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Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Solar panel anti-clanking supports, hydraulic bridge woes and a slammed window... perhaps.

I'll settle you in gently today with positive news before I go off on a rant...

WAY back in the early days of the blog,  you may recall I bought some smashing stainless steel VERY heavy solar panel mounts that enable a decent tilt.

In practice, because they are difficult to tighten/slacken without taking the skin of my kunckles, they only ever get tilted as much as the curvature of the roof will allow in their "flat" position.   The reality of having 3 'house' panels of the roof is that they are quite heavy and when the wind blows, they bang around... right above the main bed - the result a very bad nights sleep.

SO - in the middle of the night whilst in Granary Wharf (Centre of Leeds near the station) about 3 am, saw me pottering about outside in gale force winds in my underpants (the winds being out side of my underpants), cutting chunks of kindling to wedge the panels fully one way in the direction the wind was blowing to stabilize them.  This works quite well but the occasional "freak gust" can take the tension off, just enough for them to fall down ... and then of course, clonking resumes.

I even painted them grey to match the boat and whilst a bit naff looking, for the last few months they have proven their worth.

Having spent a little while thinking about a more professional method, I decided to buy some strong magnets and cobble together  engineer an alternative.

A little crude I'll grant you, but it was a prototype - which appeared to be pretty close..  I then managed to find longer metal strips on my mecano set and tweaked it.

I'm quite pleased with it.    I've drilled holes and fastened a bolts through the other side of the panels too so they can be tilted/restrained either side of the boat.

IT works in 2 ways - the bar is under tension to keep the other side of the panel pressed against the roof AND also exerts a pulling force (using the magnet) to provide restraint from winds going under the panel and attempting to use leverage to rip the brackets off the roof.  Fingers crossed the magnets will be strong enough. I'm confident. My dear old Physics teacher would be able to explain it using the correct terminology - I just know it 'works'. 

Having spent a day buggering around with the above (it's only an hour or so's job but as law of sod dictates, you need to go to a hardware shop 2-3 times for such things, factor in buying "extras" as you drop things in the canal and then get distracted with "other 5 min jobs" that themselves turn into 2 hour affairs - one such thing being putting a bit of tubing over the new centre lines (to stop the fair leads chaffing them to the point of snapping like one did last week)... which in turn became a ball ache cause doing that I spotted 2 of the 3 screws holding the fair-lead on were snapped - THE result of this being the 3rd one wouldn't' budge so I ended up crow-baring it off, re-drilling the old ones out, only for the drill to snap off in the hole  - basically, a bugger of a time, drilling out drill bits etc.    Once I'd put my angle grinder away, painted the handrails and refitted the fair leads, I could THEN put the tube over the rope that I set out to...I am sure this is familiar to every boat's engineering departments... Dark Blue jobs!
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

The weather has been so lovely, (well last weekends 2 days of gale-force winds a side), so we've been chugging down the canal as far as Kildwick one way and Gargrave bottom lock the other way - NOT wanting to get stuck (again) the wrong side of the various hydraulic bridges which are FOREVER breaking - they really are crappy.  No word of a lie/exasperation, every other time we get to one of the big "powered" bridges they break.... often taking many hours for a man in a van to come out and most of the time NO feed back from CRT other than "it might be tomorrow and we'll let you know" - WHICH of course they don't!  They really are a pain.

MADE worse on Sunday by the fact that the men 'working' (I write that loosely) on the towpath had tied up all their hoppers on the swing bridge landing at Bradley and then closed off the access to the towpath which meant for a VERY unhelpful landing stage... not TOO bad for me but any old bird without built in stabilizers, would struggle.

My point about it being "every other time" behind upheld when we'd chug on to the winding hole at Farnhill turned and tried going back through - ... computer said no and crt said "oh yes we know about this and will get back to you"...  but  didn't.  4 Hours after the 1st bloke had reported it (a chap was already stuck when we got back) an off duty Crt chappy turned up as he'd noticed we were stuck and manually got us through.

It's only the good men on the ground and volunteers  that keep crt going - the back office is letting them down constantly and don't even MENTION the oxi moron that is "The Water Management Team"....

oh no - here I go...

You see, AS you're aware, despite the wettest end of winter months you could imagine (remember storms Denis, Ciara, Maureen and the like), that had water flooding through towns , over reservoirs etc? - well, following on from them, we now have the driest spring - which fair play, it has been quite dry... There would have been plenty of water had they NOT been letting it out of the reservoirs when they stopped boats moving back at the beginning of lock down - instead, they kept it flowing and then slapped 24 hours notice on us this canal would be closing...  (yeah I know, I'm repeating myself here)

FAST forward to "boats can now move from the 1st of June as normal" - but NOT you chaps on the L & L or Peak Forrest - you can wait another month and then we'll give you restricted hours .  

They (last Friday) sent out an email intimating there would be a 2-3 day emergency window to allow boats to escape.   getting from Skipton to the bottom of Wigan in 3 days will NOT be fun.. or particularly  safe and I'm afraid it doesn't leave any time for "tick over past moored boats" either - in short, it's irresponsible and incompetent of crt.... and the biggest worry of all being that they will lock up Blackburn "out of hours" as usual, or not let us in at the top of Wigan at whatever time we get there... thus marooning us in a place we'd not want to BE marooned...From what I read on facebook groups and boating forums, there are a lot of people stuck in the wrong places and have been for a long time - ergo, WHEN they let us move, it'll be chaos.  

WHAT'S worse is that on talking to a crt chappy (well some bloke in one of their t-shirts) the other day, HE seems to think the "window" may be abandoned all together now they've finally realised how many boats are going to have to try and squeeze through it at the same time - ergo, they'll  make us all wait until 1st July and then let us have a free for all.

WHY exactly do they charge me double for a business licence? I don't get any additional help or support - just the same party line of "we will post an update on line - NEXT Week"? - I'm getting quite cross about it - almost militant.

It looks like hire boats will be allowed to operate from July - and I'm going to try and work out a "social distancing plan" for 'Ellis' ... It's vaguely possible so long as we don't eat at the same time in the boat - and guests sit at the front rather than the back when under way - it IS possible for one guest to be at the back at a time "diagonally from the counter to the seat" 2 metres apart but it's a farcical - we're more at risk going through the checkout in Morrisons.

HOPEFULLY  Boris will  adopt WHO guidelines of 1 metre and more businesses can stand a chance.

Hmmm... we'll see - It sucks.

Until next time...when I may or may not have raced over the Pennines in record time!

1 comment:

Ade said...

Interesting Mark, love your CRT stance and feel your pain!
Good luck with the 72hr non stop race To Wigan if it happens!