Thursday 27 April 2017

First pump out...

This week, what with trying to get the speedway and racing track packed up and shipped down to Margate, I've not had much energy to do anything much on the boat - to be truthful, my hands are causing so much pain I really should be off work resting them ... THAT'S the trouble with being a work-a-holic (hollic?)  The doc HAD wanted to sign me off for a month and give me morphine to take along with my other pills but that wasn't really a suitable option until the rides were completed... now they are on route, I'll accept the first surgical date offered to me as I really can't go on much longer.

Despite my exhausted/pathetic state, I finally got up the courage to take the boat over to the pump out machine and "test" out my pipework.... the tank was only about half full but I figured it was worth wasting 8 quids worth of capacity in the event something wasn't connected correctly and the pump unable to form a vacuum.

Having duly inserted the card into the machine in the elsan room, I went back to try and see what was happening.  Naively I tried to remove the pipe from the boat and (luckily) was unable to.  At first because I couldn't hear any hissing sounds I thought I'd messed something up but I could see macerated waste passing through the pipe so all was OK.  It only took a couple of minutes to empty the tank so I quickly went back in to put it on pause whilst I connected up the hose to rinse it a bit...

I have to admit to being rather pleased with myself a) NOT to have any leaks and b) not to spill any lol.  It's not even a particularly unpleasant task really.  NEXT time I'll wait until the tank is nearly full and get value for money.

We're having the weekend off chores again and if the weather is nice will take the boat up to Dewsbury... perhaps having a pint in the Leggers - apparently is't changed hands since we were last there.

IF however, the weather IS bad, then we'll go and buy 16 square metres of solid wood flooring and begin fitting that...  given how much pain I'm in, I'm praying for sunshine.

Until next time...

Monday 24 April 2017

BSS and a few easy wins...

The short version is that the boat sailed (every pun intended) through her first BSS on Saturday... I don't know why I'd been so stressed about it - OR why I went to such great lengths to 'tick the tick boxes' ... I suppose it was a good job I did as the chap couldn't find anything wrong at all and was very complementary about my efforts.

He DID ask why he was doing it 7 months earlier than was required by law and I explained that - flooring and painting a side, the boat is finished  so why wait?  THAT and the fact that we're planning to take her to Skipton the first couple of weeks in June on a proper outing and I didn't want to give the insurer's any excuse not to pay out in the event of anything untoward happening.

So - BSS ticked for the next 4 years.  We did have a discussion about the RCD (and RCD2) and given Manchester library have the documentation available, I might begin the RCD route if I get bored too - just to give the boat a "re-sale" value within it's first 5 years.  We'll see.

ANYWAY - back to the weekend... Whilst waiting for the BSS chap to arrive, I did a couple of easy jobs:

I quickly put together a shelf in the large wardrobe and then fitted a hanging rail underneath.  I plan to box in the wiring at some point.

Once that was done, I opened my latest Ebay delivery and  constructed a couple of fly screens for the side hatches.  They  turned out OK without much effort.

Unfortunately, once the chap had left I had no excuse other than to beging undercoating again...😒

Did I mention I'm p**ed off bored stiff with painting now?

ON the plus side - once I'd sanded off the blisters from last weekend, we went on a little chug to find a more peaceful bit of towpath to paint on ... as much we both DO enjoy chatting with towpath walkers, I'm fed up with talking about "paint" with every Tom, Dick and Harry that passes by.

THAT was more like it! - we still need to do the roof a couple more times but if the weather is reasonable on Saturday, we'll get one on in the morning before heading back up to Horbury for a night away.

With a bit of luck, I'll get the coach lines painted ready to mask up too but that will depend on both weather and other chores...

Writing of chores, I've got a digital water gauge sitting starting at me wanting attention - I need to put a "T" into the pipework just before the water pump and then calibrate it.  I'm running the water tank down low 'JUST IN CASE' it all goes pear shaped - actually, come to think of it, I might fit the cabin bilge pump BEFORE I start... Just in case!

What else did we get done?... oh yes, Andy mowed the grass outside our boat and Mick's behind and Claire s in front  (or the other way around depending on which way we are pointing) and I took the Dinette seats outside for a sanding down and varnishing.
We ran out of weekend at this point and had to return home - well that was the plan but given we both had scruffy clothes with us, decided to stay another night and go to work straight from the boat this morning - and what a lovely misty morning it was too.

5.50 am is a nice time on the canal.

Even when we are on route to work....

Until next time...

Thursday 20 April 2017

Blooming bored with painting...

Every visit to the boat this week has felt like 'Ground-hog day' - I get there after work... natter a bit with old Mick/Morag/Mark/Joan/Barry/Ken or whoever and once the kettle has boiled, begin rubbing down and or undercoating.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased to have finished priming but boy is it boring - AS are the comments of passers by.  ONE chap the other evening stopped his car and shouted in the broadest south Yorkshire accent "If thow puts any more paint on that chuffing boat, it'll **ing sink" - MOST helpful!

I've ditched rollers now in favour of a decent brush - only 3 inches mind and although it's still only undercoat, it's not going on badly (if a little slower) at all.  The port side now has 2 decent undercoats on top of the 5 primers and is ready for some top coats - WHICH I'm picking up this morning when I call in to collect some other stuff for work.  £180 for 4 tins of paint feels a bit steep but it's a nice hard wearing polyurethane 1 pack we use at work.  BEFORE then however, the starboard side needs 1 more undercoat and then on to the roof (again)... and those brilliant (but a pain in the arse to remove) solar panels.

Tonight however, it's time to visit the engine hole and give it a bit of a spring clean in preparation for Saturday's BSS man.  I've bought some 'basics' nappies to mop up the water that got in through the leaking gates on last weekends trip so by close of play tonight it will be all clean and dry in there again.

I've also fitted another shelf into a wardrobe to shut Andy up please Andy and tomorrow night, I'll remove everything that makes the place look cluttered into plastic boxes... JUST until the BSS man has been when I'll chuck it all back where it's useful lol.

Oddly, I don't seem to have taken any photos this week - I suppose paint drying really IS boring!

Did I mention I found a couple of really bright 12v Led lights on ebay the other day

I've fitted one next to the existing tunnel light (connected up to the outside light wiring switch) and when I tested it the other night  it was brilliant.  So much so, that I might fit the other one on the other side to look more symmetrical and help with tunnel vision... I really do hate tunnels as they sort of "'suck me in"... at least being able to have a light pointing at the roof and walls will make them easier.  Even if they don't get used very often, they'll provide backup in the event of main tunnel light failure - which of course will happen JUST when you need it.

I'll report back how the BSS goes.

Until next time...

Monday 17 April 2017

The Value of Oldies, rain on the paintwork and a trip out...

I hope you've had a nice Easter - Weather a side, we have.

You'll recall the plan was to  have a chug out to see our old neighbours and have a night or two away from the Easter hoards expected on our home mooring.

Well, that did happen to a point...  although we ended up back here last night rather today as planned - mainly due to the rain (and mosquitoes).

Before we could set off on Saturday, I had to call into to collect 50metres of claret leatherette for the caterpillar cars at work - this couldn't happen until 10am when the shop opened.  Once done, we returned to the boat, topped up with water and set off.  I accidentally "stole" the water point from one of our neighbours who were returning from few weeks away on their Dutch barge... it really was an accident as I hadn't spotted them coming up the cut when we set off.  It was ok as by the time they'd turned and moored near the water point, we were nearly full - it did give us a chance for a proper introduction (and profuse apologies on my part)... they couldn't have cared less.  Lovely couple... especially so as they said they'd been admiring the porthole covers I'd made - him having made square ones a while back and wishing he'd made circular ones.  That's a nice feeling as I DID put a lot of work into them.

Anchor out and connected and we were off! Once on the river, we came cross a couple of boats coming downstream - the usual cheery wave and slight course adjustment later and we were back on to the next section of canal.

It's funny how much we'd dreaded the river section until we'd actually done it - now it's just the route into town.  Once we'd passed the Ruddy Duck pub, we were again on to new territory for us.

It's amazing how different it feels doing a new stretch in your home town...  the river seemed really wide but it wasn't long until we arrived at Thornes cut (we only live about half a mile from here) anyway.

A short chug along here before heading back on to the River again to head up to Broad Cut. 

Another first for us... going UNDER the M1 on the river rather than footpath - I hate that road having spent several hours a day on it when I was working in I.T.

Broad cut lock is a big leaky bugger... but we were soon through it and met up with Barry and Denise.

The plan had changed in that they were under the weather so had walked down rather than come on their bikes - a Coffee and catch up began (along with showing them the progress on the boat) and a plan to chug up to the Dewsbury arm, turn  and then return to where we picked them up.  

I clearly have NO idea how long things take... I was sure it'd only take an hour or so.  Perhaps it was due to the head-wind all the way, but it took an age. WE battled our way against the wind and through the figure of 3 locks (only 2) and finally through  "Millbank Lock" ... which I think is the shortest one on the navigation...  we certainly struggled to fit in ... even a bit diagonally... GETTING out again when coming back down was even harder!!!

AND it leaked rather a lot - our dry bilge is currently  not so dry!

Time was getting on 
- in fact, it was about 7.30pm when we got back to the lock above the Navigation pub where Denise offered to take one of the new foam cushions languishing in dinette home to cover it as trial -  and as it was later than planned, they invited us to the Navigation for tea.  We got in the pub JUST in time though as they stop serving food at and it was 7.55 when we walked through the door.  

It's been totally refurbished since we were last there - you'd not recognise the place... AND the food has improved considerably too - the prices having increased of course).  Barry and Denise insisted on paying which was greatly appreciated.

During the conversations,  Barry commented that he's surprised we "bother with us oldies"...  we're not - one thing we have learned as we've gotten a little older ourselves is the merit in being friends with the older generation.  I'm not being patronizing here but contrary to many peoples opinions, oldies are not generally judgemental and far more open minded than people think.  We love them to bits anyway and would far rather spend our time with them than people younger than us any day.

We spent the night just above the lock (although well away from the landing area) and bashed in our mooring pins (for the first time).  It was a lovely quiet evening and although quite cold, made a nice change to be away from 'home'.  When it was warm enough on Sunday morning, I began the first undercoat to the port side - HALF way through however it began spitting of rain.  I stopped painting and luckily the trees nearby provided a little protection for the bit I'd done.  After a while, it cleared up again so I bravely continued.... as you might imagine, no sooner had I finished it than did the heavens open and rain set in for the day.  In disgust, I didn't take  a photo and retired to the cabin with a glass of wine around lunchtime 😒. ... a cabin which was FULL of mosquito's!  - it's all well and good having bought those porthole covers many moons ago but they are NOT much use up in the attic. *note to self - bring them down and on to the boat asap*....

Having NOW checked the weatherforcst, we decided to head back to Stanley.  

The return journey was uneventful and took about 2 and half hours - this has been noted for future reference!  

THIS morning it was dry so I quickly rubbed down and undercoated the starboard side - having discovered the (blotchy) port side was still too soft to rub down).

SODS law now though - it's late Monday afternoon and the SUN has finally shown it's face ... ggrrrr.... TYPICAL.

Back to work at silly o'clock tomorrow.

Until next time...

Friday 14 April 2017

Chunky Steps (mark 3)

Here we are - Good Friday morning and awakening on the boat.  This means I have stood my ground and refused to work (unpaid again) and have Easter off....  all week since those last injections in my hands I've been struggling anyway and a lesser person would have taken time off  - not me, I've plodded on wearing those awful splints.


Despite (in spite?) of the pain and hand-fistedness, this week after work I've been making a 3rd set of steps - THESE ARE THE FINAL ONES! (I have a feeling I've said this before)...  no - seriously, these really ARE.  

I've used left over bits of ash-faced MDF for the frame and for the steps... some lovely thick off cuts from the bumpers we made at work on the racing track.

There is no way these are going to flex!

The bottom drawer is deep enough to hold all kinds of tools/tubs of screws etc and the large middle one holds quite a few pairs of shoes.  I've ordered a couple of recessed handles (from China) to fit into the closing flaps and a few more coats of varnish will have them finished.  I've had to make a filling panel to sit on top of the radiator  (which I'll drill a few large holes in to allow heat to pass through ) and once I've done the floor, will attach a couple of cabin hooks to hold them tight against the back.  

The original plan was to fit the castors of  an 'elephants foot' to the base so they can be easily pulled out for access to the calorifier and electric cupboard... that MIGHT still happen if I can buy just the spring casters rather than having bastardise dismantle a new one.

As well as making the steps, I've been and bought some more thinner foam (this time from Dunelm) to make revised dinette cushions from... you may recall my first attempt wasn't THAT successful (understatement) - AND was made even worse by having to switch from the 28inch to 26inch desmo legs in order to have enough 'wiggle space' to remove the table tops.   

Sometimes you have to admit defeat and this time I'll be dropping in one of each size cushion and fabric to a woman in Wakefield who CAN use a sewing machine to make proper ones... all being well tomorrow morning before we set off - we would have been off early were it not for having to call in to collect some leatherette for work at a shop that doesn't open until 10.  Annoying really, as I ordered it LAST Friday and it was supposed to be delivered but they sent it to their Wakefield branch instead... which only opens Sat between 10 and 4!


I just realised, I forget to mention the Easter plan - doh.  There's obviously still a whole list of things that need doing but  were having a little excursion over night to Mirfield.  The plan is to chug on and off the river from here up to Calder Grove (where we used to live) and meet up with our old next door neighbours (and their bikes) who'll come along for a few miles of the journey before waving goodbye and cycling home.  We'll carry on a while, mooring somewhere suitable and paint one side of the boat into undercoat (finally) and the next morning turn, paint the other side and then head back home.  

That's the plan...  subject to change as always but I think we're all set for the bss next week now so nothing is really urgent anyway.

Happy Easter.

Until next time...

Sunday 9 April 2017

Captain Sensible...?

Well almost.

The other day, I remembered I'd not yet sorted out a  'life ring' for the boat - odd really as it'd been on my spreadsheet from the very beginning... I suppose I just kept putting off frivolous expenditure :)

Anyway - I found a simple one the other day on Ebay.  When it arrived it was addressed as such:

It did make me smile.

I also finally got around to buying a magnet to fish things I drop (almost daily at the moment) into the canal.  

After much buggering about a few attempts, the only thing I could recover from the side was ONE of the 3 adjustable spanners I'd dropped in.  Oh well - I'm sure it will come in useful at some point in the future.  It DID take off a load of blacking when it attached itself to the side of the hull underwater - being SO strong, I had to climb in and pry it off with my foot underwater.  *note to self, try and lower it into the water AWAY from the hull*...

Oh well -  The weather has been reasonable all week so most nights after work, I've managed to get a coat of primer on alternate sides of the boat - bringing the priming job to a close...  we've got 5 coats of primer everywhere except the rear now (which I'll hopefully do tomorrow night) and can finally begin undercoating.  ALL being well, we'll just need 2 undercoats . 

The roof is also ready for undercoat now - having managed to get 2 coats of primer on in one day thanks to the glorious sunshine.  A bit too hot to be painting really but we have to do it when a) time allows and b) it's not raining!

IT's been a bit of a pain taking off the solar panels each time but only 4 more times will have it into it's final top coat.  GOD it's boring! 

We got brave in between coats and went for a chug - Andy feeling quite relaxed now at the helm and my mooring getting much better too  ... even with an audience. 

In other news - you may recall I was having the bilateral facet joint injections on Thursday.  I'd obviously gotten hold of the wrong hold of the stick thinking they'd be pain free.... they blooming hurt.  The people doing them were ever so nice however and the chap sticking javelins   injecting in my back was happy to chat about narrow boats which helped take my mind off it and ease my nerves.  I won't lie however ... Friday was a painful day.  The good news is my back is still sore but has eased a lot so we'll see how things progress in the coming weeks.

ALSO - On Saturday lunchtime I had a private consultation with the chap who gave me the steroid /anaesthetic injections to my left hand before Christmas.  I hadn't realised I'd been moved to a private list back then from the NHS one - of course, because I contacted him direct, I've now got a bill coming for a consultation and 2 injections (he did both hands this time).  

The bad news here however is that my left one is now pretty severe and he's pushing me to get in the queue for surgery asap ... in the hope of avoiding irreparable nerve damage.  To be fair, he couldn't get all the stuff in it's so tight ...  and I've got a bruise from where he tried in my hand. 

The splints Andy bought me are helping me get some sleep though as they hold my wrist/'hand in a position which doesn't aggravate the carpal tunnel during the night - although I do belt myself in the face with them a few times!

Until next time...

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Kitchen Splash-backs and greasy nipples!

Control yourselves - I'll get to the nipples shortly but FIRST:  What a wash out on Saturday... so much for getting some painting done.  WHILST it didn't rain ALL the time... it rained a lot.

In between showers/downpours, I did manage to get the splash-backs out of the car and get them up.

It did occur to me to countersink some nice stainless slotted screws... but in the end, I  went for beige construction adhesive.  It was a little bit of a faff cutting the poplar edging strips to accommodate it but my little cordless multi-tool did a reasonable job.

In hindsight - perhaps I should have also done both ends against the cupboards... hmmf!

Still, it's better than it was before and more importantly, now there is some protection above the hob, Mr BSS man should be happy.

WRITING of Mr. BSS man, I've booked him for the 22nd.  I think everything is OK now - just a couple of labels to put on things such as fuses and the gas locker - otherwise I've ticked everything off the check-list.  Once that,s done, I'll get in touch with the insurance company and increase the cover.  As it stands, I think we're a little low.

The brushed stainless steel disks that surround the fire flue look ok too.

I wasn't sure how big a gap to allow so I did just short of an inch... it looks OK to me!


This is one of the hinges on the doors - I'd not spotted the grease nipples until Andy's dad pointed them out on a recent visit...  and I'd forgotten ALL about them until a conversation with MY mother today when dogs' nipples were brought up (in relation to a litter of 13 puppies she was telling me about  and I asked how many nipples does dog have - only to be told that she's not in the habit of counting dogs' nipples)...

Anyway - I've been around the boat and greased them all tonight.

We're spending this evening on the boat - I've got another hospital visit tomorrow for the next 6 facet joint injections - (this time they're sedating me so I need a responsible adult to escort me home... in the absence of such however, Andy has been press-ganged  volunteered to take and collect me).  SO a relaxing evening on the boat and wake up at whatever time we wake up (it'll be 5.30 for me anyway as my body clock refuses to understand the concept of a lay in) tomorrow.

I'll report back on what I remember!

MEANWHILE - I've got more primer ready, rollers, brushes and white spirit - along with sanding discs and undercoat in anticipation of a dry weekend ahead.

Until next time...

Saturday 1 April 2017

Catch up...

Good Morning... (it's 5.37am as I begin this).

I've a few things to update on... unfortunately not necessarily in the correct chronological order - I'm sure you can work things out ... if not, well, it's not like this is important is it?  

Rewind to last week - you'll recall we were going to a 'sing-a-long' Rocky Horror at the local theatre that I was expecting to be dire.  With that in mind, I broke the rule of not drinking on the pills... something I was to regret later on.

As it happened, after a couple of glasses of wine - well I say couple... I have no idea how many it took, I quite got into the swing of things...  the MC (if you can call her that) was quite good getting the audience warmed up and we all got our goodie bags containing 1 blue rubber glove... name cards, a party popper and newspaper.  NOT quite worth the 17 quid each we paid to see a screening of an old film that had been on TV loads of times but I'm not moaning (much)...

The words appeared on screen karaoke style and everyone sung along - an awful lot of folk were dressed in costume for the occasion - in fact, we stood out by being in normal clothes.  I remember the interval and the ending but after that it's all a bit of a blur...  expecially the being sick part,  Luckily that didn't happen until we got home.  Apparently I was in quite a state.  *hangs head in shame* - and when I say that I mean 'laid on bathroom floor naked with a towel over me in shame to be truthful'.... never again 😇

BACK in the boating world - The weekend weather was glorious so we finally had a chance to start sanding down and applying fresh primer to the outside of the boat.  On Saturday morning I began with the bow and worked my way down the port-side.  

Painting a boat on  a busy tow-path takes longer than you think... especially when every Tom, Dick and Harry walking by stops to chat.... of course me being me, I stop and chat with them - ergo, progress is slow lol.

It's not the end of the world.  We got in to  sanding and painting  mode (Andy Sanding and me chatting painting.    At about tea-time I heard a chap saying "you've missed a bit"  (probably about the 200th time that had been said that day) and as I turned around to shove my paint brush up his nose  respond appropriately, discovered Tony and his wife Vicky/Tori/Victoria ... no he's not a Mormon - it's the same person with 3 names... oh and "non boater hair"!

We've interacted on a couple of boating forums and as they were having an over nighter on their boat, came along to say hello properly and take a look around 'Ellis'.  Of course the boat was a bomb site but oddly neither of us really cared.  We're finally learning not to worry about such things - which is fortunate given the mess I work in!

Once we'd tidied up and got showered, we headed down to meet them for a drink in the pub - stopping off at their boat first for a nosey around.  IT was lovely to have a look in side and I came away with "joinery envy"... Still,  I never professed to be good at anything - remember my motto of 'more enthusiasm than skill :-)   

With Thursday's "drinking experience" fresh in my mind I only had a couple and Andy stuck to soft drinks  - despite this, we were the last ones in the pub and had the lights turned off around us.

. . . . . . . . . 

Back to the boat - Having removed that ballast from the rear and relocated it to the gas locker, we decided blocks were taking up to much space.  SO, a chap from work had offered to get us some off-cuts of railway track.

Andy volunteered to give them a coat of rust inhibiting mat black and they're now plonked in their new location.  I'm not sure there's enough actually so I may have to ask for a couple more.

Mr Postman is still delivering things needed on the boat - not very glamorous but necessary was this.

Sit down for this - it's a £40 silicone loo brush... I know that's a lot for such a thing but given the "flush" isn't very strong, you can't very easily rinse a brush and at least by having this kind, there is less chance of anything unpleasant showing in the bathroom.

I did have a ginger moment this week too - whilst on the roof attempting to stop the tar dripping from the new chimney, I fell arse over tit  stumbled and broke the (obviously cheap and nasty) mushroom vent in the lounge

and of course no sooner had I done this did the rain start! - Thinking quickly for a change, I bunged the collapsible bucket over it whilst I went to work removing the good one from the bathroom that languishes under a solar panel.  Having swapped them over, I've bunged a load of silicone on the duffer and ordered one of those space ship looking ones (like we ordered from the boat yard in the first place)

TODAY - the plan is to sand down the roof and get some more primer on... I've also got the stainless steel splash-backs which finally arrived to fit AND the 3rd (and hopefully final) set of rear steps to make.  

The reality of course will be (if the sun comes out) we'll potter outside with a brush in hand drinking tea and chatting to people.  Mick (on the boat behind) has bought some new oak flooring that he's started to fit - we have the same conversation about it most days but you know what?   I don't mind in the slightest.!

Until next time...