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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Building a Cradle Trailer for the "Saint Alphonsus"

Removing the "Saint Alphonsus" from the water

It is a relatively simple task to remove out two fishing boats out of the water when they need cleaning and repairs. But it was not the same story with our landing craft the "Saint Alphonsus". This boat weighs over 21 metric tons. However like any other boat it needs painting and repairs. So far we managed without removing it from the water. However leaks started appearing in the hull of the boat requiring out of water repairs. Thus the project of building a trailer that would support 21 tons.

Steel which was pre-cut was ordered from Kirkwall and shipped in. It weighed over a ton.

However it still needed certain beams to be cut to fit for welding.

In between welding, two concrete "roads" were built to withstand the weight.

The first load of the final leg.

The mixing was done in a pan mixer. Stone chips and sand had been pre-mixed.
Then 10 buckets of water and 7 or 8 bags of cement added.

The mixing took on a good average, 6 minutes from one pour to the next.

Here the JCB is used to load the sand and stone mix into the pan.

On arrival it is ejected out the back chute and raked flat.
Steel reinforcing is added mid section.

It is vibrated to increase density and then leveled.

Breathing masks are not enough for the dust. Full head gear helps.

Meanwhile the trailer gradually is joined and takes form.

The finished pathway looks impressive.

God was good, in that the rain only fell much later.

The mixer is power washed clean.


Two trailer axles able to support the weight are cut in half and welded in place.

Br Romuald showing his expertise with the new mig welder.

Some of the welds were in not such easy reach.

The axles weigh over 100kgs so machinery is needed to place them.

Our master welder.

A trailer hitch is attached for the back of the tractor.

It was dark when the top side had been welded. Turning it over . . .

. . . was only possible outside our fifteen foot shed.

Amazing what hydraulics can do!



And back into the shed.

The end product is put to the test on Tuesday 9th October.

It has no steering so has to well aligned to enter the water straight.

Going for her first dip.


Carefully loading the "Saint Alphonsus" on the trailer



Precision movements to ensure a safe positioning.

The moment of truth.

The first part was no trouble for the one tractor.



The gravel ground did not provide sufficient traction.

Just making sure the craft is sitting well.


Surveying the horizon.

A second tractor to the rescue.


There she is, safely out the water.

Discussing the pros and cons of the operation.

Here we see the need for repairs and painting.

Four super single wheels support the boat.

All happy with the successful operation.

After many weeks of labour, all are very happy!!

It is good to have the "Saint Alphonsus" out the water.

Thanks be to God and Our Lady for making this all happen.

4 comments:

umblepie said...


A fantastic achievement! Reminds me of the 'Mulberry Harbour' venture on D Day - rather smaller scale perhaps, but you know what I mean! Everybody deserves a medal, but Brother Romuald for his welding skills, merits a special mention in dispatches! Looking forward to the re-launch ceremony! Deo Gratias.

laurel said...

What an unbelievable feat of engineering! The pictures were great in detailing all the labor and effort that went into the removal of the St. Alphonsus. I was just so impressed with the size of the cradle and the Brother who did the mig welding. Also the fact that the cradle had to be flipped and put back into the shed. I was also awed that the four tires were able to take the load. Once again, this was an incredible cooperative effort on everybody's part along with the help of God and Our Lady. Bravo!

If you are able, post more pictures about the rehabilitation of the St. Alphonsus and his return to the water.

God bless you all and thanks for sharing.

rosalie said...

For the first time ever I will leave a comment,those were amazing photos and all that engineering work,that is what I love about you all and all that hard work,I love Papa Stronsay and my love for that place is witnessing such hard work on that lovely little and blessed Island,well done to all of you,with loads of love from Rosy.

Konstantin said...

I am always impressed with what you can do but this beats everything I've seen so far by a long shot. Deo gratias.

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