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!