Renovation 1. The Elum

(above)  The elum removed from the boat (24.10.11) and temporarily re-housed in my sister’s shed in Derbyshire.

At last, my practical involvement in the project of the boat begins. I’m planning to ‘chunk’ the work into short-term projects, Renovation 1. The Elum is the first.

Just a word, before I get going, on my understanding of the renovation /restoration debate.

Let’s be clear from the start, I’m not restoring the boat. After all, if that were the case, I’d be seeking to return it to a single-ended joey boat, no cabin, no engine, a simple workhorse of the BCN.

No, what we’re seeking to do is to work within and respect history and tradition, and acknowledge each phase of the boat’s long evolution over the last 100+ years – from work-horse to camping boat, from unpowered to motorised, from coal hauler to houseboat – and also recognise that she’s still evolving – as our family boat…

The elum ‘at home’ in the cellar (28.10.11) of our Victorian mansion block in NW London. We live on the 5th floor – a mere 78 steps – we don’t have any outside space to call our own so I’m renovating the elum in the pedestrian tunnel that links the road outside our block to the communal back gardens. You’d be surprised how busy that tunnel gets of an evening! A lot of advice being given…

The photo does show the elum in a rather harsh way, the whole thing looks a wreck. It isn’t. Fact is, the vast majority [if not all] of the wood is sound. It’s ‘tired look’ is mainly flaking paint.

Oxford Blue – Brunswick Green – White – Maroon – Red… the archeology of stripping back layers of paint, a rainbow history of a boat.

Stage 1. – exploratory – easing off the loose flaking paint; letting the air to the damp spots; taking the elum back to bare wood so that it’s easier to assess exactly what remedial work’s needed. Much of it simply flakes away, the rest will require softening.

And, first impressions are pretty favourable. There’s a lot of cleaning off to be done but generally speaking the elum has been preserved well. The steelwork encasing the lower third giving the whole structure a reassuring rigidity [and enormous weight!].

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