Sunday, 28 August 2016

A Bit of a set-back...and I'm sulking!

Financially at least...

I'll explain - on the way home from work on Friday night (it being poets day) I left half an hour early as a bank holiday treat to myself...   Rog and Gav had already taken the day off to extend their holiday weekend, so it'd been a hard day as I had to unload a wagon load of floor-joists and structural timber WITHOUT the use of the forklift!!! ...  I figured half an hour might make up for that - it didn't :-(

SO, I detoured via the boatyard office where our mooring is... my plan being to have a chat with Edd or Jools (at the time I couldn't remember either of their names) to  loosely firm up the plan regarding craning "Ellis"  in when it's ready around 23rd October.

It was the first time I'd met Jools - she's a lovely woman... very laid back, easy to talk to (she had a mug of coffee in my hand within minutes) and full of useful information.  I on the other hand, was a bit 'caffeine d' up and my mouth was going at full speed... NOT a good combination for someone taking gabapentin lol.  Somewhere in my garbled chatter, I explained I'd spoken with her partner a short while ago about arranging to share the cost of a crane in October with the people on their list wanting to take their boats out for the winter.  UNFORTUNATELY for us, someone else has beaten us to the list with a September crane now arranged and therefore "our sharers" have tagged on to that one instead.

It's not the end of the world but it has turned a  3-500 quid bill into a 1500 quid one... hmmf!

I was already in a bit of a sulk as the day before, I'd phoned the builder to confirm we'd be coming over on Saturday morning to check over the boat (and take some more photos) only to be told the yard is closed this weekend AND Next due to holidays...

To be fair it WAS on the website but I was hoping that was aimed at folk just wanting to look around - not those in build...  it seems not.  Which has put a dampener on the next couple of weeks - especially as it's a fortnight since we last went over and will be another 2 weeks until we can again... AND given my input is required to confirm bulkhead positions and wiring might mean that nothing will happen... which irks me to be honest.

THAT said, they do have both printed AND electronic versions of my master drawing (not  the prit-stick one... the other more clever one) so I suppose so long as they can interpret that, it might get moved along.  Time will tell.   It is leaving me feeling rather frustrated though... people have lives and need their time off  so I need to chill....  or rather THAT is what I'm being told!

ON a lighter note,  (though don't think for one moment that I'm not still sulking) MR postman - MR Amazon courier, has called in again with a couple of things  for the boat:


It's not the expensive one - which no doubt we'll probably regret but it will do as a starter... if it seems to make a difference, we'll put the latest, best eco-fan in our letter to Santa.

It does work though -  video

ALSO in the delivery was a Shower gel,shampoo and Conditioner dispenser...

I know it's hard to get excited about such things, but given the limited space on-board AND the fact I hate having clutter on the shower floor, I thought it'd be a good idea to fix this up.


It even comes with sticky labels :-) 

I'm still sulking btw but tomorrow, I'm going to do the inverter/washing machine experiment  which will either blow me up or prove whether it'll work... or not!

Until next time...






Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Every day is like Christmas at the moment...

THAT'S because, all the "things" we've had on "the list" are gradually being ordered and delivered...

Take yesterday for example...  When I got home from work, I found the Stove sitting waiting for me - OK so it DID block my route into the house but I'm quite agile for a ginger!


Those of you paying attention - (NOT those that have fallen asleep at the back), may recall the other week we had a change of direction away from Morso, towards the  GBS Mariner 4 from GR8 Fires... totally a financial decision but hopefully one we won't come to regret.

Back in observation mode, you may also have spotted it's actually the HAMLET stove which arrives...  I've checked this with GR8 and it's identical... just branded differntly.   It's acutally being sold on Ebay for  £323 WITHOUT the free increasing collar .

  It LOOKS ok, and has everything with it that it should;  the ashpan (and tool), increasing collar (from 4- 5 inch) and heat-proof mitten... along with fitting guidelines etc.



We're quite pleased with the look of it AND it's compactness  - It's also got a riddler in the grate which is an added bonus not mentioned in the sales info (as least I don't remember reading it).


video

For now it's safely in the garage as we still need to sort out a flue kit...  that will have to wait until after pay day  - even then it's looking tricky this month as we have an appointment with a solicitor next week to sort out our joint wills ... something we've been putting off ... not for any morbid fear - just the cost!

ALSO waiting for me (it must have arrived BEFORE the fire) was the 3Kw Pure-Sine wave inverter and charger I ordered through Amazon from Photonic universe on Sunday...  This is another "substitution" - We'd originally planned to spend more than twice this amount on a Victron  -  Whilst undoubtedly it'd have been a good and efficient piece of kit - £700 difference can go a long way (360 will cover the wills) and the remainder will buy front and rear rope button fenders)...


It's had some reasonably favourable reviews over in canal world forums and whilst it's NOT quite as efficient in standby mode (it draws near 1.8ah just being on) we're not adversed to turning it off when we go to bed to save a few ah if it becomes  a problem.    More importantly, it has a surge capacity of 9000watts and should run pretty much any washing machine (with the engine running) we can fit in! 

I shall put it to the test at the weekend by rigging it up to power the Hotpoint in the kitchen here at home... I'd have done it last night but didn't have any cable thick enough to connect to the batteries - I'll either use some truck jump-leads from work or make up a couple of 75mm2 cables with lugs  - the kind we use on the fairground stuff.  I'm pretty sure if it will run the current machine, it will be fine on a lower rated Beko or Hoover one we have our eye on for the boat.

I wonder what "Mr Postman" will bring us tomorrow???

Until next time...




Monday, 22 August 2016

Dedicated Tool kit...

The other day, I was harping on about ditching my old tools in favour of a dedicated "boat kit"... Well, although I'm YET to chuck anything out, I HAVE bought a new case - especially to live on the boat with us.


At first glance it's just an aluminium case with wheels attached... (they remove by the way) but on opening there's a whole host of useful thingamy bobs...





The "best" thing about it being that WHEN Andy finds something laying about the boat, he can put it back where it 'lives' because there are drawings/outlines of the tools so that even though he doesn't know what they are called, he can see where to put them back... when clearing up after me lol.

This will lead to a much more harmonious life onboard!

IT was a little bit of an extravagance (costing a little over £100) BUT it will be much easier than faffing around with multiple boxes of bits and bobs... OK so I'll still have a general purpose "inboat" kit that will live in a cupboard rather than in the engine bay (which is where this is destined to be) but I'm pleased with it and it will be very convenient having something so portable which contains nearly everything you can want.

Quality wise - it's only Rolson but as/when things break, I'll replace them with better stuff.... who knows, one day it MAY end up full of "snap-on" ;p) ... in my dreams!

Until next time...




Friday, 19 August 2016

Solar Charger and Panel testing...

Last week, whilst browsing Ebay, I spotted some "used" solar panels up for sale quite locally.  There are still a few left by the looks of things herehttp://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/165W-MONOCRYSTALLINE-BLACK-SOLAR-PANELS-ONLY-59-/131893996459?hash=item1eb57eabab:g:8eoAAOSwUfNXSae7

Rather than buy it now, I sent the chap a message and asked if it'd be ok to come over to take a look and perhaps collect rather than have them delivered.  He was fine with that and offered me black ones rather than the silver one's he'd originally advertised.

So - after work (Andy was helping out that day) we detoured home via Leeds... a bit of a pain as it happened because the road directly where we needed to be was closed off and dug up.  It took a fair old bit of finding but good old "Waze" (other mobile sat navs are available) did good.

It turns out, the chap flogging them has a business designing and installing 'Off Grid' power systems - mainly in sunnier climates.  Smashing chap - you know the sort... someone you just get a good vibe from.  He only sells "Outback" kit but was happy to advise on how to get the best out of the stuff I'd had my eye on.

Anyway - Here we are, back at home with them laid out in the garden for me to test them

They're 1580mm long  x 808mm wide ... which gives us that valuable extra 20cms 'walking space' and I've emailed the builder so he can put the mushroom vents in the right places.... Hopefully ;-)


Having checked they were all "working" as much as I could, it struck me that using these panels would mean re-visiting the planned MPPT solar charger...  i.e. we needed one that could accept an incoming voltage of near 150.    I know I could parallel them up and keep the voltage low, but given they are to be sited at the very front of the boat (out of the way when I'm banging around on the roof), wiring them in series will help reduce the voltage drop and mean a smaller current coming through the  roof - leaving the controller to sort it out and do it's stuff.   For a change - rather than scrolling through my enormous 'watch list' on ebay, I thought I'd take a look on Amazon (bearing in mind this was Saturday tea-time) and test out the "Prime" next day delivery again...  I wasn't disappointed btw - both the solar charger and monitor arrived Sunday morning...  Say what you will about their tax situation, they DO deliver when others can't/won't!  MONITOR       MPPT



I moved the panels into the sun (this is about 5pm Sunday now) and losely wired them together - NOTE :  If you are buggering around with the mc4 connectors and push them "properly" together... they are a barsteward  pig to get apart again!!!


It'd have been good to be able to test it out earlier in the day, but as both my leisure batteries in the garage were fully charged, I'd had to rig up a few headlamp bulbs to drain them - otherwise, the charger would have recognised the voltage and gone into float mode... 

You can see from the photo above, it was recording a battery voltage of just 12.1 v .  The left hand side shows the output from the panels as being 97 v with a current of 2.8 amps .  The output from the charger to the battery was managing 22.1 amps - NOT a bad result given a) they are used panels and b) the time of day.  

Cost of this project:  180 quid for the panels (as opposed to 420 for 'new ones' from Ecoworthy), 159 for the MPPT (on offer) and 29 for the Monitor (optional but I want to be able to see what's going on - for spotting a fault etc)  Another reason for buying the monitor is that it allows you to personalise the charging and set values you want... as well as being able to select the type of battery bank (and thus charging volatage).  I'm pleased with it and whilst NOT one of the most expensive ones, it does weigh quite a lot given the size of the heat sink - Time will tell but I'm pleased with it value wise...

Total: £368.00  NOT bad for just short of half a kilowatt of solar panels and controller.  

The panels are now back in the garage and the other 2 bits in the attic with the rest of the boat stuff ...

btw - On Saturday's visit, Chris intimated he was hoping for a boat handover date of 23rd (ish) October...  we hope it's a little before that but compared to the original time scale, we can't complain.

Until next time...

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Blackpool, Beamish and Bankruptcy!

oh all-right... I may be exaggerating a little but blooming heck - talk about needing deep pockets for a day out in the UK.

We're off work  this week and having "day trips" here and there...  Monday was Blackpool - My idea in an attempt to re-kindle happy childhood memories .  We're lucky in that Andy's nephews are NOT the typical bad mannered "I want, I want, I want" 13 year olds - I pity any poor family with kids like that trying for a reasonable day out at the seaside.. their poor parents/guardians must have to re mortgage.

We had a day on the cheap by many folks standards - but even "cheap" came in at £210 by the time we'd gotten home...  and that was with booking things on-line a couple of weeks ago.

Our day started at the tower.


They've updated it a bit since I was last there - some 30 (eek) years ago! .. .Now it's "marketed" as the 'Blackpool Eye' - with a 4 D Cinema experience as you head up... probably to try and justify the cost.  It's actually quite good... with special effects galore and very well done.    OK, so you look a pillock in the specs:

but they are necessary for the 3 D to work - the 4 D comes in the form of vibrations from the bar you lean back on... it's good!

Neither Andy nor the kids had been up the tower before so it was nice to introduce them to it.



OF course you also HAVE to buy the "experience photo" on the way out... for another £20 ...

You do get a link do download them  too but it's still a bit of a rip off - Andy wanted them- not the kids... they are MUCH better behaved than he is lol.



We headed off down the seafront for a wander on to the pier and then down to the pleasure beach where we'd pre-booked unlimited rides, wrist bands. 

These days, you can't just wander in like you used to be able to - not even to view... they charge for that too.  We had what appeared at first to be a very long queue to join to collect our already booked passes.. until a very nice man - perhaps sensing the disharmony amongst the crowd, gatheredup a bunch of us at the back and marched us towards a different building where we were served within about 30 mins - STILL too long when the rides stop at 6-7pm.  

Anyway ... we were all very brave and went on as many rides as the QUEUING time allowed... The older I get, the worse I am at queuing.  30-40 mins shuffling forwards for a 30 second ride does not seem like a good way to spend a day off work! - I'm clearly old and grumpy as everyone else seemed to be having a whale of a time...  Even when "the big one" broke down with us on it for 20 mins suspended 50 feet up!!! - you can imagine how chilled I was about that one.  Not to worry, MORE revenue/profit making photo opportunity's






Believe it or not, I DID enjoy the day - up until the last ride (which was nearly an hour queuing) to go on the log-flume...  THAT's changed since my day as it's now INSIDE a mountain type thingy with really quite good special effects  - you get VERY VERY Wet... and of course in the queue, you can buy ponchos (for 2 quid each) to try and stay dry!... suffice to say we got soaked and drove home sitting on towels in our underpants!

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

Today, we've been back to Beamish - but as customers rather than staff.  I did take some photos but they're in my phone which I think /hope I've left in the car.  Beamish - because it's a charity is much better value really.  We bought a family ticket for just under £50 which allows us to come and go as many times as we like in a 12 month period....ok so the drinks and snacks are extortionate but you can go back to your car (to collect your picnic) without any hassle.

Given we arrived before the gates opened, we were first in the queue and heading into the park early doors.  This was  a good move as we were able to go straight to the guided pit/mine tour and NOT have to queue.  I knocked my helmet off during the walk underground - which of course landed in mucky water which gave everyone ELSE a laugh...  We had a ride on the steam train, the trams, the old motor buses and a good look around.  It WAS too busy to enjoy if I'm honest, but we can at least go back again when things are quieter... perhaps during term time.

Tomorrow, the plan is to go to Holmfirth (last of the summer wine land) and do a treasure-hunt.... Friday we plan to head to Whitby as it's the regatta... that'll be nice but busy again.    Roll on next week when I'm back at work for a rest!

btw- the mooring ropes arrived the other day at last

although I can't get overly excited about them...

What I AM excited about though, are the 3 solar panels I bought the other day... more on those soon.

Until next time...


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Engine in, Spray foam done and pocket lighter!

Yesterday we took a surprise trip over to see the boat.  When I say surprise, it wasn't a surprise for US, but Andy's nephews who've come to stay for a week.  They thought they were being dragged off to friends of ours for a bbq so I 'think' it was a pleasant surprise to see the boat for the first time instead!

Things have come on nicely since the other week... what with spray-foaming, water-tank fitting, engine and battery installation AND most importantly (well for me) the dents in the roof being fettled -  The roof support bar is still in the way so it looks like I'm going to have to re-visit the stove flu pipe location.  Anyway,  a picture says a thousand words and all that so here we go.
View to stern

View to bow

Pirates?

When I spotted the water tank was in, initially I had one of those awful moments, thinking "oh heavens(*substitute more appropriate expletive here) - I forgot to ask them to spray foam behind it" and half coming up with a method in my head of how to get insulation around the tank - not a problem in the end as when I held the camera at floor level under and around the tank you can see they'd done it anyway.
spray foaming behind water tank

Spray foaming UNDER water tank

The tank is 200 litres larger than the normal one - although not having ever seen a normal one, I've no frame of reference...  the pump will end up sticking out into the wardrobe as a result but we can cope with that - the filler, will be routed to the starboard gunwhale.


Initially, I'd had concerns about HOW the wooden battens  above the gunhwale were attached - with just 2 self tappers but now I realise, it's the spray foam that holds them FIRMLY in place.  VERY firmly!

At the other end, I couldn't resist lifting the chekerplating (once this fella had moved a side)

and have a nosey in the engine hole.

Centaflex coupling

Canaline 42 with prm 150.
I know it's just a mass produced blue lump - but to me, it's OUR, mass produced blue lump and it's very exciting lol.  The hospital silencer is fitted (forgot to take a photo of that but imagine it about a foot out of view, left bottom corner), as are the batteries - good to note the starter is Vetus  which was a bit of a surprise - I'd expected some generic non-branded name.  On closer inspection (although you can't see from the photo, the leisures ARE the 135s I'd asked for all those months ago too!

I think there is also enough room to shuffle the starter along a bit and add another 135 should we find we're struggling with the 540ah bank to give us another (usable) 67.5ah...we'll suck it and see first though.


Do you remember that "delux" engine control panel I mentioned many moons ago?


T-dah ... in bubble wrap hanging through the bulkhead.



I could have poked around chatting with Chris all afternoon - sadly though, the natives appeared to be getting restless so we called it a day and headed back home.



Tomorrow, we're bound for Blackpool for a trip up the Tower, 4 D cinema (whatever that is) and day being hurtled around on horrible rides on the pleasure beach - I'm SURE that (pleasure beach) is a true example of an oxi-moron!

Until next time...

Oh - hang on ...I missed the lighter pocket bit... AS usual, on a visit, it was decided something else was a 'can't do without' item to be added...  MY fault this time as I asked them to fit a gauge to the diesel tank... I didn't even check how much it costs - the kids will just have to eat dust this week or perhaps we could sell one and try to convince the parents they only left one with us?

Until next time... Proper!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Executive decisons...

or rather,  I gambled and took a chance...  either way, we now have 2 beautiful chrome fair-leads to suit  16mm ropes... which is good, given that they're on order too *note to self: chase them up*...



It seems I've gotten away with it too as they have passed the test - the rules of which are never given out of course... any married reader (to either sex) will know what I mean!

We still need another 4 of course (1 either side bow and stern) and given the cost of them, I wasn't prepared to gamble with so much money but for now I shall mark these as "centre line" and put them in the attic with everything else -An attic which is getting rather full!

It just occurred to me that I've never explained WHY we are fitting fair-leads.  It's another of those things we sort of 'learned' (for want of a better description) as we've gone along hiring...  MOST narrowboats don't have them.... their ropes just being attached to a dolly or T-stud, to the bank and back.  The trouble (if you worry about such things) is that the ropes end up scratching the paint where they pass over the side of the boat - introduce a fair-lead, and rather than rubbing on the paintwork, they are held just that little bit off


   They're also useful for keeping  centre-lines in position either side... so you're not forever twanging things into the canal as you try and change sides with the rope... although that said, we're having twin centre-lines with one dedicated for each side anyway so I suppose that risk will already be reduced.

Fitting them requires a little thought though - initially, I'd planned to use "rivet nuts" rather than tapping threads into the handrails... but on seeking advice, have changed my mind - apparently, once under strain they can work loose.


It's a rather long video but if you've never seen a rivet nut, it might be enlightening

The revised  plan is to use "blind bolts" -

.


I like the look of these rather than faffing about trying to tap good threads...  tapping and me have a strained (no pun) relationship at the best of times...

It's funny, but until we decided to get a boat, I'd never realised how many different ways there are to achieve the same result OR how many folk there are out there, perfectly happy to give advice and guidance at the drop of a hat.  When you're "young" you rarely take advice...  once you get a bit longer in the tooth, you come to realise, that ALMOST everyone else in the world, probably knows more about stuff than you do... and in my case, I'm perfectly happy to utilise their experience rather than feck things up as I blunder along my own way.

I was chatting with an old boating chap the other day and the subject of "tools" came up - he said he'd made the mistake of trying to keep everything he'd amassed in his garage over the years... the result being a badly organised clutter that drives his wife mad.  He suggested that rather than trying to keep everything, he'd have been better off building a new dedicated tool kit especially for when he got his boat and having a car-boot sale to clear out the old stuff.

With his words still echoing around the empty space between my ears, I've started collecting "stuff" and putting it in the attic along with the other "stuff" .  It's rather handy needing to call into screwfix so often on my way home from work... it gives me a chance to pick up "offers" - take the other day,  I needed a box of 5x50mm screws (well actually I needed 5000 but they only had 800 in stock)  and on offer was a new set of 3 mole grips

Now ok - I already have a few pairs in my existing tool box, but they're destined for the aforementioned car boot so these are now safely in my boaters tool kit. When I get around to it, I'll do  list of useful things... for the time being, it's an ad-hoc collection of "stuff."- ONLY "stuff" that will come in useful mind!


Boaty types are among (amongst?) the most helpful and patient bunch of folk you'll ever meet - well most of them... there is the odd grumpy one but for the most part, they're a community of like-minded, resourceful  and accepting people and you can pretty much guarantee that whatever WE want to do to the boat, someone else will have done it and worked out a better/easier/stronger way of doing it.  All you need to do is ask - either face to face or via the forums and help will be forthcoming ...  If only the rest of the world was like this.

Until next time...