Thursday, 30 September 2021

Light boat engineering in my man shed

From my previous post about swapping the starter - the new clamps were supplied with one 8mm stud and two 6mm studs. My battery connectors are all 8mm eyelets so I wanted to put three 8mm bolts into the new clamps.

Step forward my trusty pillar drill in the cottage workshop. Job done and new bolts put in I then turned my attention to a long standing 'must do' job.

Since we added a folding collar to the exhaust chimney ( in case of bridge strikes it folds the chimney down) the large chimney is too tall so we've been using the tich chimney which is a little too low when the wind is in the wrong direction. 

So I'd cut about three inches off the top of the large chimney but not put the brass cutter back on... I tried it out but the first bridge we went under the force of the direct updards of the exhaust brought down all sorts of rubbish and spiders onto the roof - a real no no! 

So I moved the brass decorative strap down and re pot riveted the cutter back on - spot the mistake, yes the shoulders of the cutter should be on the inside of the chimney. All sorted now.

When Percy is in the dock I'll give the tall chimney a couple of coats of black to tidy it up. Hopefully less diesel smoke in our faces in the future.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Starting to fail - again

Last year when we were out and about between lockdowns ( Four counties and Llangollen) the starter battery on Percy started to fail .... the CS2 is a large three litre two cylinder lump to spin up so I replaced the starter with a (what I thought) decent CCA  - cold cranking amps which is the marker for starter performance battery. it evidently was not up to the job as this year already the battery is struggling. Not a problem as with my Smartbank I can join up the leisure bank with the starter with the push of a button and the relay  - a large relay thankfully, engages and the full power of the battery bank spins up Percy, however not good practice to a) rely on and b) for the good of the leisure AGM's.

So I have brought another starter - this time spending more and getting the best CCA I can, this one is a 930 CCA jobbie.

This was fitted at the conveniently close Great Haywood marina the other day by yours truly. However the new starter didn't have the same double fitments on the battery posts, so I used the clamps I had in my 'electrical store' However there were so many connections to the positive I could only get a few thread turns on and I wasn't happy with the reinstall. 

So some googling got me to my 'go to' solution provider  - Amazon and these were ordered 

So today Sunday the 26th I got onto my 90 mpg transport  as I type this there is a national sperm donor shortage as all the wank£rs are topping up their petrol tanks when not needed thus creating a shortage FFS!!!!!!

Anyhow I revisited Percy and did the terminal swaps again.

I had some momentary doubts about the capability of the new fittings current draw wise but am assured they will take the 200 odd amps the starter will draw on startup.

Of course here is the gratuitous shot of my trusty Royal Enfield trampsty at the marina.

Friday, 24 September 2021

All ready for some hard work

For info the hull insurance survey is green to go now I have the contract documents to sign and pay a hefty £780 quid for the work ( I have asked the surveyor to travel some distance) I guess I could /should have shopped it around but I wanted the same surveyor who did the purchase survey as his comments on the hull then were favourable.

I've got rollers and brushes as well as a decent scraper from Amazon and a full bottle of Fertan ( rust convertor) 

Plan is:

Be in the dock on Thursday 7th October drained and jet washed by 11am so the surveyor can do his job.  Then as the boat dries I'll scrape any hard loose stuff off the jet washer has missed then Fertan the rusty bits.

Friday first coat of blacking (unless work is needed on the hull but that'll be subject to staff availability)

Saturday let the blacking cure fully may polish the upper sides roof etc

Sunday second coat of blacking prep tunnel bands

Monday let the blacking further cure and hopefully do the tunnel bands plus and other little bits and bobs 

Tuesday 9am we are back out and subject to other personal stuff may well start the return trip. I'd like to go up through the tunnel back to our Shroppie mooring but may well be single handing and that way will take longer so in all probability I'll got clockwise back to the mooring.

But before that more power added to the boat..... 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Feeling empowered

Ok, so the Sun won't be asking me to write their front pages any time soon. The following will render  that last sentence understandable.

Some many months ago I was approached by my good boaty neighbour and friend Mandy as she had an issue with her generator. Turns out the choke lever had snapped off making a relatively new generator unusable. 

Problem was it had snapped off close to the top of the carb making repairs difficult ( any glue could easily glue the choke solid) and there was little to attach anything to mechanically. In the end sadly she had to buy a replacement. She said she was going to drop it by the bins at Norbury in case anyone wanted it for spares. As my grandad was a bin man and my great grandad something similar I naturally asked if I could have it to see if I could fix it as a 2kw genny at the cottage would be useful - we do get power cuts.

Anyhow it languished in the workshop up until yesterday when I was servicing the Honda genny we use on the boat ( I had removed it as petrol genny's and boat safety inspections should be kept well apart,) and it needed its annual oil change and filter clean. When that was done I turned my attention to the new but broken 2kw Screwfix generator.

I was able to remove the carb quite easily that enabled me to have a good look at the 'fix' challenge. Basically it appears the manufacturer fixes the choke in the carb on the shaft after inserting the shaft - meaning I cannot just replace the shaft. So I pondered the challenge and came up with something Mr Heath and Mr Robinson would have been quite proud of.... be aware there are a few mentions of the word 'shaft', yep I do indeed have that level of schoolboy humour.

Basically I took the multitool sander to the top of the broken shaft and leveled it ready for the drill.

Then I carefully drilled a 3mm hold down the centre of the choke operating shaft.

I then carefully selected a perfectly sized small bolt with a couple of nuts that would fit into the hole in the shaft.

Then I pondered for a lot longer - I needed some form of lever to connect to the bolt in the shaft.... 10 minutes later I raided the picture hanging box ( yes I do actually have such a thing) and fabricated a lever out of a brass picture hanging hook.

I then judiciously applied some Gorilla glue to the wet bolt ( you have to wet one surface to make the glue start foaming)  and inserted and waited for the  reaction and kept the glue from sealing the choke on or off.

I left it a few hours, put the carb and all the bits back together and on the third pull she fired into life  - how pleased was I not only gaining a decent cottage generator but more importantly stopping something from going to landfill.

I have agreed a liquid price for the old generator for Mandy we are both happy with (she wanted nothing for it ) 

But a picture is worth a thousand words or the 540 I have typed above.

Little and large

Works a treat ....

So onwards and upwards.... I have fixed the washing machine twice now and the fridge once  ( at home) so feeling so virtuous I'm off out to buy another motorbike !! ( Joke)  

Monday, 20 September 2021

Four more years and a not needed electrical item installed

So today ( Saturday 18th Sept) I was back on Percy at Great Haywood marina for the four yearly boat safety exam. I asked the same person who did it for me at Fradley October 2017 to undertake the work  - just after I had retired, an unrelated point other than to note I left a gap between my old certificate expiring November 2016 to October 2017 naughty ! 

Percy passed with a compliment on my electrical installation which was nice. Same advisory on low level ventilation. Percy is thirty now so not an issue I worry about.

After the examiner (and his partner) had departed I made the £170 payment ...!! Then I set to on an unnecessary  electrical install that I may never use but will be an bonus to who ever owns Percy down the line. I put in a galvanic isolator, as we don't 'hook up' or moor in a marina ( very often) it's fairly redundant unless things change mooring wise.

So that's one thing less on the to do list for Percy. Plenty more but I'll be a lot more relaxed when I get confirmation from the hull surveyor and then a positive from his insurance survey. It's nice owning an older boat but they do come with responsibilities.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Quality maneuver by Rachel

Yesterday I said I went to sleep pondering the approach to getting in the marina when we were past it facing the wrong way.

Three options...
  1. Go to the junction and wind with an audience 
  2. Reverse straight in onto C15 ( almost but not quite opposite the entrance)
  3. Reverse back past the entrance then go in forward then reverse onto C15 ( so as and when I take the boat back out its easier )
In the end after me saying I didn't want the winding audience Rachel hogged the tiller and I used our bow thruster ( me and a boat pole) to reverse past the entrance then go in forward then as above reverse onto C15. All done with skill and teamwork with no audience.

We coffee'd up then took a walk to the office to pay our dues and then get some lunch at the cafe.

Back aboard we read and relaxed a bit then started the unloading of the boat with Rachel heading off with the animals while I took three rather smelly cassettes to the elsan then cleaned the fridge and vacuumed  through before following in my car.

So Rachel's holiday is over and for the time being Percy is lording it up with the boats in the marina. Finally got the boat safety agreed for Saturday so no doubt a blog on that later. Still no formal response from the boat surveyor... I'll give him the weekend then call again on Monday.

The reversing challenge 

Quality helmspersonship 

Three cassettes to empty and Rachel's flowers found a final resting place within the Himalayan Balsam that is prevalent in the marina 

Final view over the marina. 

Thursday, 16 September 2021

It's a shame about blogging and British engineering at its best

Maybe I'm a bit of an anorak when it comes to the old art of blogging  - especially now as there are so few active blogs. Someone recently said there were over 100 Youtube canal vloggers now.... some making a living from it, others maybe not so ! I recently deleted a few I used to follow as they have become quite boring ( as this blog is but its my activity diary after all) 

Anyhow I saw/passed a couple of bloggers today. Just after we undid the armco clips up from Aston Lock I noticed Geoff on NB Seyella, I hailed him as we past but based on his reaction he didn't recognise me or NB Percy. 

I'd forgotten how beautiful this section of the T&M is as it winds its way through the Trent Valley. It always helps when the sun is out and lowish in the sky in its pre autumnal position. 

A fair few geese outside Weston 

We were due in Great Haywood marina on Thursday so wanted to be closer than Stone for the last days hop into the marina. I noted a few likely mooring spots after Weston but they were occupied so we ended up where we were Saturday, just to the south of the marina entrance. No bad thing. I do need to remember that really until above or below Sandon locks and then Burston there are few decent moorings before Stone. 

Blogger number 2 appeared with what we came to hear a lot while moored outside the marina entrance the tell tale whirr or wine of a bow thruster.... some used them a lot others the odd spin up. Out came What a Lark  I think Lisa was a little interested  as to who was taking photos ! 

We then made a snap decision to get the British engineering out of the forecabin and cycle to Cannock Chase. I had the non electric model and tested out my twisted knee ( another sign of old age...) We had a lovely ride out and back by the Shugborough estate stopping off at Essex bridge for a rest, drink and a fig biscuit (Rock'n roll)  and photographs.

All in all a good day ended fishing into the darkness catching some quality Roach and Bream. 

Now about how to get into the marina in the morning ..... reverse back and reverse in or go in forwards. I went to sleep pondering that mini challenge.


Tuesday, 14 September 2021

The weather person told a fib and “just why”

We resolved to stay put today as the weather people had issued a severe weather warning of heavy rain for Staffordshire all day…. It rained until about 9.30 then nothing thankfully. We took a walk into Stone so Rachel could have a swim and I visited the boat yard to confirm the blacking booking and had a pint in the new Joules Wharf pub - very nice place and an asset to Stone for sure.

Some time ago this parcel of land was for sale …. I briefly considered it for a mooring for Percy but it’s location to the road, a footpath through it and no doubts C&RT reluctance to use a mooring permit we’re enough to to put me off. Someone has taken the risk ….. however the boat was gone today and some locals were discussing it as we walked through the woods on our way back from Stone, the mooring is in no way an obstruction but in my experience one boat becomes 4 very quickly…..

The just why is my frustration at getting people to speak to me let alone do the work for the insurance survey and the BSC …. I am feeling ever more that I am begging for them to do the work…. Even before a price has been agreed. I’m sick of it and will have to try elsewhere if my loyalty the those I have used before is not recognised with the courtesy of a reply…. I’ve booked and had all the stuff needed doing to the cottage quickly and efficiently. Add boat to a conversation as it’s like I’m looking for fairies at the end of the garden.

Monday, 13 September 2021

Bless them and a knob head

Yesterday we had a plan that ended up at C level. We had invited my Brother and sister in law with their son to the boat for a meal ( pub) and a cruise. 

Plan A was to move from Great Hayward to Ingestre moorings and walk up to meet them at Weston …. Moorings full at Ingestre 

Plan B was to moor in Weston and take them to Sandon …. Katie’s we think got motion sickness on the boat ! 

So plan C was we moored at Weston, had a lovely meal in the Woolpack then got as far as Salt, moored up, Brother in law got on my Brompton cycled back to his car while we motored on to Sandon where they departed. It was a nice day and nice to show someone from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 the peculiarities of the English canal system. 

On the leg from Weston to Salt we got caught up by another boat ( Mike my brother in law was in control and going a full turn slower than normal while he got used to the boat) I asked Mike to pull over on a straight to let them past and they followed us to the side…. I waved him through but he seemed confused, a lady on the front then shouted they would prefer to go slow as they only got the boat yesterday …

When we pulled in just after the fancy bridge at Salt to allow Mike to get his car bless them they followed saying later they thought we were mooring for the lock about a mile away ! Such lovely etiquette and focus on getting  all right, sadly I didn’t get the boat name but best of luck with your ownership and journey.

We stayed below Sandon lock and woke to rain and wind and only got going with half a plan to moor below Star lock at Stone. 

The moorings below the first Stone lock were full. So we tried to wind and reverse to water up. First problem the boat in front  had moored on the water point oblivious to the fact it was a 1 hour water point mooring. I hopped off and helped them basically take the last mooring we could have used ! Then a knob head has moored in the no mooring for winding area meaning I had to pole the front of the boat around to get us in to wind - tw@t. Here it is the boat 

I’ve got a twisted  knee that was made worse but having to climb and jump over Percy to get us around. Why are some people so stupid or ignorant? 

Rant over we also met a load of nice people and ended the day just up from Aston Marina on the way to our berth in Great Haywood on Thursday. Tomorrow had rain warnings so we may walk into  Stone for a swim (at the leisure centre not the canal) and stay put for a day before bimbling back. 

Why do people stand next to their boats holding them like pets even when they are tied up ? 

Sunday, 12 September 2021

RN fan boys and girls

Friday we moved from our mooring on the visitors above Gailey lock with a 7.30 start only to be passed as I was  getting ready to untie by a Gailey hire boat and then another boat popped off the lower visitor moorings into the lock…. The hire boat was returning to  Gailey but didn’t indicate this until I hung back for them to edge onto the lock landing …. Then more returning hire boats below the lock. A busy day for the turn around crew. 

We moored above Deptmore lock just as the heavy cloud let go …. I tried fishing but leaving my landing net at Shebdon and the frequent heavy showers halted that quickly. 

Yesterday we upped and offed later again holding for a private  boat as I was prepping for departure. As I approached the lock said boat was well off the lock landing tied up so I prepared to go around,  then there was loads of action as the untied and pulled onto the lock landing ….

Below the lock was a long line of RN equipped boats…. I saw Richard ‘The unofficial RN  engineer’ who confirmed it was a RN rally …. Nice to see so many different boats. It would be a great sound when they all departed.

Ended up moored just opposite the entrance (not literally) of Great Haywood Marina which enabled us to go and collect our other car as we will be dumping Percy in the Marina on Thursday for a couple of weeks. 

Today we have visitors so need to be close to Weston for the obligatory entertainment cruise then  it’s three days of mooching as Bruce Napier used to say between Great Haywood and Stone. 

Last time we came this way our first  boat Comet was moored in the exact same place….I guess we are the idiots for paying CART for an online mooring ! 

Leia is on her last legs sadly, she is doddery t9 the point Rachel brought her a lifejacket that seems to make her even more unstable ….so she was relegated to the top of the boat which she semi enjoyed. Hard watching them demise …. She used to love being on the boat now I anthropomorphise her unease and lack of enjoyment. 

Friday, 10 September 2021

The insurance cruise

So I’m back …. Lots of catching up with retrospective posts to come that are really for my memory down the line …. But for now The insurance cruise.

Percy is 30 years old and whilst the current insurers haven’t yet asked I know they will before the next renewal. So we are booked in at Stone boat yard for diy blacking and ( hopefully if the surveyor gets back to me) a hull survey. I also need a boat safety and again waiting for a surveyor to ‘get back to me’ 

To be honest I’m frustrated with the whole canal and boating thing at the moment. The canals are overgrown as CART have reduced / removed the veg pledge …. The Caldon is almost grown over now and just today so many broken paddles and really badly leaking gates. I would not be spending in excess of £100,000 to drag that investment or spend around these ditches right now. 

I may well get Percy valued when we moor up for a holding period at Great Haywood. Lots of things are impacting what I consider enjoyable cruising now….. 

Anyhow we set off Tuesday evening to get to Great Haywood a week on Thursday so no great pressure other than a lunch appointment on Sunday around Weston Upon Trent. Tuesday night at Norbury, Wednesday at Stretton Thursday at Gailey and Tonight above Deptmoor Lock. 

We will edge around weeping cross and Redford bank tomorrow and may stop at Great Haywood to go collect the other car. (one car has been left at Great Haywood Marina) then stop at Ingestre (sp) on Saturday. 

We are due in at Great Haywood for a couple of weeks then off to Stone for the above works.