Thursday, 16 February 2017

Fairground update...


It's Thursday night and we're worn out -having had the week from hell trying to get the ride we've been working on (for what seems like forever) since the end of May to "test state" and out of the door.

Today, the adips chap has been for a good look around and in principle has "passed" the working car.  This means it's time to dismantle the thing so we can get on with the Caterpillar and refurbishment of the Speedway we brought back from Margate the other week.

To be honest, it all feels like a bit of an anti-climax.... having spent months of our lives trying to get this thing done as best we could (from a pile of scrap in a field) to be taking it down with only 1 operational car (and even THAT isn't all there) is a bit pants.

Such is life I suppose...  I've been digging around looking for old photos of the thing - in reality, aside from the car bodies, axles and chassis, just about everything else had been re-made.


To recap - it's a 1930s "electric racetrack" with 1950s cars on it.

The track is a tilted into saucer shape (like the original Brooklands I suppose hence the name) and the power is delivered to the cars via pick ups under their floor.  A bit like a dodgem track - the difference being that bother positive AND negative are dlivered from the floor.  

This is achieved by having strips of metal on the floor, separated by  wood and 4 pick ups on the car spaced at the corners and centre of an equilateral triangle... supposedly this avoids the risk of being stuck on dead spots (wood) on the track.

We had to re-make ALL the track using 1 section of "straight and 3 cheese sections dragged from under a hedge as templates...  in hind-sight, it appears this wasn't the best idea as the 'templates' turned out to be a bit ropey.

We've made the best of it though- culminating in a track 100 by 40 ft (give or take) ...

To get the power to the motors, we've attached steel to the top surface and bus-bars under each section which are joined together with thick wires.   As it's DC it's been handy having read my boat bible as I could calculate the voltage drop for each section etc.  USING my boating brain, I've doubled the thickness of wire "just to be on the safe side" and it's more than capable.  

One of the chaps at work spotted a potential danger however of NOT having the top of the busbars insulated... in that someone could drop something onto the track which half fell through the holes and then touched opposing piece of track and either give them a shock or blow a fuse- the latter being preferable... generally. SO we used damp-proof membrane to create the insulation.

Once the 3 pieces of track have been connected together, they are then attached (via a big fuse) to the "big bus-bars" running down the centre of the track.

the corners get a bit congested though...

Note the fuses ...

TODAY during a test, a cro-bar was accidentally left on the track (by Andy as it happens but we're not pointing the finger of blame) and it a) welded itself to the track and b) blew the MAIN fuse.

So that's good!

The power is supplied now by a 3phase feed going into a transformer which outputs 110vdc.  This is "turned down" in chunks to give 5 speed settings.

As I mentioned earlier, there are 4 pick ups on each car - here you can see 3 that are being attached - the 4ths goes in the middle...

It's a noisy ride with even just 1 car going around... by the time all 11 are up and running it'll be deafening


Alas, tomorrow we continue taking it to bits and will "assemble" the remaining cars in the coming weeks - along side re-constructing the caterpillar.  

We're all very tired, fed up and not enjoying it...  

On the plus side, when this run of orders is completed, I'm going to begin working 4 day weeks and take on a conversion project... turning 2 apartments into 1 house.  Grade 1 listed which is a bit of a pain but it'll be different.

MEANWHILE - here is Roger today's "crash test dummy" having a go.

BOAT wise, tomorrow night we'll head straight from work and I plan to make some shelves for my electric cupboard (mainly to hold tools and the like) and make a start on working out what gas connectors I need to buy.  I've also got a new fuel tank "washer" to fit as the original one seems to have been damaged - I've currently got a bit of plastic held down by chain over the fuel filler cap... not pretty but it's been doing the trick (I hope) 

Until next time...

Sunday, 12 February 2017

School boy error.

As promised, on Friday night I arrived at the boat after work (with my weekend bag) - *read 2 pairs of pants and socks...* planning to rake out the seal between the flue and roof collar.

I thought I'd set the heating to come on so that at least I'd have a warm boat to go into once the job was done...  fat fingers struck (striked?) again - in that I'd NOT set it to come on.    Undeterred however, I stuck to the plan and climbed on the roof and began raking it all out (again)...

This is the stuff that's appearing on the inside

IT looks worse in the photos than it was until I tried removing it with kitchen roll... It still shouldn't be there though as surely if tar can run down the inside then fumes/the deadly co gas can blow back down too?

Another cafuffle of a job - I used a tent peg to remove the now "set" fire cement I'd initially jammed between the flue and the collar.  Once removed, I  began with a layer of heat proof silicone and then rammed fire-rope in... lots of it.  I carried on filling with the silicone and then another length of fire rope and topping off with a final layer of heatproof silicone... a bit like making a lasagne I suppose.

Just as I was finishing it, a chap a couple of boats back came home from work and on enquiring what I was up to, pointed out I was wasting my time and that if I left it about 6 months or so to bed in,  all would be fine... in the meantime,  he suggested wrapping kitchen roll around the top of the flue and changing it daily.  

I'm  NOT going to do this - I'll clean it up each day by all means but risking kitchen roll on a very hot flue doesn't sit comfortably with me.

ANYWAY -  he must have a point as it's back again this morning!

JOB wise on the boat, we've done nothing this weekend... On Saturday we went off for a chug - mainly to charge batteries.  THIS time, we switched roles leaving Andy to steer and me do locks.   It went well enough but the wind got up on our return journey so we decided  rather than go back to our mooring we'd moor for the night the other side of Stanley Ferry... so that we could do a water fill and rubbish disposal run on route back Sunday morning.

In hindsight, this wasn't such a good idea - we "picked" a spot against the metal piling and thought  it'd be ok.  How wrong we were.... the wind increased and proceeded to slam us into the side time and time again all night...  At 2am I was outside in my undies and raincoat trying to tighten the ropes enough to stop the constant noise.  To no avail so I sat up watching rubbish tv all night unable to sleep - by 4.30am even Andy (who could sleep on a washing line) had given up and between us (this time fully dressed) we bow-hauled the boat further along into a more sheltered area and the noise finally abated.

Next time we'll do it sooner!

By morning proper, we moved the boat to the service point and carried out the planned chores - I must admit to being proud of my mooring in the strong wind... AND at being able to cast off again on my own.

Whilst the tank was filling, Andy's brother called to say they were bout 40 mins away so we stoked the fire up and went home to meet them.

On returning to the boat with them, we'd planned on a little chug out - AS the weather was now Windy AND wet, we got as far as the pub for lunch hoping it would improve whilst we ate... it didn't so we turned and went back home.

Other than keeping the fire in and doing a bit of charging I've not got much planned for this week on board - we're taking the ride down at work  so it's going to be full on.

Until next time...

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Do Not feed the ducks...

Well not on your home mooring... CERTAINLY not if you intend to live on it.

I know this now...  I didn't know this a few weeks ago when Andy bought a big bag of bird seed and began feeding the swans, ducks and moor hens from the side hatch.    As a result of course, we're being terrorised by a couple of evil quackers that are frequently 'demanding food with menaces'.

I know it's a naff photo but I was too scared to open the window 😅

Seriously though, if I ignore them... for more than about 2 mins, she begins making an almighty noise and he begins trying to drill his way through the hull with his flat beak!

The swans are more direct when the window is open though, happily putting their heads through to have a look around and demand seed.   It'll be interesting how the cats react when they come on board!

Tonight was no exception - I called in on the way home from work to light the fire and charge the batteries... the solar has been keeping up with the fridge-freezer whilst we've not been on board until today when it dropped to 75% according to the smartgauge.  I'm not totally convinced of it's accuracy but it's better than just "guessing" their state of charge.  I ran the engine until they reached 90% and then switched to the generator whilst I did a few jobs.  It seems wasteful running the engine above 90% knowing the charging current has tailed off... the generator/charger will keep the oil-changes down.

Due to work being so all consuming at the moment, I've not done a lot this week on the boat  - mainly testing out the new loo (don't worry - I didn't take a video of the ACTUAL test ;-) ) - suffice to say I was quite amazed at how well it coped... especially as at one point  it  looked like  I needed to beat it with a big stick!

I HAVE tidied up the wiring/piping in the wardrobe with retaining ties so it's not quite so messy now.  
I've also raked out the initial attempt at sealing the flue into the roof collar as a bit or tar was running down the outside of the flue INSIDE the boat if you follow... this hasn't worked as I noticed a little mark again tonight.  

With this in mind, I've set the heating to come on tomorrow afternoon so when I decamp to the boat on my way home from work, it''ll be nice and warm inside whilst I have another go with fire rope and heat-proof silicone on the roof.

AS for the weekend - Andy's brother is planning a visit on Sunday we think so we're going to "play" on the boat rather than do anything... I might measure up how much flooring we need as a contact of mine has some Ash hardwood samples for us to look at - we'd considered bamboo or solid oak boards but if he can get ash, that might be preferable

MEANWHILE - tonight I need to catch up with "Unforgotten" on the tellybox ... I do like Nicola Walker.

Until next time...

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Macerator (er?) toilet fitting... a crappy job!

What a blooming faff that was.

You may recall a few weeks ago the toilet tank (made by tec-tanks) arrived along with the Leesan fitting kit and hull fittings etc.

They've been languishing in the garage ever since waiting for me to get the courage up to tackle the fit.

On Friday night after work, I went to the boat and got everything ready... when I say got everything ready, what I mean is I opened a bottle of wine and lit the fire 😄.  AS a result, the Saturday morning "early start" didn't materialise.

When we eventually made it home to collect the tank, it was about 9 am as I needed to call into screwfix on route to purchase a couple more of the Bosch quick connect circular saw blades in the sizes required for the hull fittings...  they're very good.

The tank wouldn't fit in Andy's car so we strapped it to the roof 'clampet syle' of my old works Rav and were relieved when we arrived safely.  Andy suggested we go incognito but given that most people wouldn't know it was a poo tank anyway, that seemed a bit OTT.

I won't lie - it was quite a relief that it actually fit into the space under the bed... especially given as I'd never actually measured it!

I'd printed out the tank fitting instructions off the Leesan website but the photos appeared to contradict the narratives... for example, it stated several times it was best to have the rinse out and pump out at opposite ends of the tank whilst the photos had them all in the same corner?

SO, ignoring this, I applied ginger common sense and did my own thing.

from left to right:  Vent, Rinse, Pumpout and toilet connections.

IT took a lot of pressure to get the fittings through the "uniseals"  - even with plenty of fairy.  Eventually, I got them all in position and began cutting through the wardrobe to accommodate the pipe work.

That all went easily enough but of course when it came to cutting out the lining and insulation under the gunwhale, things went down hill...  in that, I cut through the power cables hidden behind the panelling to power the loo.  They were supposed to be down the side of the unit as per my wiring diagram but once again, the builder must have deviated... only slightly (well 8 inchs) but it meant I had to cut and re-connect them.  Luckily I have plenty of ferrules left and 30 amp choc block thingys...

What's taken me only 15 minutes to type, had of course taken all day and by now it was dark.  SO - armed with head torch, once I'd drilled a guide hole up and out, I went outside to cut the holes in the gunwhale for the fittings.  Using the Bosch circular saws and plenty of oil to lubricate, it wasn't a bad job and my little cordless drill was fine... well it was on the "slow" setting.

Having done the pump out one, I then went on to do the rinse fitting.  I'm not sure if it's a little close (I suppose we'll find out when we do our first pump out) but it made sense to have them in the same place to me.

As usual, I slapped plenty of sikaflex around the fitting and through the holes before screwing them down.  I'll get some more expanding foam and squirt that around the area at the weekend to stop condensation forming AND to help support the pipes.  Note I used 2 hose-clips on each one - WHEN searching for them btw, you need to look for "worm clips"... or you don't get many results.  

By the time this was done, Andy was getting restless so we made the fire up and retired to the pub for tea. 

THIS morning once we were up and about, I went back to the job to sort out the internal plumbing and wiring.

ALL I can say is the Jabsco instructions are rubbish! - having followed them step by step, I noticed the minus feed to the pump was not connected to anything... NOR was there anything in the fitting guide telling you to.

I gave it the benefit of the doubt and did what it said - only to find when testing it, "nothing happened" - Applying my common sense again, I connect it up to the boat's negative feed and hey presto. 

Another thing that wasn't mentioned was the 19mm (ish) cold feed pipe required to connect the flush up...  I got lucky being able to modify some left over 'rinse' pipe to connect it to the solenoid.

I've had to "choc"up the pan on 40 mm of board so it's at the correct height when we get the oak flooring down and under it.  

For now, I've just fitted the vent and filter together and NOT cut any piping to the outside of the boat - IF the charcoal filter works as it's supposed to we won't notice any smells... the second we do, I'll be cutting another hole through and outside.  

This is the inaugural flush - 

I've added a sachet of brewers yeast to the tank and done a couple of flushes to mix it up - the theory being it will help "chomp up" the contents and remove the need for chemical additives like blue or green - no doubt we'll see if it works.

  Very pleased to have a "proper" toilet up and running.  I'll need to investigate how to use the pump-out machine at the services block shortly... perhaps enlisting the assistance of another boater the first time to show me the ropes.

Until next time...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Return from Margate...

What a week it's been!  I am too old for this kind of thing - the kind of thing I'm referring to being the pulling down of fairground rides in the middle of winter.

After the weekend on the boat, around lunchtime on Sunday I got in the car and drove down to Margate - it could have been worse but still took over 5 hours driving without a break.  I hate that road... SO tedious.

The plan was to meet up with the lads at work in the hotel bar around 8  and have a pint or 2 before an early night in preparation for dismantling and packing away 2 rides over the course of the week.

THAT didn't happen... mainly because everyone else set of an hour AFTER I did and their journies ended up taking around 8 hours thanks to a combination of road works, road closures and accidents.

MY evening wasn't much better though...

I had dinner in my cell  budget single room... it was grim!

On Monday we began dismantling the smaller ride first - the Austin cars... you might recall they're the ones we took to Beamish in the summer.  We've got them on Hire to Dreamland in Margate (or rather we did) but they're doing some ground works in February to install new drains so they wanted us to move them.

Once that was done, we also had to take down the Speedway we repaired  last year - it needs a proper service and repainting.  Due to the miserable conditions, I didn't take many photos... well that and the fact I was sulking quite a bit as the boss had been on the phone and made a comment along the lines of "is that all you've done?" - not REALLY the way to motivate 4 middle-aged men who were aching from head to toe and freezing to their bones in the drizzle.   I managed to bite my tongue... JUST.    I am SO close to walking away and leaving them all to it.  

The tilt (that's the name for the "canvas cover" that goes over the ride was rather heavy so Gav and I managed to cadge a lift with a passing tele-handler...  it's a good job we've not heard of "elf and Safety"...

We travelled back last night and went to work as normal this morning... all a bit fed up to be honest.  

I've decided to stand my ground and NOT work this weekend... instead, the plan is to fit the toilet tank and macerater toilet on the boat...  Tonight when I finished work, I called in to light the fire  and then filled with water and turned to bring the right side of the gunwale to the bank side in preparation... given the winds forecast for the weekend, it seemed a logical plan.

Until next time...

Friday, 27 January 2017

Experimenting with "heating fuels" and another sad loss

It's been a very busy week at work - we're having to go back down to Margate again on Sunday afternoon until "whenever the job's done" to pull down the speedway we repaired back in July... that ruddy thing seems to be cursed as whenever work is planned on it, someone dies.

Back in July in was my best friends mum... THIS time it was Les of NB Valerie.  I've been a follower on his blog for many, many years and whilst having never met him, have exchanged a few messages on Canalworld forums.  He'd put up a brave, realistic and well humoured fight against the bastard cancer... supported by his wife Jaq, between them they have been an inspiration to many others I'm sure and judging by the reference's and tributes paid in many of the blogs I read, he'll be sadly missed.  Condolence is a poor word but my thoughts are with his "princess" at this time  - Les had done as much as he could to teach her how to manage the boat without him but I'm sure should the situation arise, there'll be a queue of boaters wanting to help.

. . . . . . . 

As you'll remember (if you read my most recent posting)  - LAST weekend I finally fitted the stove.

It's been a steep learning curve "playing" with it this week after work...   in fact, once again tonight, I'm sitting here on the boat in my pants with the windows open as it's not gone quite according to plan.

I was brought up with open coal fires in a draughty house...  a multi-fuel stove in a well insulated boat is VERY different beast it seems!  Each night this week, I'd set the heating for 1 hour before I was due home from work (to take the chill off the boat) and as soon as I arrived I turned it off and lit the fire.   Having very soon worked out getting it up to heat with logs then putting on coal (this week has been a trial for "Blaze")... NOT for any reason other than the petrol station I stopped at on Monday night only sold that type!

It's not very good - perhaps it is a damp bag but it takes ages to get going and sits there sulking for ages if you reduce the bottom air flow.  On the plus side, it does last a long time - just not chucking out a LOT of heat.  I did manage to keep "a couple" of embers going for 20 hours but NOT enough to enable re-lighting without the use of a fire-lighter and kindling.  

The wood (just off cuts from work - some of which is 100 year old bits of racing track - others 60 year old ghost train floor) is burning lovely and DOESN'T blacken the glass... unlike the ruddy "Blaze" has done.

Tomorrow, after work, I'm going to look for some other kind of smokeless to try out...  Andy is also nagging me to make some kind of a log/coal store to sit by the fire... HOWEVER, having used up all the heat-proof board I bought, that will have to wait.

Assuming Margate goes ok, NEXT weekend will be toilet tank fitting time... I'm NOT looking forward to that but once I get started I'm sure it will go smoother than the stove fitting... won't it?

Oh btw - I Did manage another shutter this week

I've 'sunk' little magnets behind the veneer to hold them open  - it's meant screwing washers to the side (a temporary measure as I'm going to cut to diamonds at work and paint them in the same colour we end up using for the internal parts...)

Until next time...

Monday, 23 January 2017

Stove Installation...

WHAT a weekend it's been!

We decided last week that although the webasto central heating does a wonderful job of heating the boat, it DOES hammer the batteries - despite what it says in the manual.

SO, on Thursday night after work, I began to construct a surround/hearth in accordance with the Soliftec guidlines:

I began by putting the stove in the place we decided it would go in - then moving it as it would be directly in the way of the lighting wire loom on the plan!

Having compromised on the position, I marked out on the floor where it needed to be and then cut a hole through the floor and used self tapping/self drilling screws to attach 2 angled brackets to the underfloor bearers. Having done that, I then screwed down some board over the whole area to give it a bit of height.   On top of that, I put down some scraggy bits of ply to create a 10mm air gap and then fitted some of the heat proofing -I'd already bought the 25mm  calcium silicate board (which has been rolling around in the back of my jeep for the last few weeks making a mess).   I was sceptical of whether it would be strong enough to hold the weight of the tiles...  (which ended up being ex display in our local depot - NOT our first choice but the only ones they had in stock on Saturday morning when we went shopping) but once the tile adhesive was lathered all over it, they seemed to be fine - it was dry within a couple of hours and we could lift the stove into place.

Cutting the holes in the tiles was a pain - I got through 5 "tile drill bits" and various other drill bits - AND ended up resorting to an old tile saw to enlarge the the holes to accommodate the brackets.

I made a simple surround using left over bits of sepelle from the track I've been making at work - partly because it's a strong hard wood, and partly because it doesn't burn very easily ... I know this from repeated attempts when I've been grinding metal nearby lol.

Once in position, I marked (roughly ish)the centre point of the output and then using a bit of wood until it "looked" straight, the corresponding point in the ceiling...

Having then measured it, you can see I was a bit slopey on the first attempt lol.

NO matter - I got brave and drilled my guide hole out through the roof!

This was about 10.30...

It all started out SO well - my little cordless jigsaw making light work of the circle... that was until I hit the 5x50mm box bracing section across the boat... slap bang in the middle of where the hole needed to be...  My heart sank as I snapped the first couple of jigsaw blades... followed by many drill bits .

Perseverance was the key though and having flattened 5 batteries trying to enlarge the eventual hole with my cordless angle-grinder (and subsequent trip to screwfix to buy a corded one to complete the job) by 2pm, it was done! - NOTE how close I came to beggaring up the wires that were NOT on my wiring diagram - the builder must have ignored needed to deviate .

IT was by now of course raining too!

Amazingly, when I got the flue and fed it down through the hole, it lined up perfectly with the stove underneath...  even though I was sure I'd measured it properly, I have to admit to being fair amazed it was right lol.

I sealed it up with a combination of heat proof silicone and sikaflex I had left over - sikaflex doesn't claim to be heatproof but it's very good stuff and I used it around the bolts too.

Having  put some fire-rope around the blanking plate on the rear, I decided to put flexible (well that's what it says on the tube) fire-cement in there too.  

Once the flue was nicely sealed up, I went back on the roof and wedged the flue into the collar with more fire rope, more fire cement and topped off with the flexible heat proof stuff again...  that should cover every eventuality lol.

Before lighting it, you may note I got a couple of fire-extinguishers to hand - there was no need.  It lit easily and in no time was up to temperature... well when I say temperature, we were aiming for a "gentle fire" to cure the cement etc...  within no time however, it was over 30 degrees in the cabin and we spent the rest of the evening watching tv in our pants, with the windows open!


Until next time...