Wednesday 24 February 2021

Easy Wins, Monsoon February, an early engine service and Fast Freeze foolery.

 Hey up.

NOW that dry January is over,  a week into February I declared it to be known as 'Monsoon February.'  Having proven to myself I don't NEED a drink, I've pretty much let myself have one whenever I've fancied one of late - it's not helped with the weight control - ergo I've put on a couple of pounds of that stone I'd lost ... Still, it's not the end of the world and I've been continuing my daily walking routine.  I'd much rather be boating - even skippering helps keep the weight off but until we leave here in late March, I'll just have to rely on the walking.

I do admit to have been avoiding this place again - no particular reason other than just pottering along doing little jobs here and there.  It's very difficult to keep motivated at the moment - perhaps a little less so now we've had (as in the nation) a carrot dangled our way by Boris.  

I don't know if you're aware, but here in England (can't even say UK anymore thanks to Sturgeon and that Welsh chap) we're still in an open ended lockdown - which began 4/5th Jan and was suggested to be at least until 15th Feb... that slipped to an announcement being made on 22nd February about the "route out" of it. 

Long and short of it is, (and think playground here) IF we all behave like we are being told/ordered/guided - (pick your own synaptic) we MIGHT be let out to play - a bit at a time with a few key dates being suggested.... and that's the bit - they are SUGGESTIONS that can be changed to suit what ever the agenda of the day is at the time.   I'll just roll with it and take each day as it comes.  I have to say though, that this continued hysteria is grating now - more so with over 17million already been vaccinated.... I mean, if the whole point of crippling the economy was to "save the NHS" from being overloaded by covid patients, once the higher risks have been jabbed,  WHO are we protecting it from being overloaded by?   

If I were cynical, I might be inclined to think that a lot of people who have tasted "POWER" for the first real time in their lives have rather gotten to like it!

I'll say no more about it for now - point is, since I began typing this, we're probably closer to 18million folks protected by one of other of the vaccines which can ONLY BE GOOD news.  

SO then - 'Ellis's' winter works program has been continuing in fits and starts.  The exterior really does need some warm dry days so I can deal with touching up the paintwork here and there - AND the blacking needs tidying up down to the water line... much of last years NEW stuff, having been knocked off on the Llangollen I presume.

The grass at the back has been replaced with a ribbed rubber mat which I'd ordered from Ebay on a 'click and collect' basis to a pick up point a mile away... suffice to say, 5 m x1.2m rubber matting is VERY heavy!!!

There was enough on the roll to cut a spare for the  counter, replace the grass in the well deck too and also make a few 'mats' to go under coal bags on the roof.  All in all, a good value easy win.  

I've sika-flexed it to the weed hatch cover so it doesn't blow away but lifts up on the hinges for access... a lesson learned there losing a previous matting during high wind in Granary Wharf Leeds.

. . . . . . . . . . . 

Since I was last here, Winter briefly made herself known and one morning (sods law some ginger idiot  the Capt. had let the fire die down too much overnight) it was  down to Minus 6.2 outside and only 15.3 indoors!

It looks nice I'll grant you but the problem with being frozen in is - when the winds blow and the boat moves around a bit on it's ropes, you end up slamming into the ice around it which is both noisy and disconcerting during the night.  I DID have a brain wave on the 2nd day of the freeze to run the engine in gear (reverse) for half an hour whilst tied thinking being that the friction of the prop on the water would generate HEAT, pushing warm water under the boat to the front and thus melting a decent area around the hull - it worked too.  The result being a more comfortable night's sleep... until it froze back over again and the cycle needed repeating the next day.

JOB wise,  I've had a squeaking floor board outside the crew loo... you don't notice it until you reverse in during a middle of the night wee ... but it's very difficult to avoid and like most noises in the night, seemed really loud.

The solution was to take up the oak floor, cut a hole in the subfloor and then brace it... simple but effective and squeak is now totally cured.  WHAT took 5 seconds to type however, in true Ginger style, took most of an afternoon!

I did take a video clip of before and after but can't for the life of me find it now - trust me, it's sorted though.

Another easy win was the remote inverter switch - I'd bought one when I got the inverter eons ago... it had been 'filed' away somewhere...  well, whilst servicing the engine, I found it (whilst looking for an oil filter)...  Alas, having fitted it, I discovered that 4 years stored in an (un airtight) box in the engine hole isn't conducive to working operation of delicate electronics .

The "on" switch element works fine but the "power save" side didn't... so I took it apart, sanded down the connections and briefly brought it back to life... I say briefly as within a couple of days it had stopped working again... SO a replacement has been ordered from Photonic Universe (now only 14 quid - twas 29 when I bought the first one)

The reason for fitting it now was because (if you cast your mind back to the new fridge freezer installation) when we are away from shoreline, the inverter needs turning off on a night before bed and back on first thing... mainly because 'something' in the fridge wouldn't let it go onto power save mode... ahem, well... I might have found what that was.  You see, INSIDE the fridge is a button ... on or off...  I presumed it was power on off ... well,  For some or other reason the other day, I opened the fridge from the 'wrong side' and noticed a label ... THIS label .

In layman's terms - the ginger idiot installer had had (good English) the thing on FAST FREEZE since it was fitted.  NO WONDER the inverter couldn't go on to power save mode!


ANYWAY - Having disconnected from the mains power, turned off the fast freeze and "waited" - sure enough the power save mode kicked in and the inverter went from drawing 5 or so amps down to 2.  Ergo, the batteries MIGHT last another year after all.  Time till tell on that one as it's an expense I can really do without right now.

So, when the replacement switch arrives, I'll remove the old one, wire it in and then have the convenience of not having to open my tool cupboard to control the inverter.  Simple things bring so much pleasure sometimes.

I mentioned a few paragraphs back  I'd done an early engine  service - 125 hours early to be exact but not without good reason... you see, last time an oil change had been due I'd not been able to get hold of the right stuff so 'made do' with an api sf grade instead of the cc it SHOULD have.  The result being a bit of white smoke on start up ... NOT the end of the world, but this engine needs to be in tip top order given all I ask of i so having now picked up a few containers of the proper stuff , it seemed a good idea to do a pre-season service.  

I'm very pleased with the compatible diesel filters I've sourced instead of the engines plus ones...  they are  26 quid a pop whereas when buying a few, I think they are now coming in circa 12 quid each.  Result!  I've also FINALLY found an oil filter too to use in place of the deadong ones...  not such a saving (circa 5 quid cheaper) and on handling them, I noticed they are WAY lighter... so much so, I actually put them on the scales... the "proper one" being 15 oz and the compatible one only 11 - on that basis, I think I'll stick to the "proper ones"...for the sake of a fiver, I'd rather know the engine was getting  the clean oil it deservves.

Until next time...

Saturday 6 February 2021

TV woes, Scratch removal and 'Heath Robinson' foot rests.

 A while back , I mentioned I'd been having TV problems - to be more accurate, a certain fat arsed ginger person slightly clumsy Capt. scratched a big mark down the middle of the screen with his floaty key ring whilst a little bitt worse for wear. during high-seas.  The result being whilst watchable still, it was blooming irritating.

So, I took a deep breath and logged into Amazon to source a replacement.  I'd heard about the new generation of Cello 12v tvs that NOW include a built in battery pack - the theory being they charge up during the day from the solar panels/engine running and then can provide between 6-10 hours viewing from the internal battery.  This seems a very good idea for a boat.  

Having found the closest size model to the existing one (so it would fit in then 2nd generation tv cabinet I made) it was ordered to be delivered to a hub at a local shop... I say local, it's about half a mile a way on foot - far enough away to be a pain in the bum carrying a big box.  No matter, it came next day  but on opening it, I discovered it appeared to be an already returned  item.  Not TOO deterred, I began the assembly instructions (which included taking the back off and connecting up the internal battery) - only t find this had already been done.

IT wasn't the end of the world but I did feel a bit irked at being sold a 2nd hand item without a discount... ergo, I got on the phone (well that was the plan but it turned into an online web chat) with Amazon and after a while, they offered a partial refund.  FINE .

OR at least I thought it was fine...  NEXT evening (after leaving it plugged in all day to charge) I tried it out on the battery...  it lasted all of 12 mins before going off.

BACK on line with Amazon I asked for a replacement battery pack - assumingly (wrongly ) that it was faulty...  Their reply was far from helpful... "send the telly back" was the only option.  BUT they can't collect from a hub only HOME address - very helpful with me in Manchester and that being in Wakefield...

Anyway -I tried charging it again and then spotted the voltage on the battery being 12.8... the charger supplied being only 12v.  THEN it clicked... you can't charge a 12.8v battery with a 12 v charger... you need a higher voltage.  Having now decided it was the wrong charger, I got on the phone to Cello in Bishop Auckland and they couldn't have been more helpful.  The lady explaining it should have been an 18v one... AND she could send me one to the marina here.

Armed with that information, I got BACK on to Amazon to explain I'd like to try and keep the TV once I have the correct charger (having already tested out the theory by bastardizing my jumpstart thing which has outputs from 12 - 22 volts... and finding it worked to charge the battery).

Amazon were not keen to help with the supply/cost of the correct charger - after many different people joining the support chat however, they finally agreed another partial refund and I could keep the tv.  IT took 3 hours of circular conversations but we finally got there in the end - AND once Cello had posted the right charger, the TV is now operational.  It's not perfect though as despite what the manual says about it having a headphone out socket (to connect to a sound bar) it doesn't have one... I can get around that in due course with a soldering iron and 3.5mm socket when it arrives from ebay.  It also doesn't have a dvd player built in (like the old one did) but it does have built in Satellite decoder - although I don't have  a dish (or plan having one)...  swings and round abouts spring to mind lol.

Moving on from the telly faff, I've been meaning for a while to get around to doing something about some scratches a guest skipper made down the starboard side last year...  it's hard to tell from the photos unless you zoom in, but there are quite a few.  I'd half a plan just to repaint (it's still on the cards for next year) but thought it worth a go with the scratch remover and polish first.

I've never been afraid of hard work polishing...  not so keen however doing it whilst dangling from the gunwales... a couple of close calls but luckily no 'winter bath' on this occasion.  

The result isn't bad - I will come to regret using a silicone based polish when I come to repaint (it'll mean having to really rub it down or the new paint won't stick) but it has made a massive difference to appearance .  More noticeable when it rains (which btw, it does a lot in Manchester)...  you can see how nicely the polished side beads the water compared to the other...  I'm almost inspired to have another go at it next time the rain stops for a few hours to build up a better shine.

Of course NOW I need to do the port side too... which is TOTALLY dangling over the water unless I take the boat along side elsewhere to do it... which tbf, I probably will... WHEN this next bit of bad weather is over... it's hammering down now with weather warnings for the next week or so.

In other news, the 10mm ribbed steel bar I'd ordered from Ebay arrived the other week and I did a little sketch of the bends I 'd like in it and asked Mal at the marina if he'd do it (for a fee).  Having tried, we decided to modify the design away from a 45 degree at one end and 90 at the other, to 2, 90s.  In principle this worked fine... but even when trimmed down, the resultant 'step' was too wobbly to be safely used as a foot rest.

I put my thinking head on and the easiest solution (if a bit crude/Heath-Robinson) was to cut a couple of wooden blocks and attach them to act as stabilizers.

They do the job and whilst a bit crude - given they are screwed on from behind, SHOULD be strong enough to take quite a hammering...  I'll have more of a think about a better solution over the summer... we'll see how they pan out.  Point is, they are at least usable... and once I tidy up the rear with a few more coats of dark grey they shouldn't stand out TOO Much.

Until next time...