Friday 30 September 2016

Crappy week, Crane Hire (again) and various Farces

Sorry in advance if this is a bit all over the place - I'm depressed apparently... well according to my GP at any rate...  she clearly can't tell the difference between someone a bit stressed out, spining loads of plates and trying their best to be patient when dealing with people who won't do what is expected of them.... so much so, she's bunged me on duloxetine - SO FAR it's making me feel awful!

Anyway,  She came to this conclusion when I went to see her on Monday (an appointment that I'd been wiating 3 weeks for) in a bid to replace the gabapentin I'd slowly weaned myself off, for the Pregabalin... (for those not in the know, I've a long term herniated disk which was operated on 4 years ago that is now playing up again along with a few others and problematic facet joints) ... (oh and the ruddy carpal tunnel)...  So we were chatting and I admit I was a bit hyper as my back was particularly bad that morning so I'd taken a bit more oxycodone that normal  She had me fill in a questionnaire  which included a question about suicide (clearly no sense of humour at me filling in NO but I've a list of people I'd like to murder)... SO she then "strongly suggested" I try anti-depressants for a month ...    I've only been taking them for 5 days but so far I feel pretty rotten... they've messed up my sleep patterns (which were already bad) and I feel quite bilious most of the time...  hey ho... she knows best - apparently.

Whilst with the doc, she suggested I chase up the neurosurgeons as I mentioned my appointment still hadn't come through - the waiting time supposedly being 13 weeks (it is was 16 weeks and 1 day when someone finally answered the phone at the LGI)  NOW the waiting time target has officially been increased to 26 weeks ffs.  I'm a bit miffed about this but there's nothing I can do.   It's farcical.   On the plus side, I HAVE got my consultants appoint regarding the carpel tunnel and that is 10th December(a Saturday?) ...  by the time I actually get operated on, I imagine I'll have finished working on the boat so every cloud and all that.


On Wednesday, I got a call from the Crane hire bloke - he'd finally managed to come and do his risk-assessment at Stanley... only to warn that because of the access, whilst it CAN be done, he'll need to use a bigger crane than normal - ergo about an extra 600 quid.  He was keen to explore other locations and we've settled on Selby boat yard ... where the Webasto is coming from.  I asked the owner if he's ok with it and he is... for the same fee Stanley wanted so that's ok too.  It will mean a couple of days chugging to get the boat on to her home mooring but it'll be a good opportunity to see how she handles on the river anyway.   We could of course have lifted her in at the Wakefield Wharf BUT that is right on the weir... so, flow a side, there is always the possibility of the the engine stalling (from being giggled around on a truck for 2 hours) and 7 years worth of savings being washed over the weir and into Chantry bridge...  we'll take the 2 day journey any day!

IF we can get organised enough, I'll pipe up the heating circuit and radiators whilst in Selby and Simon can fit the unit there for us.  We'll have to see - it's complicated further by him being closed for a holiday slap bang when we are supposed to get the boat.  I think in reality, we'll have to push it back 1 week to accommodate this - we'll talk it through with the builder tomorrow when we go to check on progress.

Talking of progress - this week was going to be a week of electrical sockets etc., but work was busy and I only managed to buy some hep2o 22mm piping  - 75 metres worth (we needed  62 but they come in 25m rolls of course).

It'd been delivered to Sheila next door and it took all my effort to try and convince her we HAVE'NT got a hoolahoop addiction!

I more cheery news - despite my (apparent) depression, last night Andy produced surprise Theatre tickets and we went off to see Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce at the Wakefield Theatre

They did a good job of it and we both enjoyed it... just a shame the theatre was half empty (sorry... that's negative.. HALF FULL! )

We stopped short of buying beer though as they were charging £4.30 a pint... it's Wakefield Westgate NOT Drury Lane!

Writing of beer, what with my pills and "stop-tober" just around the corner, we're dry again for a while...  I say a while because we've agreed on a bottle of posh bubbly when we eventually get the boat home.

I'll report back on  what we find in tomorrows visit in due course.

Until next time...

Sunday 25 September 2016

Window fitting for Dummies...

or rather to be precise, ONE dummy.

Friday at work went quite well and for a change, it was POETS day... well when I say that, all of half an hour but every little helps.   Buoyed by this extra "free" time, I decided to tackle the window (you'll be pleased to note my glazing chisel and nylon hammer HAD arrived that morning)

Gav from work offered some moral support so when I got home, we got straight to it.

The plan HAD been, to carefully remove the old one ... just in case we had to abort the mission for any reason.  That went out of the window (no pun) when it was proving a bit of a bugger to remove - ergo, I took a saw to it - NO GOING BACK lol.

I set my phone on video time-lapse mode and carefully balance it on some garden furniture... of course, my fat fingers hadn't actually pressed "record" - or rather HAD but on sitting it down, must have caught it again and stopped it... therefore, the first shot I  took, was when we'd chucked out the old frame.

The hardest part of removing it, was cutting the screws attaching a bit of "filler panel" to the top which was attached to the soffits.  In the end, I used my multi-tool (having already tried to force them out and as a result bending it a bit)...

The new window, is the same design as the old, but with triple glazed A+ glass MINUS the lead.   We've both hated looking through the diamond pattern since we moved in... it's akin to being in prison... I should imagine!

Amazingly, (given my measuring) the new one fitted in perfectly.  Barely any need for any spacers/wedges.  The new windowsill needed cutting down (don't know why they sent a bigger one than the window)
but that was just a quick wizz on the chop saw and job done.

Once it was in position, it was just a case of drilling 6 holes through the frame into the masonry (taking care to hit a brick rather than mortar) and then using the supplied multi-fixings and the power drill to drive them straight into the drilled holes - without plugs.  I was sceptical but they worked a treat... really easy to get in.

Putting the glass in from inside was a bit hair-raising as the beading strips DO need quite a clout with the hammer to lock it into place...  heart in mouth time but it went in OK and we're really pleased.

In total, it took around 2 hours from start to finish to remove the old, fit the new and secure it... a little more time yesterday to make good the plaster and seal around with frame sealant. 

Now of course, it's time to measure the remaining windows and get them ordered...  

I got the window from here: and it's quite an easy site to work from... instruction sheets for measuring are available and you can pick various options.  In total, it will end up costing around £1400 for 5 windows.  The lowest quote for supply AND fit from various local firms was a little under 3k which we just couldn't afford.  Once the rest are in, I'll replace the upvc front door  from the same place to.  That will give us the chance to have the new one opening outwards - the current one opens into a small hall which is a pain... having it open out, will make rushing in the rain, much easier.

. . . . . . . . . . . . 

BOAT wise -  we resisted the urge to go over yesterday...  the builder HAD emailed on Thursday to say Paul was back working on our boat now - we figured, it wasn't worth the drive given the obvious lack of progress.  We'll go this coming Saturday instead and hope for the best.  It's odd, but given how stressed out about it I HAD been, I now seem to have come over all calm again...  What's the panic after all? - it'll be ready when it's ready and no end of clock watching on my part will make any difference.  

In the meantime, we'll carry on getting stuff  and on this weeks list are the electrical sockets... we'll have some with usb sockets built in.  I've also found some 12v car type sockets with usb in too which will be handy so we'll get some of them ordered.

Until next time...

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Heart Problems & Heating ordered....

It was an awkward visit to the builder on Saturday... it wasn't a "proper one" - more of a quick nip in (well if you can count a 160 mile round trip a quick nip in)  to drop off the galvanic isolator and take a peek.

We got there a little before 9 and there didn't appear to be anyone around so we wandered our way up to the boat... a little progress had been made but not much for a weeks work.

within a few minutes of being inside we heard that awful banging on the roof sound that annoy most boaters...  it was one of the boat yard staff giving me a bollocking  admonishing us for helping ourselves to our boat! - this got my back up a bit but I tried to be friendly none the less.  He then went on to say that Paul (the joiner) had taken ill during the week with a heart problem and is  having some time off to recover.

MY heart sank on hearing those words... whilst I DO hope it's not too serious (he's a nice bloke) I also can't help but wish it'd happened a few weeks down the line... selfish I know.    In the scheme of things a delay to us, whilst irritating, doesn't really matter.   

When we got home, I emailed the boss man (he wasn't there) to wish Paul a speedy recovery and got a reply a day or so later to say it's an ongoing condition and he's usually right as reign in no time so we're not to worry.  Fingers crossed on that one.

Sunday was a more constructive day - I got up early and completed  the heating diagram showing final positions and outputs for the various radiators and fin rads.   We then took a trip to Selby Boat Centre to see a bloke called Simon - he's a Webasto dearler/installer etc...  I half expected him to laugh at my "plan" but instead he appeared rather impressed and confirmed it will be ok.  What do you think?

He confirmed my thinking (as a result of lots of research) that the Webasto Thermo top C's respond best  being worked hard.  It was good to hear it's better to keep them firing on full output than let them cycle between half and "off "if you follow... 

It was nice chatting with the owner and he agreed to price match the heater we'd originally planned to buy from Kings Lock - SO it's ordered and should be here in a couple of weeks.  It's bonkers to think it'ss costing more than the new combi boiler we bought last year for the house!  Still, I DON'T  do cold very well so it is what it is!

On having a poke around the boat yard, I noticed the slip way and I suspect we'll bring the boat here early next spring to give it a "proper blacking"...  It's our plan to do it with Keelblack rather than the usual stuff - it's NOT cheap (there's a surprise) but it's easier to apply than 2 pack or bitumen based products... if the company's claims are to be believed, you can get a coat on in less than 2 hours and have the 2nd coat cured and back in the water after just 36.  

Until next time...

ps...  the new window arrived on Monday  - I'm now waiting for a glazing chisel and a nylon hammer... fingers crossed they arrive by Saturday morning!

Friday 16 September 2016

Fin Rads & a collapsible bucket!

I'm easily pleased... (contrary to what Andy says) - THIS week, we've had various deliveries but my favourite has to be the collapse bucket:

Isn't it brilliant?

well there's no pleasing some folk...

WHAT about 2x 5 metre solar cable extensions then instead?

oh please... 

ok ok...  Introducing the Thetford Prima Midi lpg oven and grill then:

I trust you will note the lovely shiny interior - take a good look as that will be the last time it looks like that lol

It's an over-priced device in my opinion - usually circa £395 but at the moment being sold by Brit Marine for £355.... well I say Brit Marine - when it arrived, it seems to have come from Midland Chandlers after-all.  No matter.  It's bought now so that's one less thing to fork out for later on.  

It's been quite a week  for deliveries really - Eric next door, does enjoy taking things in for us though... it gives him a chance to have a natter most days and we really appreciate having oldies as neighbours.    ONE thing that took a bit of explaining though were these:

3 fin rads - 2 for the dinette/rear cabin and 1 for the main wardrobe in the bedroom.  

Looking at them, I can't work out how best to connect the pipes - I'm "guessing" a push-fit connection might do or failing that some kind of hose and jubilee clip arrangement.  

They don't give out a lot of heat (120 watts each) but my idea is to have them under the raised floor of the dinettes on each side with vents/grills to allow for gentle warming of your legs.    Initially, we'd planned on just having the fin rads in there but having re-visited the plan, decided to add a couple of small wall mounted radiators (1 each side) under the gunwale BELOW the seat height (so when they are made up into beds you don't burnn your bum on them!)

They're only rated at a little over 200 watts each but with the fin rads, that tops up the heat in the cabin there to around 440 watts - NOT a lot but it's only 6 ft long with 2 portholes in so hopefully it'll be enough.  I doubt it'll ever be tropical back there but along with the stove and eco fan blowing heat through from the lounge, it should be comfortable at least.  IF it does turn out to be too cold, we can always add another little radiator behind the back steps to introduce another 200 watts.

On the subject of heating - we've been discussing what our first priority is when the boat arrives...  originally we'd planned on installing the fire.  Having given it considerable thought, we've decided that after the lights and electric sockets, the next thing HAS to be getting the Webasto heating up and running... The main reason being the flooring... given we plan to insulate the floor with kingspan 50mm foil board, doing the fire first would be a faff - it'll be better to leave it until after we've adjusted the trim/ballast once everything is on board.  I'll mean several months of "rough" flooring but at least we won't rush to get the oak down and end up scratching it during the works.

We've really struggled to get a good price on the heating boiler - the best price is from Kings Lock but even that's a little over £1100 -  MORE  than we spent last year for the  new Viessmann for the house...  bonkers.  Still,  if that's the price, that's the price.  We toyed with the idea of buying one of those "recon" units off Ebay but they're still 4-500 quid and there's no guarantee they'll work.    SO on Sunday, we're off up to the dealer in Selby who will price match Kings Lock .   Apparently they take  a few weeks to come so we may as well bite that bullet now.

Before then, tomorrow morning we're nipping back over the Pennines again to see what's happened this week - AND to take the Galvanic Isolator for them to fit.  It's only a couple of wires and would only take a few mins if I did it instead but it gives us an excuse to call in again.  

Sorry this posting is all over the place - work is mad again and along side of the boat, I'm trying to flog various stuff on ebay (including a car) and somewhere before we get the boat I've got new windows to fit to the bungalow - well I say windows,  just 1 for now...  I ordered it a few weeks ago and it's arriving on Monday... the thought process being that I can "practice" fitting the back bedroom one first (which no one can see) and if it goes ok, order the rest... if not, then we can live with it until we can afford to pay a "proper man" to fit the others lol

I mean - HOW hard can it be???

Until next time...

Monday 12 September 2016

Wiring going in...3rd visit


As mentioned last week, we went over to see the boat at the weekend...  some progress has been made in the last 4 weeks - not a lot but at least it has moved on - albeit slower than we'd like.

It's difficult not to appear churlish and given there were 3 other boat hand overs taking place on Saturday it's obvious why not much has happened on Ellis.  That said, at the moment I am feeling a bit frustrated at not being able to get my own way.  Andy is much more laid back about than me... I wish I could be more chilled out - I suppose THAT'S the part of the reason we decided to buy a boat to live on long term... in a bid to "chill me out"

I doubt that will happen overnight but I AM confident it WILL happen ... ... ... eventually.

IN the meantime however, until the boat is finished, I'll be plugging away and stressing out about it all.  My frame of mind isn't being helped by me deciding to come off the the gabapentin either - I'd been up to 2400mg a day and it was doing wonders for my pain... alas, it didn't do a lot for my "thinking" ... an example being when pulling up to traffic lights... on GREEN I'd stop... the brain knowing they were traffic lights but NOT completing the thought  process that GREEN means go.  

Anyway, I'm nearly off it now - down to just 300mg a day... which I keep trying to ditch but can't quite...  hopefully on the next visit to the GP, we'll switch to the pregablin and see if I have less side effects ...  Gynecomastia being the biggest one I'm keen to see the back off... boobs are all well and good on certain people but not ideal on a middle-aged, ginger bloke!

SO - The wiring is going in:

There is also the 75litre calorifier (the original one was 55 litres but we increased it) sitting in a box waiting for it's turn.

Paul the fitter was eager to go through the "master plan" with us to get a better understanding of our intentions...  he'd spotted a couple of things I'd messed up ... well when I say messed up, they were there, just "under" something else that I'd added later.   He was also keen to flag up the lounge will seem very small at just 8ft 4" if we stick to plan.  To be honest, we'd already had a re-think there and decided to try it out first and potentially ditch a kitchen unit to increase the space by another 2 ft.  We'll see how it feels with the bulkheads in first though.

Whilst looking at the wiring, we did spot a coax cable missing which Paul rectified immediately.  I also took over the conduit with the string through (future proofing in case we want to add anything later on)...

Whilst it "seemed a good idea" it was a pig to get through the 10 meters (times 2) spirally conduit...  when it was through, I taped some para-cord to it and pulled it back through.

NEXT time I do this, I'll attach the cord to a ball of cotton wool, stuff it in one end and attach the Dyson to the other - this works well ... apparently!

Before we left, I carried the inverter on to the boat and asked whether Chris would "discount" the listed price for fitting it - alas he was unable to budge on it which was a bit of a shame - I'd hoped he'd take pity on us ....  he was adamant by the time he'd covered the cost of the 90mm2 cables and the 500amp continuous  rated switch, there isn't much profit in it... at £400 it DOES feel expensive though.  That said, at least it will be his problem if it doesn't work and he'll wire in the galvanic isolator at the same time. Hey ho.

We've been assured that if we go back in 2 weeks, it will have come on leaps and bounds as "it's our turn" now...  I hope so.

I  did get a bit of good news today - I found a crane from a company in Chesterfield and he's quoted "circa" 550+vat  to crane the boat from the trailer at Stanley ... that's a fair bit better than the other quote we had when we planned to  share.  He's going to arrange a site visit (free) and then finalise a figure.

Meanwhile, it's back to the shopping list... next stop, fin rads and radiators...

Until next time...

Thursday 8 September 2016

Liquidating assets & Cashing up...

Do you remember this?

It was a birthday present a few years ago from my oldest friend...  it even came with a few notes bobbling around inside...the same friend who has very kindly insisted on buying us our "proper" toilet  - as a "boat warming present" costing in the region of £800... accepting it however is troubling our conscience as it's such a lot of money....   I'd have to wash a lot of pots to earn that! - I make that reference as it's how we became friends, some 25 years ago when I began working in her fathers pub as a pot washer.   There's been a lot of water under the bridge (no intentional boating pun here)  since then but we spent a very pleasant evening together in York on Sunday - and (life's responsibility's a side) it felt like we were still young for a lovely few hours.

Speaking (well writing) of 'friends'  - another special one has insisted on paying for 1 of the side doors to be glazed for us as  present...  again we're troubled at accepting another 500 quid gift but DO appreciate the sentiment behind it and hopefully, they'll look something like this.

 I've "borrowed" the photo from Tom & Jan on NB Waiouru - I hope they don't mind...  

They'll make a massive difference to the light inside the boat - especially on dark winters days.

ANYWAY - back to the pot... on Saturday I picked it up to clean ( Andy's parents were on route so we did a quick flick around) and decided it was heavy enough to break open.

Excuse the gammy thumb nail - the result of me walloping it with a different hammer a few weeks ago at work.  

On counting it up, we came to the grand total of £1195

which we were pleasantly surprised about...  I bunged in a fiver from my cars ashtray to round it up.  1200 quid without any savings 'pain'... 

As well as breaking into the pot, we also listed our inflatable hot-tub and a few other things on pre-loved... all of which have sold and added a few hundred quid more to the coffers.  Hopefully enough to cover the cost of the crane hire now so we're back to where we were before we lost our sharers.

It's been 4 weeks  since we've been able to see the boat - we're going over again this coming Saturday so I do hope progress has been made.  I'm taking the conduit I've asked them to hang behind the lining (future proofing) and also the inverter in the hope I can sweet talk Chris into fitting it at a bit of a discount.  I've also emailed ahead to ask him to tot up a final invoice so we know exactly the balance due to be paid shortly.  I THINK the figure I've got in my spreadsheet is correct but it'll be good to get clarification. 

With a bit of luck, we might be able to get an idea whether things are on track for 23rd October... if so, I'll give the transport and crane people a call to pencil in 1 day that week.   We'll also need to sort out the licence and insurance - the latter of which, is (for a change) very good value)...  I'll report back hopefully with photos of progress over the weekend!

Until next time...

Saturday 3 September 2016

Work/life balance...

Now I'm not having a proper moan but things are heating up again at work with the ruddy racing track.   To bring you up to speed, we've been on with the speedway proper, since we delivered and installed the chair-o-planes back in May.  The delivery deadline has long since passed and we're now being (potentially) fined somewhere between 150 and 200 quid each work day the ride is late.

For good reason, the boss wants to know when we think we can have it completed by - this is one of those 'peice of string' questions again I'm afraid.    There are so many unknowns:  known unknowns and unknown, unkowns if you follow that it's extremely difficult to come up with a timescale .  Some of the processes are quantifiable - others less so.

Take the "track" for example;

We've been making a complete new one using 3 scraggy old bits of rotten stuff as a template... we only can guess they were the right bits that were pulled from under that hedge back in early December...  There are no blue prints other than a load of old black and white, poor resolution photos from the National Fairground heritage collection.  The track in the photo above wil shortly be covered in in strips of 2mm thick mild steel - which in turn get connected up to + and - from the 110v DC power feed.    

The cars will have 2 pick-ups under the floors which drag along the metal - probably sparking a bit here and there to power the cars along.  This is an example of one of the known unknowns... as in HOW to do this safely as none of the historical bits have survived.

Remember the cars?

So far I've only put one back together but do have all the bits ready - somewhere ,... for the bodies  at any rate ... we still need to locate 5 dc motors, 3 clutches and a few wheels/tyres.

The track itself, is to be lifted to form a sloping saucer shape - a bit like the proper racing tracks.  

To achieve this, I've been making a series of "gates" to support them.   I've had to make this up as I've gone along, using the vertical roof pillar supports  as an indication of the height (think trigonometry).  This is what I've come up with:

I've 3 more triangular ones to do but should get them done on Monday.  

We then need to clear some space (how is anyone's guess) and try to get the underfloor down so we can measure and cut the angles for the cross members which go between the gates.  After that point, the rest of the floor can go down ready for the metal to be fitted...  although we'll still need to work out the best way of getting power to each bit... bus-bars running under each section look the most logical way of doing it.
Once the track is finished, we'll need to begin making the roof structure and supports.  Once again, our friend trigonometry comes into play as we know the height of the perimeter posts and the width of the track.  Some kind of "A" frame structure will need to be made and bolted down "to something"...  it evolves very slowly through a combination of mathematics and trial and error (mostly the latter)

It doesn't help though having passive aggressive dictatorship directorship insisting we work flat out at all the time.  It's September now and I've only managed 1 week off since the end of last year.  I am too old (and tired) to be doing 70+ hour weeks constantly.... this is what is being expected and because I'm salaried, I don't get a penny extra for anything over my "normal" (if that has ever existed) 40 hour week.    

Obviously, this is not leaving me much energy or brain space for OUR boat build.. which is getting ever closer now - 6-7 weeks away now hopefully!   Hmmf.

When the boat is ready  I AM going to take a few days off for delivery and to get the fire fitted... this will not be a popular thing so I'm going to have to be firm and stand my ground - it's only fair!

Until next time...