Sunday, 28 August 2011

Days Out

Down to the boat on Tuesday to do a bit more to the wiring and get ready for departure on Wednesday. On the previous outing we had noticed that the batteries were going flat sooner than we should expect, so decided to install some more of the LED lamps we had brought at the IWA festival, also looked round for potential drains on battery resources that might be causing our problem. One item could be that the fridge/freezer is working harder than necessary with it being enclosed in a cupboard and no provision for ventilation. I will have to look into how much the inverter draws and if the bow thruster trickle charger is a constant drain. Looking at the batteries none of the terminals has been greased and some at the back are showing signs of corrosion. I have wondered about the state of the batteries after they were run absolutely flat several times during the build, to what were reported as charging faults caused by ‘Beta’s equipment failures’ which I now suspect to be more likely caused by a chimps wiring. Yes I now treat everything I was told by the Harps with the greatest suspicion as so many things have been proven to be half truths or down right lies.
Planned on a Wednesday departure because the forecast for Tuesday was dire, but as it turned out it was a beautiful day. Blooming weather men Bah Humbug!
Had a gentle cruise down to Devils Elbow just below Zouch to spend the next couple of days there generally relaxing and doing a few running repairs.
Karen cleaned down ad touched up some of the places where the paintwork was flaking, but as you can see the primer is still sound.
There are bits like this all over.
While that was going on I wired in the last of the LED lights and rubbed down the right hand door frame for varnishing. This has been neglected as it is on the off side at our normal mooring.
Note that there has been no effort in the original build for any form of sealing around the door so water can enter under or around the door itself.
Added a new weather board at the bottom of the frame, the rest will be done when the new doors are installed.
Thursday evening the natives put on a show practicing in their war canoes.
Back to Pillings on Friday and got the hood up just as it started to rain. Perfect timing.
Saturday saw me out on the water again. You may recall we joined the Grantham Canal Society at the IWA show. Well those nice people asked if I would like to come and get to know how to operate their trip boat from Woolsthorpe top lock to the winding hole near Denton. Ended up having a wonderful day out in the company of Ralph and Rosemary from GCS with a cheerful family group of sight seers and ended up volunteering for a work party next Thursday. If it’s all as good as this I’m looking forward to being an active member.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Nearly All Over

Wednesday Morning took our time and had a leisurely breakfast after walking the dogs. Dropped the top and reduced mooring ropes to just a centre line ready to move as soon as somebody came along to share locks with. Several cuppa’s later and past ten o’clock we decided to go it alone as no sign of life yet. Filled the lock which had part emptied overnight, and set off. Lock cycled and bottom gates open but no movement, we’re aground in the lock.
Karen opened a gate paddle which gave me enough water to scrape out of the lock so she could close the gates again.
Sod’s law just as Karen rejoined the boat a BW chap called across to tell us that there is another boat behind which will be here in 5 minutes. Shout back that we will wait for them at the next lock. Asked Karen to stand on the bow to keep a lookout. (Didn’t like to tell her she was also up there as movable ballast). Scraped and bumped along at little more than tickover to Gee’s Lock to wait for our partner. Through Gee’s without incident and the next pound does not seem so bad. Through Blue Bank Lock letting our partner go first as they draw less than us. Odd scrape here and there but not too bad until we reach bridge 103 Soar Valley way. Well stuck, started giving some revs and swinging the stern without much result, then started rocking her side to side. Slowly but surely we start to make progress and we are off. Ten yards later we are stuck again under the bridge, this time we have to take more care owing to all the shopping trolleys. Again the rocking works, wriggling along the bottom and we are off again. As we emerge from the bridge – you guessed it – though this time we are off quite quickly because we’re getting the hang of this slithering lark. Just as we free ourselves for the last time Philip from BW calls to ask if we are OK, apparently our partners are getting worried their schedule may slip as Phil won’t let them lock down without us. Happily I’m able to give Phil an ETA of 5 minutes or so. Do boaters have schedules - we work in days or weeks. Through Kings lock and back into deep water – the last three locks up and down have been quite an education for us.
Easy going from now on. Started having to work the engine harder after Aylestone Lock and suspected something was round the prop. This could be fun the weed hatch has not been opened since the problems before we took delivery. Stopped after the next lock and the weed hatch came out with no problem at all to find my suspicions were correct.
Bits of fertiliser bag, wire and knicker elastic all wrapped round the prop. Managed to cut the wire without dropping the cutters and it was soon cleared off.
Another first, weed hatch used in anger. Never owned a boat with a weed hatch before. It also gave me a chance to give the prop the once over after our excursion but could find no visible damage. The rest is history as they say – made it all the way though Leicester to where we stopped on the first night to give the dogs a good run. We were absolutely shattered, no need for rocking that night. 
Thursday back to Pillings in the rain. All being well we will be out again next week for a few days but I think we will go north this time.
Ahhhhhhh this boating lark is sooooo relaxing!.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Nearly Trip continued.

Moored up at Kings Lock we find that Leicester has even more parkland nearby in the form of Aylestone Meadows so the dogs get plenty of exercise and from there, you can access the old Great Central railway track bed which is now a cycle route. On the bridge over the canal I paced out the distance and reckon we should just about be able to wind, as there is no way I am reversing all the way to Aylestone Mill.
Joined at the mooring by nb Katelea (I think that was the name) who were waiting for the lock to be opened on the following morning. There being a restriction of 0900-1600 for passage of boats.
Tuesday morning I explained my plan to Philip from BW and he asked the family on Katelea to wait for a partner. After walking the dogs we were starting to get ready to reverse to the railway bridge when two narrow boats came past and asked if I was waiting for the lock. No says I but he is – indicating Katelea. As the second boat passed the fellow on Katelea called he was in the queue for the lock to which the response came ‘We are a pair and we take precedence. We have been paired since March’ and continued into the lock. So much for the fellowship of boaters thinks I. The family on Katelea were not to impressed either.
Anyway I digress – We duly set back to the railway bridge but it ended up like Delaneys Donkey, whichever way we pulled it, pushed it or shoved it we could not get round, we were just getting jammed every time. So back to the lock moorings we go and tell our sorry tale to Philip. The only option I can see is to go through to the winding hole above lock 35 and come back. Time is getting on but with luck we can be back below Kings Lock by 4pm and Philip reckons he can get us through.
Up we go between two pairs coming down, taking it nice and steady trying not to dig the back end in, all spare kit including the gas bottle has been moved to the bow to try and bring the back end up. Never thought I would wish I hadn’t taken so much diesel on. Scraping bottom by bridge 103 but no major problem.  Up through Blue Bank Lock and warned of another pair on the way down by the BW man there. Met the other two just past Blue Bank Bridge and moved out of the centre channel.  Oops that was a mistake, must have caught a rock or something as the stern kicked up about 9 inches. Good job we had taken that bloody great plate off the bow last month or we would have stuck into the canal bed like a dart. Creeping along and the time is passing, next lock is Gee’s Lock which is in our favour but oh calamity the bottom gate will not close. It stands off about four inches. We must have dragged something in with us. Karen opens one gate and I give the engine some revs to try and clear the obstruction. No good. Open both gates and try again. Still no good. Phone Phil from BW and put him in the picture. A true champion he is on his way with a 20 foot rake but it will take a while to get there. In the meantime we try another course of action and reverse out and then come through again.
Success, the gates close with a satisfying ‘Thunk’ and we can fill the lock. Call Phil back and update him also stating revised plan is now to wind and night stop above lock 35 at Whetstone Lane as we are now coming up to the 4pm deadline.
Made it – winded below bridge 98 and went back to moor on the lock bollards – nobody’s going to pinch our lock.
Spent the night with a bit of a list on as even here we are hard aground.
For what we achieved today it has been hard work.
Hopefully a better day tomorrow.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Nearly Trip

Why the nearly trip? Well it nearly didn’t happen, we nearly got to our destination and we nearly didn’t get back.

Down to the boat last Saturday to get it ready for a slow run up to Foxton and Market Harborough. Spent the day cleaning and stocking up, after all it was high time we made some use of her now that we are starting to make progress with some of the major faults. Pootled round to the new self pump out facility in the marina and took a walk over to the office to obtain a token for the machine. Set to work with the pump. There was plenty of chugging and hissing but Trudy appeared to be constipated. Finally the pump stopped with ‘nowt taken out’. Whilst Karen went for another token I wrapped tape around the nozzle to try and improve the suction seal, this had been remarked on our only two previous pump outs. Both times done at manned pumping stations and both reporting difficulty in getting a good suction seal.
Second token inserted and this time with a bit of hopeful gurgling but not a lot else. Panic was starting to set in as a full tank meant no trip. Pressed the pause button on the pump and went below to dismantle the bed to get at the holding tank. With the bed in bits I got Karen to give the pump some welly and as expected the outlet pipe starts wheezing like an old man with bronchitis. All stop. The pipe into the tank is loose – isn’t there anything on this bloody boat that has been fitted properly?
With a tank full of slurry there is no way I can hold the pipe inside to tighten it up, so applying a bit of Ben Harp Narrowboats technology I slap silicone sealant round the fitting and cover it in tape before applying more sealant, real quality work this.
With the pump restarted there is lots of lovely chugging but of course we have used up a lot of time sorting out the problem and the pump stops. Off sprints Karen to get token number three, this time we have it sussed and Trudy is getting a well deserved enema.
This close to our holiday I have no intention of taking the holding tank to bits for a permanent fix so this will have to do for the time being.
Topped up with diesel at the auto pump at the same landing. 60/40 fixed split but I bring my own red for the heating.(when it works)
A chug back to our mooring and Trudy-Ann is all set for the off on the following morning.

Sunday dawns and the dogs know something is happening, straight into the back of the car and refuse to come out while we load the freezer stuff and last minute items.
Off we set in lovely sunny weather as far as the Hope & Anchor pub ready to pass through Leicester on Monday. Moored next to Watermead Country Park which has some fine walks.
Made an early start on Tuesday wanting to get as far south of Leicester as possible in the day. We had a good run but there is so much rubbish in the water around the north side of Leicester in particular.
 Belgrave lock weir
 Fishing for a bike at Freemans lock
Sox the new pup is getting into the swing of this boating lark and likes to sit up in the wheelhouse and keep a lookout, where as Brock the old boy is happy to sleep below.
Managed to share a few locks on the way through until we were approaching Kings lock when passing boaters warned us of low water levels above the lock. This was confirmed by waterways staff at Kings lock who reckoned that with our draft of 27-28 inches we would have trouble getting through. Decided to night stop here and if the situation had not improved on the following day see if we could wind under the old railway bridge a couple of hundred yards back.
To be continued…..

Friday, 19 August 2011

Cabin lights

Now that we have the nice new LED lights I figured it was time to start fitting them. Shouldn’t take long methinks? Hadn’t figured on the standard of wiring in this boat.
It’s all right this was done by a professional.

I always thought that the connection away from the source of power should be male and from the live side an insulated female and no bare wire should be visible. I am not surprised every joint has several layers of insulation tape. I prefer shrink wrap myself but only to stop the join pulling apart.
If I am wrong please correct me.
Danger armature at work
Beginning to think Ben did Tom a favour when he ripped the wiring out of Waiouru. I shall feel safer when all the wiring in this boat has been checked.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


The pickling continues apace.
In the meantime, got fed up of having to delve under the deck boards to operate the greaser.
Greaser now repositioned in one of the side lockers for ease of access. Hopefully this will also give me room to mount a fuel filter for the heating system. No there isn’t one.
Short post but busy, busy, busy.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Sink drain

Once all the work under the sink had been completed it was time to connect the drain to the fancy sump I had brought.
 Planned location in the engine bay next to the calorifier. Just a case of watch your step as for some reason the main battery cables from the engine run over the bearer here. On the other side they run through.

Managed to squeeze it into the corner as planned, connected it up to the bilge trip and everything works fine. Its rusty down here because there is a slight leak from what I think may be a pressure relief valve. I'm wondering if it will stop when I add a header tank that is pressurised. Having down loaded the Hurricane heating manual from the internet all systems seem to show a header tank "with pressure cap no more than 7 psi" All w have at present is an unsealed box. Also the manual states the pump must be lower than the boiler and that the left side is to be accessible for maintenance. Oh dear here we go again

Monday, 8 August 2011

Domestic water pump

Popped down to Screwfix to get some flexible pipes to remount the water pump under the sink. (How can you remount something that hadn’t been mounted in the first place)

Well I got my pipes but they also had this on offer.
How could I possibly refuse. No home should be without one, but that said it was back down to the boat to take the water pump out.
Problem – Look back at the first picture and you will see it is fed by two live wires!!!! Derr that not right. Out comes the fridge next door and look what I find.
What’s the point of colour coding cables if you are just going to do this. Might have just as well got a job lot of one colour. So instead of refitting pump the wiring behind the fridge got rehashed.

Back to the water pump. I am definitely not impressed by the standard of jointing.
Flexible hoses fitted and pump screwed to back of cupboard. Also found out why there had been a tendency for leaks, one of the brass adapters in the original set up had been fitted without an ‘O’ ring.
The extra black pipe is the new drain to the sump to be fitted in the engine bay.
While the water was off I added a water filter to the cold tap. Another item asked for but not supplied.
A few more cockup’s sorted but plenty more to go.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Battery switches

The week started more slowly than planned with us still being involved in harvesting as much as possible. Latest experiment is plums pickled in brandy.
Looks like it’s going to be a boozy Christmas this year.
Ordered a deluxe control panel from Beta with a longer wiring loom. Had asked BH to fit full instrumentation in the first place but I must presume that would have been too complicated. The wiring loom at present is too short, not allowing the instrument panel to be lifted without pulling terminals off, as listed in the surveyors report.
Finally got down to the boat on Wednesday. Disconnected shore supply and all batteries in order to carry out full battery test on the following day. Also with batteries disconnected  I wanted to move the battery switches off the inverter cupboard door to prevent damage to the battery cables and terminals, again as listed in the surveyors report. 

 As you can see half the trip switches are guesswork. A new larger trip panel will be fitted when I get round to building the new control desk. According to Benjamin the wonderful, the trip panel was to be fitted by the entrance to the main cabin, but no, as with so many other things it was changed without consultation, so now deck boards have to be lifted to see if everything is on.
When disconnecting the engine battery I found that the earth terminal for the Hurricane heater had just been pushed between the cable terminals.
A quick delve into the box of bits and said cable was fitted with a suitable terminal crimp, shrink wrapped and bolted on as it should be.
Switches repositioned on the side of the cupboard but still in plain view with labels this time to show which is which.
They may be minor items but it sums up the sloppy fit out.
It’s the fine detail that separate the gentleman from the bounder.