Friday, 20 March 2015

An Excellent Spring Day Going "Bolinder Boating"

(Boat William - posted by Alan)

Today we had the opportunity to go "Bolinder Boating" - something we have never done before.

"William" is an absolutely gorgeous "Royalty" boat, and its owner Tim has recently fitted it out as a 12 berth camping boat, giving more than a hint of a return to the basic boating of the 1970s, when such things were commonplace.

"William" was built in 1931 by W J Yarwood and Sons of Northwich, and actually shares this builder with both our "Sickle" and our "Flamingo".  However "Sickle" and "Flamingo" are 1936 builds, making them mere mere babies by comparison.

"William" has a magnificent single cylinder Bolinder engine, and the irreguar beat of a Bolinder is one of the best known sounds of historic narrow boats.  However at 20 horsepower "William's" engine is more powerful than the 9HP and 15HP models that were the mainstay of the Fellows Morton & Clayton fleet.  These smaller Bolinders are actually put into "reverse" by physically causing the engine to reverse its rotation, but apparently the much heavier flywheel on "William's" Bolinder makes this less practical, so "William" does actually have a separate reversing gearbox.  This however in itself apparently does not guarantee the engine will not anyway reverse its rotation in some circumstances - I'm glad I didn' have to "drive" the thing.

Tim Collier (left) with his brother Andy used to operate camping boats in the 1970s
The trip was organised by the Leighton Buzzard Canal Society, and went from Buckby to Braunston and back, so we got a good mix of just boating, but also locks and tunnels on a particularly fine spring day.  Of course there was also a planned lunch at the Admiral Nelson. I would like to thank the Nelson for their flexibility of allowing "Odin" to sit quietly in part of the pub where less well behaved dogs are not normally allowed - well done to them!

Looking back whilst entering Braunston unnel
The only slight problem of the day wsas that the normally very calm "Odin" had to sit just ahead of the Bolinder, as we couldn't get him down into the deep hold, (accessed only by ladder).  The noise of the Bolinder in the confines of Braunston tunnel proved to be thunderous, and Odin really wasn't enjoying it at all.  As soon as we got to the locks he was absolutely fine, funning about on the towpath, but we decided not to give him any more anxiety on the return trip, so Cath walked him over the tunnel, and brought him back on when the cacophony of sounds was over.

My extreme thanks to the Carters, who own "William", to the Leighton Buzzard Canal society, and once again to the Admiral Nelson pub.  A cracking day out!

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