Hazel Getting on with the Job
After hauling her out of the water and getting her jacked up and levelled during July, the rejuvenation of 1914 Runcorn narrow boat Hazel continued through the Autumn. Stuart Hughes and Chris Leah lead a team of volunteers on this important project to save a historic boat and put her to work for today’s needs.
With the boat in a position to be worked on and the working areas sorted out, the next priority was to start recording Hazel’s original shape before the old planking could be removed. Stuart took charge of making moulds to form the new planking round, ably assisted by Reg Thompson and Pete Nicholson. Meanwhile Chris removed the remnants of the shattered stempost and carefully pieced them together to use as a pattern for the new one, which he began to hew out of an oak log, acquired some years ago from a back garden in Wythenshawe.
As work on the moulds neared completion, Stuart turned his attention to the new keelson. This effectively forms the spine of the boat and is being made from two 36 foot lengths of greenheart. The original was of pitch pine, which is all but unobtainable nowadays. The two pieces are joined together with a hooked scarph joint, which Stuart cut with incredible accuracy. The whole length has been carefully planed and sanded as it will be exposed to view in the finished cabin.
As we moved into September fitting the new bottom became the top priority. This is made from 3 inch thick greenheart, traditional elm being virtually unobtainable. The greenheart was donated, being originally the deck of a salvage ship. We had been given enough for about 90 feet of bottom, so any split or damaged boards could be rejected. The best boards were planed and sawgated to fit nicely, then jacked into place and bolted through the new keelson. Stuart and Ryan did most of this work. Meanwhile, with the stempost made, Chris turned his attention to spiling the planks to extract the information about their exact shapes for cutting new planks. This was finished at the end of September and the process had begun of carefully dismantling the stern end, noting information about the bevels on the edges of each plank so that the new ones can be cut as precisely as possible. A landmark on the 30th September was the removal of the sternpost, in much better condition than the stempost. This will be copied during October ready to start re-constructing the stern end of the boat. The new stempost has been lifted into position and requires only minor trimming before permanent fitting.
If you would like to come and work on this project please ring Chris on 07931 952 037, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use this contact form.
There is accommodation available aboard Southam for volunteers.
With restoration work on Hazel now well under way we need to start planning for the ongoing project of running Hazel as a Well Being Boat, providing waterway holidays for people who really need them. There is still much fundraising to do to ensure that the boat is completed and put to work, as well as planning and organising crewing, towing and operation of the boat. If you are able to help with this, please get in touch.