Upside down welding,oh, what fun! I splashed out and bought a used gas/no-gas mig welder that I found on ebay.The arc welder is fine, getting good results with it, on horizontal surfaces at least, but it doesn’t have a very long duty cycle and I was getting increasingly frustrated having to wait for it to cool down. It was costing me a fortune in tea bags…….
And now that time is critical, I need to speed things up as much as possible, and so the decision was made. The machine I bought is a Clarke 151en, a bit battered but working well, I looked at cheap new gasless welders but I’d heard conflicting reports about gasless welding and I wanted to keep my options open.I couldn’t afford a new dual purpose machine. And the budget machines didn’t have the welding capacity I need. The Clarke should cope welding thicknesses up to about 4mm.
The trial run without gas didn’t leave me impressed, very spattery and not particularly good welds, but I persevered and made a start on the hull repairs. The trouble with welding upside down is the constant fight with gravity and during the first session I learnt that molten metal hurts. A lot.I got the first plate welded in place but it wasn’t pretty. And then thankfully I ran out of wire while i still had a little skin left!So, new reel of wire and welding transformed. I don’t know if the wire that came with the machine was proper gasless wire, but the new reel definitely is and has made a world of difference, welds are a lot cleaner and neater.Welding upside down is still a challenge but by doing short bursts of welds rather than trying to get a good run going makes it easier and a lot less painful. All but 2 of the plates I have to do can(albeit with the skills of a contortionist) be reached from inside the hull so can be double welded. The only possible way to double weld the remaining 2 would be to cut a hole in the transom……..
Anyway, moving swiftly on. I finally found a hatch to replace the homemade rotten one fitted at the front of the coach roof. I actually bought 2, I was bidding on one on ebay and another came up on Gumtree, and I thought what the hell, I’ll replace both. The forehatch is a Lewmar with a built in ventilator, not sure of the make of the other. The perspex is a bit crazed in both but (allegedly) watertight. Whatever, they’ve got to be better than what I’ve got already.
Replacing the steelwork around the forehatch has been the most involved repair so far, quite a big section to cut out, and I made a mistake with the measurements (OK, I forgot to measure and guessed when I ordered the steel) so I’ve had to replace it in sections. The hatch will have to be fitted slightly (25mm) off centre because the supporting framework lines up perfectly with the fixing holes and I ain’t moving that!