Monday, 31 May 2010

Happy anniversary

Have had a really good week as far as Minnow was concerned. On Tuesday the cotton line I had ordered had arrived so spent the next couple of evenings making a new set of rockets for the cratch along with a set of cabin strings and chimbley strings, which I’ve always known as ‘ears’ for some reason. This was something that young Charlie Atkins taught me to do when I was a lad and he was living at the top of the ‘old thirteen’ in Birmingham and driving the British Waterways tug Bittel. Spent the last three days down Minnow getting lots of jobs done. Saturday started off with a trip into Rugeley town to buy a tin of white gloss, a tub of creosote, and a new scrubbing brush, after mine took a ‘swim’ over the weir at Haywood lock a couple of months ago after being flicked off the fenders by the rope I was strapping Minnow in with. The day was a bit wet so not a lot of painting done and so I spent my time clearing out all the junk from under the cratch and storing it tidily away in the bow cabin. Following this I got the suitcase generator out and started it and tried the ‘security light’ which we have as a tunnel lamp. After making a bracket to mount this lamp on the front of the box mast I then hooked up the battery charger and gave the three leisure batteries a top up ready for our trip to Middlewich. I now retired to the dry of the back cabin and hung some small jugs on the ribbon plates.

Sunday was a lot drier if not a little windy and so I re-painted the engine ‘ole and back cabin slides and also gave ‘the biscuit tin’ vent a coat of green. I also gave the large brass mushroom ventilator a good polish. When I got there Ling had gone for the other side of the bridge and Brian told me that they had left about 8.00pm the previous night after I had gone home.

Monday was another great day, especially as it was our 13th wedding anniversary and I gave Dawn a really special day down at Minnow working! What more could a girl ask for ( we are going out for an Italian meal tonight though) When I looked at the newly painted slides, the wind had blown loads of bits off the roof of the industrial unit next to our mooring and so those had to be re done. I scrubbed the hose on the front of the cratch then mopped and wiped all the cratch cloths down and then set about fitting the new rockets and even though I say it myself, they look good.

As we were going out tonight and also as we had our three year old grand daughter with us, we had to leave Minnow quite early and take her home in time to get ourselves ready.
So for now, and till next time,
Don't bang 'em about

Monday, 24 May 2010

Hot under the collar

Well Summer’s come at last I hear some of you say, and I know I should not moan, but I’m one of those who hate the sun and hot weather. As soon as the sun starts blazing down, I run for the shade and this last weekend, god it wuz ‘ot. My philosophy is that no matter how cold it is you can always put another layer of clothing on, but when it’s hot and you’re down to your last layer there’s nothing else you can do! Spent the whole week end down on Minnow working. Most of the time it was just too hot for painting but we did manage to red oxide the timberworks including top planks, cross beams and mast and stands as well as blacking the gunnels with bitumastic, getting the second coat of varnish on the back cabin top and the first on the bow cabin, I have also managed to make a start on re-blacking the false floors with creosote and bitumastic. I have also ordered some new cotton line to make a new set of rockets for the cratch as the old ones were worn out and rotten.

One of Minnows sister boats was moored the other side of the bridge ‘ole all weekend, Sarah Edgeson’s newly acquired ex British Waterways maintenance boat Ling, although I did not see anyone on the boat all weekend.


Thursday, 20 May 2010

To go or not to go, that is the question.

Well can't wait for the next three weeks to pass as we are off on our summer jolly on Minnow. As I have mentioned earlier we are planning to take a leisurely trip up the Trent and Mersey spending the week end at the Middlewich Folk and Canal Festival the returning back up the Shroppie. We have been to and through Middlewich many times over the years and moored above Kings lock as well as below the town but we have never been to this festival before. I was warned recently about trouble on the canal at this festival from gypsies who jump all over the boats removing anything loose or valuble especially brass etc and was also told not to leave your boat at any time during the weekend. I just wondered if anyone reading this blog had any - good or bad - experiences of the Middlewich festival. Any comments would be much appreciated as at the moment we are having second thoughts about going.

Dog walking and cups of coffee

The week before last, I was keeping my better half sweet by doing some work at home, namely at the bottom of the garden and as I stepped down the bank to the canal I slipped and landed quite heavily on the base of my spine. After about half an hour it eased and I thought that was the last of it. This Sunday I decided to continue my ‘good deed’ and to re-lay about a dozen slabs on the patio which had all sunken and moved. By the end of the day, while I was sat at my computer, typing up my blog, I could feel the aches and pains getting worse in my back but just thought ‘they will go after a good nights sleep’ but they didn’t. The next day at work I was in agony and by Monday night could hardly move. It has been three days now and it is only just about getting right. When Dawn came from work she said that being as it was such a nice evening did I want to go to our favourite chippy in Handsacre by Crown Bridge (58) get fish and chips and take them to Fradley Junction, park up by Keepers lock and eat them then take the dog a walk up the canal past the Swan and up to Woodend lock. With this agreed we loaded the dog in the back of the car, grabbed the bottle of red sauce and the salt pot and off we went. With fish and chips consumed we got out the car and strolled along the towpath/roadway up past the pub and the bikers and drinkers enjoying the last of the evening sun shine sitting on the benches and tables out side the ‘Mucky Duck’ as we got just past the junction there was a shout from off the island of “ alright Blossom, Dawn, how ya doin. It was Viv and Simon off Monarch and Grimsby. After the exchange of a few words, Simon shouted do you want to come round and have a coffee. And so the dogs walk was postponed and we spent the next hour catching up as we had not seen them since last summer. Viv is now the manager for OwnerShips at Fradley and the work that she and Simon have done in the shop there is astounding.

They sell a good range of food and supplies including organic and ‘green’ foods and products, gifts, boat fixtures and fittings magazines, books and bric a brac to name but a few so please drop in if passing or even for diesel or a pump out. (There you go Viv there’s your free advert) By the end of the hour, Email addresses and mobile phone numbers had been exchanged and even discussions of a mini boat gathering that involved food and beer. Sounds like a good mixture to me, so until then,

Don’t bang ‘em about.


Monday, 17 May 2010

identifying Grand Union's

Whilst discussing the merits of Large Woolwich engine ‘ole tops I thought there may be some reading either Chertsey woman’s, Dove’s or my blog who may make use of a little boat identification as far as Grand Union’s are concerned and so I have come up with this. There are many variations amongst the boats built for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company and when one has mastered the various types identification is relatively easy. First of all the ‘classes’ of boats, while I strongly disagree with classes of boats, I will use them for ease of description.

Grand Union’s break down into three main classes, Town class, Star class and Royalty class these in turn, can be broken down into builders incorporating such yards as Wakers of Rickmansworth, Harland and Wolff of Woolwich, W J Yarwoods & Sons of Northwich, James Pollock & Sons of Faversham, The Steel Barrel Company, Uxbridge and Woods. Again these can be broken down even further into Large and Small and in some instances Middle. ( depending on the built depth of sides) Some were of wooden construction, some were of composite and some were all steel construction, majority were flat bottomed and a few were vee bottomed. All the Small and Middle boats are ‘Star’class and the large boats are ‘town’ class, although some of the ‘Stars’ are other heavenly bodies such as Moon, Comet, Planet, Meteor, Sun, Venus etc. and some of the ‘Towns’ are cities, .such as Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol etc.

Ok clear as mud now! It is no wonder that some people find it difficult to tell the difference so I thought I would add my two pennyworth just to confuse, forgetting for the moment all the wooden boats, as these are quite distinctive and readily identified. The all steel riveted large motor boats split into two groups. These can be identified by their alphabetical names A-H (Aber to Hawkesbury) are large Woolwich boats while H-Y Halsall to Yeoford are all large Northwiches. Another and easier way to identify them is by their construction/design differences.

From the counter. All Woolwich counters, both large and small, have only two equal tunnel bands around their counter
while Northwiches both large and small, have three tunnel bands, a large one at the top and two smaller ones below.

From the bows, (Northwich at the back, Woolwich nearest camera) on Woolwich boats the side plates are riveted through the flanges of the stem post on each side of it while on Northwich boats the side plates overlap each side of the central stempost and are riveted through from the side.

Also the top of the stem post on Woolwich boats finishes level with the top of the deck, while Northwich stem posts continue over the top of the top bend and then return to the deck. And so that’s it, at least I tried

Sunday, 16 May 2010

A good day done

Had a really enjoyable day down the boat on Saturday and feel as though I am starting to finally get on top of the jobs resulting from the Winter and in readiness for the Summer boating season. I really need to get my finger pulled out as we are off in four weeks for a fortnights holiday. We are going down to Middlewich on the Trent & Mersey for the Middlewich Folk and Canal Festival over the 18th – 20th June then going to take a week to come back via the Shroppie, so I have to really get stuck in to get the boat ready. A start, though, has been made with the flywheel cover.

there’s the Ocean plait Mat in place doing what it was intended for.

And just to show the Mast Dropper in position-

Then finally I gave the two back end cupboards and the hold steps a rub down followed by a coat of red oxide.

I would have given the cabin top another coat of varnish but, There were far too many ‘sugar fairies’ in the breeze.(dandelion seeds) and as I said to Brian off the next boat to ours, if I had of varnished it would have ended up as a mohair finish!


Friday, 14 May 2010

Maltese Beauty and a Donkey's D**k

Making the ocean plait mat for the cabin top got me into the ‘ropework’ mood and so on Wednesday night I decided to make Dawn a mast dropper which she has been going on about for twelve months. She only want’s one so she can talk about it (it’s only because of it’s alternative name which refers to a donkeys appendage.)

I am only doing a short blog tonight as I am sooo tired. We had friends visit us last night and they did not leave until after 2.00am this morning. Paddy and Lucy Courtney live aboard a 60’ narrowboat at Nantwich and are on their summer cruise and contacted us to say they were coming past our house so we suggested that the moor at the bottom of the garden and spend the night with us as we have not seen them for about 5 years

They both retired two years ago sold everything and bought a boat to live on and are enjoying every moment. Spent most of the night talking canals on such subjects as ‘cabin roofs’ ‘nice places where to park’ and places with ‘tight corners’ what’s all that about? One thing that did come out of the conversations which I never knew about Paddy was that although I knew he did his stint in the Royal Navy, I never knew he actually spent a year with the RN’s canal based submarine and frigate. Which had been talked about recently on CWF.

We popped down to our moorings to show them Minnow and start the Bolinder for them, then it was back to our house for drinks and nibbles.

We had a cracking evening catching up, Thanks Pat & Lucy and have a good trip down the Coventry, and as always, don’t bang ‘em about


Monday, 10 May 2010

There’s a rug on the roof

Or to put it correctly, we’ve now got a mat for our cabin top.

Let me start with an apology for the previous post was written yesterday and should have been posted yesterday, but we went out with my daughter and son-in-law and my two grand daughters last night and I forgot to post it before I went. So I haven’t gone mad doing two blogs in one day, just catching up so to speak.

It does not matter how careful you are when using a cabin shaft properly, for closing bottom mitre gates when going downhill, knocks, bumps and scratches are inevitable on the cabin top as the shaft is put back. Back in the early 1970’s when Charlie Atkins Jnr was working the tug Bittle for BWB and living at the top of the Old Thirteen in Brum, he made two ‘mats’ to place on the cabin top for the cabin shaft hook to sit on. Clive and Pat Stevens who used to run Battersea and Barnes still have theirs, unfortunately I let mine go with Bingley when I sold her. I have never had another as I did not know how to make them, but I do now. I was browsing the net and came across a site for dolls houses and there, as a door mat was an identical mat to the one Charlie had made me. It was called an ‘ocean plait’ and the article went on to explain how to make a miniature one for a dolls house out of white cotton string, but it went on to say that by using larger diameter rope a full sized one could be made. After spending most of Sunday in the garden moving soil and weeding, I came in at tea time and proceeded to make a mat for Minnow using about 20 foot of 6mm white polypropylene ( yes I know it should be cotton line and scrubbed but this will do for a starter)

The rest of the evening was spent painting a swag of roses and daises on the flywheel guard which has already been painted the same colour as the engine, (Mid Brunswick Green)

Can’t wait until the week end so that I can fit the guard to the engine. There’s just the day tank that I want to decorate with a few roses and then that’s it, no more embellishments. I promise, that it so long as nobody Bangs ‘em about


Sunday, 9 May 2010

A Wet Fish

Rain, rain and more rain. Went down to Minnow on Saturday but could not get any of the jobs done that I really wanted to as it poured down most of the day. So I spent the day tatting about in the back cabin. Wire brushed the range then gave it a good black leading followed by brass polishing which included Fiddle rails on range

Six rosettes

Chimbly chain

Four brass bed knobs

Back door handles

Ticket draw handle

Towel rail over range

Nine pot hooks

Star horse brass

Four mini brass windlasses

And not even started on the engine and so do I like polishing brass – no I hate it – but I do like to see it.

Brought the engine flywheel guard home with me as I needed to drill some extra holes in it, as I am moving it further back towards the engine so that it catches any oil that spins off the flywheel. While I have it at home I will also paint it. Here’s hoping we have some better weather next week end and I can varnish the cabin tops and get on with some of the jobs I need to get done before we head off for the Middlewich Folk and Canal Festival on 18,19 & 20th June.


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Spent all day bonking.

Just a quick update really, took the piston down to Minnow on Tuesday and spent most of the morning lying on the cold floor of the engine hole with my hands through the air intakes fitting the big end bearing back together.

Screwed the 6” bolt into the top of the piston to use as a handle then lowered the piston back in the bore until it sat on the lowest piston ring. One by one the piston rings were eased in by tapping them in with a piece of 3/8 nylon then tapping the piston down to the next ring until all rings were in and the piston was sitting down on the big end bearing

Connected, shimmed and tightened the two bolts in the big end then rotated the flywheel several times by hand to check free movement of piston/crank/bearings etc. oiled the big end bearing with the oil can before putting the two air intake covers (Bells) back on. I now turned my attention to the top end and fitted, bolted and tightened the cylinder head. Another new asbestos string gasket for the hot bulb followed by assembly of the hot bulb, the water jacket, the spindle assembly then finally the oil rod control.

By early afternoon the Bolinder was all back together and the lamp was put on. Ten minutes pre-heating and second kick and away she went with a crisp sharpness to her beat. For the next couple of hours I ran the engine and played. The rest of the afternoon was spent ber-bonking, twiddling and tweaking until I was once again happy with the performance. By tea time I had packed all the tools away cleaned all the black oily hand prints off the engine and engine ‘ole and left for home a contented man. And so, because I am in such a good mood, you can bang ‘em about as much as you want !


Monday, 3 May 2010

Servicing the washing machine

A busy week end so far. Friday night saw us out on the pop again, we had been invited to a friends 60th birthday party at a club in Rugeley town and I must say the buffet was good (helped soak up the Guinness) and so was the disco. Saturday morning I went down Minnow and took my sore head with me. As the previous week end I had fitted a new string gasket to the hot bulb but had not tried the engine, I had decided to run the Bolinder up later on today. I started by rubbing down the back end boards and giving them a coat of red oxide just to freshen them up. I had intended to give the cabin top a second coat of varnish but the skies were grey and threatening so I gave that a miss and decided to start the engine, or at least I thought I would. I wanted a film of the engine being started which showed each of the various stages of starting and so I had taken my flip cam with me which I proceeded to film the pre-start checks while the lamp was on warming the engine. As I had to wait ten minutes while the hot bulb warmed up, I switched the camcorder off. I then decided to start the engine first, run it until it was hot, then stop it, and then film starting it. I never got that far though, after a couple of kicks it started and I ran it for a couple of minutes, and then stopped it. I then set the flip cam up on top of the tunnel lamp to film the starting. I gave the flywheel a kick expecting it to fire up straight away, but it didn’t, in fact it took several more kicks before the Bolinder responded, at which point it started in what I call ‘washing machine mode’ where it fires as it comes up to top dead centre at each side of the cycle ending up with the flywheel; going half a cycle in each direction, back and forth like the old top loader washing machines. After several further attempts to start, all resulting in the same action, I decided to leave it and let it cool down. Although after an hours cooling it would have cooled enough for me to be was able to work on the engine, I decided to leave it until the next day. This ‘washing machine mode’ is the result of not a powerful enough ‘bang’ to send the piston over top dead centre and it can be the result of at least one of two things. Not enough fuel injected in or not enough compression. As I has messed with the spindle last weekend, that’s where I started on Sunday morning, stripping the spindle out and checking the ‘spray’ by manually pumping fuel through it. The spray seemed to be coming off slightly one sided so I cleaned the nozzle out again until all was well and the spray was perfect. After re-assembly of the engine I again put the lamp on as I knew the fuel input was right. All you ever need for a Bolinder to run is heat, fuel and compression and they are guaranteed to start and run. After ten minutes pre-heating I kicked on the flywheel and again the engine started in washing machine mode, as it also did for the next several failed starts. So that was the start of the rest of the weekends work for being as the fuel was right I took it to be a problem with the compression, in other words the piston rings were probably gummed in again and so I set about stripping the engine down and removing the piston. When once I had the piston out it was obvious that was what was wrong with it as the piston rings were all stuck in.


With the piston suitably bagged up, I headed off home as my daughter, son in law and new grand daughter were coming over after four.

Monday Spent most of the day in the shed working on the piston with paraffin, old kitchen knife and some 200 wet and dry. By tea time all the crap had been removed and the rings all moved freely within their grooves.


Dawn is back at work tomorrow but I have the day off so I will be re-fitting the piston etc. and hopefully starting the engine in correct mode so until then, as always

Don’t bang ‘em about