Saturday, 30 June 2012

The breakdown cruise...

It has been a double breakdown cruise that turned out to be a bit more involved. We were waiting an RCR engineer at Dimmingsdale lock, I chased on Wednesday morning and was told the engineer was just finishing a job and would be with me within the hour. Whilst waiting Graham and Jill came by on Armadillo

Shortly after Phil the engineer from Oxley marine arrived saying he had just received the job from RCR.... So the engineer just finishing was a little fib maybe....anyhow he had about thirty belts with him and after a little trial and error he found and fitted a nice new fan belt. £10 yep was charged, The belt from Halfords was just over £3.
We ran the engine for a couple of minutes an all was well so Phil set off, just as he was walking out of sight the charging alarm went off again. I gave him a blast on the air horn and he returned. Another cup of tea and a good fettle around the alternator Phil found a broken earth wire. I broke out my crimping set and he set to.... Sorted, charging then he left, when he was jut out of sight the alarm went off again so he was recalled with the air horn. He diagnosed a faulty rectifier and we agreed we would cruise on to Oxley marine near Autherly junction for him to remove the alternator and take it to be tested. He disconnected the alarm and off he went and we followed.
A dog rescue at Compton lock.... followed, that is a story, and we arrived at Oxley about 3pm. Phil set to and removed the alternator and set off to Wolverhampton to get it checked.

That is Phil's little 100 year old boat

The water here is very clear, due to being fed lots of nitrates from the two water works and there are lads of large carp..

An hour later he brought back a new alternator as he advised the old one was not charging properly. He kindly replaced all the connectors with new crimped ones and refitted it. We started up and all was well. We left it for a while and just as Phil came to collect his tools the charging alarm went of again! He was very resolute and declared he liked a challenge. He pulled wiring loomed and the alarm silenced.....a broken wire maybe? After about another hour he found a wire that had worn through the insulation and was shorting on the engine block. It must has been heating up just enough to expand and touch the block. A excellent find ..

He made good and ran the engine again and all was well. We exchanged thanks and set off for a late evening cruise to Coven for food and beer. An interesting day. The upside is RCR now have a parts included policy, they charge accordingly of course, but we got a new alternator and a good check on the wiring.

All in all an interesting but frustrating day. Just goes to show you can just assume you will make progress. Top marks to Phil from Oxley marine, I can't recommend him highly enough, he stuck at it where others would have given up.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Today beer had to be taken

I'll post more later.... maybe, but now after 4 months i need / deserve a beer.


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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Breakdown number 2...RCR not at their best

Jumping around a bit day wise. We moored overnight just below the Bratch locks. I had a red letter evening fishing, must have caught over 25- 2lb plus chub on shrimp. Never fished the canal like it before, it was excellent.

We set ff just after 8 to go up the Bratch locks with the help of the lockie. He was a chatty fellow been working for BW since 1976, retired now doing summer lock work. The other fellow was also nice and chatty but well fed up with BW/CART as they had just changed his contract to annualised hours meaning about £700 a year pay cut and more weekend working. You have got to feel sorry for those still with BW.

As I got back on the boat I immediately smelt steamy antifreeze, I lifted the board and there was steam from the engine. We moored up just off the Top of the Bratch lock landings and called RCR......I think it went to a call centre as the fella seemed to be reading from a script. We put the call in at 9.35.....and engineer turned up at 1.20. He topped up the water undid a bolt on the thermostat housing and bled some air, advised me the alternator belt needed changing and left. A nice fella , but........

......we cruised on thru a couple more locks then at Dimmingsdale locks the voltage alarm and battery light came on, so we moored up and phoned RCR again, about 3.25pm, she said he computer had just crashed (!) so she would call me back.....4pm I phoned again and it was obvious

A. The first girl had forgot or just disregarded my call
B. They were seriously short of engineers

She said an engineer would be with me at 10am...

I got the Brompton ready.....checked my ipad for the nearest Halfords and cycled the 5 miles to the centre of Wolverhampton to see if they had a like for like alternator belt....yep I should have a spare, but I'd used it last service and i think it was a little big (I think the reason for the two failures is my belt is not fully tight as it is at the end of the adjustment and is slipping) they did not - arse. So I got some supplies and we will wait for RCR at 10am... they had better not be late.

No hardship really as we are in no rush to get back, but we will need to charge the batteries in the morning and get some hot water. At least we have an excuse for a lazy start.

Monday, 25 June 2012

To Stourport ...

,... by bike. We looked at the weather forecast and it was for 20mm of rain in Wales overnight on Saturday. We guessed much would find its way to the Severn but decided to have a recce so we got the Bromptons out for the last ten miles from Kinver to Stourport.

These bike are really useful for such ad hoc visits. The river looked not too bad it was moving quite swiftly and was high....
It looks like it was dropping but there was Saturday nights extra to top it up as well as what landed earlier in the week in Wales and the North West. so we took the easy decision to stop where we were and reverse our route... no hardship especially as Stourport was a real disappointment. It is very car focused and the fun fair whilst great for 12-15 year olds held little attraction. 

 The only nice are was the basin, and much development had taken place since we were last here. The large hotel was now 8 separate homes.

 This shows the river, not sure if it looks full to you... it did to us?
Maybe this is the sort of boat that is more able to deal with the river in amber, there were some very nice examples in the basin.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

On to the terminus of the trip

Those that will read the blog will know we had two options for this trip.... out and back or a ring via the Severn  (I think I have been spelling it Seven).

We got to Kinver on Friday afternoon and found a lovely mooring advised to us by one of the permit moorers above the lock. They are nice moorings above the lock, water and power, one even has a estate agent board next to his boat, pity the poor individual who buys it and then is told the mooring cannot be transferred !

This is our mooring.. the last one before the winding hole out of Kinver and is as good as it gets I think. Made even more so by the reliable fishing  !
 We decided to take a rain check on the trip to Stourport literally ....but we would still get there.

What I should say for the record is what a fine village Kinver is. Perfect size, very nice canal setting and lots of lovely walks.

Advice on staircases

I'm a little behind so this is Thursdays post

It was raining hard first thing so we delayed our start, porridge helped stoke the fire in the belly and we departed at 9.45am. Then it stopped raining and we only really got wet cycling to Morrisons at the end of the day.

Rachel did the Bratch locks with the help of the lockie.... he was covering 8 months but said he expected hos job to be doe by CART volunteers next year. 

 This is technically the pound between locks as these locks are not a staircase. They really are a marvel in construction, shame I was on the boat.

The next set of locks is Botterham Staircase locks, just two in this staircase. We has a little wait as there was a boat coming up. We went in but then were advised by the boat that has just come up behind us that we needed to empty the bottom lock before discharging the top lock. I can understand this but why not just let it empty into the bottom lock and run off via the bywash.... this would save time and having to work the bottom gate paddles?

 I would have let the water go via the bywash.... would you?

 We cruised on to Hinksford where the internet had told us there was a Morrisons 2 miles away, which we got the bikes out for and got a little wet in the rush hour to collect provisions. Finished the night catching lots of fish just by the caravan park after bridge 38.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Boat handling challenge part 1

Despite best efforts the new 5 foot bed kept us holed up till gone 8 this morning so we had an almost identical 8.40am start on what was always going to be a long day.

It was a long day as I did not really know where to moor up on new territory for us.

We did the five locks from Penkridge in lovely sunshine again and soon were watering up at Gailey. Interesting our Nicolsons does not show a water point at Gailey. I have had a couple of sixth sense moments today. Passing near the large chemical factory I was musing to myself about all the blogs I read whereby they record tales of a coming together at bridge holes and I have only ever had this once..... Until about 5 minutes later lucky no damage done and as I was marginally in the hole I was waved through a bit of a chat then onwards...

Then we met lots of boats, I presume they must have all left the Shroppie moorings at the same time. This was my second sixth sense moment, the first boater advised there was a large fishing match just after the next bridge, here's me thinking how difficult it would be passing boats during a fishing match, so four boats appear from nowhere !

" just right mate thanks" I got from one angler and thanks from another, there not all bad. However I think with it being a mid week match they were all retired so less ' wound up'

Next it was the narrows...... Yep three boats, the first pulled over for us, then we dropped into the passing place for the next two.

This was a large trip boat just having passed us

Another comes into view.

My assistant.....

Then it was on past the junction and how I was surprised. I was expecting immediate urban sprawl, but a beautiful corridor of green, crystal clear water, loads of fish and lots of smiling faces. We passed the bottom of the Wolverhampton flight, slightly temped but that will be for another day.

We dropped through the last three locks of the day and as we were passing Wightwick we watched a 4x4 drive up a very steep drive passing two children and a lady. I remarked to Rachel, I hope her handbrake holds, she opened the door and stepped out and greeted the family then the car started rolling back......horrible.....luckily for her she must have left it in gear and put the steering lock on and forgot the hand brake, the car careered back down the drive with the lady desperately and dangerously opening the door to try and get back in, as the wheels were on lock it did a fast sharpe left turn and hit the fence rather than rolling into the road. Ten seconds earlier it would have run over the children !

We moored up just on the outskirts of Wightwick and will see what the weather has for us tomorrow. We need a food top up and if the weather is really bad we will visit the local manor.

We finished the evening with a nice meal in the mermaid, expensive slightly slow but excellent food.

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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

To Penkridge and beyond

A good tv signal was a prerequisite for tonight so Penkridge was set as the destination. The Great Heywood end of the Staffs and Worcester is a real beautiful canal, it's almost the land that time forgot....

Yet there are some that have tamed nature....Nice

But there is stills some stunning scenery, enjoyed with a sunny sky

We were followed towards Penkridge by a boat of blokes doing the five counties. They started at Trevor and were due back in a week, 14 hours days non stop they were doing and the second day was 16 hours. The fella I was talking to was doing the lock setting on his bike... You can just see him as we are waiting for Penkridge lock.

We are moored up in ear shot of the M6 but did get to watch the football. Opposite Otherton boat haven - apart from the motorway noise.

Tomorrow we may have to stick our nose up the shroppie and reverse back as we need water.... Then it is onto new ground for us!

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Monday, 18 June 2012

CC wannabes

So we are now doing what we said, albeit a slightly later start of 9am. We left our lovely Woodend mooring in bright sunshine.

And before long we got the familiar glimpse of Rugely power station.

There are some bits of offside vegetation that need attention. I should let BW know. That is NB Oslo, not the best place to moor but passible.

They must have set off quite soon after this as they followed us through the Armitage narrows.

We met Sarah and Jim with Chertsey just as we passed Ashfield cruising club. NB Oslo provided them with a challenge as they we quite close to us and I am not sure they held back at the end of the Ashfield moorings where it comes in for a stop plank location.

Sarah was so focussed on the challenge she completely ignored us !

We were thinking of stopping at Rugeley but the mooring were solid, obviously top up day.

We can't complain as there can be up to 8 boats at Colwich lock, today we had it to ourselves, three boats waiting to come down though.

Grey Nomad was in splendid isolation, Ralph certainly keeps his boat in excellent condition.

We eventually moored up at Great Heywood below the lock and let Tamsin out to play.

Food, a siesta and then a top up at the farm shop was in order. Tomorrow Penkridge and an earlier start I think.

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Start at 7

Well we set off at 7 today.....7pm that is. Rachel had been to take her dad to lunch and I got a visit from Tom and Courtney with a couple of nice fathers day gifts ( thanks lads)
So I nipped over to water up then made a snap decision to head off through the Fradley locks and now we are moored in one of my all time favourite mooring between Woodend and Kings Bromley. So peaceful and compared to Fradley not a boat to be seen.

Yes that boat is on junction lock mooring, there is no mooring for the lock now that pratt took such a selfish decision. It is something you see when evening cruising ...

Another selfish boater on the Woodend lock landing. I hope he gets a rude awakening as this can be a busy place first thing, especially if you get a few out of Kings Bromley.
I can't believe how busy Fradley has been today. It was full at about 1pm today when I took Leia for a long walk via Curdburgh then to Kings Bromley and back via the canal.

This brand new gate was in the middle of a very overgrown path...I think the council had replaced it as it was on a footpath.

Got well wet along this part of the can just see the Ownashare wharf ahead, run by ex ownership people I understand.

I think they did well getting planning permission for it. We have watched it develop over the last couple of years.

I always think this is a little selfish, I recall there has recently been a discussion about it on one of the canal forums.

Spot the sign between these two pics...

I cant imagine how it would spoil this part of the countryside. I do not support it. I support rail and I feel we should improve the present infrastructure and if possible reinstate so more of the branch lines that were taken out to take cars off local roads.

Chertseys old mooring just before Kings Bromley Marina. I think Stretton is a better place if you are going to live aboard.
All in all a very tiring but enjoyable day. I hope you other fathers had a good day.
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