Author Topic: Renovating Helterskelter  (Read 14365 times)

neil m

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Renovating Helterskelter
« on: February 18, 2013, 09:10:53 PM »
I put some info up when i was doing the boat, but most of the pictures were lost when the site was hacked, and also i have done some more bits and pieces since,
so thought it may be of interest to anybody doing up a boat if i put it up again.
I did all the work using hand tools, the only power tools used were a jigsaw,cordless drill and a mig welder &  small grinder when making the up the towing frame.
We had passed Bill on "Frog Prince" a couple of times on the Lancaster Canal in our normal cruiser which had made me think of how versatile a trailboat could be to visit other waterways, and on reading the article in Canal & Rverboat about "Mirage" even more so. Soon after we heard that the Local Boatyard in Lytham was closing down after it had been bought by an aggressive local housing developer, and there was to be an auction of all the remaining boats there, The yard was in a fairly industrial area which they were buying up and knocking down the units as they went. to get planning for houses. The yard was a busy place a hundred years ago making small boats for the rivers in Africa and they say the "African Queen" was built there. Low and behold there was a Caraboat there for sale, so we went to the auction and bought it, the first pictures are of the boatyard and the boat when we first bought it, the yard is on a creek that comes of the river Ribble.



 

Here is the inside, it looked like the boat had sunk at some point as there was a water line mark on the inside and a hole in the wheelarch, four windows were broken including one of the main ones. You can see the boat had already been painted blue on top of the yellow gell coat and ally sections.






The sad thing is even now 9 years later nothing has been built on the site, so the yard could have carried on until now at least












neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2013, 11:26:04 PM »
It was about a month before enough boats had been moved so i could get the boat out of the yard, i had checked the wheels and bearings were good enough to tow a short way to a farm where i had arranged to store and work on it.
After getting some good advice from John Nelson i decided to strip out the old towing frame and replace all the broken glass first, The glass was not hard to do once i had worked out how the trims fitted in, and you have to make sure you get the same thickness of glass. i made sure all the windows were sealed round with a high quality silicone to make it watertight. There was a large ally frame on the back of the boat made out of checker plate which an outboard had been mounted on, but it made it very hard to get in and out of the boat when ashore with this so i removed it.
This pic is of the old frame removed and repairs to the ribs where the frame fixes to.



This pic is of the old and new towing frames, i made the frame up from the plans on Tom Bradley's website so thanks to him for that. a local forge provided the steel and it wasn't hard to make it up, i found it best to fit the cross frame in place and tack weld the tang brackets in the right place to fit to the ribs, then remove to fully weld up. looking at the old frame you can see the bend at one end.


neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 12:15:10 AM »
The next picture is the frame fitted and bolted in with stainless bolts, The suspension units looked to be in good order so i rubbed down an repainted those, I used plenty of PU sealer where the bolts went through to them and the tow hitch bracket at the front.



I copied Tom's idea to support the well deck from the frame which is really worth doing as when using the boat you use the well deck a lot,



I then glassed the frames and the ribs to the boat to finish this job





Luckily the hardwood floor supports fitted nicely on top of the new frame

neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2013, 10:59:52 PM »
Here is a another picture of the boat at the boat yard and a picture of the frame on the back of the boat taken by Bill off "Frog Prince" when he saw my boat on the Lanky some years earlier

 


neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 09:27:13 PM »
Watching John Nelson's video, i learned there was a problem with the Caraboat snaking when towed due to play in the folding hitch, John's remedy was to weld on an extension to the hitch bracket and fit 2 extra bolts to brace things up, so before refitting during doing the frame I welded on these and a clamp for a jockey/propstand clamp, I thought it better to use large 20mm bolts rather than pins, that way you could tighten these up as well, so the whole thing would be solid when towing. I welded some bits of pipe to the bracket where the bolts go through to help support it all and make it easy to get  spanners on.  When folding the hitch you only need to remove the top bolt, and replace it in the lower hole, I made a smaller pin with a handle for this and use a lynch pin to lock in position.





The hitch itself was quite badly corroded, the original wind down jockey wheel and braking lever long gone. I cut off the sides and got the local forge to cut me out some new ones, i welded these on with a couple of braces accross, I made up a brake lever out of some flat bar.





so here it is fitted in the bracket, in both positions.







neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2013, 10:52:39 PM »
Next thing was to sort out the wheels and brakes, the wheels were pretty rusty but i found a couple of good ones at a local autojumble, so i painted these and got new tyres fitted. on removing the drums i found all the brakes were gone, i removed the old bearings and seals and wondered what to do,  Then i had a big stroke of luck, I was working on a farmers horse trailer in my job as a mobile mechanic one day, he said if you need any parts for the brakes there is an old caravan out back, When i looked they were no good for his trailer but exactly the same as the caraboat, he let me have all the parts including the hubcaps, I think it was a Snipe judging by the letter S on them.
I painted all the parts and fitted them all with new wheelbearings and seals from a local bearing stockist. I managed to buy a new compensator unit and made some rods up with stainless bar bought at the autojumble the thread in the expanders is 5/16 UNF . I made up a cable with an adjuster to go up to the handbrake lever. I spent some time setting this all up and pumped the bearings full of water resistant grease.
Now with the benefit of Hindsight i have learned with operating the boat in the water the rods make great weed collectors on shallow waters, and on seeing Phil Riley's clever hydraulic system, If starting now i would certainly think of going down that route. Phil's reasoning in the system was to avoid anything catching on the bottom of the boat ( shopping trolley's) etc, and ripping it out the hull.
To help the situation i remove the cable and rods before launch, I have painted the clevis yokes different colours so i know which side is which and put two lock nuts on the thread into the expanders so i screw them back in the right amout for the brakes to be even. It only takes 5 mins to do but its a bit of a pain to crawl under the boat each time. I'm thinking of ways of maybe retro fitting a Hydraulic set up one winter and will post any results.


neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2013, 09:01:25 PM »
Next thing i did was to glue some conduits down each side of the boat, to run the electric cables in, and then ran a new towing cable and fitted a new socket at the front, lights at the back with a new number pate. the idea of the conduits is it saves a lot of clips and you can pull cables through at a later time if needed.



After reading Tom's problems with leaks i thought it best to now tow the boat to try it in the water, so one Sunday morning we towed it to a marina in Garstang, I knew the owner as that was where my normal boat was moored. and he let us try it down the slipway, we found one small hole in the bottom of the boat about 1/8th big so i marked this. We tried launching with a jockey wheel and with the car to see how it went.







We had had the boat about a year now, and this gave us a real boost as i now knew the thing worked, we could plan the inside.
I realised that the cabin of the Caraboat was as big if not bigger to my 22ft cruiser and with a bit of work could be just as good if not better so when a friend showed some interest in the cruiser i sold it to him, and now could concentrate on the Caraboat..

neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 12:17:29 AM »
The original engine and jet drive were long gone, and was the main reason so few boats were made, so outboard power was decided on, I decided to fit a removable transom to the back of the boat, my thinking was it would keep the ability to use the boat as a Caravan on land. I bought some channel from the local forge and welded some flat bar to one side and bolted these to the back of the boat.
I made a transom out of Hardwood that could slide in and out of the channel,
I fitted a steering cable to go up to the normal steering position on the front port side.. All very simple and works ok too..



The morse control was on the boat when i bought it so i painted it up and fitted some new control cables


neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 11:30:50 PM »
I fitted a sheet of 16mm ply to the floor supports to make the main floor after glassing up the small hole we had found. The advantage of refitting a bare shell is you can do it as you like, here is a brief view of how i did mine. To support the sides its best to fit a bulkhead to brace things up, fitting the toilet compartment on the port side takes care of that side, and i copied John Nelsons idea for a central bulkhead on the starboard side. To try and save cost i bought the interior of a couple of caravans one had a neat sink and stove combined unit  so i used this and also a paloma water heater for hot water. i bought some sheets of thin oak faced ply to match the caravan unit  to make up the bunks and line the sides.
I fitted a cold water storage tank on the starboard side and battery box on the port.
I fitted a 240v outlet socket on the back of the boat and a circuit breaker box out of one of the vans so i could "Hook up" if using as a caravan..







Here is a couple of views of the finished interior.




neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2013, 08:22:50 PM »
The main work had taken me 3 years, though we have made improvements and learned through operating the boat since, so here are a few things which may be of interest.
The main question we are asked is about the wheel bearings, "Helterskelter"  is on the original running gear which has taper roller bearings, I strip the brakes and repack the bearings with water resistant grease every winter, which is no more than you should do with any boat trailer, and I also pump grease into the hub just before each launch until it comes out of the small hole in the center of the hub cap.
this makes sure the hub is full of grease so no water can enter, it doesn't matter if the hub is in the water for five mins or five weeks, if water gets into the bearings they will fail, the next time you tow some grease will come out of the hole due to expansion, on mine it tends to go on the inside of the wheel hub cap.
The other option is to go for sealed parallel bearings, to fit these i would have to fit new suspension units as the stub axles are different, i spoke to Peak Trailers about this and they can supply the units though they told me some trailer manufacturers still prefer the taper type. As i have had no problems for some 6 years now and the bearings still look like new I've decided to stay as we are, here are some pics of the hubs removed after the end of last season, this time i gave the drums a fresh coat of paint, and you can see how good the grease and bearings look before repacking.





 

neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2013, 08:39:32 PM »
Another good idea i pinched of Phil Riley was to fit a leaf spring type caravan stabilizer, this is really easy to do, you only need to bolt the bracket onto the hitch and another bracket onto your tow vehicle. I found it helps especially with pitching on uneven roads, well worth doing.


neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2013, 11:51:28 PM »
The other thing to help towing is to get 70/80 kg of nose weight on the front of the hitch, we store our boat at a local farm so don't like to leave the outboard on, so usually fit the engine at the launch site. If we put the fuel tank and cool box with the beer in the well deck that usually does the trick, if you have the engine on the back you may need to add more weight at the front...

neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2013, 09:26:41 PM »
We have launched the boat with standard jockey wheel, but on one poor slipway the rubber tyre came off and resulted in the whole thing getting stuck, so since then have launched straight in with the car and folded the hitch once in the water,
thats ok if you have a 4x4 , Phil has a solid wheel mounted on his boat and folds the hitch then lowers the boat into the water with a strap to the car. another thing you can try if going straight in with the car is as the boat just starts to enter the water the weight comes off the top pin, if you pull it out and then go backwards it allows the hitch to cantilever down and the boat will float much sooner so the car doesn't need to go so deep..


neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2013, 09:54:38 PM »
When we first did the boat i just painted the inside of the roof which was ok but last year i decided to try and fit a lining, i thought it would help with insulation and look better too, i bought some roof lining material off e bay which was vinyl with a foam backing, i wondered about sticking it straight onto the roof with glue but i only had enough stuff for one go at it, so i decided to fit battens to the roof and cut some thin plywood panels to glue the material onto. I folded it over the back and stapled it with stainless staples, the hardest part was cutting the panels right, i did need a couple of goes at it, I also stapled some insulation between the battens..







I was happy with the result even if it was quite a bit of work..


neil m

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Re: Renovating Helterskelter
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2013, 11:41:58 PM »
I have been lucky with help from other club members with advice and equipment,
my boat had a awning rail around the front above the windows, a friend of mine called Colin gave me a caravan porch awning so i made a cover that fitted into the rail and came over the well deck to keep the weather out when not using the boat.
also Phil Riley very kindly gave me a canopy to go over the front of the boat, this was one his talented wife had made and was a mk1 version, they have since made a bigger and better mk2 for "Mr Towed" the canopy protects the well deck from the weather and makes it a more useable space, here are a couple of pics of when i first fitted the canopy on, and another of the boat at the Cumbria steam gathering, when  entered in the "historic caravan" section of the show. It looks good with all the bunting on and we really enjoy this weekend every year