Restoration / Maintenance
Winter 2010 Onwards
This years work is being regularly chronicled in our Albion News section, click here for details.
The primary task is replacement of the tabernacle knees, this will be described in detail in our Autumn 2010 journal.
Winter 2000 - 2007
This is a summary of the maintenance work carried out on Albion in the period 2000 to 2007 based on an article for World Ships Trust by Roger Watts.
At the very beginning of our work we surveyed the boat, initially on water and subsequently on a slip at The Excelsior Sailing Trust yard on Lake Lothing, Lowestoft. A number of decaying timbers were identified, both exterior planking and frames as well as her fore deck planking. Whilst the above is not a comprehensive list it does outline the major areas needing attention with an old wooden boat and readers will, no doubt, be able to fill in additional details for themselves.
In the period 2002 - 2007 we have made three excursions to the slip at Lake Lothing in order to get Albion’s hull into a better condition. Our aims were to ensure we returned the boat to sound condition as expeditiously as possible, to institute a preservative programme to support this work, to improve ventilation of the hull and to install a rolling programme to ensure that, once her condition was acceptable, it could be kept there.
When we first surveyed the boat out of water we observed that the hog was badly bowed or “hogged”. It was evident that this condition had been in place for many years as a fixed keel with shaped upper edge had been fitted at some time in the 1970’s. This was a non-slipping type, whereas originally the boat had a slipping keel fitted for negotiating shallow waterways. The extent of the “hogging” was thirteen inches at its most extreme.
In 2005 the team, now happier with the general condition of Albion, turned its attention to the “hogging” problem. Albion had sailed for nearly fifty years without a cargo of thirty plus tons in the hold. The extremities of the boat carry considerable loads, not least the forward section on which approximately three tons of mast and counterweight are pivoted. The distortion in her hull was compromising her construction, appearance and sailing qualities. We decided to grasp the nettle, costed the project and put it to the main committee. With the committee’s blessing and financial support we developed a plan for work and a plan for further financial assistance.
Our membership has always been generous and made a magnificent contribution to the work. They were partnered by local businesses and family trusts and together our target was exceeded.
The work was carried out once again at The Excelsior Sailing Trust slip on Lake Lothing (close to the site where Albion was built in 1898) under the supervision of Maynard Watson a Broadland boat builder with a lifetime experience of wooden boats and much previous experience working with wherries. The plan was to remove the wooden keel and replace it with a steel I-beam that would hold the hull in place, with the hog flat for the future. Obviously not prototypical, the plan seemed to be the only way that we could preserve the vessel itself: a small compromise to make and one that few would realise when they see the boat on the water.
Materials were obtained and work began on the 10th October 2007.
The boat was supported carefully sixteen inches above the slipping trolleys with the new I-beam alongside.
The old keel was cut away progressively, each section being replaced with supporting timbers until all was removed.
Paul Reynolds & Seb Cardew (team members) beneath hull whilst old keel being removed.
Chocked firmly fore and aft and blocked up at the bilges the blocks along her centre-line were removed.
As this was completed she settled an inch. The next phase was to slide the I-beam in place and begin to reduce the supports at bilge level. This was done progressively and within a week and a half Albion’s hog had settled down onto the I-beam.
A little movement had been heard but very little disturbance had occurred to the hull. Her upper planks had opened a little and the third and fourth planks down from the sheer planks (in poor condition) were replaced all round to reinforce her at this point. There had been some twisting of the standing uprights and these were sawn as for scarphs to allow the compression to be relieved.
Albion had regained her sheer line and looked a new boat. In addition the top line of her hold had returned and her tabernacle had returned to the vertical.