Coming out of dry dock

Albert left Baxters dry dock at Yardley Gobion today after her three-week re-paint. As the weather was clear and bright Albert looked at her best, although she still isn't fully decorated.

Albert's paint job wasn't without some difficulties but she now looks very smart. You now begin to realise how faded the Middle Coach Green had become when you see the fresh new paint. The new Imitation Gold coach-lines also look very smart.

New paint and anodes

The roof is no longer Mason's Chestnut but is Corfe Grey and the rear section is now Raddle Red (Craftmaster) which should be more practical than the scumbling. The red pigeon box, cratch board and counter are Mason's Middle Red.

New roof colour scheme (decoration to come)

The boat alongside came into the dry dock painted in primer after shot-blasting. She now has a name - Bird on a Wire.

Filling the dry dock after the re-paint

We spent the day tidying up the boat, replacing the curtains and getting rid of the layer of dust that, despite all precautions, had pervaded the inside of the boat.

The next stage is to get Colin Dundas working on the signwriting, decoration and the scumbling. We will take Albert up to High House at the weekend for Colin to start work next week.

New header for our blog

In an attempt to brighten up our blog, I decided to add an image to the header. In doing so I found out why Waterways World, and other canal magazines, have to be particularly careful when choosing their front covers. I ran through loads of our photos before I finally got an image where I could have the title clear against a light background (sky), featured the boat and had a strong "landscape-style" content.

The image I finally settled on was taken on the Upper Thames in August 2007. It was shortly after the floods, we were moving on yellow boards, and you can see that the river is still in spate. During the Summer 2007 Floods the river reached half-way up the trunk of the tree on the right. Somebody helpfully fixed a marker to the trunk.


Repaint Progress

As we indicated in the last blog, Albert was soon about to look worse. Ian has now rubbed her down. It took him a particularly long time to remove the scumbling on the cabin sides and roof because it was really tough; you can tell by the numerous sanding discs on the floor.

After rubbing down

Albert now looks decidedly shabby. Still it won' t be long before new paint gets applied.

Looking at the bits normally underwater

It is always fascinating to see your boat out of the water. It can also be a bit of a nervy time when you start imagining all those horrors that could have occurred beneath the waterline where you can't see them.

Albert in Baxter's Dry Dock

Albert went into dry dock yesterday and today, after Jon & Ian of Baxter's had pressure washed her, I went over to inspect her. I was very pleased to find that she had survived the last two years very well indeed. As Jon said the hull is in very good condition even after 14 years.

Of particular interest were the anodes which we contemplated changing two years ago. In the end we decided, that since they had lasted quite some time and we planned to get her out of the water again in two years, they would do for the time being. I had occasionally caught a glimpse of them in clear river waters and decided that they still existed, but over the last two years I have remained unsure if it was the right decision. It was therefore with some relief that I found that they were still doing their job but they will need replacing this time. I presume that because the blacking was in good condition they haven't had to work too hard.

Anodes that have done their job

The only negative points appear to be a small chip out of the propeller and a small section where some blacking that has peeled off with pressure washing to reveal bare metal. The latter will be easily fixed but we will have to live with the former.

Prop with small chip

The hinges on the side and stern hatches of Albert were never a strong point and some had started to fail. We are having them replaced with "butterfly" hinges with bronze pins. They look much better.

The painting plan appears to be to put on the first coat of paint on Friday. As another boat painter said to us in 2000 when we had our last boat repainted "we're going to make her look a lot worse before she looks better". She did of course.

Albert to get a repaint

We've been quite for a while but we have been getting organised to have Albert painted. We think Albert's green (Mason's Middle Coach Green) was applied when she was built and that was over the 14 years ago. Although it appears to have lasted very well it needs regular polishing and it's getting a little faded and thin. So we are going for Middle Coach Green again.

The roof, which was painted about 4 years ago in Mason's Chestnut, as an approximation to the red oxide roofs of traditional boats, has not lasted as well. The plan is to have the roof painted in grey but replace the stern scumbled section of the roof by Craftmasters Raddle Red. The Dulux Brushwood scumble has lasted well on the cabin sides and we will replace like with like. Unlike varnished scumbles it doesn't need regular maintenance. However, it was less successful on the roof where it cracked a little, probably as a result of more sun. This should keep the stern section looking decidedly traditional.

So at the moment Albert is in the dry dock at Baxters Boatfitting Services. Whilst there she will be blacked, have new anodes, and have new door hinges. Photographs will follow. She should be there for about three weeks.

After the repaint Colin Dundas will be doing the signwriting, the decoration and the scumble. We are aiming to go for a very traditional look with three panels - owners names and home "port", number one, and "Albert". We are also going for the full "Registered at Watford". With so many modern boats going away from traditional decoration I suppose we are making a statement, but we have to with a boat called Albert.

Which reminds me that this summer we saw Albert (No. 3) on the Thames at Kingston on two occasions. On the last we go a very cheery wave from the owner who indicated that they were "number three".