Sunday, 22 January 2017

It is 2017 now, where did the time go?

I am sat on the boat in Fenny Compton Marina. This is where I put Constance for December, January & February so I can winterise her. I have no running water but I am very warm. The wood burner is doing a fantastic job and so is the little 'peltier effect' fan. I have read various reports of these things, a lot of people reckon they are a waste of space, but I am very impressed. Ours is a VonHaus and was just less that £40.
Well, where did we go last summer?
I think I left the Blog at Braunston - we went on to Hawkesbury Junction and then into Coventry.
In the basin at Coventry city.
Whilst in Coventry we went in and saw the various sights of the city. of course there is the Cathedral and the bombed out Church next door, but more interesting was the St Mary's Medieval Hall nearby. I love a bit of history and it had loads.
Then we went on past Bedworth (we decided that we would leave 'The Ashby' for another year), Nuneaton, Atherstone and Tamworth. From there we took the Coventry Canal north from Fazeley and headed towards Fradley Junction.
We were by then experiencing two problems with the boat. The first (which actually started earlier in the year) was getting worse - the grub screws holding the prop-shaft in place were working loose (and letting the prop-shaft walk-out as soon as you went into reverse. It was getting to the point where these had to be tightened every couple of hours or so. Whilst at Braunston (earlier) I had bought a replacement split-coupling, however this thing was HUGE and would not fit in the space, so I returned it and obtained a full refund. Stopping every couple of hours was not really a problem but finding a smaller version of the split-coupling was.
The second problem which started sometime after leaving Hopwas was that the engine would not run smoothly. It kept speeding up and slowing down. By the time we arrive at Fradley village it would only run correctly on tick-over. The whole of the next morning was spent changing the fuel filter and doing a full fuel system bleed. Problem solved!
When we arrived at Fradley Junction we joined the T&M and headed for Rugeley and Great Haywood.

The very narrow cut at Armitage
Once at Great Haywood we went on to the Stafford and Worcester Canal, through Tixall Wide on our way to Penkridge. Here we met up with friends and had a long overdue reunion.
Chris, Cath, Paul & Judy helping me through Filance Lock, Penkridge
 Yes, I was remembering to stop every couple of hours to tighten the grub-screws on the prop-shaft. I still had not really formulated a permanent fix. It seems that all split-coupling thingys are that size!
Southwards we went, passing Autherley Junction and then turning right at Aldersley Junction to go up the Wolverhampton 21.
Then it happened! Half way up the Wolverhampton 21, suddenly no reverse! This time the prop-shaft had become badly scored by the tips of the grub-screws and would not go back in. It was a lovely hot day. I was in the stern section filing the lumps and bumps off to try and get the prop-shaft back into its housing. It seemed to take forever. The prop-shaft is always greasy, just about impossible to hold and relatively hard to file away. Eventually it went back in and we were able to make our way to the top of the hill (Wolverhampton) and then on into Gas Street Basin.
Definitely the scruffiest boat in Gas Street basin!
We enjoyed two nights in Gas Street basin, it gave us a good opportunity to have a look at central Birmingham while I pondered on my problem with the prop-shaft...
We left Birmingham through the leafy suburbs of Edgbaston and stopped at Cadbury World. When we saw the price to go in (and the queues) we bought some chocolate, decided that we had been there anyway (well the visitor centre) and went on.
Through the guillotine lock on to the North Stratford

And under the lift bridge at Shirley
We stopped not far from Hockley to go home for a few days and went via Braunston to buy back the split-coupling that I had previously bought and returned. I took it to a local (to home) engineering works and got them to shave as much metal off it as we dared. The bolts to fix it were also considerably shortened. hopefully this would be enough to get the thing in, if not the stern gland stuffing box bolts would have to be shortened and I did not want to do that.
Out came the old coupling...

And in went the new (with a couple of millimetres to spare)
Job done at last.
We then went down the Lapworth Flight to Kingswood Junction, down the Hatton Flight to Warwick and enjoyed a meal in Warwick town centre.
After that it was on through Leamington Spa, along to Napton and back on to the Oxford. Judy tends not to come to the boat once we start September so I come and do a bit of painting and enjoy the good weather during September and October.
It is a bit difficult to see but this panels has been stripped and re-painted.
 Whilst in Banbury I took out a new contract with '3' (cheaper) and now have 4G (when you can actually find 4G) but it works better than the old one. Once at Banbury I turned round and headed back to Fenny Compton...
This is the VonHaus on the wood-burner.
For Christmas and New Year we all went to Malta. Enjoyed the sunshine and the food.
Now I have caught up ready for our adventures in 2017.

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