Friday, 31 December 2010

Going nowhere fast

Well here I am.  A narrowboat owner who cannot even get to this boat.

The ice is preventing moving the boat from the dry dock back to my mooring.  It feels crazy.

I could have got the keys to the dock but I dont reckon I could stay overnight nor light the stove nor hook up to the 240.

I had hoped to get to the boat to at least move it but the ice man remaineth.  Quite frustrating really.  These are life lessons you only learn when you own a boat.  Unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on your point of view) that we could not stay on the boat over the holiday period but I hope to make amends as soon as Willington defrosts and I can get her out of the dry dock.

There is nothing left save buy Rolts book and read it.

It would be different if I were live-aboard, but I have the good fortune to have options.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Site update

I have decided to re-write the Four Counties Ring page, included some much needed metadata and context.  Let me know if you like it - or not!  I intend to capture much more information in the future to provide a better reading experience and capture more of the funnier moments with the camera, as well as less funny.  My oldest daughter, Johanna took a dive in at Cropredy this year when we did a bit of the Oxford prior to buying Lola, I have to admit that the camera would never have captured any of the action as I was to busy:-

a) rescuing her
b) helping her to get out of view asap

As you will appreciate a fashion conscious 13 year old does not appreciate a public dunking anywhere!  So there will be limitations.

Seems the thaw is well on, well done to those who managed and lets hope that the pump outs work and elsan is functional.  I admire your strength and understand if many had an option they would have taken it!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Just some ramblings

Just a few boat related ramblings today.

Someone asked me about narrowboats being crushed by the ice.  My response was yes it can happen but likely to be as a result of very, very poor maintenance leaving the steel at 1 mil or so.

I might not paint the boat next year, mainly becasue of the effort involved when the boat aint really too bad despite the poor adhesion of the current gloss.  I will touch up and leave the big job till year after, thus securing some much needed cash for other purposes.  As the missus is starting a new business next year (with three other colleagues), i guess finances may be a tad tight for a while.

I will have the diesel heater fitted though and have the dinetter re-configured.  Then its crusing most weekends and holidays, starting 7th January - subject to weather of course.

I need to clean the chimney so its off to chandlers for a brush. 

I am going to fit some new deck boards with additional insulation, that should be fun as I am going to cut them myself, onsite.

I reckon its important to enjoy the boat now I - we, have spent so much on it.

I was going to buy a subscription to waterways world, just as well i did not - Christmas present.

I also hope more people will make use of it so am going to encourage friends to come aboard for a day.

Looking at others blogs, I am going to try to include more pictures of events/trips.  This is more difficult because I am usually in control.  This means the family will have to help more.

We do really need to get out on the boat more, this wii dance is a pain, men were not designed to dance around a living room with a wii controller in hand to a cartoon character dancer!

I also sometimes wonder if anyone else finds this blog interesting given the purpose of it was a not so private diary.  But not enough to be bothered!

Finally, my last thoughts are "I hope the engine behaves from now on" - it should seeing as it is not the old one.  I still intend to fit an additional skin tank just to be sure.

Ramblings over for today

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Its done, engine finished

Well,  sitting in the house looking at the canal forums posts and an email wings its way.

The engine is in, done and tested.  The new step box to the stern is also done.

i just need to go and get the keys/pay the money.  I am impressed with the attitude of Aqua in delivering this, together with the updates and photos, saving me from having to go up myself.

Anyway, on to the photos.

One engine fully installed

Yup that looks like movement

Canaline control panel

The hospital silencer, all bandaged up

And last but not least, the new cover for the engine with a nice access hatch, saving me from having to remove the whole box when I need to check the water/oil/belts. It really does look like a great job.  I now need to tidy the steps up to match the box!

All I need now is to have some thawing to give her a burst up the cut (oh, and the keys lol).  A working engine is important, but I do want to hear how well the silencer works too.

Next job is to adjust the fixed double/dinette.  Quote is in and I expect to plan this for June.  Just need to see what it will look like.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

An update on t'engine

No sooner had I created the last post did an email arrive about Lola.  She is still stuck in the dock, so thats not too bad given the weather.  The engine still needs more time and the engineer is struggling with the weather.  The steps which lead from the back cabin to the stern need rebuilding because the engine sits further into the boat than the last one and the starter alternator sticks out a bit so they are getting on with that today as they break up tomorrow for crimbo.  I reckon that the new deadline to bring her back to her mooring is when the ice melts and she can be given a run, not sure when that will be, possibly early January?  Anybody's guess really, could be before but unlikely in my opinion.

A few changes

I have been mucking about with the blog design, trying to improve visual side, not sure its a success, yet.  Comments welcome.

So, my first day of the crimbo hols and I have the girls to look after.  I thought to myself that if the Missus was at work, I could have a wee trip to the boat.  No chance, blizzard at Toyota Island, this is the junction on the A50 towards Willington.  Not much point really in any case, no call to say, all done, not likely either given it will need a run to test it and with the ice as it is, no chance of that.

I also had plans to stay on her for a night or two over the holidays, no chance of that either.

Seems I am limited to reading about others adventures in this winter wonderland or winter mess, which ever you prefer.

Time to get the sledge out I suppose

Saturday, 18 December 2010

engine update

I have taken a couple of piccies of the installed engine.  Did not take more cos it was in the not quite frozen, dry dock.  I was very pleased it was in the dock as this might help against the boat freezing up.  The fitting for the hospital silencer is prepared and the silencer awaits fitting.  I am hoping that we notice a considerable improvement in reduced engine noise.  I will take a video when in place and running, you can then judge the value for yourself.

I also spoke to Justin (the man is always working) who was about and I indicated the need for a few more jobs in the new year.  Talking about the dinette situation, Justin suggested some very neat ideas used on his hire boats so I think we will take him up on these, subject to a quote of course.

He also mentioned that Aqua are building a floating dock soon, this is very interesting as the cost of work needs to include the rate for docking (where docking is needed).  Hopefully, this will provide some better margins for Aqua and possibly better cost options for me!

I reckon that the engine should be done before christmas, not an issue given the marina is all iced up so there is no going back to the mooring just yet anyway.

Thats it for now.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Prop is in

The prop went in and stern gear was ok, phew!

Some piccies of the job below. Justin and co had to do a bit of ice breaking to get the boat in the dock, bit of a pain by all accounts. They had two of their boats stuck in it and used them to break the ice to get Lola in, she wasn't gonna do it on her own with no power. So, more work done today. Might not be long before I get her back. I have learnt so much doing nowt, its truly amazing!

Prop looks shiny

The Ice

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Brief Update

Popped up to the boat Saturday am, just checking on progress and missing the boat lol.

The guys have been busy preparing the wiring and removing the old battery selector in favour of a more modern automated solution, am guessing some solenoid oriented wiring acting as a relay, maybe not.

The new control panel is being prepared for with a little moving around of indicators, removing ones no longer needed as the volts/temp will be part of the new deluxe control panel.

Checked out the old exhaust, knackered it truly was.

The boat was cold but what did I expect!.

I hope there is space for it to go in the dry dock next week so they can inspect the stern gear, I also hope its a bolted gear and not welded.  I suppose if it is welded they remove the old one and create the necessary for a bolt held stern gear.  Ideally I hope that the gear is fine or good enough to keep going with, if not c'est la vie.

I cannot remember the initial service period for the new engine but I am going to go to the boat as soon as work is complete, whatever the weather.  We will take her for a test run to check how the new power unit works, I am most keen that the prop is the correct size for her, I have also just found the cost of axiom props, boo haa, way too expensive for me.

Also being looking at the bio solutions instead of elsan blue and am gonna give em a go for a while.  I like the idea of the content dissolving rather than just sitting there, dunno why, just do.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

More work on the engine n stuff

Ah well,  the engine is fine, shame that the exhaust is not.  New exhaust needed, woe is me.  Decided on a hospital silencer, it may keep me quiet as I walk along the physcho ward!

The new engine might still be fine but it aint gonna turn the prop cos the shaft is too short! new shaft now needed, more woe is me.

There was some wear in the shaft too so I hope the stern gear is not kaput also.

Work is ongoing but what a time to be without power of any kind, I pray the leaks are easy ones.

The marina is still frozen so I guess it aint moving into the dry dock till next week at the earliest.

At least this is all being noticed and dealt with now.  Thanks to Aqua for their due care and diligence.

Wonder if Ishould change the name again to Money Box, its all in there now!

Hey ho, later all.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A quick check

Popped up to the boat today.  Looks cold and lonely.

No obvious leaks, pump seems ok.  Hot water seems a problem but the calorifier is probably iced up as it has not been on and no connection to shoreline at the workshop, not that this matters much as their is no 240 immersion, all engine driven. 

I forgot about the shower hose, well frozen!

New engine is sitting ok but no time to really look at it.

Can only hope the weather improves enough to enable full fitting so I can fire her up next weekend, if the freeze has gone that is.

Might even get to stay over next Friday if no freeze and we can run her to the winding hole and back again, interested to see if I need to consider a new prop.  If I do it is likley to be an axiom, highly rated by all accounts.

Marina looked well frozen, and it did not seem much had moved on the last week, if anything.

Path and road around the marina still pretty well frozen but work appeared in hand to salt more.

I was tempted to get the morso going but not really any point, I would need to stay overnight as it thawed and its work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Engine Cometh!

Superb news!

In this filthy weather Aqua Narrowboats have actually got the new engine onto the boat.

The following pictures represents the work done so far, but I must first pass to Justin and his team my sincere thanks for getting this far in this aweful weather, true dedication and commitment.

The engine bay cleared, cleaned and painted

Note the side bilges, these were full of water, the cabin bilge had suffered too because the sides leaked into it after over-flowing, Justin and his team cleaned them out.

And this is what they worked in!

Carefully removed from the transporting rig
Nice and shiny too (for now!).

The access is pretty good so in she goes.

A little more
Last wiggle into place.

And there she is.  Looks like the feet are well positioned - fortunate or what.

They are now starting to connect it up.  So, a new engine for a newly named Boat  "NB Lola".

More later

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Phil Speights Painting Course

Well, what a weekend!

Phil Speights painting course taught me so much.

Lets start with preparation.  Advice and guidance on its removal etc was a revelation given I have never even heard about mill scale.  We also talked about new boats and older boats, and the stock advice is grit blast.  We did look to alternatives and the tools to  prepare a boat, using scrabblers etc.

Next we looked at primers. holding primers, porous issues etc.

When it came to painting, the combination of primers, three coats of undercoat and two coats of gloss seem the stock requirement.  How one does all this with a full time job requires some planning.

What was good was the training about application of paints and how to fnish the brush work.

We also learned about tack cloths, low tack tape, abraiding etc.  Paint brushes are also key and some good advice was noted about the right brushes to use. We also learnt a little about paint additives, how long to leave a coat, when to sand (and when you need not to).

The result is I am now confident about painting our boat.

Don't get me wrong, I am no expert, not even a rookie, but I now know enough to make a start without making a complete balls up.

We learnt a great deal over two days and out of respect to Mr Speight, I am not going to reveal any of it, go on his course, he is a gentleman and a scholar when it comes to painting narrowboats.  Not to forget his able assistant, Meg who kept him pointing in the right direction and something of an expert painter too.

You get some useful course advice by way of some literature, for the rest you need to take a notebook and pen, a camera would not go amiss either.

I feel happy to paint panels and coach lines, sign writing is something else, as are painting castles and roses.

His obligatory lecture on the history of boat painting is illuminating to say the least.

He painted steel from the start to the finish, whilst we did not raise a brush, we all saw the whole process.

No bear jokes, I was disappointed.  But a nice comment about PPA, ask painters what it means, Mr Speight knows exactly what it means because he came up with it.

Why Mr Speight and not Phil?  a mark of respect which, if you go on his course you will understand.

I may need to ring him for advice, he made it clear that he was happy to take calls.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Engine work starts


Today a call to tell me that the engine is being decommissioned - like an army officer being sacked I reckon!

The swim has side bilges, and as I guessed the starboard side was full of water, draining off the deck boards we reckon.  Rather than find ways of solving the principle problem, rain ingress, Aqua (aha, a connective my 7 year old informs me!) will fit a couple of bilge pumps.  No problem because I am fitting a pram to the rear (stern cover to some) next year which will avoid the issue (I hope).  Best recommendations for covers seem to be Coverit and Wilsons of Kinver.

I would like to have taken a piccie of removal but I am away this weekend on Phil Speights boat painting course.

This means that they have measured up the new engine fit I guess (hope?), nah expect.

Someone asked me today if I would like to live aboard, yes and no I say.  What I would like to do is exended cruising supported by a cottage on the canal system.

I am one of those who has totally caught the bug, I think there is some connection with the boats movement, the minimalistic approach and the lack of a vacuum cleaner.

Even my wife says she would like to live next to a canal (with a little wharf (no, not the star trek guy) when we give up work, but not, not a river.  Whilst the Severn in flood is a sight to behold, the best sight is from afar, very afar.

We will also do the dinette conversion early next year (subject to quotes), two girls need their own bed.  Next we will have, but I want to sleep on that bed!

I am also going to buy a chainsaw.  Yes, with all the necessary care and equipment.  This cheap log thingy is also catching.


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Quick engine update


Just had a note by email from Aqua Narrwboats, engine is on order and may arrive next week.  Nice to be updated, so many people forget this important bit of customer relations.

This got me thinking about other work but I decided to hold back on writing another long list!  There is a lot to do but I was not blindfolded by a good survey when I bought the boat so I expected the list in my head and I bought the boat having taken into account the engine issue.  Lets face it, after the engine, the nearest cost is re-plating, assuming no disasters that is.  The plating is 10/6/4 and pitting is not too bad on its bottom. Steel is still hard and the 10 mil is measuring 8.7 so a little while to go I hope. 

Interesting post recently on just canals about battery life and related indicators.  You can have a nice voltage and suddenly the battery packs up, apparently when the insides corrode, bits of conductive metal falls to the bottom of the battery and can eventually cause a short cicuit - hence a fast death for the battery even though your voltage is looking healthy.

Bye for now


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Last visit before new engine - I hope!


Well, here I am, heating on, bit chilly outside.  This should be my last visit before the new engine is fitted.

Mercia at 17:00

Note to self, have calorifier replaced with a 240 ac immersion based unit.  This makes it easier to have hot water when on shoreline (obviously).  It is important to check the type of calorifier when buying a boat, I would never have checked, I will from now on!

Stove is doing its job and the little, often criticised ecofan is doing its job too.

I got what I wanted at the boat today, complete peace and quiet(ish).  Marina is much fuller now with boats in for the winter.  I checked the shoreline electricity left,  In September I had the shoreline fitted and loaded the meter with £10.  would you believe it, £8.94 left!  and I keep the battery charger on trickle as well as using some juice for TV and Fridge when we are here.

Sun is just starting to fade a tad and its only 15:51.

No big jobs, just odd maintenance and running water down.

Well, I suppose this is it till the new motor is installed in 3-4 weeks time.  I will try to pop on with updates but lets face it, not alot of updating if i am not here.  I will post piccies of the new engine when fitted,  Justin might even take the odd fitting shot if I ask him nicely.

I have been contemplating putting a heatinf system aboard.  I have decided to wait, the stove heats pretty quick and i can run the fan heater from the shoreline or the genny if needed to get some immediate warmth.

Mercia at 9.30 am

bye for now

Wednesday, 10 November 2010



I have enrolled on the Phil Speight painting weekend.  I intend to grit blast Lola down to swedish 2.5, all over including the bottom, so some knowledge about doing it right is important.  Worry not, no work will start until late April at the earliest.  I intend to blast using a professional grit blaster, vectan, prime, undercoat and gloss (or primer and rough gloss as a temporary measure if needed) all in a week.  This requires a good breeze and all hands on deck.  I am guessing painting will commence on a Friday pm, giving me the most helpers over the weekend.  Windows will be removed and all the usual covered/blocked out.  Excited, I am, nervous definitely.  But I have decied that the job needs doing properly.  I cannot afford a professional 7k paint job, way, way over my budget of £1,000 (including blasting and paint!).

If I knew fellow boaters well enough I would ask the local for help but I think it is being cheeky.  As a lesire moorer its quite hard to develop active friendships, if you get my drift.  But, friends and rellies will be coaxed, bribed etc to assist where they can.

What if it all goes wrong?  I will have a naff looking boat.  Easily fixed, just paint better!  the key is the blasting, vectan and undercoat.  I can livewith a poor gloss until time and experience helps.

Winter, as it approaches, seems a bit quiet on the boating front.  Wrong!!!!  I will boat every chance once the engine is in and settled.

I am also seriously thinking about a heating system, namely a diesel engine bay stored heater for hot water and rad heating.  Lets see what next year brings first.

I was wondering if I could, if needed, live aboard.  I will give you my answer when I am ready, don't wait on it, years may pass!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

T' Engine fit out


This post includes a picture of the current engine, a Lister Petter Alpha LPW4. I reckon all it needs is an impeller and a bit of love and attention, a rebuild would not go amiss.  Anyone who wants it, let me know how much you think its worth.  Its a cash and collect deal.  All ancilliares will remain including  recently refurbished Alternator, and of course a nice new bowman end cap!  The engine was serviced in July.

The white things at the bottom of the picture are nappies capturing the coolant lost when the impeller failed.
Not much oil appears but there is a gunked connection to the calorifier at the top of the engine

When the old engine is removed, the engine bay will be cleaned and repainted.  I was hoping to fit a new keel tank but instead I may have an external one fitted later next year, probably Paul Barber given I have received very positive comments about his work  I need to get the boat to him, so whilst I would have preferred the skin tank fitting as part of the engine build, it will just have to be done later.  I may even give in and just have a second internal one fitted, we will see.  The existing skin tank will be thoroughly flushed and cleaned.

Now for a little thanks to helpful people ho provided some quotes/advice.  TW Marine for example provided advice but were just too far away to be able to quote, had the engine been healthy I would have made the journey to them, thank you TW Marine. Another very helpful bunch was Marine Engines Ltd, thanks for the advice guys.  There were others who were less than helpful, what goes around comes around, customers are powerful beings.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

New Engine Spec


The new engine spec is

Kioti marinised 4 Cylinders, 42 bhp with a max rpm of 2600 and cc of 1.99, Keel cooled.  What is  nice is twin alternators 50A/110A. The gearbox is a hydraulic PRM 150 which is, I understand very response to control level movement.

It will be nice to have some power when needed.  I am not a petrol head but occassionally a bit of grunt is useful.

Why this engine?

Ok tidal rivers need 42hp to motor against the tide.

The control panel.

Whilst most enignes are simple, they either start or they do not.  What is required is diagnostics to understand performance and identify issues prior to them becoming fatal.  The panel is a delux panel and comprises of a tachometer with digital hour recorder/voltmeter, water temperature and oil pressure gauges, key start and stop, with warning LED’s and audible alarms for high water temperature, low oil pressure and no charge
from the both starter and domestic alternator. The panel also features, an on LED, along with a timed pre-heat yellow LED for the glow plugs.  Key stop will be nice, allowing stop without having to go on the aft deck, nice when wet.

So what next?

First comes some interier re-design to remove the dinette and create a 2 x single or full length double.  This will facilitate separate beds for my girls as well as retaining a dining area, and that occassional double.

Next is a complete grit blasting of the whole boat exterior and then a repaint.

I then intend to have a stern pram cover and a forward cratch and cover, these make it much more confortable and have the added bonus of limiting water ingress.

So lots to do, but after these jobs the boat will then be stable and enable friends to make use of it without me and my spanner being nearby.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Engine

So, we have, I think, decided upon an engine.  The choice is Canaline 42.  I cannot share total cost to preserve commercial confidentiality.

Lead in time is 3 -4 weeks.  I could wait until next year but VAT and spending time over winter on the boat is important, I actually miss her!  We all do, so a weekend just pottering and going to the first lock and back will be enough.

Being hooked is a simple phrase and is often mis-understood.  My boat, our boat, is very important as a place to return to sanity and a means to take some nice pictures in what I regard as stunning locations.

I checked the gas locker and the paint work is not too bad, just the base needs cleaning and painting with a rust inhibitor.  I also own a manual pump out, no idea when I might need it and am worried about testing it!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Just checking and....

Went to the boat today to check current situe with the engineer, seems the team have taken a well earned rest, all quiet.  The boat was still on one of their moorings so no hook up but that did not matter.  I emptied water out of the tank, readying it for winter.

I also adjusted the stern gland and fed it some marine grease.

I then took some pictures of the engine so I can send to others for their views on costs etc.

The big news was we have finally agreed on a name for the boat.  Not original, but it is an agreed name from all the family - NB Lola.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Water Pump?


I still reckon its the water pump and as Dave Winter has advised, likely to be the impeller.  We will investigate once the engine has been removed, I just want to know we have found the fault.  This figures with the issues and the thermostat replacement not doing the job. The engine can then be offered to a young couple (foc of course) who moor near me and have a dead engine.  I may have the impeller fixed if I have to move the boat for the re-fit.

Am now waiting for some quotes to do the jobs but I may not have the aqua drive fitted - based on available space and engine bedding.  I now have two engines to consider the canalstart or the isuzu replacement canaline, so far.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Another breakdown

Ah well, melt down.

We got through the Fradley flight but the alarm started again.  We managed to get it back to normal and then off we went getting all the way to past the last lock before Willington and the alarm went off two miles from the Marina.  This time it was temrinal and I reckon all our problems are water pump related.  The thermostat is not letting water through because there is no force sending it around.

I decided not to call RCR because we had a friend on NB Polly about an hour away and heading in the same direction.

Lou appears on Polly and we get a tow, more than freaky.  We allowed people to pass but the jerks passed way too fast, one even crashing into the tow path side because he was going so dam fast, causing us to bank also and then ground!

We arrive at Willington and enter under our owns steam, literally!

Over to the engineering fraternity to quote us happy!

I intend to go to the boat during winter with the family, the shoreline will be sufficient.  I also need to clean the bow locker of the rust and treat whats left.

Here are a few piccies of our return journey.
Coors Brewery at Burton

Views, early evening at Branston Water Park -

Th Bridge Inn here does excellent italian food.

Branston Lock

This photo is taken near Shobnalls Basin, eclectic mix of rubbish!

Speaks for itself!

Sarah's self portrait

The sad return

Being a butty is hard with a short rudder, having to shorten the tow to compensate.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Thermostat and much more




So I left off with being a little perturbed about the thermostat.  Well, RCR did their job and i apologise for sounding less than impressed, the thermostat was very difficult to locate.

They came with it the next day, about 12 noon, fitted it and away we went, temperature at about 90c.  We went from near Handsacre to the top of the Fradley flight, just passed the sunken boat.  We also struck lucky because some acquaintance's (Lou and Co) were going in the same direction behind us, giving us some cover if the problems occur again.

The journey to Fradley from Handsacre had no locks before the flight.  The next day, Wednesday, we started down the flight.  At the junction we bought some elsan blue, 4 litres, 12 quid.  We also took the opportunity to fill the water tank and agree rough timings with Lou in MB Polly (out of Shardlow) our boat friends and possible tow if needed.  At the third lock the old temperature warning indicator went off, damn!  We nursed her to Alrewas and I started to think some more about the problem.  I decided to loosen the expansion tank cap as there was a terrific amount of pressure building in the system.  This did the trick but did cause loads of coolant to spill out a couple of times, after which the cap was replaced loosely and hey presto no more issues.  I think we may have an intermittent blockage either at the calorifier or the skin tank, both will be replaced prior to the new engine being fitted.  I prefer an external skin tank (with deflectors) and a gas heater for the hot water needs.

We are now moored for the day at Branston, a lovely place with a nice pub/bistro.  So here I am blogging at 14:47 after a bit of  a hairy day.  This is the last trip pre winter and engine replacement.


Now then the engine.

This is what I am looking at doing:-

New Canalstar engine

New aqua drive

New deck boards

New paint job in engine bay

Extra bilge pump in a water trap under the deck boards

New Control panel

Hospital Silencer

Softer engine mounts

That should just about do it.

For what we do, leisure boaters I reckon our 800 watt inverter is just about good enough and the heating (morso squirrel – no back boiler) will have to do for now.  Should we stay aboard in winter I will consider an on board heating solution but as we will only likely turn up at weekends, I reckon a frost prevention heater and the morso will do.  It heats up fairly quickly and my idea is to turn it on and then go to the pub for tea, coming back to a nice warm cabin!

Whilst the holiday was cut short, these things happen and you just gotta take it in your stride.

I will also ask Aqua Narrowboats to quote for some cabin revisions, altering the dinette double into dinette singles/full width double.

I have sketched it in my head and it works.  Have  a look



Monday, 25 October 2010

October Half Term Willington to Stone and Back


Well, time for our holiday.  We decided to go to Stone and turn back.

Started Saturday and with the engine tested, we reckoned it was the end ap issue which had been affecting operating temperature. 

This picture is just short of Barton Turns.  Sadly over-exposed but I am learning!

We got to Barton Turns on the first day and decided to moor there.  Mooring was 7.50 plus 2.50 for hook up.  Very nice marina if not a touch full and a bit row after row.

Barton Marina early evening

Barton Sunday Morning

 The pub/restaurant can be recommended as being truly very good.  As we arrived on Sunday at about 4.30pm we did not get to shop so my wallet stayed safe.


Shade House Lock, Fradley Flight
We headed off at 9.30 am and decided to get past Fradley Junction with a target to moor up just short of Handsacre which we did, no problems.  Rather uneventful really except for a guy on his own, aged 82 with a 50ft boat, I helped him to Fradley Junction where he was stopping.  What a star, wish I had taken a photo, must learn to record events more.

Monday morning,very crisp but wth no wind it was rather nice.

Our base at Bridge 56 near Handsacre

We started off  from just before Bridge 56 and did about 10 mins when the overheating alarm went off and the temperature rocketed.  This time though we got steam escaping from various parts of the cooling system.  I reckoned it was the thermostat saying good bye.  We managed to moor up after bridge 56 and called RCR at about 9.40 am.  Bit disappointed as they cannot get to us until 1pm earliest.  I have given them the thermostat part number and the joint so hopefully he will get to us part in hand so to speak. 

Anyway, daytime TV is bad, really bad so I am looking for photo opportunities so I can do more camera testing - I have decided to start using my digital SLR properly and a colleague has been giving me tips.  This is a diversion because I am praying it is not the water pump as this is the last journey before engine change to the lister 40hp 400 series Canalstar or maybe a Canaline 42.  If it is the water pump then I will be looking for a tow to Willington from RCR.  That is an experience I would rather do without.  Still, an ever exciting trip. 

Kath and Sarah have gone in search of a dvd store as some bright person name Johanna removed all the DVD's after the last trip to refresh them.  They were not refreshed so this damn daytime TV must be suffered.

Lets hope the RCR mechanic is carrying the correct part, my guess is no.

Correct, no.  Much use as a chocolate fireguard.  Took out thermostat at 13:45 went to get another, still no site at 16:44, lower level of cover next year me thinks.  He did not even do any diagnosis.Doh!

I have also found a small flooded section of the boat near the engine, just a little compartment but i reckone it should not be full of water, he can empty that too.

So, he appears the next lunchtime, 30 hours sice my first call - I discover much effort had been undertaken finding a thermostat, a little communication would have really helped.  Thermostat fitted and off we went.  the trip back to Fradley was uneventful and we moored at the top of the Fradley flight.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Engines and couplings

So, I have been doing a bit of learning.

I am close to buying a Lister Canal Star 40hp 400 series with an aquadrive or python flexible coupling, the latter helps reduce vibration and assists with the linkage.

I have been around the streets looking at verious options and this seems the mostcost effective to me, so far.

I intend to buy from  but am still pondering/researching.

Saturday we have half term and we will pop along the Trent and Mersey, possibly as far as Stone, so long as the thermostat is ok that is.  Looking forward to the cold?  yup, easy to warm up and makes the morso much more of a friend with the heat lifting up out of the aft door.

Ok, a bit extra

So Aqua have had the boat running all day yesterday, no overheating. Must be me!

I do wonder if bleeding the skin tank and replacing the end cap may have solved the problem, listen to me,almost sound like I know what I am talking about!

More on my travels from Saturday.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Visit to Aston marina

Aston Marina

Went over to Aston Marina today. Just a look for an alternative summer mooring. Willington is fine for the winter and close enough to home but we want to see more of the network so this means re-locating, possibly. Aston is new, limited boat services, no chandlery, no electrician. Very nice basins, beautiful location so its a possibility. Willington wins hands down on services. It's always a balance between location and time to get there. My only gripe was the cost for six months which carries a sginificant premium. Annual fees are ok, same as Willngton, but six monthly fees are £200 more.

So I am adding Aston to the list.  We have decided to survey the Trent and Mersey half term, see what else it offers in terms of moorings.  Any suggestions gratefully recieved via this email to link.

The thermostat

I was going to test the thermostat myself but will let Aqua do it.  If it is faulty I will have to find another and they could probably get a motor factors supplier source one much faster than me.  I wonder if I could sell this old engine when she is rpelaced, must be some residual value.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

End cap fixed

I decided to fix the end cap myself given the expected frost and the fact that most of my coolant was on the engine bay floor!

Easy job two clips and off it came, very perished, almost came away in two parts.  I also bled the coolant at the skin tank, lots of air so lets hope I have better engine heat reduction/management.

I have now decided to carry some spare bits just to keep me covered.

I have also decided to replace the engine next year.  Its top speed is very poor and engine noise is way too high.  This is my opportunity to determine exactly how I want it set up.  Things likw sump pumps, cantral heating options, engine management system etc.  Many have said get the engine re bored etc.  But I have to live with it and its time for a more modern solution which is quieter and more fuel efficient.  I am guessing I will need a gear box too.

Possibly off to Aston Marina for a look see tomorrow.  I need a base further along the trent to alter my travelling options.

Seems a few more boats in the marina, over wintering I guess.  Ah well, I reckon 8 years time I can retire and spend quality time cruising the system.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Bowmans End Cap!


Today I discovered a few things.

Background - I have a coolant leak, I mentioned it in a recent post.

For others who struggle like me, this is at one end of the heat exchanger (a Bowman).  The end cap is a rubber hose, bigger and wider at the heat exchanger end.  The heat exchanger? a long tube, it helps to divert coolant to the calorifier to heat up your domestic water - happy to be corrected.  The principle purpose, I am advised, and corrcted by  Brian and Diana on NB Harnser is to cool engine oil.

I also learnt a little bt more.  The skin tank (the thing wot helps cool the engine coolant), usually found at the side of the engine compartment and wonderfully described  here beta skin, had a fair bit of air in it.  It has a bleed plug at the top, mine was seized fast so I unscrewed the whole unit.  an example of one is here

skin tank
The bleed point is circled.  It should be full when bled, bear in mind you may need to repeat bleeding if air is trapped elsewhere and makes its may to the skin tank

Now then, you can fill the coolant tank but unless you run the engine leaving the tank filler cap off, you cannot really clear air blocks.  Mine was full of em and still is.  I decided to forget clearing air blocks until the bowman end cap has been replaced.  I have asked Aqua to do this.  Am I lazy?  No, I need them to look at the thermostat as well so its more convenient for me to let them do it.  I am not sure that there is anything wrong with the thermostat, testing it is not too difficult, see thermostat testing. Ok, so why am I not doing that too?  Because if I muck it up and say the thermostat housing breaks I am stuffed.  Believe me I have broken a thermostat housing on an old ford fiesta (over torqued), a nightmare to find a replacement indeed.

You need to run the engine, let it cool and the coolant level drop, then fill it again and start the engine, leaving th filler cap off.  Hey presto.

Experienced boaters, laugh you may, I learnt tons today.  I hope that this informs, any contradicitons/other advice, please do share your knowledge.

(thanks to Henry from Just Canals forum helping me to edit this post slightly)