Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Quacktivity update :- Our Mallard has flown her nest.

A few ducklings had hatched and she was sitting on them
She's all puffed up, protecting her babies.
 Some of her ducklings have jumped out of the trug and onto the gunwales.

 One of her ducklings is now in the water and already being threatened by a coot.

Sabb engine update

Paul and Tony Redshaw have started preparing our Sabb. A nice new brass air-filter housing has replaced the naff black plastic tub that was fitted. They have also replaced some of the flexi-piping with solid copper.

We've now got a new, larger diameter double pulley on the flywheel and a new 105 amp alternator. The plastic breather pipes will also be replaced by copper piping.

Greenhouse is blooming lovely.

Glenda loves growing edibles and things are coming on nicely.

A good crop

Glenda moved some plants onto our pontoon and into boxes on the handrails.
More yummy strawberries

Friday, 10 June 2016

My Rock & Roll sleeper bus at our marina.

A different view than I'm used to from my driver's seat.

I brought my tourbus straight from the We Are Festival in Essex to our marina so that I could get it ready for Download Festival in Donington Park.
The downstairs lounge

Widescreen TV, kitchen, fridges and loo.
The upstairs lounge.

Second widescreen TV, fridge, tour manager's desk from the lounge.

14 bunks in the sleeping area, my bunk is behind the driver's seat.

A little trip downstream

The geese nursery were not impressed by our approach, not much traffic on the river.

Moored near Oundle Wharf and visiting The Nene Valley Brewing's Tap and Kitchen.

These are unofficial moorings, we intended to stay overnight, but we had been warned that work was finishing on Ashton wier and that the level would be rising about fourteen inches. Glenda didn't fancy getting up in the night to slacken the ropes, and anyway, the A605 Peterborough road crosses one of the two nearby bridges and is busy with trucks all night, so a tad noisy. We went for a beer or two and returned to find that the level had DROPPED about twelve inches and we were aground and listing! We managed to get her off and returned above Ashton lock and moored at Oundle Cruising Club, where we passed a pleasant evening of beer and banter.

For a while now this lake (just upstream from Barnwell) has been the scene of much activity, but no-one seemed to know what it was going to be, now, what looks like pontoon anchors have been installed along the one bank.

And they have cut through to make an entrance, presently blocked with a boom. New marina, hirebase, sports lake? Answers on a postcard.....

Now there's something you won't see every day, Glenda on steering duty! Next thing you know, she'll be getting her purse out at the pub!

Trying to compost myself?

No, I'm not on my way to a fancy dress as a Homepride Flour -Grader. I decided to cover myself in sawdust in a futile attempt to compost myself! Glenda reckons I smell half rotten sometimes! Cheeky minx!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A new (old) engine for nb Freyja

 While out on our trip to the Middle Levels, we met Paul, who I'd spoken to on the Canalworld forum. He said that he had bought an ex-lifeboat Sabb 2JHR 30hp 2 cylinder and said that it would make an ideal replacement for our BMC 1.8. I got in touch with Sean at Marine Enterprises in Dorset, they advertise them at £1395. He said there was a six week wait, then he said it would cost more (£1800-£2000) after six weeks he said it would be five weeks, after five weeks it would be four weeks etc. etc. then Paul kindly sent me a link for a Sabb 2JGR on ebay, priced at £800 to start, I sniped it at £1075.75, and it stayed on £800 until, with 24 hours to go it jumped steadily to £975, that was too close for comfort so I sniped it at £1775.75 (the maximum that I felt willing to pay for an engine that was unseen and untried). I was back in welsh Wales for a funeral and then seeing my family, as the minutes ticked away Jac, my youngest son, said leave your phone alone Dad! Then my mate started phoning to remind me. I switched it back on and counted down the seconds, it finished at £1220, but I received no notification that I'd won! Oh no, should I have tcked that small box? Just then I got an e-mail to say I'd won it. YeeHah!

Our newly acquired Sabb 2JGR, a nice bit of grunt! It has some nice features, like the ability to hand start it, decompressors on both cylinders, oil cups on each cylinder that allow the addition of a small amount of oil to aid cold starting. The flywheel is heavy because it's deep but not too large in diameter meaning that it will fit between the engine bearers. The torque that this engine puts out should make it a lot more capable of pulling two boats upstream against a strong wind.

We had to drive down to Margate to pick it up, the seller had grave doubts about putting it in the back of our Renault Espace. He had bought two of these engines, one 22hp and this 30hp, he took the heavy duty Sabb gearbox off the 22hp and used the shaft out of the 30hp's Hurst reversing box as it is compatible with a PRM gearbox, he'll put the Sabb 2G/PRM in his new narrowboat tug that he's fitting out.

It was too tall to leave on it's pallet, so we wedged it in with wood and strapped it down, the Renault almost stood up! A larger pulley will be needed to spin the new alternator. This is a proper marine engine, designed for use in Norwegian fishing boats and made to be repairable at sea. Sabb means 'tough' or 'robust' in Norwegian.

We got stuck on the M1 because of people rubber necking an accident on the other side, Grrrr! But made it to Tony Redshaw's Vintage Diesels before they left for the day, they are now fettling it, fitting a bigger alternator pulley, making a new air filter housing, replace the flexi and reinforced pipes with solid copper and sorting out a mechanical gearchange, modifying the speedwheel set-up etc. Watch this space...

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Too much heat in the bedroom, none in the bathroom!

In our bedroom we have a Morso Squirrel with a back boiler, this gravity fed one radiator, right next to the bed. If it turned cold and we lit the Squirrel, within 30-40 minutes we'd be roasting. But in the bathroom there was no heating, could we move the radiator into the bathroom and would it still work OK? Here is the light patch where we removed the radiator.
So we had to remove the bulkhead, wardrobe, flue and move the Morso. It was the first time that I had worked with 28mm compression fittings.

I dropped the radiator under the side hatch and behind the captain's chest
The floor under this section was chipboard, which had got very wet at some stage. Underneath they have used chippings as ballast!
I was wary cutting it out, just as well, just missed the water pipe.

The tiles under the Morso were cracked and laid on chipboard with no support under it!

Aaron, one of neighbours is a tiler, he kindly cut one of the two porcelain tiles that the Morso will now sit on, I replaced the chipboard with marine ply and added more wooden supports  under the stove. Glenda decided that she doesn't want the wardrobe and instead we will convert an old drawer unit into a narrow Welsh dresser. I bought some vintage mahogany yacht doors from a mate in Cardiff, these will replace the banana shaped plywood ones that we have at the moment.                                      

On a mercy mission to a broken down narrowboat

Our neighbour Ted took his boat to rescue a stranded boat (he had insurance that covered him a aboat mover) The boat had been stranded on a red flag

We tried to wind nb Red & gold below this lock but there wasn't enough room, the stranded boat was above the lock. We went down past Rushden Diamonds and struggled to wind at the bywash, due to a combination of fast flow and wind.

Breasted up and on our way back to Blackthorn Lake marina

I finally sorted Christina's greenhouse out for Glenda

I fitted the last of the new hardwood windows and cleared all the rubbish out, then modified the shelves to make then removable.

A happy Glenda pottering in her greenhouse

Egg butty anyone?

Here we go again, she's back! and is now sitting on eleven eggs. But, at least she's on Christina's bow which means we can take Freyja out.

There may be trouble ahead...The ducklings are hatching.

One of her ducklings hatched, probably climbed on mummy's back and fell out, couldn't get back, was cheeping and being chased by coots etc. I got the landing net out and, after many failed attempts, successfully netted it and popped it back into the nest.

Then the other ducklings started to hatch and leave the nest, two were left behind and needed a helping hand as Glenda shouted at me! LOL!

So finally off she goes with five ducklings, the next day there were three left, the day after, only one, and then none. Nature is cruel!
Once she'd left, I moved the trug onto the butty's bow in case she came back. Glenda tidied it up and replaced the lost compost.

That blooming duck keeps outsmarting us!

I added some plastic netting to the herb tray
She went and laid an egg in our rose trug!
Caught in the act!
She started to help herself to the frayed rope on this old fender, not very suitable nesting material
I picked some dried grasses for her ;o)
I started to move the trug towards the bow, each morning when she got off
Moving her along and raising her up to bow height
Her new home on the far side of the bow, allowing us to use the pontoon without disturbing her. Now best part of a month to wait...

New to boating?

Congratulations! So you've just bought your first boat ;o)
It's a bit like having your first child, no matter how much you read, or how much advise you get, it can be quite a scary baptism of fire when you suddenly find yourselves alone with this floating and almost living and breathing beast.
How does everything work? Should I do this? Can I do that?
Every boat is different, but there are common things to watch out for, and to do to keep you and your new investment/home safe and floating.
If you are going to steer your new aquisition to a new mooring here are a few things to check :-

How much diesel is in your tank and is it free from water and diesel bug? If your tank doesn't have a gauge it may be possible to make a simple dipstick, marked in quarters down from the full line. Try to keep your tank topped up, as this cuts down on condensation in the tank (but don't overfill as it can then leak out of the breather into the canal/river.
It's a good idea to fit a pre-filter like a Fuelguard to remove water and diesel bug.
When we stop for diesel we always try to get the best ratio of heating (cheaper tax) and propulsion (dearer tax)

Check your oil and coolant and have some of each in case you need to top up en route.

Check the bilge is reasonably dry, if it's wet and there are traces of oil or diesel in the water, you should either suck it out with a pump or wet & dry vacuum cleaner, or put an oil sock in the bilge for a while to soak up the pollutants before you pump the bilge out.

Also check what sort of fuses you are using and buy a few spares.
Try to carry spare engine fan/pump belts or at least make a note of the part numbers on them, it's a bugger to try to get the number off a shredded belt.

Most inboard engines drive through a water-lubricated stern gland, there will be a grease-filled brass greaser near your engine. Each time you stop you'll need to turn the greaser clockwise until it feels stiffer. Once the screw in tap gets close to the body of the pump you will need to re-fill it. To do this unscrew the complete greaser body from the base, then unscrew the cap, leaving the plunger where it is. The grease comes in a small can with a plastic disk with a hole in it centre, place the plunger end over this hole and push down firmly, the grease will start to push the plunger up the tube without getting any air pockets. When it gets close to the top, screw the threaded cap down until you can screw it back onto the body. (be careful as the thread is a fine one which can be crossed quite easily) Then screw the body back into it's base.

Check your ropes, bow and stern and make sure your centre line(s) is/are not quite long enough to reach the propeller. Having two centre lines is useful, one for each side. Run them back alongside the handrails and coil them within easy reach of your steering position so that they are readily to hand when you want to get off.
A boat pole is useful if you run aground or hit the bank, and a boat hook are very useful for grabbing ropes and for removing debris from lock for instance.
Make sure you have mooring spikes, mooring clips to fit the armco found on some canals, a lump hammer and something bright to put over the mooring pins to stop people falling over them. You will also need a plank in case you can't get right into the bankside.
Does your boat have short and long chimneys? Use the long ones when moored and the shorter ones when cruising, if you don't need the fires lit take them down, if you do leave them up, make sure they are attached with a thin chain or similar or you'll lose them on the first low branch. 
A bicycle type lock or lock and chain can be useful for urban moorings where boats can be set adrift.
You will need the correct keys and windlasses for your route, these vary on different waterways so check before you sail.
On commercial or tidal waterways you may need a VHF radio and the ability to use it, you will need an anchor, navigation lights and a life jacket and the phone numbers for any lock-keepers en route. You must give priority to commercial traffic.
In tunnels, if possible, tip your headlight up to point at the roof, open your curtains and turn on your interior lights, this will help illuminate the tunnel sides. If you have a life jacket wear it. Mind your head on the lower tunnels! Tunnels can be quite cold and wet, even in summer.

Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted!
The carbon monoxide alarm should, ideally,  be fitted at around waist height, not on the ceiling (carbon monoxide is a heavy gas)
What sort of toilet does your boat have? If it's a pump-out, does it have a water flush? If it does, then it will fill quicker and your water tanks will need filling more often (this can be more difficult on some rivers) Or is it a cassette type, if it is, do you have a spare cassette? Well worth getting as a back-up. You may have a composting toilet, these are a great environmental alternative which seperate the pee from the poo, the pee can be easily emptied and the poo is normally mixed with sawdust or cat litter and disposed of as compost or in a green bag and put in a normal bin, they don't need emptying so often, men have to sit to pee, so that it goes in the correct receptacle.
Your boat will probably have seperate leisure and starter batteries, controlled by a four position switch, one position for starting (use this only when starting), another for leisure (use this position when you are moored and not on shore power),  (both) for charging both banks (only use this after you have started the engine) then change it back to leisure only. The final position is off. 
N.B. If you leave the switch on 'both' and you flatten your batteries it will also flatten your starter battery. 
Never turn it to 'off' when the engine is running as this can knacker your alternator!
To be continued....