Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Work Completed - The Barge Renewed

Amo Barge -
Main Cabin Complete
The final couple of weeks of the renovation were hectic and the few days up to the May bank holiday deadline especially so.
A few people need special mention, Colm Byrne, Jimmy Smith and Mick Ward all rose above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the final snags were dealt with, working late into the evenings. Soft furnishing was put in, the stove re-installed, final touches of varnish and paint and a deep cleaning was done throughout the barge.

Amo Barge - Kitchen -
The kitchen was completed and finished off with a polished granite counter top. It has a full size gas oven and cooker, a standard domestic fridge that operates off the batteries via an invertor, and a Rinnai gas water heater that also provides hot water for the shower. It was kitted out with crockery, cutlery and glass ware for 8 people.
Amo barge -
Work on the shower and toilet only commenced during the last two weeks of the project. The walls were re-clad in PVC paneling and a full sized domestic shower tray was fitted. The shower waste is connected directly onto a Whale Gulper pump to extract the water. 
I opted for a Sani-Marine electric toilet. While they are a bit more expensive than other brands, they are comfortable with simple one touch flush controls. They also have a automatic shut down sensor that detects when the waste holding tank is full, and are fairly straight forward to service if required. It draws a controlled amount of flush water directly from the on-board fresh water tank which makes them clean, efficient and has the look and feel of a toilet that you may find in a house.

Amo Barge engine -
45 HP Lister Petter engine
The engine hasn't received much mention so far, but it's one of the most vital components and is the heart of a barge. Amo has a 45hp Lister Petter four cylinder engine. It has been serviced, re-wired and is in perfect working order thanks to chief engineer Ray, skipper of the Celtic Count. The drive plate was replaced, heater plugs renewed and the throttle and gear cables adjusted to ensure smooth running. The Amo has plenty of power for a 45ft barge and the slick design of the Dartline hull allows for a fast cruising speed in open water.   

The exterior was repainted with International Marine paint. We brought her up to the Naas line on the canal under the motorway bridge which serves as an excellent painting tunnel! New fenders were added and the vessel is looking good inside and out. 

The renovation over the past few months took more time and money than originally planned, but the result is worth it. The barge is like new and has plenty of years left in it for cruise hire on the Grand Canal. Lots of people helped bring the vision to reality, so a big thanks to Vinny, Ray, Jimmy, Carolina, Margaret, Mick, Colm, Brian, Chalkie, Anne and all who have supported the project in Sallins and beyond. Keep an eye out for The Amo if you are along the Grand Canal in Co. Kildare.
The amo barge -
The Amo Barge

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Dartline Brass Plaque

Dartline Brass 
 When the old kitchen was removed there was an interesting find behind one of the kitchen units - A brass plaque from the Amo's builder, Dartline Boats. The plaque was nicely polished and is now fixed to the new front door.

Main Cabin Complete
The past two weeks, including the Easter break have been full of activity and the Amo renovation is almost complete. All structural work is done and all painting and varnishing is finished. Wood-doc oil was used on the new fixed furniture bringing out the natural grain of the mahogany. 

The legs for the table in the main cabin pop out easily. Three short legs go into
the receivers allowing it to drop down to the same level as the seating turning the ares into a double bed when required.

Amo barge -
Windows Restored
 A few sunny days allowed for work on the exterior to progress. In addition to painting, several leaky windows were repaired. It's difficult to find the source of a leak on a barge window and several attempts over the years to seal them were evident. The only way to get it right is to take them out and re-fit them. The frames were in pretty bad condition with a mix of old paint, various sealers and dirt. Once they were out I applied elbow grease and brillo pads to bring them back to a shine! 

The bedroom is complete with a double and a single bed. The right-hand side of the double bed drops down on a long piano hinge bring it back to a single bed if the double isn't needed, or for extra space when cruising. 
This week will see the finishing of all aspects of the project. Upholstery, foam mattresses and curtains are on the way as we head into a week of fine finishing on the Amo Barge Renovation. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

More doors, interior lights and fine finishing
Preparing Bow Doors
Amo Barge -
Hung and Varnished
 Restoring the bow deck doors was a time consuming process that took 2 full days.

23 years of varnish and wood stain had to be removed using a sander. Old debris on the many corners and small edges were removed using a knife and chisel. 
The small double doors leading to the bow deck are made of teak. Unlike the main stern deck door, they were in very good condition and only needed some patience and TLC to bring them back to their former glory. They are now re-hung an had their first coat of yacht varnish. 

Amo Barge -
Interior lights
 Parts of the interior are now coming to a fine finish. The ceiling is trimmed and varnished, window frames cleaned and re-fitted, upper walls painted and a significant portion of varnishing is completed. 

A large delivery arrived this week from the projects main chandlery supplier, E.C. Smith Marine. The interior lights are in and we choose a classic design that has been around for a long time, but is now fitted with an 18 LED bulb. This will reduce electricity consumption by over 80% from the lighting. Other goodies in the delivery included exterior LED lights, fittings for the table in the main cabin area, stainless steel vents for the interior storage bins and a 2 meter long brass hinge to complete the extension to one of the bed frames in the bedroom to allow it to turn into a double bed when required.

amo Barge -
Main Door
Amo Barge -
Roof and Hand-rail
Work is ongoing on the exterior and we will be ready for top coats of paint by next weekend, weather permitting! The roof received major attention 3 years ago when I spent the summer of 2011 grinding off layers and layers of paint and rust spots. It was brought back to the steel and given 4 coats of primer and a top coat. Is has been given a light sanding and will get a primer coat and new top-coat of International blue.
The new main door is hung and varnished thanks to Colm, joiner, student and skipper of the Misty Rivers in Sallins. 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

New Door

Amo Barge -
New Door
 The new door arrived this week thanks to Noel and the team at Woodstyle in Naas.
The door and frame are made from solid Mahogany and the door is surprisingly heavy! 
I decided to add a circular port hole style window into the door. In addition to bringing extra light to the main cabin, it will also be useful for the skipper on the tiller to see into the cabin when crew are inside on a rainy day when the door is closed. The glass is bulletproof!

Amo Barge -
Trim and Edging Complete
This week saw the completion of all trim and edging throughout the barge. The new seating now has a really solid and well finished look. Holes were cut out for vents, screw holes are filled and they are ready for varnish.

Amo Barge -
Bed Frame
 Work progressed in the main bedroom. Single bed frames have been built in on both sides. They both provide ample storage areas with easy access through removable tops.
The bed frame to the right will convert into a double bed. An extension will be added using a 2 meter long brass hinge that will allow the extension to the main bed frame to rise up when required.
Amo Barge -
Interior Ready For Varnish
 The main cabin living area is now ready for varnish and paint. The upper walls will be painted white to give a break to the wood, and create a
greater sense of light and space.
Next week will see a significant leap forward on the renovation with the kitchen units ready to be installed, stainless steel LED lights fitted and the table for the main seating area ready to go in. Work will also commence on the bathroom with a new shower tray and a Sani-marine electric toilet ready for installation. 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

New Ceiling, Decks and more....

Amo Barge -
Amo Barge - Ash Ceiling
 Work continued inside and out this week. A new Ash ceiling was completed giving the main cabin a solid bright feel. 

The old ceiling wasn't in bad condition, but looked a bit tatty when viewed against the new Mahogany seating and lower walls. So the main cabin area was re-clad with 8 x 4 feet Ash veneered plywood sheets.

Amo Barge -
Mahogany Trim 
Throughout the barge there is a lot of trim required to tie in ceilings to walls, corners and any small gaps. About 40 meters of trim in total. For most of this 19mm mahogany slips are being used. For the ceiling 45mm slips were used to give extra strength ensuring that it keeps its curved shape.

Amo Barge -
12 volt Fuse Board
Good progress has been made on the 12 volt electric system. Throughout its 23 year life various add-on's were made to the electric system and and we had to go through a process of checking every wire to determine its use and compliance with safety. I am very fortunate to have Ray, skipper of the Celtic Count, looking after this. His attention to detail and safety is second to none. About half of the old wires were removed and a new 12 volt fuse board installed. The Amo will also be wired for 220 volt sockets, but all essential systems will operate off a 12 volt battery bank.

Amo Barge -
Bow Deck Seating
Amo Barge -
Back Deck
Outside work is also ongoing and this week we replaced to old hatches and seating on the stern and bow decks. The old wood had lasted pretty well, but after 23 years it was time to renew. We used marine plywood that has been given 2 coats of primer to protect them from the elements and they will be painted to tie in with the overall exterior colour scheme.
Amo Barge -
Hull painting

The hull has been blackened down to the waterline. We are 4 days by canal from the nearest dry dock so it wont be possible to do the whole hull this year. The hull was surveyed last year using an ultra-sound sensor to determine the steel thickness. The hull is in excellent condition and is a testament to the standard and quality of craftsmanship of the original boat builder, Dartline UK. The pic shows a blow-torch been used to get it completely dry at the waterline to ensure adhesion.     

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Amo main seating area
It was very busy on the Amo this week with great progress throughout the barge. 

Its an interesting fact that everyone involved in the project is a boater. Ger, Vinny and Jimmy are working on the interior and exterior, Ray on
the electrics and engine, Brian on the gas/plumbing, Jill and Giles will be looking after the upholstery and Noel who is making the new door all live on or own boats.

All the skills required to undertake the project are all contained within the boating community in Sallins.

Left Seating Area
The main seating area was built this week. The spec was to create a seating area that could seat up to 8 people and function as 2 beds when required. They also have to provide storage space. 

The main material being used is Mahogany Veneered MDF board. All exposed edges on the MDF were treated with sealing oil. When varnished the wood will be completely sealed to keep unwanted moisture away. The bench is over 2 meters long and a log storage box with a circular opening is beside the stove. There's a bookshelf at the far end under the window. 

Right Seating Area
 The right hand side seating area is raised a little higher that the other side and was finished off with a solid oak foot-rest step. The step will also host the receivers for the legs of a table that will be able to drop down when required turning it into a double bed. 

The far end of the bench is built over the waste holding tank and has been constructed so that wood panels can be easily removed if access is required in the future.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

What Lyes Below

Some years ago when we got the Spideog I decided that the only thing we were going to change was the lino on the floor. As I began lifting the lino it became apparent that it was in fact the lino that was holding the sub-floor together and as I removed the lino the floor came with it. And as the floor was removed so too was everything on it! 

 For the Amo renovation the first step is to create a blank canvas for the refit. The Amo got its original fit-out 23 years ago and as I suspected, the sub-floor was rotted away throughout half the barge. I also wanted to get down to the steel base-plate. Barges rust from the inside out and it was necessary to treat the rust below the sub-floor. 

 With the old sub-floor removed and the steel base-plate exposed I used Owatrol Oil to treat the rust. Overall the rust wasn't too bad, mostly dry surface rust that wouldn't be a cause for concern. But the area from about mid ship back had sections of damp progressive rust that needed to be dealt with. 

 Owatrol only works on dry rust so the first step was to get it dry. I used a wet vac to get out as much moisture as possible, then put down layers of Lidl's finest kitchen towel to absorb some more, and finally I used a small blow heater aimed at the worst sections to get it completely dry. Owatrol is a penetrating oil that keeps moving down through rust until it reaches good steel. It stops the rust from progressing, forming a water proof barrier and turns the rust into a hard black colored compound.
 The new sub-floor was fixed in place on pressure treated batons. For the sub-floor I used OSB particle board which is ideal for where water resistant material is required. The walls below the gunnel line were re-clad in Mahogany Veneered ply-wood.

 The Amo has now been gutted. The old interior is gone and it is ready for its new fit-out.
The sub-floor is in, walls are re-clad with 12 volt and 220 volt wiring in place. Plumbing pipes are in and the work to create a barge that can carry up to 8 people on day charter or sleep up to 6 people for overnight accommodation on is about to begin!