Friday, 7 October 2016

Something essential for the exhaust

Look away those who have one of the revvy 4 cylinder modern diesels. You have free passage through bridge holes and clean lungs !

One thing we always account for more than most is wind direction and direction of travel when we cruise on Percy. The reason is our engine exhaust comes out of the cabin roof about 6 feet  from the steerers position.

We have two exhausts pipes, a titch pipe - little about 12 inches tall that looks good but does not put the exhaust smoke above the steerers head and on a windy day it can be blown back to the steerer, not too bad for me but Rachel has asthma.

We also have a longer exhaust stack that does push the fumes above our heads and we should really use this one but we have not being doing so .... why you all cry??

Well it is a further steering challenge going under bridges. Certainly it does not fit under the Woolsey bridge on the T&M..... we had a near miss last year where I was described as a circus monkey by a passing boater for the speed and dexterity (and burnt hands) shown when getting the chimney off its socket just in time to get under said bridge.

So the solution.....

This is a hinge so that

  • I can pull the exhaust back quickly if I think I will not make it under a bridge/obstruction 
  • If I am not in time or mis judge a bridge the hinge will allow the stack to be pushed down avoiding either a bent exhaust stack or worst a kinked roof 
I got it from Percy's creator Tony Redshaw after a slight detour on my way south yesterday evening. It was good to meet up with Tony again and he pleasingly advised one or two had seen Percy and reported back she looked well looked after  in good condition. 

Another 2 and a half hours and we were mouse hunting at the cottage  - Lilly the cat is a good hunter but she brings them in and lets them loose. She also got the reward of a scratched eye for her troubles which was a £100 quid vets bill this morning - a nice start to the weekend.

Monday, 3 October 2016

On your marks get set..... BAKE !!

No nothing to do with cakes (sadly) more to do with what way Percy points on its mooring. At the end of the autumn cruise we duly followed John the boat painters instructions to give the boat a good wash and polish spring and autumn.

So on Friday on returning I gave the boat a good wash and left it till Sunday to complete the polishing job.

Hopefully you can see on this photo the extra finish the polish gives with the left side having been polished and the right side as was after a wash down with car cleaner.

It is no small task polishing the whole boat but together we did it and did the off side safely by motoring over to the tow path.

Originally we were going to take the boat to Alrewas and wind it so we could do the other side. 

While I was polishing away I recalled a chat with Graham, ex owner of NB Huff'n' Puff who kept his boat pointing towards Hunts lock for many years only to see in some degree how much more the east side of the boat had faded. On our moorings the sun rises and spends a lot more time on one side of the boat than the other  - hence the paint bleaching more one side than the other. 

We prefer to point towards Hunts lock as we are more likely to go that way than the Alrewas - more routes going away from Alrewas .... so that is how Percy pointed for the first year of its paint job. So this year we will bake the other side so we will keep pointing towards Alrewas. 

It has the added benefit that when the junction lock stoppage is on after Christmas if we need to bolt for a marina mooring (more on that later...) we will not be stopped by not being able to wind the boat. 

Anyhow a lot of hard work and this is how Percy looked yesterday in some autumnal sunshine. Click the photo for the best result !

We ended out holiday with a trip to the red Carpet cinema for a meal and to see Bridget Jones baby - great food and great entertainment.

This morning at 5.30 the boat was a tad cold but we were soon away leaving what would have been a stunning sunrise - to bake my boat !

Just remembered a funny thing...... when we were polishing the boat a young Labrador came up the towpath and started barking at its reflection  - a mirror finish, I kid you not ! 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Autumn cruise hits a few niggles

Just when you start feeling confident about your boat set up it bites you on the arse as a warning these things take some looking after (and if you do I guess they look after you ?)

We had a week off but due to family stuff I arrived at Percy Tuesday late morning after a food shop. The plan was for me to bring Percy up to the Fradley water point and load the boat from the car and Rachel would meet me after visiting her mum and sister. After watering up and moving the car stuff to the boat I pushed across the canal onto the 48 hour moorings and I noted I was still getting the E11 error click here.  It was evident he relay was not being operated  and having spoken to Merlin who sell the smartgauge/smartbank stuff they said it was unusual for the relay to be at fault, or fail as they are tested to 5 million connections (MTBF) I followed their instructions and tested it and it was working perfectly. I had cleaned the contacts but to no avail.....

I had other calls to Merlin and sought help from the folk on Canal world forum, ultimately Merlin asked I complete a warranty returns process and I am waiting for a  returns number to send the Smartbank controller back that I think is faulty.

But what to do.... I thought about just making a permanent connection to all batteries but there was a small risk we could not have power to start the engine - unlikely but I came up with a manual switch option so that when the engine was running I had the banks connected but when stopped and using the leisure bank I could disconnect the started so it was not depleted overnight.

I knew I had a 100 amp isolator switch in my on board' store' but it did not have a case  - designed to fit on a wooden box no doubt. So I employed my puzzle solving and came up with this....

A custom made box from the plastic maggot box I had on board.... it worked a treat and will stay in situ until  sort out the smartbank

As it turned out Rachel was late back so we stayed put and instead of the Woolsey arms we did the Mucky Duck and was very impressed, one of the best steaks I have had for a long time. Wednesday saw us go off down the Coventry for a change as I wanted to call at Streethay to return their chimney stove pipe template and get advice on my stove - which turned out as I expected, the guards van stove will not pass the 2013 BSC..... arse !! 

We ended up at Hopwas and had a mid afternoon meal and beer that saw me snoozing the evening away - note to self stay off the Perone.

We did take a walk in Hopwas Woods post lunch which was nice....

Thursday we went to the junction and winded .... 

 We had pasta on board so we cruised back up to just after Whittington and took a walk into the village for the Co-op for supplies than relaxed on board.

Friday we cruised back to Fradley in surreal warmth  - more like early summer than the end of September.

Sadly Rachel got a call so she needed to go to her mum leaving me to water up unload and make the last two lock back to our mooring.

I then set to cleaning Percy ready for a polish tomorrow - there will be little more cruising now so we need to prep the boat for winter, we will wind after waxing one side then do the other before a trip to the red carpet cinema at Barton turns with a meal before. Here endeth our holiday !

Monday, 26 September 2016

When did you last check your wiring ?

One for my records but some may find it interesting .....

I blogged a few weeks back about my Smartgauge error codes and my concern I had not got the best performing battery bank in the way I had it connected. Halfie off NB Jubilee reminded me of something I'd seen before from the guy who invented the Smartgauge -Gibbo.  

My set up was worse that the one below in that:
  • I was putting feeds in and taking load out from different points on the three bank battery set up
  • I had wildly different lengths of interconnecting cables
  • My 'third' battery was remote and not installed in a way it would pass the BSC
  • I was getting E11 errors where the Smartgauge was activating the relay to connect the starter and leisure batteries together but still reading different voltages
    • this can only be if the relay is not working or
    • The cables on the two banks are so different there is voltage drop and the banks show different voltages....hence the error 
Back to best practice .....

From the Smartgauge web site... 

If we draw 100 amps from this battery bank we will effectively be drawing 25 amps from each battery. Or so we think.
In actual fact what we find is that more current is drawn from the bottom battery, with the current draw getting progressively less as we get towards the top of the diagram.
The effect is greater than would be expected.

Battery internal resistance = 0.02 Ohms
Interconnecting lead resistance = 0.0015 Ohms per link
Total load on batteries = 100 amps
The bottom battery provides 35.9 amps of this.
The next battery up provides 26.2 amps.
The next battery up provides 20.4 amps.
The top battery provides 17.8 amps.
So the bottom battery provides over twice the current of the top battery.

So I decided to move out the starter and put it into a proper battery box  - plastic and lidded leaving the area free for my third leisure battery. In moving them about I then made up and crimped and heat shrinked new leads all the same size (length and girth  - AWG American wire gauge '2' or 35mm2 ) 

Method 2
All that has changed in this diagram is that the main feeds to the rest of the installation are now taken from diagonally opposite posts.
It is simple to achieve but the difference in the results are truly astounding for such a simple modification.
The connecting leads, in fact, everything else in the installation remains identical.
Also, it doesn't matter which lead (positive or negative) is moved, Whichever is easiest is the correct one to move.
The results of this modification, when compared to the original diagram are shown below. Only that one single connection has been moved.

After this simple modification, with the same 100 amp load....
The bottom battery provides 26.7 amps of this.
The next battery up provides 23.2 amps.
The next battery up provides 23.2 amps.
The top battery provides 26.7 amps.
This is quite clearly a massive improvement over the first method. The batteries are much closer to being correctly balanced. H
So this was the before with the starter at the top...

This is  now all three leisure batteries connected  - tidy and hopefully efficient. Once challenge is getting all the connections onto the battery terminals. I couldn't so I nipped over the Streethay and brought two terminal clamps (did you ever realise the pos and neg posts are a different girth?) 

The starter sits in its own box now by the side of the engine. it is still all connected to the split charging relay but with the advantage of much of the Samrtbank wiring and control box now living safely in a sectioned off part - quite tidy. 

Problem is when I got back to the boat today I still had an E11 code - I am thinking the relay may want its contacts cleaning - or the boat a good run - I will do the latter first !

Now the scary bit....I found this wear and damage on the main 12v pos feed off the batteries ...!!

On Waterlily we had electrical problems due to a wire shorting out in the engine hole, this could have given the same effect but much worse!!

I was able to trim back to decent cable section and remake the connection.

So I may have to remove the relay and check it but I am hoping a nice deep charge from an extended cruise will sort it all out !!