Tuesday, 31 March 2009

tucked behind the bus station

Uxbridge doesn't particularly distinguish itself in terms of living history or indeed architectural beauty, but the Friends Meeting House in Uxbridge is an extraordinary oasis in the centre of town, a lovely old building in well tended gardens that has somehow survived the madness around; completely appropriate then that it hosts an hour of peace & thought. I've never been to a quaker meeting, but may well one day; I'd probably find the silence threatening and I have enough of my own internal dialogue, thank you, but ever since I talked to x at Leek about it, it's been a thought. Discussions with college friends at a 40th birthday this weekend about the role of the church in the community feed into this too... I wonder if canalplan maps places of worship? Would be nearly as useful as folk clubs and branches of Screwfix... ;-)

In boat news, I'm told the welding around the prow will get done 'in the next few days'. Along with everything on a boat costing about a thousand pounds, I'm also convinced it takes about a month - I've been missed at Iver, too, which is kind of nice. I've got lots of oak strip on order though to tidy up the inside, and I've put the first of a couple of extra coats of Danish oil on the exiting panelling before I get started on that. Meanwhile engine starting woes have hopefully been ameliorated by Dan pointing out I've been missing a rubbing washer on the fuel filter (changed, along with the oil filter, and indeed the oil) bolt which may have been letting air in, and also a bit of 6mm cable to the glow plugs to replace the orginal, which must have been 2.5mm and that I'd always meant to change... I've also largely replaced the ageing water hoses with nice new blue stuff; it's starting to look pretty respectable in the engine space these days.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Useful links/info

only blogged here because I'll never find it again otherwise:

Indigo Dream's Brum recommended moorings, found via a comment by Adam on NB Sanity's blog.

BSS links:
online guide
Part 2 checklist - inboard engines
Part 3 checklist - electrical installations
Part 6 checklist - fire extinguishers
Part 8 checklist - appliances/flues/ventilation
Part 9 checklist - sanitation
download pdfs

weekend update

a boatyard is certainly the place to meet interesting people - here's Nik above, who was deftly moving his hands around a seemingly stationary glass ball. A lovely (and startlingly good looking) chap, he's been blacking next to me last week, and has had to put up with my angle grinder wire brush attachment evangelising (he may even be converted). A musician & performer, (and one man BMX display team), despite his talents he has also impersonated Mick Hucknall on Never Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC2.

Also blacking last week in the dry dock was the charity trip boat Angel of Islington; among the volunteers I met were Rose (best smile I saw all week), amd Helen of NB Gossette, who is looking for signwriting work (07952 266 294) - her work on A of I certainly looked good to me; she has designs on Tortoise (literally). Having a less traditional looking boat that most, it's less obvious what will suit, but I'[ll certainly be curious about possibilities. While I'm doing the ad break (actually noting down numbers before I lose them), Dan Hollands (0792 729 571) has sorted out my transmission gear and worked with UBC on installing the new bulkhead to keep bilge water out from under the engine; recommended as he's friendly and direct, communicates well, and that's important these days.

Tortoise going back into the water on Sat morning, guided by Terry; according to the crane's gauges, she only weighs four tons; I'd been told more previously, but it's useful to know these things. A short notice pint with an ex bandmate who lives close to UBC pointed me at a local gig of The Price and TV Smith on Sunday night, the latter playing in the very venue where I first saw him perhaps eighteen years ago, the former shared a rythym section wih my own band, both of whom I hadn't seen for a while and good to catch up with, too.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Stoke Golding Country Dance

I've been scanning in various old photocopied music sheets left over from my ceildh band days, making up a little A5 display book that's far easier to carry around with my mandolin. Anyway, here's an Ashby Canal related one, although no-one knew about it when I mentioned it in a Stoke Golding pub...

(interesting that this tune isn't in thesession.com's tune database, but it's a useful online resource, especially as you can get a little midi file of at least some tunes, too, which reminds you of how it goes, and also how little folk music is played 'straight'...)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


The new bilge water bulkhead seems to be going in nicely, although it did seem to start with drilling several 1/4" holes in the bottom of the boat. he;s promised to seal them all up, but I'll be checking carefully. No-one had mentioned leaving keys with boatyard, so I hadn't; a call at seven this evening from them confirmed this, as the smoke alarm on the boat was merrily chirping away after some late night welding on the front. I'm glad it's getting done, anyway, and a neat reminder on sorting out the security loophole they came up with to get in. ;-)

Extra work on a strange 30 yr old boat is inevitable - I'm hopefully going to get an extra rubbing strake kind of thing welded around the top of the prow, strengthening & pulling it into shape - it's had a fairly amount of clouting being pulled in & out of locks last summer.

Picked up my oil filter from Chris at Marine Engine Services - today's conversations included getting a job by promising to bring in his coffee machine and showing off a scarily encyclopeadic (but mainly just scary) knowledge of different manufacturers filter part numbers. I should make a point of calling in once a week just for a chat.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

blacking update

Third coat of Rylard premium on today, neatly finishing the 2nd tin. I'll do a fourth coat of normal bitumen on top tomorrow, and that's the blacking done, bar a couple of bits over the...

...welding; more repairs to the front rubbing strakes, and also a small bulkhead in the engine room to separate out bilge water & engine drips; the previous arrangements have always been pretty non-existent (two loose trays sitting up the engine must have been all that got the boat through the BSC last time). This will mean the boat is out of the water for another week, but I'm keen to get things like this done now, and properly.

Dan Holland has the prop shaft and everything between it and the gear box out on his bench at the moment; it's all a bit worn & loose, and hopefully it'll be refurbished/replaced with a better solution, including a more conventional stern gland that doesn't require a complete shaft strip down to repack. I've also taken the opportunity to clean out the strange trough under the prop shaft of years of junk & grease - I now need to work out how to stop it getting full of rubbish again, especially the rear section which is behind the stern gland, the prop shaft runs in a tube and I'm even thinking about filling it with expanding foam...

It's quite fun being in the yard, I get to see all the comings & goings - I'm not saying the staff aren't attentive to all, but a young female in a Morris 1000 got very good service. ;-) Over the past few days I've met all sorts of people, too, including Linda who lives on the 'strange purple boat' just past Warwick Avenue bridge at Little Venice. She's a designer, which will come as no surprise for anyone who remembers seeing the boat, as I did.

Forgot to add - a trip over to Marine Engine Services in the industrial estate on the other side of the canal in search of an oil filter (Crossland 418, from memory) turned in seconds into a discussion of Linux with Chris there, albeit prompted by him battling the database (running on windows) to see if he had one in stock...

Monday, 9 March 2009

Uxbridge English Dictionary

Bearing in mind this is my record of the boat more than a Top Entertainment Blog, feel free to skip this post if you're not me. Unless you want to find out why I've used that title, though. ;-)

Boat hull showed little or no signs of previous blacking after around 30 months; I expected to see more traces, curious. Anyway, what was in evidence was a fine layer of rust, very little real loss of metal but just enough to make it worth while wire brushing down the lot, which took a good few hours - even using a wire brush wheel on an angle grinder, it was pretty hard work, especially underneath, where I'm pushing a power tool upwards, often contorted. Options I guess may have been a coat of vactan/firtan, sealing it all up, but local advice was remove it and just use bitumen. I supect there's as many opinions as there are boats (as usual), but any thoughts?

Anyway, pic above is a neat before & after , albeit the wrong way round. ;-)

Next job was bitumen itself - I'm using Rylard Premium Protection - I'm hoping to get at least three coats on, although since this stuff stays shiny, I may try to get on a top coat of conventional (matt) biutmen on the sides. Whatever, last coat has to go on Thurs to make sure it has 48 hrs before She goes back in the water on Sat*. I got the first coat finished Sun evening/Mon morning, so next coat Tues (24hr overcoating).

*I'm also discussing work on the sterm gland/universal joint - all a bit loose at the moment, and also adding a bulkhead within the engine space to keep bilge water separate from engine drips. This of course may gain me more time out of the water, but I'm not banking on that.

Thte title could refer to the classic argot spoken by the town's youth, normally heard in more provincial towns, but actually a tangential note that I have two tickets for I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, presented by Stephen Fry. It'll be different, but good.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

but boats aren't supposed to be on wheels?

The two previous posts were assembled this morning while waiting to be craned out at Uxbridge; both of course overdue, but I catch up eventually. I'm sitting in the Uxbridge Wetherspoons using their wifi - the fact that they sell beer is completely coincidental.

This was the scene early this afternoon - after being hoiked out of the water, she sat in the yard for a bit while I attacked the slime with a pressure washer - messy fun, you could say. After that I got shunted into the shed, where we'll spend most of the next week together, me tending to her nether regions, as it were.

Spent the latter part of this afternoon with a wire brush fitting on the angle grinder taking off a very fine layer of rust from the (v-) bottom; interestingly no evidence of bitumen on there at all, and I'd expect at least a little. Fairly tedious work as I'm holding the angle grinder up and pushing upwards - I hope my arms don't ache too much tomorrow, as I've got to do the other side of the boat in the morning. ;-) If all goes to plan (and this is a boat, remember) I'll get a coat of bitumen on later tomorrow, then coats on Tues & Thurs, to be dry before going back in to the water next Sat.

The boat really is a long way up - standing on the back deck I'm pretty much in the roof of the shed you can see in the background of the picture. It's odd - there's a little bit of movement within the boat, but being on pneumatic tyres is very different to being on water. I may or may not get used too it, and I just hope I don't have a dream where the wooden chocks propping up the boat fall away...

Vicarious Boating

last weekend, in between socialising with a friend/ex lodger, I had a bit of a boating holiday from home. Neil & Kath were out for a short trip on Herbie, so managed to join them in the Fox in Hanwell on Sunday, then in O Briens on Tues (music session) and Weds (pub quiz- I'm still sure that wasn't JK Rowling). Weds night turned into about 3am Thurs morning before I wandered home across Brentford. ;-) Also on Weds I had lunch at work with Adam of NB Debdale, who as I type will be shortly heading along the Ashby and bemoaning the lack of locks. Poor lad barely got a word in edgeways, but thankfully his professional training in getting the basic facts into two sentences served him well. ;-)

I often carry around an old SLR (Pentax MX) with a fast (f1.4) standard lens, and get away with photos in fairly low light situations. I did on Weds night, I've included a few here.

(top pic - Jerry from NB Roanaoke playing excellent fiddle on the right, there. Also met the lovely couple from NB Barnaby, who's names I have, dreafully, forgotten).

Snow flashback

I've just got hold of a couple of pictures that Catherine (thank you!) took when we had the heavy snow a while back. Being relatively local to work, almost by definition I end up in work rather than getting to be out playing, so didn't make it to the moorings in the those few days. Anyway, here's Tortoise looking snowy, and with Benbulben, Catherine's boat.

Monday, 2 March 2009

pubs & relays

A mini boater's banter (TM Bones) last night in the Fox in Hanwell - Kath & Neil had got that far on Herbie, and we were also joined by Geoff & Rose (and Parsley the lion dog) who have just bought Peggoty from VC Marine - I'd actually seen them on Saturday at Iver as they pottered past. They're taking the boat back to Newbury, so are awaiting tides & bookings for Thames lock in Brentford. Embarrassingly (or understandably) after fifteen years in Brentford I hadn't been up to the Fox before - but then again with so many good pubs in Brentford, why would I need to?

Speaking of pubs, anyone on the canal in Mile End could do worse than a Saturday night in the Palm Tree, off Grove Road - a nice old pub, improved further by live jazz & crooning - they even played 'my funny valentine' for me, despite my lack of anyone to dedicate it too - brought a tear to my eye, indeed, nearly as good as the Freiwilligeselbscontrolle Peel session version.

Anyway, work on the boat continues – I now have a working automatic split charge relay system (you don’t want to know what I did before this), although the extra load from that & the fridge relay means the engine needs a fairly high rev before it kicks in. The usual recommended solution is putting in a bigger bulb, but I’m tempted to add a resistance in parallel with it instead, which also means the alternator will still run if the bulb blows. Other ongoing progress on my new back door, and also (controversially) some outdoor speakers to go under the gunwhales on my back deck.

Blacking next week; watch this space…