Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Recycled rowers........

No we haven't passed a Cambridge VIII through our prop in an attempt to make Soylent Green, but I have spent most of this gloriously sunny day converting the broken oar that I found at the weir a few months ago into a rather nifty tiller extension bar.

I mentioned this possibility on the blog some time ago, but it has taken until now for other more important and pressing jobs to push it to the top of my procrastination list. (Or should that be bottom of the list?)Anyway, today, out came the orbital sander, ear-defenders, Workmate, 60 grit sand-paper and associated paraphenalia. A few hours later (some hand-finishing was required), I now have a wooden tiller extension bar, in gleaming mahogany satin-finish polyurethane varnish.

Another coat tonight and three more tomorrow should do it.

Then it's a small matter of locating it in a firm, but removeable, fashion on the existing tiller bar, and we will be able to steer and operate the horn at the same time!

Pippin has a cruiser stern, so the instruments and switches on the bulkhead are a long way from the steersman. The only ways of operating them when cruising solo has been to either let go the tiller or try to poke the switches with a long stick, neither of which was ideal.....!

Pictures to follow when it's finished.

Monday, 29 June 2009

A restoration success!

I've just cleaned up an old ECKO valve radio of mine that was found in the back of Erica and Jeremy's shed just before it was demolished.

I cleaned the wooden case with vinegar and got rid of all the dirt and dust, then hoovered out all the fluff around the valves etc inside.

A quick trip to the village shop provided a plug and 5amp fuse, and after a quick call to Dad to sort out which wire was which,(red live, black neutral, green earth), I ran an extension lead out of Pippin's side hatch, plugged the set in and, with some trepidation, flipped the inverter on.

After a few seconds, there was a low hum, no sparks or evidence of fire, ( I put it outside on the grass just in case.....), so I tinkered with the tuner and picked up Radio 2 almost immediately.

As it's nice and sunny, I'm going to leave it playing outside for an hour or two.

It's currently playing Steve Wright in th Afternoon, which should test it's musical taste if nothing else......!

Breaking rocks in the hot sun......

No, I haven't been fighting the law and losing, and neither have I been working on a chain gang [Jackie edit: That's enough lyrics now...].

I have, however been working for my friends Erica and Jeremy on the garden of their newly rebuilt holiday cottage near Diss.

This has involved lots of proper pick and shovel work, breaking up half of a large concrete shed base, digging over soil, extracting rubble and stones and general excavating and groundwork.

All in the blazing heat. My usual impeccable timing hasn't failed yet.

Actually, I enjoyed every minute of it. It's nice to be paid to do something you like, know you are doing really well and your efforts are truly appreciated. (A stark contrast to some other jobs I've been doing up until recently.....)

So now, a shameless advert:

I completely re-decorated the newly re-furbished interior of what is now known as "The Old Bike Shop" (a nod to the building's previous use from around the 1940's and 50's). Here are some pictures of it nearing completion:

I also do boats.........!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Odyssey continues....

We also passed over our first aquaduct:

It's also worth pointing out that at Denver and at Marmont Priory locks you go down.....Nothing remarkable about that you might think, except that you are heading away from the sea and end up below sea-level!

Marmont priory was fun. The lock keeper was ready for us (you have to ring ahead first to give them an e.t.a.) so we went straight through. Jackie helped out by winding the paddles on one of the gates. She was very excited by this as all the locks we've done up until then were push-button operated electro-hydraulic guillotine gate jobs. (For some reason, I was a little backward in warning her that the novelty soon wears off, as I found out halfway down Hatton Flight on a hot day in June 1978.......)

We were booked in to the boatyard's slipway for 7.30a.m. on Thursday, so we arrived the previous evening and spent the night on board, moored adjacent to the slipway in the marina.

The following morning, we had a mad rush around taking things off the shelves and trying to prevent any breakables from getting damaged.

We needn't have worried. The whole process was slow , gentle and without any drama whatsoever. When I can persuade James from Lucky Duck to teach me how, I'll post a couple of short videos of the execise, which was actually rather graceful. For now, here are some stills:

Little Matt and Big Alan (at 6'5" he makes me look like a candidate for panto in Snow White....) wasted not a moment: the anodes were assessed and deemed too few in number and past their sell-by date. We elected to leave the part-wasted anodes in place and added another six for good measure:

The lads then got stuck in, scraping and pressure washing the hull before it had even stopped dripping:

Jackie shows the true extent of anode wastage by comparing new with old:

Alan wields the welder while Matt tries not to think about blacking baseplates on 60' by 10' boats.......

Having arranged with Alan that the new anodes down Pippin's sides should be placed under line of the existing fenders, we had to fill a gap. I made a trip to Ely chandlery and spent £50 very quickly on two large fenders and two stainless M8 eyebolts. We fitted these (our much mocked monster genny came into it's own again, providing power to my drill before I ran an M8 tap down the holes for the new eyebolts) in the morning before we set off to Denver.

Here is Jackie hanging the new fenders in position over the new anodes.

(It will help prevent them being scraped off the side by lock walls, pontoons, piling etc, though we will have to be much more careful in future to truly safeguard them.)

The trip back to Denver was uneventful. We had to take it really slowly along the narrow sections, as any increase in revs just blows all the water from under the boat, leaving you aground, so we trickled along at no more than 800-1000 r.p.m.

The water level had dropped about 5 inches since we were blacked, so at times the ratio of boat to channel was just plain silly:

We only got stuck once however, and then only briefly, under bridge 36. No pictures of this as we were concentrating on getting off the putty!

Having set off at about midday, we reached Salter's Lode at about 6.30p.m. Phew!!

We met James and Emma from nb Kestrel later that evening as they were making the same tip to have Kestrel slipped and blacked. We passed a pleasant hour or two with them, and the following morning we were all up with the larks to negotiate Salter's Lode and return back up to sea-level. We were expecting to go last so the rising water lifting Pippin up wouldn't compromise the lock's walkways by the tiller bar, or cause any noisome crunches at the bows. However, we were up, no-one else was, so in we went.

It was tighter than a tight thing!!

James and Emma have blogged brilliantly about this in "Pippin makes the tide" on Kestrel's blog. We were a bit busy trying not to dent locks, remove new anodes or spoil new blacking, so check out their blog for the details!

Fraught though it was, it was dealt with calmly, with no Dramatic Art.

I wasn't half glad to get through unscathed and leave the lock the same shape we found it in though......

We exited into The Great Ouse against both wind and tide, turning hard a' starboard for Denver with 2000 r.p.m. on the dial and Pippin handling like a dream, no longer hide-bound by her size and draught. After the long trudge back from March, she flew, and for a moment, became The Mighty Pippin once again.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Pippin's Odyssey.

We got back from our trip to March to get our blacking, anodes and stern gland sorted yesterday.

Seems like we've been away ages!

We didn't blog during the trip as we were either having too much fun of an evening, drinking with new-found boater friends, or we were simply too knackered after a day's worth of driving big boats down small rivers to be capable of sentience.

Anyway, an up-date:

This is us in a poetic evening light moored up at Brandon Creek:

The next morning, we chugged the remainder of the way to Denver Sluice, moored up and waited for the following morning's tide.

Nether Denver nor Salter's Lode locks were as bad as we had been led to believe, though I think going for a recce by car the week before was a good idea.

Thanks to the calm efficency of the lock keepers, all went smoothly.

We then spent the next couple of days chugging gently toward March along Well Creek.

It is so named because, well, it's a creek......

The stretch through Upwell and Outwell is especially narrow and tricky......

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Submarine Menace........

The fish in the photos (taken a few days ago) are, I think, carp, which as far as I know don't pose a threat to ducklings and cygnets. They had come into the lagoon where we moor to bask in the warmer, stiller, water and possibly to spawn. It was a lovely day when the picture was taken, and the water was very clear.

However, next day it wasn't so, and Flanders was rushing around like a one-bird Destroyer Flotilla protecting the two surviving members of her brood from the underwater threat that she clearly sensed, even if she could not actually see. It was quite a long time before she calmed down and 'manouvres' finished for the day!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Plans, mice, men....you get the drift....

No work on the propeller today.

Instead, a leisurely chug into Cambridge. Not a bad day for it, and midweek, hardly any other boats about. We could have waited until the weekend to do this pump-out trip, but as I'm working back at the vineyard, Jackie would have had to deal with a load of river traffic, the possibility of making her way between rowing race divisions and generally managing The Mighty Pippin's 26 tons all on her own.

She's well capable of it, by the way, but this boating life is not supposed to be one of stress, so we came in today.

Some boating chums are coming to supper tonight. I'd better get started on the Spag.Bol!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Emmaus, spanners, splicing, and a brass coolie hat....

Jackie allowed me to persuade her to go up to Emmaus today to inspect the box and coal-scuttle. The former was pronounced 'too knackered, even for us...', and the coal scuttle was deemed too fussy and twee.

"Look on the bright side" , I thought, "That's £55 saved...."...

We still managed to come away with an 'as new' beach windbreak, a paper-back novel, a nylon rope with water-ski attachment, (what does she think I'm going to do? Turbo-charge Pippin???), an antique glass bottle with tea-spoon measures down the side, and an assortment of old spanners for me to care for.

£8 the lot? BARGAIN!!

I spent the rest of the morning cleaning the tools with wire-wool and WD40. A lovely job! They came up really well, and there is something most satisfying in restoring utility and purpose to something neglected and shabby.

No doubt Jackie feels much the same about me..........

Anyway, after a quick lunch, I drove us both into Cambridge, dropping off Jackie at Addenbrookes to give blood. I, meanwhile, scooted over to Mackays to buy some Useful Stuff.

73p bought a stainless steel bolt and nyloc nut which has now restored a broken pair of scissors (that could probably be bought new for 99p, but that IS NOT the point!).

I then spent a couple of quid on some fixings for James and Amy's Klaxon. Proper-Jobs in stainless steel, they are also M8, which is handy as I have a tap set the right size....

I then cast caution to the wind and bought a load of 80, 100 and 120 grit emery cloth so I can polish up the 22" propeller. I then added 10 metres of 16mm Hemp rope for good measure. (Our stern rope is a disgrace: a nasty birds-nest of strands at either end of some nylon builder's rope)

I was casting covetous looks in the direction of a very snazzy foot-operated log-splitter when Jackie rang to say all was well and I could pick her up, so I left quickly before the temptation to buy any more toys got too strong.

At Addenbrookes donor clinic, I did a quick test to see if I was eligible to give platelets instead of whole blood. Results in a couple of weeks....

I then drove a rather sleepy Jackie home for a rest. While she snoozed, I finished playing with spanners and had a chat with our neighbour, John III, from nb Montiezoomer. (There are now so many Johns on our mooring that we have numbers- I'm John I, only, I hasten to add, by dint of being here the longest...)

I mentioned the new rope to J3, and was delighted to discover that he is an expert in knotting and splicing! A quick lesson ensued, during which the new hemp rope received a loop at one end and a properly spliced plain end at the other! Brilliant! I am going to find some more rope to practise on.......

The best part was the nylon bird's-nest stern rope had been replaced with the properly spliced hemp job before Jackie woke up!! TA-DAH!!!

John III was tinkering on his own boat too, replacing the coolie hat with a new one, as the struts had started to come away. He very kindly gave me the old coolie hat which, as it is brass and better quality than the steel one on Pippin, I am going to polish up and fit as a "summer, dress-uniform" one. I'll re-fit the steel one come autumn, when lighting the stove again will render any shiny brass black in a matter of minutes.

Tomorrow, the assault on the brass propeller begins.........

Monday, 1 June 2009

Our 'new' box, and Hummel's syndrome by proxy.....

Just thought I'd post a picture of the box we saved from the dump at Milton a few days ago.

We just used warm soapy water to sponge of the worst of the dirt, then I brought the paint back to life with a gentle rub with methylated spirits. Jackie completed the job yesterday by giving it a coat of linseed oil. It has cleaned up very nicely indeed, I think.

We looked up Chas. F. Lipscomb on Google, and found a couple of references to someone of that name in the 1901 census as living in Horsham. Also, we found a reference to the son of one Charles Frederick Lipscombe on a site devoted to War memorials. There's a pretty strong likelihood it's the same family. Any Lipscombs out there are welcome to comment!

Jackie is in London at a job interview today, so I have had to amuse myself. I have just got back from another little trip to Emmaus, (well, I just happened to be heading in that general direction after taking the re-cycling to the tip....).

As usual, I didn't get out without parting with some cash.

My mum loves china, and has an extensive collection. I saw a Hummel figure in the cabinet of 'nice' stuff. It was very reasonably priced, so a quick call to mum ("quick " is relative in terms of mum and phones: I consider myself lucky to have got away after only 25 minutes....) to see if she wanted it, and it was duly purchased. Mum's going to pay me for it, so no real risk of "that look" from Jackie....

I did, however, see another wooden chest. In very distressed condition, it was on offer for £15. My courage failed me, and it's still there, as is £40 worth of rather unusual wooden cabinet-style coal scuttle that caught my eye. Both would be ideal candidates for the J&J Restoration treatment, but need to pass the Jackie Test.

Hopefully, I can persuade her to pop up there with me tomorrow.