Welcome to our world

Who knew railings could be so satisfying? November’s railings are a prime example of how process not only creates the desired practical use but also imbues the object with its own story. Recycled, it has a kind of accessible integrity which is pretty beautiful.

Our mission with The November Project build is to show that extraordinary results are possible with an extremely low budget. Hopefully this will inspire and empower people to re-evaluate what is within their reach.

November will have a timeless, luxurious elegance. She will be built to last, with materials suitable for a marine environment and using as many found and recycled materials as possible. In keeping with this we used the fuel lines from the original diesel tanks inside November to create the uprights for the railings which will keep our visitors safe.

The railings in their previous incarnation as fuel lines

Chestnut was top of our wish list for November’s railings due to its beautiful grain, sustainability in harvest, and hardiness in the face of the fierce elements of a marine environment.

We ran a competition to see who could write the most alluring appeal for the chestnut coppice. These were placed in and around the Kent area by Mark the Organic, a Kent organic apple farmer and fruit and veg market trader – and November supporter.

We waited with baited breath to see whose ad would be answered first, until finally, whilst on his rounds in Kent, Mark spotted a farmer who looked like he might have the inside track on coppice.

Chestnut delivery

Sure enough, soon after fifty 3m lengths of 140mm chestnut coppice was delivered to our friends at Westminster Boating for us to collect.

The fact that November is moored in the middle of the river presents an interesting challenge for recieving deliveries. Westminster Boating saved the day by allowing us to unload from their pontoon.

Chestnut coppicing is sustainable because it is farmed using a natural production principle. The cycle of harvesting chestnut coppice every 15-20 years ensures that all the tree stems are maintained and never die. Kent is one of the main areas for growing and harvesting chestnut, so by sourcing it from there we are supporting the local rural economy. (With thanks to AVS Fencing for the info provided on their website.)

Being close to London means the carbon emissions associated with the supply of coppice to The November Project are low. We are lucky to have Mark Organic on the team to help us with sourcing this amazingly practical and beautiful natural resource.

We are also planning to use chestnut for some of the internal structure.

For the ropes which join the uprights, we are using a natural hemp as opposed to a polypropylene or other man-made plastic/oil based rope. For joining the 3m lengths of coppice to each other along the railings, we have settled on lap joints. This is because lap joints give us versatility on the angle of the two joining uprights.

Apart from providing a very strong join, this means we can maintain the natural curves and twists of the wood, and also reflect the curve of Novembers lines.

At the uprights, the chestnut coppice sits on a steel noggin (each one hand cut and drilled) and is screwed and bolted into place. The whole lap joint is recessed and bound in with the 8mm hemp rope. Then we’ll strip back the bark, sand by hand, and varnish with Bernard, made by Norwegian paint specialists Jotun.

Noggins in the make

Welding noggins (plates) to the uprights

38 uprights and noggins all needed cutting to length, ends squared and prepped for welding, wire brushed with an angle grinder to smooth. Each noggin was cut to shape, shaped, drilled, countersunk then welded to the end of each upright. Then each upright was drilled in two places and bevelled.

We will then apply linseed oil to the uprights, as it is the best cure for steel, is organic and is not paint. Paint is more work, more expensive and it doesn’t show the metal.

To finish, we’ll thread the 16mm hemp rope through the two mid-sections of the upright, and bobs your aunt!


Transport options are seriously laid back on a river build

Unloading the coppice from YE37, The November Project’s restored 1910 Mossel Kotter sailing boat onto November

Uprights after being welded onto the gunnels. The gunnels themselves have so far been chipped and oiled using a fast setting linseed oil. Parts of the gunnel were replaced or replated.

Experimenting with joins in situ

A visual treat awaited us on our travels as the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1976¬†Animals¬†album was recreated apparently at random

A huge, huge thanks to Avy, Charlie, Chris, Lucy, Mark and Westminster Boating for their amazing help on the day.