Sunday, 22 October 2017

The donk gives its first trouble

The Lister CS2 in Percy's engine room has up until now performed flawlessly. It gets its bits lubed and oil and air filter changes when needed.  I do check it every cruise day as it is so easy to get around - the joy on an engine room rather than under ones feet.

On the last day of the return trip from Froghall I noticed diesel seeping from the joint above the injector pump on the right hand cylinder. We were just outside of Rugely when I noticed so I lashed cloths around it to get us home which worked.

When the engine cooled a little I got the spanners on the injector pipe.... There was a hairline crack under the 'my words' pressure collar that pushed down on the 'nipple'.


So when home I ordered a pair of injector pipes from Stationary Engine Parts plus some mid Brunswick green paint. They are my go to supplier for bits for the CS2.


 The new pipe needed some judicious bending to get an unstressed fit.... the vice in the engine room came good again for this work.


I set up a little jig to paint the pipe, first with some metal undercoat then a top coat of Brunswick green.

When all dried I fitted the pipe and the donk started with a little smoke until enough diesel was getting through and no more leaks.


As you can see the engine needs a few touch ups but that can wait until warmer weather. Almost a proper mechanic !!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

A close call and 4 more years !

I had a day at Tom's  my eldest son's house on Monday, DIY'ing and gardening. The wind and a weird sun were ever present and on leaving at dusk I got two messages from my good neighbours at the moorings saying they had moved Percy as a large branch was on its way down adjacent  to the boat - thanks gents. Nothing I could do about it and Kev and Harry gave me confidence they had made the boat safe. So early the next day I headed off via Screwfix to the boat.

Screwfix was for a couple of bits to give me some reassurance about the boat safety exam I had booked. Some stove cement for the Morso and a cooker chain.

This is what was hanging when I got to the boat.....







Basically the top of the Willow had snapped  - it is rotten inside so I guess it really needs taking out but as it is more on my neighbours mooring it is for them to decide as it will remove a bit of privacy. The problem this year is we have had no frosts so all the leaves are still on the trees meaning the storms put more pressure on the trees and it finds the weakness. Yesterday I walked up to Kings Bromley marina  - such a nice walk and there was a very large Willow branch down just off the tow path. Storm Brian is on its way tomorrow apparently.... lets see what that does !

Anyhow I cut back what I could with the pole saw (very handy) then it was back to boyhood and tree climbing  to cut through what was holding the large trunk on - it went into the canal with such a smash. If it had come down on Percy or Sam it would have caused damage for sure.

Anyhow, we both have firewood for next year !

It was also Boat Safety inspection day - only 9 months out of date.... yes I know, just been a busy year. I meant to get it done early spring but then it was house selling and house buying then other stuff..... anyhow, Percy passed, an advisory on low level ventilation.

I intend getting a bubble tester fitted soon so I can keep a check on the gas system. So thats another job done for 4 years. Percy was blacked last year so next year will be new flooring in the bathroom and kitchen, maybe re tiling the bathroom and fitting a stove in the back cabin.



I did replace the old guards stove  - see here  but then thought it would not pass the boat safety as there were gaps in the door and the lower baffle plate did not fit so well. Anyhow talking to the examiner he said it would pass but with an advisory ! So not sure if to replace the guards stove or not now - I do like the look of the little stove and it performs well. However I have seen one at Stone chandlery that I may drive over to to  get another look at .... plenty of time  !

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The retirement trip all in reverse ...

This is the detail of the return trip of my retirement cruise to and from Froghall basin  - the terminus of the Caldon canal.

This one took a little planning to ensure we were at a pub for food every night... I had to make a few changes as we progressed, mainly due to weather. In fact the out trip was very specific weather, dry in the mornings with rain appearing in the afternoons. The wind was also a constant companion - weather wind that is !

So a crew change with the retired one staying on board and the worker going back south on the Sunday afternoon. My two new crew came from the south west of Scotland. Both accomplished crew having been on my other boats in the past. John and Mick came bearing gifts of copious amounts of beer, wine and frontier whisky plus a copy of Three Men in a boat - a winter read in front of the fire (finishing off the dregs of the whisky !)

We made a rights pigs ear of the exit from the basin lock with Mick getting marooned on the far bank and loosing the pole in the canal.... then the trip boat arrived so we were the comedy for the patrons of the boat as well as a few local walkers !!

We eventually cleared the trip boat and the turn and headed for the tunnel. With two large gentlemen on the bow, a full water tank and lots of extra weight (beer) in the forecabin we cleared the tunnel and struggled a bit as C&RT had left work boats near the entrance, but we cleared it and were on out way back.

It was a short days cruise as we were heading for the Black Lion for food and a drink or two so soon made our destination and were on the same mooring as Friday night ..... The Black Lion was buzzing Sunday evening much more than Friday... for such a remote pub is does do very well....



We then repaired to the boat for more socialising




Much was consumed and much laughter was made  - especially while trying to make up the bed for John with Mick sitting drunk as a lord on the bog !! Proper belly laughs where you struggle to breath  - good old beer !!

Monday was a 5 hour cruise on the Caldon to Stockton Brook. The river section was bucolic, in fact this whole section was so very rural and remote, truly beautiful and a canal everyone should visit  -ideally to its terminus if your boat will fit !







The Cheddleton steam railway was operational  - I suspect a train 'driving' day - about £600 I think  but if it is a dream realised well worth it IMHO.


This old pumping house at Stockton Brook is ripe for a conversion to a palatial home  - but at some cost I guess.


So we dropped down the Stockton Brook locks, very pretty. I was a little concerned I'd not adjusted the tappets on the donk since getting the boat. With no feeler gauge aboard I set of on the Brompton into Stoke to buy a set..... what a waste of time, none had any in stock and I cycled over 10 miles trying different shops and automotive suppliers.... says something about home servicing I guess. In the end back at the boat I ordered a set from Screwfix and collected them just yesterday (17th October about a month after this trip) now I just need to have a play.... maybe later today.

We could not find a place to eat so I rustled up some man food - pies, beans  and tatties then we repaired to the local pub for beer !

I had the back cabin drop down bed that is very comfortable and useful for such multi occupancy trips as it puts the loo between the two cabins. 


As we were having a post brekkie chat there was a knock on the cabin from Irene and Ian  from Nb FreeSpirit  . It was lovely to finally meet up with you both. Proper cruisers covering decent daily distances on their travels.   





A lovely well cared for boat


The canal here has lift bridges and turns from rural beauty to metro canal with some horrible turns and some much in need of cutting back vegetation. It really is a canal of two characters - I know which I prefer ! It was at bridge 18 at Milton the boat took a scrape  - when going up I got off and pulled the boat through - never mind it happens and it did polish out just about. Just CART need to pay more attention to the vegetation - it really is bad here 







We stopped at the Etruia services and serviced ourselves with hot showers while the boat filled up and waste was emptied. We then dropped down the 5 Stoke locks to end up as planned back at The Plume of Feathers at Barleston



No photos for this day as I was quite hungover thanks to this poison drink. We did the Meaford flight then stopped in Stone for much needed chips to help the hangover disappear. 


The plan was to stop at Barleston and frequent the Greyhound (a favourite pub) but the weather for the day after  was heavy rain all morning so we pressed on to Great Haywood and ate at the Cliffird arms. Chatting to the landlady she said there was planned to be a large 'encampment' for HS2 workers close by and she had been advised to have bouncers on her pub when it all comes to construction !!   

As we passed a boat close to Barleston Jaq from NB Valerie came to the window.... A emergency stop and I jumped off to have 10 minutes with this very brave lady.  Please do click the link above, her story is sad, beautiful and inspiring. I know I'll call over later in the year to her winter mooring for a longer catch up  (and cake) Take care Jaq.


I set a record on this day of over 24,000 steps .... it is a great stretch of canal to cruise and walk being so remote. We moored opposite Great Haywood marina and immediately noticed lots of cow pats on the canal.... their owners soon showed themselves  as escapees from a close by field, mooing to those still locked up ! I did phone CART in case they could track a local farmer - they were pleasant but not too interested!

Thursday was a short hop to Woolsey bridge as the forecast heavy rain arrived at 11am and stayed till 4pm.  More beer and food in the local but the beer was very expensive  - as a retiree I need to be aware ! The only noticeable event was passing Longfellow.... we tried to buy this boat (build by Harland and Wolfe) way back as our first boat as at the time we got the mooring with the boat and this boat was moored at Hunts lock. We wanted a survey and the owner sold it to someone who did not - can't blame him for that. 



The final cruising day was from Woolsey bridge to the mooring. A fine days cruising on a favourite stretch. We stopped for fish and chips (it was Friday)  at Hansacre


Another favourite (that I'll be walking to later today) is Woodend lock  - Percy approaching


Another known boat - Phyllis May II did the turn from the Coventry - no doubt on its way back to Stone, no Darlingtons aboard.


As I came through the engine room I smelt diesel and on investigation spotted a leak from the pipe out of the injection pump on the right hand side, not too bad so I wrapped it up in a cloth and limped back to the mooring  - more on the repair later. Only time so far the donk has given an issue.

Last night at the Mucky Duck saw Mick embarrass  himself with the Mixed Grill. No doubt the large fish and chips with a large sausage at lunch time took its toll ! I had liver and onions - not had that since Rachel was expecting Tom 30 odd years ago  - the food and service was much improved from my last visit.

The poison was not quite seen off and it sits behind me as I type this .... I recon I can clean the engine with it if needed!


Saturday saw a decant and a drive back to the staffs cottage where John and Mick set off on their 6 hour drive to Scotland - thanks gents a great week.

So for the two weeks it was a 96 mile trip and 86 locks  - not too shabby and very enjoyable.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The end of the line

Not sure there is an equivalent for canals rather than railways ... end of the cut I guess.

Catching up on the most recent cruise now....the delay being around photos on the camera not my laptop.

After waiting around for the steam train to pass to get this shot...


...we plodded along the section of canal that is now my valley walk. This is from Consall Forge to the basin.  Beautiful it is on the boat as it is walking. It was a nice pleasure to hear Percy's engine filling the quietness of the valley.

We just crept under the gauge for the tunnel.... just that did not inspire confidence for the main event later that morning !

















Then it was the best section of the canal  - deep in the valley just the chug chug chug of Percy's engine to keep us company.


I walked to the tunnel with Rachel aboard Percy doing the technical bits....






So the tunnel. When we brought Sylph our share boat here some years ago we winded as she would not have done the tunnel. Before the gauge I thought we would have no problem. ... I did have doubts ....



The winding hole is a hundred yards or so  before the tunnel so if we bottled it now it meant a slow reverse back....nothing ventured etc, so with Rachel on the bow for a little extra steerage (gloves on and hood up - she was very brave as she does not like such environments ) and me on the back at tickover we went in. It was horrible. As close to pot holing in a narrowboat as can be experienced. I literally was crouched down peeping over the hatch feeling all the cobwebs hit my face trying to hold a line.... at one point I did consider stopping and reversing out as I was sure I was going to insert Percy into the gap like a cork in a bottle..... then the bow made sunshine and I duly followed with so much relief but instant concern for the return trip ! 




It was worth the effort, we watered up - which would help the return trip by lowering the bow a little more and locked down into the basin. It was pleasing to see two other boats had made the challenge, no doubt experts at the tunnel.

We then walked home !!

Part of my planning was to make this cruise as easy for us to swap crews and we were about a 20 minute walk to our cottage. So we did just that walked back and collected the car.

We had a quiet night after Rachel's run into Derby to see her mum. I stayed aboard and cleared the junk hole the  forecabin had become.

All in all a beautiful cruise and a fitting start to my reinvention as a non working member of society !

The return trip detail are next.....