The Restoration Of Melodeon

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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.
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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)

The Restoration of Akarana

THE RESTORATION OF AKARANA
Details & photos below ex Dick & Colleen Fisher. Edited by Alan Houghton. Above photo ex Dean Wright

Akarana was designed by A.J. Collings & built by W.G. Lowe in 1960 for the Port of Auckland. They sold her 34 years later in December 1994 to Peter McDonald of Whangarei, Peter (deceased) was a long time friend of Dick Fisher & Dick purchased Akarana off Peter in April 2000.
Akarana is built using single skin 1 ¾ inch thick Kauri planking on spotted gum ribs with a hardwood keel & her displacement is 42 ton. W.G. Lowe had the contract to build her & allowed 23,000 man hours for her construction. When Port of Auckland sold her in 1994 she was on engine #6,  having worn out 5 engines while working for the Auckland Harbour Board. From a couple of her log books that Dick has he would estimate that she has traveled somewhere between 600,000 + 700,000 miles during her working life as a pilot boat on Auckland harbour.
The 8L3B Gardner engine which Dick re-built  was originally installed in an oyster dredger based in Bluff. This engine was built by Gardners in 1960. The same year as Akarana. She cruises comfortably at 10 knots.
After purchasing her, Dick took Akarana to his workshop at Kamo & then constructed a shed over her. You will see from the photos that shed is a little bit of an understatement 🙂

The photos below will give you an insight into the scale of the project & the stamina, patience & dedication of Dick Fisher in undertaking this restoration. Akarana is a magnificent vessel & a visit to her engine room normally sees most males gob-smacked at the attention to detail & cleanliness that would equal the finest medical operating theaters.

In additional to being a very skilled artisan, Dick is just a seriously good bloke, he once drove down to Auckland from Whangarei so I could show a visiting classic boater from the USA, who was a Gardner nut, over Akarana. You would struggle to find a more hospitable couple afloat than Colleen & Dick Fisher.
One day I’ll post on ‘Hamel’ the Fisher families other wee ship 😉

I have captioned the images – scroll over to view, also remember you can enlarge a photo by clicking on it.

At the bottom of the post (part two), for your interest I have included some papers that Dick acquired from the old Auckland Harbour Board.

A.       Harbour masters comments prior to letting tenders.
B.       Some of the requirements for the construction of Akarana.
C.       AHB reviewing costs.
D.       Breakdown of building costs.
E.        Copy of daily log, note the totals for the month of July 1982 were 278 pilots, 510 hours running, & 2791 miles.

Photos below during her build at W.G. Lowe in 1960

As sold by Auckland Harbour Board – 1994

The restoration

Rebuilding the engine

Relaunching

Back in her happy place – April 2005

Supporting paperwork

Helm Photos

 

10-04-2018 Update – Photo below of Akarana on launching day. Photo sent in by Paul Drake, taken by his brother Michael.

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