Friday, 31 July 2015

The bike.... remember the bike ?

We did not make Colditz sadly, ill health (not mine) and ill health of family saw fit to kill that trip.

Time was spent as detailed in other blogs in getting Percy ready for the pain cruise and paint job.

So my bike was calling one Wednesday evening  in July after getting back from down south. Just a short post to remind myself I did ride a little in 2015.....

It was all around the beautiful Derbyshire/Staffordshire moorlands....

Yes the road did indeed get narrower....

Wetton Mill to Hulme End.... normally done on a cycle and sometime a large group come through on motorbikes.... my good friend SteveA brought us through here a couple of years ago on a 'sweep the roads clean' ride. 

The A53 between Leek and Buxton. It gets higher here than on the A66 across the Pennines according to my sat nav that has a creen that giveds height above sea level.... over 500 meters . At my back is the Cat and Fiddle road that goes off to Macclesfield, a real danger road for all users. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The painting cruise .... Fradley to Dadford's Wharf on the Stourbridge

... but first the before and after for my gas locker....

I quite enjoyed it, it is a nice place to be now it is clean dry and rust free.

So on Sunday 28th June I drove up the 220 miles from Chichester (I drove past the boat to Derby, sorted the house out and drove back to Fradley) while John my crew drove the 300 miles from the west coast of Scotland to Fradley !

By the time I have shopped for supplies, made up the two beds (I was using the comfy drop down boatman's bed) cleaned the boat John arrived with beer-a-plenty to start the cruise. We popped up Hunts (he actually met me as I was bringing Percy up for Water) through Keepers then took on the water and emptied the cassette. We stopped for the evening just above Woodend  - a favourite mooring and put the world to rights as we had a beery pasta fuelled catch up.

Monday saw us pootle up to Tixall wide (first time I have ever moored here.) No boats below Great Haywood at all ! Swapped a gas cylinder at the pig farm for £22 I think that is quite cheap unless you know better? We took a stroll to the Clifford arms for food and a few beers then back to the boat, quite tired, I think the driving and the heat was getting to us.

I like passing 'The Taft' they always wave. Nice comparison of progress on the boat names ....

Wow Tuesday was hot ! I think we had both drunk 4 pints of water before 11am !

We had Gailey as our destination on Tuesday and we made it. Lovely cruising but we were lathering on the factor 25 and mixing the beer with water (I know a beer crime but it really was necessary) A noisy walk to the local chain pub for beer and steak ended the evening !

Early start on Wednesday to get to the top of the Brach locks before the heat of the afternoon so we slipped off at just after 7am up the Gailey lock then a good few hours cruising before we hit the locks for the day. Not a lot moving and what was we met around Coven... I guess the boats coming off the Shroppie.

Beer was getting low ! The fridge was playing up.... working while the engine was running, not overnight. I suspect the cables need sorting as I am getting a voltage drop.... something to investigate.

We got to the Bratch 1'sh so mission accomplished. Had food and a siesta then went to the pub !!

Thursday our target was Stourton junction. The weather had given rain later but this was a welcome prospect. The day was perfect, cooler but still bright. We were away just after 8 and by some degree of pre planning were ahead of the other three boats on their way down. The lockies  - now volunteers, last time we came this way was with Waterlily and they were employed then were good and had three boats on their way down as soon as the first boat of the day came up. 

Then onto the Bottersham staircase locks  - no one about so we had them all to ourselves. Then on through some of the finest and quietest canal we have travelled so far.... we we did it on Waterlily a few years ago.

Destination was Stourton junction. Only problems  - no pubs so we took the decision to hike to kinver for supplies and walked back in the fine but welcome rain to finish off the last full day cruising with a fine curry and beer/wine.

Friday morning we were up early ready to hop up the Stourbridge locks to deposit Percy with John Sanderson at Dadford wharf  This is new canal to me and we were pleasantly surprised by the rural nature of the early part. Lots of building as we got closer to Johns wharf which is a good sign for the economy I guess.

We met this lovely pair on the way down the locks. I would have liked to have watched them bring the motor and butty through a lock but we met them in one of the pounds.

Before we knew it we were tight on the outside of a few boats at Johns Wharf. Rachel met us and we off loaded and took John back to Fradley. As it was mid afternoon by the time we got back we ended up with fine Chinese meal and John headed back to Scotland early Saturday morning. 

Mission accomplished  

Now..... what colours !!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Percy gets some attention at last !

I like to look back on what I was up to in previous years, and to do that I obviously need to blog about the non boaty stuff as well.

This last week was always going to be hard, physical work and so it has been. However I did get a 'free' week last week as our planned trip the Germany on the bike was canned due to health and personal issues - not appropriate for the blog.

I used the time to get some work done on Percy pre paint. I was worried the new windows would need some work on the inside trims, depending on the depth of the 'cill' I took a window out and offered up the pice of frame I had asked for from Wesley windows.

It was a great fit. I expect when the windows are fitted in there will be a small 1-2mm gap I can seal  -perfect.

The solar panel was removed, I then became instantly aware of the drain the lights in the engine room  and the cabins made on my battery bank. Solar is so good at topping up  - especially for the type of use we give the boat.

Next job was the gas locker.... most who own boats will have done this before so you know what a nasty job it is.... I did Waterlily before she was sold and that was a tight fit. Thankfully Percy has a decent size gas locker so I was to get right inside. When we had Percy surveyed the locker was highlighted, no structural issues just a job that needed doing. It always amazes me how much rust comes from steel, 1/10 ratio in thickness I think?

All swept first, then surface stuff lifted with a scraper then the whole locker was wire brushed.

I treated the rust with a good dose of Craftmaster rust treatment and left is 18 hours to turn the rust to a black hard surface.

Then is was a coat of red primer followed by a good coat of raddle red top coat. I have not got pictures as I did the top coat the Sunday before we travelled down to move house down south.

I then took a drill to the roof and drilled 16 holes.... seems counter intuitive to be taking a drill to the roof but before Percy gets painted I wanted to fit the brass plank and pole holders, much better looking than the wooden holders. All 16 drilled and tapped without drama.

I then did a very good swap of coffee(no gas to boil the kettle) and cake for my lawn mower with Mandy on Don't Panic. Good to have your own mugs ! The cake was even better than it looked, and it looked mighty fine.

While I had the drill and taps out I put on the diesel and water plaques that Tony refused to fit, he just taped printouts close to each for the boat safety arguing that if even if you got them the wrong way around you would not be able to start the engine or drink the water... no one would die I guess. I wanted them on as they look good !

Then it was a blast down south to move from one cottage to another than involved two deep cleans and a lot of packing, moving then unpacking.

The landlord of the pub we were moving away from took pity on me and offered me a free pint ..

After giving the old cottage a deep clean yesterday I took Leia for a walk to Bosam (about 3.5 miles I think) It was a lovely evening to sit and watch the tide come in.... just needed a decent sea rod....

Today has been a quieter day, waiting in while a few job were done on the new cottage. 

 Next blog should be back on the boat as I take it down to the Stourbridge canal for its long awaited paint job. Hopefully this will be a relaxing aspect of up to now been anything other than a holiday ! Just need to drive up to the boat, clean the bathroom/kitchen and water up, get provisions and maybe pop it to the top of the Fradley flight while my friend John drives down from Scotland to help me.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Of little interest...

.... but for my diary blog. Cancelled trip on the bike to Germany due to health issues (not mine) so we have other stuff now to do that has jumped up the priority list.

We went to London Town yesterday as it was Emma's birthday, she is the long suffering other half to our youngest son Callum. We ended up here and here.

Yep we took the Thames 'commuter' boat from Embankment to Greenwich.... nice and slow to start then they announce we are going top pick up speed and they sure do !

All very poor pics (the first was the Harrier in the Imperial war museum.) only did half of one floor as we got there late.

Today was a lazy day getting ready for the big pack and garden for the cottage move. Later this week we will be on Percy taking advantage of the extra time to pop out the windows ( hopefully) to router back the trim so the new windows fit after the paint job in July/August.

Paint colours have just about been agreed on and so has the sign writing. Just need to get Percy down to the painters in late June then get on with the house stuff while the boat is away.

Onwards and upwards as they say !

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Help me out here....would you believe boat heating ?

Ok.... in considering this post account for the fact I 'feel the cold' 

The sun is at last shining and the weather is slowly warming up so I am thinking about the winter aboard Percy... or heating in general. Somewhat influenced by a post by Chas & Ann off NB Moore 2 Life 

They comment "On with the radiators to kill the chill" I do this at home but we may not have a home in the future... or not the one we have now. But on Percy we cannot just "On with the radiators".... we have to have a fire to light and keep in.

So do we keep the simple, no power option of coal, back boiler, no pump but hard work and not an option to "On with the radiators to kill the chill" ?

Other options are 

Diesel stove and rads - well 32mm copper pipe, but have to have a power sucking noisy pump ....

A diesel stove ... (how instant is the heat from the Reflecks) and separate boiler to provide   "On with the radiators to kill the chill" 

Keep the wood burner but cap off the back boiler and add a separate boiler to heat me pipes  !

My leaning is the latter but what boiler to install...(I need a low power using boiler)

If nothing else it keeps my mind off other things .... your thoughts & experiences would really be appreciated ? 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

What you get for your money...!

I got my canal mag this morning. A nice review of  I guess one of the last Hudson's to be built, which is sad. The price  - Circa £150,000, wow that is a lot for a boat and whilst a Hudson it was still a lot of money for the space it provided.

We have a casual eye on the property market as those who know us well will understand why. Down south where I spend some of my time the property prices are just eye watering - in a bad way as you get so little for your money. There does seem to be a lot of money down there as property comes onto market and sells quickly.

£270,000 for this one bedroom property in Chichester

£260,000 gets you this 4 bedder with land and views to die for in Dumfries and Galloway

Property prices seems to be ever lower in Scotland right now but peaking in the south.... or you could just buy a boat from 20k to 150k and have whatever view and location you want - so longs as you are ok living in a large pencil case !!

Mad !

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Oil change and engine fettle

From 100mph to 4mph ... well you know what I mean. Off the bike over to the boat yesterday for lawn mowing (I hate lawn mowing such a pain but I like looking at mown lawns - got the house one to do tonight and maybe two more to do this weekend - more on that later......)

This is Percy's "Donk" with its rocker cover off allowing me access to lube the rocker arms, drop some oil in to lube the valve stems and add a little to the pushrod cups. I have hand pumped about 8.5 litres of oil out and the same had gone back in. No filter as such on the lister as the technology relies on the oil just dumping the waste in the sump rather than holding it and having it 'strained out' in the filter. All very basic which I like as I understand most of it.

I have just ordered oil and filter for the motorbike so that is a job to be done before Germany, I am sure it will not be as easy as an oil change on Percy.

For the record the engine hours was at ...271 

The last time it was done it was at 30 hours in April 2013. For many reasons we did not use Percy  (cruising) much last year and when I was aboard for the 10 months I did not run the engine much at all being very frugal with power and using solar to top up. 

So with a clean up and wipe down, plus fitting the 12v socket in the engine room so I can use the little inverter for TV rather than using the power using inverter all the time - job done. I need to go back and see if I can do work needed on the inner window cladding for the new windows that will be part of the paint job in the July August time.... 

Finally one for the night time cruiser to be aware of....

How and why I'll leave to you (yes that is a lock bollard)  ?