Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Happy Eostre

Starting to get a bit twitchy now as the holidays approach. Originally we were taking Minnow down to Coventry Basin for the alternative historic boat gathering but, as the cabin top has took a bit of a battering this winter and as I am a bit of a stickler for presentation of boats then a decision was made not to go but instead to spend time down the moorings working on Minnow instead. For some reason, and I have never experienced this before, the varnish has completely lifted off the graining in great big areas all over the cabin top, and yet none of it has lifted off the central panel of painted diamonds down the centre of the cabin even though they were varnished at the same time as the graining!. The graining and varnishing were done the summer of 2008 when the weather was perfect for painting being warm and dry, the paints I used were Ratcliffe`s Graining Products and International’s Yacht Varnish so I just don’t understand why the varnish should completely detach itself from the surface of the graining and peel off, don’t know if it is anything to do with the prolonged snow covering and freezing temperatures that caused it but what I do know is that I have got to get it right back to the undercoating and start all over again (oh bugger)

I have a whole list of jobs I need to get done as well including fitting my Klaxon and lots of various painting and tarting up jobs so I will be down at Minnow from Friday through to Tuesday so this will probably be my last post until at least Wednesday next week when I should have some more to blog about, so until then

Don’t bang ‘em about


Saturday, 27 March 2010

New Coat for Minnow's Bolinder

Had a really satisfying day down on Minnow today. As the weather was so fine I decided to finish off prepping and painting the engine. After coffee and toast I loaded a few bits and pieces into a bag and I was off. Spent the first couple of hours finishing off the prepping with file, old kitchen knife and an assortment of various grade sandpaper/wet & dry. I had already painted the flame hood and hot bulb Almond White with ‘Calfire’ stove paint and so I set about spending the next three hours painting the main castings with Craftsmaster Engine Enamel Mid Brunswick green. The sun shone gloriously but with all doors/slides open for maximum light, I was absolutely frozen even with tee shirt, jumper and fleecy shirt on. (lying on the steel floor plates of the engine ‘ole did not help I suspect. When finished I made a coffee and just sat on the battery box admiring the engine and I must admit it does look quite good.

Before painting

Flame hood painted and engine castings prepped

Bolinder’s new paint job

We are off out tonight to a show night with female singer, comedian and a tribute Queen band called QE2 so a good night is expected and a bad head in the morning!

So I’m off for a shower and get ready as the taxi is at 6.30pm. so till next time,

Don’t bang ‘em about.


Friday, 26 March 2010

Wild Goose Chasing Season.

Before anybody says anything, I know it was my own fault!

Sarah and Jim off Chertsey have been up at Stretton all week and I have just not been able to get away to pop over and visit them and have a nosey round their boat and the work being done up at Keith Ball’s yard. As I finish work at 3.00pm on a Friday I thought I would surprise them with a visit, even though I had got to be down at the local Power Station Club house for 6.30pm to help out with the membership renewals. I raced home and quickly ran through my chores, had shower, shave and got dressed so I could go straight to the Club after my visit. Headed off to Keith Ball’s yard and got there just after 4.00pm. As I pulled onto the yard and switched off the engine I saw a fellow coming over towards me and recognised him as Keith. He asked if he could help me and I said “is Jim and Sarah here, or have they gone”. “You must be Blossom” he said and went on to explain that I had missed them and they were now on their way home but were calling at the moorings at Kings Bromley on the way. I spent the next hour chatting to Keith as he showed me round the yard and we discussed some of the historic boats he had at the yard as well as the 9hp and 15 hp Bolinders he had along with the original fuel tank off Minnow! Unfortunately he did not want to part with it as he intended to use it, along with the 9hp Bolinder in Gambia/Siberia. Anyway after this hour’s chat, I bade my farewells and raced off down to the moorings at Kings Bromley to try and catch them there, but again unfortunately I had missed them again. It looks like it will be after Easter now before I get to see them, In the meantime I am keeping my eye on there new home. So till next time,

Don’t bang ‘em about.


PS Chertsey’s looking good!

Monday, 22 March 2010

100 years of love/hate

Whilst still on the storyline of food related, I received a freebee through the post the other day which I received for completing a customer survey ages ago which I had forgotten all about. When I picked it up off the hall floor, it was obvious which Company had sent it from the logo’s etc. on the box, but what it contained was beyond belief!

You love it or you hate it, yes that old favourite Marmite! My self I fall into the love it camp, whilst my better half Dawn hates even the smell of it. Receiving this freebee got me to thinking about Marmite so I decided to ‘Google’ it so to speak and found out allsorts about this wonderful product. In fact to start with, I will link it to last nights blog for one of the meals I used to have when living on Bingley involved Marmite.


12 slices of very thick white bread

Enough butter to butter the bread

Approx a 2 pounds of mature cheddar cheese

Two/three large onions

A good knob of butter

Black pepper & salt to taste

A jar of Marmite.

Prepare by peeling the onions and slicing into rings.

Grate the cheese.

Spread one side of each of the twelve slices of bread with butter and a thin layer of Marmite.

Using the cast iron casserole pot, place a good knob of butter in the bottom along with roughly a third of the onions and place on top of the range to melt the butter whilst stirring the onions. When the butter has melted and coated the onions evenly, take the pot off the heat. Evenly spread the layer of onions across the base of the pot then add a layer of four slices of buttered/marmited bread facing up, followed by a layer of a third of the cheese. Repeat the process with a second and finally a third layer of onions, bread, cheese. Put the lid on and put into your hot oven for about 45/60 minutes. For the last ten minutes take the lid off to brown the top layer of cheese. Mmmm Mmmm delicious.

As most of you know, Marmite is a yeast extract and is made from the by product of brewing beer It’s Original factory is in Burton on Trent close to Shobnall on the Trent & Mersey canal and you can fill your lungs with the exquisite aroma if the wind is right as you pass through. I was amazed as to how many differing products and types of Marmite were available, here’s just a few.
The original traditional Marmite
Marmite with Champagne
Marmite with Guinness
Marmite with Marston's Pedigree Bitter
A variety made for Australia

And then there's other 'Marmite' products
Marmite flavoured Cheddar Cheese
Rice Cakes
The ever favourite, Twiglets
The latest promotional Walkers Marmite crisps
The original Walkers Marmite crisps
Marmite flavoured Fudge!
Marmite's own branded crisps
Breakfast cereal bars
Marmite Breadsticks
Cashew Nuts

Mini Cheddars
And yes Marmite flavoured chocolates
Marmite sausages
Marmite cheese spread

And then there's other products
set of mugs
A set of egg cups
Marmite sandwich box
Marmite gift boxes
Personalised sterling silver jar lids
Waste bins for chewing gum!
4 London Taxi's
Sports shirts
Bomber Jackets
And of course now Paddington Bear no longer eats Marmalade sandwiches but has been converted to Marmite!
And finally, if you have made it to the end, what this blog all started off with - the freebee I received and here's the box it came in, and honest it is the actual product, I even gagged at the thought of brushing my teeth with Marmite flavoured tooth paste. What I would like readers to do is post a comment as to whether they love it or hate it, and those who love it would they use Marmite toothpaste.!
Just click on these images to get a larger view and read for yourselves!


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Simon of narrowboat Tortoise ‘requested’ the other day for information about cooking on/in an epping or similar type back cabin range.

The first thing I would say is this, the best money I ever spent was on a cast iron casserole pot which I bought back in 1970 when I lived on big Woolwich butty Bingley, and am still using today on Minnow’s Guidwife. The particular one I used is still made today, it is Le Creuset Cook ware, vitreous enamelled cast iron oval casserole pot I think it is the 25cm one.

Stews have always been a favourite of boating for it needs little doing when once it’s set up, simply chop up what ever is to hand put it in the pot with water and an oxo stick it on the top of the range to give it a good start then put it in the oven and just wait. You can leave it on all day and all night for several days and just keep adding water until everything dissolves and even the cheapest cuts of meat will just fall apart and melt in your mouth. I know it’s down to personal choice, but my absolute favourite is rabbit stew, there’s nothing finer than a rabbit saddle that’s been stewing for 48 hours in the stew pot!

As anyone will tell you, traditional back cabin ranges cook the best meat pies and pasties ever, especially the tinned varieties like Fray Bentos as they seem to crisp the pastry up a treat. (and the empty tins make traditional chimney covers)

Fish is also a good winner cooked in the oven by placing your selected piece of fish on a piece of kitchen foil, adding a knob of butter, sliced mushrooms and whatever seasoning you fancy, folding the sides of the foil up and sealing them by folding the edges over each other. Finaly seal the ends and place the fish parcels on a plate and put them in the oven for about 45mins, (depending on the range and how hot it gets)

As far as taking the hot plate off the top of the range to place a saucepan or kettle on for ‘quick boil’ that is the done thing, just watch the bottom of your pans/kettles as they get very black!

Being as we don’t live on the boat now, what we tend to do is when we cook at home we cook in bulk and always drop the extra portions of curries, chillies, or spag bog’s in the freezer and then take them on the boat and drop these in the oven during the day. Hope this has been of some use, and especially if you are cooking on the move,

Don’t bang ‘em about


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Rain Stops Play

Some months ago now, I was down the moorings working on minnow when Brian a neighbour who’s boat is moored next to Minnow at the moment, came knocking on the cabin side. When I stuck my head out of the engine ‘ole he was stood there sporting a water can type thing. A design I had never seen before and obviously old. “Ay up Blossom, just wondered if this was any use to you” It turned out to be his dads and was in a garden shed and his daughter had painted in with ‘roses and a church in oil paints which had all faded and cracked. “Just thought you could paint it up for on the roof of your boat.” “Cheers Bri’ I’m sure I’ll find a use for it” I brought it home and it has stood in the office/computer room since before Christmas and when I had finished painting Chertseys bucket ‘n’ chucket I was in the mood for painting and so I set to work on it. As it poured down with rain all day today I decided not to go down to Minnow, but occupied myself by finishing off the ‘can thing’

I will put it in Minnows engine ‘ole and I’m sure I will find a use for it. If anybody knows what it is please let me know, the body is about 12” wide and 14”high.



Thursday, 18 March 2010

Boys Toys and All Steam Ahead

About a week ago a colleague at work, knowing my love of tinkering with all things mechanical and old, came into the office and asked me if I would have a go at fixing something for him. He had bought it when his lad was a very young boy ( he’s now in his thirties) but it’s been in the loft for the last 20 years and it won’t go. “What is it” I asked but he would not tell me he just said “you’ll love it, I’ll bring it in next time I’m in the office. The next couple of days I was out of the office undertaking contracted work, but when I returned on Monday there was a box on my desk with a note attached saying, “weve tried to start it but it wont go or do anything, see what you can do please”.

Well Talk about toys for the boys – I could not wait to get it home and start tinkering. “What is it” I hear you all ask, well here’s a clue.

Still don’t know, well it was what I can only describe as every boys dream in the 1950’s-60’s I would have given my right arm for one of them here’s another clue

It was a working model of a steam traction Engine, built by Birminham Compay Mamod Limited of Gravelly Hill which used to be close to Salford Junction. At the time that my colleague had bought it, the company we both work for were working in association with them and he used to go in there as their Training Officer looking after their apprentices. Here is the inside of the flyer that was inside the bow showing the full range of the vehicles that they had on offer.

Below are all the bits as they came out of the box, all there, just in need of a little TLC.

I started by doing what every young boy does, working on the kitchen table and taking it all apart to see how it works (usually used to end up remaining in it’s box ,in bits, for the rest of it’s life) after stripping down I examined all the moving parts for damage or wear and all seemed all right then the fault became obviously apparent to me. The years spent in the loft without oiling and with the remnants of the last charge of steam left in the cylinder without cleaning had, first of all allowed a ‘growth’ of verdigris to turn the inside of the cylinder green stopping the free movement of the piston, and secondly there was that much clag in the workings that the steam delivery valve/hole was completely blocked. With the assemble completely removed and the piston eased out through the top end,I was able to run a strip of cloth coated in brasso through the cylinder and remove all the gunk. The delivery hole was simply cleaned with some Ajax surface cleaner, a cotton bud and a cocktail stick left over from Casino Royalle. All parts were then cleaned , wiped over with a clean oily rag then re-assembled. The safety relief valve was unscrewed and the small funnel placed into it’s hole in the top of the boiler and the boiler was filled from a boiled kettle (just to speed the process up) and the water level checked on the working sight glass! Two of the solid fuel tablets were loaded into the fire tray and the whole thing put back together. I struck a match and lit the fuel then sat back while the magic was performed.

A bit like starting my Bolinder and it’s at this point with the bolly that I usually put the kettle on and make a brew, or as in the case of the traction engine I decided to amuse myself by reading the text on the side of the solid fuel tablet box, and amused I was as I thought what Health and Safety would make of it today and state “What sort of toy is this to give to a small child” for the warning read.

May be harmful or fatal if swallowed. Not to be used by children except under adult supervision. Contains Methenamine – in case of accidental ingestion, feed sodium bicarbonate and give plenty of water to drink. Call a physician immediately! So that’s why Dads always played with them and the child would not get a look in, the dads were ensuring the child’s safety!

After five minutes of heating, the hiss of escaping steam from the cylinder told me that she was ready. A couple of spins on the flywheel and she was away. Childhood dreams flooded back aided by the smell of the steam and the hot oil.

With the fire box held up on the box of matches and under full steam, holding the traction wheel off the table allowed the engine to just run as can be seen from the blur of the flywheel and driving wheel unfortunately what did not show up was the steam coming out of the stack. While I sat there ‘playing ‘ I gave several loud blasts on the steam whistle which alerted the attention of my good lady wife who stuck her head round the kitchen door, tutted, shook her head muttered ‘childish’ then disappeared back into the lounge. I continued playing until the steam ran out! After wiping every thing down, it was all carefully put back into it’s original box ready to take back to the office tomorrow. I don’t really want to give it back though!

I must go down the boat this week end and have another tinker with my Bolinder- that will do the trick, as always

Don’t bang ‘em about


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

What a hoot!

As I stated in a blog in January, I had acquired a Klaxon horn at what I considered a reasonable price off flea bay and described how I had made a start on it’s preparation for restoration to Minnow’s standards. I had also mentioned earlier about having access to an engineering apprentice training centre who have done a brilliant job on the handle and the mounting bracket. When I went into work last week, one of the instructors presented me with the finished Klaxon and so It just remained for me to complete then paint job.

The Handle

A piece of 6mm thick aluminium marked out, cut and filed to profile then drilled each end and tapped to take the required whitworth threads. After tapping, the handle was cranked by bending the ends in a folding machine. An old file handle was drilled and counter bored to take a cap head bolt to fix it to the rest of the handle.

The mounting bracket.

A template was made using the existing klaxon for the mounting bracket. This was cut and profiled out of a piece of 6mm thick brass plate, after drilling and tapping it was fitted to the klaxon. (Still haven’t decided yet whether to polish or paint it!)

I have repeated a couple of the photos that I had posted before just for the story board.

As bought with many layers of paint and a very strange handle arrangement
After a day spent scraping paint off and rubbing down

After the first top coat.

And here it is, the final result, polished, painted and ready to go

And so I am now looking forward to going down the boat this weekend and fitting it – then giving it a blast

when we are out and about.

As always

Don’t bang ‘em about.