Sunday, 31 August 2014

Gnash! Yet another rust problem!

Bruce from Nene Marine came to cut out and repair a small patch on the outside of Freyja's gas locker, I scraped and hoovered loose rust from inside, ready for rust treatment and painting, this was when we found a few small holes in the base of the locker, I poked away at the bottom edge and the scraper went straight through into the wet locker (i.e. the saloon!) a safety certificate fail ;o(
A few of the pinholes that we found in the gas locker floor

Looking from the saloon, through the wet locker, after I'd cut out the inner panels and removed the polystyrene insulation, amazing that the pre-purchase surveyor didn't find such a dangerous fault.

The front and bottom of the locker have been cut out, the replacement will not be as deep, allowing more room to clean and paint the counterplate and meaning that the drain will be higher off the waterline.
Fireworks in the saloon! As seen through the rusty hole, that's big enough to chuck a baby through!

The worst bit has been cut out
Another large pile of rusty scrap appears on the stern ;o(
 I have now managed to rust-proof, undercoat and then paint the counterplate with two pack garage floor paint. Another step forward in the struggle to brighten up my bilge! I never thought something as simple as cleaning out and painting the bilge could possibly become such an uphill battle!

Monday, 18 August 2014

A weekend cruise that started badly

Our neighbours, John & Rita, on narrowboat 'Izzyinn Two' said that they were going to take their grandkids, Libby and Jake on a cruise for a few days, several other boaters said that they'd like to join them, unfortunately Freddie their little dog fell and hurt himself, which ended with him being taken to Newmarket for scans the day before the planned cruise. We thought it would be cancelled but Freddy came back all chipper and John & Rita decided to go ahead with the cruise, everyone else dropped out except for us.
We left a bit later than intended, and we went ahead of John and Rita, as we exited the marina there was a bang and the gear lever went loose, we drifted a few feet from the flow of the river.
I lifted the boards and found that the gearchange teleflex cable was disconnected, the solid tip had been bent back on itself, and a swage on the cable had split. I soon found out why, I had moved the bilge pump while painting the bilge and forgotten to put it back, it was too close to the drive shaft and the outlet pipe and electric cables had become tangled around the shaft, smacking it into the gearchange ;o(
I managed a 'bush repair' in about 15 minutes and we were on our way again ;o)
NB Izzyinn Two catching us up, with Rita at the helm
John, Rita and Freddie
Libby and Jake are lovely kids and were a pleasure to travel with
Libby spotted this beautiful dragonfly, it was tangled up in the undergrowth and seemed to be being attacked by a wasp. We rescued it and I transferred it to Libby's hand, Glenda lined up a lovely picture of the dragonfly on libby's hand with Jake in the background, but it flew of as Glenda went to take the photo. (excuse my dirty 'boater's fingers' LOL!) 
We moored at Islip the first night and enjoyed a barbeque as thunderclouds and torrential rains wafted past in the near distance, after food we added some logs, got a nice pit fire going, and invited John and Ann from narrowboat 'Cherry Tree' to join us, they were on their way back from a trip to Birmingham. As we sat there our luck ran out and the heavens opened. We braved it and sat huddled around the fire chin-wagging until nearly midnight.
Next day we bid farewell to John and Ann and headed for Wadenhoe, as we moored, the Willy Watts' day hire boat 'Rose of the Nene' arrived but quite a few small cruisers were badly moored with big gaps between them (but not big enough for even a small narrowboat), as the day boat carried on down the millstream we heard a big crack and a crash, as they brought down a large branch, we got the beers in and I was proposing to reverse down the millstream and tow them out but they eventually emerged with half a ton of vegetation on board ;o)
We left John, Rita, Freddie, Libby and Jake and started to head back towards Denford where we wanted to moor for Saturday night. Our local is the excellent 'Cock' in Denford.
On leaving Denford on Sunday morning we spotted Alan Buckle of the fuelboat Bletchley coming towards us, on his way back from a trip to the Thames, he was very quick off the mark and got this great shot of us passing him.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The girl done good ;o)

Glenda painted the gunwhales (in between downpours) adding petshop grit in sections.
Glenda painted between the masking tape using non-slip paint, then added petshop grit. She then removed the tape and painted over it all with a slightly thinned out mix of the non-slip paint.

LED fairy lights etc.

A lot of people ask us, where we go our solar-powered fairy lights?
We use a company called lights4fun , they have an amazing range of LED lights, many of them connectable and powered by small a small solar panel that will power up to 8 strings of lights.
The reason I'm writing this is that they shine in the customer service department, I once asked if they did LED festoon lights? They said that they didn't but would let me know if they started to do them, sure enough, a few months later, I got an e-mail saying that they had them in stock. Recently a solar panel stopped working, they immediately sent me a replacement, with no need to return the faulty one ;o)
We have 5 strings of white and coloured lights which come on at dusk and automatically switch off after 4 to 6 hours.

In our bedroom we have a single string of warm white LEDs on a separate panel. As the switch is on the panel we can't switch them off when we go to sleep! So we are going to move them under the tug-deck top plank. We will replace them with battery operated LED lanterns that we can switch on and off more easily. We intend to rig up a solar battery charger sometime soon.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Finally getting some paint in the bilge ;o)

Finally getting our bilge to look like it should.

I had thought that it would look like this months ago, but that was before we found the water and diesel leaks, new steel and chemical-resistant garage floor paint make a World of difference.

Badly needed re-wire

When we bought the boats, the surveyor that did the pre-purchase survey, missed a lot of very serious and dangerous faults and then rather unhelpfully stated that as he was not as gas engineer he couldn't check our gas (even though we had a bubble-tester!)
He also said that while the electrics all worked, they were very dated.
When we came to insure them, our insurance company said we wouldn't be covered in the event of a claim involving gas or electric!
We got Julian (N.B. Loddon) to re-wire Christina, which had very simple electrics. Now he has also re-wired Freyja, her wiring was a mess of red wires.
The wiring loom as it was, every wire was red! Grrrr!
The back of the instrument panel

The leisure batteries

A mixed up mess with strangely wired sockets, dodgy consumer unit

The back of the fuse panel
One of the things that was obviously dodgy on Freyja was her Heath Robinson-esque wiring.
We enlisted the help of Julian, who lives locally (Loddon on the canalworld forum) as he had done a good job on Christina's wiring.
Our new 1600w pure sine inverter fitted to replace the little 600w Rolson jobbie.
Galvanic isolator and consumer unit below the shelf
C-form 16amp inlet and outlet sockets on the tug deck bulkhead (and on the stern bulkhead) allows the pair to be connected easily whichever way they are facing and makes using power tools easier as there is always a socket nearby.

A brass double 240v socket set into the bedroom bulkhead and the 240v cables to the tugdeck tucked away in the dark trunking.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A cruise down river

It has been a long, hard struggle, lurching from one disaster to another, constantly working on the boats but not being able to go anywhere on them.
We decided that, having sorted the raw water out and with our new inverter and wiring set-up to try out, a cruise down river was in order.
We set off on Thursday afternoon, stopped briefly to buy some new chunky mooring pins from Cap'n Bill at Willy Watts chandlery.
A typical Nen guillotine lock, the lock landings are fairly short, tucked in, and with a very unforgiving wall in front of you! LOL!
 It is normal for the river water to be flowing over the gate, as the guillotine is left open to allow it to flow out.
This is Ringstead Lower lock and it has been converted to electrically powered. You need an Environment Agency 'abloy' key, Glenda has started wearing it on a lanyard, as it is easy to leave it behind if another boater says they'll take over the lock. Here Glenda is at the control panel. The guillotine is always left in the raised position on leaving the lock (the gates are left closed).

Thursday night at the Nine Arch Bridge moorings in Thrapston. Getting in and out can be a problem, if there are too many boats breasted up, there is no room to wind, so you have to either reverse in (preferable) or reverse out, which can be tricky as the flow will take you towards the bridge.

N.B. 'Bo The Red Box' (bothered box)

A nice spot in a dead end, one of the picnic benches has suffered from vandalism unfortunately, but there is a water point (not very many on the river)

Info on the Nine Arch Bridge and the surrounding area

A young heron visited us.
Glenda and I had a nice barbeque and then used it as a pit fire and invited the crews from N.B.s Bo The Red Box and Lady Galadriel to join us around the fire.

Our solar powered fairy lights have come on ;o) and it was a really nice chatty evening.

Glenda takes the helm, the exhaust chimney is wonky because we caught it on a branch as we negotiated the low footbridge at Islip (keep left downstream and keep right upstream)
On the way to Ashton we saw a poor little shag with a fishing hook in it's beak and with tackle hanging down on his chest.
At Wadenhoe we encountered an old ex-working boat getting into all kinds of difficulty, it was wedged under a tree with lots of people and kids on the roof. Glenda got the lock ready and opened the gate on my side, they hovered outside and asked if they could share the lock? I said yes, none of them jumped off to help, "Can we go in first?" "LOL! bugger off! You need to open the gate on your side first"
There are nice unofficial moorings in the dead-end bye-wash near Ashton, there is room to wind a 58 foot boat (longer possibly if you pick your spot)

A nice quiet place to moor with a bridge and footpath into Oundle or a 10-15 minute walk to the Chequered Skipper thatched pub in Ashton (where the World Conker Championship is held)

There's room for about 10 boats (more if you are prepared to breast up) A scythe or strimmer could be handy, as there are a lot of nettles on the bank.

A lovely wooden cruiser built locally in Peterborough in 1947
Just managed to squeeze in between the converted butty 'Dee' and the bridge (the stern was sticking out a little but there was plenty of room for others to pass)

 It had been converted by adding an outboard in place of the elum

Narrowboat 'Dee' was quite a ramshackle boat, with piles of all manner of strange things covering her, including ferrets in cages on the roof.

Glenda looking happy though the sidehatch

The mooring at Denford is handy for our local 'The Cock'
We left Denford after breakfast and a visit from Chris from the village. There was a faster flow after the thunderstorms the day before. Freyja got a little hot and blew water out of the overflow, so I've decided to fit a small header tank.
Unknown to us, the diesel return pipe snapped and for the last few miles we were pumping diesel into the bilge, found it next morning when Julian came to do the re-wire.
Managed to find one olive small enough to fit the copper pipe at Willy Watts Chandlery, I annealed the pipe and bent it into a nice gentle curve it seems to be working fine again ;o)