Joy had also done at least some of her maintenance prior to their ownership so the record based on his invoices from 1999 may not give the full story.

Taking into account rot and the excess of short planks and edge repairs, the only sensible conclusion was that a significant amount of re-planking was required!

The photo below illustrates a lot of what I have described: this is a view of the starboard side of the main cabin looking aft – it shows bibles, splints, repaired edges and the condition of the bilge paint. It also shows the spacing of the frames and ribs, with one bent rib between each pair of sawn frames (or vice versa depending on your point of view).


It is not really visible in this photo but there was also a problem with the beam below the bulkhead at the far end of the photo.  This is the bulkhead between the main cabin and the well.  For some reason, the limber hole on the port side of this beam was drilled through the wood rather than being formed by a notch in the bottom edge (as is the case everywhere else and on the starboard side of this beam). This had prevented proper drainage of bilge water and the resultant rot in the beam is evident in the close-up picture below.



Next instalment: Stripping out and the Baby Blake.


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Great stuff. The rot pictures are very familiar to us on BG. If you are ever around Somerleyton come and see us. The yacht Pan is being restored in the same shed as us and I am friends with owner, might be interesting for you to have a look.

Best wishes, and keep the thread going.

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Thanks Socrates - that would be great - I'll PM you when I next expect to be in the area.

I think I might know Pan - was she ever part of the Green Wyvern fleet?

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3 hours ago, Aristotle said:

Thanks Socrates - that would be great - I'll PM you when I next expect to be in the area.

I think I might know Pan - was she ever part of the Green Wyvern fleet?

Yes, she is still part of the Green Wyvern fleet, as is Sparklet which is also in the same shed. I am friends with the owners of both boats and other members of the Green Wyvern club. 

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I think I probably sailed on Pan - I certainly remember Sparklet - she was too much of a thoroughbred for the likes of cabin boys like me!  The yacht I remember best was called Stella which I think is probably Stella Genesta.

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Sparklet is some machine, a bit like Madie which is still around. Force Four is also based at Somerleyton and owned by another of our friends. Well worth you coming down and having a look.

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The most joins I have counted on one frame was 11, we are hoping to do Brilliant’s planks in just 2 pieces so the joins should be well spaced.

Edited by brundallNavy

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Just across the yard? How did I miss that? :default_blink:

Yes it will be nice to lose that vertical' 2 joins is much more reassuring! 


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Stripping the interior

It was a great disappointment to me that Mrs Aristotle was so underwhelmed by the new digital Dymo labelling machine that I bought to make her life easier! :37_disappointed: It has several fonts, multiple font sizes and can print both horizontally and vertically.  And, as I pointed out, she could use it to label all the files she is trying to organise at home as well. :33_unamused:


Anyway, we spent two days stripping out the interior with me photographing and unscrewing bits, Mrs Aristotle labelling each piece as it was removed and bagging up the screws. Most of this was reasonably simple – this photo shows an early stage of work in progress.


Berth cushion and drawers removed, the mahogany slats lining the hull are screwed to the frames and the pine bunk boards simply lift out.  Some of the bunk boards were taken home for woodworm treatment and close observation to ensure that there was no active woodworm – it had never occurred to me that you could get woodworm on a boat!   

This left the sides of the berths and the drawer runners.  These were fairly easy to remove but I suspect the re-fitting may not be quite as simple! The following photo is an example of the complex woodwork behind the scenes. Note also the repaired plank edges in the top left and the two splints in the area to the right with white and grey bilge paint.


The historic invoices record instances of “sorting out” the drawers and drawer runners – I suspect this may be related to movement in the hull resulting from the framing and planking issues discussed above.  The photo shows an example of the cross-bracing supporting the bunk sides and drawer runners. It is anybody’s guess quite how everything will fit once the hull has been re-planked and takes on its new shape.  It took two days to strip out; I have allowed 10 days to do the re-fitting! I'll know in a few weeks time ......


The Baby Blake

The Baby Blake was removed as part of the strip out and taken home to be refurbished. 


Over the years Brian and Joy had accumulated various spares: two extra toilet bowls, two spare seats and a lid, pump handle, etc. so the chances of getting one solid, working toilet were good.

Paint stripper followed by a sulphuric acid bath was used to take all the bronze and brass parts back to clean metal.  Some parts were then repainted and others given several coats of Protectaclear to maintain the bright bronze finish without having to keep re-polishing.

As far as I can determine, the seat and lid are made of polyoxybenzylmethyleneglycolanhydride (OK, Bakelite if you prefer the dumbed down version). I’m happy for someone to correct me on this – my ability to identify early plastics is limited!  Bakelite is formed from phenol and formaldehyde and was developed by the Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland in Yonkers, New York, in 1907 (Isn’t Wikipedia wonderful?).

Over time the surface oxidizes and forms a dull surface layer which with careful attention can be brought back to something close to the shiny finish it would have had originally.

The seat and lid were refurbished by using a fine rubbing compound followed by good quality wax car polish.

I began to sense that my energetic polishing of the toilet seat was starting to stretch Mrs Aristotle’s patience and understanding although her only comment was “Please don’t make it too slippy”.  I still can’t work out what she was getting at – perhaps she doesn’t realise quite how small the heads compartment is.

Everything was re-assembled using a BB service kit -not cheap) and bench tested (the inlet and outlet pumps that is - nothing more than that)  by our three year old grandson whose enthusiastic and energetic pumping even exceeded my energetic polishing of the seat!

From this point onwards it was very much over to Cox’s ……….

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Poor Mrs Aristotle!

Our Baby Blake was in a dire state but determined work at LBBY and at Alex (Braveheart)'s place in Glasgow, plus the BB refurb kit, which actually costs more than a complete new loo of the plastic persuasion.

Alex may be able to post the resultant picture of his apprentice who was tasked with cleaning the various bits. Black then goggles shaped white. Alex never tod him the bits were from a toilet!:default_blink:

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I apologise for the delay in posting the next instalment – this is largely for two reasons: Firstly, we’ve been hit by a spell of good weather so my attentions have been diverted elsewhere; secondly, this instalment is mainly photos, and choosing the right pictures is a lot harder than just writing about them! Anyway –here we go:

Cox’s work

So just to recap – the work to be undertaken by Cox’s was the elimination of anything rotten (keel, planking, frames) new bent oak ribs, cove line etc.

I’ve already described work on the new keel so the next photo shows the stripped out interior before work started:


The next photo shows new ribs and two new laminated frames:


Actually this picture is a bit out of sequence because it was taken after the starboard planking was completed.

After addressing the framing and the keel, next came planking:


The majority of the existing planking appeared to be larch but we decided on mahogany because (as Polly has posted) getting hold of good quality larch in quantity is difficult at best and at this stage it was a guess as to exactly how much would be required;  Cox’s buy their seasoned mahogany in bulk as complete sawn trees and so have an almost inexhaustible supply at a very good price!

I should mention that Cox’s will sell timber as well as using it: http://coxsboatyard.co.uk/top-quality-timber-sale/

And now various shots of the planking in progress.  The plan is that the seams above the waterline will be epoxied and those below the waterline will be sikaflexed (as seems to be the fashion nowadays).

The following photos cover a period from March 2017 to April 2018. By the end of this sequence the upper planking has been epoxied, the lower planking sikaflexed and the whole given a first sanding down before a second application of epoxy to deal with any remaining blemishes!














Coming next – something rotten in that state of the deck and starting work on the interior ….


20180126 032.jpg

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