Life at the end of the road

January 16, 2013

Off to Hallaig (the boat not the village) :-)

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:12 am

Well, it’s almost 6:00 am and I’m almost home after yet another long drive, again, no ‘biggy’ for most normal folk but Gourock and back mainly in the dark is too far for me Sad smile Still it was in wifey’s car so didn’t break the bank and was in relative comfort, mind you there were times that four wheel drive seemed like it may have been a better option. Though not in ‘real life’ just that world that the media and ‘doom merchants’ live in, the roads were clear and despite minus six last night, ice free.


That was around Rannoch Moor where I’d stopped the previous day as light was fading to take pictures of the rowan tree that grows out of a rock.



Sat on its rocky fortress that protects it from deer and sheep this scrawny old trees size belies its age. In a sheltered spot such a tree would be massive by now but buffeted by winter gales and parched by  lack of soil in the summer it’s like an overgrown Bonsai. I’ve no idea how old it actually is but it’s been sat on this boulder looking just like that for as long as I can remember.

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Aye, the only other trees your likely to see on that wilderness are on the tiny islets of Loch Ba and Loch na Ailise, the shallow peaty water preventing grazing by deer, rabbit and sheep.

Map picture


The MV Hallaig

The purpose of my 440 mile round trip being a meeting at head office and dockyard visit to the now floating MV Hallaig at Ferguson’s ship builders on the Clyde .



There’s nothing I like more than visiting boatyards, dockyards and breakers yards but going to see your actual ship being put together was something special Smile

So after a couple of hours in that ‘hub of operations’ that is head office and putting some faces to voices on the phone we went to the yard, and after a short safety induction were escorted around both hull 726 being constructed on the slip.



This will be the bow section of the second ship destined for the Tarbert Portavadie route, or Cloanaig Lochranza, I forget which one



and this will be the main part of the hull, which for some reason is has a sign under it saying 725 ??



These are the aluminium accommodation sections which will be eventually welded onto the steel hull !!!!!! yes welded Smile Now if you asked me several weeks ago if it was possible to weld steel to aluminium I would have said quite emphatically no, their compositions, characteristics, and melting points being so radically different, however a recent development called a ‘Bimetalic transition insert’ makes this possible.

Bimetallic Transition Inserts:  Bimetallic transition materials are available commercially in combinations of aluminum to such other materials as steel, stainless steel and copper.  These inserts are best described as sections of material that are comprised of one part aluminum with another material already bonded to the aluminum.   The method used for bonding these dissimilar materials together, and thus forming the bimetallic transition, are usually rolling, explosion welding, friction welding, flash welding or hot pressure welding, and not arc welding.  The arc welding of these steel aluminum transition inserts can be performed by the normal arc welding methods such as GMAW or GTAW.  One side of the insert is welded steel-to-steel and the other aluminum-to-aluminum.  Care should be taken to avoid overheating the inserts during welding, which may cause growth of brittle intermetallic compounds at the steel-aluminum interface of the transition insert.  It is good practice to perform the aluminum-to-aluminum weld first.  In this way, we can provide a larger heat sink when the steel-to-steel welding is performed and help prevent the steel aluminum interface from overheating.  The bimetallic transition insert is a popular method of joining aluminum to steel and is often used for producing welded connections of excellent quality within structural applications.  Such applications as attaching aluminum deckhouses to steel decks on ships, for tube sheets in heat exchangers that have aluminum tubing with steel or stainless steel tube sheets, and for producing arc welded joints between aluminum and steel pipe lines.

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Here’s one of them already welded to the aluminium superstructure, the aluminium side being welded first so that it acts as a ‘heat sink’ for when the much hotter steel weld is done. The one on the right is a finished joint on the MV Hallaig, not sure if this is the actual stuff but a similar product called ‘Triplate’ it’s ‘explosion welded’ inside a vacuum to bond the steel to aluminium so it can’t be cheap. Probably not riveting reading to most, but me I’m in awe of it Smile



This is the bow, or stern corner sections of 726 being fabricated inside one of the sheds



and this our very own, yard number 725, the MV Hallaig alongside the fitting out berth at the yard.

Anyway, it’s now 7:15 and I’ve a ferry to catch so I’ll finish this tonight Smile



  1. I’ve watched that rowan tree grow from almost nothing on my regular climbing sorties to the Coe and beyond over the last 25 years, so it’ll be around 30 years old because it was there before I started passing by. I’m amazed it hasn’t been eaten, but of course, growing out of the rock keeps it away from the deer etc, the obvious answer when you think about it! Keep the Sconser pictures coming.


    Comment by Alan — January 16, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    • Morning Alan,

      I’ve got pictures of that tree from before I moved north in 1985 so much older than that I’m sure.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 16, 2013 @ 7:27 am

      • It was there in 1976 when I moved to Glasgow.

        Comment by John MacDonald — January 16, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

      • Hi John,

        It was there in 1976 when I moved to Glasgow. My first memory of it is 1979 but it was a good size then. I’ll never forget, a friend who was a schoolteacher pointed it out. What surprised me was that I’d been driving by it for a few years and never noticed it.

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 16, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

  2. Corrosion normally joins aluminium to steel on my car,automatically increasing the swear word content of any attempted repairs on a logarithmic scale 🙂

    Comment by Andy — January 16, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

    • Morning Andy, funny that if you put steel and aluminium together, add water and leave for while they’re impossible to separate yet it’s taken years to actually develop a way way of doing it commercially 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 18, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  3. So this is your big chance to tell the fitters they forgot to mount to 50″ plasma TV in the crew lounge? And will the wi-fi be powerful enough that you could join the network from Arnish?

    Comment by drgeo — January 16, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    • If you fitted a 50″ plasma TV it would be wasted on me DrG, satellite broadband, now we’re talking 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 18, 2013 @ 9:09 am

  4. Have I missed something, Paul why are you no longer on the good ship Loch Striven?

    Comment by Lloyd — January 16, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

    • Morning Lloyd, I left the good ship Loch Striven in September for training, the next Raasay ferry I’ll be on will be the Hallaig.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 18, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  5. still not quite understanding which will be the raasay to skye ferry you’ll be working on?
    plus, wow, bimetallic transition inserts sounds like a gender fluid 80s band.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — January 16, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

    • The one in the yard Jeannette, the Hallaig.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 18, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  6. I’m with you Paul – welding Ali to steel is pretty amazing! You would hardly credit that such a thing could be possible! Explosion welding sounds quite exciting too! I’d really like to see that done. Which begs the question why it it necessary to make parts of the Hallaig (and it’s sister ship) out of Ali in the first place? Is it to reduce weight and increase payload, or is there more to it than that?

    Good Luck and have a great time down at Port Glasgow!


    Comment by fingalextravaganza — January 16, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

    • Morning Mark, yes the aluminuim is for a weight issue, it will of course increase the payload but it’s actually more to do with stability. The double bottom and extra height mean that the center of gravity would be too high if the superstructure were steel.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 18, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  7. BBC news site has a bit about the state of the roads, particularly Calum’s road, today.

    Comment by Catriona — January 16, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  8. Thats one fine ship Paul 🙂 Bet all of you are itching to get the keys lol (do ships have keys lol) Whats going to happen re the old L.S ? hope she wont be going for scrap just yet ? Also seen the news re the state of the road hope they get their finger out asap and patch it up

    Comment by jay mitchell — January 16, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

    • Morning Jay, I think it was on the Gaelic news too with interviews from John William Gillies and Roger Hutchinson.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 18, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  9. In the news again Paul…

    Comment by Simon — January 17, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    • Cheers Simon 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 18, 2013 @ 9:16 am

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