Monday, 20 May 2019

So what was I doing to injure myself !

You'll have seen from the last blog post I was fitting something that necessitated the removal of the back cabin steps.

Its been a job on the list since we brought Percy, in fact something notified on the survey. Now in my defence it was never fitted when built and when we brought Percy she was just 20 years old. What was it ....

.... a bilge pump !! How silly not to have one, well I did have one as did tony but not automatic and not fixed.  Tony had a manual syphon pump to remove and water that collected in the quite small stainless catch tray under the stern gland. I upgraded to an electrical pump I just dangled in every now and again.

Percy it a little unusual in that rather than a stern greaser you wind down at the end of the day there is a 'greasomatic' cartridge that has a constant pressure so while cruising there is always a minuscule (based on the amount of grease used) amount of grease dispensed to the shaft essentially constantly keeping the drips away and all nice and lubricated. it seems so logical so me - a little more expensive but very efficient.

However it was on the survey and it is a pain in the bum to remove the steps and plug in the little pump and pump the water out every now and again, I checked many times and there was nothing to remove. Also the biggest concern was the insurance, if anything had ever gong wrong it might have been a loop hole used by the insurers.

So I  eventually got around to fitting one ..... in two sittings. The first was the drilling holes in the hull stage and the second getting power to it direct from the batteries. I fitted a tidy control panel to make it complete.

Pictures .....

I picked up a nice set of core drills from Homebase when they were destocking  - been used extensively on my lads Flat in London and now the boat.

 I had the pipe and pump many years ! Just needed the time ..

Stage two after my back had got a bit better was to return and run some cable direct from the batteries to the pump and controller. I used my electrical ' fishing kit'  - you can just see the blue flexible stick running under the back counter through the engine room bulk head . I used sheathed cable but also put it in flexible conduit all the way - overkill but it'll never rub or perish in the harsh environment of the engine room - well not so harsh !

A quick test of the manual side and automatic and it works perfectly, the pump does not have a float but uses electronics to detect water level so should be more reliable. All worked so now at the end of each days cruise and randomly I just hit the manual switch and when off the boat just leave it in auto mode.

Cost me a holiday on the bike to Holland though !!!!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Small margins between lucky and serious injury - read on !

This must be one of the longest spells of blog inactivity for quite some while. Firstly apologies for the people who contacted me re the stuff for sale, I'll be in touch shortly.

So why the dramatic title... A couple of weeks ago I came so close to seriously injuring myself, I still ended up in A&E or ED (Emergency department - ergh) and I still have flashbacks to the incident such was the shock of it.

There will be some follow up posts about post incident activity and impacts but for now the executive summary....

I went to the boat on the 30th April to do some work which meant I needed to remove the steps  - see where this is going ! I was working well and climbed out of the back cabin to fetch my core drills. I always walk backwards down the steps as its safer and I hold onto the hatch rails while doing so. Yes I basically walked backwards off the counter and as I had tools in my hand could now hold my weight and basically fell 4 feet flat onto my back.

I literally had the moment of free falling knowing when I landed it was going to hurt. The picture below is my view as I lay on the floor in some state of shock, not sure if I'd broken my back. I lay there for a good five minutes just breathing and calming down literally scared to try and move in case I made it worse and considering if I was going to have to call 999 unsure if I'd been knocked out.

Excuse the mess, the picture on the left is what I fell into and the right the counter from which I just fell backwards from.

I was so lucky my head landed with a glancing blow from the tool box just behind the curtain, the tools on the floor are what I was carrying. Normally I am a much messier worker and if there had been anything in the area where I fell I could have broken my back for sure. If the tool box had been out I'd have broken my neck. Sounds dramatic but they were the margins by which I survived a the backwards fall.

I eventually moved and was relieved (and I'm not normally a dramatic person) I could move my legs and slowly get up. I knew I had hurt my back and I was an hours car drive from home so I locked the boat up and headed home before I started the inevitable seizing up as the body goes into protect and repair mode.

I was showing bad bruising and stiffness over the next few days, lots of mobility but any touching of the area was very painful. Now here is the rub... I was due on a motorcycle trip to Holland on the following Wednesday. I felt ok but still sore on the Tuesday so decided to get it checked out at the local walk in centre... bottom line there was initially I felt ok going in, just wanted to check there was no lasting damage, the three hour wait on hard chairs turned my problem from a check up to a visit to A&E as while sitting the pain became significant and a large lump literally appeared on my lower spine. Despite having an X-ray Leek walk in does not -Xray backs or necks (not noted on their web pages) and it closes at 12.30 on a Tuesday ( not noted on their web pages) So went in for a precautionary check up and left on my way to A&E in so much pain. Then it was the same process of waiting to be triaged, waiting to be seen by a doctor (nurse) X-ray and thankfully advised extensive bruising and some local damage but not broken. Still sore now but the lump is receding, the medical feedback was a secondary bleed to ( in my opinion) protect the area after being stuck still on a hard chair for three hours.

So If I'd had the floor up as was the next job I'd have landed on this .... and I have no doubt I'd have been a lot more damaged.

When I worked at the Uni many years ago a technician was decorating and fell from a small ladder and broke her back and spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair completely paralysed from the chest down.... small margins and I was very very lucky. So please be careful when doing the most mundane of things. If I was a cat I'd have used up one of my lives for sure !!

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Stuff for sale /free

I am trying to sort out the workshop as I have too much stuff.... if anything is of interest let me know. All plus postage if they can be posted  .... can be collected from north east or north west Staffordshire. I'll be ebaying them all soon so may not be available down the line. As its space I'm after if you want anything the sooner it goes the better (I can hold it for a little while if needed).   

Generator, spares or repair, Clark style 2kw - £25

Battery box free to good home - £0

Brompton lights and dynamo's may be of some use - £10

Garden shedder, not much call for it on a canal boat but for home or a mooring..? - £25

Cycle rack ( seatpost style) plus bag with drop out panniers .... needs a bit of tidying - £15

Smart gauge boxed, little used - £50

Water filter system, age unknown but never used - £25

A couple of autocom lead holders, unused still in the package - £3 each

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Working hard going nowhere

Easter 2019, what a treat. Wall to wall sunshine and Friday to Monday on Percy for us.

We did use it as a base as we had caring responsibilities on the Saturday that saw us back in Derby then back to the cottage for tools for me then back to Derby then to Swarkstone then finally back to Shedbdon! The   Swarkstone visit was to the sailing club and a 50th party to attend that saw us get back to Percy close to 1am. It was a tad cold but a couple of hastily filled hot water bottles and we were soon cosy in our middle of the boat bed.

The trip back to the cottage on Saturday was for tools to enable me to lay the slabsI had taken to recycle form my lads house. in true miser spirit i collected my trusty handed down sieve to sieve the soil to get a sandy mix to help lay the slabs for zero cost.

At Fradley I paid out quite a few quid for decking that took some work to get level and then paint -  then got hardly used, mainly due to the fact it was a thoroughfare and Leia never was comfortable as other dogs often came part not on leads. It was in hindsight my fault as i should have put the decking on the canal frontage as my neighbours did, giving a bit more privacy but still it was quite a busy (relatively speaking ) mooring.

When we inherited Richard's mooring at Shebdon he left it much as he had used it, very tidy. well planted and screened. Mandy my neighbour at Fradley who put us onto the mooring vacancy at Shebdon had Richard's wood store that left a patio sized gap.....

So Sunday in full sun we set to laying the recycled slabs to make a tidy and protected patio. No one walks by so the pets are very relaxed. It did not take long to clear the space, sieve the soil to remove most of the stones and generate some fine sandy soil.

Before we knew it we were taking drinks on our next outdoor space. We just need to get some more willow weave fencing for the back and side and it'll be a perfect sun trap.

We are two slabs short which I'll collect this weekend and hopefully (weather permitting) lay next week.

We did watch telly over the stay and the fridge was on all the time, ipads and phones were recharged and never needed to run the genny or engine - the power of the sun on the little solar panel covered us for the few days we were aboard, plus the new AGM batteries took it all in their stride.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

It’s a little known fact

....that boats travelling the four counties go faster clockwise. Well that is my observation from spending some quality time aboard Percy this Bank holiday. Of course there is a good reason for this, simply boaters approching us from the north hit the beginning of quite a few moored boats so are happy to drop never to tick over....however  by the time they reach us going north they have passed quite a few moored boats so have impatiently increased speed. Not a problem and to be honest I am an advocate for not slowing passed moored boats, I should say I do of course but I can imagine the working boaters did no such thing.

Anyhow that’s thought for the day before I start slabbing the little patio area we have here at Shebdon..... pics to follow.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Twirling on the canal

.... some call it winding, some turning, today I call is a twirl as the weather was so nice !

Part of my justifications for moving my mooring was the prevalence of winding holes close to my mooring. Not too close of course as its nice to have a little bimble and twirl to essentially keep the water pump from 'welding' the impeller to the brass body as was I suspect the case in my overheating.

Where I moor there is a winding hole about 50 yards to the north.

So far I've not winded here as it has boats in it - I understand winding it with the permission of the owners of the canopy company.

On Thursday 11th  I went a bit further up and winded 40 minutes away (2 miles) just past Knighton woods. Nothing on the canal until just after I winded then another boat came along. I am a get off the back and pull it round type of fella if needed, apologies for the purists but it seems the most efficient way ? We stopped at Knighton woods on the rings and took a walk in the woods- lots of evidence of Pheasant rearing in there with the blue feeding containers?

The last time we were pointing north we took Percy to Tyrley and winded before the locks. This is just over 6 miles and takes us a good two and a half to three hours as there are quite a few moored boats ! We have walked into Market Drayton before from here which is a nice walk.

Now back at out home mooring pointing south to wind we go to the Grub street cutting winding hole just past the boats moored where the old Rolls Royce is - you'll know it if ever travelling through. This is another 45 minute there and 45 minute back option - just right for a little pootle. The winding hole is well protected so usually a no nonsense twirl.

For when we are feeling a little braver it's a wind at Norbury, Depending on the time of year and day of the week harder as loads of boats moored there in the winter but no audience, in the summer less boats more traffic and lots of watchers....we have so far avoided it. It's about three and a half miles and an hour and a half. 

The day out and day back cruise I did the other week is to High Onn wharf and is just over eight miles and about three and a half hours. A lovely cruise for a full day or as I did a cheeky overnight  

Finally in the local area the Wheaton Aston winding hole gets you out for a good engine stretch....twenty two and a half miles about 9 hours  - lovely countryside again, very rural up to Wheaton Aston and you can get the cheapest fuel on the system here. 

So as you can see lots of little trip with options for twirling. The real bonus is a few of the winding holes are remote and sheltered so makes for stress free winding.

As I am now pointing south I feel a High Onn trip to ease the new head gasket into full use.... !!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

The first cut is the deepest

Cheesy.... but a note to self that I was over at the boat last week to give the grass its first cut of the season. A gratuitous shot or two of the work done and the loan bike I rode over there on. Still great to get vehicles so close to the boat, especially as I heard recently that boaters cars had been broken into at Fradley.

I was able to use the Bosch mower with my now trusty Honda genny. They paired up well together to get the job done. The profile of the mooring also helps make this a much easier job than before this means i can dispose of the petrol mower I had  (still have) for the Fradley mooring.