Arrived back today from self-imposed exile in a cottage in the Norfolk Broads to find a hive of activity here at The November Project HQ.

The decks are being painstakingly stripped of rust and primed as part of November’s routine maintenance. We want to achieve a high quality, smart and attractive finish, which is also as tough and river-worthy as the barge itself. For £10,000 or so we could have the whole deck sand-blasted, but as part of our mission to achieve a stunning finish on the lowest possible budget and the lowest possible carbon emissions, we are painstakingly banging and chipping out the rust by hand, inch by inch across our entire 26m length.

Removing the rust leaves pocking, which requires sealing and filling. We are using linseed oil to seal, priming using red oxide, then filling with a two-part filler and following that with another priming coat of red oxide paint.

Over the top of this, once all the pock marks have been filled, the entire deck is coated with red oxide paint mixed with linseed oil, producing the glossy red finish you can see in these images.

Due to its polymerizing abilities, linseed oil used to be commonly used on its own or blended with other oils and resins as an impregnator and varnish, and as a pigment binder in oil paints, and as such is an invaluable resource in treating steel.

The November Project’s Jay Fitzsimons has single-handedly (re?)introduced it to many of the tidal Thames boat operators maintenance schedules as a way of cost-effectively sealing steel and improving the quality of the paints used on steel. The oil soaks in, acting as an effective sealant and ‘drying oil’. It looks great on bare and painted steel, and smells good too!

My Norfolk break away from the site was in order to find the space to intensively align all of our project processes with an APMP-driven methodology, which we are introducing to The November Project’s organisational processes across the board.

Guiding us is our recently introduced Project Management consultant. With so many different aspects involved in starting a new enterprise, the APMP methodology is introducing a much needed discipline and rigour to our processes which is enabling us to be more efficient working with our various legal, accounting, design and development teams, suppliers and partners, hauling us out of ‘panic’ mode and back into glorious and creative ‘comfortably stretched’ territory once again. Phew!

We highly recommend early-stage intervention of the type we are getting from our consultant to anyone taking on a multi-faceted project.