Do not collect tyre weights for your lead ballast.

(please note, this is a catch up post, I’ve not been on blogging this past year)

One day mid 2017, I deemed the hull of the sharpie fair. Which it isn’t (in my mind). But it’s fair enough which is fair-enough. Frankly I was sick of the machine I had created that turned epoxy and lightweight filler into dust for my vacuum. It was time to move on.

I had been visiting my local tyre purveyors, namely the lovely folks at Bridgestone Select Norwood, to collect tyre balancing weights, I had hundreds of kilograms, which when added to what Robert Ayliffe (my lead faerie) has gifted, got me to the magic 480-ish kgs. So I went foundry hunting.

This exercise lead down a pricey path. I got the first quote for casting the tiles at over $150 per tile from a leading local crew. And this took six months to get the quote! So I chased down a little gem in Bowden, such a striking throwback to when a factory playing with seriously heavy metal sits amidst dense housing. The Bowden crew wanted over $3000 to do the casting. They cited the cost of electricity, but after touring the premises, I reckoned the cost of site clean up will make the running cost insignificant. They are virtually gutter to gutter with residential, and the feeling that their days are numbered was overwhelming.


It’s one of those sad realities of a city growing up. I spent much of my youth in Brompton at my Grandparents’ place around the corner from this factory, and I loved the blend of industrial and residential. But like Trump and kindness, it just incompatible.

For a moment I considered doing my own casting, thinking about blending my own residential with industrial. And I would have got away with it if I hadn’t been thinking…


When looking further afield for an alternative, I called on Callington Cast Iron, and met with Jim who quoted me $35 per tile to cast, that would total $455…Quite a difference from over $3k. Just in-case he had second thoughts, I delivered all of my lead as quickly as possible.

More lead at the foundry

After a week went by, Jim delivered me some news. The tyre weights are useless. Hardly any lead in them, and what can be extracted is not worth the effort…

Bullet biting time. I had to buy lead from a scrap dealer, I hit the phone and found the best price is $4 per kilogram at KCM Metal.

KCM Metals - king of lead at the right price

Knowing you have to spend the money, you should get on with it and smile. This is meant to be fun. Thankfully KCM was a joy to deal with, the owner has a good sense of humour and runs a great little business, I hope he is getting rich, it’s a dirty business in every way. I especially love the T-Rex he owns. We should all have a large pre-historic killer nearby on a leash.


Two trips with the van, and much cash parted with then back to Callington Cast Iron: Initially I gave Jim thirteen styrofoam ‘plugs’ that were to be used in a lost casting method, where the molten lead would vaporise the foam that was packed in casting sand. This produces the best shaped tiles, with square sides. But because of the trouble with the tyre weights, he chewed through a few of these. Jim talked me into making a wooden plug, which would need tapered edges to remove from the sand. Not ideal, but workable.

So by Autumn ’18, I had lead tiles in hand.


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Goolwa Wooden Boat Festival 2017

Here are some photos from the 2017 Goolwa Wooden Boat Festival.

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On worry.

Or do I mean procrastination? You have read many posts about sanding and fairing, and this is one more, potentially the last (for both our sakes, I hope so).

You put the faring batten on the hull, you look for deviations of more than a few millimeters. You do this in all planes. You argue with yourself what is ‘a few millimeters’. You run your hand around feeling for divets, you mark them as you find them. You fill with epoxy mixed with light-weight filler for sanding, you mistakenly vary the mix slightly from time to time, you save money with some water effected, lumpy filler. You vary the application process attempting to speed things up (troweling ridges vs multiple coats). You sand with varying electric devices, balancing the felt divets with the eyeballed fairing batten results.


Sometimes you over-sand, sometimes you under-thicken the filler. You eventually realise that everyone is correct, this is only a job for hand sanding with a long/torture board. You fight that concept. You plan to hire a fairing team. You can’t find any money for the hire of the team. You wonder where they work and how to find them. You look for more information on fairing. You beat yourself up about not being able to complete this ‘simple’ task that is holding everything up.

You try again on the long board. Your lack of upper body fitness is obvious. The rotten left shoulder bites back. You give up. You beat yourself up and try again. You end up aching and frustrated and the hull appears no better. You ask advice, you get your work inspected, you get varying answers. Everyone is telling you (the truth) that it is a personal decision.

So, you bite the metaphorical bullet, and spend four days hand sanding.

And it now looks and feels pretty good.

It may be fair now!

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A friend wins the Rough and Ready

At the Goolwa Wooden Boat Festival, Rough and Ready Race 2017, my new found boat friend, Paul Cleaver, won with his brilliant design and build.

The side wheeler punt, Punty McPuntface swept around the buoy, elbowing out all comers (including loud Americans), to take a victorious bow.

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So many tips!

If you are prone to help videos, and general boaty building information, you absolutely must watch ALL of these videos on this fab YouTube channel, Tips from a Shipwright.

Shipwright Louis Sauzedde is a wonderful personality, and incredibly skilled with his hands. I would highly recommend watching the full series on building the work skiff, 30-ish episodes from timber yard to water.

Link to the show’s website:

Prepare to get lost!

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My god months pass!

I have been doing everything. Including boat work.
Just letting you know, I’m alive and happy, the boat is looking fair and is progressing. My career as a blogger and social media magnate has waned at the expense of some focussing.

Some key points:

  1. I killed Robert’s Festo sander (gearbox).
  2. I killed my Metabo sander (bearings).
  3. I had Robert’s sander’s gearbox replaced and it’s as new, but still patina riddled.
  4. He took it away (apparently he had to use it…sheesh!)
  5. I brought a new one, he paid for it.
  6. I am buying his old one off him. Bingo.
  7. I went to the Hobart Wooden Boat Festival.
  8. I have been sailing (see below video).
  9. I also have been sanding.

Here is a video by the wonderful Paul Cleaver of our little West Lakes sail together.

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Lead faeries and filler

The lead fairy delivered

Forgive me friends for the pace of the posts. Better something than nothing I say!

It has been a slow six months of building, but satisfying. I decided to fair the hell out of the hull, the bottom is the bottom and I’ve called that fair, the topsides are the focus of my energy.

I cannot imagine why I thought I could ignore them earlier, I suppose the bottom was so in need, it made the sides appear better than they were. A mixture of advice from my mentors I decided to ignore, and went with what I could live with. So I’m back on the torture board. My wrists are crying for a rest, I’ve probably developed ‘carpool tunnel’ but all is looking good, according to the batten.

I was donated a big bag of light weight filler, but it was a tad lumpy, and double sifting it still produced a gritty mix, which is ok for filling big areas but not for skim coats. Winter too has been making it difficult with drytimes longer and sags more prevalent. Lots of putting it on and taking it off.

Saggy winter light weight filler

I got so jack of seeing the filler fall to the ground as I sanded it, I decided to try and use the dust in the sanding extractor as filler. Not a good idea. There was just enough detritus that it was awful to sand, and left a limestone look,  complete with tiny objects of interest embedded.

The good fairy (Robert Ayliffe) delivered two gifts to make my life better; one is a loan of his Festo large sander, what a great tool that is, below is a picture of it. It is both vicious and dainty, like all good things.

Robert's loan to me.

He also made a delivery in the night, as you can see pictured at the head of this post, a pile of lead ingots, ready for my external ballast! What a great gift. Lead is not cheap, and I’m on the scrounge. If you have lead, I am buying. Thank you Robert!

Most recently I’ve used a fresh bag of light weight filler with Boatcote epoxy to fill all of the weave of the fiberglass around the hull. Once I have sanded that, I’ll, check the fairing again. Hopefully I can move onto making the lead into attachable ballast. This will involve some backyard casting. If I go mad in the process, finish the boat for me please.

Thin coat of LWF to fill the weave

One more bit of news, I may have a trailer for this boat at a brilliant price….progress!

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