Over the last few weeks we have been busy constructing Growler's new keel. This has been one of the most complex jobs that we have undertaken on Growler so far but great fun! The most complicated part has been the cutting of the rabbet. The rabbet is where the lowest plank on the boat sits so a high level of accuracy is needed.
We have also taken the decision to add a second layer of planking to the bottom of the hull. A major factor that has confused us in the rebuild of Growler is her construction. Thames barges are normally built with two layers of planking. The seams are then offset and a layer of barge felt( very similar to roofing felt) is put in between to create a wonderful watertight seal. Growler had this double skinning but only on the sides of the hull and not on the bottom. We believe she did originally have a second skin on the bottom as well which is why we are reinstating the two layers on the bottom. It will also make her stronger and we hope much more watertight.
Prior to constructing the keel we spent most of February putting new planks into Growler. This new planking was kindly funded by the Wells Harbour commissioners. At some point in her life Growler was moored alongside a quay for a long period of time. This meant that one side of her planking was exposed to the weather and the other was not. Therefore the starboard side of Growler that was protected is in very good condition and the port which was exposed was very rotten.
The photo above shows the re-planking in mid February. This side is now complete. This was a long process as the inner skin of planking was very badly rotten meaning that we had to remove and replace both skins. However both port and starboard sides are now complete which is so so exciting.
Our next challenge is to fit the forward section of the keel and the new stem. We are hoping to complete both these tasks by early April and then crack on with re-planking the bottom!
To finish, I just want to thank all you so much for supporting the rebuild of Growler. Our latest fundraiser raised an awesome £3000 which sends Growler well on the way to having an engine and all the associated kit fitted.
A very special thank you to the Llywellen family for supplying us with mains power for the keel installation process and the Owles family for their amazing help and instruction in installing the keel.