Thursday, 29 October 2009

Boxing none too clever......


The box I rescued from the tip and restored with loads of Mahogany Satin Varnish has started to delaminate rather badly.

I had thought it was solid teak: turns out the top and bottom definitely aren't. About 4mm of veneer is all you get and it is peeling off the substrate quite badly, having been left to fend for itself on the cruiser deck in the wind and rain for a month or so.

So what to do? Well, the less than exhorbitant purchase price (£3.00) means it could go back to the dump without any great gnashing of teeth. Or I could renovate it again by replacing the knackered lid and base with marine-ply.

As it's a handy standing step for seeing forrard in busy conditions on the Cam, this may well be the preferred course of action.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

That Sinking Feeling.....

Panic not, and neither man the life-boats.

All is well aboard Pippin: all the water is where it should be (i.e. in our tank or on the outside of the hull).

Check this out though:

Bought from the tip at Milton for a princely £15.00.

It was a "sudden rush of blood to the head" purchase, as I was really after the set of dolly wheels it is on (for moving the spare Alvis engine around on).....

I drove from the tip to Emmaus to have a nose round. (Jackie was in London so I was in the highly dangerous position of being alone near junk having just been paid).

While there, I almost decided to forget the £15 and donate the sink!

Good job I had the courage of my convictions, though. Jackie's ringing the guy who fitted our kitchen worktops tomorrow to see how much it will cost to install the thing.

If it's exhorbitant (we do have a perfectly good stainless steel sink already), then all is not lost. I chugged into Cambridge yesterday to pump-out and met up with Mike fom Innocenti. He may know someone who wants a Belfast sink!

We shall see.......

The trip back was fun. Lots of novice rowing coxswains and crews about. The Mighty Pippin took her shoes and socks off and tip-toed past them with out incident. Indeed, a couple of very nice ladies from Magdalene were very pleased with my lack of concern as a very new eight they were coaching from the bank span rather inexpertly very close to Pippin.

Everyone has a right to use and enjoy the river. Everyone has to start somewhere. It's only paint, after all......

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Portcullis, stealth wheel-barrows, and a lame Duck

We've installed a cat-flap for Tom Kitten!

Jackie bought the item from Notcutts Garden Centre in Horningsea. A swift burst of newly-rejuvenated generator coupled to the trusty Angle Grinder widened the hole previously occupied by a grille vent. I then borrowed James Duck's drill (mine has developed a wobbly chuck...),Tom got the hang of it and is now making his own way in and out of Pippin.


I have also given the wheelbarrow which lives in the woodpile a coat of Dulux Anonymous Beige.

This is an undercoat for the various greens, browns, sludge colours etc, that I have bought cheap from the Dulux shop in Milton ( a great place for cheap paint that has been mixed in error...). It's looking good......

The Ducks, however, have been having a bit of a time of it.

They have to be on the way to March for the much blogged about Thorough Sorting at Fox Narrowboats. Sadly, the Duck motor was refusing to start.

A long story cut short: we recommended they join RCR as they have been brilliant with us. RCR don't send out one of their own blokes (who are brilliant), but a 'local contractor'.

This muppet has mucked them about so severely that I am embarrassed to have recommended RCR in the first place.

A sorry state of affairs.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Ely in Autumn

Certainly less crowded than Ely in the summer.....

Most of The Plastics are craned out and littering the banks in spots such as Cathedral Marina (home of expensive diesel and people with no regard for local planning regulations...) like so much cholesterol clogging the sides of vital arteries, or like the bottles, yoghurt pots and other detritus that gets washed up on a lee shore after a good gale.......

But one wasn't.......

How's this for a perfect example of why the pillocks who own these wholly unnecessary menaces to navigation should be discouraged:

The Pippins had headed to Ely for the pump-out to avoid clashing with The Rob Roy Boat Club's rowing regatta which was taking place upstream towards Cambridge.

A jolly time was had: we stayed overnight, there being, at last, plenty of room to moor, and we finally got to enjoy a tea at the sublime "Peacock's Tearoom". (Tearoom connoisseurs please note, if you are within a 50 mile radius of this place- 65 Waterside, Ely, CB7 4AU, then it is a MUST VISIT!!!!)

We set off for home on Sunday at about noon, chugging from our mooring at the 48s just upstream from the pump-out, with our revs at tickover: cool, serene, autumn Sunday boating.

Then it happened: A Plastic rounded the sharp bend just before the mooring at "The Cutter Inn", saw us, then executed what can only be described as a hand brake turn, some 20 feet from our stem, to come to rest in the centre of an 80 foot mooring.


The only answer is that the selfish, miserable, low-down, no-good, son of a failed pig-fondlers apprentice was seeking to deny us access to a public mooring.

Okay, so we weren't planning on stopping at the pub (which does do a jolly good lunch, by the way), but we might have been!!!!!!!!!!

Also, the fact that he manouvered across our bows, inside of 30 feet of the stem of a moving 26 ton steel boat, suggests, to me at least, that the perpetrator had probably sounded the noon-day gun at 11.00 or earlier, and was probably half pickled with gin.

God help me, I could have shot him.

The range was close enough!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Apropos of nothing.........

Cycling around Cambridge today, I saw a T-shirt emblazoned with this logo:

"More people have read this shirt than are reading your blog"

Food for thought, eh?

'narrowboat', 'canals', 'british waterways'

Monday, 12 October 2009

Hole Making

Today was my first full day of closely supervised hole-making under the watchful eye of a Grand Master of the Guild.

I did ten holes, eight of which were successful. The other two were very nice holes, but sadly the material which exits them didn't do so quickly enough.

So they don't count.

Eight good 'uns though!

Tomorrow, I am assigned to a Guild Master to continue my apprenticeship......

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The "Tom Kitten Fanclub" Special Edition

At this rate a certain feline is going to have to start his own blogspot.....

Due to massive popular demand, I devote this post entirely to gratuitous cute cat pictures.

So if you don't like cats, look away now.

This is his favourite curling up spot: the polystyrene is probably nice and warm, especially when in the sun.

To the right, a scratching post type thingy, (bought at some expense), ignored in favour of the much more interesting and fun cardboard box that the new chimney came in......

Repeat after me, Tom, "That is not a recognised food source"......

A snooze is essential after a hyperactive toe assasination attempt......

Outside for the first time, eye-ball to eyeball with the swans, and looking out over the steering step.

Safely back inside having had a good explore of the area and passing his Level One Tree Climbing (Practical).

A Toast to Autumn.....

No, not the clinking of glasses, (for once...)

I mean the bread sort.

Forgive me if you are a seasoned boater and think I'm daft for blogging about what to you may be a re-invention of the wheel, but the Pippin method of toast-making has caused much amusement amongst guests.

Thing is, it's seasonal. Yes, the nights are drawing in and the autumn morning chill makes a fire in the stove a weekend essential:

When we first moved aboard two years ago, we tried making toast on the top of the stove. The problem was that the toast stuck on to the stove-top resulting in a rather unappetising crumbs and carbon mess.

Our friend Nicola, (who's house in Ware we have stayed in, painted and kitten-minded while the family was on holiday) came up with the answer:

Her kitchen is equipped with an Aga, and to make toast, she uses a sheet of special Aga paper on the hot-plate. This doesn't burn, but produces a layer on which the toast cooks without sticking. Brilliant!

However, the proper Aga item is produced in circles to fit the oven's hot-plates, and being Aga, is a tad expensive.

We found an alternative at John Lewis in Cambridge. "Bake-O-Glide" is a reuseable, non-stick cooking liner. It comes in a roll so can be cut to shape to fit your stove top (I made a paper template first out of newspaper). You can leave the paper on the stove top once it's cut to shape. It washes easily in the sink and lasts about six months before getting frayed.

I have to say that I think stove-top toast is infinitely preferable to the gas-grilled variety: it saves gas, is easier to keep an eye on, is more evenly done and best of all, spreads the appetising toasty waft through the boat very efficiently.

Et voila!

This blog was bought to you by The Toast Marketing Board:

"Eat more toast! It's tasty and nutritious"

(See the wonderful world of author Jasper Fforde's series of books featuring the literary detective Thursday Next. Start off with 'The Eyre affair'.......)

It Lives!!! It Lives!!!

Actually, the fixing of our monster generator was a bit less dramatic than that of the monster from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein".....

Indeed, selling the brass propeller on ebay had a lot to do with it......

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Jackie had contacted a generator sales, hire and repair firm in Ware, who not only knew what a Pramac P6000s was (which gave them a real edge over the previous bunch of muppets), but were prepared to send a van to collect it and take it to their laboratory, (oops, sorry Igor), workshop.

This left us with the problem of how to lift the generator off the fore-deck. Enter our landlord with the offer of his vintage tractor (I love living here!!) which is equipped with hydraulic bale-lifting forks. Perfect!

However, before the Massey Ferguson could be brought to bear, our lovely neighbour, Paul, took the trouble to look up our generator on-line. He read various manuals, articles etc, and concluded that one or both of the capacitors had gone. (Paul is an electrical engineer who has a doctorate in broken washing machines, tumble driers and other things that can emit lethal sparks when prodded inexpertly, which is all I would have been able to manage....)

The firm in Ware had mentioned that the capacitors were a likely source of the trouble, so we were confident enough to order a couple on-line from Radio Spares for a very reasonable £15 each. They delivered next day....

Then we had a moment of joyous synchronicity.

The man who had bought my 20" brass propeller and 88" stainless steel prop shaft on ebay sent his friend to pick it all up. I was at work when he arrived, so it was left to eagle-eyed Jackie to spot the "I repair generators" logo on his overalls. He very generously agreed to have a quick look at ours and confirmed Paul's diagnosis.

Paul then very kindly fitted the capacitors for us yesterday, and low and behold, the amps flowed forth!

A massive thank you and the promise of a Pippin roast lunch is still not enough. A big round of applause for Paul here, please.

It also goes to show how everyone rallies round when there is some bother. Thanks to all who offered help, advice, tractors, tools and sympathy.

It Lives!! It Lives!!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Hole-makers Guild........

Well, I passed the Theory Paper.....

I'm a long, long way from being a full Guild Member though.

I've got to do a fairly long apprenticeship under a Master Hole-Maker, then a further stint being indirectly supervised by the same and then pass an assessment as Fit to Practice before they will let me loose on the delicate, valuable and volatile material we make small, acccurate holes in......

I'll keep you posted.....

Saturday, 3 October 2009

A sad sight........

Above is a picture of the wooden sailing ship "Jester". She's currently lying at Clayhithe on the Cam having been seized by The Cam Conservators, I assume for being unlicensed. (Don't qoute me on this though....).

She's a lovely looking boat, well to me anyway......

There's something poetic and very sad about a venerable old lady like this mouldering away.

I'd love to take her on, but wooden boats can be a hole in the water that you pour money into.

Unless there's someone very brave and very rich out there, it looks like she'll be broken up if not claimed and redeemed by her owners. Indeed, it seems the process is already beginning: every time we chug past, it seems another large and presumably valuable brass port hole has been removed.....

Looks like the last laugh, and not the loudest, for poor "Jester".

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Faraday Cage Problem....

Sounds like a Sherlock Holmes story doesn't it?

Actually, the difficulties of trying to use the internet with a mobile phone system will be familiar to boaters. For the landlocked, then, an explanation:

Boats like ours are made of steel.

Incidentally, Watson, a boat not made of steel is not technically a boat at all, unless it is made of wood, which is God's other boatbuilding material of preference. (See "Ark, Noah, flood defence, for the use of"), or concrete. (See Smiling Footprints blog: Andy and Rhian's trans-oceanic yacht "Zephyrus" is made of this). Anything else which floats is actually just a lot of over-elaborate plastic wrapping around a drinks cabinet.....


But I digress.

Steel, while a glorious material for the building of boats, is very good at blocking mobile phone signals. This is a bit of a bummer when you rely on one for your internet access.

Thus we present, for your delectation and delight, "The 'Pippin' Solution":-

Our wind turbine mast.

Close up of same: note carefully modified Vitamin C tablet container taped to the mast. It provides a water-proof container for the dongle attachment. This connects to The Ship's Computer via the grey wire.

This shows the grey dongle extension wire entering the boat through the mushroom vent at the base of the mast, (as do the feed wires from the wind turbine).

Not very tidy....

Jackie drops the ceiling panel and conceals the wire..

Extension wire attached to window frame with cable clips after drilling a small hole in the wooden cable-conduit cover.

So we now have a dongle outside of the Faraday cage which is Pippin. Our internet reception is much better as a result!

Give it a try if your boat-borne internet is not as reliable and easy as it should be.....!

Ginger Ninja Toe Assassin

Tom Kitten went to the vets again yesterday. He was jabbed again, had his ears prodded, tummy felt and heart listened to. He also had another worming tablet. Despite all this, he behaved really well, with no claws or teeth displayed or deployed.

However......He is developing his stalking techniques rather fast.

He has decided to ignore the blankets in an old wooden wine box which we provided as a bed in favour of my sock drawer, which is under our bed. At dawn, (the preferred time for a surprise attack: he's obviously been studying the manuals...) he emerges stealthily from the socks, creeps under the bed then launches himself with lethal intent on any exposed human toes which may be poking out from under the duvet.

More effective than any alarm clock, but a darn site more painful!!

I'm going to get some steel wool and and start knitting us some armoured bedsocks.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Generators continued........

Well, the engineer has been, and we're no further forward. Not his fault, but I think his company should have been a little more truthful with us. They deal with socking great industrial jobs, not weedy little 5.9kva portables.

The long and the short of it is we are down £40 and absolutely no further towards fixing the thing.