Monday 30 May 2016

A Better type of Fire-Extinguisher from Crick Show...

Yesterday as planned, we were sitting in the car in the parking field waiting for the gates to open by 9.30am.

Apparently Saturday had been a lovely and sunny day... ffs...  YESTERDAY however, it was overcast and decidedly chilly - NOTE to YOURSELF... in future, please feel free to check when we're going so you can pick another day ;-0)

No matter, we had fleeces, waterproofs and wellies with us anyway.  The trouble with dull, cold days is that your mood  isn't in the place it should be... to be frank, we were a bit fractious with each other as a result... well either that or the result of a broken nights sleep AFTER a day spent dismantling old and erecting new fences between us and next door.

ANYWAY -  it was a pleasure walking around the "proper" paved walkways...  in previous years after rain, getting into a tent was a bit like running the gauntlet - having to try and leap over flooded bits or trample over the straw that had been put in place to minimise the mud.  I'm pleased to report this is no longer the case and even if it HAD been soaking, access would have been much, much cleaner and easier.  The same goes for the marquee I mentioned the other day - that now has a linked together plastic floor of some kind which makes it a much easier and more importantly, drier surface to walk around on.  Well done chaps.

After a good mooch around to see what stalls were where, we gravitated to a stall held buy - I took the chaps card and have since I'm afraid to say, lost it! ... I think his name was Peter.

He was 'selling' for want of a better word, a better (imho) kind of fire extinguisher than the current ones available today.  

It's about 25cm long... weighs about 0.5 Kg and can be used to put out just about any kind of fire - WITHOUT making a mess.  Now ok - if something is on fire in a boat, ( or anywhere else for that matter) making a mess is usually not high of your list of priorities....  now you say that, but when you've actually used a dry powder extinguisher  - and I ashamedly hold my hand up to having done so in a drunken stupor in my younger days, they DO make one hell of a mess.   

The JE  50 seems to me, to be something you might grab and use more easily... call it a first resort if you like.  I know this sounds like sales patter... perhaps it is, but I was impressed with the chap's honesty and candour.  WHY? - well  to start with, he made it quite clear that as of yet, this device hasn't been approved by the BSS... because  that only covers gas filled devices - which the JE 50 isn't... ergo, it cannot be approved by the BSS until they update it.   There's a quick video of in use here.

They are not cheap - currently selling at just short of £45 for the little ones but they don't need annual maintenance and although their "box life" is listed at 5 years, in "real life" will be good for a while longer - perhaps being replaced after 8 years - just in case.  

IF you are interested in the chemistry - the photo below might help explain how it works.  

SO - having bought one just one of  these, we still needed to buy the ones that WILL pass the BSS. 

 As luck would have it, a while further on we came across the "Extinguish Fire Solutions Ltd" stand.

We had a lovely chat with them about what was required for the BSS - they had a copy of it to hand which I thought rather helpful and proved they'd done their preparation (it was a boat show after all).  

This is the bit we need to be aware of:  

The minimum combined rating of 21A/144B for a boat of longer than 36ft and number of extinguishers being 3... oh and a Fire blanket.

The most economic method of doing this being 2 times 1 kg 5A/34B ones and 1 times2kg 13A/70B ones if you follow - giving a total of 23A (whatever that is)  and 138B - which I'm a bit miffed about today... having checked the BSS online, it DOES show the B rating of 144 but we've only got 138...  DOES that last "missing" 6 cause a problem? - I shall phone the company tomorrow to check.

Meanwhile, please welcome the latest 4 additions to our family - the cats refused to get out of shot again I'm afraid.  The "show price" for this lot (and a little first aid kit) was £70 dead.  These days, I tend to automatically ASK for a discount...  when I tun up somewhere buying bits for work covered in muck and oil, sometimes, it's automatic anyway...  Andy was embarrassed but just by asking - nicely and with good humour/banter, we walked away paying £55 instead.  A good result.

btw - just for comparison purposes, the 2kg and the JE 50 have the same fire-putting-out ability.

As you can see - assuming the BSS DOES update to accept them, they will go down very well with  the boating fraternity as they take ups a lot less space and are much lighter too.  Before then, we'll just have to have the big ones and wait and see.

Something NOT on our list to buy were these:

a sponge on a rope (sorry-Bungee) cord that straps to your wrist so it can't blow away or fall in the canal.  Only a fiver each and whilst Andy thinks I'm mad, I'm sure they're a good idea.  The blue one is more absorbent - for soaking up water from places it shouldn't be... perhaps a flood somewhere.  Anyway, good look to the chap who was touting them... I shall look forward to using mine to wash the boat!

We had planned to buy some mooring lines but there were just too many to chose from and too many people in the way so we abandoned that idea. 

Heading into the main marquee, we stopped to have  a chat with the people from .  They had one of their 150w "slim" (ish) panels on display and it was good to see them in the flesh.  Between us, we got in to a bit of a debate about 24v systems verses 12 - his argument being you can use a cheaper mppt unit.  Whilst I both understand AND agree with him in principle, ours is going to be a 12v one - to make best use of the "parts" we've already accumulated in the attic.  ssshhh... It's a need to know thing!

We didn't get to look around any boats properly - them mostly being "appointment only" - which I DO understand but DON'T like...  The only ones that were really friendly, were the chaps from Aintree with their little one.  They welcomed us to come aboard and take a good look around - despite knowing we'd already got a boat ordered from elsewhere.  Well done you chaps.  

Sad though it is, we had to leave about lunchtime and headed back home in time to get the old fences to the tip.  Don't we lead glamorous lives?

Until next time...

Saturday 28 May 2016

Crick - Shopping list...

Tomorrow morning we're off to Crick boat show

Usually, we go on the first day - and it rains... and rains... and rains... last time, whilst in a marque (hiding FROM the rain) there was actually a torrent of water flowing through it! Luckily, we had our wellies on anyway lol.

SO - in a break from our tradition, we switched to Sunday... I'll report back tomorrow night whether (or perhaps that ought to be weather) it's worked.

Given the delicate state of our finances at the moment- whilst we'd originally hoped to get a toilet/holding tank "deal" this year, we've downgraded that to mooring lines, fenders and perhaps a few fire-extinguishers ... and maybe a fire blanket.

The excitement never ends ;-)  

Until next time...

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Delivery update from the builder...

Hello again,

You may recall, our plan was to go and visit the builder on Saturday morning to dot i's and cross some t's ...  well, we did just that.

It was a good visit and things appeared less fraught over that than our previous visits - to the point I actually (for once) relaxed a bit.  We chatted about our confusion over delivery dates and he was most amenable - explaining that he's moved things around a bit to give us a chance of meeting a mid October delivery ... and more importantly (financially at least for us) to tag our lift IN with the Crane OUT near our mooring.

Apparently, the hull can now be ordered and expected delivery to their premises is early/mid July.  Given that June is nearly upon us, it finally feels like something is going to happen.

Our "Extras" list now consists of the following:

engine upgrade from 35 to 42hp

Centreflex coupling

2 sets of glazed side doors/hatches

500 litre stainlesss steel water tank

gas pipe runs

an extra porthole

an extra side door

horn and headlight

hospital silencer

75 instead of 55 litre calorifier with 1kw immersion heater

135ah batteriers insteal of 100s.

This adds £5050.00 (eek) to the cost... SO far. 

 I've tried to explain to Andy that we simply can't afford to add anything else on now - given our maximum savings capacity is £1000 a month, there just isn't the time to save enough money to pay for anything else...  and that assumes already we don't have any kind of life from now until delivery - AND eat dust for at least 2 of our 3 meals a day!

During the meeting, we revisited the plans and confirmed the location of all the portholes and side hatches.  We also confirmed the height of the rear lockers (2 inches higher than normal) - I HATE not being able to see over cratch boards for the sake of 2 inches.

The next time we go over there, we'll actually be coming back with some photos of OUR hull (and be a bit lighter in the pocket too)...  Roll on July!

On Sunday, we revisited the Barnsley canal walk we did a few months back- it's amazing how different things look with a bit of spring growth:

This coming Sunday, we're off to Crick boat show - if you spot us, please come and say hello...ideally offer to buy us lunch too if you would be so kind :-) 

Until next time...

Saturday 21 May 2016

and then it was gone...

Apologies for the frequent absences of'll remember I've been flat out at work -

AS you can see however, the Chair-0-planes have finally gone.  The workshop seems enormous now.

It's been a hellish week, delivering and erecting the things down at Dreamland in Margate - without blowing my own trumpet, we've done a sterling job in the time available...  many 70+ hour weeks... 1 and a half stone in weight loss in my case and a few more wrinkles.

Here are  the photos I took as we were erecting it in the glorious Margate sunshine earlier this week.

for whatever reason, I don't have the completed photos showing on my phone - so much for technology!

I'll have to check on the Dreamland website and see if they've put up any promotional stuff yet.

Good news too - the hostile Estonian is shortly heading back home - never to be employed again...  I'd have gotten rid of him a long time ago if we'd not been so up against the wire.

In more sad news, yesterday I was tasked with the job of sacking the apprentice.  He's been driving us all mad for the last couple of months  and despite TRYING to give him the benefit of the doubt... him being "young" and all, enough is enough.  Whilst you CAN train people to do specific jobs, I don't believe you can instil common sense or a work ethic.  We've been talking about getting rid of him for a few weeks now and up until this week, I've always tried to champion his cause... his lazy attitude this week down in Margate was the last straw - coupled with deciding to go home early yesterday whilst the lads were cleaning and tidying the workshop because 'there's nothing left to do' .

I must admit, I felt sick during the journey from the office to the workshop to give him his marching orders - in the end, I phrased things "nicely" and rather than crush him, I genuinely feel, I couldn't have done it better.

SO - he's gone now too.  Next week whilst I'm off, we have a work experience lad coming to get in the way  help out and also a friend of the boss who recently lost his job - he's mid 50s and has come in a few days last week to help out.   No word of a lie, he is a pleasure to have around - doesn't need telling to sweep up or empty a bin (nor does he moan about doing so) ... he just gets stuck in to anything required... our sort of chap!

Sorry this is nothing to do with boating - that said, we're off to see the boat builder this morning to finalise a few decisions and see if we can get a more definite delivery date.

I'll report back in due course.

NEXT week however, I'm taking back the Easter and May day bank holidays I worked through and a couple of extra days before we get stuck in to the next ride.    I've a fence/posts to replace between us and next door at some point and also need to do some decorating around the house ... so much for resting!

Until next time.

Sunday 15 May 2016

Ship's Anchor...

Finally I've had a few hours spare (well not really spare but you know what I mean) this weekend to  “think” about the boat again.

I've been looking down my list, and I came to Anchors! – not the most exciting subject but given we’ll be on a river quite a bit, something that’s very important…  well something very important in an emergency.  Given my tendency to prepare (and no I wasn't a boy scout)  my research tells me that an anchor needs to be big enough to be deployed by anyone on board.  

Initially, I’d thought about getting a 20kg Danforth type – 
Like this...

NOT this of course as it’s stainless steel and costs about 600 quid.

Trouble with  something this heavy is, that what say either of our mothers were needed to deploy it in an emergency situation – WOULD they be able to lift 20kg of anchor and chain over the front of the boat? – I doubt it…  it’s a tough one… they could probably manage 10 – maybe 15kg  at a push but would that “do” enough to stop the boat going over a weir ? … I don’t know…

I’d hope to have enough notice of the need to deploy one to be able to get to the front of the boat myself to chuck it in but you never know.

I had thought about having 2 smaller ones but we’ll struggle with storage then…

Usually when I can’t decide what to do – I do nothing… on this one I can’t  so having had a few cups of tea this morning and time to think,  I've gone with my original plan and ordered the 20kg one

This galvanised one was only £75 – by the time you add in the cost of the chain and rope it doubles the price but once again… something that NEEDS to be done.

Next week when we go see the builder, I’ll make sure he makes a note to make a proper fixing point on the front – some folk just use the front t-stud but I’d rather make sure I can fix it to a proper place as t-stud welds have been known to fail when the anchor brings the boat to a halt.

Ours will be permanently attached to said point...Hopefully we’ll never have cause to use it and simply frequently bruise our legs on it!

Until next time…

Thursday 12 May 2016

cressendo al fine...

What a hectic, tiring but rewarding couple of days this has been - the Chair-o-planes is finally completed and ready for delivery.

Yesterday was the operational testing day for the adips certification... i.e., proof that it's safe.   Sorry the photos are a bit blury in parts but the ride had to be running.  Without the cert, the ride cannot be installed and used.  Luckily, all was fine... well when I say all, I'm ignoring a little glitch with the computer that runs the slow down process - it turned out not to be up to the job in hand so I had to head over to Boston to collect a couple of resistors to wire in to the main control unit - on full load (48 x 75 kg people) it now slows down properly... only a 5 hour journey after a long day!

The chap in the photo is the man who legally signs it off as safe.  As you can see, we'd loaded it up with 3x25kg bags of gravel per seat (which is shortly to become part of our drive and garden paths) and spun it on full speed.

No word of a lie, my heart was in my mouth...  3.6 tonnes of gravel swinging round at 12rpm may not sound much, but trust me - the wind noise it created was quite impressive.

Prior to the load test, we did a lighting test... and I'm pleased to say that out of the 384 lights I wired in, only 1 was a duffer... and I rectified that today when we took it down.

That's the sad part about things being so close to the wire - when a ride is finished, we never get the tinkering time we'd like to "play" with the thing.  

We got some volunteers together *read  forced the workers to have a go* and it seemed to go down quite well - I'd been on the 1st run as "crash test dummy" before we loaded it up - it creaked a bit but bedded down ok and I survived... in hindsight, perhaps a load of gravel first might have been a better idea.

After I took this video, I got into the cherry picker and took a birds eye view of it here:

We're currently dismantling it and piling it onto pallets ready to take down to Dreamland in Margate on Monday.  I'm taking a van with all the art work carefully wrapped in blankets separately.  

All in all, we've done a good job and despite the hostile Estonian (he's buggering off back home in a couple of weeks thank goodness and I'm going to make sure, we NEVER have him back again) we're all pleased to see it completed and looking so good.   Dreamland will be very pleased with it I'm sure.

Sorry I've ignored "the boat" lately - there just hasn't been any time or waking hours to think/do anything about it...thanks for bearing with me though - I'm trying to arrange a visit to the builder for Saturday the 21st so will hopefully be able to report back positively then.

With luck, I'll also be able to take a few days back the week after next  to rest, before we get stuck in to the next ride that we are supposed to have ready in July...  oh well - it'll soon be Autumn.

Until next time....

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Ride Test Day...

Just dashing off to work  but if I make it through the day, I'll update you on the BIG DAY ahead - safety test day for the ride .... sorry still no boating update but there should  only be 1 week more of this ride totally taking over my life and I can get back to more important things.

photos to follow :-)

Saturday 7 May 2016

Photos as promised...

Good Morning,

As you might have guessed, I didn't get in until late last night...  I've been up since 4 this morning stressing whether or not I removed the crocodile clips from the truck battery I've been using to test my lighting strips - on Wednesday, my prototype went up in smoke when someone dragged a bit or metal accross the floor shorting it out...  now although no one should be there, we do have a mouse in residence and if she's scurried past... well, this morning we could be turning up to a bigger pile of smoking timber!!!

I was going to go in and check, but (given the yard was broken into the other night, by truck driving, bad-uns, wielding "gas cutting gear") I've decided to take a chance... the mouse may be having a lay in anyway.

SO - As we've not had time or energy to plan anything boaty, this week, here is a photo stream of the nearly finsihed chair-o-planes that have taken over my life for the last 3 months...

At the moment, it's looking like this:

Centre pole of the ride being craned into position - prior to this, we were trying to balance a few pallets on a fork truck, along side a scaffold tower... the grim reaper left a message so I stopped things and ordered the "right tool"

Centre pole finally erected and the build up around it could now begin.

1 set of steps down... 19 to go.

24 NEW swifts ... in 6 coats of paint.

Roger wandering around looking worn out - oh, the green thing is a grating (platform to walk on) -  20 of them ... each slightly different to make the walkway under the chairs.

Speaking (well writing) of chairs, the 1st batch of 24 in Royal Maroon after being repaired.
Trial run of swift, bars and chair - Roger doing the honours again.

4, 6 way light distribution boxes that end up at the top of the pole  through breakers. - fiddly as heck to do and my finger ends are still sore.

Lighting strip number 1 - 

Original light holders that "clamp on" to the wire - as you can see, made in 1965... we have 1000's in new boxes for the vintage rides... the modern stuff is all  leds.

Build up of top frame

I'm bored with these by now...and still had 20 to go.

Top frame completed. Now for some pretty stuff.

Rounding boards going on - 24 boards, with retaining panels between them.  All newly decorated.

Half way there...

Close up of Rounding boards 

The other 24 chairs - British racing green (ish) colour number 226.

Trying out some ceiling panels and trying to work out the best way of fixing them down without damaging them.

These are the newly made hangers the chairs attached to.  The originals were too far gone to be safe so we cut 48 new ones from 10mm plate  - they weigh a ton.  All new shackles and if you look closely in the bottom right hand corner, you can see a little black safety chain - this is in case the big one ever's certified to 2 ton and costs a fortune.

Another coat of green 

Fitting the centre droppers - these are heavy and the cherry picker is more hindrance than help really...

And that is where we left it last night...

Today, we somehow need to give all 80 steps another coat of gloss, do the edges of the platforms,  finish the lighting strips, fit strengthening bars to the steps, rig up the lap chains and leg belts to stop folk falling out, do the remaining  47 safety chains, cuprinol the undersides of the steps and gratings, fit the rest of the droppers, attach the chains, attached the chairs, drill holes in each swift to accommodate the light strips, make a few brackets for the light strips... - oh you get the picture I'm sure....

5.15 now so it's time to sing *Hey ho.., Hey ho... it's off to work I go...*

until next time...