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)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Why do I blog


I have just read Granny Button's blog about why one blogs.  Andrew (forgive being familiar with someone I have never met,  save online) comments that "everyone is famous for fifteen people, taken, I guess from Andy Warhol's comment about everyone being famous for fifteen minutes.  My blog is a diary.  If peope read it I am happy, if not I am happy.  I have now started reading my own blog, why?  Because it brings back happy memories, even though this blog is a mere baby compared to others.  The pictures stimulate the feeling and the words stimulate the memory.  So in my opinion, blogs resolve many different requirements.  For me it is a diary I am happy to share with all.

One other thought today, where did Gongoozler come from? the link suggests that Rolt popularised it.  I prefer midgies, although my use of the word originally related to hirers, no dis-respect, I was one till recently.

A further thought.  Speed at which you pass moored craft.  I suggest that hirers get bad press (some times).  I remember passing through Thrupp in a hire boat, fairly slowly, no water dispacement could be seen.  A moored (owner I guess) remonstrated with me to slow down, I ignored her because I was going very slow.  Since being an owner I have never had such a comment, indeed, I have had pleasantries due to my slowness passing their boats  -  probably more to do with the crap Lister petter engine.  Go on Lister person please agree to rebuild this thing of ugliness and slow top whack.

Keep it up bloggers!

Off to Barton under Needwood


The plan was to meet at the boat about 4pm and chill.  In the end I got to the boat about 7.30 pm on Friday after we had a fire alarm at work.

Boat was all fine and we settled down to a night in.  Sadly the beer was not quite chilled enough, but it was wet. 

Pulled out of Mercia the next morning (Saturday) at about 9 am heading for the Bridge pub.

Where isthe Bridge Inn?,  here

View Larger Map

The overheating alarm went off twice on the way out.  The boats operating temp is about 95c, a tad high but the engine is over 20 years old and has not been cared for particularly well - after all it is  lister petter alpha 4 cyl so no wonder.  Was a bit busy coming from Alrewas direction (heading east), then we learnt of a breach at Foxton, strangely no info from BW, but the number of boats coming toward us suggested something was up.

We turned at Barton Marina, getting better, a text book turn with wind following (no, not that sort of wind, the proper sort).  Found a nice spot just west of the pub and settled down to do the odd job.  At last, I fitted the tilting hold thingy me bob for the flat screen telly in the master bedroom!  Next is to hide the connecting bits.

Off to the pub we went at about 6pm.  We were pleased to find that it sold italian food, and good quality it was too.  A couple of pints later and back to the boat, as yet still no new name for it (the boat).

I put the fire on and we settled down.  Off to bed we went with kids asleep a few noises and then......  the smell.  That horrible smell we who clean it up always recognise, coolant!  Doh, on with clothes, torch in hand, dunno why cos its  pressurised system so there was nothing to see except a sea of coolant in the engine bay.  I decided to refill the coolant and then to see if it followed its predecessor.  It did not so I reckoned it was a leak from a seal or a hose because it was probably the pressure forcing it out (what one learns in no time amazes me).  So next morning I checked, hoses, nothing to see.  We took it easy back to Willington and I opended the engine bay, there she blew...

The big clip to the left centre of the black circle was where the offence was being committed, and guess what?  no spare, then again, I dont have spares for much anything else.  I need to carry some bits, but would I ever have carried that bit?

The trip back was quiet and I did not tear back(then again, I never do) but here are some piccies of the journey out.

The boat has measles (Hammerite ones)

 And coming back
Hmm where is the loo!

my attempt at being arty

Sarah down below

A working boat full(ish) of gravel at Tatenhill Lock

A nice piccie, Tatenhill Lock (no 9 on the Trent and Mersey)

Ughh a nasty piccie!

So, no more till we hit leicester in two weeks.  I do have to go to the boat to do jobs and to let the RCR engineer onboard to inspect the engine.

So this trip was lesson was about leaks.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Great Expectations!


Something different, via my iPhone.

I have been booked into a pub hotel in Reading called Great Expectations.

Now don't misinterpret what i say, it is a hole and not even a full hole.

A single room, because of the size better described as a womb!!

Plenty of tea n coffee, no decaf, no spoons, no cups!

Reception is at the bar. The bed needed airing, the view needs moving.

Ah well, back to boaty things Friday.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Trip to speak to the sparky from Aqua


Popped over to the boat yesterday to speak with the Sparky and do some odds and sods.  The electrical circuit is all sorted.  Having considered heating options I have bought a low wattage fan heater and a mini oil filled rad from Argos.  I will see how they behave when we pop away for a week at half term or maybe next weekend.

I cleaned the water pipes for the sink and shower, cos the stink eminating everytime we washed was getting a bit much.  Worked a treat, using Mr Muscle for drains. I also did a few, simple running repairs.

The trickle charge was fine too, the batteries must have been full cos the credit on the landline had not changed which was likely given we had cruised for three hours prior to sticking the landline on.

My touch up work looked ok even though it was slapped on, rather than carefully prepared and lovingly applied.  Marina is filling up now, the over winterers are appearing.  I could easily have stayed on the boat but as Stephen Haywood describes his house in his book, "One Man and a Narrowboat" - Crumbling Pile, I had to return to mine. 

Now, I have read Darlingtons book - "Narrow Dog to Carcassonne", which, whilst a little off now and then, I really did enjoy (I know a lot was set up) but Haywoods book is more a treaty to off boat experiences than on boat.  And another whinge, I wonder what Tom Rolt would have done in the face of this fuel change?  the IWA seems to have done,or said, little if the web site is anything to go by, rubbish web site too (I might add).

We (the Missus) have (has) decided to make curtains rather than buy them from our next door neighbour (curtains to go - google it).  It will be interesting to see what emerges, and when!

Would be nice if someone could recommend a marina for 2011, Stone or Stoke or Great Haywood area are preferred but would be happy to travel further, any suggestion out there?.  I will miss Mercia, such a nice marina and excellent neighbours.

Saturday, 2 October 2010


Ello again,

Now then, heating.  If you are going to use the boat from here on (perhaps even earlier!) some form of heating is a good idea.  As leisure boaters we do not need full rad central heating, What we have is the Morso stove, but we all know that it does not heat up in seconds if it has burnt out.

We have a number of options.

1.   Live with the morso.

2.   Put a gravity radiator system in using a back boiler

3.  Use a fan heater

4.  use oil filled radiator(s)

So, with the Morso, I have bought an oil filled rad and a fan heater.  The fan heater for immediate heat - 1Kw.  The oil filled is 450 watts.  usage 1.5kw, with sufficiet left for the tv and the fridge.  If not, the generator will be called upon.  I will also put a timer on the oil filled so it fires up about 5.30 am as well as a 7 day timer to keep the frost at bay.

I cleaned the drain pipes for the shower and the sink cos the smell was orrible, nice and clean now and the smell is gone.

I have decided to pay the mooring fee for the next 6 months a Mercia, taking advantage of 17.5% VAT rather than 20 which would be payable from January 2011.

I was almost tempted to pay for 12 months as it is such a nice marina but we must move on to explore elsewhere, we are thinking Great Haywood or Stone for the next base.