Thursday, 15 March 2018

The valley monster is observed

I lay in bed in our Staffordshire cottage in the Churnet valley last Sunday, pondering my day. I was called to the valley by the distant whistle of the early morning 'track check' train heading to Froghall through the valley.

Boots on Leia in tow (well, in front) off we set, We did not quite get to the canal before the train started its return run to Cheddleton, but we did capture it clickety clacking back through the valley. Its a magical sight and sound - especially the distant whistle the echoes through the valley.

When we did eventually get to the canal we could still smell the smoke from the hot engine - magical.

Watch to the end for the whistle echo up the valley !

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Yep, we got burst pipes !

You may have read my blog post about the need to be aboard - or have a warmer boat during periods of really cold weather. I still have the section of pipe I repaired when the frost took a nip out of Waterlily  - I blogged about it here Click me

So lesson learnt I headed off to Percy a week ago today to light the fire and sit tight during the worst of the bad weather. I think -6.5c was the lowest temp I recorded and Percy stoically saw out the 'beast from the east'. 

I'll detail my mad travelling at the end of this post as I doubt I'll do it again anytime soon - hopefully but suffice to say I arrived back at our Staffordshire cottage 10.30 pm Sunday night. The postie is good in he leaves any parcels in the outside loo so I went and checked and as I approached the workshop - yes I could hear the dreaded post freeze sound of running water.

This was the scene ...

The bits of carpet I leave down had absorbed much of the water

You can see the central heating pushfit has been pushed off by the ice bottom right.... this is close by the door and was lagged as you can see so I have to assume there was wind chill involved. This was the same with Waterlily as the burst there was below an open window we left for ventilation - we do not do that now !!

 The ice stalactite was quite impressive 

What was more impressive  - if I was impressed at all, was the ice stalagmite when the ice had blown off the radiator valve and lifted the radiator off its bracket.  (the reason the rad tail is lower than the copper feed is the rad is tipped off the bracket)

The running water was coming from the non feed side of this isolator where I presume it had pushed the compressed olive out of its seal. 

I was able to turn off the stop cock that we have in the workshop - for the workshop and headed to a long sleep. 

The following morning I was able to re fit the push fitting and re attache the rad valve then isolate the leak and re test the mains water  - all nice and leak free (I then turned off the mains water until I can fully repair the non feed side of the isolation valve. )

I re-pressured the central heating and slowly by turning on the Rayburn that heats the workshop got the workshop central heating up to temp - no leaks.

I was lucky.... There was not a great deal of water in the workshop as I think I arrived just after the thaw had allowed the water to start leaking and it was not a full open pipe just a bypass of the compressed olive - I'll know fully when I have my tools back to effect the repair fully.

Yes the last thing I said to my son in London was - "I'll leave the plumbing tools with you as I'll not need them for a while !!"

The week that needs recording was as follows...

  • Tuesday 27th February - Chichester to The Boat (fire lit) Fradley to Derby to see my oldest son who birthday it was on the 28th, then back to Fradley 220 miles
  • Friday 2nd March Fradley junction to Chichester through the snow in Oxford, a very slow but traffic free journey 178 miles
  • Saturday 3rd March Chichester to London and ending up tiling sons bathroom to midnight !! 101 miles
  • Sunday 4th March leave London at 6pm to Derby to drop Rachel off so she can stay with her ailing mum then me on to our Staffordshire moorland cottage - 180 miles 
  • Monday Back to Derby from the cottage to see my mum and my other son  then back to Chichester  - 224 miles
So the total for the week was ....903 miles ! 

My two other big days were New Years day when I drove from Staffs to Chichester and back to pick up the cat as we were needed to look after Rachels mum when we thought we would be south  - 440 miles in a day.

Then one trip out from London to pick up Rachel in Derby check on the cottage and back to Chichester - 405 miles

In my distant future, if I have one, I will look back on these journeys  and marvel at my commitment  !! 

They told me retirement could be boring!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Ice v's boat - and the winner ?

Us Brits do like to talk weather don't we? Being a Brit Boater the weather is always on your mind, wind rain snow ice.... but it is the last one that does have the biggest impact. When we brought Percy home in November 2012 we were thwarted by ice (in early November), until the coal boat came and saved our day. Here is that post 

This morning I clocked someone prepping Hunts lock. They were on their way to Shobnall in Burton for a blacking booking. I have lots of sympathy as come 1st March you would not have factored in 2 inch ice and -6c temps.

Here is what it sounds and looks like from a 21c boat  - excuse the split video, you will hear my priorities !! First the scene as I let Leia out for her wee

Intrepid boaters working the lock 

Now the view from my cocoon 

Needless to say the ice won. The intrepid boaters have taken a temp mooring across the cut to see if the ice gives up a little during the next few hours. It really was a one way contest with the ice being well over an inch thick, you would need a decent engine and a heavy boat - like a coal boat to smash through that.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Minus 10c - where to go but the boat

In my past life as one of those working persons when the temperature got really low as it is forecast tonight and tomorrow night, into the minus teens in rural areas  according to the BBC I kept a fire going on Waterlily.

In 2011 I was actually driving to the boat at lunchtimes to keep a fire in. It would have been 2011 as we had a frost burst in 2010 - the last really cold winter. Now with some planning  - well a lot of planning I have driven up from Chichester to be aboard for a few nights. It also gives me the chance to see my 29 year old son before he becomes 30 !! Also help a friend to move house and to catch up with my old boss to compare notes on retirement  - plus make some golf and fishing plans !!

Then it'll be a late night Friday run to south London for more bathroom duty (plastering and tiling this weekend ) with Rachel coming the other way. We knew these few weeks were going  be a challenge and so it is. A large batch of stew made last night with a bread and butter pudding has set us both up.

Lets see what the weather brings and let's hope it is the last of the cold stuff.... I have hobbies that do not fit with snow and cold !!

Just put the external temp probe above the boat at 6pm its 22.5 c in the boat (nice) and -1.5 c outside. Well done Squirrel !

We survived, as did Percy, down to -6.5c last night. Ice on the windows and the canal well frozen. Tonight is going to be colder apparently!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A hand in the loo....

We have had four boats if you count the share boat. Two with pump outs and two with cassettes. Our current boat has a cassette and that was part of the buying criteria. Pump out are expensive, can be smelly and limiting in time and cruising, IMHO of course.

However today was one of the few times I'd have preferred a pump out. Two of my three cassettes were out of action  - for the same thing, both had the 'holding' tray off its runner by too heavy handed use of the loo brush.

There is only one fix and that involves getting your hands inside and stripping the mechanism to get it all lined up again. I do carry rubber disposable gloves for working on the engine so they were very much used.  Rest assured both cassettes had a very good clean out before the open loo surgery took place.

The problem is my third cassette does not have the level indicator on it so it really is the emergency cassette. I did the fix and stowed them away hopefully for  another few years trouble (and cash free) use. 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Genny gets some tlc

I can’t remember how long I have had the 2kw genny. I think we must have had it when we had Waterlily, it must be a good 5 years old. It does not get much use, we have used it for powering the flymo plus the chain saw and most often the Dyson for a decent clean of the boat. Last time I needed it it refused to start, so yesterday I had opportunity after watering up to give it a look at.

It needed an oil change for sure, like most generators they are emptied by tipping the device over while the oil plug is out. A fiddly and messy process. I wanted to have a decent look at it so took the side off. Lucky I did as I spotted the choke cable was out of its housing meaning it was running rich and no doubt part of the problems of poor starting and running. I also drained and cleaned the float bowl, not too dirty.

Once fixed and fresh oil added, reverse sequence of filling, tipping the other way and filling until it was jut on the lip of the filler when on the level.... not a great idea but the only way.

It started after a few pulls which would be the system priming, then ran very sweetly with the econ mode working well again.

I have not put the double skin chimney on as the base of the outer skin does not allow the inner skin to fit into the flue, resulting in a little seepage of tar onto the roof  I stopped with damp rags but far from perfect. So I fitted just a liner and have been running the fire with just that sticking 16 inches out of the collar, it's a tight fit and had proven reliable in keeping tar off the roof. I went to Midland Chandlers today to get single skin chimney but they had non on the shelves, having removed them as most were not big enough to drop well over the collar, the helpful lass got quite a few out to measure but did say many had been brought back as they did not fit . My collar needs six and a quarter inches so it looks like I will be visiting a few other chandlers with a tape measure. One thing having printing contacts I will not be paying nearly £20 for another liner, I’ll cadge a few plates from people I know and cut the plates to fit.

Tomorrow I’ll be putting a few loops into some rope I got from MC so I can make up some smaller mooring ropes and use the existing ones as cruising ropes when I may need he extra length.

Plenty more jobs to do, just need time ..... daft I know being retired and all !!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

A good place to be

Over the years while we have owned boats we have spent many or most of our wedding anniversaries on board. We rather foolishly got married on Valentine’s Day which while could be considered romantic also means getting a restaurant table and decent service on our wedding anniversaries is a problem. So we get some nice food and head to Percy.

No different this year with me coming up from Chichester after a weekend in London at no2 sons flat DIY’ing and Rachel coming from Derby after being in London with me.

Being first to the boat and with all the ‘stuff’ I set to bringing Percy out of hibernation. I last stayed on board in November when I based myself for the Motorcycle show in Birmingham. I have called in to check on a couple of occasions in between but this was a ‘water on’ moment. Having been caught out by frozen pipes on Waterlilty and a damaged water heater on Comet waiting for the pump to stop and the system to hold pressure is always a little tense.

Percy had survived another winter so the fire got lit, the cat and dog brought aboard and the bed stripped and remade. The Dyson got used to give the boat a fresh feel. The donk took a couple of spins and fired on one cylinder for 30 seconds while the diesel got through to the farthest cylinder from the fuel supply.

It was cold last night so the fire was kept well in and we slept the sleep of angels. We woke this morning to a frozen canal and a beautiful winters morning. It’ll rain later but we have nothing to do other than relax and recharge our batteries for the next few weeks that will be very busy.