Sunday, 12 February 2017

Out with the 'wall carpet'

When Constance was fitted out in 2000 after her 'stretch' the walls (bulkheads/hull/vertical surfaces) were covered in a ribbed carpeting material in a dark maroon colour. After 17 years this has become a bit tatty in places, faded nearly everywhere and it moults continually. There is always a layer of dust below any of the carpeted surfaces. It hasn't done badly and I'm not complaining but I feel it is time to do something about it.
Enter the veneered hardboard of the previous post courtesy of Timbmet. I arrived at Fenny Compton marina (in my car) a few days ago and started to work.
 This is how the port side panel looked with its carpeting. One of the seams had become detached and the backing and glue had powdered. Pulling the carpet off was not a problem.
It fell away and the old glue was easily removed with a scraper to reveal the plywood liner.
 Panels suitably cleaned. Then it was cut and shape the 4'x4' pieces of hardboard. Nothing in a boat is: level, square, straight, 90 degrees etc.
 With the port-side panels shaped and in place it was move on to the starboard side.
 Starboard side (on the left of the picture above) and the return bulkhead all fitted out.
 Then into the next room, the dining area. You can see the carpeted areas in the picture above.
 Now in veneered pine board.
Then just the little area above the cupboard where the mugs hang.
The general fitting of the veneered hardboard was finished, now it is time to fill all the panel pin holes and varnish all the surfaces. Tidying up seemed to take forever. Thankfully I have mains electric power here in the marina and can use the vacuum cleaner...
Tomorrow it is more of the same. Fill the mail holes and varnishing.
Still, I am lovely and warm. The wood-burner sees to that!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


I have bought some sheets of pine veneered MDF to re-fit (re-decorate) the inside of Constance. Currently the walls are covered in a layer of carpet which is now 17 years old, faded and giving off a lot of dust as it moults. My next move is to strip off the carpet and replace it with the veneered MDF. The outlet from which I purchased the sheets were happy to cut the 4 8'x4's in half so I have 8 off 4'x4' sheets which are much more manageable.

The 4'x4' sheets were scattered around the garden, stood on anything that would raise them off the ground and varnished during the only dry day this week. The varnish is a quick drying type and I was able to get one coat on each side. They will go up to the boat next week and be fitted. Then extra coats of varnish will be applied to the side that shows, as required.
But, I could not help but notice that the volume of bird song has gone up a lot this last couple of days. Yes, it really is time to mark territory and find a mate. Spring is coming, hurrah!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

It is 2017 now, where did the time go?

I am sat on the boat in Fenny Compton Marina. This is where I put Constance for December, January & February so I can winterise her. I have no running water but I am very warm. The wood burner is doing a fantastic job and so is the little 'peltier effect' fan. I have read various reports of these things, a lot of people reckon they are a waste of space, but I am very impressed. Ours is a VonHaus and was just less that £40.
Well, where did we go last summer?
I think I left the Blog at Braunston - we went on to Hawkesbury Junction and then into Coventry.
In the basin at Coventry city.
Whilst in Coventry we went in and saw the various sights of the city. of course there is the Cathedral and the bombed out Church next door, but more interesting was the St Mary's Medieval Hall nearby. I love a bit of history and it had loads.
Then we went on past Bedworth (we decided that we would leave 'The Ashby' for another year), Nuneaton, Atherstone and Tamworth. From there we took the Coventry Canal north from Fazeley and headed towards Fradley Junction.
We were by then experiencing two problems with the boat. The first (which actually started earlier in the year) was getting worse - the grub screws holding the prop-shaft in place were working loose (and letting the prop-shaft walk-out as soon as you went into reverse. It was getting to the point where these had to be tightened every couple of hours or so. Whilst at Braunston (earlier) I had bought a replacement split-coupling, however this thing was HUGE and would not fit in the space, so I returned it and obtained a full refund. Stopping every couple of hours was not really a problem but finding a smaller version of the split-coupling was.
The second problem which started sometime after leaving Hopwas was that the engine would not run smoothly. It kept speeding up and slowing down. By the time we arrive at Fradley village it would only run correctly on tick-over. The whole of the next morning was spent changing the fuel filter and doing a full fuel system bleed. Problem solved!
When we arrived at Fradley Junction we joined the T&M and headed for Rugeley and Great Haywood.

The very narrow cut at Armitage
Once at Great Haywood we went on to the Stafford and Worcester Canal, through Tixall Wide on our way to Penkridge. Here we met up with friends and had a long overdue reunion.
Chris, Cath, Paul & Judy helping me through Filance Lock, Penkridge
 Yes, I was remembering to stop every couple of hours to tighten the grub-screws on the prop-shaft. I still had not really formulated a permanent fix. It seems that all split-coupling thingys are that size!
Southwards we went, passing Autherley Junction and then turning right at Aldersley Junction to go up the Wolverhampton 21.
Then it happened! Half way up the Wolverhampton 21, suddenly no reverse! This time the prop-shaft had become badly scored by the tips of the grub-screws and would not go back in. It was a lovely hot day. I was in the stern section filing the lumps and bumps off to try and get the prop-shaft back into its housing. It seemed to take forever. The prop-shaft is always greasy, just about impossible to hold and relatively hard to file away. Eventually it went back in and we were able to make our way to the top of the hill (Wolverhampton) and then on into Gas Street Basin.
Definitely the scruffiest boat in Gas Street basin!
We enjoyed two nights in Gas Street basin, it gave us a good opportunity to have a look at central Birmingham while I pondered on my problem with the prop-shaft...
We left Birmingham through the leafy suburbs of Edgbaston and stopped at Cadbury World. When we saw the price to go in (and the queues) we bought some chocolate, decided that we had been there anyway (well the visitor centre) and went on.
Through the guillotine lock on to the North Stratford

And under the lift bridge at Shirley
We stopped not far from Hockley to go home for a few days and went via Braunston to buy back the split-coupling that I had previously bought and returned. I took it to a local (to home) engineering works and got them to shave as much metal off it as we dared. The bolts to fix it were also considerably shortened. hopefully this would be enough to get the thing in, if not the stern gland stuffing box bolts would have to be shortened and I did not want to do that.
Out came the old coupling...

And in went the new (with a couple of millimetres to spare)
Job done at last.
We then went down the Lapworth Flight to Kingswood Junction, down the Hatton Flight to Warwick and enjoyed a meal in Warwick town centre.
After that it was on through Leamington Spa, along to Napton and back on to the Oxford. Judy tends not to come to the boat once we start September so I come and do a bit of painting and enjoy the good weather during September and October.
It is a bit difficult to see but this panels has been stripped and re-painted.
 Whilst in Banbury I took out a new contract with '3' (cheaper) and now have 4G (when you can actually find 4G) but it works better than the old one. Once at Banbury I turned round and headed back to Fenny Compton...
This is the VonHaus on the wood-burner.
For Christmas and New Year we all went to Malta. Enjoyed the sunshine and the food.
Now I have caught up ready for our adventures in 2017.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

North of Braunston at last!

David joined us for one day and we went from Fenny Compton Wharf to Napton. David steered the boat so that I was able to help with the locks. This is a rare treat for me. After Napton we went on through Braunston and on towards Rugby.
Taking the left hand bridge at Braunston Turn

Down the locks at Hilmorton

One of the old canal stubs now used for moooring

Through Hillmorton Bottom Lock and on to Rugby

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Why is it...

...there are more and more things to do at home?
Try as I may, I just cannot get away on Constance. There is too much to do at home. Gardening for one. Then we did go to Bideford for a few days so that we could have a day trip to Lundy.

Anyway, managed to catch a couple of days this week.
I was out of water, had loads to get rid of etc. I stopped at Cropredy wharf and dealt with all the 'necessary'. It was nice to be back on board if only for a short while.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Beautifully Black!

It was an early start from home to get to Banbury for 8a.m. to take Constance out of Tooley's but I made it in time.

Then it was time to let the water in...

Slowly at first

Then the flood as they lift the top board out

Beautiful Iris on the bank

Mother duck with three

Friday, 27 May 2016

And into Tooley's at long last

It seems like ages ago that I booked Constance into Tooley's for a bottom blacking. All the stalling for time, a couple of miles a day, anyway the time has come.

Sign on the road bridge at Twyford Wharf
Made my way from Twyford Wharf up to Tramway, then up through Banbury to the turning point, then down to the Castle Quay shopping centre.
New board to stand on, the old one rotted away!
At the appointed hour, well maybe a little bit earlier, it was time to enter the dry dock facility.

Into Tooley's
 The depth of water over the cill is not great. It was 'full-ahead' and scrape the barnacles off the flat bottom! Even had to take on human ballast in the bow to tip the boat up to get the stern over the bar.
Being secured

Dropping the boards in

Tide going down

Stern view with pressure-washing in progress

Bow view