Wednesday, 13 February 2019

A two canal sort of day

Monday, Tuesday and today saw me on Percy. There is a spring feel in the air, but  I doubt it'll last as March always seems to come to teach us a lesson  

The job list was to paint the block ready to match the head that is due tomorrow and to get the Victron battery monitor fully installed. 

The former was easy.... the latter, well I did my research and planning and had it all ready, then at the last minute had some sort of 'brain dither' that saw me leaving it semi-working to return today to install as I originally planned and it was working as it should.

The shunt is covered by the fairy light box ! To make the job a bit easier I added the bus bar for the other connections (and as previously noted to remove the need to change the fittings from 8mm to 10mm) It needs a decent tidy up, still got some options as and when I replace the flatteries !

I needed to add some height to the cover and step  - it'll get painted when the weather is warmer. I may make another cover but that is part of the plans for the battery bank.

Cousins side by side, one to tell me when the batteries need charging and the other to tell me when they have enough charge.

I rewarded myself with a lunch at Norbury Junction (sadly no photos  - must do better) Then it was a 50 minute trip across North Staffordshire back to the cottage and a walk into my valley. 

I was intending it to be a round walk, down by the falconry centre under the railway,  over the river and then back along the canal. Just as I reached Consall lock I heard the lovely sound of the steam train heading down the valley. 

So I confused Leai and turned 180 degrees and retraced my steps, catching the Loco on its return under power. Certainly an impressive sight.

  On my return up the valley side I stopped at the top to drink in the views and atmosphere of the  fading light of a warm (ish) February day. The Peacocks belong to the nearby Falconry centre. 

During the autumn and winter months the views into the valley present themselves. It does take a decent camera to see where I walked to and back....

Consall lock is down there top middle of the picture. Click on the pictures and you'll hopefully be able to see the canal !

It was poor light but the super zoom on my camera takes me back to my walks terminus.

Back to the boat first thing to meet Richard the engineer who will hopefully get the donk working again so I can see how bad the batteries really are ! 

Monday, 11 February 2019

What a tool !

Not me, well some might say ......

Hopefully the cylinder head will be going back on Thursday so this week is full on boat week. Last week I was over in the cold putting the Victron BMV-712 battery monitor head unit in place. I wanted it to look like it was put in when I did the Smartgauge, it should have been as the Smartgauge is good at telling you what you have left but it does not tell you when the batteries are full...

I had to swap out the 15mm copper tube to 22mm, which lived for many years in the loft of a large house (sons flat) in Blackheath London. So I like to think it's retired to the canals. Anyhow the copper is used as a flashy conduit and needed to take two control cables and some power cables for the Smartgauge.

Incidentally I liked the BMV-712 as the head unit is powered via the control cable so no need to run power up to the head unit. The power goes from the two battery banks to the shunt.

Today I was on the boat painting the the block to make it look a bit tidier before the heads go onto it. I set to getting the wiring ready for the shunt. The shunt will have to live on top of the battery bank on a small wooden platform. I've invested in a decent bus bar  (with cover) that'll help me wire up the shunt. This will live on the wooden platform with the shunt. (pics to follow)

One small annoyance was the shunt has M10 bolts (it's a decent shunt) but the batteries and all the cabled to them are M8. So the Bus bar is all M8 bolts x 4. But it still means I needed to make up a couple of battery cables M10 to M8 .... so here is the reference to the title, my crimping tool.

A few battery jobs back I ended up at Streethay Wharf as I need a specific length battery cable. I took the cable and they charged me a tenner to crimp two ends to it.... jump forward to my next job, IIRC it was a re-cable of my leisure batteries to make the charging as level as possible, I invested in a hydraulic cable connector clamp.

I spent an enjoyable hour making up a couple of short cables to get the M10 to M8 to and from the shunt.

I have a fairy light box (yes that is what I typed) that I am going to use as a cover for the shunt to tidy the whole install up. What I should have also said is I spent this morning altering the battery box cover, which also is a step in the engine room to take the extra height when the shunt is on top of the batteries. I intend making a complete new cover as this one is not now ideal but I was pleased I did it out of a piece of reduced decking from B&Q.

I had enough to make a shelf for the bench grinder that was on my workbench but vibrated it so much stuff fell from all over while I was using it !!

Back tomorrow to complete the install and add some more paint to the block.


Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Really worth a watch... says so much about canal life

I know I know I made some observations recently about  Blogging v's Vlogging but one of my favourite Vloggers have recently posted on their vlog about their 5 secret  (observations) for a successful narrowboat life.

It resonated with me, their advice and observations are spot on and well worth a viewing. So many think it is the perfect life but don't understand the compromises. I could not (at this stage of my life) accept all the compromises and I am lucky enough to be able to have alternatives. I did try it out  - not fully but two years afloat taught me a lot about my life and my boat.

I have massive respect for those that do live a life afloat - especially those cc'ers and those on line moorings with limited facilities such as my friends at hunts lock and new and old friends at Shebdon.

One thing that is critical is if you have a hankering  - go for it with your eyes wide open, regret is a difficult bedfellow.

I revisited one of my posts on a heavyweight life decision I took in June 2017  - early retirement and hopping off that hamster wheel of marketing/commercialism and 'normality blanket' never regretted it and so glad I did not wait as others have and still do. You may be reading this thinking smug git  - easy for him to say, but such decisions are in your control, even it its altering spending habits to achieve an early work exit, downsizing, if you want it enough  you will achieve it.

Here is the link to Rich and Fran's excellent vlog

Here is the link to my big decision post in June 2017 

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Well that was a waste of time !

I've have the bits in my car to start putting the Victron monitor into the engine room on Percy for a while. On Friday I was free after a few family challenges and bad weather to get over to Shedbdon. On the way I took  a route variation to Market Drayton to drop off the valve guides I have purchased to the shop that was checking Percy's head (all good apart from some wear in the guides apparently)

When I brought Percy Tony ran me through the lubrication of the donk - but I don't recall him advising on lubrication of the valve stems. No doubt a contributory factor to the wear. On reading one of the maintenance manuals it says fill the valve recesses with a little oil to keep the stems lubricated  - I have been doing such is now part of the pre-start lubrication regime on the donk. 

Anyhow on getting to Percy I took my battery drill out to drill two holes into the steel engine bulkhead so o could tap them for a couple of pan head copper bolts that would be used to hold the box the Victron battery monitor display unit. All went well until the drill started to slow so pushing my luck I added a little bit more pressure and twang the 3.4mm drill broke !! Not the first time and I now have one partly drilled hole. Not the biggest problem  - especially as I realised I'd left the shunt at home also.

I checked the bilge, made a cup of tea (its great the water point being next to my boat so I don't have to turn on and then drain down the water system just for a cup of tea or a wee !

I'll go back next week and complete the job having ordered more drill bits and charged my electric drill up  (both batteries).

Hopefully the head will soon be ready for re assembly and then I can properly sort out the batteries.