Rescuing RML 497 – A Closer Look at the Interior

RML 497-NMRN BLOG

Last week we discussed the exterior of RML 497. In this blog, we will have a closer look at the interior of the boat and the evidence it retains from its wartime history, with a focus on some conservation problem areas.
The main spaces below decks (inside) RML 497 are:

  • the forward mess (where most of the crew ate and slept)
  • the lobby area which contained a small galley (kitchen) and the wireless room where the vessel sent and received its communications
  • the engine room, which contained two powerful petrol engines (replaced with diesel after the War)
  • the ward room where the officers of the boat ate and slept

The forward mess, pictured below, contains a nice original survivor in the form of a watertight bulkhead door that leads to the lobby area of the boat. This door would prevent water flooding the whole boat if one section sprang a leak, and is featured on the original plans. In the foreground of the picture is an example of surface rust on one of the deck supports. Rust is probably the second biggest worry on RML 497 after timber decay. Both are caused by moisture and can result in irreversible damage which is why our first aim is to get the boat dry.

NMRN Blog - RML 497 - Original bulk head door 
The watertight bulkhead door in the forward mess

The engine room still contains two huge Gardner engines – these are of some age but not original Second World War. There are wartime features in the engine room however, including the lubricator pictured below which applied oil to the engines. An interesting conservation note is that where the metal was oily, the brass plaque has survived in much better condition than where it was not – this is because moisture was able to get to the metal and cause corrosion.

NMRN blog - RML-497 Lubricator

Another lovely find was the flag locker in the wheelhouse. This is where the signal flags for the boat would be kept for quick access when needed to communicate with other vessels. Not only does the locker itself date from the Second World War, but around 30 of the flags that were still inside are also from that era! We can tell their age by the fact that they are made from wool, rather than synthetic materials. Years of wear and tear have taken their toll but add to the evidence that these are wartime survivors.

NMRN blog - RML 497 - Flag cupboard 
The flag locker complete with original signal flags

NMRN blog - RML 497 - flag

One of the flags recovered from the flag locker on RML 497. This is the flag for the letter ‘c’ or ‘yes’ in the International Code of Signals
Finally, here is another original feature that we will all recognise. No more to say about this except that it clearly needs a very good clean. I wonder whose job that will be?!

NMRN blog - RML 497 - toilet

The forward mess toilet

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