Tuesday, 17 April 2018

When a job gets a bit bigger...

On and off the boat at the moment. It was convenient for Rachel to drive to me last Thursday late getting to the boat at 11pm but it gave us a lazy Friday. It also enabled us to leave a car at Fradley so on Sunday I could drive Rachel back to Fradley taking an hour off her journey south !

I was staying up at the cottage as I needed to do some work on it as well as Percy as well as lots of other bits and bobs....

We had a great vegan Sunday lunch at the cottage and was able to play with Teddy for a decent time  - he is growing rapidly and getting ever more interested in everything.

Anyhow yesterday I was on the boat and repairing the hole I opened up to sponge out the water we (Rachel) put in there whilst cleaning up last year. She left the tap running while Dysoning and it overflowed into the cabin bilge - not a lot but it made me make the inspection hatch that was missing and ID'd on the survey five years ago !! So now we have an inspection hatch!

After that I started to get curious about the back cabin bilge area (the engine room has an open bilge /open floor) Tony had said there was coiled hydraulic hose for the pump that drives the prop under the floor. So I set to to lift the floor which thankfully was laid to allow this.

The good news was it was relatively dry  - a little water but nothing to worry about and more than likely come in from when I left the back doors open in the rain the other week !

I cleaned it all out and applied some rust treatment and maybe tomorrow I'll paint it with red oxide as I did the gas locker.

As to how long I need to leave it before I do it again.... well there was some paper in there and I was able to see it was from Saturday January 23rd 1999, 7 years after Percy was floated and some 19 years ago so when done I'll stick some more paper in there and hopefully be blogging about changing it when I'm 74 eeek !!

I spend the rest of the day mowing grass and general mooring tidying. I did want to get out on Percy but now the floor needs painting that'll be my boating this week !! 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Women on the cut

Youtube has some fantastic content - very eclectic and much more interesting than mainstream TV nowadays.

This film popped up and is a fantastic insight and record of women on the cut. It features Alex who sadly died on her boat, it is a great tribute to her and her ownership on working boat Tench.

Spend some of your bandwidth on this production, it is beautifully put together.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

The end of blogging ?

For lots of reasons I am retired but still not spending much time aboard Percy. That's a bad thing. I am sure if you read blogs you will also be watching many Vlogs on narrowboat life. I have a subscription to many and they are tv quality in the main with episodes released that are devoured with much relish.

Problem is they are so good I am starting to feel like I have seen and done most of the system, albeit vicariously on lots of different boats.

Don't get me wrong I do enjoy following the vlogs and they give so much more than reading many on the list to the right ...but in a simple way they are showing me the system in great quality from my armchair. Not sure if it is the start of the demise of blogging about the canals, I blog of course as my online diary that I can look back on - so will continue but are the Vlogs demising my future exploration/enjoyment of the canals?

On an unrelated note other than related to this being my diary of sorts I have enjoyed the last two days of good weather by getting out on my motorbikes. All over the south coats and south downs .....

Some pictures just as a reminder when we are no longer down here .......

I test rode this yesterday.... its an NC750 (New Concept) it has half a Honda Jazz engine in it  - low revving super economy quite a nice bike

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Let's talk stoves....

No better time to fit a stove than spring  or summer. Hopefully the deals are on and the time to fit is not pressured by cold or adverse weather  - there I've jinxed you all now !!

So what to fit ....

My good neighbour recently had some issues with a stove glass and posted a picture of her Heron stove which I liked.

This might be overkill for the small back cabin as its a 5kw stove.  Villager do a Puffin (smaller sibling) to the heron above.
I like the two doors  (main burner and ash pan) I also like the riddling grate and air wash system. 

There is another option a GBS mariner a bit smaller and a lot cheaper ...
This one had less air gap to the base where it will hopefully be mounted in a spare hearth I have from the guards stove that was fitted before it rotted through. 

There is another option a boatmans stove - made up in Manchester and between the other two in price.

The Puffin is favourite at the moment  - have you any suggestions  or links ?...

Just found this little beauty ... but a 3 inch pipe ?

Can't stop now....

Thursday, 29 March 2018

One thing missing from Percy....

Whilst I  have lived aboard Percy we still have a cottage. I could live full time aboard if I had to but it would be a challenge and there would be compromises that I would not enjoy. 

It was apparent to me when I got back to the cottage yesterday and decided on food. Now we have a freezer of a decent size here at the cottage and it has a dedicated space for ice cream and ice lollies. I have a weakness for both. Percy is a  simple boat and we enjoy not having complicated systems of heavy electrical loads. The latter means I can live aboard for three or four days at a time and not need to run the engine. In fact during the summer with decent solar input this can be stretched as we have shorter  nights so less lights. 

One thing anyone living afloat will know about is fridges and freezers being the biggest consumer of your amp hours. It is easy during the winter as we use the back cabin as our fridge. It makes for a decent if distant location to store all the stuff that normally goes into the amp hour eater in the kitchen. Our little 12v fridge has an ice box but it needs running quite cold to make it work. We have when been out cruising each day used it for frozen food, but we have to turn the fridge cold and rely on a few hours running the engine while we cruise. 

So a freezer would be nice but not essential and not something to push us to more static engine running.   

Now about stoves .....

Monday, 26 March 2018

Sometimes nature just gives back

This winter has been long - not a big issue for me and one of the best winters I've had in a long time. I normally get SAD  - read here   In recent years I took St Johns Wort  - basically a herbal antidepressant. Thankfully I have never had petrochemical anti depressants. I understand they come with side effects St John's wort does not other than like most medicines it has to be removed from the system slowly so as the weather warmed and the days got longer I cut the tablet up in halves then quarters !

This year I have not needed it  - I attribute that to more daylight, more exercise and more fresh air - walking and seeing daylight rather than being cooped up in an office or office buildings. +1 for retirement.

Anyhow for the record we jumped on the extra hour gained when the clocks went forward and took a late evening 5 miler around Bosham and Chichester harbour. We were rewarded with still tranquility, isolation and a beautiful sunset. I do not have the words but do have the pictures.

Click on them, they look better bigger (except the selfie, that'll scare the kids to bed !)

Friday, 23 March 2018

Lets talk alternators ....

We need them more than they need us. They go about their business charging our batteries until one day, usually at a quite inconvenient time they just stop - or worse, become inconsistent, sometimes charging and sometime not.

To my great shame I have not even got a spare belt on Percy, I know  - I had problems with belts and alternators when we were out on Waterlily in June 2012. I think the breakdown we had that day put the seed of doubt in my mind about engines under deckboards with the result we had Percy (with an engine room) a year or less later.  The problem then was a shorting wire under the alternator that was under or below the engine. Phil at Oxley Marine did a sterling job that day to find and repair the fault.

Anyhow the reason for the self reminder on belts and alternators it we got the charging light pop up on the dash on the car on Sunday just as we were about to set off on our weekly (for the last several months) trip back down south. Breakdown guy turned up - no meter, and said alternator is dead. 13 hours later including 4 hours at Leicester Forest East waiting for the second relay truck to relay us back south we were back in West Ashling. That was on top of 5 hours Friday afternoon/evening getting up... a pivotal weekend of crap journeys.

I live in a wonderful age of the internet where there is endless knowledge and some fine forums. The Rover  75 and MG owners forum is one such, masses of not just info but enthusiastic advice to get things repaired, not just thrown away.

So with all my virtual friends helping I went at the alternator in situ and took off the regulator and brush set. Now the real reason is this job is a pig on the car, a breeze on the boat (when ever I will do it) A bike ride to Screwfix for some deep small sockets and a tiny 1/4 inch drive ratchet, got the query defective stuff off. I think the brushes have just worn out after 130,000 miles ( its the original alternator) I could try a £1 fix, I had the new brushes in my hand at a little workshop that sells such stuff, but bottled it and decided to order the regulator and brush assembly. Fitting hopefully later to see if the diagnosis is correct....

So much easier on a boat that a car  - in the main. A pic of the exposed slip rings waiting for their new brushes. They are worn but the consensus it they have many more miles in them.