Monday, 12 November 2012

Heating - Phase One

Sunday weather was promising - sunny and warm all day. With the stern in the sunshine work began. The mounting plate for the Eberspacher was fitted, then the unit and hoses. Finally the electrics were passed through the bulkhead into the Fuse cabinet.
Unfortunately, this layout leaves the pump a bit exposed, so I might turn it through 90 degrees and make a new hole for the hose about 8 inches to the left. Other than that it all looks pretty good. Cutting the hole for the exhaust through 6mm of steel is proving challenging. A 40mm hole is required. Just bought a couple more 40mm hole cutters as the first one only lasted about 2.5mm through! Now that the majority of the outside work has been done the rest can be done when the more inclement weather arrives.

Below Church Lock all the lock gates are now padlocked to stop traffic because winter lock maintenance in the Froxfield Flight has started. This means we have lots of extra boats in the pound, probably until Christmas!
Boats as far as the eye can see...

Monday, 29 October 2012

Winter planning...

Saturday was a beautiful, if cold day, Sunday was the more usual grey from start to finish.
Now Constance is safely back on her home mooring it is time to plan the winter projects. There are a number of things I want to do.
We have a hot water system - a calorifier which is heated from the engine and this works well but only during days when we are out cruising.
Here is my brand new Twin-Coil Calorifier. This will fit in place of the existing calorifier as the dimensions are about the same, but it holds 50% more water. It should be a relatively easy job to swap the existing water connections over, then the longer term job of installing the Eberspacher Hot water system. This will require a 1" hole through the skin for the exhaust pipe.

Other jobs - the 12V fuse board is suffering from age - the links are breaking (brass dying) and the fuse terminals are getting resistive. This will have to be changed to one of a newer style before the Eberspacher is installed because there are no spare fuses on the current set up.

Church Lock is leaking...
If the lower gates are shut and the paddles lowered Chuch Lock fills easily. The problem is that the bottom gates are supposed to be left open. This means the pound above drains down overnight and we all take a list as we settle on the sloping canal bed. Not very comfortable for sleeping!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Safely home at last!

Saturday was spent in the bowels of the boat.
All the engine covers were off, the back bit where you stand when steering (don't know its name) was up.
Then it was into the loo - a cramped space at the best of times. The engine panel that made up the lower half of the loo wall had to come out. Now, I don't think this has ever been out before. It was a major work-up including chiselling away at some of the wood to get this panel out.

Eventually the panel was out and the 'dark side' of the engine was visible. Never seen this side before - the side with the fuel pump, sedimenter, air intake etc.
With the fuel shut off - first the sedimenter was removed and cleaned, then the fuel pump was changed, then the fuel filter on the back of the engine.
When all was rebuilt, the fuel was turned back on, the sedimenter bled, the fuel pump operated by hand to fill the fuel filter. Then bleed the two screws on the DPA pump, then the injectors.
Sounds easy doesn't it???
Glowplugs for 30 seconds and a pretty immediate coughing into life. Success!
Ran the engine for half an hour or so, listening for any changes in note etc. All seems to be OK.
Now the big tidy up...

Sunday - beautiful sunny, frosty morning, engine started perfectly!
Easy trip to Great Bedwyn and the home mooring.
Spent the rest of the day finishing the tidying up and getting the last engine panel back in place. That meant struggling in the loo again.

Later tried to start the engine again - OK!

All successful.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Problems at Crofton Top Lock

We set off from Wootton Rivers after what is now becoming a bit of a habit. Problems starting the engine that is.
The engine had started well for many months since finding a very minor diesel leak, fixing that and then converting the old style CAV filter to one of the new spin-on kind. During the summer we witnessed an odd problem that the engine would start OK if it was cold, but not if it were hot. When hot, it would require a full bleed of the fuel system. This has now become worse and is required for every start and we suffer little speed changes whilst the engine is running. This was getting worse as we went through the Bruce Tunnel on the K&A Summit Pound.
The peaceful setting of Wootton Rivers Top Lock
Phil came and enjoyed the day!
As we passed the restored 'Burbage Wharf Crane'
In to the western portal of the Bruce tunnel
And safely out of the Western Portal, heading east!
Thankfully we emerged from the tunnel, but stopped somewhere just after the first lock on the way down towards Crofton.
I decided not to attempt a full bleed on a hot engine as it would smell so badly with hot diesel, so we decided to tow the boat as the old fashioned way would have done.
I joined both bow lines together, this gave about 80 feet of line to tow with and we steered with one of the mid-lines ttached to the stern.
A little incident at Lock 56:
We managed to pull constance out of Lock 56 and tied her to the lock operation mooring while we tidied up and offered the lock to an approaching boat. The skipper of the approaching boat said they wished to land, explaining that we could not move under engine power they agreed to come alongside and allow their crew to cross our boat over our stern. Their approach was not very good, they were slightly wide, at an angle and moving a little to quickly for the agility of their crew. Yes, you've guessed it, one of their crew members fell in, btween out boat and theirs. The two boats were converging and the crew member was likely to be crushed. This was avoided with a bit of boat shoving. The crew member stayed calm amd moved towards the wall but was unable to climb out. Three of us tried to lift, to no avail. Eventually a step was lowered and the crew member was eventually, safely, lifted out. It was all good humoured all round, nobody was hurt, nobody had hysterics and we all went off on our respective journeys.

I became the horse, towing the bow line. This worked well and was not too difficult except for the vast amount of very tall vegetation. The bow line had to be lifted over plants and trees, some as high as 8 feet or so, to allow the bow line to pull correctly. We went down through four more locks and eventually moored safely and near a road.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Devizes to Wootton Rivers

Sunday was mainly cloudy but thankfully it stayed dry. We left Devizes Wharf to navigate 'The Long Pound'.

There were a group of trainee kayakers and quite a few boats about,
but once you leave Devizes and set off along the Long Pound things quieten down. It is just you, the boat and nature. We had a reasonably uneventful journey to Wootton Rivers but by then it was nearly dark. Aren't the evenings drawing in!

Don't give them ideas!

This amused me...
I KNOW this one is moored legally, that is not in question. But, what would happen if the 'Continuous Moorer's' cottoned on to this idea? Would we have lots of boats under camouflage saying "wer'e not really here, it's an illusion"???

Up the hill to Devizes!

Saturday promised to be a lovely day and it lived up to the promise. We needed to get to the top of the hill today. Heather and Mum joined us and off we went.
The Caen Hill Lock Flight is a wonderful feat of engineering but (looking at it from the bottom) a bit of a daunting task. Once you start, you cannot stop. Part way up we were held up for a short time whilst a pair of boats who were coming down, sorted out their interlocked fenders. This allowed us to 'pair-up' with another boat. It's a lot easier when there are more muscles available and someone to go ahead and set the next lock.
The cafe at the top is a welcome sight because it means you have reched the top of the main part of the Caen Hill Lock Flight and can pause for breath.
And admire the view back down the hill. All perfectly aligned - marvellous!
Only a few locks left and we will be in Devizes Town, which is as far as we intend to go today.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Semington to Rowde

Saturday looked as if it was going to be a nice day, but the forecast for Sunday was dire. We went to Semington on Friday evening after work in preparation for our continued journey eastwards.
Saturday did turn out nice. Semington, up two locks, then over the busy A350 on the new aqueduct, then two (or is it three?) swing bridges to Seend. Looking at the time, we needed to carry on, so, up through the five locks at Seend.
This is Sells Green Swing Bridge...
Then on to Sells Green. This always looks like an utterley idyllic spot to me. Maybe it is because we have always been through when the sun was shining!
Then on past Foxhangers to the start of the hill. Only six locks to go until we reach our mooring for the night. Good place to stop in preparation for the Caen Hill ascent. I caught a bus back to Semington to collect the car.
Sunday - it rained! Lit the fire to keep warm and sat and read various books, papers and did puzzles.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bradford-on-Avon to Semington

Sunday looked as if it was going to be a lovely day again. Our visitors of yesterday had left us in the evening to go their separate ways. After a little bit of shopping we headed up to Bradford-on-Avon lock and into the mayhem. There seem ot be masses of people, lots of them wandering around with windlasses in their hands but nobody knowing quite what to do. It was very busy. The lock was empty, someone had just come out. Another boat was in front of me, so we both went to go into the lock gates when they were suddenly closed on us. After a bit of hard astern and some hasty mooring to the far bank, the gates were eventually opened and we went in. Judy and Alison had organised some of the people controllong paddles and gates and sorted everything out. We managed to get through the lock, pick up crew and made our way out of the pandemonium to the more tranquil waters heading for Semington.
It is always very busy at Bradford-on-Avon Lock. There are always plenty of boats and plenty of on-lookers.
Not long before we are on our way through the Wiltshire Countryside on our way to Semington.

Bath to Bradford-on-Avon & an Eighteenth!

You can often see hot air balloons flying over Bath in the early evenings. This one flew just over us...
Followed by a few more...
They are always a colourful sight.
Early next morning we were joined by Nicky & Bethan and David & Holly for the journey from Bath to Bradford-on-Avon. As it was Bethan's 18th Brithday we are all able to celebrate this with her. The weather was absolutely perfect for out trip through Bathampton and on to Dundas Basin. Passengers were encouraged to disembark and go an have a look at the Aqueduct whilst more menial tasks were attended to!
A view of Dundas Aqueduct that is probably rarely seen by boaters. You have to get off your boat and walk to the far side, then down a set of narrow steps. The view is worth it. The River Avon flows gently under the arch on its way to (funnily enough) Avonmouth.
Guess who's 18? Bethan, Alison, Judy, David & Holly, Nicky took the photograph and I was doing the loos back at the Wharf.
A view of the downstream side of the Aqueduct.
This is more like the view most boaters have of the Dundas Aqueduct as we cross Eastbound.
Shortly after Dundas, if you are heading towards Bradford-on-Avon there is this piece of Art, hanging from a tree. It has been there a few years and I hope it remains there.
A rare photo of me! Somewhere between Dundas and Avoncliff. As yo ucan see it was a beautiful day.
Two photos of me! Not so rare now. Crossing Avoncliff Aqueduct. Passengers were put ashore to walk over the Aqueduct, look at the weir and buy ice-creams.
And so we made out way to Bradford-on-Avon and moored behind the Tithe Barn for the night.
It was Bethan's 18th Brithday - we all wished her a Happy Birthday and the cake was duly cut and shared.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Bradford-on-Avon to Bath

During our stay at Bradford-on-Avon we found one of the gold post boxes and just had to take the 'obligatory' photograph:
Judy and Alison by the Gold Post Box in Bradford-on-Avon
To celebrate the Olympic success of local lad Ed McKeever who was signing autographs among the throng!
We went on a walk around Bradford-on-Avon (highly recommended) following a free guide map. We went through some of the back lanes and saw many of the historical sites/sights including St. Mary Tory on the side of the hill overlooking BoA.
St.Mary Tory above the Hermitage, overlooking BoA.

Then came the time to move towards Bath - crossing the Avoncliff Aqueduct
and then on to Dundas...

for lunch.
From Dundas is is a short journey to Bath where we stayed for a couple of days. The womenfolk wanted to do some shopping. I was able to escape this ordeal and stay on the boat and potter about!
As the river was high, we drove along the Avon as best we could, looking at all of the locks as part of our planning to go to Bristol next summer.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Hidden amongst the shrubbery!

Here we are, hidden amongst the shrubbery...
Up behind the old Tithe Barn at Bradford-on-Avon
Again I played 'car and boat leapfrog' to get from Semington to Bradford-on-Avon. The weather was good and I enjoy the walking. Before lunch we moved from Semington to Staverton, then I walked back to collect the car. Then we moved gently on to BoA and stopped on the 24 hour mooring so that the girls could go down the town to find cake whilst I surveyed the longer term mooring possibilites behind the Tithe Barn. After moving to 'the shrubbery' we ate and I collected the car. It is amazing how peaceful a late eveing walk along a towpath can be. The high-speed cyclists seem to have retired for the day and everything is quiet. A great time to lookout for wildlife.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Devizes to Semington

Mum & Heather stayed on Constance for the best part of a week in Devizes. They were able to go out around the town and surrounding countryside and enjoy their leisure time.
On Friday, Judy Alison and I went to Devizes because the weather forecast looked good with the purpose of continuing our westward journey down the Caen Hill Lock Flight. We had our team - me driving, Judy, Alison and Heather operating the locks and Mum supervising either from the cratch or from the stern with me.
People often ask 'Why is it always the womenfolk who operate the locks whilst the menfolk do the easy bit of driving?' It seems to be preference. On very rare occasions I can persuade Alison to 'drive' but the rest of the time... I would love to operate locks sometimes!

We set off just before 12 from Devizes Wharf to start the descent. Once you get to Lock 43 you are starting the flight proper and it is then a continuous run until Lock 29 when you reach the bottom. You cannot stop, there is nowhere to stop, you keep going. Good job the weather was good!

At the bottom there is one chance for photos, looking back up at where you have come from.
This is the view from Lock 28 looking back up the Caen Hill Lock Flight.
This has got to rate as one of this Country's greatest man-made achievments!

We stayed the night below Lock 28
Saturday we moved on towards Foxhangers.
Water Lilies - I hope this boat will not get too tangled on the roots!

They have built a new marina there since I last came by this way.

Then on to Sells green and Seend, stopping for the night opposite The Barge Inn at Seend.

Seend to Semington.
On Sunday morning Mum and Heather went shopping. They went to a big Tesco at Trowbridge, a bit of a busman's holiday for Heather!

We had to wait for the rain! The Sunday Lunch crowd at The Barge Inn scattered! The heavens opened, thankfully it was short lived.
There are four locks and three swing bridges between Seend and Semington. Once the threat of rain abated we were on our way. We stopped by Semington road bridge for evening meal and let our passengers off then moved to a longer term mooring so that we could leave Constance for a few days.
Mum & Heather thoroughly enjoyed their week on board.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

What a rotten Blogger I am!

A diarist I am not! I have never kept a diary in my life and I keep forgetting to Blog, which is pretty much the same thing.
I see that my last blog for Narrow-Boat Constance was September 2010.
Let's see if we can catch up a little.
September 2010 - we returned to our mooring at Great Bedwyn for the winter.
Summer 2011 we went to Hungerford and stayed there for a week or so, Mum & my Sister, Heather, stayed for a week.
Autumn 2011 I bought a solar panel and pwm controller. Best thing I ever bought. It keeps the leisure battery fully charged all the time. When I get to the boat I can then switch the Battery Isolator to 'both' batteries and the solar panel then charges both batteries. Various bits of maintenance - oil & filter fuel change. I could not get the old style CAV fuel filter to seal without a small drip so I purchased a 'replacement' filter type with the screw-on filter like most cars have. Next time the oil needs changing I will do the same for the oil. Much easier.
Removed and re-painted the cratch cover timbers before they get any more weather damage. Started painting the roof.
The newly painted for'd roof section.
Seen from above and later with cratch assembled.
Went to Crofton whilst it was in steam.
Went back to Crofton again as GB0CBE - amateur Radio Special Events Station to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the 1812 Boulton & Watt Engine.
HRH The Duke of Gloucester visited
I made bread, this was just before it went into the oven - delicious! Back again a couple of weeks later for the Crofton Music Festival. From Crofton we have moved to the west, here is the pretty Lady's Bridge at Stowell Park, near Pewsey.
Gradually moving westward and now at Devizes.