Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Bionic Hand...


Sorry for the absence - I've been unable to type since the weekend...

I'll explain.  On Saturday (yes Saturday - I was surprised too) I had an appointment to see a consultant about the carpel tunnel problem. It turned out that my left hand (I'm "kack-handed" btw) is quite severe and the consultant would like to operate on it asap.

In a normal world, that would be being arranged right now - alas, due to work commitments I will not be able to take any time off to recover until April at the earliest... in fact, all holidays are banned until we get this and the next ride delivered and installed...(don't ask)  SO - the surgeon offered me some temporary relief in the form of a combined aesthetic and steroid injection  - RIGHT into my left hand/wrist.  There seemed rather a lot of the stuff to go into a small area - I was a brave boy.

Unfortunately, once administrated, I lost the use of my fingers until this morning and after a few slightly painful hours my whole hand was numb too.

THIS morning though, I awoke and feel like a new man (well left hand at any rate)  - it's been marveous today for the first time in months.  Apparently, it might last a month or so and I can have it done a couple times more as a tide-me-over.  I'm on a promise that IF it suddenly deteriorates, I have to let them know and they will operate asap so as to prevent irreversible nerve damage - so that's good.

ANYWAY - After that was done, as you might imagine, progress on the boat was slow... I DID managed to fit the smart-gauge and cut the foam up

We called into a fabric shop on Sunday and bought some lining material (to cover the foam with) and some hard wearing other stuff (we've no idea what it's called) to make covers with...  Having spent an hour trying to work out how to thread up Andy's mothers old sewing machine this could be a long process.

BACK to the smartgauge - I think I got a good deal with it from Cactus http://www.cactusnav.com/merlin-smartguage-battery-monitor-p-11874.html
and it was quite simple to install - although doing it without the use of the fingers of my left hand was tricky.

The instructions say to connect it DIRECTLY to the battery terminals  - complete with 3 amp in-line fuse) and then forget it for a couple of days whilst it syncs and sorts itself out.   To be on the safe side, we started up the generator, put the charger on 35amp and left it running most of the day - in theory the batteries will have gotten as close to 100% as possible.  I've not been back to the boat yet to check but will tomorrow night now my hand is usable again.

Until next time...

Friday, 2 December 2016

Washing machine kafuffle!

IF you are going to buy a "slim" washing machine for a boat, at least check that it will fit through the doors, down the steps and between any bulkheads!

2 of the aforementioned things were not a problem - alas, some ginger person who shall not be named, forgot all about the extra space the newly fitted toilet and wardrobe doors take up - it may only be 4 cms in total but yes... you guessed it - enough to require door removal .  Of course we didn't discover this requirement until AFTER we got the ruddy thing wedged in.

Hey ho.  In the end we got it into where it needs to be and I connected it up temporarily to test it out with the inverter.

I went for the highest spin I could afford find and at 1600 it should be ok.  Apparently you can control it with your phone... although I doubt there will be "an app" that loads/unloads and pegs it out!!!

I realise that is rather a sad thing to take a video of but it's a relief it would run off the inverter - AND given it's rated at 1600 watt, it's showing as using 52% of the available power

I've still been going to the boat each night after work but as this man flu has now moved to my chest have not done a lot.  Andy  has it worse - he had blood in his phlegm (however you spell that) this morning so went to the docs -coming home with a nebuliser, steroids and antibiotics.  Hopefully he'll perk up a bit now... 

At work, I used some left over bits of plywood to make a few more temporary port-hole covers... people can be SO nosey - getting their faces right up to the glass to try and get a look inside - I wouldn't mind if they just asked for a look around.

Cutting circles is easy when you know how (and have the right tools).

I'm not sure whether to just put a bit of foam over these and then staple some black leatherette on top or try and make the shutters as per my original plan... time will tell on that one.  I have s suspicion Andy will want the shutters making so we'll have to see how it pans out.

What else have I done?

er - I fitted the twin power sockets in the dinnettes and wired them in...along with drilling some holes for the hot air to escape from the fin rads beneath... I think I need to do some more as it's a VERY subtle heat coming up...

We're planning on cutting up the memory foam mattress to make the cushions for the dineeete tomorrow when I get back from the hospital - I'm seeing the consultant about the carpal tunnel in the morning but we intend going to the boat and spending Saturday night on board again.  

Once the dinnette is padded, we'll sleep on it rather than the floor.  If it's a nice afternoon, we may have a chug off the mooring but not far - just far enough to be able to run the generator for a few hours without annoying anyone - I left the inverter on the other day and the batteries are down to about 70%.  IF I get chance, I'll fit the "smart gauge" too...

Until next time...

Monday, 28 November 2016

1st night on the boat and Dinettes completed (ish)

We're still ill by the way - this particular strain of man-flu is quite vicious.  Poor old Andy has been poorly for over 2 weeks now - I'm just entering my second week and it's now moved from my head to my chest...

It's a bit of a beggar actually because last week I got a call from the hospital to offer me a cancelled appointment to see the Neurosurgeons on Thursday...  (the call was Tuesday) - by Wednesday afternoon I was totally streaming... coughing, sneezing and dribbling like something terrible.  I called to explain whilst I WOULD be perfectly happy to come to the appointment, I didn't think it the responsible thing to do... mainly because no doubt the same bloke I would be seeing might then have to cancel some poor souls operations the next week that had been waiting a year like I have...

Oddly, the receptionist suggested that if I COULD make it, I should... cancellations being like "hen's teeth"...

I took the high moral ground and declined  - which means I'm back in the pile waiting for my original appointment ... whenever that might be.

After another busy week at work, we decided that so long as the heating was still working, we'd spend Saturday working on the boat and then camp out for the night - with a few glasses of wine of course.  THAT way we could work late and start early.

I'd wanted to get the dinettes finished (well ish) so I set to cutting and fitting bits to make the raised seating area.

I'm quite enjoying using that pocket jig now - it does allow you to make quite tight and neat joints... well it does when you use the correct size screws that don't go all the way through!!!  - lesson learned there.  

When I'd got the port side done, I then set to on the starboard - oddly, despite measuring things, they re NOT symmetrical... no matter... I believe the saying is if it looks level on a boat - it is.

I made sure to leave enough space to remove the cassette from the 2nd toilet. 

The plan is to put an oak floor down and cut holes through the bottom and sides to let the heat out from the fin rads beneath...  

I needed a guinea pig to test it out.

They're not TOO bad - I'm about 6 ft in my shoes and whilst I can't stretch out, I can lay there reasonably ok...  

The starboard table is a bit tight to fit so I'm going to have to take a grinder to the desmo leg and shorten it a bit - it would do for now but by the time I put the oak flooring down, it'd make it a pig to remove.

Having worked all day, we packed up and went to the pub for tea... leaving the heating on for our return.

I have to say, the heating has worked out quite well - a pretty balanced heat throughout the boat... WAY too hot but well balanced lol. We had to turn it off about half nine.  I WAS pleased I'd managed to set it to come on at 5 am though so when I eventually crawled out of the make-shift cabin about 6.30am, the whole boat was lovely and warm... 

I was lovely to wake up on the boat, have a shower and then fling open the hatch to watch a couple of  swans paddle by... a perfect hangover cure.

This week we've a washing machine, tumble dyer, kitchen units and hopefully a macerater toilet to come - the fridge is ordered but wont be "converted" for a couple of weeks.

Until next time...

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Man-Flu slows progress...

Keep back folks - I'm sure it's highly contagious.

We've had a miserable week...  well I say we - Andy started with it last Monday and by the weekend was at deaths door ... I kid you not - 3.30am Saturday morning he was having a bit of a panic attack at not being able to breath.  A few puffs on my ventalin later (and a firm CALM DOWN talking to) he was settled again.

Our plan HAD been to  to "camp out" on the boat on Saturday night... now that the heating is up and running it's a pleasant place to be again.  Alas, by the time we got home from a visit to his parents, he was WAY too under the weather.

As the week has gone on, I've gradually gotten worse and as it stands, we're both currently swigging benylin from the bottle and surrounded by piles of tissues... the result being that a side from cutting a few panels at work ( its easier on the band saw with a bit of working space), begger all has been done.  I've cut 3 wardrobe doors and surrounds to size and prepared the panels to hold the hinges but that's about it.

I've still  been calling in at the boat on the way home from work - mainly to turn OFF the heating that I seem to have got stuck on some kind of timed mode ...  so I've had cup of tea and charged the batteries a little whilst there so not a total waste of time.

IF I make it through to the weekend, we're going to have a bit of a clean up, take up the new memory foam mattress we bought with a view to chopping it up to make the dinette seat cushions and maybe crash there on Saturday with a couple of beers.

With a bit of luck, I'll also get to grips with the dinette and take some more photos...here's a couple for starters where I got up to before illness took hold:

Until next time..

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Webasto installed/working and engine running again.

After my recent clumsy dispraxic event, I took the broken off bleed screw into work and ferreted for one the same size - it did turn out to be an m6 so I took a grinder to one, made a little groove and then shortened it to be the same size as the broken one.  I even put a little cork washer on it to make it look like a proper job - in fact, I'm NOT going to replace the part now as by fitting it, priming the system and then bleeding it, all is well again.

You may remember the other night I also pressure tested the heating system... it kept 3 bar in for a couple of hours without problem but I also left it over-night for good measure as Thursday was the planned installation date for the Thermo Top C.

I will try not to be overly critical here and whilst it IS now up and running, it was not all plain sailing.  The chap was an hour late to start with - ok so traffic CAN be a pain sometimes but a phone call at the due time would have been nice.  On arrival, it was announced we'd need to be on shore power in order for them to "weld" the bracket to the side of the hull - which of course we're not.  He already knew this from our previous conversation... SO, instead, a piece of board was scavenged from my pile of cockups offcuts and the remaining sikaflex employed to stick this to the hull in the engine hole.

In the process, another board originally installed by the builder using silicone was knocked off and is still hanging waiting for me to stick it back on.

ALSO a bit crappy, is the temporary method of holding up the pipes as can be seen here:

to be fair though, it might have been replaced with something more secure  as I took that photo during a coffee break...I'll have a look tomorrow night and report back.

At least the header tank doesn't look TOO bad:

although that pointless down spout thing is nothing but a pain when filling it... it leaks out through if you forget to put your finger over it.

When it came time to fill the system up, it also transpired they'd forgotten to bring any anti-freeze which necessitated a trip into town for me.  I was sent to buy 20 litres of either blue or pink stuff (glycol or Oat) - Halfords only had the blue stuff in 2 litre bottles at 11.99 each so I opted for the pink instead.

Of course that WAS more expensive but at least it should last a couple of years longer than the other stuff does.  We'll see.

The GOOD news is that for all the joints, not a single one of them leaked - even though I'd tested it, I was half expecting there to be pink stains all over but not a drop.  RESULT!

When the time came to switch it on, it seemed to take an age for any sign of warmth to appear - it'd become air-locked in spite of all the attempts to bleed the radiators as we filled it up.  Itwas a bit of a faff only having the shower hose and 2x2 litre plastic coke bottles to run back and forth with before the header-tank ran empty.

Eventually, the chap resorted to taking the pipes off in the engine hole which both scalded his arm AND fettled it.  Once bled, it was a major relief when ALL the radiators and the fin rads got hot.   I won't lie - I  nearly stuck to my original plan 
but swapped the position of the bathroom MAIN radiator across to the starboard side and added a small silver towel rail in it's place near the basin.  This has taken the total output (before the calorifier) up to 6.4 kw - therefore due to the length AND amount of radiators, it does take an hour for it get hot.  We can live with that as the result is a lovely balanced heat throughout the boat.  It's been a real pleasure working up there today with the heating on - I've also been running the generator to power the inverter/charger through the shoreline socket - it transpired that the charger output can be varied between 9 and 90 amps - Alas, the little generator can only cope with 35 and that's on full pelt.  I opted to have it run at 18amp and set the generator to "snail" to keep the noise down a bit - it'll have been enough to get the batteries back to 100% and power the heating whilst it was running.  

I've also made up a couple of coax leads and tested 2 of the tvs :

The top one DOES look a bit wonky but that's only because I've not tightened up the nut and on the adjustable bracket yet.  

You can also see in the bottom photo that I've made doors and covers for the calorifier and electric cupboard.  The top half are on hinges and the bottom attached using ball catches.They need a few coats of varnish urgently given their location and vulnerability to the elements.

Until next time,,,

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Face plant into engine hole...and a snapped bleed screw!

Ok - so those of you who know a "ginner" may already be aware of this...  we're a little accident prone... an Aunt of mine (although not ginger) prefers to refer to us as "dyspraxic" rather than clumsy.  I take this to another level sometimes!

Today, after work, I called in at the boat to have a go at pressure testing the heating system/radiators.  On lifting the engine board (which I'd only last week swapped from checker-plate to phenolic board) I stumbled and went head first on top of the engine. Suffice to say I screamed like a girl and howled a lot of words I shouldn't know!

It hurt like hell - my face ended up wedged between the diesel pipe and the top of the block.  Annoyingly, I've not a cut or bruise to show for it...  Once I was composed enough to try and extricate myself, I made a valiant attempt at an all in one leap out - the kind of thing a gymnast would do.

Alas, I am clearly NOT a gymnast.  This resulted my legs ending up where my face had just been and  unbeknownst to me (at that time) I snapped off something on the diesel filter housing :-(

This is the thing I buggered offending article

Trouble was, I didn't KNOW I'd done it until later on when I tried to start the engine.  It was only then, after probably 4 failed attempts it occurred to me I might have done something.  She would turn over and start but immediately stop - no matter what position the throttle was in.  

At first I thought someone had stolen the diesel (the gauge is fitted but not calibrated yet) so I opened the tank to take a look - no ... still plenty of fuel. Then it occurred to me the wood we have laying around in the lounge was at one side so perhaps no fuel was able to be picked up due to the listing...

SO I moved the wood to the centre to balance the boat up a bit and then tried again...  STILL no luck. ... Staring blankly into the hole, wishing I'd NOT taken the manual home on Sunday, as the light was fading I switched on my head torch only to notice the thing pictured above.  Then it all became clear.

Tomorrow, I'll try and source a replacement  and in the meanwhile, will take it into work with me and find a bolt the same size - it "looks" about 6mm but I'll measure it and hopefully find something to fill the hole.  I'm not sure if a normal bolt will enable me to prime, bleed and secure it enough for the engine to run but It's worth a try... I can always grind a bit out. 

ANYWAY - back to the pressure testing.

Having buggered around with a foot pump on my own (and thus not able to get any pressure in as it was obviously escaping somewhere) Mark on the boat behind Mick, came and loaned me his 12v compressor.

Whilst it was inflating, I went into the cabin to listen for air ...  I didn't have to go far as the push fit on the calorifier was the 1st culprit.  Despite my best attempts at pushing the elbow further on, I could n't get a seal so I ended up taking it off and replacing it with a bit of plastic pipe and a compression fitting... and a stop tap so as to be able to isolate it from the heating circuit.

I've pumped it up and again and will leave it over night to see how it fairs.

Until next time...

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A few easy wins this week...

Well I say easy, in "ginger land" it's usually 3rd time lucky... my skill set is no where near as high as my enthusiasm for having a go :-)

I've tried NOT to go to the boat every night after work - mainly because I know that when I've spent a day working in the cold at the unit, it's very hard to go to an even colder and dark place and achieve much.

All that should change this coming week as I've managed to tie down the webasto man to installing the thermo top on Thursday... for someone getting paid a large amount for what will be 1 days work, I don't understand why it's so difficult to get a definitive arrangement.  No matter,  hopefully by the time I get home from work on Thursday, we'll have an operational heating system and evenings working on the boat will be fun.

SO - What HAVE I achieved this week?

Well, the radio in the back cabin is now properly wired in (although it was a bit wonky so I've fitted a bit of chrome around it to hide the bodged cut  finish it off nicely.   I've connected the 12v socket and fitted the back cabin led TV... and amazingly it works

I've also tidied up the wires that were hanging out of the bedroom ceiling - given how they were left in the top corner (with no room behind for a rebated socket) I've had to fit a surface mounted patress box and then modify a chrome light switch to accommodate the combined tv, satellite and power socket. 

It worked out ok in the end.  I'll get the bedroom telly on the wall this week too.

Also this week (I suppose that should be last week really), I dug out my pocket jig and used it to fix a shelf above the calorifier and frame for the 2nd toilet door...

If you've never used one, you can watch how here...  it's not me but you'll get the gist of it.

A very simple but effective bit of kit - circa 30 quid off Amazon I think it was.

I've also cut and hung the door on the 2nd toilet - using double cranked hinges ... to be honest, it's not the best job I've ever done...  lets just say rather than measuring twice and cutting once - I er, kind of did it the other way around... the result being that the door is the right size but the support panel is 1cm too thin... the resultant outcome being a compromise - it looks ok but would not win any awards lol

Today's plan is to make a door for the wardrobe opposite - it'll need to be flush fitting though given the width of the walk way and the fact the plan is for the toilet door to open into the walkway (to block off the route to the kitchen) and then the wardrobe door to open the other way (into the dinette) to effectively make a cubical across the boat to use the loo in.  I doubt it will get used much, but when guests are on board or WHEN the macerator is broken, we'll be pleased we went to the effort.

Until next time...