Tuesday 28 June 2016

Schematic drawing - courtesy of "Layout 2016"...

Now, a short while ago I downloaded a trial version of something (it might have been "Sketchup" but I can't be sure) and along with it, was another trial version of "Layout 2016".

I opened it up briefly... buggered around for a few minutes and then dismissed it as rubbish.

At the weekend however, I decided it was time to note down the final positions for the wiring and plumbing to go BEHIND the lining the builder will be fitting shortly - this was prompted by our recent visit to Eddie and Wendy as they've been having frustrations trying to route their solar panel cables.

After a couple of cock ups  erroneous attempts on paper, I got fed up and decided to have a go on my laptop.

Having forced myself to embrace technology (those of you paying attention may remember that until about 18 months ago I was an IT consultant... who thoroughly hated computers) and  after a few hours use, I've finally gotten some drawings that may be useful.

I followed the layout of Chris' (the builder) original sketch so that if he passes it on to his worker-bees, it'll be something they're familiar with.

OK - I accept they might rise and eye-brow at a few bits of the plan - perhaps the symbol I installed for toilets!

NO matter...  the point is, I think it's quite clear what cables need to go where ... AND where they need to come out.

Take a look and give me your honest opinion.

... when I say HONEST - what I mean by that is KIND!!! ;-) 

The basic "layout" application is clunky and doesn't include anywhere near enough icons /tools but by combining it with free icons available on the internet, you can make a reasonable job of it.

Our plan is still to keep the boat as simple as possible... the theory being that when things go wrong, they'll be easier to repair.

We have no intention of installing Satellite TV but we're running a cable in from the lounge to the starboard bow ... just in case.

I've also (thanks to a recommendation from a poster on http://thunderboat.boards.net) bought some of this from screwfix  

If the link disappears, basically its 20 mm corrugated tubing  that we're going to have the full length of the boat (starboard side) with a junction coming out in the larder cupboard in the kitchen... the theory being (providing I remember to feed a bit of para-cord through it first) we can use it to pull any "new cable" that might be needed in the future  through the entire length of the boat, WITHOUT having to removing any of the wall or ceiling linings...

THAT'S the theory anyway and is of course dependant on me remembering the aforementioned para-cord!

Until next time...

Friday 24 June 2016

Towpath transport?

Now it's been rumoured I have the word "mug" tattooed  on my forehead...  I am not expressing an opinion!

That would have been a first :-)

...  no - what I will say however is that sometimes you have to investigate something, in order to dismiss it.  ... ...  What am I babbling on about? ...  ahem, introducing the hover board... aka, a segway.

IT's fab!

OK - I'm a 44 year old bloke but that doesn't mean I can't have fun... or get down with the kids - more to the point though, SHOULD I actually get down... getting back up again would be the problem given the state of my back and knees.

Gav at work (he's got a 13 year old daughter) brought in his /her hoverbord for me to try out.  I've been thinking about getting us a couple for use on the boat... you know, for a trip to Sainsburys along the towpath or whatever and given the opportunity to try before I buy (for once) it seemed a good idea.

I'm a natural - no really!  I have to confess  though that it's not the first time I've been on a segway ...Andy and I went on a segway tour (the big ones with handles) around Lisbon... up into the old town a couple of years ago whilst in port on a cruise we were on.   I did have a bit of a disaster, involving an old Portuguese lady who stepped out in front of me which resulted in rather spectacular falling off and rather a heated exchange of rude words - in foreign!  As I don't speak (or understand) Portuguese, I tried my best attempt at school boy French and Spanish apologies -  (Je Suis Desole and Lo Siento)... in the hope she'd get the gist...  judging from how long she screamed at me, I think it fell on deaf ears

SO - here is a quick video to show you my skill at navigating around the back of the sofa:

I think you'll agree I'm fabulous at it!

JOKING a side however, having since taken it outside, I've discovered even a hosepipe or paving slab at a different height causes at best, quite a wobble or (and more likely for a ginger person) a face plant !

SUFFICE to say, the trial has been successful and we shall NOT be getting a couple for the boat... back to plan A - the Bromptons... not so sexy or fun but a lot more practical.

Until next time...

Wednesday 22 June 2016

A "Chance" encounter and a swarm of bees...

For the last few years, I've been gathering a list of BLOGS which I try and keep up with  - It's addictive... almost voyeuristically  so.  I've got a few listed on here and also dozens I've been following for years in my bookmarks.  AMONGST  my reading list is Narrow boat Chance - Doug and James.

Recently it became apparent from their blog, that their route plan would bring them through Wakefield and as such, a dialogue was opened.  I make no secret of the fact I was desperate to get a good look on their boat and they very graciously invited us on to it for drinks yesterday afternoon.

That's one of the good things about boaters - like I mentioned in my most recent posting, 99/100 of them have a natural willingness to make new friends and inbuilt hospitality...Doug and James are no exception.

The plan was to meet them at the visitor moorings about 4.30 ... which did mean a bit of a dash home from work and clean up for me.  Luckily, at the moment I'm in wood-working mode so it was "clean muck" if you follow.

On route, we noticed the traffic was going rather slowly and it wasn't until we got to the round-a-bout, that we noticed a bee keeper trying to 'gather' a swarm that had set up tempory home around a plastic bollard.

You may note from the next photo, the "photographer" getting a bit too close for comfort... rather him than me!

We parked at the Ruddy Duck and wandered down to the visitor moorings.  Considering the boat is 5 years old now, the paint work is immaculate.    You can tell they both care about it and it's a credit to them.  

Once again I was able to have a good rummage around inside cupboards (to see how they are put together)  complete with a glass of fiz in hand...  which then progressed to wine and before long, I was feeling rather squiffy - THAT'S the problem of drinking on an empty head! ... ANDY however is still dry since doing "dry January" and carrying on.... the positive side to this being I could drink his share.

I took a photo of the saloon and galley - it would have seemed rude of me to ask them to get out of the way...

I'm sure they won't mind me posting this - given the boat appeared in both 'Canal Boat' magazine and 'Waterways World'  anyway...  There are some better photos here:



I remember reading the reviews at the time but never thought we'd end up on the boat!

Given the proximity of the pub, we trolled off to have an early tea  (for the benefit of any non-northern readers, this is more commonly referred to as 'dinner')

I'm not sure if Andy and I will be able to go back in again for a while as the 'drinking contingent' were quite ... how shall I put it? ... raucous!   When the bill came, James very kindly insisted on treating us - which was lovely as our funds are  extremely limited at the moment whilst we try and cobble together the final balance due for the boat.

On route back  for coffee, I snapped a couple of pics of the outside -

NOTE their friends boat behind them...  

AS I'd had a fair few drinks by now, on passing their open side hatch, Doug was having a chat and I couldn't resist an opportunity for a look in another boat.   

In hindsight, climbing through the hatch from the towpath wasn't such a good idea, as this morning I appear to have torn something in my left calf - THAT'LL teach me to go head first into someone's lounge.
Pauline and Neil were very accommodating of my intrusion and didn't seem to object TOO much to me taking photos inside their kitchen cupboards of the gas piping...  ANDY was of course a little  embarrassed again but after 10 years, has stopped apologising for me!  

It really was a fun evening and lovely to be able to discuss boating (and non boating stuff) with a friendly, well informed bunch of people.  

THIS morning however, at 5.30 when my alarm went off - boy did I feel rough!  Never again... well, until next time...

Monday 20 June 2016

Boat Building Fix....

As in the euphoric type rather than repair...

ON Saturday morning, because I wasn't working (we are so far behind with the racing track it's futile to even try and meet the delivery deadline - instead we're opting for the 195 quid per day late fine), we arranged to have a trip over to Gawsforth to see Eddie and Wendy...  sorry, rewind...  late last year, before we placed the order for the boat, I asked on Canalworld forum if anyone had experience with the company we had in mind.

As normally happens, the posting went wildly off topic so I stopped checking..  I then received a message from aforementioned, who confirmed they'd recently taken delivery of their sail-away.

They very kindly extended an invitation to go and take a look at their boat - which of course we jumped at...  this was over the Christmas break.

Fast forward to Friday last week (when it was confirmed Saturday would be a free day) I dropped them a line (you never know who is reading so Eddie gets the occasional cyber kiss - he's secure in his sexuality I presume as he never grumbles) and we arranged to go over.  I'd like to claim I baked a cake to take with us but that would be a blatant lie - I did however spend 2 of my finest pounds at the coop, selecting what I thought would be a lovely orange cake ... it was horrible apparently - we wouldn't know as sharing it out didn't appear to an option ... ... ... :-)  To give Wendy due credit, a bacon sandwich WAS offered though.

They've got a lovely mooring

If you look closely, you can pick Wendy and her wheel-barow out ...  WHY it's HER wheel-barrow is anyone's guess!

IT was lovely to see them again but even more lovely to have a good poke around their boat.  Eddie (despite his protestations) is making good progress  - the kitchen now being completed since our last visit, radiators on the wall and piped up and a solar panel doing quite a good job.  Andy was embarrassed by me of course,... opening things and looking behind stuff.  Some people are less amenable when it comes to letting you have access to what is in effect, "their home" but it was lovely to be able to indulge my curiosity.

One thing we both were impressed with was their new cratch cover...  we're both a bit "anti" traditional covers with overly obtrusive cratch boards.  Theirs is a frame affair which makes good use of the available space without compromising the sight line from the back of the boat like so many do.

Obviously the front is a work in progress but we've agreed we'll get in touch with their chap and ask him to make a similar affair for Ellis ... although we will put our tunnel light outside ;-) (well we might if I remember)...

Mickey taking a side, they're smashing folk - typical of many boaters in that even after only spending a few hours in their company, it feels like you've known them all your lives... that feeling of "comfortable" that seems to take forever to achieve in the  'non-boating' world.

Time got the better of us but we left with a head full of things to think about from lessons learned the hard way by them.... suffice to say, my "list" is bigger now than it was - even despite all the things we're already got sorted.  

IT's fun again though and we're buoyed with enthusiasm once more.

Until next time...

Friday 17 June 2016

Discount, Just for asking...

Today I'm feeling rather pleased with myself.  Why?  - well, because the other evening when I was looking at those silver lights from Aten lighting,  I decided (before ordering) to drop them a message using their contact form asking if they'd be prepared to give me a discount for buying 23.

This morning, I found an email back from them offering a 17% discount on the price AND including p&p.

I've just paid the paypal invoice so the lights should arrive in due course.  It does of course mean we'll have to eat dust for another week but I've put on a bit of blubber since we finished the chair-o-planes anyway...

WHILE I'm here, let me share my latest "longer term" money saving purchase for the boat.

A Solar shower to hang on the side for those lazy summer days when you're moored in the middle of nowhere and don't want to run the engine to get some hot water.  In THEORY you just fill it with water, hang it on the side of your boat and let the sun heat it up.

I stole the idea from another blog/newsletter I read and Paul (the bloke who writes it) says it works just fine for him.

Having filled it all I can say is that he must be a) very strong and b) have a very robust "hooking point" in his shower cubicle as it's blooming heavy.

That said, I do like the idea of saving an hours engine running and I'll give it a bash.... with maybe only 10 litres. Perhaps trying it out at home first to see if it's worth the faff... in fact, I may just shower where it's hanging in the garden and give Edna next door a treat ;-) 

Until next time...

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Led Lighting...

and so to another thing on my shopping list - 12v Led Lighting... 

One thing that has always annoyed me about hire-boats is the poor lighting... or rather, poor lighting controls.

I'm not sure if you can see from the "plan" but we've positioned led ceiling lights throughout the boat 

23 in all ...  

These are the one's we're going to fit 

They come from Aten Lighting (other suppliers are available) and the full spec can be seen here: http://www.atenlighting.co.uk/led-touchdownlight-silver-recess-flat.html

They are only 2watts each so even with them ALL on - it'll still only be 46 watts... or in terms  more widely used when talking about "power" - the full lot would only draw 3.83amps.  If you compare this to having 23 x 10 watt halogens drawing 19.16amps, you can see the benefit instantly...  taking less out of the battery bank IS the way to go.

The MAIN reason we're going for these though is that they are switched - without "showing"  a switch if you follow - the lense is the switch and it's operated by gently pushing it.   Being able to individually control lights will be a welcome change for us - whenever we've hired boats, it's usually been a case of having to have ALL the lights in a certain area on...  with these, we can leave just 1 on in the background when watching telly... or just have the 1 above your head on when reading rather than everything else on a particular switched circuit.

Of course the down side of them all being switched is the price - they're £13.99 each... that's a whopping .£321.77...   oh well - it'll hopefully be money well spent.

We're also going to have  2 wall mounted (well bulkhead mounted) reading lights in the front cabin  and another 2 on the wall in the lounge near each chair... just in case the ceiling ones end up a bit too bright to comfortably read under.

These as also from Aten http://www.atenlighting.co.uk/led-reading-light-sl.html and are £13.49 each... which brings the interior lighting bill (before switches) to £375.73

In addition to these, I've also already got (in a box in the attic now) a couple of strips of colour changing leds to fit in somewhere  -

My orignal plan was to have them under the gunwhales in the lounge  but I saw a boat recently with them under the plinths in the kithen and it did look quite cool... we'll have to see.  They ARE a power luxury though, drawing 5amp so they may well end up back on Ebay ;-) 

Until next time...

Saturday 11 June 2016

Déjà vu

Any ideas?


MOORING PINS.... or rather 'disappointing mooring pins'.

HOW NAFF are these? - (do put a question mark in a rhetorical question?)

My first mooring stakes/pins arrived yesterday...  now whilst my father has always said "if you can't say something positive about a situation - say nothing",  I'm choosing to ignore him on this occasion.  They really are rubbish looking.  OK so I'm sure they'll do the job but the loops are really feeble  AND nothing like the photo in the advert on Ebay.    

This is one of those occasions when I suppose it's true - you get what you pay for.

SO - later today, I'm going to head in to work and look through our scrap metal pile for some steel bar ... I have a feeling we have a few bits kicking around from a previous job which might be thick enough have a go at my own.

Also on today's list is a visit to screw fix to pick up various things I ordered on line yesterday... such as new steel toe-capped trainers,
some fibre washers
and some  6 inh decking screws
 I want to try  these out for the racing track floor...  IF they work, it will save a lot of time when I begin making the gates (the bits that hold the track off the ground) next week.  The original plan was to make proper joints but given I've got 32   gates, each comprising of 4 vertical supports - driving a few of these in should be enough to hold it together quickly... I hope!

Incidentally - IF you are in need of a pair of steels, then I highly recommend the site trainers above- they're my 3rd pair (they last about 3 months with the work I do) but they ARE flexible enough for crouching down and crawling under fairground rides whilst giving good protection for your toes... AND a bargain at 24.95 inc vat.

Until next time...

Thursday 9 June 2016

Thank you Mr Postman...

"Can you tell what it is yet?"

Actually...  thinking about that for a moment, I suppose it's in poor taste... yet another of our childhood heros turned out to be a monster hiding in plain sight.

MOVING on... well of course it's the side fenders I ordered earlier in the week (or was it last week?) - no matter...

They're here and now in the attic along with the rest of the "bottom drawer"

The fenders weren't the only thing delivered today - the FREE fire extinguisher from Fire Solutions Ltd turned up as promised.  

I must say, how pleased I am with their customer service - especially given I didn't even have a receipt...  they happily and without any argument whatsoever, apologised for the confusion, promised to send another one out AND did so... promptly.  WHO could ask for anything more?

It's often said that a company shows it's true colours when addressing a problem so Well done chaps. 

Also in the pipeline are some mooring pins - I ordered a couple at the weekend and then decided to make some  extras myself from steel bar at work.    My plan is to use "ribbed bar" to give them a bit of purchase and weld a loop on... my welding isn't pretty but it's usually strong - I'll report  back in due course and (depending on  how bad interesting they look) upload a photo of them.

Until next time...

Monday 6 June 2016

To Filter or Not to filter... THAT is the question!

or rather, HOW to filter to be precise.

As you may know, narrow boats have reasonably large water tanks - usually in the bow which provide storage for the boat's occupants needs.

On Ellis, we've increased the size of the water tank  from somewhere around 300, to 500 litres.  The tank is going to be stainless steel as a posed to mild steel to avoid the need for painting.   When I say painting, I don't mean picasso style - I mean an unpleasant job that involves some poor soul having to fold themselves up and squeeze into the tank in order to apply a "safe" paint product to the interior surface every few years.

Given that all most unpleasant jobs in our household tend to fall onto my ginger shoulders, having a stainless steel tank was a no brainer - I get claustrophobic in tunnels as it is, so there was NO chance of me climbing inside a tank to paint it.

Stainless steel, 'generally' means a maintenance free tank - except for perhaps the odd bleach tablet if required ... chances are, we'll flush ours out regularly enough to avoid that anyway.

ALL that said, given the general method of filling the water tank is by dragging a skanky bit of hosepipe across the tow-path to a tap and then shoving it down the filler tube - it's inevitable  likely the tank will be contaminated with 'something' ....sooner or later.

Our good friend compromise is paying a visit again...  IF we had plenty of money, we'd be having this

It's NOT the most expensive one available, but it is good... but at circa £300.00 we won't be having it.

Given our tank will be a) new b) stainless steel and c) we'll take care when filling, I hope we'll get away with something a little bit more affordable...

Something along the lines of this from our friends at Screwfix :screwfix water filter

It's only about £20 and I'll fit it to one dedicated "drinking tap" in the galley for when we want to drink fruit squash or just water.  It comes highly recommended by many live-aboards over on Canalworld forum!

Another good thing about it (besides the price) is the availability of filters - there are screwfix stores all over the country so wherever we are on our eventual travels, we won't be too far from a  replacement  filter when the time arrives.

Before I go off to bed (busy day tomorrow removing old rivets the manual way because the plasma cutter packed in today at work)  an update on the missing anchor  -  I finally opened a case on Ebay regarding it and the money has since (this morning) been credited to my paypal account so I guess the anchor is not going to be coming now... which is a pain... hey ho.  Time to  start my search again.

Until next time.

Friday 3 June 2016

The illusive 6 B...

If you've been paying attention, you'll recall we bought the fire-extinguishers from "Fire Solutions Ltd" on Sunday at Crick.  

When I took my shoes and socks off, I discovered we were '6B' Short.

I'd been meaning to call them all week but it's been a bit full on, ordering new materials for the Brooklands track we've just began to  restore - I won't share the delivery date as I break into a cold sweat just thinking about... writing it down might tip me over the edge.

ANYWAY... I phoned them this morning - finding  the number was easy enough as it was  blazoned all over the material bags they gave us.  Having left a message with whomever (whoever?) answered the phone, I doubted my call would be returned.

I was wrong.

The chap - called "Greg"  was very amenable and explained there must have been a mistake/ambiguity regarding the BSS regulations.  He then offered to send me a 1kg FREE of charge -  I suggested I was happy to return 1 of them in exchange but he wouldn't hear of it... insisting that a mistake had been made and they wanted to put it right.

Assuming the extra one DOES actually arrive through the post, I'll be over the moon AND it demonstrates the fact they were NOT taking the **ss or trying to do us over.  

Well done chaps -  It's really appreciated.

STILL no sign of that ruddy anchor though... time to launch a case with ebay !

Nothing boating related on the cards for the weekend - Sunday is my birthday (44th eek) and we're having a posh lunch out with my parents, brother (and wife and kids) - the lunch is actually to acknowledge my fathers 70th' back in March but this Sunday was the 1st time we could all get together... I don't really "do" birthdays but if anyone should wish to send a gift, a Morso stove would be nice... or maybe the  toilet tank kit on the Lee san website.... alternatively, just drop me a note and I'll send you my paypal email address details ;-)   - I can dream lol.

Until next time...

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Rubber Fenders... a missed bargain.

Now you may remember, on Sunday's shopping list were side fenders.  In an ideal world, we'd have lovely handmade rope ones... BUT as usual, our budget is dictating otherwise - no matter, 6 rubber ones will suffice... in fact, they may actually look fine against the eventual grey/black and 'another colour', colour scheme.

I can't recall exactly WHY we didn't buy them from Crick - Midland Chandlers had them in their tent and although priced at a fiver each, when asked, they agreed to do them for £4.50 - anyone would think I was a Yorkshireman!

Having gone to their website just now to order them, I find NOW they're £8.50 each  so I'm a bit miffed at myself for not getting them on Sunday - hey ho.

Having googled for a bit,  it turns out Ebay (other auction sites are available) is your friend...  or more accurately, a seller called "boatropefender" - aka Brian McGuigan.... he's selling 6 for £37.95 - which of course is £1.82 a fender MORE than I could have paid but £2.17 LESS than I nearly had to pay.

Its miserable all this looking at the cost of everything...  it is however, very important as that 12 quid could go towards the cost of a pump out... I hate money - or rather the lack of it.  I read so many "proper boaters" blogs and everyone else seems to be much better off than we are.... it's difficult not to be disheartened when looking at other people's boats and lives... (btw - don't berate me for inappropriate use of the possessive apostrophe - my education was somewhat lacking in certain areas)  the green-eyed monster keeps rearing his ugly head and as much as I try to keep him in his box, from time to time he does escape... it's not like we don't already work every hour to pay our way and save up - our lives seem to be on hold whilst we scrape every penny we can together to pay for the boat and associated paraphernalia.

We'll get there in the end... and when we do, we WILL spend the first night "camping" on Ellis with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate - something we USED to do (drink bubbly that is) quite regulary but these days, we're hard pressed to waste a couple of quid on a mcflurry - it does make the daily toil seem never ending but needs must.

Meanwhile, we shall await Mr Postman bringing the next items for the bottom drawer lol - which reminds me, STILL no sign of that anchor I ordered so I'll  have to chase that.  Something else I've forgotten to do is phone the fire-extinguisher people to check whether that missing 6 b will be a problem.

Until next time...