Mold and rot on deck beams
In summer 2014 the SFM took formal steps to look into Reaper’s long term preservation. Over the years, deterioration in some of the major timbers had taken place due to wood rot, metal corrosion and marine wood-boring worms! Whilst Reaper was floating in Anstruther Harbour and whilst on the slip at Arbroath (Feb 2015) a General Condition Survey was undertaken by two naval architects (James McGregor & Iain Macleod). This survey was by no means a structural survey, but what it did highlight was that an in-depth survey was required to determine the extent of Reaper’s refurbishment.
Starboard side frames
In April 2015 the SFM was very fortunate to employ Leonardo Bortolami as the Boat Yard Manager. Leonardo came with a wealth of knowledge and experience in historic boat restoration. With generous financial support from the Scottish Government, the restoration of Reaper was undertaken between 2017 and 2019 at Babcock, Rosyth. The specialist woodwork was subcontracted to A&R Way Boatbuilding, led by Adam Way.
Cutting replacement frames
The first challenge was to build a steel cradle on which to lift Reaper out of the water and transport her into a shed. Once there, detailed inspection by Leonardo and Adam Way revealed that the decay and damage to the structure was greater than originally anticipated, resulting in a substantial increase over the originally planned refurbishment programme. The additional work included a replacement sternpost, along with a large proportion of the frames and hull planking requiring repair or replacement. The beam shelves and deck planking also needed to be renewed and further work was required to restore structural integrity to the hull and deck.
Adam Way and his team of expert craftsmen were responsible for cutting and inserting each individually shaped oak frame and larch plank. The work was overseen by the Museum’s own Historic Boat Expert, Leonardo Bortolami and by the Reaper’s Skipper, Mike Barton.
The Doosan 160HP 6 cylinder engine was fully serviced and repainted along with a new engine wiring loom being fitted by Dave Crowther. A new compressor to power the capstan was installed in addition to the hydraulic system being fully overhauled.
Reaper being lowered into the water
In June 2019, Reaper was craned gently back into the water at Rosyth and on 4th July she returned under her own power to Anstruther where she moored up alongside a new specially constructed pontoon, funded by a grant from FLAG (Forth Local Action Group), to enable better access for the visiting public.
Reaper on the pontoon
Reaper after her return to Anstruther moored at the newly constructed pontoon which will greatly improve ease of access for the public.
A considerable amount of work remained to be done by way of reinstating the cabins, galley, and display areas in addition to installing lighting systems and navigational aids. A new foremast was also needed and a fundraising exercise was begun to enable this to happen.
New foremast being lowered into position
Since her return to Anstruther in 2019, a major reconstruction of the interior has taken place, led by Shipwright Ali Beedie with considerable input from Boats Club volunteers. The mast steps and tabernacles, hold, cabin and galley have been rebuilt and a new electrical system has been installed.
Externally, Ali has constructed new rubbing strakes, hatches and mizzen boom. Thanks to generous donations, it has been possible to purchase new masts, built by Nobles in Bristol.