Sunday, 21 February 2010

A Black Cratch Deck

After much work the cratch deck is now black!

I bought one of those £70 850W petrol generators a couple of weeks ago. This has enabled me to charge the batteries when it is running, but more importantly it allows me to use my electric power tools.

The cratch deck was in a very rusty state, particulalry at the lowest points where water lays. The electric drill with a rotary wire brush was used to remove superficial rust. The worst bits had to be chipped off with a hammer, then wire brushed again. First application was a 'Rust Convertor' (by whatever spelling) then four coats of Yacht Primer, followed by two coats of Black Undercoat, then finished off with two coats of Black Gloss Topcoat.

As you can see from the picture the cratch deck is a lovely glossy black. This makes the 'Buttermilk' of the cratch interior now look pretty mucky. I guess this is my next job after the paint has hardened.

I can't wait to get all the things out of the cabin, back into the cratch. I never knew there was so much stuff stored in the cratch until I had to move it all inside. Hmmm! Let me see...

There's a mop, a chimney brush, the river anchor with its chain and rope (they all live in a plastic box with the spare ropes, windlasses and pins). Then there is the wood basket for the logs, the log saw, the television aerial... Oh the list goes on!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Story so far...

We first met Constance in September of 2009, in Devizes Marina.

Constance is a 36' narrow-boat, built in 1980 with a BMC 1.5 diesel engine, 4 berths, galley, shower/toilet and covered cratch. We all fell in love with her at first sight. After a test drive I organised a hull survey and then made an offer to purchase. Constance underwent a Boat Safety Survey and failed on a couple of minor points. Constance has her bottom 'blacked' before leaving Devizes Marina.

By the middle of October 2009, Constance was ours!

During this time I obtained a permanent mooring at Great Bedwyn, just above Church Lock (64) and we moved her to her new home.

For the Autumn half-term we went on a trip to Hungerford (and just beyond) for a few days.

The picture, left, shows Alison steering Constance into a lock just east of Hungerford.

At the end of half-term week, Mum, Heather & Phil came and joined us for the day. We went to the Cross Keys for lunch then went up the canal for a couple of locks, returning in time for tea.

One of the BSS failures was that there was a small amount of diesel leaking around the fuel filter area. This was eventually tracked to a leaky fuel leak off rail. A replacement was purchased, fitted and the BSS Certificate duly obtained.

Constance was still difficult to start. Even holding the glowplugs on for 30-40 seconds it was still taking a minute or more on the starter motor to get her started.

Judy and I had a night on our own on Constance to celebrate our wedding anniversary with Alison staying with a friend on a sleepover. We went to the Cross Keys for a meal.

Constance at her home mooring just above Chuch Lock (64) at Great Bedwyn. The church tower is barely visible behind the cedar of Lebanon tree.

On the day after Boxing Day (27th) we arrived at Great Bedwyn for a week living aboard Constance. We set off towards Devizes, it was bright and sunny. We stopped for the night at Crofton Bottom lock. The days are so short at this time of year that we need to be moored by about 3.30pm otherwise we might not find anywhere to moor before it gets too dark to see.

28th December - 'Twas a cold and frosty morning as we set off to go up the Crofton Flight. The picture to the left is Wilton Water, taken before we moved off.
Constance became an ice-breaker. The ice was not too thick and was patchy as we moved towards the Bruce Tunnel. Then we really hit thick ice. Constance could no longer break the ice or steer a straight course. The noise of the ice passing the boat and the crunching of ice with the propeller was too much. Now we were stuck!

We had to use the boat poles to beat holes in the ice so that we could turn round and re-trace our steps.
The weather got worse the next night and throughout the next day as we returned to Great Bedwyn. We stayed on Constance, but went out in the car and explored the area around Great Bedwyn.
I made many trips to Constance in the New Year. I changed the oil & oil filter (goodness only knows when they were last done). I changed the fuel filter, reamed out the glow plug holes, cleaned and tested the glow plugs. During this operation I found one of the (previously untouched) fuel return lines was lose in its fitting. This would allow air back into the system, was this the reason for the poor starting?
With the fuel system fully bled it was time to start the engine. 30 seconds on the glow plugs, turn the key to engage the starter and it started imediately. What a relief!
With the engine now starting well, it was time to turn my attention to other urgent matters. The cratch deck was extremely rusty and it poor condition, so I set about cleaning it. Wire brushing and the use of a 'chipping hammer' removed the rust and an anti-rust treatment applied. This was followed by four coats of primer, two coats of black undercoat the two coats of gloss.
Now we have caught up...
Time to 'post' my first Blog page!