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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Major Repairs!

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to fix." ~ Douglas Adams, British author, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; 1952-2001

     As some of you know from past blog posts, I have been doing a lot of baling of the bilge in the engine hold over the last year. Lately it was not uncommon to bale five liters every morning with the Peela Pump on top of the amount removed by the bilge pump throughout the day. I knew NBV needed a new stern gland but on inspection out of the water there turned out to be a hell of a lot more in need of immediate repair. In fact all of the following had to be undertaken: 
  •    Cutting out stern tube boss and cutlass bearing as it was found in a bad state of repair. The cutlass bearing was extremely worn.
  • Removal of prop shaft. This had been previously cut down quite crudely probably to try and offer a new section of the shaft to the seal and get a few more year out of the stern gear. Because the prop shaft had been shortened, it was rubbing on the back side of the cutlass bearing.
  •  Renewing of the water lubricated seal.
  •  Re- aligning the engine.
  •  Fitting of new split half coupling. This had previously worked loose and had no doubt damaged the prop shaft.
  •  Fitting of a bigger prop. (I had been warned by two ME's previously that the NB Val was under-propped i.e. the prop was too small for the Vetus 33 HP engine and consequently I should not take her on any rivers.) Now she was a properly sized and fitted prop and this is no longer an issue.
  •  Straightening of rudder blade.
  •  Repairing the uxter plate where the rudder blade catches. 
  •  Renewing the lower skeg bearing. Previously the wrong size bearing had been fitted. We have machined one specially to fit the stock.
NB Valerie being steered towards the trailer waiting under water which is attached to the large tractor.
Watching the crew at Aqueduct marina move boats is like watching a water ballet. They back them up, spin them around and bring them into turns as smooth as butter.

A close up of the trailer on which NB Valerie is rising up out of the water and being towed to a workshop.

Away she goes!
Part of the damaged bit.
Worn stern gland tube.
The weld to the uxter plate.
New larger prop.
Newly machined rudder cup. The previous rudder cup was 2.5 inches in diameter but the rudder stem was only 1.5 inches in diameter.
Inside the engine bay: new cutlass bearing, crankshaft and stern gland.
I was completely amazed while backing NBV out of the mooring at Aqueduct Marina after all this work. For the very first time since I stepped foot on the boat in 2011, the tiller didn't jiggle loosely in my grasp and require over steering to move in a particular direction. The boat went wherever I pointed the tiller, cleanly and smoothly. I steered over to the main dock to fill up with diesel and take on some coal. As I stood waiting, tears gathered in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. Just then Chris Moran, the chief ME for the marina, came down the stairs to say hello. He took one look at my face and said, "Oh no what's wrong?"
     "Oh Chris, nothing is wrong. I feel like I just stepped onto a new boat. For the first time ever the boat goes where I point her and I am not struggling to steer. Thank you so much!" Chris put his arm around me and gave me a big hug. The folks at Aqueduct Marina have been the soul of kindness to me over the two days the boat was worked on and the ten days I was flat on my back ill with flu and unable to do more than nearly crawl to the stove or the bow deck for coal and keep the stove going.  Many thanks to Chris and his crew; Julie, Maggs, Philip.Alex, and Robert and everyone involved in helping to get NB Valerie sorted. Once out on the cut again, the boat traveled faster with less RPM's with the result the engine was not working as hard as previously. She really does steer like a brand new boat and I have the piece of mind of knowing she's watertight and a good investment was made in our baby as Les called the boat.
     Moored now at Nantwich, looking for work, and applying for jobs online, I was walking back from Aldi's with a carrier bag of groceries when I passed by the small McColl's shop in a local housing estate. This was parked out front:
You might well ask yourself, "What is it?"  It is a mobility scooter believe it or not, loaded down with a stove, tins of oil and tons of other stuff! I've no idea how its owner manages to drive it bit there it was parked outside a local shop while the owner was inside picking up a few more bits and bobs!
      On a final note, I would like to say thank you to Anne Marie of Four Counties Fuels, Renaissance Canal Carrying Company and Bollington Wharf. Everyone else was busy today delivering to customers on boats Halsall and Alton. due to unforeseen issues the fuel boat had to cruise on through Nantwich without stopping and so Anne Marie drove over from Macclesfield in the company van by herself, loaded three 20 K bags of coal and a 13 K bottle full of Calor into a wheel barrel and delivered it all to NB Valerie which is moored up an 1/8th of a mile from where she parked! Never underestimate the power of womanhood! And many thanks to you Anne Marie for service above and beyond. (I Have no pictures as we were both too busy hoiking coal onto the roof and working to disconnect the gas bottle!)
     It is raining now as a grey dusk falls over this string of boats rocking gently as the wind blows. I've been down to the little neighborhood shop for a Saturday paper and up to the Nantwich Canal Centre chandlers for a five litre bottle of anti-freeze. That is another story which will wait for next week to be told. Cheers!


Jennifer said...

What a relief for you!

We too can vouch for the friendliness of Aqueduct Marina, our boat had to come out of the water last September at Aqueduct for exactly the same gland problem on our Vetus. We didn't realise either how bad our problem was; until it was corrected.

Onwards and upwards now... you've got the flu behind you, and now it appears a major headache has gone. Things can only get better :)

Best wishes

Judith nb Serena said...

I dread to think what that lot cost to be done but at least you now have peace of mind and cruising should be less tiring as you won't be fighting the tiller. You can sleep easy now knowing you haven't got to get up and pump out. XXX Judith nb Serena

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Jennifer,
Well then you know the financial pain involved however as you say it is a relief to have done with it and know it is taken care of.

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Yes Judith on all counts. It feels great to have a little bit less on my shoulders right now.

Love Jaq xxx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

It is great that you have all those things attended to - a great relief, even if your bank balance is lighter to match the weight off your shoulders of a boat needing to be bailed out all the time!
I have been thinking of your 'woman needs income' situation - Jaq, you are a master herbalist with wonderful research skills to find the most useful and helpful solutions for people's ailments - I know this from my own experience with you.

I reckon you should devote a blog post to advertising an on-line service and an in-person service putting those skills into practice for people in need. I wonder also if you could advertise your service in safe places (by email only and set up a new email address to do it, to increase safety).

You may not make a huge income out of it, Jaq, but as Julie Walters used to say in some supermarket ad, 'every little helps'. And who knows where it might lead to.

Readers of Jaq's blog: What do you think? Is it a goer? Is it a service you or others you know would/could use? And if yes, how much should Jaq charge per consultation? What kind of pricing structure should she use? Is it the kind of service that would warrant going to a couple of the Trading Boat shows to check out its viability as an income stream?

And Jaq, you could combine it with doing haircuts - after all, the first surgeons were barbers too ... ;-)

Biggs hugs, Mxx

Jennifer said...

You write so well Jaqueline, have a go at writing Kindle books - you may already do this, I don't know. With the people who follow your blog, you've quite a 'tribe' to help promote all manner of books you might write.

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

I think Marilyns idea is a brilliant one. I found this online and well worth a look. With Marilyn mentioning haircuts now that is something that you could advertise. So many continuous cruisers on the canal and almost impossible to get a haircut without paying silly salon prices. A big notice in your windows and I bet you would have boaters flocking for a chance to have their haircut at a price under £20. Your clients would be asked to wash their hair on board their own boat where you could do the cutting there or ask them to come to you.
Either way, it's a win-win situation. Whatever you choose to do I wish you loads of luck. You deserve it.

Much Love and hugs. Irene. Xxxx

Amy said...

Glad to hear your stern gear and rudder is so much better! And I will pass on your message to Anne Marie. She is an inspiration!

Oakie said...

Wow Jaq, Both you and nb Valerie have been thought the mill recently; no wonder you haven't blogged for a while, but so pleased to hear that all is well once again. I also know how much better a boat goes with new stern gear, although I only had a new Axiom propeller fitted. I am also of the opinion that practicing something you know well like herbalism (is that the correct term?) is something that would be quite possible to trade in on the cut as a floating canal trader, if that is what you want to do as well as using the internet for business. Are you familiar with Barry and Sandra on nb Areandare aka The Home Brew Boat? If you want advice they would be very willing to offer it and have considerable experience - I have various
e-mail addresses for them. It certainly looks more promising than getting local employment. Hope to see you around again in the spring or summer on the cut. Keep on going girl! Ray

Anonymous said...

Hmm, that was major work. Some serious bodging from previous "repairers" that should not have been done at all. GARNET also has a bent rudder, and I will see what can be done in September, when blacking time is here. May need the bearing cup checked too, as things are a little slack there.
Thanks for a ver informative post.
Mike on GARNET

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thanks Marilyn for your confidence in me. Actually researching ailments for people can take anywhere from two hours to three days to complete. I wouldn't have any idea who to charge folks for this but I will certainly consider it. Every little does indeed help!

Love and hugs to you both,
Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Jennifer! I am working on a revision to a book about Les' and my love story. I hope to see it published some day.

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Irene,
Well okay! I will have a go at it then. I just need to post signs. Thanks for your confidence in me and your friendship and support.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Amy,

Thank you and actually both you and Ann Marie are inspirational to me.

Love jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Ray! I am gong to post signs in the boat and do a blog post about the herbalism and hair cuts. I will still look for a joe job somewhere as I need a regular income right now. Thanks for your confidence, friendship and support. I really appreciate it. I do hope our paths cross this summer.

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mike! Lovely to hear from you. I hope you and Phyll are making your way through winter in good nick. I am pleased you found the post helpful. As you say things were done by a cowboy engineer that shouldn't have been. It is all corrected now. Please stay in touch and let me know how you both are doing.

Love Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs