Tuesday, 18 December 2018

BOAT - Bring Out Another Thousand - so true

My latest 'package' arrived yesterday. It was two genuine Lister head gaskets for the CS range of 'pots'.  Richard, the fellow who used to have our mooring at Shebdon is a marine engineer and seems to know his stuff so I asked him if he would do me a head gasket and decoke on Percy. He straight away suggested I get the original head gaskets from Lister rather than the many copper types available on line. The reason - the originals have a lovely asbestos core that helps the 'fit'. He will be taking the heads away and getting them checked and skimmed if needed.

On the original survey Balio Fowden my surveyor advised there may be a slight weep from the head gaskets. I have tolerated this as it was external albeit it has damaged a bit of the block and head paintwork. The recent overheat make it prudent to have the heads off and the gaskets replaced.

Anyhow the cost for the two gaskets was just shy of £100 eek!! There is a reason people use the above acronym... and I still have to buy batteries and now I'm looking at other 'tech' in the engine room to measure the input and output of the amps from the alternator/battery bank to better manage my batteries - another blog to come on that one  !!

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Am I on a busier canal ?

When we (I) took the decision to move moorings one consideration was how much busier Fradley Junction had become.

It had become busier in two facets.

1. People (Gongoozlers)
2. Boats

The first I've explained by the growth in leisure facilities at the Junction The two cafe, the pub and no doubt the seemingly enlarging caravan site - who was planning to get tourers in I understand.

The second more about boats mooring opposite - 14 days. In the majority of time the boats opposite were an exception rather than the rule and mainly in school holidays. The last year or so they were there more and more and stayed for the full 14 days. Not a big issue as in the main they were respectful.

Now we have moved from one cruising ring (Leicester ring) to another (Four counties ring). So we can expect boats to be passing as they do the ring but only one way in the main depending if they are doing the ring clockwise or anticlockwise. It's the numbers I'm interested in to see if we have moved to a busier boat passing section of the canal or not.

Luckily C&RT produce annual statistics for lock use across the system. Some locks have recorders on them to sense filling and emptying locks. the nearest record on our 'old ring' is Wyncnor lock and on our new mooring Wheaton Aston lock.

The scores are in and in 2017

In 2017 there were the following lock movements

Lock 11, Wychnor       5950
Wheaton Aston Lock  5486

So thats nearly 8% less busy where we are now than before. however there is one big influence on these figures - the breach on the Middlewich branch that in effect closed the four counties cruising route - a very popular route for hirers and privateers. We have done this three times I think, but never in Percy  (yet)

It is opening again later this month - well done C&RT so it will be interesting to see what the 2019 boat movements will be  !!

In fact I have revisited the 2015 statistics  - before the breach

Lock 11, Wychnor      6606
Wheaton Aston Lock  5950

That is nearly 10% less busy when both rings were operating.

So regardless it seems we have moved to a less busy canal and I would not have expected that !!

I am guessing the two large marinas at Baron Turns and Mercia pump out a lot of boats during the summer which accounts for these figures.

Intersting !

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

All seems well on the cooling front but not so good for the batteries

I (we) have been on the boat last week for a three day stay as Rachel was attending a conference in Telford and it made sense to use the boat as a base.

The weather has been a little challenging  - lots of rain and high winds so on one day I literally hunkered down on the boat and read and slept ! A bit of cabin fever sent me off on a mini cruise to explore the local winding holes the next day. One draw of these moorings was the frequency (and no locks) of winding holes. There is one at the end of the moorings but it is well populated with boats from the Shebdon Wharf - a cratch cover making business I understand.

No problem just 40 minutes further on and there is a nice open country winding hole. You guessed it a boat was approaching as I winded.... he did close in on my to the point I waved him through as my bow was deep into the turn, this had the positive effect of dragging me backwards when I was over the 90 degrees in the winding hole.

I returned to my mooring in under two hours - about 1.45 whereas Fradey was two hours and two locks. I took lunch, a wee stop and tea stop then set off again to the winding hole in Grub Street cutting just past the wharf with the Rolls Royce in it !!

Yes you guessed it another boat approached. This winding hole is quite tight so he respectfully held back while I turned and tried without success to take a picture of a Kingfisher  - a camera blog is pending.

Then a slow cruise back in failing light  - about an hour and a half so I was back to where I started. I prefer to moor looking up the country so's to speak. I will have to alternate as the sun only hits the water side so to prevent uneven bleaching Percy will need spinning every now and again.

The test was the cooling system that did its job, got hot as it should to aid proper combustion but not anything like as hot as the Heaven and Hell cruise.

What did not fair well this little stop over were my batteries. They are knackered, they get to 100% on the Smartgauge but a bit of lights and pumps plus some telly and they are below 11 volts in the morning and we get an E02 on the Smartgauge - below a safe voltage level.They are consumables, expensive consumables but their time is up.

So is it 3 x 105ah as current, or 3 115's or even 3 135's? I relocated the starter so I could get three leisures in the battery box, so I am tempted to put in 2 135's and drop  the capacity 40 ah.

My power audit suggests about 85 ah per day with no solar input. Therefore for two days use - no engine running I'd need 170 ah but to only go to 50%  charge that would mean I'd need 340ah of capacity. So 3 x 115 would do me  - but that is if I do not want to run every day or cruise.

I'm still unsure, I'd like to drop to two leisure and one starter to de clutter my lovely engine room. Then it's type, cheap sealed lead acid as I have now would be under £300 I could go glass mat type that I understand can go down to 20% and recharge faster but are much more expensive  - certainly for 135's but a battery that can go down to say 35% is attractive.

More research and thinking but for sure what's there is Fubarr'd

Saturday, 8 December 2018

One last visit ....

On Friday a couple of weeks ago now I called over to Fradley to pick up one last item I'd left that no one wanted - a container of old diesel.  Technically it was no longer my mooring as my agreement ended on the Thursday 15th November.

Now we took it January 2008 so just short of 11 years. Let's say average of £1500 per year thats well over £15,000 of just mooring fees!!

I had a nice chat with Maggie our recent neighbour who had just had their boat painted by Kev who had the boat next one up and who also had recently taken the dry dock at the junction - he made a smashing job of the paintwork.

Back to the mooring, it looked a bit sad, certainly ready for whoever takes it. Now here is a note to the new owner of they ever read this  - I did not sanction the removal of the slabs that made up the steps. I ok'd the other moorers to take various bits and they helped me in doing so, but the steps... I know who had them they never asked and should have left them alone - not good. One other disappointment was the mooring has lots of dog mess on it. Now that is just bad manners and not the best welcome to whoever has paid over £1800 for it. I should not really care but I do, we had lots of happy times there and good memories, and I'll retain them  - thank you to my friends at Hunts.

Old and the New 

I was back at my new mooring on the Saturday to check Percy and do some jobs. I was especially pleased to be able to load/unload by the boat and water up without moving the boat as there is water adjacent to my new mooring - simple things but they please me. 

I have been running the engine and it is so much cooler. I need to chase an enquiry I put in for a set of cylinder head gaskets so Richard the marine engineer can sort that for me - no hurry.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

As rare as hens teeth ....

That'll be a day of just rest for me. Ok I know I'm retired but I find myself doing stuff all the time which I like. However 600 miles in the last 4 days plus some DIY'ing at no2 sons place in London has made sitting here on a warm boat listening to the heavy and persistent rain not too much of a chore.

I was out and about yesterday as my nearby neighbour now Mandy  had an alternator problem so I dropped off her genny so she could keep the batteries charged up depending on the speed of response of RCR - they did diagnose a dead alternator (took them two visits) and replaced it this morning so she could cruise back before this rain came in.

There are some jobs I could do but its nice to just relax a bit..... normal service will be resumed asap I'm sure .

I should note for my dear diary look backs we came on board as Rachel is at a conference in Telford for three days  - our mooring is about half an hour away so it saved the Uni a few quid in hotel accommodation and we get three days (evenings) on the boat.

I drove through Newport yesterday and as it is the closest town to us here now it'll be a nice place to explore - it certainly looks nice with a decent high street.

I was out first thing (for me) before the rain trying out my DSLR Sony camera with a Ebay 300mm telephoto lens. I'm still not sure, I think I prefer the superzoom bridge cameras but I'll persevere.

I did get a welcome yesterday as I was unlocking the back doors a Kingfisher swooped in and perched on my neighbours boat bow - obviously not long enough for a photo but I'll get one.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Boat for sale - real opportunity NB Valerie 2006

I'm sad but pleased also to relay that a good friend is selling her boat - just about everything included, ready to cruise at a very good price.

Details as follows.....

NB Valerie. Built in 2006, 

Boat safety certificate good until August 2020

We have been her sole owners as live aboard continuous cruisers for 12 years. 
NB Valerie is 58 feet long, with a semi-trad stern.

 33HP Vetus engine 

180 Ltr/40 Gal. fuel tank with two 25 Ltr. metal jerry cans for emergency diesel storage, 

650 Ltr./144 Gal. stainless steel water tank with sweet, clean water, 

Pure Sine Wave 3000 watt inverter, 

Candy on board washing machine, 

Shoreline 12 Volt refrigerator/freezer, 

dinette makes out to double bed, 

430 watts OnBoard Solar panel system. 

HD TV with built in DVD player, 

Pioneer radio system with ceiling speakers--both newly installed in 2017. 

Charging stations for computers, and other electronics, 

loads of storage; 

Valar solid fuel stove with new fire bricks and new stainless steel double skinned chimney. 

Fully licensed and insured. 

For a complete list of all work done with completion dates, and all items included in this sale such as my husband's four year old Husqvarna chain saw with new splitting ax, all linens, pots, pans, dishes and glassware, etc. please email me. (via link in the ad)

Serious inquiries only. 

All reasonable offers considered. Asking £44,500.00 ONO. 

To see pictures with more details please visit Canal & River Boats 4 Sale FB page.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Ooh - Some blue in the engine room

Percy is a KISS boat - Keep It Simple Stupid. That suits me in from a reliability and maintenance angle but I do like a bit of tech and since retirement have not really invested in much apart from some automation to things at the cottage.

So as a follow on to my heaven and hell cruise - link here  I needed to replace my solar MTTP controller. Why ? - I foolishly fitted this in what I thought a safe and convenient location. That was until the engine overheated and the expansion tank spat some water out that ran across a shelf and dripped onto, yes you guessed it my MTTP controller. Did I say it was a heaven and hell  (and mildly expensive) cruise!!

Anyhow I feel the batteries on Percy get a great deal of benefit from the solar panel and controller  - especially while we are away. Lesson learnt about not running the engine - see last post, but it is still good in summer for the batteries to get a trickle charge.

So a replacement was sought after some simple research done. Since I fitted the old controller that had a method of extracting data of charge supplied over time - which needed a laptop, a serial cable and a special adapter Bluetooth has found a way into devices in the engine room. Specifically in this case Victron range of charge equipment for canal and marine boats. I would highly recommend spending some time with a coffee watching Journey with Jono's YouTube channel  - link here   Jono has developed a mutually beneficial relationship with Victon - he has a lot of their equipment and is almost a floating advertisement for them, indeed I think he now works part time for them.

Regardless of this positive endorsement their kit is well regarded so it was natural for me to look down this avenue for a MTTP replacement. All the better their controllers have options for with or without Bluetooth. I opted for this one link here  The real benefit is that Jono has a code on his YouTube channel that gives 15% discount from OnBoardSolar.

So I further improved my install with external fuses on the load and supply sides. 20 amp beakers as can be seen in the pics below. I also took the chance of upgrading the battery wire to AMG 10 gauge to ensure their was no voltage loss from the controller to the batteries.

You'll see it is a much 'safer' position now. My intention is to build a small cabinet around the install to tidy it up and give it a bit of protection. Its good to see the inputs we are getting and the stages the controller is going through to maintain the batteries. Ok I'll loose the blue but I know it's there and I can see the battery voltage the controller is reporting via the bluetooth on my app  - sitting in the saloon of an evening  !

One further aside in regard to solar the boat now sits without shade on the solar. Also the sun pretty much rises at the stern and sets at the bow, as Percy sits now but in essence it rises and sets end to end so one angle will capture all the sun. 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

I'm embarrassed to show you this....

Well I have sorted my overheating problems. Now all you engineers and armchair engineers out there cut me some slack on this. I have to diagnose my problems logically but sometimes I think my logic is influenced by the complexity of the job that the problem might generate.

So when the boat overheated I tried a few things first but eventually rounded on the water pump impeller. Not a difficult job but one that meant draining the block down. Suitable armed with the correct part I set to with a small cut down milk bottle container to catch the water as I loosened then closed the water pump cover. This was a slow but precise job that saw no water end up under the engine. About four and a half litres came out before the water stopped. It was a greeny blue tint and using my antifreeze tester it showed not a lot of protection. I took a small bottle off to ensure I filled with the correct type of antifreeze - more later.

Now prepare yourself dear reader for a shocking picture ....  This little thing has just run out of ideas on how to move water for obvious reasons. I did contemplate not showing this pic unless someone asked for it then I'd email it in a brown paper packet !!

Can you spot the old one from the new one ?

I watched a few YouTube Videos about swapping the impeller and mine was by far the best condition!!

My little workshop, cleaning up the faces and plate on the water pump before sending the next little rubber jobbie into battle 

How it should look, all snug and tight.

All put back together and running cool.... in hindsight the engine had been getting warmer over the last few cruises but not overheating.... the donk is now back to supercool again all pipes ding what they should - happy idiot again.

A few observations. 

1. The missing bits will almost certainly be a the bottom of the crud catcher area of the skin tank - a bit like the diesel tank on most boats that have the take off a few inches above the bottom to allow the crap the not be drawn off - my skin tank is designed the same. 

2. Why did it happen - well reading around the issue is seems if the engine is left to stand the rubber binds to the brass and when the engine is started it tears the vanes off the impeller - mine showed just that and is consistent with not starting it. I thought I was being good not running the engine as we had solar and a water heater.... I am now the wiser, the engine will get warmed up once a week from now on.

3. The impeller IS a consumable  - did you know that and when did you lat change yours? Maybe if the engine is running ok and you have a decent regime not to worry but I think now I'll be replacing mine every 2-3 years. The price was around £30 

4. I tested the coolant and it was weak so it enabled me to add in some more antifreeze. To be sure I mixed the new and old in a jar and there was not sludgy reaction (can happen if you mix two types) 

5. The engine did get hot so I am going to get the head gasket replaced. No reason to think it was damaged by the overheat as the engine is a massive slab of cast iron.  It has always had a slight weep out wards so is due and it'll get a check and decoke at the same time. I now know a regarded marine engineer who will do this for me and hopefully I can watch so next time I can do it myself. 

The boat now has a new thermostat and impeller as well as fresh antifreeze so when the head comes off it'll get new oil and maybe even the case opened up to check the inners for wear and clean out the sludge in the sump - if there is any. One of the benefits of an old engine.

So wiser, and not too much lighter in the wallet and the engine runs nice and cool and sound much better with the newer antifreeze in there. 

Once again apologies for the images, only one impeller were harmed in the posting of this update !!

Friday, 16 November 2018

The shortest mooring we have had - but not all bad news

Ok, so I'm a little less raw after the boat break in. The night following the break in when I had to leave the boat was not the best. You imagine all sorts of ne'er do well's circling the boat trying to get back in. Luckily we were due a few days on the boat as Rachel had some leave booked so were able to return on the Tuesday to find Percy sitting waiting for us - still secure.

On closer inspection - I did not check - what a fool, the entry was made via the side hatch near the kitchen after he tried the engine bay based on a chip on the door there. So that is now fully secure again - or even more secure. We gave the boat a good clean and changed the bedding and that immediately felt better.

I cannot fault Staffordshire police  - they have been in contact a couple of times and turned up today and took away the screwdriver he/she left. They also took away the pot holding the money we presume he/she tipped to take what was in it. When we hear of indifference and lack of action I can report Staffordshire police acted as quickly as I would have wanted - top marks.

So we are leaving this mooring today. Been here less than a few weeks. The good news is we are staying on the mooring(s) just moving further up, away from the bridge (not first/last boat anymore and close to where the live-a-boards are.) I have to thank my good friend Mandy from NB Don't Panic who was aware of a free mooring that had recently been vacated. She even did the communication with the mooring owner to confirm the mooring was available - thank you Mandy.

It is a beautiful canal and the moorings have a lot going for them, the icing on the cake is the new mooring has a water tap right on the mooring - so there is some silver lining to this dark cloud.

In most life events however small there are learnings. I have to try and find whatever positives there are in the break in. I hope whoever took the cash and food has benefited in a positive way from it. We have such a privileged life, we have worked for it of course bur still had a very clear run so far.

So we are staying, Percy is staying and we will look forward to what we saw when we first planned this move, new locations, new adventures (of the positive kind and now a whole set of new batteries !!)

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Advice needed - Batteries

It seems that it is the time for more wallet emptying as the batteries on Percy are Fubarr’d. Looking back on my blog they went in on November 2014 so literally 4 years to the day. They are consumables so I guess I should not be surprised they are ready to leave my boat. Question is what to replace them with.

I have 3 x 110 sealed wet type. I am drawn to AGM as they have a supposedly better discharge level tolerance and better vibration tolerance....they are more expensive no doubt for these reasons.

So advice needed from the great hive mind .....replace with three 110 agm or go for two say 150 a/h agm ?

I have long pondered the charge discharge benefits drawbacks of two batteries v’s three batteries. Three is longer to charge but longer to discharge and two shorter to charge and discharge.... is it that simple or better just to look at what a/h you are charging.... say 330 for three 110’s or 300 for two 150’s. I think less is more as there should be less risk one poor performing battery puts loads on the others in charging and discharging..... so two 150’s better ?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated around AGM batteries and battery numbers ....?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

My boat has been broken into

I visited yesterday after overnighting the day before. I was at the boat to sort out a few problems, another blog post about that. I went to the kitchen from entering the stern and moved my bin and re set the carpet that were not in the right place.... I thought I had left it like that as one of the last jobs I did was emptying the bin. Then I noticed a full bottle of wine on the top... that I knew I had not left out. I actually said out loud to myself... I did not leave  that there . Then I got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I reached for the pound coin pot we keep on the shelf and yes it was empty.

I immediately went to the front doors and they had been forced as a method of entry. Only then when returning to the kitchen did I see the bent screwdriver left on the top

Crime reported to the police and to the mooring owner. To say I am gutted is an understatement. It looks like a rough sleeper has broken in. What is more alarming is another boat two up from me was also broken into a few weeks ago, nothing taken but the boat had been slept on. As I type this I have lost faith in these moorings. It is a very respectable part of the country quite rural but obviously not crime free. I’m off to the boat again today to add more security to the boat front doors if I can and maybe add some lighting. The farmer is also I hope looking to improve security.

No one is immune to this, it’s  not rife but always a risk. I never thought it would happen especially on an offside mooring there you go.

I am considering a marina now... and actually getting rid of the boat. It’s a massive cost and we are not using it as we shoud. We could get a couple of canal breaks with no responsibility for just the money we pay out in license fees and insurance and moorings. Maybe that is a knee jerk reaction but thats how I feel right now.

I have reflected I am looking at all options.

Just a bit fed up and annoyed at all the grief that has accompanied the move to this beautiful but now tainted mooring.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Now this is a good thing

I have rambled on about internet quite a few times on this blog. I think in this age we live the internet is essential - well it is for me. So what have I got to say on all things internet this time.

Well it's 3  -they have made a very sensible change to their service. Many who live on boats use tethering to get their internet. Basically using your phone as an internet connected device and then connecting to the phone from tablets/kindles/laptops etc. In fact I am typing this using my phone as the bridge to the internet. They limited this depending on what account you had. I had a 30gb tether limit - quite a lot for some, but I regularly used this up streaming tv like Iplayer and Netflix, Youtube as well and Skype etc.

So now 3 have removed this limit - basically you can tether to whatever data capacity your contract has. As mine is unlimited data I now can tether unlimited  - now that is a good thing. Well done 3. As I only pay £18 this is a very decent deal now.

As an aside I have finally got a decent FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) deal with Plusnet at home so I can dispense with 4g Homefi contract I have, that'll save me a few pounds also.

One thing I will try when next on the boat is to forward my number to another sim card - one of those cheap by the checkout sims and then put my 3 sim card into my 3 Homefi unit. Previously 3 have detected this and blocked its use as a tethered type service. The reason for me doing this is two fold. The 3 Homefi unit has a much better wireless range and aerial when in the boat and secondly using your phone as a personal hotspot is a battery killer so you tend to run the phone on a charger that also does not do the battery much good.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The heaven and hell cruise

Canal cruising is a metaphor for life - Percy had moved home. Read past the first paragraph if deep rambling are not your cup of tea (or coffee)

Well, where do I start this rather large blog post ? I guess picking up the opening sentence, something I reflected on while moving Percy single handed from Fradley on the Trent and Mersey to Shebdon on the Shropshire Union canal..... I'm 56 now and I don't really know how I got to that age so quickly.... quickly but 56 years quickly. The same as going along the canal at 3mph, the destination seems distant based on the speed and stop starts at locks, bridge holes and moored boats but you arrive at that evenings destination and ultimately you arrive at your final destination. So the conclusion is the destination while important is not by a large margin the prize, the prize is the journey so we should all enjoy it as much as we can.

Anyhow I had two weeks to move Percy before the clocks went back, the half term school break happened and the Shropshire Union canal closed at Norbury for a month or so.... I also only had a few weeks more to get my mooring cleared for whomever decided to take it on. So following the weather I decided last week was the better of the two weeks so committed to that.

Typically on the Monday the weather was just grey and drizzly when I got to Percy.  I dithered a bit not sure if I should hold for the improving weeks weather or cut and run. I took the opportunity to clean out the soot from on top of the back boiler plate. My arms seemed to have got fatter and I was seriously concerned I may get my hand stuck to I invented this contraption that worked very well.

I needed water and as there were no boats moving I untied and motored across the canal to the Hunts lock landing water point.

Suitably filled I made a snap decision at 4pm to do the Fradley flight and moor above Woodend.... goodbye and thank you for 11 years safe and beautiful mooring.

No Vlokies, no other boats and no people around. I emptied the cassette and set Junction lock and kept going

Leaving Shadehouse for the last time for a while. I'll be back as there are routes around here that need to be done and done again 

It was quite dusky dark by the time we got moored up in my favourite place on the canal (so far) in the woods above Woodend lock. The whisky and the fire soon had me  contentedly tired and warm 

About a mile and a half and 6 locks 

Tuesday morning started badly when I checked the Smartgauge and it told me I'd run the batteries right down, not sure how, maybe the fridge on too high. The batteries are a few years old now so owe me nothing but I knew I was going to have a long day so they would get a decent charge. 

The EP is Engine protect, basically the relay is only allowing the alternator charge to the starter battery until it is suitably charged then it connects them all together and charges the domestics. Simple but effective. 

My overnight mooring in the daylight - on my own perfect. 

It was a grey start but quite mild and no rain as I progressed from Woodend past Kings Bromley and Armitage. I was caught up by a hire boat, the only boat on the full trip I saw behind me until the very last afternoon.

I let them past as we approached the narrows at Armitage  - cheeky but thats practical for single handers. As I went down past the long term moorings Victoria came towards me towing her butty and we past a boater who had just released his bow line, he struggles to hold his boat in as two big heavy boats passed each other and him at the same time. 

Then I sounded my very loud air horn at the blind right hander at the Ashwood pub only to a few seconds later see a bow emerge !! I asked if they had heard my horn and they said yes but could not find their horn to alert me !! 

One of the last pinch points in this area is Rugley visitor moorings  - I always fret about this as there is no real passing place and the moorings can be long  - but today the canal gods were with me as the weather improved and the passage went nicely. 

Looking back and forwards at the largely unoccupied moorings

Another pinch point at the turn across the Trent as we leave Rugely I met another boater who was very capable and we passed easily. Another less glamorous issue the single hander has is toilet breaks so things like narrow bridge holes, locks and aqueducts are slow down to stop toilet breaks  !!  

Instantly you are in the countryside with views of Cannock chase and no residential and no industry, just farm land and peace.... perfect.  

I had met a few boats coming to me by now, not many. Colwich lock I had to myself but had the benefit of a boat being bow hauled out (broken down) so I was able to motor straight in. Haywood lock was the same and as I did the turn off the T&M to the Staffordshire and Worcester canal I had a brief conversation with some Canadians (they were videoing me as I turned)  who were  tracing their family tree and were keen to tell me they had relatives that used to work the boats.   

I was hailed and thanked for my 'Proper tickover' speed as  passed boats on the Anglowelsh moorings.

Tixel wide looking wide and quite empty 

Maybe a bid sad but made me chuckle 

I motored in ever improving weather to my target nights destination Deptmore lock.

17 miles and 4 locks - a decent days cruising and my batteries were fully charges and the fridge very cold !!

Now this is where I started to get some troubles, the hell part of my cruise. I noticed the temp gauge was moving around far too much up high then down low... 

Another compliment from a fisherman  in this match for my tickover speed. Every one was happy to engage in conversation  - not all anglers are miserable 

A stop in Teddersley lock to get some elastic bands (don't ask) from Midland chandlers who did not sell them but has some in a draw so I put a donation into the charity box - sorted. Another comfort break while in the lock... Leia is a great crew mate she stays put and guards the boat while I am shopping or peeing !!

Teddersley boat yard was as busy as I've ever seen it 

As I was climbing (filling each lock) each lock presented me with a challenge as some ladders were in the middle some at  one end some at both ends  - no consistency. This one was quite scary as the foot gap was so limited so I was climbing it with just my toes on the ladder rungs and the ladder was slippy as it had been underwater  !!

Then some lock landings were just fenced off - where does a single hander secure their boat to ??

Some bridges had taken such hits - how do people get it so wrong ?

Lots of Herons about 

The obligatory Gailey tower shot  

Re the engine overheating  - I rounded on it either being the thermostat or the pump...

I got another decent boat free mooring not quite where I wanted to be but I wanted to let the engine cool as it was getting too hot.

10  miles and 10  locks today. 

Thursday I was up early  (again for me) as I wanted a 7.30am start to get through the Pendleford narrows before the boats  (if any) hit them from the moorings on the Shroppie. Seems others had the same idea....this boat emerging from the mist as I set Percy up for the day. 

Another Heron out early for his/her breakfast

I had my headlight on for the first couple of hours as it was very misty.

The sun was doing its best and would soon join me in all its glory for the rest of the day

Then we hit the narrows (not literally thankfully). Nothing came the other way which was good as the passing places are few and being on my own I did not fancy holding the boat while another passed in such confined spaces.

This family were just exiting the narrows as I approached so they went all the way back in front of Percy 

The sun was waiting for me at the other end of the narrows 

Then is was the turn onto our new home canal  - the Shropshire Union canal. There is a stop lock just inside the junction., no doubt put there in working days to keep the waters separate so the Shroppie did not get the Staffs and Worcester canals water. Lucky for me there was a boat approaching but I was there first otherwise I'd have had to reverse back out of the canal and hold/moor up.

There were quite a few boats mored (4 a breast) at the hire base at the bottom of the Shroppie.

Straight (ouch) away you get the feel for this canal.... a Telford canal, his last and his grandest in England. Large embankments and deep cuttings being its signature feature.

At the bottom there are still some narrows and yes I did meet another boat here !!

The cuttings are seemingly 'plugged' by high bridges 

You feel for these boats. They must have owners somewhere but have not been visited for a very long time. Goodness only knows what they are like on the inside !!

Expensive mistake was now realised as I had put my MTTP solar controller under a shelf in the engine room. However the engine header tank spat water out of the relief valve and it ran down and damaged the controller  - bugger, but my error and lesson (expensive)  learnt 

More heavenly cruising spoilt in a way by the engine overheating .... I was giving it a lot of though as to why !!

Over the A5 aqueduct - poor souls rushing .....

I stopped at Weaton Aston after the lock (anyone care to tell me what was different about this lock to the other 21 I had done on my trip ? ) and emptied the cassette and disposed of my rubbish while Percy cooled a little. 

I decided to see of the belt was slipping on the water pump causing the overheating as it was so variable, so got the tools out and changed both alternator and water pump belts. Old water pump belt at the top so you can see some wear but not too bad.  

The new belt certainly sat higher on the pulley. 

Times like this  am very grateful for an engine in a space I can work around easily.

Sadly it made little difference but one thing ruled out and a job that was needed done. The old belts were still serviceable and will be kept as emergency items.

I ticked over to Turners garage and filled up with 113 litres of diesel with a engine hours count of 570 hours (need to check that )

 My mooring for the night was once again in the middle of nowhere and I lit the fire and ate drank and rested.... and pondered my overheating issue !!!!!

14 miles and 2 locks

Friday was another heavenly day but turned into hell with the overheating. The morning can only be described with pictures so here goes.... click them for the larger images.

I was worrying about the engine to fully enjoy the pictures but based on many trips into the engine room whilst leaving Percy to steer herself I came to the conclusion the Thermostat was randomly closing causing my problems.

Percy like all motors had two loops to cool the engine. The closed loop is for warming the engine up and when it gets to temp 60c in Percy's case the thermostat opens passing the now hot water to the skin tank to cool it. The thermostat then should moderate the water flow to keep the temp at 60c. What I concluded was happening was the thermostat was randomly closing causing the engine to be only using the closed loop... as the temp sender is on the open loop this has the effect of showing a cooling engine,  when the thermostat opened the temp sender got a hit of hot water and shot right up to then slowly dropped as the skin tank did its job....

I decided to let the engine cool as I approached Norbury,  just 3 miles from my new mooring. I had a breakfast and then took the thermostat out of its housing.

Frustratingly this introduced an air lock that I could not seem to clear so the engine was still getting hot. Top and bottom of it was I decided to limp to my new moorings. However there was still some heavenly cruising to do.

Good job this was not a vulture otherwise I'd really have got a complex about this cruise.

I got to within half a mile of my new moorings and the engine got too hot again so I stopped it and tried to float into the bank... but this is the Shroppie and its either the shelf or shallow moorings and this was the latter so I was suck about 3 foot into the canal. Nothing for it but a jump that I just made with one welly in the water. 

I had an hour wait almost in sight of my new mooring but I could not even bow haul the boat as the sides were so shallow. The image below is about how far I was out !!

Looking back where I spent a frustrating hour

 Of course as I was moored half in the channel boats started to pass....including this one. It was Annamarie and Kath who I follow on Youtube  - they Vlog as The Narrowboat Experience 

They were experiencing the same frustrations as I had trying to moor up. As I passed I gave a little advice on the Shelmore embankment moorings just a few hundred yards up the canal. 

Finally home - mission accomplished. Just Leia and I and the old hot lump called Percy. A real heaven and hell cruise but one I'll not forget.

The new mooring gave me a real natures best welcome as the sun set, I got the whiskey out to toast my arrival and rested as the evening burnt away to darkness and peace.

Perfect !!