Friday, 29 July 2011

Insurance pays up/ IWA festival

Good old Direct Line. Got a phone call from DL on Tuesday stating that they were sending me a new i-pod, a voucher to buy a new camera and a cheque to replace the phone. All of which were taken from me by Mr. Harp and one of his cronies just ten days ago.(They must have really been worried that I may have photographed what they were up to).   I never thought an insurance company would act this fast. Sure enough they all arrived on Friday morning.
In the meantime been carrying on with the harvest, 6 kilo of plums are in the process of becoming 3 gallons of wine and I’m eyeing some 20 litre barrels to make cider and perry. Already got 2 freezers but I think we may need another.
Off to the IWA festival at Burton at lunch time today and was a little surprised to find them still building the car park. The site was well laid out and plenty going on, would have liked to see it over the week-end when its in full swing but got to go and spend insurance company pennies and a planned visit to friends. Placed an order for 20 LED lamps to replace the power hungry halogens in the ceiling with a few more to be used for access points etc. Also brought some LCD gauges for the fuel tanks and water tank. In a moment of bravado signed up with the Grantham Canal Society and put our names down as volunteers – only Karen doesn’t know that bit yet. Oops!
Down working on the boat most of next week so expect more gruesome tales.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Missing 1 plot

After providing increasing amounts of shoddy workmanship Ben Harp has well and truly lost the plot. Finally resorting to what can only be described as criminal acts. It may be his name at the top of the list but others in his circle know what has been going on and actively assisting him. For my part Staffordshire police are dealing, as for the rest of it, it is not my tale to tell, just click in the link for nb Waiouru on the right if you haven't heard yet.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Other jobs

Well now we are off the slipway that brings us up to date. The only boat work going on at the moment is to assemble the new door bottoms.
Now looks like this.
The panels were varnished before assembly as I prefer them to be able to float in the frame as the wood swells. Used the old favourite Evo-stick weatherproof wood glue, no screws in the framework except to hold the top ledge in place against a dowel joint, as this will take the weight of the door top
I’ve made this type of door before in pine and the design seems to hold together OK even after several years use.
Whilst sorting out paintbrushes for the doors I found we had an unexpected lodger.
Shame Mrs Mouse couldn’t have used an old roller, but that’s never the way is it. Hey ho life in the country.
The new pup Sox managed to catch a swift as it came out of the garage roof – talk about fast. Fortunately Karen spotted him and after some shouting the swift made a swift getaway. (Sorry)
Most of the time over the last few days has been getting in the harvest. There seems to be plenty of everything this year especially fruit which is already starting to ripen. 
Spent this afternoon getting shallots cleaned and salted ready for pickling, the freezer will hold a fair bit, but if anyone has any good recipes for pies or preserves let me know. Take your pick from apples, pears, quince, mulberries, blackberries, gooseberries and tayberries.  

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Slipway day 2

Made an early start to get as much done as possible, just as well because we ended up with more painting than planned. Whilst I fitted the new baffle plate to the rudder post to  stop our water problems, Karen stripped the masking tape off the rubbing strake (which we used to save the cream paintwork from blacking) only most of the paint came with it. The undercoat was fine but it hadn’t been cleaned down properly in the paint shop, this is happening in several places. I expect it’ll be from those weeks spent under the trees at Great Haywood. Anyway back to the baffle plate, I just hope I got it right because I don’t fancy swimming.
The theory is it slides together and is then clamped in place.
Another of the items raised by the surveyor was that there was no hull identification number on the right aft of the hull. So armed with a nice new set of 12mm stamps and the biggest lump hammer I could buy I proceeded to wake the marina up.
Not content with that the number got stamped in a few other obscure places as well.
For the last few months we have had to leave the mop bucket on the top step into the main cabin.
The deck had a drain fitted but rather that connect it to the outside our wonderful builder decided to plug it with sealant.
Think we need some paint under here. Drain at the top inverter to the left, And this is what came out.
New hole and skin fitting connected to drain and we are dry at last
Slipped Trudy-Ann back into the water on the Monday morning and a few thrashes with the prop back to our mooring seem to prove the baffle works. Fingers crossed for the future.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Out of the water - Day 1

In June we booked a week-end slot on the slipway at Pillings to sort out some of the problems and give the hull a coat of black.
While the hull was being jet washed by Claire I set to work with the disc cutter.
Yep this steel plate welded onto the bow to move the boat in the yard and secure to the low loader had not been removed before launch. Good job we had not hit anybody or we would have sunk them.
Once the hull had dried a quick coat of black to pretty her up. The coating was fine in general just a plenty of scuffs. I suspect a lot of them were made during the move to the paint shop at Stafford where it was stated. “This hydraulic steering is rubbish, when you turn the wheel to the right the boat goes left.” On suggesting the hoses should be swapped over I was asked if that would make a difference. Surprise, surprise it did, apparently the journey back was a lot easier.
There we go and now at long last the fender which was promised so long ago has been fitted to the front. Another job on the agenda was to blank off the sink drain.
This was too close to the waterline for my liking and the surveyor had stated anything this low should be fitted with a ball valve. On removal I also found it was only finger tight and letting in water. My solution is to reposition the outlet to just under the main rubbing strake and use a sump pump to clear the water.
I got this one from Shobnall chandlers, a bit pricey for what it is but it suited my needs exactly.
Made a blank in 6mm steel that fitted from behind to fill the hole and Steve from Plillings did a quality weld for me which he ground back so that now it has been blacked there is no trace.
More to come, but got to dive off now, seems to be nothing but parties and outings this week. What an exciting life us penioners lead.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Wheelhouse woodwork

You my well remember the wheelhouse decking warped and lifting due to all the water coming in under and around the doors. Well I decided to replace this as it was a pain in the bum to have to keep watching your step, even though the leaks had not been fixed.

When the water damaged panelling was removed from round the doors you can see daylight between frame and woodwork, even after fitting some new screws as some self drilling screws in the steelwork were lose or had thread stripped.
It was all replaced by these panels with oak top and ply base rather than battens with 4mm flexible sealant strips to allow for expansion then edged in aluminium angle to stop splintering when lifting.

The whole lot was given six coats of varnish top and bottom. Wickes professional exterior in the absence of yacht varnish but it builds up much the same.
The side lockers had lift off tops which were a bit of a pain so cut the back off and fixed it to the side
Then fixed the rest of the top back using piano hinges as you can see in thedecking shot.

Doing that I also replaced these screws with machine screws. There seems to have been a shortage of short screws as things like this are found throughout.

Monday, 18 July 2011

News of all sorts

Bad News.
Firstly I got robbed last Saturday by a couple of thugs in Hixon near Great Haywood. Lots of threats, cursing and insults but then I’ve been insulted by experts when working on stations. They got away with my camera, i-pod and phone with lots more threats of what would happen if I called the police.
Staffs. Police soon arrived after I got to a phone and duly gave a statement over a coffee at the nick. Done plenty of them over the years but normally about dead people.

Good News
I find I’m insured new for old so it looks like they did me a favour. So as it is possible one of them reads this blog or has it read to him. Thanks!

Sad News
We lost Myaa our chief lookout just before Christmas
 Shortly after her partner in crime was diagnosed with a terminal illness

Brilliant News
Nobody told Brock - and he made a wonderful recovery.
So much so that we had to get him a new playmate.
This little terror GSD x Husky called Sox from UK German Shepherd Rescue.

A slight divergence today but plenty of boat blogging in the near future. Nearly back up to date.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

More wiring problems

The latest problem started with the water pump tripping and it would not stay in. Not a good sign. Of the two wires from the back of the trip both ran under the gunwhale to where one dropped down behind the sink. There seemed to be a joint down there which I could not reach from above or below so ended up having to remove the sink backing and cut into the panelling.
The wiring split into two with some poorly fitted spade terminals wrapped in insulation tape and split again further down. These were found to connect to the water pump, refrigerator and cooker ignition. All were duly disconnected but the switch kept tripping. The second wire was disconnected at the trip switch and problem solved or sort of. Everything else still worked I could find no reason for the cable being the so with it off I connected a trace tone and followed in in the cable run all the way to the bow but no sign. Next attempt took me up into the control panel when it dawned on me that this cable must be in contact with the hull somewhere and I was getting a signal each time I got close to bare metal. Doh!
Tracing this wiring I removed the front panel of the control desk and I can see why Ben conceals all the screws with wooded bungs. I don’t think you are supposed to see what is behind.

I think this wire must have been too short
All the wiring looks the same and is not labelled in any way so I treated myself to an all singing all dancing Dymo machine
Set about the wiring and did my best to tidy up this cats cradle and fit a grommet to the new hole found. I’m no electrical wizard but some of the things I am finding make me cringe.
In the hopes that I can be educated and be better equipped to deal with any other horrors I may find I signed up for a week-end boat electrics course with Tony Brooks under the flag of RCR. Marvellous course at Beeston in April can heartily recommend it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Water water everywhere

The question has been asked “Why is there so much rust in the picture at the top of the blog”
Here it is again as this entry will move down and I will probably change the picture in due course.
Well there are a lot of reasons really. It was first reported by Ben when he came back from the paint shop that there was water coming up past the rudder post when under way and that the void between the tanks behind the weed hatch was full of water. He demanded that I get Bluewater to come and sort it out. Thought it was his problem at this stage but no it was up to me. After a bit of persuasion Dave from Bluewater agreed to come down to Great Haywood to investigate and sort it out. When I let Kelly know what had been arranged Ben refused Bluewater access to his site but insisted that it was not his problem to sort out. Bit pointless telling me to get Bluewater involved really. Ended with me trying to sort the problem myself. When I finally got the weed hatch out I guessed the water had been getting in here – not having seen the boat underway – there was a bit of weld spatter and no seal. Cleaned it all down and fitted sealing strip. There was no telling how much of the water had gotten in earlier in the construction when the wheelhouse was open and the hole behind the gas locker for the emergency steering had been open since the build started
Ben seemed to have no immediate plan to cap this hole so I picked up a 2” BSP male cap from the local plumbers merchant which screwed in perfectly.
We were stuck with this problem until we got back to our mooring at Pillings Lock and now you can appreciate the importance for getting the bilge pump sorted before we set out from Great Haywood.
Back at Pillings I cut a 2” hole in the plate behind the weed hatch to siphon out any water.
You can just see it here, and I raised the rudder bearing enough to fit this contraption to the post and refit the bearing.

A bit Heath Robinson but it worked which would hold things until the boat was slipped. Lots of rust simply because water has been sloshing around in there for far too long. Once I am sure no more water is coming in and it is perfectly dry the void will be Waxoyled and the visible surfaces rubbed down and painted.  A lengthy story but I hope it answers the question.
Ben always stated all the problems were of Bluewaters making even to making a comment on his web site. Bluewater haven't done this or should have done that but in the begining when the hull was being built I was being asked by David at Bluewater to make decisions because Ben could not be contacted or had not replied so it really would be interesting to hear Bluewaters side in the latter stages as I did not get involved, nor was I interested in the details of the contract between the two companies. My contract was with Ben Harp Narrow Boats

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Decided to remove the skylight to use it as a pattern for a new one. Only problem was that it started to fall to peices as we carried it back to the car. Hole covered by a temporary ply lid clamped from the inside and sheeted over again 
Because of all the leaks before we sheeted the skylight, the oak flooring in the main cabin had warped quite badly, but even after drying out and the use of a dehumidifier the flooring is still out of shape. Plenty of tripping hazards down here.
When the skylight was completely dismantled it was found that the corners of the shuts were only held together by one Kreg pocket screw. The rebate is to hold the acrylic but he sapele cap just fell off because there were only a few screws holding it down by just 6mm thread. Discolouration indicates water was getting under here.
No provision has been made for the replacement of the acrylic which may occour from time to time without completely dismantling the framework. The wheelhouse has the same fault in that it is constructed in the same maner as the kitchen units so the only way to replace the glass is to dismantle the framework. Another job for the list.
At least I while down at the boat I got one of those niggling little jobs out the way. The cupboard door in the kitchen next to the hull opened to the left which made it awkward ot get anything out.
Just added a battern to the right hand side for the hinges and turned the door upside down and repositioned the handle.
Much easier to get anything out. Next job added to the list is to move the gas feed to the cooker which runs across the bottom half way down this cupboard. Push back too hard and you risk damaging the gas pipe.
Brilliant innit!

Sunday, 10 July 2011


Retirement had been planned for October 10th but I was persuaded to stop on another 2 weeks. Pity really as I had liked the idea of 10/10/10 as my retiremet date.
The following Friday it was a party at the Brunswick in Derby where I was given a right royal send off. Freinds from all departments and areas of the railway were there. So good to see so many familliar faces, the only problem being that so many people turned up it was a case of just time for a few quick words before the next arrival and by the end of the evening the room was bursting at the seams. I only hope I didn't miss anybody, and if I did I'm truly sorry. At the end of the night Karen and I staggered back to the hotel laden with bags of gifts, flowers and cards.  ( Had the sense to ralise I would be in no fit state to drive home.) Thanks everbody it was a memorable evening, it's just a shame it couldn't go on for another two days so I could give everybody th attention they deserved. 
One of the presents was a fat envelope which enabled me to buy this super swedish workbench with all bells an whistles. This is going to be a great help when it comes to rebuilding the wheelhouse and skylight. 
 First job on this is to replace the warped wheelhouse doors
This time they will be built with proper joints and single piece panels but that's work in progress and this tale hasn't got that far yet. 
Over Christmas and the new year retirement plans kicked into life which had not allowed for having to refit a new boat, so tt was effectively put on hold for a while.
Decorate the lounge, new central heating boiler, fine, shower cubicle in the bathroom not so good. It's a very old house and the original horse hair plaster came off with the old tiles. So it was a case of bathroom back to bare brick and start fom scratch. Hey ho.
Rang work and asked to come back for a rest! Who said I would be bored? 

Friday, 8 July 2011

Cabin hatch

During the summer the hatch down to the cabin split, nice and cleanly as you can see. That is because it split on a joint,(if you can call a glued butt joint a joint)  Thats what I call quality woodwork. Should have used that glue they claim to be stronger tan the wood itself.
My solution is seemples as they say in Meerkovo. Pop in some biscuits - making sure they are ginger nuts, as digestives are a bit too soft. Not too technical are we Ben? 
 A couple of battens for strength, screwed and glued. Yep I can do concealed screws too.
 Add a hande on top to aid placement and removal.
 Then add a large baulk of timber to the underside wih a Chubb security lock built into it to stop the doors being kicked in rather thab a flimsy hasp. Note the escutcheon plate - gosh I whish we could have had some fitted to the wheelhouse doors.

Just to finish off an escutcheon plate from a Chubb safe. The only problem so far is having to grind back the key top because the lock is buried so deep in the woowork.
Proper job. Pity you can stll see the screwholes from the origial staple -another little task for the future. Hopefuly when we are moored up for the evening after a days cruising. I can dream too you know.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The wiring

 When I left school I joined the post office as trainee telphone engineer and served a three year apprenticeship dealing with things electrical. I have since forgotten most of what I learnt but the lesson of tidy wiring and tight terminals with no bare wire has always stuck with me. So the cats cradle of wires and the apparently live wire running to the negative bus bar had got to get sorted. Presumably Ben thinks a bit of blue tape makes everything right.
As mentioned prevoiusly all the wiring through bulkheads was unprotected. I thought finding grommets to fit the size of hole and thickness of steel was going to be a bit of a problem but no, Grommets Ltd Henfield ( )came to the rescue and I ordered a job lot of varoius sizes in rubber. Other options would probably have been cheeper but I know super glue will stick rubber. 
Every hole I could find was fitted with a grommet which was cut inserted and superglued back togeather. Wouldn't it have been easier to fit them before the wiring?

Another little item of note was that the inverter main fuse holder went up in smoke when Karen was using her hair dryer on the journey home. A terminal had worked loose either because it had ot been tightened down properly or, as I suspect, it had vibrated lose because no lock washer had been fitted.  

Can't imagine why the link to this blog was knocked off the Ben Harp Narrowboats web site.