Sunday, 3 November 2013

Off with her head!

We finally managed to coax the Bowman heat exchanger away from the cylinder head and then remove the head. Our neighbour Bob off NB Puffin was kind enough to help us.
The inspection hatch, that I cut out while Freyja was in drydock, proved invaluable. Bob looked spookily ready for Halloween!

Just over twelve hours later I'd taken the head to Wales and Brian North had pressure tested the valves, checked the stem seals and re-faced the head (which was on the concave side!)

We've added an immersion heater ;o)

We decided to fit an immersion heater so that we could have hot water quickly, even when the engine was drained (it takes ages to heat the water using only the Jøtul's back boiler)
Tim, the hero that saved The Cock in Denford from closing, is also a plumber and he agreed to fit it for us, it's only a 1Kw version, so we'll be able to use it with our generator if, for any reason, we can't run our engine.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Glenda has been very busy

Glenda has started to experiment with the bedding, curtains and drapes, as we are trying to find suitable pashminas that suit the lovely bedding that Glenda found in a sale ;o) 
We have a lovely and seemingly rare Jøtul 404 dual fuel range, but we've struggled to get the best out of it because it's Norwegian and all the controls were foreign to us!
After a few online searches we found a PDF version of the instruction manual here 

Our lovely Jøtul 404 has had it's legs shortened at some time.
Once we knew how to use it to it's best advantage there was no stopping Glenda. She was like a contestant for the Great British Bake-off!
We had lovely bread, pies and cake, Yum!

Monday, 28 October 2013

There's a Railroad running through the middle of our Marina!

We returned to boats on Saturday, as we both have some time off. 
There have been a few changes around here in the last few weeks. there is now a slipway complete with railway track and bogey.

The slipway with it's rail tracks laid and the bogey, which will be cable-winched to haul narrowboats and widebeams out.

The slipway, railway, bogey and Clive's dredger (looking towards the new cruiser moorings)

Looking from the cruiser moorings side.
 The cruiser and maintenance moorings have been almost completed.

There was a shortage of narrowboat moorings so Clive has added some shorter cruiser moorings to free up more of the 60 foot pontoons that are occupied by shorter cruisers etc.
Clive will also be moving his floating drydock from WillyWatts Marina (behind the Mill tearooms) around to a spot near the cruiser moorings and it will be under cover.
A lot of boats have moved pontoons and a fair few new boats and faces have arrived, the marina is getting fairly full now, as many people have moved from river moorings to our floating pontoons after all the flooding last Winter.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Birmingham Floating Market

This weekend I drove the Welsh band 'Kids in Glass Houses' to The Asylum venue in Snow Hill, Birmingham. Glenda drove her son Nick up to Harper Adams college, north of Birmingham.
This worked out great, as it coincided with the first floating market on the canals around the International Conference Centre, near Gas Street Basin. 
We wandered around the trade boats and met up with John Sloan who had organised it, then went for a pint and a gongoozle at the Canalside Cafe.
Later we took a ride in Victoria, one of the trip boats that run from Gas Street Basin

We came across a group of lunatic 'pirates' on surfboards!
These 'pirates' were paddling surfboards for charity

The girl on the left about to fall in, damn! wish I'd been videoing it. ;o)
In the evening we went The Prince of Wales pub where we met with fellow members of the fledgling Association of Continuous Cruisers and where I was able to put faces to people I talk to frequently on Canal World Discussion Forum

Friday, 6 September 2013

Hired a scabbler

After struggling to scrape the top layers of paint off Freyja, then attack what was left with a wire wheel mounted on an angle-grinder (with not the greatest of results) we decided to hire a scabbler.
This video does demonstrate how noisy it was, so turn the sound down a bit before you press play! (video by Jac)

We had picked the scabbler up from Brandon Hire in Northampton on Tuesday, but wasted a lot of time trying to fit the dust hood, due to a previously damaged thread. So I only got to use it for a half an hour (not supposed to do noisy work after 17.00 hrs) 
We then turned Freyja around so that we could scabble the other side.

My son Jac cleaning off the paint flakes after I'd done the front of the cabin roof the hard way!

On Wednesday I drove everyone crazy with the very noisy scabbler (glad we bought some ear defenders)
I was close to finishing scabbling off all the old paint when Glenda told me that they were forecasting rain for Thursday.
On Thursday I finished the roof and then attacked the side, above the rubbing strake, the stern and tunnel band.
We had treated the roof with Fertan, which had been left to work for 24 hours, this was washed off, suger-soaped and washed again, it was then a mad panic to get a coat of red oxide of the roof before the impending rain arrived, it was dark when I finished painting.

The roof after scabbling ;o)

The first coat of red oxide going on.

After two coats of red oxide, looking good and reasonably weatherproof.

At the same time Glenda & Jac were scraping all of the loose paint off Christina's wooden cabin.

Glenda scraping and rubbing down the loose paint on Christina so we could get some primer on her before Winter

After priming we changed which side of the moorings they are on so that we can get to the other side.
So, was it worth getting the scabbler?

We started out using two tungsten scrapers at £9.50 each =£18.00
6 x spare blades are £7.50                                                  =£45.00
2 x Bosch knotted wire cups at £27.50                              =£55.00
1 x knotted wire wheel at £12.00                                       =£12.00
1 x Bosch knotted wire wheel at £27.50                             =£27.50
Total                                                                                   =£112.50
And days with lot of sweat, aches, pains & blisters to do just a fraction of the total stripping!

Then hire a scabbler at £25.00 a day                                  =£25.00
1 pair of ear defenders @ £6.22                                        =£6.22 
Total                                                                                   =£31.22
To do the other 75% of the boat in one day!
              The results my dear Watson, are conclusive!               

Friday, 30 August 2013

On the move again, at last ;o)

We drove from Wales last night, and it took ages, with just about every road closed and diversions everywhere. Grrrr! We arrived at the marina just before midnight, and as we didn't know where Clive had moored Freyja, we slept on Christina.
This morning, we found Freyja, moored just outside the drydock :-

The floating drydock, ready for the next customer, with Freyja moored just outside. I took the photo from the garden of The Mill Tearooms
We found that the new rubber endcaps had not arrived, so I re-fitted the old, cracked ones and primed the raw water system, then cleaned out the calorifier, she started easily and, after a slow reverse down between the moored boats that can be seen in the photo, we steered her back to Blackthorn Lake.
We survived our first guillotine lock and, once in the marina, as usual, my crap reversing skills provided entertainment for our neighbours. With a little help, we got her moored and were very happy to have our boats re-united ;o) 
I had to flush the calorifier before we could get any hot water, but after flushing and priming the system, there was more than enough to give Glenda and I a nice shower, and one that didn't get pumped into our cabin bilge! (we've fitted a Whale gulper that pumps it straight out)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Never ask Clive to photograph your wedding!

As we had to come back to work before our new rudder was completed, I asked marina owner Clive to take some pics before Freyja went back in the water. They were taken on his i-phone, reminds me why I got rid of my i-phone in favour of a Samsung Galaxy Nexus LOL!

Apologies for the lousy quality of these photos of our new larger rudder, which features an angle-iron safety step / strengthener on the top.
Freyja is back in the water today, hopefully the new end caps for the gearbox oil cooler should arrive soon, then Clive can steer her back around to her mooring ;o)

Monday, 19 August 2013

We had to come home, leaving poor Freyja in drydock ;o(

We battled to do as much as we could on Sunday, I got up about 07.00 and set about connecting the Whale Gulper to a nearby sink drain, (a nice quiet job which wouldn't disturb the holiday let people) so now, we should be able to have a shower, without flooding the cabin bilge ;o)
I then started to re-connect the raw water, this was when I discovered that both the gearbox oil-cooler end caps were cracked, then discovered that you can't buy replacements on Sundays. Even in Oundle!
So off I went again, attacking the sides with a borrowed angle grinder and a wire wheel, Glenda recommended that I get the bows done as they would be more difficult to reach once she's back in the water.

There were all the colours of the rainbow under the layer of blacking, we decided to take it all back to the metal, Glenda spent 2 days labouriously scraping the bitumin off (as power tools heat it up, melting and smearing it) I finished the job I was doing and started to scrape using a second tungsten scraper, I realised that if I put pressure on the back of the scraper and dragged it backwards, it would take off an eighteen inch strip at a time! Glenda was a bit pissed off that I hadn't shown her this technique 2 days ago! So a few hours later we went from less than two metres of boat scraped to all thirty metres done and dusted.
Unfortunately, there was a side effect, the scraper screeched, like fingernails on a blackboard, amplified through a P.A system!
I was not a popular person that day!

We will repaint with matt black between the rubbing strake and up to the gunnels, on the gunnels will be red paint mixed with petshop grit for extra grip.                                 

The wire wheel went all 'Kojak' on me! Determining when I should finally pack it in! (much to the relief of the holiday cottage hirers!)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Making progress, but running out of time ;o(

The parts finally arrived, but needed modifying, but we now have a new cutlass bearing / stern-gland, propshaft, steering stem with sealed bearing.

The new cutlass bearing, stern-gland and propshaft in our newly cleaned and re-painted bilge

We made new deck boards out of marine ply because the standard ones were delaminating.
I will be cleaning, rustproofing and painting the rest of the bilge and engine hole, when I get a chance.

The brass plate on the raw-water pump was badly scored so I turned it inside out, so that it will, hopefully, make a better seal against the impeller.I found it much easier to remove the raw-water pump through my new inspection hatch.

The new steering stem, which will need to be shortened, the  new bearing holder has been tacked in place.
The rudder was too far gone so a new one is being welded on, a bit at a time.

The new larger rudder, under construction, it still needs the bit with the hole in it welded on top and there will be two pieces of angle iron welded along the top to form an emergency step.
We have also stripped a lot of the  paint and rust off the sides (above the rubbing strake) this will be painted matt black, making any scratches easy to touch up. But we ran out of Fertan and though we ordered another 5 litres, it hasn't arrived yet.
We'll have to leave Freyja in dry dock tomorrow, as Glenda and I both have to go back to work ;o(

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

More tales from the drydock

We're making very slow progress so far because all the parts have not shown up yet. Hopefully, tomorrow the new rudder shaft and it's bearings, stern tube, cutlass bearing etc. will arrive and the bent rudder will be cut off the old shaft so it can be straightened and welded back onto the new shaft.
We've done a test section of about one foot of gunnel with red oxide, then matt black, then petshop grit (harmful stuff removed) then another coat of matt black. It looks like that is what we will be doing on the rest of the gunnels.
I cut out my engine inspection hatch and we'll weld some studs around it so we can bolt a cover on (with it's rubber gasket) 

I can finally get at the front of my engine, allowing me to take the rubber cover off the heat exchanger matrix and access to the raw water pump, so I rodded the holes through the heat exchanger and gearbox cooler matrixs.
Replaced a lot of the hoses & clips and improved the flow of raw water by using copper tubing with obtuse bends in place of the rubber hose with 90 degree bends.
Also removed the Jabsco raw water pump, cleaned it, and turned the inspection cover inside out, as the inside of it was quite badly worn. Then replaced it and moved the belt to the right pulley.
I de-greased, cleaned, scraped and red oxide painted the stern section of the bilge, followed by a few coats of grey garage floor paint.

It's amazing what you find in the weedhatch of a narrowboat! I climbed up inside so that I could reach the stern bilge section to clean, scrape and paint it

Glenda finished off the blacking, all that's left is the rudder which we'll do after it's straightened and the weed hatch, which needs de-rusting, and treating with Fertan before we re-black it.
I'll also use Fertan in the rudder tube, then coat the inside and the rudder shaft with Waxoil.

Monday, 12 August 2013

We are making slow but sure progress

Once in drydock we enlisted the help of my old friend Sinc and set about stripping the flaky and rusty bits of the hull so that Glenda could treat it all with Fertan rust convertor.
Clive and Nene Marine's Mark set to stripping and removing the bits we wanted to repair or replace.
Sinc takes a break to catch and release a small fish from the caisson

Glenda applying Fertan, which is a great rust convertor

We also fitted a new Whale Gulper waste pump to the shower.
And I've stripped and started to clean the whole raw water system, we're stripping the many colours of paint and sand from the gunnels so we can re-paint and re-sand.

Woo Hoo! We got to move our motor (boat) again!

On our eventful trip from Cheshire to Northamptonshire we had an incident where a 'helpful' boater opened the lock paddles as I went to climb up the lock ladder, the boat shot backwards and crashed into the lock gates , bending the rudder.

So we claimed on our insurance and they agreed to pay for dry-docking and straightening the rudder.
Yesterday evening we breasted up to Clive the marina owner's boat and, once through the lock, we started our engine and moved to the dry-dock under our own steam (we have had a problem with our raw water cooling which is causing the engine to overheat after a while) but she managed to get us into the floating dry-dock without a problem.


We have pressure-washed the hull using Clive's monstrous Lister 4 pot jetwash! Not for the faint-hearted, next we power wirebrushed the loose stuff off and treated the hullsides with Fertan rust converter before we re-blacked. We did black her last September, but it was our first time and we didn't spend a lot of time on preparation.

Clive's 'Beast' a Lister 4 pot powered jet wash!

A strange sensation, being 'moored' but the floating drydock is constantly moving!

Freyja tucked up in the boat hospital

While the rudder is out for repair we will fit a new sealed steering stem bearing.
We will also fit a new cutlass bearing and stern gland (on the drive shaft)
Fit a new propshaft flexi-coupling
Get the engine re-aligned ( it is out of line at the moment, causing uneven wear on the drive shaft bearings)
 Cut the top off the diesel tank and clean all of the crap, water and diesel bug out (after having paid £190 to polish 50-70 litres!!!! Grrr!)
Cut an inspection panel in front of the engine bulkhead, so that we can get better access to the engine , which is very tight to the bulkhead, making it almost impossible to work on some parts of our engine.
Either fix our raw water cooling or re-connect the engine to the skin tanks (that are not being used at the moment). We think that raw water cooling is fine for rivers but prone to getting blocked by plastic bags etc. on canals.
We will also fit our new galvanic isolator and a 'Whale Gulper 220' waste water pump to the shower.
Phew, I'm tired just writing about it all!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Giving our old G.W.R. oil lamps a polish and converting them to LED

Glenda got the Brasso out and started cleaning one of our old brass G.W.R. lamps, I advised her to soak them in cola to take the worst off (neither of us like drinking the stuff!) then she buffed them up nicely with the Brasso.

So I decided to fit a new glass bulb style LED while the bits soaked, the old 12v fitting was a bit of a bodge, so I re-wired it and drilled the top out, then filed the pins off the sides of the bulb, soldered the wires to the double contacts, this means we can paint one side of the bulb orange for mood lighting then rotate the bulb 180° to have the original brightness.

Nearly finished, just need to straighten the loose-fitting top & bottom sections. Gives a nice bright but soft light. I'll tidy up the wiring too and think I'll fit a pull-push switch with a brass knob on the bottom.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Funny goings on at our marina

Last year, while driving out of the 'Kendal Calling' festival, I had to stop to move a sled that had been dumped in the middle of the road, someone had used it to drag their gear to the exit. I thought, that could come in useful, and in all the snow, earlier this year, it did. I used it to drag bags of firewood, gas bottles etc.
A bit further down the road I had to stop to move a wheel barrow, I thought, that could come in useful. It had a wonky wheel but came in very handy during the floods earlier in the year as the only way onto the pontoons was by a narrow gangplank, so the marina's 2 wheeled trolley was useless.
Eventually the wonky wheel collapsed, I looked for a replacement in the UK but they were very expensive.
On the last tour I was in Germany and found a cheap replacement wheel, Glenda was at the boats for the weekend and I told her I'd found one :o) 
Unfortunately, she didn't tell Barry, the marina manager.
So when I went to get my barrow to fix it, I found out that Barry had burned it a few days earlier.
This is how I went from having a barrow with no wheel, to having a wheel with no barrow!
Barry then put this old wheelbarrow up 'For Sale' for £1.50 with instructions to pay the money to me.

Monday, 29 April 2013

I've had to change my workshop/lathe set-up.

This is how the fretsaw attaches to the lathe bed, so it can't be used when the lathe is built into the bench, I took the front of the bench off so that I could pull the lathe out, then I needed to alter the lower shelf and found the middle bench leg was in front of the treadle spindle, so a five minute job became an hour job, HoHum....

All I need to do now is to work out what those two pointed and threaded screws are for, there is a small clamp-on table with hole in the centre for the blade to pass through

Detail of the rear of the attachment, the black pulley and handwheel are part of my separate Singer 29k, at the time of this pic, the cast rockers were not properly seated in the top and bottom cups

Unfortunately, I haven't got around to buying any fretsaw blades yet

A stud screwed into the faceplate locates into this wooden slot, oscillating the fretsaw arm

Here is a short video showing how the face plate to fretsaw set-up works

Sunday, 28 April 2013

We haven't got any chickens yet but, suddenly, we've got eggs!

We arrived at the boats to find that Glenda's planter, that she had planted up with herbs and pansies appeared to have been dug out by a cat..............
But on closer inspection we found a duck egg!

When we got up we found 2 duck eggs, and very nice they tasted too! By the way, it was as well to eat them, as the nightly frosts were ruining them, and, normally, she'll lay more before she'll sit.
UPDATE :- Now, a few weeks later, there are few ducklings on the lake and the swan is sitting on an, obviously, dead egg. Those late frosts took a heavy toll.