Monday, 25 February 2013

Attack Horses....

.... well a bit of an exaggeration, but they do get interested when you walk a dog through their field.

Let me explain.

We have a favourite 'long' walk that takes us up the canal and back via Kings Bromley wharf. The only problem is that it involves quite a bit of road walking on the A523 which is a fast and bendy road. I was looking on Memory map and noted that the footpath crossed the busy road and extends some way round but eventually brings you back to the footpath near a place called Baskerville house (nice) that takes you to the new Wharf at Kings Bromley. So with some hours to spare and a dog and fat bloke needing exercise I dropped Rachel off at work and was at the Swan for 8.30 ish to start the walk.

Fradley is a special place early in the morning or late evening when all the visitors have gone.

 My very untrusty Garmin had the route plotted by 40 odd way-points. Only problem if it got knocked it turned off. Subsequent internet googling turned up this to be a common problem with some fixed that I'll try. When it was working it was great, only wish I'd took the OS map with me !!

 When you cross the road at the end of the first canal section you actually walk skirting Curbourgh sprint circuit, as we were walking early they were just arriving. It is a really rural walk from here on...

 Never too far from civilization... including Litchfield. I understand there is a walk to Litchfield. this would be a good one to do and then get a taxi or bus back.... one for the summer I think

The Erasmus Darwin walk will also get some investigation.....

 After passing the Curbourgh fishing lakes (more investigation needed) you come to a great place to have a stop off , it is a complex of small businesses that I am sure could entertain the shopper in you for some time... we walked on !!

A quick crossing of the road and then open country again.We walked up to the main line and did a bit of train spotting !

Leia was good on the lead as we walked through a couple of fields of sheep. The horses however made up quick step as the came trotting over (we were in their field on this bit of the walk) I don't trust big animals, their size alone is intimidating.

Ok, not quite attack horses but the approached like they wanted to get us out of their field, so we obliged.

Leia knew this bit of track as we have walked it a few times and went straight left by instinct ... clever dog.

I'd still like to moor here, but when I enquired they said no !

This stretch of canal is quite possibly my favourite of all the miles we have cruised, very quiet, full of wildlife (and fish)

It was a cake and coffee stop out of the rucksack.We have moored in this spot quite a few times. We arrived once  to find a bra left on the bench, so mating of all species goes on in this area!

Despite the cold and being a little tired I thought I'd entertain myself with checking the Geocaches in this area. Found all but one and reported I could not locate it. I have looked twice now and still cannot find it. As the Garmin was unreliable I opted for the Geocaching app on my Iphone.... it is an excellent way to add interest to a walk in my opinion.

CaRT were getting ready for the stoppage at Woodend... I wonder if they will get the mole catcher in before they does some real damage. We have noted mounds on our mooring so there must be a good amound of moles ... I wonder if it is to do with the heavy rain and easy earth to move through?

We arrive back at about 12.30 ... all in a good walk and one we will do again and it has introduced some interesting options for us for when we are aboard at Fradley.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

More money paid out

Blimey I can understand why people say boats are just holes in the canal you pour money into.

I have just brought some Morrisons vintage engine oil... £32 quid inc post and some LED bulbs from Baddie the Pirate that was over 60 quid. Both needed but on top of new batteries plus the smartbank and relay and then the associated cables and screws etc, Percy has cost me a small fortune this month !

Friday, 22 February 2013

More Moorings at Fradley

These seem complete now. I have been told they are to go to auction sometime soon for permanent linear moorings. I expect with the facilities close by they will have a high reserve. Not very private but a good place to keep your boat for the varied cruising routes available with a Fradley mooring.

If I was the pub landlord I'd be lobbying CaRT for more visitor moorings as during the 'season' demand outstrips supply by a fair bit.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

One I made earlier

When I started Percy's blog I did not have too many images, so I just chucked up a photo I took when we viewed Percy for the first time. Jaq from NB Valerie has on more than one occasion commented on the header fro  my other blog Waterlily, in a positive way I should say.

Recently I was walking Leia back from one of our favorite canal walk when I turned to see the sun setting, As I was close to where I took the original Waterlily banner photo I thought I'd try and improve/get another shot. I have changed my best picture with a little editing, I am pleased with the new look. Now I just have to change the 'pink' background as Rachel referred to it recently.

Some other shots taken from a late afternoon walk at Fradley, the best time when most of the visitors have buggered off gone home.

 Something is changing on the old Swan line moorings.... there seems less boats and getting fewer?
 Ex Blogger Norwyn's boat, Shell Bell venturing back towards Fradley
 I could not resist giving the candy boat (should the the sweet boat imho....) some trade with a bag of Sherbert lemons and a bag of chocolate limes to keep me company on my walk.

 Just lovely......

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dreaming of amps and volts - the Smartbank solution

Sad isn't it but since we were last aboard and we have been able to observe the Smartgauge in action and the poor performance of the charging circuit I have had a crash course in volts and amps. I am writing this over a few days to hopefully add in some photos of what I have done and comment on how it works... if indeed it does do what I am expecting.

Not that I know much more of what is a very large subject field, but I do have a better idea of what happens on Percy when the big lump in the middle make pop popping noises.

Brian and Halfie from Harnser and Jubilee respectively gave me good information about the charging side of my boat. It got me reading and better understanding why we were so poorly rewarded by engine charging.

Result is I will shortly be completing  have completed the install of a Smartbank and associated relay split charging system. There are hopefully benefits ....
  • Should be as close to lossless as possible
  • Gives me an emergency start mode whereby the leisure batteries are added to the start battery for more oomph for the 3 litre lump
  • Priority charging for the start battery... it is directly connected to the alternator so this battery gets what it needs before the relay kicks in and gives the charge to the leisure batteries
  • Allows the solar charge to get to the starter battery
  • More information about the state of charge of the battery banks
Whilst I like the sound of the Lister CS2 as we only need to run it for propulsion and charging. When we are just staying put I want to run it as little as possible to give me the most back into the battery bank. I expect Tony and Jill did a lot of cruising when on the boat and I don't think they had a TV or other gadgetry to power so the simple split charge diode controller to 2 x 85amp/hr batteries was enough.

So the install is complete, not without a few changes and challenges. The major one being the cable thickness needed for the relay. I delved into Canal world forums for advice and got some contradictory information, further confused by advice from Merlin who market the smartbank.

The diode install used AWG5 cable from the alternator and to the respective batteries.

AWG5 is 16mm2 and whilst Merlin said it would be OK, other said it needed to be bigger. My confusion was the load I was working to. The alternator cable is easy.... 70amp, but the two relay cables were confusing, firstly I confused the total storage (220a/h )with possible current across the relay (its a 180 amp relay) my concern was the emergency start when all three batteries would be connected and supply the starter current, and when I looked at the starter cable I doubted my 16mm2 install.

Cable size information web site

Cable calculator web site

Roger from the forum gave me some good advice and after installing the AWG5 I swapped it all over again. On Percy Tony had installed one of these....

It is a 1600w motor driven inverter...I thought it was old scrap.... until I looked it up on the Internet and they are still for sale for $2,200 !! I have used one of the cables... see below, and I was not intending putting it back, but having read about them i will put it back as it may well be useful for the vacuum and the chainsaw... more experimenting!

Anyhow the cable that services the Redi-line was cut up in the required lengths...(note the workshop again)

I took it to Streethay and they kept up the thousand pound Ray approach by charging me £15 to have four terminals crimped on!!! Note to self, avoid Streethay in the future.

Back at the boat some fitting, refitting and modification of the battery box cover eventually saw my install made with 50mm2 cable throughout. I went for this after reading Tony Brooks excellent site on this area whereby he said extra large cable on such an install only downside was the price of the copper.

So old and new side by side...

Sterling split charge diode on the left (out) Smartbank and relay on the right in.

Work in progress, I moved the isolator up from where you can just see the relay install (this pic was when the 16mm  cable was in use)

When the 16mm cable was used I was pleased to see this....
This was compared to 13.5v with the split charge diode controller. The result was it took about 45 minutes to add 8% to the batteries compared to 3 hours to get just 13% back into the batteries. So that is twice as efficient and much more what I was expecting.

After I fitted the 50mm2 cables I got this...

So I have to assume the smaller cables were introducing resistance (heat a by product although not evident !!) and therefore less charge.

So from these....

And then these

I get this...

A good deal of learning, a better charging system plus understanding of my 'other inverter' means all very worthwhile.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Percy's workshop & the amp meter

I have recently been working on Percy's electrics. It is a joy to be working around an engine rather than over it. When we recently visited Waterlily to check her over she would not start. I had to borrow a jump lead form the workshops to get her going off the leisure bank. We left her running and the brokers turned her off to give the engine a good warm up and the batteries a good top up charge.

So while I have been working on Percy's electrics I have set myself up a nice little work space..

With the stove going and the coffee flowing it is a nice and easy place to work. The first thing I fitted was a amp meter to the solar controller.

 You can see I was getting 2 amps in the low winter sun. It will be useful when I come to make some form of angle device to better harvest the sun.

The switch is not connected at the moment. I added it so I could bypass the meter as I was unsure if running it via the meter would rob me of a small amount of power.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Stand back... this is a man's engine

Where do I stand on political correctness....being brought up by a mum who stayed at home and a dad who worked,  provided housekeeping, spent the rest on beer and fags and the horses and dogs....that may give you a clue. However  I am what is badly described as a 'New Man' I do ironing, house cleaning shopping cooking looked after the kids when they were younger, so I accept change, I work on fairness but I don't want it forced upon me... so that is where I stand.

I recently ordered the Lister Instruction Book and Parts list for my CS2. It will be very useful and much referred to. One thing that made me chuckle was the front cover....

 Proudly sitting on my engine....

So to get the best out of the engine the book has to be given to the man who looks after it... in this case me ! Published today it would no doubt cause offence, published in 1966 (I would be 4) it was just how it was.... it also cost ten shillings!

It does make me feel good about the boat I have brought, it has a man's name and a man's engine. OK now I'll go and do the dishes !

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Who are the blogging cruisers of the future

Halfi as recently blogged about the rise and fall of bloggers on the Waterways website rankings. I was quite amazed to see Waterlily's blog up there at number 14.

It did bring back memories of some old blogs I used to be an avid reader of - Granny B, Gypsy Rover, Caxton, Warrior, Khayankanzi, Lazy days. Some have moved on to other boats, some have stopped blogging and some have left the waterways for good. NB Piston Broke (great name) being the latest boat to go up for sale as Paul and Lyn are taking on new challenges.

The most inspiring and the first blog I followed was Snecklifters blog,  Sadly it seems Mike and Liz have taken their blog down, their cruise was planned for 4 years and ended up at 6 with them retiring to Matlock back on the land. Mike had a great style and was a good writer, I only saw them once and they moved past us very early in the morning when we were on our shared boat Sylph moored on the Middlewich branch of the Shroppie.

So it got me to thinking who might be out there when I am on my extended cruising (hopefully) and who might have given up and who I'll never stop and have a cuppa with.....

There may be people now who have never even been on a canal boat who will make their life afloat when we get more time, there will be those like us who are planning more time aboard, and those out there now who only ever see their remaining time on a canal boat somewhere on the system. 

I don't think we will ever fully live aboard, my ties to land and family would I think stop that. I like the way NB Chance seems to do it, lots of cruising over the lighter days then holiday abroad in the winter.  I'd like to think when we do start our extended cruising we become a blogging must read or rather we blog about our travels and some find it interesting/amusing/sad !!

Whoever you are I hope our paths cross and we can share a tea and chat moment somewhere out there on the system.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Still winter cruising...but blacking is needed

So we have cruised November, December, January and February and we have enjoyed it in the main. We recently took a overnight trip to Huddlesford Junction and had a nice meal in the Plough. This is a first for us as we normally are cruising outbound or homeward, the Plough is about 2 hours from our mooring.

One downside, although not encountered on the trip to the Plough is ice. Percy is stripped at the stem post from the cruise in ice bringing him back from Braunston in November/early December. A plan is being hatched to address this combining a cruise in May for my mum to Norbury for them to black Percy. We will get a price for the sign writing to remove the old owners name and add ours.... only question is do we put in Fradley Junction as we did with Waterlily or Derby ....any thoughts?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A good fettle and batteries !!

One enjoyable aspect of new boat ownership is getting down and dirty to understand how everything works. I have recently been doing that with some focus on the propulsion side of Percy.

Percy has hydraulic drive, this keeps a full height in the back cabin. Not such a benefit for me at 5 foot 6 inches and it makes for a climb down into the cabin from the counter. Tony has well engineered the rear end and it only takes two wing nuts and three screws to have it all open and accessible. there was a little water in the very small 'bilge', easily removed with the little pump that sits there waiting for this task. There was also a little hydraulic fluid in the very attractive when polished up catch tray. I could not easily see the date on the 'greaseomatic' stern tube greaser, click the link to read about it from a previous post., but I could see it was down to its last 10cc of grease. I very easily unscrewed it and set one of my two spares going for another 12 months. The date on the old one was to be replaced in April.... last year... so it had done a good shift. Finally took the grease gun to a nipple that fed a bearing on the shaft.... it took a good amount of grease.

All fettled and cleaned and it was a reverse of the dismantling. I then cleared under the counter, a really useful storage space, especially now we have a couple of 45 litre plastic boxes to hold waterproofs, ropes etc.

Another over bed reading lamp was fitted to provide matching facility for his and hers pre-nighttime reading.

The engine has also had a check over...oil checked and those bits that rock and go up and down have been given some grease or oil.

The smartgauge I think is still getting to know the boat! The instructions say fit and forget for a few days of charge and discharge. Today it was down t 61% so that was 23% use last night compared to 16% the day before. It took about three hours to get is back to 74% and as I type this before  going to bed it is at 62%. The solar charge controller is still saying  have a full battery and that was showing half a battery yesterday when the smartgauge was at 61%

I have had some very helpful comments from Brian from NB Harnser and Halfie from Nb Shadow & Jubilee on the charging side of my setup. Seems I have a simple, blocking diode type split charger, simple but inefficient. I recon I am loosing about 0.8 of a volt from the alternator to the batteries. I am looking at the option of adding a smart bank split charge controller... anyone got experience of this or any other split charge controller?

The one outstanding job now is the fore cabin. This has been a dumping ground to date and needs  a good sort, sometime soon for that job.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Making the batteries 'av it....'

Bit dramatic but a note to myself about the electricity use on the boat. When we arrived yesterday the Smartgauge was at 100% so the solar was working well as it was left at about 73% a week earlier. We have not yet run the engine letting the batteries have a good work out over two nights usage. The Smartgauge was down to 84% this morning I'll see what it drops to after tonight's use.

We would have liked to have moved the boat but the weather is quite foul and I am not 100% well at the moment, we'll see what the rest of the week brings. Today we went into Litchfield for a wander and to get some parts to fit the new loo from Streethay. Litchfield seems to be recovering from the Tesco effect, as last time we visited there seemed more empty shops. It is a nice town, lots of character, not quite as nice as Stafford but a good local resource for us. We did most of the shopping in the town centre giving the shops our trade before picking up a few bits we could not get in town from the Tesco extra store.

Back on the boat I plumbed in the new loo and wired it up ( for the electric flush) I think there may be a slight weep from one of the joints I had to make up to get it to connect to the plastic plumbing, I'll check in the morning. So now it's a whiskey then a hot bath..... One of the joys of this boat, not the biggest but nice to soak a few aching limbs...

Tomorrow the engine will get my attention before starting up, just some checks I want to do now I have my ' Mans' book.... Later on that one. !

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Hunts lock T&M

Monday, 4 February 2013

Most toilets flush in the key of E flat.

50 things you really don't need to know about toilets - clicky me

So yesterday saw a rendezvous with Mike and his good lady off NB Duxllandyn for a discrete motorway loo for cash swap. The power of bogging blogging strikes again.

We are very pleased with the new loo and its three cassettes, I just need to plumb and wire it in.... a job for this week as we are aboard for some much needed rest.. especially for Rachel as family health issues are foremost at the moment.

So we now have a profusion of toilets.... three in fact, the original Percy camping loo, one that came off Waterlily, another more useful camping loo, and now our swanky new flush and plumbed on CS200 loo. We will dispose of the other two unless anyone reading this wants one as a pumpout back up - we left one on Waterlily for this reason, and we have used it when the tank gets topped up ! its worth reading the link above, especially for points 34 & 35 !!