Saturday, 22 November 2014

New Locker Project

New Locker Project
November 2014

We have a long list of winter boat maintenance projects on our to do list, not least the long awaited front lockers / seats in the bows.

The catalyst for this particular task was the purchase of two sheets of Buffalo Board to make new engine and gas locker covers. The old ones were 12 years old were so weary that there was a significant chance of water getting in so new boards became essential. In for a penny and all that so I bought enough to construct the long awaited lockers.

The basic frame is built

This it a tricky job as there are no right angles to work with so everything is built by eye, fitting where it touches. I settled on a freestanding approach, with a false floor in one locker to take windlass's etc and the other one with no base to accept water bottles, water hose and other wet stuff.

... and then covered with Buffalo Board

The project started with the rusting floor being stripped repainted to give a good base.

After spending a couple of mornings on the task things are shaping up. One locker is just about complete with its  Buffalo Board sheeting applied and a hinged lid fitted on. The other has its frame built, a mirror image of the first, and the main panels cut out.

Just one more session and they should be complete, leaving me ready seal the raw edges and then move onto the big job of the winter, the replacement of the solid fuel stove.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

In search of the lost loops

Waterways World December edition
November 2014

Among my various activities some of you may know that I am an occasional contributor to Waterways World, sometimes supplying articles on request and sometimes offering speculative items on my own initiative.

My main area of specialism will come as no surprise to you - exploring the abandoned canals. I have to admit that I really enjoy this writing, coming up with an idea, laying out a structure and then pulling all the bits together, often drawing data from my old blog posts.

The December 2014 edition includes my latest offering, a four page exploration of the lost loops of the BCN, the sections created by the straightening and realignment of the Old and New Main Lines.

This particular item has been a long while in gestation. I realised I has a credible article way back in February but was missing the Oldbury Loop and the Tat Bank Branch. I wrote the bulk of the content way back last winter but left gaps pending an opportunity to get my boots on and go exploring.

Our lives are very full and it was seven months before these gaps were researched, and the article was ready for submission. These items usually linger in the the editors in box for many months, but on this occasion the proofs were returned inside a week and it was out there on the news stand just ten days later.

If you are interested in the old canals, particularly the BCN get a copy and take a look.

Friday, 14 November 2014

New sheeting for Montgomery

New sheeting for Montgomery
November 2014

When we pressed The Jam Butty into service back in May it was unquestionably a hurried affair.

The limited window of time between acquisition and formal launch saw the purchase of a large tarp on the internet which was designed to offer protection from the elements whilst the boat was being painted. With insufficient time or resources to get some proper sheeting the temporary duty tarp was cut and refitted as side sheets and a top sheet.

Side Cloths

This temporary solution worked ok - up to a point. It certainly kept the worst of the rain out but with the side sheets not properly sealed to the gunnels it was always going to leak a bit. With all the rain we have been having this temporary solution (which involved lots of gaffer tape) needed a better remedy. In fact, in the three weeks since I was last able to visit the boats there has been a lot of rain and I discovered that the water was sloshing around up to the floor boards.

The depth hadn't quite reached the level to activate the automatic bilge pump but this sprang into life the moment I stepped aboard and caused it to rock. Needless to say, it was all a bit damp in the hold.

Acing on the advice of Sarah (Chertsey) I contacted Peter Boyce to have some proper sheets made. After a few abortive attempts to meet up for measuring we decided to use my measurements and trust that all would work out well.

Peter has the sheets made in rapid time and they have sat in our garage for the last two weeks waiting for an opportunity to fix them on - and today was the day.

Firsts the old sheets were removed and abandoned.

Then the gunnels were drilled to accept screw which will attach the oak battens.

Ultra adhesive sealant was applied to the gunnels and the side cloths were positioned and then down fixed with the battens. All was screwed down hard and a good seal achieved along the entire length.

Then it was on with the top cloth which was all tied down with strings provided.

The only bit of this job left outstanding is to paint the gunnels, and the exposed bits of sealant black.

The end result should be waterproof and durable but only time and the winter rains will tell.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Happisburgh highlights

Happisburgh Beach and Ebridge Mill
November 2014

To all you non Norfolk philes out there, its not Happysberg - its Haisbro!

Yes, we are back in North Norfolk enjoying what has to be one of the very last dog days of a glorious Indian summer which has clung on, and on, and on. Temperatures over 20c in November with shorts and tee shirts in evidence on the beach was all a bit surreal.

The trip out started with a pause at Ebridge where the restored canal glistened under a blue sky, the water cascading over the remains of the lock gates just as it did when I was at school here the better part of 40 years ago.

November at Happisburgh beach

Then it was on to Happisburgh where coastal erosion is at its most aggressive. As I wandered on the beach it was odd to think that my old school friend Jonathan Morris, had his home about 30 feet above my head! The scoured beach laid bare the cause of the problem. The top layer is soft sand but this sits on top of maybe 10ft of slimy clay, which in turn sits on yet more sand. I could hardly walk over the clay so its not hard to understand that as water percolates down through the top sand it then runs along the top of the clay and that the top layer then simply slides off into the sea when encouraged to do so by the waves.

The newly eroded bay at Happisburgh

We may be able to influence erosion but we will never control it!

Beach defences at Happisborough

Anyhow, the low sun made for some excellent photo opportunities.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Bond Autumn Market

The Bond Autumn Market
October 2014

The Bond in Digbeth played host to its third quarterly Market on Saturday.

This event originally attracted us due to its proximity to the Grand Union Canal with its two boat basin still intact, that and its proximity to the Edible Eastside site. Its a foodie event which we initially attended in the craft hall in the spring, then with The Jam Butty in the summer and now back into the hall as the weather cools off.

I have to admit that I rather like this event, its so different from the sort of thing we usually attend. It is run by a group of young people for young people with a taste for street food. The star attraction were the original Patti Men - winners of the Burger category in the national Street Food Awards. They attracted huge queues as punters (and hungry stallholders) who were prepared to wait 30 minutes and pay £7.50 for one of the tastiest things I have ever found under a bun.

The interesting thing is to see this event developing. It started as a foodie core and a craft market on the side but increasingly the food dimension is spreading into the craft hall. Last weekend half the hall was taken up with interesting food stalls including:

Artisan bread, specialty cheese, posh pies, organic veg, Greek food, hand made chocolate and of course preserves.

Out in the basin there were two trade boats : The Home Brew Boat and Da Vinci Crafts.

This event has a really good vibe to it and is one not to be missed. 

Don't worry if you overlooked this one, there will be a Winter Market on Sat 6th December.