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Well its now the fun part of the build I guess - the painting!

The barge was given a final once over to check all gaps had been filled and sanded smooth. I then gave the barge two coats of sanding sealer in the hope of making the painting easier in the way of it not soaking into the plywood and making it rough. The sealer dries pretty much instantly as its xylene solvent based. I then started with the halfords red acrylic primer. This will basically be the finished visible colour for the anti-foul and so, several coats were applied, more coats being 'below the waterline'.

The finished thing actually consumed almost 3 large cans of primer. The black will go on next when the primer has hardened over a few days and a waterline has been established.

So after a few days, the waterline was drawn and the black was applied after masking off the anti-foul. Ive been in a debate regarding the waterline - do I ballast the barge up and then mark the line or do I just draw one and leave plenty of room to spare? Well i've opted for the latter option for a few reasons. Firstly, its difficult for me to get to a pond with the barge due to my physical limitations and also need to complete the barge before I go into hopsital in the next few weeks for an operation which will put me out of action for around 6 months. Secondly, I've seen many of these large barges within my field of work and have only ever seen a few which have been fully loaded to their waterline. I have decided that there will be a 4 1/2 " draft line although im not sure how accurate this is going to be until the water test.

So with the paint dry, the masking tape can be removed to show the end result. The lines are all clean but in hindsight, I should have applied a few coats of filler primer and then sanded it flat to remove the grain lines which are still visible - nevermind, we live and learn. I need this barge done by the end of this week, today being a monday and rain forecast for the rest of the week. I simply wouldn't of had the time to do this anyway.

The bollards will be given a coat of black enamel one the lacquer has been applied.

Here are some photos of the barge paint job minus any lacquer.

Heres a size comparison with my 1:12th scale Waveney Lifeboat.

At this point, I was about to go into hopsital for my hip replacement and I tried to get the barge finished before hand but sadly only got to the paint stage. I still need to add decals and lacquer. I may also sell the barge as it is a little on the large side, but watch this space.

So now its back to the build. I've decided what decals I will be applying and have decided upon a name for the beastie. The barge will be know as the 'ESK CONSTRUCTOR' and I feel this name leaves the work scope of the barge open. I will also need to make a top for the barge to carry a load and to hide the water ballast. A few 'tops' could be made to carry a wide range of loads such as pipes on a flat top, or a load of coal in a sunken inset type thing.

The lettering was sourced from Barrys Model Lettering - http://www.modellettering.com

Barry has made the lettering in 'name' format which allows for the name to be applied in one go instead of letter by letter which would take ages and creates spacing and alignment issues. I have had dealings with Barry before as regards to the Trent Lifeboat lettering. I find him to be extremely helpful, reliable and value for money and would recommend anyone who needs lettering of anykind, to give him a call or email.

I've also decided to add some depth markings and plimsol lines to the barge. Again this adds a little more realism to the real thing. I ordered a set of BECC waterline markings and after waiting almost a week for them, I discovered they looked pretty rubish. Instead of individual lettering, the markings are simply printed onto a sheet of clear vinyl. It looks pretty pants having the outline of some vinyl on the side of the barge.

I then spoke to Barry again from model lettering and informed me the reason these are printed, is because there is a limit on text size that the vinyl plotter can actually cut out. I sent him a word document showing what I was after and he advised me of the limits of his plotter but he would gladly give it a go. He has sent two types of plotted depth markings as one or the other may prove difficult to apply. Again a big thank you to Barry for comming to the rescue.

The backing on the decals was removed and the markings stuck in place on the hull.

The lettering requires firm application in order for the makeshift webbing to come away cleanly.

And finally a side view of the barge with depth markings in place.

With the markings now on the hull, I can finally seal in the paint and markings with lacquer. Again this is Halfords clear lacquer. I'm in two minds whether to weather the barge or not. This would be done on top of the lacquer anyway, but time will tell!

I yet need to source some mild steel sheeting to make a flat top for the barge. From the quotes i've had, its looking likely to cost around £70 which I feel is a little much for what i'm trying to do. I basically want to throw the thing in the garden for a few weeks to start the rusting process and then use it as a top. I may have to salvage some from somewhere but stay tuned for when I get some!

Further to the above, Ive decided i'm going to transform the barge into a multi-function model. For example, I'm going to make a module to insert which will be a remote controlled crane. Now this can be then mixed with a further module which is a wheelhouse and general work barge fittings. Again this can be either 1/24th scale or 1/12th scale. I also want to install some running gear into barge in the form of self built Z-Drives. These will be permanent of course but theres nothing stopping the barge operating in towing mode and therefore the drives being redundent. Stayed tuned for all of this as its going to be a long haul!

Back to the immediate bit of the build, the cold weather seemed to go for a few days and I decided to lacquer the barge using Halfords clear lacquer. The barge was then ballasted in the bath using 4x 5 litre bottles which equates to 20kg. The barge sat about a third of its height deep and I found it to be very stable. There is room for more ballast bottles and I will investigate this in due course.

I managed to get the barge finally onto the pond and behind my tug. Here are some pictures and a video of the event. The barge seems to handle very well and its very stable.

Here's the video! The tug managed to pull the barge on basically just over tick over throttle position.

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©Dan Walker