HY Tyne Preservation Newsletter August 2014

The Shipwright T. Nielsen and two of his staff arrived on site at the end of July together with the Surveyor, Richard Ayres.

Just prior to this, and as part of the survey requirements, we had one of our Club Members, Paul Warren dive the hull of LV 50 and clean areas and photograph the condition of the hull & keel. Generally, the hull remains in reasonable condition, but worryingly some of the protective muntz metal around the bilge keels is torn away and the bilge keel is damaged.

Video footage of this will form part of the Surveyors report for HLF.

A number of bronze and copper pins were extracted with difficulty from the hull planks topside and as evidenced by the extraction are in remarkable condition. The plywood bulwarks were removed and as expected some of the ribs exposed showed signs of very old timber rot but nothing of any recent significance.
An inner plank within the bilge area in the forepeak was removed and there is evidence of a leakage from the external plank caulking in this area.
The bow stem was opened up to determine the extent of the deterioration. This was found not to have extended as far down as we thought and so will make the installation of the new stem that much easier.
The metal cladding around the stem and anchor cheeks had pulled away and the timbers showed signs of wetness but no rot. All the metal around the stem, anchor cheeks and the water line was repaired and returned to as new condition.
Some of you will have noticed we purchased 14 x 210 litre water barrels and these were used to heel the vessel to port so that the hull sheathing normally under water on the starboard side was exposed. This allowed the shipwrights to remove panels and again extract a plank pin for analysis. Again, these proved to be in remarkable condition.
All work was photographed and the work was then repaired. A full report is expected early September from the Surveyor & shipwrights.

During July, discussions were also held with various parties to form a ‘Friends of’ Group for LV 50 and further meetings on board the vessel are planned during August to move things forward. As part of this, on September 18th & 19th, as part of the British heritage Open days, we will open the vessel to Visitors and the Friends Group will support us in hosting the event. Last year we had over 80 people come down and view the Lightship.
We have also issued contracts under the HLF grant to sub contractors dealing with Archaeology, Heritage interpretation, Education and archives to commence developing the history and story of LV 50 and her life.

So what of LV 50’s life? – Well, we now know that the Gull lightvessel, LV 50’s nearest sister and sadly lost to vandalism on the beach at Thurrock on the Thames was actually built somewhere in Scandinavia. During her building, the hull timbers were allowed to mature for seven years before she was completed and so the whole construction took 10 years before she entered service. This just adds to the complexity of where LV 50 was built.

We know that the clockwork mechanism to drive the signal light flash sequence was mounted in what is now the race office behind the mast and a square section drive shaft extended up the mast to the light.
The oil used to power her lantern could be either shale or rape seed depending on availability.
Down stairs in the main saloon just forward of the mast, you will notice what appears to be a section of ceiling different to the rest. This was where a hatch was cut to allow the insertion of the twin Hornsby oil compressor engines used to drive the fog horns and placed on board around the beginning of the 20th Century. Coal bunkers for heating were installed in the bilge adjacent to the chain lockers.

In the bar area at the stern, if you look up into the ceiling behind the two navigation lights, you will see 18” diameter access hatches again covered up. These allowed entry to the magazine store where rockets and flares were held and the Masters cabin was positioned forward of the magazine bulkhead.. There are also two ventilators and four deck lights in this area. In the centre of the bar area was a large skylight and the exit hole for a stove pipe to provide heating to the masters cabin.