Sunday, August 06, 2006

Good news from the men with beards

On Saturday morning the chief wizard, Allister Denyer, from the Russell Newbery Engine Co phoned with the good news that there was progress with phase one of the engine rebuild. Progress in three ways, one, the engine was ever so slowly moving towards completion (only 4 months so far!), two, Allister and I are talking, in fact it is impossible to shut us up! and three the RN Engine Co has at long last, admitted to the value of communicating with their customers. The news is in fact better than even I hoped and certainly better that Allister's initial prognosis. The first part of the first phase which involves the complete dismantling of both the block and the crankcase and the complete steam cleaning of both items is now complete. The block is in remarkable condition and has been crack tested and is one of the best he has seen according to Allister. It just remains to hone out the black rust from the bores which remains after the removal of the liners. It is also remarkable because for the first 17 years of its life it was cooled by sea water as the power plant of a fisheries protection trawler based in Kings Lynn and spent the next 30 years or so sitting on the quayside in the company of a 4cyl Gardner until they were both bought by John Shotbolt in around 1985.
He installed the National in the one and only tug he built, Warrior, in 1995, which he originally intended to keep for himself, but 4 years later was prevailed upon to sell. The Gardner now powers his last boat - Revenge. These two boats were named after the Royal Navy's first two iron clad warships: HMS Warrior is still extant and moored in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Back to the National; following the steam clean inside and out all the residual paint has been removed and both sections have been rubbed down, primed and undercoated ready for me to apply the topcoats of Craftsmaster Paints engine enamel equivalent of Mason's Dove Green which is, after considerable consultation with some of the stars of the old engine fraternity, the nearest we can get to the original National engine colour. Although to be truthful we are being slightly precious here as it is likely that all engines from what ever source were painted with what ever paint was to hand, we however would like to differentiate our unique National from the mid brunswick green used by Russell Newbery.
Next week, after the paint has thoroughly dried, and the honing has been completed RN liners will be slightly modified and then fitted to the block. The crank case and the block then will be ready for the next phase - casting the main and big end bearings in white metal and machining them to the crank which is currently undergoing major surgery at Custom Cranks. This should be ready to be picked up sometime at the end of August, when it will be delivered by me to RN at Daventry. Watch out for the next exciting episode then.

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