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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Off the Ashby towards Atherstone

Still suffering with my back which is annoying because I have a lot of work to do on the boat this summer. Just a small picture blog as my back complains if I sit in front of the laptop for too long.

 These mobile homes are on different levels and some have quite a slope down to the cut.


 The Yellow Rape carpets cover the fields in all directions.
 Not a sign of a fishing rod so I guess this guy is using the Coventry canal as a home.
Boot wharf in Nuneaton is always interesting with several boats out of the water.
 The CRT yard at Hartshill never changes

 Now back in my early days of boating that water was connected to the Coventry canal and there were about three or four boats in there. Now it is sealed off. My Nicholsons of early 2000 states marina but offers no name.
It is by bridge 35 and these cottages are opposite. If anyone reading this has any information please share it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Good ideas and observatios along the cut.

Passing through Hawkesbury Junction we are now on the Coventry canal and are heading to Stoke Golding on the Ashby canal to collect two parcels. One is the new fuel pump that is coming from Amazon to a click and collect point that happens to be the small village post office. The other is for Jaq and will be arriving at the same post office via poste restante, very convenient.
A second reason for the Ashby trip is I have an appointment with a Chiropractor in Hinckley. After months of suffering Jaq has convinced me to give it a try and after some sleepless nights and pain pill swallowing I have agreed. 
At the top the Navigation pub as a closed wreck in 2012. Now with a side extension it has become a nice home.
In the 1881 census the landlord was a George Fife. He and wife Lucy had 5 children the eldest 13 and the youngest was a 1yr old named Cinderella, and i always thought unusual names was a 20th Century fashion of some 100 years later.

I saw the boater wash the dogs down alongside the boat and liked the idea. It`s housed in a fire extinguisher cupboard from Midland Chandlers.


This curved vacuum pipe reached up to suck all the leaves and debris out of the gutters. No ladders or scaffold needed and it all fits in a tiny van.

Anyone seen a CRT man standing on the towpath with radar gun in hand.

Just as far as Sutton Wharf this trip as the Ashby canal was not part of the plan.
All around us are new borns. Calves and lambs in the fields, ducklings and Moorhen chicks are everywhere. Even the Swans are now parading their cygnets. Plenty of pictures of new borns appear on blogs and we were in Warwick when we saw our first ducklings back in March. I hear-by claim a first in spotting this electricity pylon along the Ashby out with it`s young pylonette. If serious about pylons and their young you must join this club. 
Now when you were kids hands up all those who were told Cows laid down because they were tired. You were wrongly informed. My Mum said it was a sign of rain and the Cows were laying down to keep their space dry before the rains came.


Sunday, May 08, 2016

Canals and Collieries Sowe Common

These bridges cast at the Horsley Iron Works are quite a common site on the canals but this one now gracefully spans the River Sherbourne in Spon End Coventry.
Saying "now spans" indicates a past life and indeed previous to the 1980`s this bridge had spanned the Oxford canal for 150 years.
Below the bridge is pictured in 1955 at it`s original location. The picture was taken from the present day bridge 9 on the Nth. Oxford canal at Sowe common.
 Before the Canal was straightened in the 1830`s beneath the bridge was the original route. The present day route is to the right. Just under the bridge on the left boats were loaded with coal from Craven colliery that arrived by a horse tramway.










The same view I took recently from bridge 9. Now the M6 runs behind the trees but traces of the original route can still be found.

Below is a modern day map laid over an 1888 map. This link will take you to the page. When you get there scroll down and to the bottom left you will see a slider to adjust transparency. Have fun.

This map is dated 1886 and it`s hard to show clearly the area but with modern technology I can give you a link that enables you to see the whole area and zoom in, HERE.  Before you try the link let me guide you a little.

A is bridge 9. Below A is the Jolly Colliers pub just recently demolished to make way for flats. When you zoom in on the map link you will see the horse tramway that brought coal from Craven colliery by way of Woodway Lane. Outside the pub the tramway left the lane and served a large wharf adjacent to bridge 9 where the boats were loaded with Craven coal. The pub had stabling at the rear for boat horses. On the link map Craven Colliery is south of D on the above map. Craven became worked out by 1927 and the miners moved to Coventry colliery that closed in 1991.

B is where the pre 1830`s contour route exited the common next to the present day Wyken coal pit arm. 

C is The Boat Inn on Shilton Lane still doing business today. Immediately to the left of C a canal arm left the main line and turned south to Alexandra Colliery.
The 1850`s landlord of the Boat Inn on Shilton Lane was George Eburn and the bridge nearby was referred to as Eburns bridge. George sold pork, eggs and milk to the canal boaters. 
In 1896 Jacob Nelson took over and he reared cattle, sheep, pigs and horses. The Boat had always held the canal fishing rights and a day ticket gave you the right to fish for the day with a pint of ale with bread and cheese for lunch all for sixpence (6d.), older readers like yours truly will remember it called a tanner, about 2.5p in today`s decimal currency.


A lot of confusion occurs when this area is talked or read about. The above map is  1829 and part of a set that showed all the proposed straightening of the Oxford canal. On the map, below left, the Red line is the section shown bottom right on the map above. The original Wykin Old colliery is marked as "old shaft" on the 1888 map below left. 

The 1829 map above shows the original Wykin Colliery that closed leading to the opening of the Wyken colliery at the end of the present day arm. Note the different spellings of Wyken. I think this is just a map makers mistake. The miners referred to the Wyken arm colliery as "main" and the Alexandra colliery as Wyken. It just means you sometimes read something that makes no sense. Finding the old map does help  with the locations of the two Wyken collieries but you do have to be careful what you read as Wyken colliery might refer to Alexandra.  
As far as I can tell and there is a lot of conflicting information Wyken arm colliery closed in 1881 but bricks were manufactured in later years along the arm.
Alexandra colliery closed in 1919 and Craven in 1927.

Also note the dotted line from Wykin heading for Bedworth. This was proposed as part of the straightening but abandoned when different tolls were agreed between the Oxford and Coventry canal companies for transit through Hawkesbury junction. 

As I have mentioned Hawkesbury junction look at the map above of the proposed canal straightening. Notice how the Oxford is shown running parallel to the Coventry on the left of the map. It did this for about a mile as far as Longford Bridge (10). It opened here in 1777 and was moved to the present Hawkesbury site in 1803.


 Above a 1959 view. To the right behind the Blue dredger is the present day Wyken arm bridge. To the left is the bridge over the original route of the Oxford, B on above map.
The same view today.
This is the site of Eburns bridge a brick hump back taking Shilton lane over the canal. The canal flowed beneath my feet and into the trees across the road. C on the map, the Boat Inn is just a few yards to the right.
Standing in the canal bed looking towards the location of the bridge on Shilton lane.
This is the place the canal after leaving the  main loop crossed back across Deedmore road beneath another brick bridge. Behind me Dutton road industrial site. I am looking towards Alexandra Colliery which is south of point D on the map. From here to the site of the colliery, about three quarters of a mile, is open space as the area of the colliery was used as a domestic rubbish tip by the council in the 1950/60`s. and has been left as open space.
The Shilton lane bridge was just about 100 yards to the left.
Deedmore road bridge

The Boat Inn. From here to the left you can walk and within two minutes find the two bridge crossings and stand in the old canal bed.
Here is a link to the set of about 19 old maps referring to the 1830`s Oxford canal straightening. Mostly the watery Red colour is the proposed straightening.

Link to Boat Inn.

Link to Jolly Colliers.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Lovely Narrowboat For Sale!!

No Problem crossing the tidal wash!
   Sue and Vic, owners of NB No Problem have decided to sell their beloved narrowboat and move to a wide beam. Having eaten several marvelous dinners aboard No Problem over the years, drinking wine, laughing in good company and having had a walk through of their boat I can tell you it is a fine floating home. The interior is finished in warm pine, and offers a loads of space for storage and family visits. 
   The engine is suitable for canals, rivers, or tidal river crossings to access the Ribble link, and travel across tidal estuaries such as the Boston wash. Take a look HERE. This could be your next home, at a very reasonable price too! 
   The link above will take you to Sue and Vic's website with extensive picture gallery and a link to the Apollo Duck sale details. You can also view a decade of thier blogs cruising aboard this lovely boat. Anyone considering life afloat should seriously contemplate buying this narrowboat. It is all set up for continuously cruising.

Monday, May 02, 2016

This Twee Marina Appears to be Complete!

I took the first picture in December 2012. Surely this isn`t a CRT approved development, or perhaps it is.
As you can see there is room for two boats and the edging is far superior to some in this area. Assuming this has been done with full permission of CRT what do you think? 
© NB Oakfield, 2015
By now you might be thinking there's something familiar with this boat in a field. Perhaps the one you are thinking of is this boat, on the right pictured on the blog of NB Oakfield. It has been on the South Oxford dating back to 2015 so perhaps someone has cruised the North Oxford canal and copied the idea with a modification for exit and entrance. It would be interesting to know the full story behind these two sites.

We were moored up at Hawksbury Junction, waiting for the lousy weather to pass. The weather gods threw everything at us: pounding rain, gale force winds, and lashing hail with thinder and lightening punctuated by slim bands of sunshine for three days in a row. While moored there we encountered several boaters. 

The first was Logan on NB Sleepy Jean. He is a doctor-in-training who lives on a narrowboat. Jaq first met Logan in Warwick when she broke the ice and moved the boat last January before her knee surgery while I was in Warwick Hospital. We were pleased to pass his blue boat on our way to Hawksbury Junction. Logan and his room mate Kate move their boat to a new area whenever their hospital
Me and Logan come in from the hail.
rotations change. 


A few days later Logan was out jogging and caught up with us. After a stoveside natter to warm up, he was off again in the hail! Logan was kind enough to offer me a ride and some assistance collecting a rather large item from B & M. Keep an eye out for his boat and give him a wave. It is great to have someone from the younger generation joining the boater's community.

David and Lisa, two of our favorite boaters and bloggers!
Saturday morning dawned crisp and bright. The worst of the weather was supossed to have past so we thought we would make a break for it after breakfast. As Jaq was poaching eggs, a familiar boat appeared in the window. It was David and Lisa on What A Lark! We hadn't seen them for over two years, when we first made their acquaintance at Windsor during our truncated summer cruise on the Thames. We threw on some clothes and had a cuppa on their lovely boat, catching up, reminiscing, and sharing tips on places to see and good mooring spots. We hope our paths cross again later in summer. 

We finally got ourselves organized, cruised off to fill up with water, dump the rubbish before leaving Hawksbury while the weather was in our favour. The best laid plans...while Jaq walked over to a nearby shop for a Saturday paper, I got to nattering with a very nice couple walking their dogs along the towpath. They are thinking about getting a boat, and stopped to ask a few questins, as you do. Before long the four of us talked non-stop until the water tank filled and longer! By the time we said goodbye, the weather had changed again so we set off in our reindeer (for those who are not "in" the know, check out the lower paragraphs of Jaq's blog post on her blog So This is Love, for a clue!) while the weather pummeled us until we were blue with cold! Still, for us a bad day of boating beats a great day at nearly anything else!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fitting my Numax cxv31 batteries. +fuel pump failed

Getting the batteries delivered was the easy part fitting them was going to be a long and messy job.
As you can see there`s not a lot of room and the batteries are sitting on the swim below the deck. There are three domestics at this end then the small white starter battery and one final domestic to the far left. They each weigh 25 kilos or 55lb. in proper English weight. The starter is 11 years old.


George and Mildred (pictured left) stood by to remind me of the most important thing about changing batteries on a narrowboat.



Yep! always remember to Duck your head.

The last time I changed the batteries I stood them on half inch thick sheets of wood because I read somewhere the cold metal was not kind to them. Now I believe this caused a lot of condensation and a lot of rust. I used the leverage end of a crowbar to scrape all the loose stuff away then followed with wire brushes in the drill.
Some of the swept up loose rust just using the crow bar.
The starter battery sits just on the right. To the left is the one remaining domestic battery that is keeping the fridge going. All the live cables are wrapped in rag and plastic bags.
The whole area has been coated with rust converter a chemical that reacts with the rust hopefully stopping it.
Batteries back in place still on the wood but this time there is an air gap between the wood and the cold metal of the swim. Next job was to remove the one remaining domestic give the rust the same treatment. Having completed everything rust wise all the old batteries were back in place to give the rust converter time to work and dry black. A few days later I took all the batteries out and gave everywhere another coat of the rust converter. This time the new batteries went in. Doing it this way means being without power for a shorter time.
Next job is to treat a few rust spots on the engine bay floor and give the whole engine bay a coat of paint. Also the wiring needs a bit of tidying with the connections moving to different end of battery bank. The solar panel connections could be better placed as well. I need a bus bar and a thick cable to do these jobs.

 I did the batteries in two locations. This one I chose because of using the genny for the wire brushing and not wanting to be noisy near other boats. My thoughts were surely no one will moor here so close to the bridge, empty towpath ahead of us, especially if they saw the genny. Wrong! during all the wire brushing I popped my head up to see a boat pulled in. He stayed about an hour or so but certainly caused a couple of problems when boats met in the bridge hole. Oh well I tried.

Sometimes timing works in our favour during our day to day lives be they on land or water.
The batteries have been in about two weeks so with the solar our stored power is at full capacity. Yesterday our engine decided it would start and perhaps tick over but would not run any faster. Sometimes it decided it would run at a fast tickover so Jaq could use the washing machine but then decide to cough and splutter after 30 minutes and die before the final rinse.

Well all sorts of thoughts start rushing through the brain cells from electrical problems perhaps in the ignition (unlikely on a diesel) to fuel bug. Always think the worst, blocked fuel lines, filters and injectors and work from there. Fuel bug was quickly eliminated as I had recently changed the engine based fuel filter and the water separator filter both contained clear fuel with no signs of bug. Air in fuel line was my next thought but the Vetus set up is self bleeding so this was unlikely.

 The Electric fuel pump has to be the  next port of call. All connections seemed ok but with the ignition on no sound or vibrations came from the pump, interesting. So remove the outlet pipe from the pump and with ignition on......nothing, fuel should have been flowing. That is the point you smile and shout silently "yes". The problem is still there but it feels good to identify it.

We now have to go back to 2012 and a similar thing happened on the Llangollen. An RCR (River Canal Rescue) engineer came out and discovered the check valve inside the pump had flipped over. The link HERE. Its the yellow centre sitting in a metal cup. So instead of changing the pump he fixed it, took him seconds to flip it back.
Move on 18 months and fuel pump problems on the Thames. This time RCR came out and I just let them change the pump albeit one that was in my opinion less efficient than the original but having to wait for one to be ordered was not possible at the time. I did however keep the original because I had a feeling I knew the problem. It took me seconds to fix after the engineer left.
In case any non boater is wondering why I didn`t just fix the pump myself instead of calling RCR the answer is tidal. We were soon to be entering the tidal part of the Thames on our way to Brentford and you do not want fuel pump problems on the trip.

So to the present and I have a pump that when I applied temporary power to hummed and sang out "i`m ready just fit me" so I did and all is well.
From the Vetus catalogue note the price. If you have this type remember there is a filter inside that needs changing regularly. Twist end cap off and filter and check valve are revealed.

The check valve that caused the problems. The Yellow ball and the metal it sits in turns on it`s side and just needs pushing back with say a tooth pick.
The replacement fitted by RCR. No internal filter and costs about £35 on internet.

The one I have just ordered from Amazon. £24 delivered click and collect to a location of my choosing further along our cruising route. Just can`t see £300+ difference to the Vetus one pictured higher up the page.                                                                         
Very Expensive To U  Stupid. The filter for the pump is £11 from Vetus or £4 from internet.