Wednesday, 31 August 2011

What would you do....?

Last winter, remember the sub zero temperatures, I trundled up and down the A38 keeping the boat fire in to protect the plumbing. We have a back boiler on our boat with a pipe thermostat fitted that controls the pump.

I topped up the header tank with a pre mix of antifreeze when I started the boat heating process but became alarmed when I discovered the header tank level dropping on subsequent visits.

I suspected a leak but could not find one anywhere. I have the pressure release valve and outflow piped into the engine bay which drips into a bucket that has a pump in it to empty it. Basic but it works. After the bad weather I noticed that the water in the bucket has a pink tinge to it which is the colour of the Halfords antifreeze I had been using. I therefore deduced that the heating coil for the central heating was leaking into the cylinder itself.

I checked on Sunday and whilst there is a valve that can be opened and closed to direct the central heating water via the water tank there is no valve on the return. This explains why turning off the feed to the cylinder did not stop the drop in the header tank.

I think I have two options

1. Replace the tank, £430 plus a days plumbing and the hassle of swapping out a system that works and has no air locks etc.

2. Put a simple shut off valve £5 into the return feed off the calorifier

If I do the latter I will not be able to heat my hot water via the stove, or get the central heating warmed up from the engine whilst cruising.

However I will be about £450 quid better off and not have to have all the hassle of the swap out.

If I go for option 1 I will hopefully get water that stays hot for longer than 12 hours.

We can get how water after an hour of engine running reliably and do have to run the engine to charge the batteries

If I go for a new tank I will have an emersion element so could have hot water via a land line or genny hook up.

If I go for the new tank I will know it will last me the length of time we will keep the boat (a long time now based on what I think it is worth in today's market)

So over to you, what would you do, please help as I'm in a dither?


PS. I do have the money, (but would rather spend it on solar panel or an electric fridge)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

It's coming to a canal near you.....

One of the real joys of living aboard is cold weather. When it arrives it gives those lucky enough the opportunity to light their wood burning stoves and dissolve themselves in the warmth and the smell.

I can think of nothing better than walking past a boat in winter with the smell of seasoned wood smoke drifting in the cold static air, especial if that boat is mine and I'm entering the warmth in the middle of nowhere.

I blog about this after following an interesting post on CWF.... clicky

Sunday, 28 August 2011

If you go down to the woods today...... might have found us lost in there. We went out for a walk in Fradley woods and followed a path we have been on before. Blackberries we collected for a promised ( by Rachel) Apple and Blackberry pie then we decided to try an alternative route home.

Looking at google maps on our return it should have need easy, but the corn made the paths into a real Maize (sorry) we really did get lost and it was only the sound of the boats on the canal that helped us get a rough direction through some very heavy vegetation.

It was a real adventure and it will be interesting to see how it is in a month or so when the crop is harvested.

A bonus is (for the sports and telly watchers) I was able to watch the football via sky go app on my iPad via my new orange dongle. I calculated it was about 400mb for the second half, and was very watchable so another home comfort.

The IPad really is a great tool for the boat, low power very portable and does a lot of things. I think Sarah on Chertsey is blogging full time from the IPad now.

A couple of days aboard over the Bank Holiday, Fradley was very busy with people and boats, all smiling and getting on with each other. It is one thing that you see most of all on the canals, smiling people!

Off to make the Thai curry now.....


Thursday, 25 August 2011

The generosity of boaters

I am aboard for a while typing this via my Orange Internet. You may recall I had a problem with my dongle being fried whilst on my lads flat electrics. I blogged about it and I had some helpful comments. Non more than from Alan off NB Lazydays who said he had a spare Orange dongle that I could have. How generous was that. He has subsequently sent it on to me very quickly and I am now back up and connected.

I am a believer in paying it forward I have recently responded to a biker who was after some parts for his bike I had them and I have sent them on to him with a request to make a donation to the poppy appeal. I sincerely hope that Alan from NBLazydays gets his bit of good fortune and also shares in the feel good feeling of a good cause getting the benefit of our rolling gesture.

In these days when society seems to get so focused on what is in it for me I think we need to show these gestures so we feel good about being human beings, thanks Alan.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Notts and lincs air ambulance charity ride

Off with about 300 bikes today to Skeggy

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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Engine hours

For the record really we have just gone over the 600 hours mark. Not a lot of hours which is good and bad really. I think we put the counter on in early 2008 so less than 200 hours per year.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The corn walk

Lots of corn sweetcorn being grown around us. It certainly must take a lot out of the soil

Lovely walk on the non towpath side up towards Woodend lock

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Falling in

This visit was as much about fettling the boat as it was cruising. Yesterday I was left on my own to do the outsides. Starboard was ok as it could be done on the mooring as was the roof. My option was to cruise down to Alrewas and wind to get safe access to the port side clean, from the gunwale or push across to the tow path. I did the latter with no assistance from the wind which was trying to keep me mooring side.

Eventually got cleaning and half way down the boat I found the grassed over hole in the towpath. Leg into the canal upto the knee just saving myself by hanging on to the top which pull my shoulder and swung me chest into the gunwale resulting in a sore shoulder and bruised ribs.

So today being my birthday the extended fishing session has gone west as has the trip out on my motorbike. Rest and relaxation........what an old git I am!

Take care, simple accidents can have larger consequences,


Monday, 15 August 2011

Me dongle is dead !

It was loaned out to my lad who has just moved into a flat in Leeds. While his broadband was being ordered he borrowed my Solwise router and orange dongle. On return he told me it had stopped working halfway through the week. A little later he also told me his freezer had stopped working and he suspected the socket. Landlord came out and it was a dodgy socket, replaced freezer back up and working.

I then loaned the router and dongle out to anther boater to check a particular problem and he could not get the dongle connected.

Playtime this afternoon resulted in a call to Orange and a diagnosis my dongle was expired. Apparently the ariel on these is a particular weakness.

Only problem is the latest Orange dongle does not have the external ariel socket. So it's more investigation on the Internet as to what is the best option..... He rather helpfully suggested a Wibi which is to be investigated.

So if you have an orange e160 stick gathering dust I'm your man.

Bst bit about the demise of the dongle was I found my water pump was leaking........


Sunday, 14 August 2011

Need to do some work on the boat plus electricity Q

.......but I am far too lazy. I may have to have lunch first to give me some energy.

The batteries are at 55% on the Smartgauge so we need to run the engine for some time today. Out batteries give 10% increase for every hour this was the same with the old batteries as it is with the new set. One thing I noticed when they were really low the Smartgauge was in showing about 13.3 volts going in when the % charge was in the 20-30% range. As the % went up so did the voltage going in. I'm sure this is correct and there is a 'law' that dictates this, just wanted to know it was correct.

Also the adverc green light was on which I'm still unsure what it represents, as the batteries got more charge the green light went off??

Anyway back to being lazy.........


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Private v's hirer's

On the boat now for a few days. Sitting here in my new chair (!) and it is so obvious the difference between hirer's and private boaters re speed passing our line of moored boats. The hirer's are so much more considerate but is the private boaters that speed past until they see signs of life aboard then the engine note drops ......what is that all about, we are boaters as well so we know what it takes for a boat to slow down !!

Ok relax time again.


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Saturday, 13 August 2011

At what point did British Telecom become India Telecom?

Mmmmm..... talk about frustrated. I got an email telling me as I'd exceeded my broadband usage BT or rather IT were going to charge me £50

Telephone call to BT or rather IT customer services engaged me in a very difficult conversation with an Indian lady who due to a poor phone line (!!!!!! - she eventually had to call me back) made the passing of details very difficult. I gave up with her when she asked me to spell forward slash !!

Then a very nice well spoken Indian man came on who spoke at 100mph 20 minutes later after he had tried his best to reinterpret a clause that said I would not be charged for going over for the first time, resulting in him telling me it was for new customers only. (I have been with BT since we have had internet so I consider myself a loyal customer) In the end I asked him a question will he refund me the chage or not - if he could not then I would close the call and phone back the cancellation team. He put me on hold and other 5 minutes of Greensleeves and he came back on and said he has spoken to James (a good old Indian name) who had said to not make the charge as I was a loyal customer !

This whole episode tested my loyalty. I have no problem with the nation of India. I find their operators very polite but I struggle to understand the accent especially when speaking so quickly. But they follow a script and are tenatious in doing so, they do not understand when to stop and move the call elsewhere - in this case no doubt back to the UK to James. Companies are bringing their call centres back to the UK and so they should. I think it is a massive negative when a large company puts their customers through an experience as I have just had.

Mini rant over,


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Good deed for the day

Now BW or their contractors fountain are not mowing the bank next to our boat we decided to visit after work on a DIY mission. Suitably tooled up we approached Hunts lock where an hire boat was descending. Going across the top gate the crew started revving hard but the boat was being drawn back to the cill the pole was being deployed and some panic was setting in. I shouted for them to drop the paddles which one did and the other crew member was floundering so I ran up and took the windlass and dropped it before running back and opening the top paddle to get the boat stable. The lady steerer was quite upset she had done nothing wrong and was pleased to hear the fact they had left one of the ground paddle up. The combination of two emptying and one filling with it's fradley undertow pulled the boat back over the cill. We just got the boat stopped and enough water under the boat to avoid a serious incident. Explanation and much relief then thanks followed.

All the nastiness going off at the moment when helping someone feels so good??

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Saturday, 6 August 2011

Getting ready for the lakes

At Squires getting ready for a couple of hundred miles to the lakes and back

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