Thursday, 13 December 2012

"The time of endings........

has itself now ended.

The age of new beginnings has at last begun....."

Such are the opening lines of a poem written for a broken-hearted lady.

It was a poem written by me, many, many years ago, for my friend Lynn Wills.

Last time I spoke to her, about ten or twelve years ago, the only copy was in her loft.

It's probably just as well.......

I'm a crap poet.


'The time of endings..............'.

We none of us mourn our lost loved ones less, but time is time, and it moves on.

Thank you, Jaq, for your words of such great kindness.

We've never met, but that don't signify.

You are a friend.

Thank you.

Thank you, Bones, for your blessing.

And to be called 'brother'..............

You honour me.

Thank you.

I'll mention Johnny again for sure, and with love, but the awful loss is just going to bore you all.

And I'd die myself before admitting to having a boring bone in my body!!!

So I'm going to keep that stuff to myself now, and with you lot, move on.......


What's been happening down in Groove Town........?

Well, Mark and I went round to our Gentleman's boat on Sunday and did a diesel compression test.

The results were as follows:

No.1 cylinder: 10 bar

No.2 cylinder: 15 bar

No.3 cylinder: 15 bar

No.4 cylinder: 12 bar

Bearing in mind the working compression ratio of a BMC 1.5 is about 25:1 and that 1 bar equals atmospheric pressure, it is quite clear that this engine is dead, it has ceased to be, it has shuffled off this mortal coil, and is, in every respect, bleedin' dead. It wouldn't "voom" if you put 40,000 volts through it.

It is totally and utterly and irredemably forked.

So what to do?

Bearing in mind our Gentleman is a rum old cove, and not blessed with a superfluity of social skills or graces, having been, in turn, rude, patronising, ungrateful, and, at times, just plain nasty to those who were trying to help him, what, dear readers, do you think we should do?

Steady now...............

Some of those thoughts just aren't nice.......

(And I have a newly repaired Auntie Mary Filter (TM) to consider..... I mean, for heaven's sake, there was nearly a major nuclear accident last time we over-loaded it!)

Cut me some slack, here, people, please....

Well, I wrote our Gentleman a letter this morning.

This is what it said:

Dear Gentleman,

Mark and I came round to your boat on Sunday and carried out a diesel compression test.

The results were as follows:

No. 1 cylinder: 10bar

No.2 cylinder: 15 bar

No.3 cylinder : 15 bar

No.4 cylinder: 12 bar:

This is a huge difference between cylinders.

It means that, internally, the engine is heavily worn.

In its current state, it will simply not be possible to get it to start or run.

Remedying the problem would involve removing the engine again, completely dismantling it, having the worn engine block re-machined and the fitting of new over-size pistons and piston rings, new seals and gaskets. The crankshaft would need to be checked too, and given the heavy wear to the rest of the engine, it is highly likely that it too would need re-grinding, balancing and re-fitting with new over-size bearing shells, gaskets and seals.

In short, the only “reconditioning” this engine has ever had is a very thick coat of green paint.

Our original brief was to get you out of trouble by fitting what you had been told was a reconditioned engine.

That we have done, for free, in our own spare time.

Neither James, Mark, nor I can carry out the remedial work the engine requires: we simply do not have the time or the facilities.

Neither do we have the time to help you locate a viable engine and then fit it for you.

However, all is not complete doom and gloom:

1)      We have successfully constructed  new metal engine mounts suitable for a BMC 1.5 engine.
2)       We have lined-up and bolted new flexible mounts to them.
3)      We have fitted a new “Centaflex” coupling to the propshaft.

This means another BMC 1.5 ( or possibly 1.8 as I believe the engine mounts are the same for both) will bolt straight in.

If you buy another engine, have it checked first by an indepedent engineer.

If it is advertised as ‘reconditioned’, then there should be receipts for machining and new parts to support this.

Your existing engine still has a residual value.

Most reconditioners only supply the engine, not the marinisation parts that make it able to be used in a boat. Your engine has all of these, which include things like the Bowman heat exchanger, inlet and exhaust manifold, starter motor, alternator and flywheel.

Do not dispose of these as you may need them if you buy a reconditioned engine.

The engine itself also has a value: someone will want it for spare parts or to recondition it, so don’t allow anyone to ‘take it away for you’…….. Remember, you got nearly £400 for the engine sold on ebay………..

The gearbox supplied with the engine currently fitted in your boat is an unknown quantity. It is a Paragon gearbox and is very likely of 1:1 ratio, meaning it has no reduction and is probably not suitable for your propeller. If it is in the same condition as the engine it came with (highly likely), then it, too, will need expensive remedial work anyway.

It is best replaced and sold-on for what you can get for it.

So if you get another engine, get another gearbox too.

Newage PRM is a good reliable make. You will probably need a gearbox with a reduction ratio of 2:1, though this depends on the size of the propeller fitted to your boat. This will need to be checked before you get another gearbox.

To get you started, I have enclosed some adverts for engines I found on the ebay and Apollo Duck websites.

I suggest you show this letter to The Nice Man at the boatyard in Ely. He may be able to help you find and fit a working engine and work out which gearbox is best for that engine and your existing propeller.

I hope you are up and running soon!

Kind regards,


Writing that gave me no pleasure.

I almost felt as if I had failed.

Then I remembered the enormous amount of effort that Mark and James have put in.....

For bugger-all in the way of thanks, never mind renumeration............

I know he will say 'They let me down....'

I do not care what he says.

We did no such thing.

'The time of endings has itself, now ended,

The age of new beginnings has at last begun.............'

We move on.


  1. My 2 cents........

    You and your team have gone well beyond the call of duty and you should feel no guilt or failure in your efforts. W/R to the engine and to quote a well known saying, you can put lipstick on a pig but its still a pig.


    1. Chris,

      You echo Mark The Engineer's favourite saying:

      "You can't polish a t...(thing that cannot be polished)......d.

      (Auntie Mary Filter edit.)

  2. I think on balance you have done much more than the original brief. All of you! It's time he now put his hands deep in his pockets and paid for a good engine.

    You have done the ground work ready for said good engine to be fitted.

    My bet is he will be in the same place and situation come the spring if he's not evicted beforehand. His options are now really limited and not going to get better IMO.

    Otherwise well done chaps.

    1. Thanks, Kev!

      And thanks again for supplying us with the petrol generator at a bargain price that got the ungrateful heathen out of the poo when his lpg powered job gave up the ghost.

      He may not have an engine, but at least he has lights......

      And a fridge...

      Thanks again!


  3. Congratulations for all the time and effort you have all devoted to this project, I would suspect you are all a few pounds out of pocket as well. I haven’t read of you working away in the wet and cold with a queue of people on the bank offering to take over from you and that I think says it all.
    You should all feel proud of the efforts you have made to get this chap out of the problems he got himself into .
    Do not feel guilty, you have no reason to. If ever I am in trouble it would be nice to think I could get help from people like you 3.

    1. Brian and Diana,

      Should you ever need him, The Boat-man will be there for you!

      Money is only money.

      Remember, our Gentleman, for all his faults, was the victim of a thorough-going douche-bag thief called Bjorn.

      It is Bjorn who owes me, the Buoy Wonder and the Engineer......

      Not our Gentleman, (even if he has all the social skills of Ghenghis Khan.....)....

      If any good can come of this mess, then I hope it is in some sort of demonstration of "The Code of the Boat-Man"......:

      "Never leave another boater in the Shit.

      Next time, it might be you....."

  4. Definitely not guilty you have all gone above and beyond and even a bit further than that. You have also done your best to ensure that he doesn't waste your efforts through his own ineptitude - relax at some point he does have to deal with his own mess.

    New year - new challenges.

    1. Thanks Bobcat!

      It would seem the jury of my peers will not, as the song goes, convict......

      I am undoubtedly still crazy, though......