Sunday, April 29, 2007

Things to do

I am a great one for making 'things to do' lists. My diary is a succession of things to do lists, colour coded: green = newly added; blue = carried over from the previous day; red = must be done today. Black I use to tick things off, carry them forward or cancel them (tick, arrow or cross respectively). As a system, I recommend it very highly.

Even if I haven't actually got anything done, having an organised list makes me feel on top of things. And as I was feeling rather overwhelmed by all the little jobs we should be finishing on Warrior in the next MONTH (aaagh!) I made a list. It is a very long list, but making it did make me feel better. It's a bit frustrating too, because some of the things can only be done after other people have worked their magic, but mainly because lots of the things are things I can't really do myself, or at least, it wouldn't be very efficient for me to do them. Things involving height, physical strength or power tools, for example.

Today felt like a frustrating day, but when I got round to seeing what has actually got ticked off the list I felt much better, viz:
Inside of engine room side hatches rubbed down and painted
Silicone (from the engine room roof panel) painstakingly scraped off roof (use baby wipes next time!!!)
Flange (for roof vent, see photo) rubbed down, primed, fitted, and primed again, along with panel. We are particularly pleased with this, especially with the domed headed bolts it looks fantastic.
Nice little shelf put up in bathrom
New knobs put on kitchen cabinets (nice white china ones to replace little brass ones)
Kitchen roll holder put up
Hatch in the foredeck over the bed - plywood levered off, old gripfill painfully removed with Perago, primed ready to have cork tiles stuck on tomorrow.

And tomorrow, of course, is another day.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A hole in the roof

OK, this was the week before last ... but this is the roof after the engine went back in. The whole operation went so smoothly in part because we had a nice big removeable panel with plenty of space to spare. The panel was then bolted back down on a bed of paintable silicone, which made doing up the nuts a lovely sticky job for me. The best thing I know of for getting silicone off - and I discovered this by accident while doing Helyn's bathroom (OK, toilet cupboard) floor and didn't realise at the time what a great discovery it was - is baby wipes. Really cleans wet silicone off well.

Before replacing the panel we got Keith to cut a hole in it for our new roof vent; he has now (I hear) also fabricated the flange for it so we will need to paint and fit that this weekend. Jim is going to make the bit that goes over the top (name?) and it will look like this one (not the same colours though).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Port pics

I'm not terrifically pleased with my photos from Ellesmere Port - either I'm out of practice or my standards are getting higher - but I've uploaded a few here. I've also just uploaded a lot more engine photos - almost the last ones now I guess - of the engine finally going back into Warrior.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who ate half the canal?

I'm currently reading - and thoroughly enjoying - Stuart Maconie's Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North. His affectionate and enthusiastic exploration of the north of England, in idea and in concrete reality, is reminiscent of Bill Bryson, only with a bemusement born in Wigan rather than Des Moines. (Apart from the fact that it would attract oodles more people, I would love to see Bryson write about the canals.)

But - and there's always a but. You know how when you're young, you believe anything adults tell you; when you're at school you take whatever the teachers say as gospel (and I had a teacher who didn't know how to spell chimney, so don't tell me standards have fallen); when you're at university you tend to accept - god help you - that lecturers know what they're talking about.

And when you're reading a book, you tend to take it on trust that even if the person writing it isn't an actual expert, they have at least checked the basic facts. Occasionally I'll think of some snippet of information that I grew up with, usually imparted by my mother, that I haven't thought of for twenty years - for example, that tea contains more caffeine than coffee - and suddenly realise that it's completely and utterly wrong. Parents are not infallible founts of knowledge! Then I think, well, what else might I still believe quite baselessly ... Similarly with a book, if it gets one thing wrong that you actually know about, then you have to think, what else has it got wrong; which of those delicious little bits of information is actually a trap for the unwary? Is Port Vale really the only club in the football league not to be named after a geographical place?

Because on page 188 Maconie states unequivocally that 'Best of all, though, is the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, opened in 1811, which runs from Marsden to Huddersfield'. This is followed by a bit of guff about the Standedge Tunnel taken straight out of the tourist brochure, followed by the claim that the tunnel is 'seven feet wide and three miles long' (a tad of an underestimate in both dimensions, I suspect) ... and then he says that the 'Marsden shuttle [is] a narrowboat that you can take on the short trip through [sic] the tunnel.' Now that last bit must just be plain sloppiness, as he's already noted that it's the longest canal tunnel in the world. (In fact the trip boat just goes in a bit and then backs out again. I'm not even entirely sure that that, rather than the tug, is called the shuttle, but I'll let that pass.)

What worries me more is how we managed to get from Marsden to Ashton-under-Lyne last year ...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Big bird!

Another bird post. This one is from Ellesmere Port. Baz and I were trying to get round to Minnow to say hello to Mark and Vicky and found our path blocked on this narrow strip of land by a nesting swan. Now, I know two things about swans:
1. They are very powerful
2. They tend to be rather grumpy, especially if they have eggs to defend

The chap whose legs you can see on the left said very airily, oh, just front it up; show it you're not scared. Baz and I clearly were quite scared, but sidled gingerly past and got away with it. Only to look across Minnow and the other boats to see Mark and Vicky disappearing towards the cafe for their breakfast (it transpired). So we had to brave the swan - who was now starting to lose patience with us a bit - going in the other direction. Again, our basket-bearing friend urged us not to be wimps and assured us that we could -and should - face down the magnificent beast. And again, we snuck past as unobtrusively as possible, even going so far as to step onto a rather unreliable looking pontoon. But when we got safely back and glanced over towards our fearless advisor, he was still hesitating, and hadn't passed the swan once.

We eventually did go back to see Mark and Vicky, but we walked across the boats this time; manners are important, but not as important as not getting attacked by a swan.

Monday, April 23, 2007

An odd couple

I feel that I've been a little less than dedicated in posting lately. The thing is, we've been doing things that are the finishing off or continuation of jobs already started - in some cases started ages ago - so it's not very exciting.

Anyway, here is a picture of some ducks. They've quickly cottoned on to us now that the kitchen hatch is on the outside and come by regularly for breakfast. But they're a seaside postcard pair of ducks: she's big and domineering and always tries to grab the food first, and he's small and rather less bold.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

'Little' job got even bigger

That wasn't the end of the story with the licence holder (see below). When I went out to admire it later that evening, there was a little crack in the glass. I assumed I'd banged it with the hatch - the brass frame does stand out that far from the bulkhead. But then I was sitting inside the boat reading the paper when I heard a sharp crack. When I looked again, the glass had cracked in the opposite corner. Obviously it had been done up so tightly - as it surely has to be if it is to be watertight - that as everything cooled down at the end of the day, the contraction was sufficient to break the glass, especially as the rear surface of the brass is uneven. By the following morning, it was cracked all over and right across. The only solution would appear to be to replace the glass with perspex. Do I wish we'd never started off down this particular road? Not really; if the end result still looks good it will have been worth the trouble.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Another one of those 'little' jobs

Putting up one - just one! - of the licence holders. These things look good (that's why we sought them out) and when you've only got portholes you don't really want two of them filled up with licences. But in practice they're not very well designed. This one consists of a cast brass frame, a piece of glass that looks as if it was cut with someone's teeth, and two bits of rubber: one small, to fit in the rebate behind the licence, and a larger one that goes behind the whole thing. The other one we've got only has the large piece. They cost about twenty two quid each, and you have to drill/cut your own holes in the rubber. As you have to take the whole thing off to change the licence every year, Jim bought a set of taps to make threads for some nice brass machine screws. These, naturally, entailed drilling bigger holes in the brass frame. Naturally, also, one of the taps broke in the hole. Apparently this is why they're sold in pairs. As there was no seal between the glass and the frame, we put some clear silicone in, and also between the frame and the backing rubber to be on the safe side. So it was another one of those apparently simple jobs that turn out to be a lot harder than you'd think, but I guess it was worth it. Just the other one to do now.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Aagh! There's an engine in my engine room!

The engine was meant to go in tomorrow. So today we were doing a final tidy up of the engine room; Clive was finishing off the electrics, to all be ready for the big day. Then just as we finished lunch, up turns (?) Ian, and announces that it's going in today, as he's heard a forecast of rain for tomorrow. So instead of mooching around doing little odds and sods, it was suddenly action stations.

The lifting in of the engine went very smoothly (special thanks to Keith in the crane), and despite a couple of hard-to-reach nuts it was soon bolted safely (we hope) down. All that anticipation, and the actual event over in less than an hour. I then had the enviable task of doing up the fifty nuts that hold the roof panel on, all sticky with sealant, as Jim hammered the bolts through from above. We used round domed-headed bolts and they really do look good. Quite rivet-like. Before replacing the roof panel, Jim had a hole cut in it. We're not going to have a pigeon box, but a square vent copied from a Fish Class josher.

So that's the main event over, and a strange sense of anti-climax has settled, at least over me. Lots to do still, of course; the day tank is still to be fitted; Ian is sorting us out an original 30s CAV fuel filter, which will look a lot nicer than the white lump currently stuck on the front of the engine, and then there's all the engine plumbing and electrics to do. But there we are, the big old beast back in its bed. Welcome home, engine!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A cure for the common cold

Last weekend we had Baz on the boat and he was coughing and spluttering with germs he brought back from Ireland (or possibly the hordes of adolescents he went to Ireland with), and for once I was unable to avoid them (the germs, not the adolescents. I always avoid the latter). Then I had three days at a conference to incubate them, so by yesterday I was feeling pretty lousy and looking like the wreck of the Hesperus. But this morning I was all bright and perky again, completely cured of the lurgy. Which proves, I think, that a bit of boating (even stationary) is the long-sought cure for the common cold.

Today we've been getting the engine room ready for the engine to go in, which is planned for Tuesday. Lots of little bits and pieces, repainting the engine bay, touching up the rest of the paintwork; drilling the holes for mounting the day tank (which is very heavy) and generally clearing out all the accumulated rubbish. I don't really need to tell you where we're taking our thirsty selves now, do I?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Still alive - just!

Cos I know you were worried. Last weekend was spent rubbing down and painting and rubbing down and painting and rubbing down again, and I would have posted about it, photos and all - because Warrior is looking really great now - but the T-Mobile card decided to go on the blink. Literally, bacause its little lights just kept flashing randomly and very fast. We've phoned up T-Mobile and they were very helpful; apparently this is a known fault in a batch of cards (ho hum) and they actually call it 'disco light sundrome' (at least, the guy we spoke to did) and if it is that it can be fixed with a download as soon as I get home with the laptop. So that's why I didn't post earlier in the week, and since then I've been exiled to Bath, where I have caught a passing glimpse of canal from the bus but am based at a distinctly out of town university taking a break from being a coachpainter (for which read rubber-downer; I know my strengths) and transforming myself back into a respected academic and trying not to notice the state of my fingernails. As you might be able to tell, I am entering the final (hopefully not terminal) stages of conference fatigue, but all will be well when I am back up the boat at the weekend. Great things are promised for this trip, but, you know ...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Having fun (in the proper fashion)

We went up to Ellesmere Port for the day today, for the working boats gathering, and generally had a rather nice time. We caught up with lots of people we hadn't seen for a while (a while being anything between a year and since last Tuesday); I went and explained myself to the owners of Seaford; we looked (in great detail) at two or three different National engines, and heard tell of someone else who has a three cylinder National - we can form an owners' club. We got more new ideas of things to do to Warrior (I think we must be into plans for about phase four now). Lunch was not very successful - we will take sandwiches next time. It was so much nicer when they had their little cafe upstairs where they made you toasted sandwiches. The beer was fine though but they only had Speckled Hen - brewed by Greene King! Afraid I still had some though. We bought a variety of interesting bits of brass (ye gods. More polishing) from someone we subsequently realised was Malcolm Braine: some step edging, various small bits and bobs and four handrails that have already been allocated (by me) to different uses. I took lots of arty farty photos but you can't see them yet because they're on film.

Ah yes, many years ago when the boys were about seven and three, we took them to a local open air museum. This would probably have been our first family outing with Jim and he wasn't really all that used to children, and he was bewailing their lack of interest in the various educational aspects of the visit. I said that it didn't really matter, as they were clearly enjoying themselves. 'I know', he said, despairingly, 'but they're not enjoying themselves in the proper fashion.' I am afraid that we have never let him forget this particularly felicitous turn of phrase, and there, I have now made it public.

I am pleased to report that by and large we did enjoy ourselves in the proper fashion today.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Now, about those injectors ...

We got up at 4.30 this morning and left at six, to beat the bank holiday traffic - which we did with ease, arriving in a record time of three and a quarter hours. This time we brought Baz with us, and he has spent the day polishing all the bits of brass and copper I missed (including all the mysterious lengths of pipe out of the engine box), and helping Clive with the electrics. They're nearly finished now, and we have lights and sump pump now as well as water, just waiting for the fridge, which needs a new cable run added.

Now, about the injectors. When the engine arrived, most of it was in primer. Everything that had been primed back at the works, I painted. The injectors weren't primed, so I didn't paint them. Then a certain person who shall remain nameless came along and said, 'Have you not painted the injectors red Sarah?' Oh no, said I, for they were not primed. 'Oh', said PWSRN, 'But they will go rusty if you don't.' Oh dear, I said to Jim, PWSRN says that we have to paint the injectors. So he did, primed them and painted them red. Then along came a second person who shall remain nameless (even though he was right) and said to Jim, dubiously, 'I see Sarah's painted the injectors. Red.' This was reported back to me and I went and had another look, and it did look wrong. Too much red. Disaster. (Scroll down a few days to see.) Oh dear, I said to PWSRN2, we shouldn't have painted them red, should we. They wouldn't have gone rusty if we'd just put some oil on them. 'No', said PWSRN2, 'That probably would have been all right.' But we'll never get the paint off now, I thought. And sadly, I went home. Then I thought that maybe we should paint them black; this would at least be better than red. PWSRN2 (aesthetic guru) agreed. But when we arrived today and looked at the injectors prepatory to rubbing them down, we found that, actually, the paint came off quite easily, so Jim sat and whipped it off with the Perago. Obviously it took quite a while to get it out of all the nooks and crannies, but now they look better than ever. They've had a good rub with oil, and that's how they're going to stay. Whatever PWSRN1 says.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Canal Boat is definitely the best magazine on the market at the moment. I said nice things about the last issue, but the new one's even better ...

Page 100, main photo ... that's our engine!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Today I have been mostly polishing

And I have the broken and blackened fingernails to prove it. But finally, very nearly all the interior brasswork is done. It does look great, even if I do say so myself. And finally, although I'm sure not for long, the whole boat is clean and tidy at the same time. The wind finally dropped enough to get a bit of painting done today (following the obligatory grinding and filling) and so the foredeck had a second coat of primer. The incentive for getting this done, and the foreward bulkhead, is that we will then be able to put our brass licence holder up and let a bit more light in through the portholes. They look very nice on other boats, but looking at the thing out of the packaging, it doesn't seem to be terrifically well designed; there's no seal between the glass and the brass frame (we'll probably stick the glass in with some clear silicone) and you have to unscrew the whole thing from the boat to change the licence every year. Still, hopefully better than having it stuck in the window. We also have a mooring permit, but I've stuck them in the cupboard for now, on the reckoning that we really only need to display that when moored back at Hargrave.

We are back home now, all set to pick Baz up tomorrow following his orchestra tour in Ireland, and hoping to persuade him to accompany us back up at the weekend. We are now definitely planning to fit in a day at Ellesmere Port, and possibly also visit the Anson Engine Museum. Over the last week we've seen quite a few lovely boats on their way to the Port, but it was a special thrill this morning to see a large Northwich approaching, unliveried, and to identify it by its water can as Seaford; Seaford being the nearest place (about three miles to the east) to us to feature as a Town Class boat, so I feel it's a little bit special. We will have to seek them out on Saturday to explain why we were so excited ('Seaford! Is that Seaford?' 'Yes' 'Fantastic!!')

Before and After

The seat boxes are now almost finished; the oak trim has been added, and just needs some fine beading inside it so that it will match the style of the saloon cupboard, then for the oak to be oiled. The saloon is pretty much finished now, so here's a reminder of what it looked like before, to compare to how it looks now:

From this:
To this:

And from this:
To this:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Off my rocker

I know, these dreadful puns are going to have to stop. Had a change from polishing brass this morning. Got to polish the aluminium rocker covers instead. The ones on the left in the photo are done, the ones on the right not (at the time). There is a difference, although the shine is more of a subtle glow. Another little job done ...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Latest update

Sorry to have gone a bit quiet but it's been too windy to stand outside with a blanket over my head to keep the sun off the screen. I think I really will have to look into getting some kind of remote aerial for the datacard.

We've been doing lots and lots and lots of little jobs this weekend. In my case, mostly cleaning and polishing. I hope Brasso isn't a cumulative poison ... Warrior is really starting to look lovely now on the inside. Only the cabin now is really in a mess (having previously been the only clean and tidy part). This morning Jim stripped the flaky green and black paint off the cabin stove and it's now blackleaded. Looks much better.

We now have running water! This is a source of great joy after lugging containers of it around, but was not without its traumas. We arrived on Saturday to find Clive the electrician hard at work, and he left us with the water pump and battery charger connected. We were delighted to discover that the removal of the engine has left the cold water system intact and no pipes leading nowhere. We were not so pleased to discover, on finally undoing the stopcock, that the inline filter was broken and leaking rather severely. It was sorting this out that was the traumatic part, as we couldn't get the stopcock fully turned off again (ho hum) so had to bypass the filter while collecting a steady stream of water in a succession of small saucepans. It is working OK for the moment though, lovely water coming out of the tap and the Seagull filter, and as a bonus it no longer knocks like it used to.

Another treat has been seeing some lovely boats come by on their way to the Easter gathering at Ellesmere Port. I'm hoping that we can find some excuse to come back next week and go on up there; we had such a lovely time last year. (After literally bumping into a few of them on our way down). Tied up next to us here is Minnow which will be leaving tomorrow morning for the Port.

Time to get back to the Brasso.