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.