The Restoration Of Melodeon
Now woodys if you know Dick Fisher you will know that Dick likes BIG things – big classic boats, big projects, big (zoom zoom) cars. Chatting with Dick recently he informed me he had a project on the go, his words “something to keep me out of trouble” so of course I said ’send me some details – givens Dicks other two boats – Akarana, the 60’ 1960 AJ Collings designed and built by WG Lowe, ex Auckland Harbour Board pilot boat and Hamal, the 1975 purpose built exploration ship – I suspected the project would be a doozy. Photos of Akarana & Hamal below.
Dick and Colleen have a stunning track record of converting ex work boats into the most amazing classic cruisers so WW looks forward to following this project, we will be giving Dick a friendly nudge for updates.
I’ll let Dick tell us what he is up to, remember click in photos to enlarge 😉
“The story so far goes a bit like this……
We purchased Melodeon from Greg Hayes in April 2018. Greg had owned & fished with her for the past 25 years.
One of the photos above shows her at her semi-permanent berth at the Whangarei Town Basin prior to our buying her.
After the successful negotiation of price with Greg, who had expressed the wish for Melodeon to only be purchased by someone prepared to restore her.
We lifted her out at Dockland 5 in Whangarei, her estimated weight at this point was in excess of 50 ton. We removed as much equipment as were able which included 9 ton of lead balast. This would explain why when blasting the paint from the hull we uncovered seven (7) waterlines this made her draft aft at 7 ft.
With the assistance of Boat Haulage Ltd we moved her to our workshop at Kamo & then commenced dismantling decks, bulwarks, wheelhouse & removed the engine & fuel tanks etc. She was then high pressure water blasted & garnet blasted all of the paint off inside & out. She was then moved inside the same shed where Akarana had been for 5 years during her restoration.
The hull was copper fastened of 3 skin construction.. unfortunately the 2 inch Kauri decks were iron fastened & unable to be saved.
To date we have treated with preservatives the inside of the hull & currently has a holding undercoat.
The last few month I have been focused on restoring the T8 Kelvin engine which was in reasonable condition. Main items needing replacing were a set of 8 exhaust valves , a complete gasket set plus other small items. I was able to purchase these from Kelvin Diesels in Glasgow, a subsidiary of British Polar Engines. We have found this company & their staff most helpful in procuring parts. The engine is now complete & running very nicely.
Up to date the work has been carried out mostly by myself & my son Richard when he had time. The engineering side of the restoration we can manage ourselves. We now realise we need a skilled boat builder to assist us with the woodworking aspect.
It is our intention not to alter the overall design, with the exception being the wheelhouse which needs to be a little bigger.
We are fortunate in that Greg Hayes has passed on to me the Marine Dept files dating back to October 1934.
Some salient points for you:
Plans, specs & building was carried out for Melodeon by Chas Bailey & Son in Auckland.
Original engine was a German Deutz/110BHP / 2 cycle diesel/ @ 450RPM this was replaced by the current T8 Kelvin.
Propeller: 4 blades /59 inch dia x 48 inch pitch – 3.3 to 1 reduction
Dimensions: Overall 57ft Beam 15ft6in draft 7ft
The existing T8 Kelvin was installed new in 1960 & the estimate from info we have, is that she has run well in excess of 100,000 hours.
Melodeon fished using different methods all around NZ, during the 1939/45 war the US Navy commandeered her for service in the Pacific.
This is an ongoing project for me in my dotage & its keeping me out of trouble.. in fact it’s a pretty big job….as the TV Ad goes…”
A Heads Up
Two cool things you may have overlooked in the last week
1. Do check out the link that Hylton Edmonds posted in the WW comments section. Its to a National Film Unit movie that features the then police launch Lady Shirley going about its duties on the Waitemata Harbour – fast forward to the 5:10 mark to catch the start, its a great watch and lots of our woodys make appearances – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mlqfwtybXE
2. Put your hand in your pocket and spend NZ$5 to subscribe for two months to the very informative and entertaining Vblog – OFF CENTER HARBOR. The guys at OCH have offered up this deal to WW readers so you can get your classic boating fix during the lockdown – details here OCH $5 Deal
Akarana (L) – Hamal (R)
Hi there, do you have anymore updates on this beautiful boat?
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I have often wondered what became of the Melodeon on which I spent much of my boyhood. It was owned by my father Bob (Boze) Nola and his partner was Jack Raos (who did not fish) from 1950s to early 1970s…In those years they fished for Pearl Fisheries in Auckland. Now I see that it has been fully renovated. But then It used to be very different when we owned it. The wheelhouse was much narrower and the bunk area was in the bow. It was very stylish then.
It anyone would like to get in touch with me I would be glad to hear. The Melodeon was very much part of my youth. Glad it still survives. And is being looked after. It cannot be the same Kelvin engine my father installed??
Video added of the rebuilt Kelvin T8 engine starting and being run up – Special thanks to Dick Fisher & family for all the help getting the very large file thru to me. Alan H
With out a Doubt the Fisher family Dick, Colleen and Richard have added huge value to our classic boating scene. In my view the Akarana would be one of the worlds best restored big launches. To add to this she is a living part of Auckland’s history. And to go further Dicks choice of machinery is very fitting, a stunning engine room. Thanks Fishers for being a huge part of our classic boating family. Cant wait to see this historic fishing boat on the water again
name is spelt Melodeon on the hull??
You are correct Mr Prew, well spotted. I’m innocent this time. Copy supplied 🙂 Alan H
Great article. What an inspiring chap. Stay safe and well. Txx
Sent from my iPhone
When I first looked I thought that there was a family resemblance to our west coast Halibut schooners. Too many differences, but some points of convergence. It’s interesting how good design elements get around.