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.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The valley monster is observed

I lay in bed in our Staffordshire cottage in the Churnet valley last Sunday, pondering my day. I was called to the valley by the distant whistle of the early morning 'track check' train heading to Froghall through the valley.

Boots on Leia in tow (well, in front) off we set, We did not quite get to the canal before the train started its return run to Cheddleton, but we did capture it clickety clacking back through the valley. Its a magical sight and sound - especially the distant whistle the echoes through the valley.

When we did eventually get to the canal we could still smell the smoke from the hot engine - magical.

Watch to the end for the whistle echo up the valley !

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Yep, we got burst pipes !

You may have read my blog post about the need to be aboard - or have a warmer boat during periods of really cold weather. I still have the section of pipe I repaired when the frost took a nip out of Waterlily  - I blogged about it here Click me

So lesson learnt I headed off to Percy a week ago today to light the fire and sit tight during the worst of the bad weather. I think -6.5c was the lowest temp I recorded and Percy stoically saw out the 'beast from the east'. 

I'll detail my mad travelling at the end of this post as I doubt I'll do it again anytime soon - hopefully but suffice to say I arrived back at our Staffordshire cottage 10.30 pm Sunday night. The postie is good in he leaves any parcels in the outside loo so I went and checked and as I approached the workshop - yes I could hear the dreaded post freeze sound of running water.

This was the scene ...

The bits of carpet I leave down had absorbed much of the water

You can see the central heating pushfit has been pushed off by the ice bottom right.... this is close by the door and was lagged as you can see so I have to assume there was wind chill involved. This was the same with Waterlily as the burst there was below an open window we left for ventilation - we do not do that now !!

 The ice stalactite was quite impressive 

What was more impressive  - if I was impressed at all, was the ice stalagmite when the ice had blown off the radiator valve and lifted the radiator off its bracket.  (the reason the rad tail is lower than the copper feed is the rad is tipped off the bracket)

The running water was coming from the non feed side of this isolator where I presume it had pushed the compressed olive out of its seal. 

I was able to turn off the stop cock that we have in the workshop - for the workshop and headed to a long sleep. 

The following morning I was able to re fit the push fitting and re attache the rad valve then isolate the leak and re test the mains water  - all nice and leak free (I then turned off the mains water until I can fully repair the non feed side of the isolation valve. )

I re-pressured the central heating and slowly by turning on the Rayburn that heats the workshop got the workshop central heating up to temp - no leaks.

I was lucky.... There was not a great deal of water in the workshop as I think I arrived just after the thaw had allowed the water to start leaking and it was not a full open pipe just a bypass of the compressed olive - I'll know fully when I have my tools back to effect the repair fully.

Yes the last thing I said to my son in London was - "I'll leave the plumbing tools with you as I'll not need them for a while !!"

The week that needs recording was as follows...

  • Tuesday 27th February - Chichester to The Boat (fire lit) Fradley to Derby to see my oldest son who birthday it was on the 28th, then back to Fradley 220 miles
  • Friday 2nd March Fradley junction to Chichester through the snow in Oxford, a very slow but traffic free journey 178 miles
  • Saturday 3rd March Chichester to London and ending up tiling sons bathroom to midnight !! 101 miles
  • Sunday 4th March leave London at 6pm to Derby to drop Rachel off so she can stay with her ailing mum then me on to our Staffordshire moorland cottage - 180 miles 
  • Monday Back to Derby from the cottage to see my mum and my other son  then back to Chichester  - 224 miles
So the total for the week was ....903 miles ! 

My two other big days were New Years day when I drove from Staffs to Chichester and back to pick up the cat as we were needed to look after Rachels mum when we thought we would be south  - 440 miles in a day.

Then one trip out from London to pick up Rachel in Derby check on the cottage and back to Chichester - 405 miles

In my distant future, if I have one, I will look back on these journeys  and marvel at my commitment  !! 

They told me retirement could be boring!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Ice v's boat - and the winner ?

Us Brits do like to talk weather don't we? Being a Brit Boater the weather is always on your mind, wind rain snow ice.... but it is the last one that does have the biggest impact. When we brought Percy home in November 2012 we were thwarted by ice (in early November), until the coal boat came and saved our day. Here is that post 

This morning I clocked someone prepping Hunts lock. They were on their way to Shobnall in Burton for a blacking booking. I have lots of sympathy as come 1st March you would not have factored in 2 inch ice and -6c temps.

Here is what it sounds and looks like from a 21c boat  - excuse the split video, you will hear my priorities !! First the scene as I let Leia out for her wee

Intrepid boaters working the lock 

Now the view from my cocoon 

Needless to say the ice won. The intrepid boaters have taken a temp mooring across the cut to see if the ice gives up a little during the next few hours. It really was a one way contest with the ice being well over an inch thick, you would need a decent engine and a heavy boat - like a coal boat to smash through that.