Sunday, 28 December 2014

Modifying the cratch and top-plank bracket

The newly fabricated foldable steel A-frame

The A-frame folded down, the cratch board hinges have been freed off and a new (possibly glazed) cratch board will be made and new carved hardwood upstands for the hinges. the top planks will be replaced with wider and thicker green oak planks.

Nadolig LLawen a Flwyddyn Newydd DDa!

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!
We hope you all have a happy, healthy New Year and a safe year's boating ;o)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A new forepeak 'cabin'

While we were welding the new gunwales it became necessary to move the badly rotted box and cratch board on the bow of Freyja, not surprisingly, it fell to bits!

All that was left of the box that was on Freyja's bow!

The 1st panel tacked into place

The three sides welded in and braced

We have our forepeak box / cabin back ;o)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

My motorbike on our tugdeck

Bruce finished off welding the starboard gunwales and crane mount and we mounted the crane.
So, I finally brought my 1939 B.S.A. model G14 1,000cc v-twin down to the boat so that we could try the new crane in anger and also to check headroom and handlebar width in relation to the top plank and the tarpaulins.
Up she goes!
Starting to swing her around
Coping easily with my B.S.A.'s heavy forged steel girder frame
Almost there
Safely in place, but I'll be laying oak floorboards with recesses to help her stand up and to allow her to sit on the frame's underbelly. I'm also replacing the top planks with wider green oak boards which will give more clearance for those wide Indian handlebars (will still have to loosen the clamps and swing the bars downwards methinks.

My old B.S.A., minus it's engine, gets it's first introduction to it's future home. The crane coped easily with it ;o) All of the bow section wood and ply was rotten and has collapsed. We'll fabricate a new section in steel with oak panels to preserve the look. The front cratch board will be able to fold down as will the metal A-frame that we will fabricate to replace the grey one seen here, this will let us to lower the top plank when going under low bridges, tunnels and lock guillotines.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A new crane

My new crane arrived today, I intend to put two brackets, one each side, on Freyja's tugdeck, two on Christina's gunwales and one in the engine bay. We can lift my motorbike, delivery bike, generator etc. and lift the engine out if need be.

The new crane assembled in my workshop, it will lift up to 1,000lbs and cost less than £150 ;o) I bought it here :-
1st mounting plate welded into the gunwhales, bolted the crane on and tested it by lifting my heavy Long-John delivery bike onto what is left of our tugdeck

The crane coped easily with lifting and swinging the Long-John onto the tugdeck, even though it's two feet longer than the large vintage motorbike I want to lift on ;o) we'll put a bracket each side of  Freyja's tugdeck. There will also be brackets each side of Christina's bow, these will be used to lift the chicken coup in and out. Two more will be welded each side of the storeroom, midships in Christina, enabling us to load and unload the generator, my delivery bike and other heavy items. Once out on the cut I will be able to lift out other people's engines etc.

EEEEK! Now I've gone and done it!

We couldn't figure out why a false gunwale had been slapped onto the port side of the tugdeck.
The large and ugly bit of metal that sat on and overhung the forward bow. The big surprise was that it sat on the tugdeck boards, which sat on the original gunwale. It was similar the on the starboard side the deck boards sat on the original gunwale but here they had been covered by wood and flashing tape.
The original gunwales revealed under the tugdeck floorboards, which in turn were under the false metal gunwale on the port side, and under some rotten wood and flashing tape on the starboard side. A strange way of doing things!
Removed the boards, Bruce will weld angle iron with the lip facing inboard then the boards will sit on that. I will replace the rockwool with thermal boards.
The cratch collapsed, I was intending to replace it in hardwood, now I may have to do that a little sooner! HoHum!
Looks like a shipwreck! ;o( It started to disintegrate 2 years ago and has got steadily worse, I will re-instate the folding cratchboard make wider top planks, do away with the grey metal frame which does not fold or detach as the cratch is too high to pass some bridges and lock guillotines without folding.

Monday, 24 November 2014

We are finally getting proper gunwales on our bows :o)

As the boats were hacked about and converted to the working boat-like semi-trad and butty, some very strange things have been done and some things seem to have been left unfinished, like the gunwales on both boats, on Christina there was a section missing towards the cratch board on both sides, with just a piece of flat bar with a bit of aluminium bent over it, this let in a lot of water, meant that the tarpaulins couldn't be fixed properly and also meant there was less gunwales to walk on (one of the reasons that I fell in a lock!)
Where there should be gunwale there is fresh air! 
We learnt by past mistakes, covering the tarpaulins with plastic sheeting to keep the metal filings off, or they sit on the canvas until it rains, then cause rusty streaks! Grrrrr!
There was not much metal left on the bits of gunwale that were there, I decided to replace it right back to the greenhouse.
Bruce offers up a newly fabricated section
The new sections welded in and ready to grind back
Pouring rain did not stop play! Looking a bit like a refugee camp!
One side of one boat almost finished, the port side section has also been welded in.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

We've got a nice vintage brass horn

I was looking for a suitable horn with a nice brass trumpet, online I found Taff's website and a reference to an ex-New Jersey Fire Station horn that had  been restored and converted to 12v. We conducted the whole transaction through the medium of Welsh! Lynn is of Turkish origin, brought up in LLanelli and living in Dubai!
It had been painted black.

 Whatever the paint was that he used, it was virtually indestructible! It would make good blacking methinks!
Partially polished trumpet ;o)

Probably mount it in front of the pidgeon box to reduce our headroom.

The newly-formed Friends Of The River Nene (FOTRN) and another new mooring.

We headed to Woodford to help clear a new mooring that has easy access to Woodford and it's pubs and shops.
We were late leaving the marina as we'd been away from the boats for six weeks, it took ages to sort everything.
As I left the marina, Glenda popped inside to put the breakfast dishes away, when she came out a minute later we were already going under the bridge at Willy Watts, she shouted at me "Slow down!" I replied " I'm only on tickover, the river is running fast!"
The lock was fun, with water gushing over the gates, then it looked like we wouldn't get under the guillotine, Glenda went forward and removed our tiny LED fairy lights, we cleared it by a fag paper! Gulp!
I rang Brian Buckle, he said "Don't tell me, you can't come by boat because the river is flowing too fast" I said " No, actually we are approaching you fast, try to catch us on the way past!"
We passed the mooring and winded and returned upstream to breast up to Brian & Sue Buckle's NB Brass Buckle.
A panoramic pic of the new mooring with 23 FOTRN members beavering away.
A rather wobbly video showing the extent of this very useful new mooring.

There are a few lumps of rock or concrete to shift, but Brian has negotiated the use of Clive's dredger which should make this easier.
A well-earned tea break.
After a nice evening moored on the new mooring the river had dropped about four inches, here NB Brass Buckle follows us to Blackthorn Lake Marina so that they can wait until the level drops.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Taking out the pair for the first time in 2 years

My friend Shorty came to visit us, from the Netherlands, this week and has been staying on Christina, I decided that it would be a good excuse to take both boats out for the weekend.
Shorty at the helm of Freyja & Christina

Glenda raising the guillotine at Ringstead Lower lock (photo by Shorty)
The concentration! LOL!
(photo by Glenda)
Shorty steering Christina
(photo by Glenda)

We never normally get any pictures with both of us in! So it was very nice to see this picture.
(photo by Shorty)

Towing Christina to speed things up as it was fast getting dark and Glenda didn't want to moor in the dark. By the time we arrived at Denford it was very dark, Glenda was not impressed!
But after a few red wines in the Denford Cock all was well again.
(photo by Shorty)
We woke the next morning to a herd of curious cows, scratching their necks on our mooring pins.
(photo by Shorty)

Approaching the A14 bridge at Thrapston, far more satisfying to potter under it than it is to drive stressed up on this busy trunk road.
(photo by Shorty)
Video by Glenda
(Glenda came close to dropping her phone as she stopped the video)
The disused Thrapston railway bridge and the non-existent Mill Marina. (photo by Shorty)
Approaching the Nine Arch Bridge at Thrapston, on a long line, on our return they went through OK breasted up.
(photo by Shorty)
We moored and winded below Titchmarsh lock

It was a lovely day the next morning
Moored on the 48 hour moorings, that lock landing has been closed for a while now.
(photo by Glenda)
In Tichmarsh lock
(photo by Glenda)

A nice moody shot of Thrapston (closed by Beeching!) railway bridge
(photo by Glenda)
We took it very easy on our way back upstream
(photo by Glenda)
In Denford lock (photo by Glenda)

On Denford lock landing (while I checked out if the continuous moorer NB Dee was still hogging the prime mooring spot at Denford), it was! Grrr!

Moored at Denford, Glenda made bread and had cooked us a 5 bird roast on the move! What a woman! ;o)
We had a great weekend only marred by me almost losing an eye as an unattended fishing rod came along Freyja at eye level, I ducked to avoid the rod and slowed, Christina came down our starboard side and rubbed along the port side of the cruiser with the offending fishing rod.
The tirade that followed as we tried to moor and breast back up (we'd singled up to get under Islip footbridge) meant that
I was very wound up leaving Islip 48 hour moorings. It started pouring with rain and I was more than a little nervous arriving at Titchmarsh and steering, breasted up, between the lines of moored boats.
We decided that the weather was not nice enough to sit outside the Kings in Wadenhoe and decided instead to wind and moor on the 48 hour moorings at Titchmarsh, we had a great night in the very hospitable Titchmarsh Club ;o)
The weather was superb on Sunday morning and  after a nice breakfast we headed back upstream for a very nice, relaxed return journey. We even passed through Thrapston's Nine Arch Bridge and squeezed back into Blackthorn lake breasted up.