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  • #18683
    Doug Odgers

    I have just read, again, Richard James’ article “The Recovery of A1” ,  with particular focus of getting trailers in &  out .

    It has given me hope of doing this with A90.

    I am sure if I wasn’t so lazy I could help myself. There is no doubt a paper in the records that gives a ‘ blow by blow’  account of how to do this – is there? … and where do I find it?

    ALSO.  – to what height must I chock an Atalanta so that I can remove the keels?

    Any help will be very much appreciated.



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    • #18684
      Doug Odgers

      Laziness now set aside and have navigated myself around AIA’s technical papers.


      HOWEVER 2 questions now remain:

      1.   What height should she be chocked to remove keels?

      2.  Direction to a source of used beer kegs ?

    • #18687
      Mike Dixon

      Doug (and others),

      There are as many ways to remove a trailer, so as to remove keels, as there are trailers.  Rather than give a definitive course of action, please be guided by the good points made in several articles.  Stating the obvious I appreciate, but the boat weighs in excess of two tones; you can’t be too careful. If it all goes pear shaped, not only could it kill you, but at the very least it would seriously spoil your day.  Some questions…………..

      Can the boat be lifted from above, in slings, using chain blocks slung from strong rafters/beams?

      Can you get side access with a suitable fork lift truck?

      Will the use of beer barrels provide a safe and secure platform at ‘each corner’?

      Can you get to both sides of the boat and can you perform the lifting operation without EVER going underneath the boat?

      Can you ensure that the lifting operation is done in small incremental lifts, one end at a time, such that the boat remains more-or-less level fore and aft – and more crucially – side to side?

      Can you ensure that there is a back up supports, so that if the (for instance) beer barrel slips, the boat will only drop a very small limited distance?

      Are the scantlings up to the job – i.e. jacks, beams, supports etc?  Remember the two tons?

      Once the boat is up to the necessary height, build really good sturdy pillars to support the weight of the boat.  You are going to be working on the keels, inside and up on top of the boat and the last thing you need is for the boat to be wobbling and teetering about whilst your up there working.  A1’s pillars were built beneath the two main bulkheads at either end of the keel boxes and were offcuts of oak, approx 15 x 15 cms in section and 60 cms long, stacked in pairs with each layer at right angles until the height had been achieved.  There were four pillars, with a very stout beam between each pair.  Don’t forget wedge pieces between the beams and the hull so the boat remains upright.  I also placed two sturdy posts, with suitable wedges, beneath each end of the boat, one propping up the skeg and the other beneath the fore foot.  Beer barrels won’t cut it.

      As to height –

      a) For general maintenance, the higher off the ground the better.  Removing paint/anti-foul from underneath is not the best job in the world – lying on your back makes it even worse.  A1 was approx 75 cms off the ground; I modified one of these plastic chairs by removing the legs and using the bucket seat and back.  With my legs stuck out in front, I had a seat to sit on (albeit just about on the ground) but importantly, a  rest to support my back.

      b) For removal of trailer – make sure there is adequate clearance, particularly the after trailer chocks.  Don’t be tempted to think “that looks all right, I’ll give it a go.”  It just needs one snagging and potentially the whole edifice comes tumbling down.  Wouldn’t be the first time……………

      c)  For keel removal, a metre ought to be fine, probably less

      d) If you’ve jacked the boat up to give good clearance for trailer removal, then the boat will be high enough for keel removal and general maintenance.


      A final thought – my experience is that one knowledgeable assistant is excellent.  More than that and you end up with the old conundrum of too many chiefs etc……………….


      Good luck – take it slowly.  I don’t think we’ve lost anyone yet……………..



    • #18690
      Nick Phillips

      Wise words in Mike’s article, based on lots of experience with A1, T10 and A31/4 and other people’s Atalantas.
      I remain in awe of those with the confidence and skill to lift Atalanta’s with bottlejacks, wedges and barrels. This technique has been used for decades and is therefore well proven.  Chris Green is using chain hoists in a scaffold frame for A169 Elle.

      I am a little risk averse and I adopted a slightly different approach for A124. It did require a little more investment of money and time but causes me a lot less stress.
      It is based on the principle of a strong crossbeam (I have used RSJ and more recently 8”x4” construction grade timber) running in triangulated frames and supported by a ‘Hi-Lift’ hack at each end. Hopefully the pictures below give you the idea.

      Mark 1 of this arrangement (used for A124 and a variety of other boats) involved two jacks, dropping the nose of the trailer on the jockey wheel and positioning a trestle under the stern of the boat before raising the front of the trailer again with the jockey wheel and then rigging the beam/supports/jacks under the boat as close to the front of the keel as possible (might need that bottle jack to create enough room between trailer and keel). The bow is then jacked high enough to withdraw the trailer (the beam must be long enough to allow this.

      Mark 2 with Four Jacks replaced the aft trestle with another beam / support / jack arrangement. With a jack at each corner is then simply a matter of raising each end a little at a time, keeping the boat pretty much level as high as your supports will allow.

      Note in the last frame the trestles into which the beams are lowered for working under the boat so that you are not depending on the Hi-Lift jacks, reliable though they are.

      And an action sequence:

      For keel removal, have you found the article by Greg Manning in the 2012-13 Bulletin?
      Comfort for working aside, it is not necessary to raise the boat enormously high to get them out and it could probably be done with the lowest point of the keel just 2’ off the ground but Mike’s 1m sounds easier.

      A crude facsimile of the frames used by Greg could be made using a jack. This photo shows a trolley track being used on the keel of A1 which enabled the keel to be dropped until nearly out of the box but not quite, and then rolled aft with the box holding the keel upright. It would be relatively simple to add a frame to hold the keel upright and allow complete removal.

      Trolley jack for keel removal

      Trolley Jack to allow keelbox/plates access

      Lots of options!
      Be safe, and try to rope in another Atalanta owner to help you.


    • #18745
      Doug Odgers

      Mike & Nick,


      Thanks very much for taking the time to give me such detailed guidance.





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