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.