Monday 28 November 2016

1st night on the boat and Dinettes completed (ish)

We're still ill by the way - this particular strain of man-flu is quite vicious.  Poor old Andy has been poorly for over 2 weeks now - I'm just entering my second week and it's now moved from my head to my chest...

It's a bit of a beggar actually because last week I got a call from the hospital to offer me a cancelled appointment to see the Neurosurgeons on Thursday...  (the call was Tuesday) - by Wednesday afternoon I was totally streaming... coughing, sneezing and dribbling like something terrible.  I called to explain whilst I WOULD be perfectly happy to come to the appointment, I didn't think it the responsible thing to do... mainly because no doubt the same bloke I would be seeing might then have to cancel some poor souls operations the next week that had been waiting a year like I have...

Oddly, the receptionist suggested that if I COULD make it, I should... cancellations being like "hen's teeth"...

I took the high moral ground and declined  - which means I'm back in the pile waiting for my original appointment ... whenever that might be.

After another busy week at work, we decided that so long as the heating was still working, we'd spend Saturday working on the boat and then camp out for the night - with a few glasses of wine of course.  THAT way we could work late and start early.

I'd wanted to get the dinettes finished (well ish) so I set to cutting and fitting bits to make the raised seating area.

I'm quite enjoying using that pocket jig now - it does allow you to make quite tight and neat joints... well it does when you use the correct size screws that don't go all the way through!!!  - lesson learned there.  

When I'd got the port side done, I then set to on the starboard - oddly, despite measuring things, they re NOT symmetrical... no matter... I believe the saying is if it looks level on a boat - it is.

I made sure to leave enough space to remove the cassette from the 2nd toilet. 

The plan is to put an oak floor down and cut holes through the bottom and sides to let the heat out from the fin rads beneath...  

I needed a guinea pig to test it out.

They're not TOO bad - I'm about 6 ft in my shoes and whilst I can't stretch out, I can lay there reasonably ok...  

The starboard table is a bit tight to fit so I'm going to have to take a grinder to the desmo leg and shorten it a bit - it would do for now but by the time I put the oak flooring down, it'd make it a pig to remove.

Having worked all day, we packed up and went to the pub for tea... leaving the heating on for our return.

I have to say, the heating has worked out quite well - a pretty balanced heat throughout the boat... WAY too hot but well balanced lol. We had to turn it off about half nine.  I WAS pleased I'd managed to set it to come on at 5 am though so when I eventually crawled out of the make-shift cabin about 6.30am, the whole boat was lovely and warm... 

I was lovely to wake up on the boat, have a shower and then fling open the hatch to watch a couple of  swans paddle by... a perfect hangover cure.

This week we've a washing machine, tumble dyer, kitchen units and hopefully a macerater toilet to come - the fridge is ordered but wont be "converted" for a couple of weeks.

Until next time...

Thursday 24 November 2016

Man-Flu slows progress...

Keep back folks - I'm sure it's highly contagious.

We've had a miserable week...  well I say we - Andy started with it last Monday and by the weekend was at deaths door ... I kid you not - 3.30am Saturday morning he was having a bit of a panic attack at not being able to breath.  A few puffs on my ventalin later (and a firm CALM DOWN talking to) he was settled again.

Our plan HAD been to  to "camp out" on the boat on Saturday night... now that the heating is up and running it's a pleasant place to be again.  Alas, by the time we got home from a visit to his parents, he was WAY too under the weather.

As the week has gone on, I've gradually gotten worse and as it stands, we're both currently swigging benylin from the bottle and surrounded by piles of tissues... the result being that a side from cutting a few panels at work ( its easier on the band saw with a bit of working space), begger all has been done.  I've cut 3 wardrobe doors and surrounds to size and prepared the panels to hold the hinges but that's about it.

I've still  been calling in at the boat on the way home from work - mainly to turn OFF the heating that I seem to have got stuck on some kind of timed mode ...  so I've had cup of tea and charged the batteries a little whilst there so not a total waste of time.

IF I make it through to the weekend, we're going to have a bit of a clean up, take up the new memory foam mattress we bought with a view to chopping it up to make the dinette seat cushions and maybe crash there on Saturday with a couple of beers.

With a bit of luck, I'll also get to grips with the dinette and take some more's a couple for starters where I got up to before illness took hold:

Until next time..

Sunday 20 November 2016

Webasto installed/working and engine running again.

After my recent clumsy dispraxic event, I took the broken off bleed screw into work and ferreted for one the same size - it did turn out to be an m6 so I took a grinder to one, made a little groove and then shortened it to be the same size as the broken one.  I even put a little cork washer on it to make it look like a proper job - in fact, I'm NOT going to replace the part now as by fitting it, priming the system and then bleeding it, all is well again.

You may remember the other night I also pressure tested the heating system... it kept 3 bar in for a couple of hours without problem but I also left it over-night for good measure as Thursday was the planned installation date for the Thermo Top C.

I will try not to be overly critical here and whilst it IS now up and running, it was not all plain sailing.  The chap was an hour late to start with - ok so traffic CAN be a pain sometimes but a phone call at the due time would have been nice.  On arrival, it was announced we'd need to be on shore power in order for them to "weld" the bracket to the side of the hull - which of course we're not.  He already knew this from our previous conversation... SO, instead, a piece of board was scavenged from my pile of cockups offcuts and the remaining sikaflex employed to stick this to the hull in the engine hole.

In the process, another board originally installed by the builder using silicone was knocked off and is still hanging waiting for me to stick it back on.

ALSO a bit crappy, is the temporary method of holding up the pipes as can be seen here:

to be fair though, it might have been replaced with something more secure  as I took that photo during a coffee break...I'll have a look tomorrow night and report back.

At least the header tank doesn't look TOO bad:

although that pointless down spout thing is nothing but a pain when filling it... it leaks out through if you forget to put your finger over it.

When it came time to fill the system up, it also transpired they'd forgotten to bring any anti-freeze which necessitated a trip into town for me.  I was sent to buy 20 litres of either blue or pink stuff (glycol or Oat) - Halfords only had the blue stuff in 2 litre bottles at 11.99 each so I opted for the pink instead.

Of course that WAS more expensive but at least it should last a couple of years longer than the other stuff does.  We'll see.

The GOOD news is that for all the joints, not a single one of them leaked - even though I'd tested it, I was half expecting there to be pink stains all over but not a drop.  RESULT!

When the time came to switch it on, it seemed to take an age for any sign of warmth to appear - it'd become air-locked in spite of all the attempts to bleed the radiators as we filled it up.  Itwas a bit of a faff only having the shower hose and 2x2 litre plastic coke bottles to run back and forth with before the header-tank ran empty.

Eventually, the chap resorted to taking the pipes off in the engine hole which both scalded his arm AND fettled it.  Once bled, it was a major relief when ALL the radiators and the fin rads got hot.   I won't lie - I  nearly stuck to my original plan 
but swapped the position of the bathroom MAIN radiator across to the starboard side and added a small silver towel rail in it's place near the basin.  This has taken the total output (before the calorifier) up to 6.4 kw - therefore due to the length AND amount of radiators, it does take an hour for it get hot.  We can live with that as the result is a lovely balanced heat throughout the boat.  It's been a real pleasure working up there today with the heating on - I've also been running the generator to power the inverter/charger through the shoreline socket - it transpired that the charger output can be varied between 9 and 90 amps - Alas, the little generator can only cope with 35 and that's on full pelt.  I opted to have it run at 18amp and set the generator to "snail" to keep the noise down a bit - it'll have been enough to get the batteries back to 100% and power the heating whilst it was running.  

I've also made up a couple of coax leads and tested 2 of the tvs :

The top one DOES look a bit wonky but that's only because I've not tightened up the nut and on the adjustable bracket yet.  

You can also see in the bottom photo that I've made doors and covers for the calorifier and electric cupboard.  The top half are on hinges and the bottom attached using ball catches.They need a few coats of varnish urgently given their location and vulnerability to the elements.

Until next time,,,

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Face plant into engine hole...and a snapped bleed screw!

Ok - so those of you who know a "ginner" may already be aware of this...  we're a little accident prone... an Aunt of mine (although not ginger) prefers to refer to us as "dyspraxic" rather than clumsy.  I take this to another level sometimes!

Today, after work, I called in at the boat to have a go at pressure testing the heating system/radiators.  On lifting the engine board (which I'd only last week swapped from checker-plate to phenolic board) I stumbled and went head first on top of the engine. Suffice to say I screamed like a girl and howled a lot of words I shouldn't know!

It hurt like hell - my face ended up wedged between the diesel pipe and the top of the block.  Annoyingly, I've not a cut or bruise to show for it...  Once I was composed enough to try and extricate myself, I made a valiant attempt at an all in one leap out - the kind of thing a gymnast would do.

Alas, I am clearly NOT a gymnast.  This resulted my legs ending up where my face had just been and  unbeknownst to me (at that time) I snapped off something on the diesel filter housing :-(

This is the thing I buggered offending article

Trouble was, I didn't KNOW I'd done it until later on when I tried to start the engine.  It was only then, after probably 4 failed attempts it occurred to me I might have done something.  She would turn over and start but immediately stop - no matter what position the throttle was in.  

At first I thought someone had stolen the diesel (the gauge is fitted but not calibrated yet) so I opened the tank to take a look - no ... still plenty of fuel. Then it occurred to me the wood we have laying around in the lounge was at one side so perhaps no fuel was able to be picked up due to the listing...

SO I moved the wood to the centre to balance the boat up a bit and then tried again...  STILL no luck. ... Staring blankly into the hole, wishing I'd NOT taken the manual home on Sunday, as the light was fading I switched on my head torch only to notice the thing pictured above.  Then it all became clear.

Tomorrow, I'll try and source a replacement  and in the meanwhile, will take it into work with me and find a bolt the same size - it "looks" about 6mm but I'll measure it and hopefully find something to fill the hole.  I'm not sure if a normal bolt will enable me to prime, bleed and secure it enough for the engine to run but It's worth a try... I can always grind a bit out. 

ANYWAY - back to the pressure testing.

Having buggered around with a foot pump on my own (and thus not able to get any pressure in as it was obviously escaping somewhere) Mark on the boat behind Mick, came and loaned me his 12v compressor.

Whilst it was inflating, I went into the cabin to listen for air ...  I didn't have to go far as the push fit on the calorifier was the 1st culprit.  Despite my best attempts at pushing the elbow further on, I could n't get a seal so I ended up taking it off and replacing it with a bit of plastic pipe and a compression fitting... and a stop tap so as to be able to isolate it from the heating circuit.

I've pumped it up and again and will leave it over night to see how it fairs.

Until next time...

Sunday 13 November 2016

A few easy wins this week...

Well I say easy, in "ginger land" it's usually 3rd time lucky... my skill set is no where near as high as my enthusiasm for having a go :-)

I've tried NOT to go to the boat every night after work - mainly because I know that when I've spent a day working in the cold at the unit, it's very hard to go to an even colder and dark place and achieve much.

All that should change this coming week as I've managed to tie down the webasto man to installing the thermo top on Thursday... for someone getting paid a large amount for what will be 1 days work, I don't understand why it's so difficult to get a definitive arrangement.  No matter,  hopefully by the time I get home from work on Thursday, we'll have an operational heating system and evenings working on the boat will be fun.

SO - What HAVE I achieved this week?

Well, the radio in the back cabin is now properly wired in (although it was a bit wonky so I've fitted a bit of chrome around it to hide the bodged cut  finish it off nicely.   I've connected the 12v socket and fitted the back cabin led TV... and amazingly it works

I've also tidied up the wires that were hanging out of the bedroom ceiling - given how they were left in the top corner (with no room behind for a rebated socket) I've had to fit a surface mounted patress box and then modify a chrome light switch to accommodate the combined tv, satellite and power socket. 

It worked out ok in the end.  I'll get the bedroom telly on the wall this week too.

Also this week (I suppose that should be last week really), I dug out my pocket jig and used it to fix a shelf above the calorifier and frame for the 2nd toilet door...

If you've never used one, you can watch how here...  it's not me but you'll get the gist of it.

A very simple but effective bit of kit - circa 30 quid off Amazon I think it was.

I've also cut and hung the door on the 2nd toilet - using double cranked hinges ... to be honest, it's not the best job I've ever done...  lets just say rather than measuring twice and cutting once - I er, kind of did it the other way around... the result being that the door is the right size but the support panel is 1cm too thin... the resultant outcome being a compromise - it looks ok but would not win any awards lol

Today's plan is to make a door for the wardrobe opposite - it'll need to be flush fitting though given the width of the walk way and the fact the plan is for the toilet door to open into the walkway (to block off the route to the kitchen) and then the wardrobe door to open the other way (into the dinette) to effectively make a cubical across the boat to use the loo in.  I doubt it will get used much, but when guests are on board or WHEN the macerator is broken, we'll be pleased we went to the effort.

Until next time...

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Tv and Radio Aerials...

I can see why some people take a long time to complete their builds.  Working in a small space requires way more self disciple and organisation than I have...  I'm learning but it's a slow process...

Calling in on route home from work is more difficult when it's cold and dark .  I'm running the engine for an hour or so to have the electric fire on which does take the chill off it but the sooner I can coax Simon the webasto man into fitting the heater, the better.  He's not returning my calls at the moment so I may resort to collecting the unit and doing it myself!

Bearing in mind the aforementioned difficulty, I wanted an easy win so have drilled yet MORE holes in the roof and erected a combined tv/radio aerial.  I don't know if it's MEANT to be combined but it did say on the box for fm/dab and tv signals...

I've heard mixed reports about them but lots of boats on our mooring have them so  figured they MUST at least work "here"...

Given the boat has the wires already in for 3 tvs and 3 radios, rather than having multiple wires going up though the roof, I thought I'd try just having the 1 and splitting it.  As look would have it, I found these handy little boxes on ebay and also discovered - (quite by chance) the aerial kit included a signal booster (12v) which had 1 input and 2 outputs... perfect.

The wire from it passes through the centre of it into the wardrobe in the front bedroom - I've drilled a large hole and filled it with more sikaflex - that stuff is addictive!

It looks a bit messy busy, but I'll tidy it up with cable ties at some point...  KEEN to test if it worked or not, I then decided to wire in a radio at the back of the boat.  That turned out to be a bit of a faff because the 12v feed for it turned out to be omitted so I had to take a new feed for it.... temporarily I rigged up a cable from the one on the other side of the boat

Anyway - it works and the signal is fine...  I'll wire it in "properly" tomorrow night.

Until next time...

Sunday 6 November 2016

Drilling Holes in our new roof...Eeek!

Now I know to a lot of folk, drilling and tapping a hole is no big deal...  in fact, to me usually that's the case too.

WHEN it's through the roof of your new boat however, it just seemed "wrong".

A necessary evil of course in order to fit the solar panel mounts that kind chap sent me - for which I've STILL not paid... despite chasing him up twice now!

Having gathered together my bits and bobs, I fitted the brackets to a panel and dragged one on the roof to mark out their final locations.

You may remember all the fuss about the location of the bathroom mushroom vent which ended up in the way and HAD been changed to a flat "space ship" type... well, in the end, due to the last minute rush to meet the shared lift deadline, we did end up with a normal mushroom.  LUCKILY though, the solar panel bracket has enough height in it to allow the panel to sit over the vent comfortably.

I planned on using 6mm stainless steel bolts to hold them down and used a slight larger drill bit than I'd  usually use, so as to be able to get a decent amount of Sikaflex down through the threads.

Given we really should have painted under the bracket properly once i'd got plenty in the hole, I then proceeded to put big dollops under the entire surface.  I don't think it will leak as once the stuff sets, it's pretty hard to penetrate.  I do wish I'd bought a better quality tap and dye set though as by the time I'd done all 12 holes, the m6 tap was about worn out.  In fact, the last one I did was a pretty poor fit and I may need to drill it out and use a larger bolt at some point in the future.  

Having got the panels in place I needed to work out the best route for the wires into the cabin.  I know a lot of people use a mushroom vent but given we'd already had the internal wires run behind the panelling, going through the front bulkhead into the back of the wardrobe was the best choice.  I drilled 2 x 12mm holes through and whilst I'd initially planned on using some little rubber grommets to protect the cable, decided after consulting a few other folk, to wrap a good amount of self amalgamating tape around each wire to make a snug fit through the hole and leave an inch either side to allow for movement WITH the steel if you follow.  It's double insulated cable to start with so I should think it would withstand quite a lot of rubbing even without additional protection.

On the inside, I fitted a box to join the wires together and a pvc plate to over the holes. 

As you can see, there's going to be a lot going on in this corner as it's where the 3 tv cables, 2 satellite and 1 radio cable all terminate - my plan is to try to attach them all to 1 aerial (with a booster) and fit this to the front of the boat.  Time will tell if that works out!

What only takes a few mins to write down, took all day - partly because I'm the worlds most messy worker, leaving my tools laying around the boat and spending half my time asking Andy "have you seen such and such?"... I WILL have to learn to work in a more tidy and disciplined manner as it's beginning to frustrate even me!

Once the panels were safely terminated, I went to the front of the boat and began the connections to the battery bank.  I wasn't sure what size fuse to be using so once again asked advice from Thunderboaters, and a compromise was agreed - we ended up with a 70amp in-line fuse.  The theoretical max output of the mppt controller is 40amp and the cable I've used is 16mm2 (jump leads).  

There isn't much space to squeeze a 5ft 10 ginger in the engine hole but trust me once in there, it was very handy to have my glamorous assistant passing me things I'd forgotten to take in with me.

On the plus side, as it was very cold out, I was quite pleased to have had the engine running for a couple of hours earlier to make working in there more pleasant. 

Having made the connections to the battery, I mounted the controller as close as possible to minimise the length of cable required - I think in the end, it's worked out about 3/4 of a metre which isn't too bad.

After the unit was on the wall I connected the battery FIRST - very important or you can break the controller!!! and then wired in the panels followed finally by inserting the fuse in the engine hole.  Next, I cut of a hole in the control panel and fitted the remote meter I bought at the same tie to monitor the mppt.  I'm pleased to report that even in late afternoon  winter sun, it was managing  a
10.4amp charge rate.   It soon dropped though as the batteries were quite close to full.  

I know given the time of year,  we won't get a tremendous amount from them, but given we'll not be living on board yet, they SHOULD keep the batteries in good condition and reduce the amount of time we'll have to run the engine..,

In other news, I spoke with Simon (the Webasto man) the other day and whilst he confirmed our kit has arrived, he's a bit tied up and unable to come fit it for a few weeks. That's a bit of a shame but we'll manage by using a combination of a camping gas stove and (with the engine running) the little halogen heater to take the chill off the coldest part of the days.  After today, we're both back at work full time anyway so it will only really be weekends and the odd couple of hours after work for me in the dark.

Until next time...