Monday, 29 August 2016

Alvecote Historc Boat Gathering 2016

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

(Retrospective post for Friday 26th to Monday 29th August 2016)

This gathering is now our firm favourite of the historic boats calendar, so we were very pleased to get "Flamingo" to it again, despite her engine issues.

We had a very relaxed weekend, but didn't parade the boat, feeling it better not to risk the engine further with acts of bravado in winding competitions.  This year I didn't even feel the need to go around on somebody else's boat).

As well as the boating aspects Cath, David and I got heavily involved in the music "jam" session in the Barlow on the final night.  great fun, but not, it seems, any pictures of that).

Instead, here is just a very small selection of photos of boats on parade......

General view from balcony of the Samuel Barlow

Proper load on Josher "Clover"
Minnow and Auriga winding tied together

And separating them up.
Immaculate newly restored "Dane" - a wooden boat.

A delight to meet Janet, who actually worked "Flamingo" in 1970.
"Birmingham" - A personal favourite of mine.  ("Lindsay" to the right)

"Effingham" - good to see some boats now with young owners!

"Cassiopeia" - always immaculate.


"Nuneaton" - with Janet shown earlier on Flamingo taking a ride.

"Badger" with former and current operatives of coal boat "Alton" on board.

"Whitby" & "Hadley" - The easiest way to turn two boats on the spot.

"Clover" - There is not a lot of water on the right if a boat is this loaded.
Paul on "Whitby" makes it deliberately harder, to put on a bit more of a show.

And finally a picture by Tim Lewis that we both really like.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Alvecote Or Bust? (Hopefully Not!).

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

(Retrospective post for Tuesday 23rd to Friday 26th August)

Buckby Locks, Grand Union Canal
So by this stage we had arrived at the situation that "Sickle" was in dry dock for some weeks, with various bits of her hull being cut out and replaced, whereas "Flamingo" clearly had an unwell engine, which so far had kept going, but nobody knew the extent of what was wrong with it.  This was hardly an ideal situation for a family that likes to be attending a series of major events through these months!

Hillmorton Locks, Oxford Canal
Whilst work was finally forging ahead on "Sickle", in the case "Flamingo" we did not until now have a solution.  I had had discussions with a number of people in the trade since the problem first arose, and was firmly getting the message that few were in a position to take on a full engine rebuild in the foreseeable future, and certainly not before the winter.  In one case I had a long and very helpful conversation with a person that came highly recommended, but they were in no position to commit to a date, even indicating they might be unable to help throughout the whole of 2017.

Stop lock at Hawkesbury. Oxford Canal
Our potential salvation came when Dave Ross, who usually works for Brinklow Boat Services offered to take it on.   The actual work on the engine would be a private arrangement, and we would pay to be at the yard to allow Dave to do this on their premises, as he found time, alongside his regular work for the yard.  It seemed a fair likelihood to me that once we attempted to get the engine out, it would also generate some direct work for Brinklow - certain bits of the roof and cabin that needed dismantling looked in poor condition, and it seemed unlikely they would come apart and go back together again without some repairs being required.  We agreed a start date with Dave, and with Brinklow.

Leaving Oxford Canal for Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction
Now we had a tricky decision to make.  We would have to gently boat "Flamingo" up to Brinklow's yard anyway.  This would take us much of the way towards Alvecote, where we usually attend one of the biggest, and probably the best, events of the historic boating calendar.  We were loathe to miss it, but would trying to get to Alvecote before we handed the boat over for its engine work just be a step too far?  Eventually we agreed with Brinklow that this what we would attempt, but if we found the engine problems worsening on the way up, we would halt our trip at their yard, and abandon the attempts to attend Alvecote.  Only if things were not significantly worse by the time we got to Brinklow would we continue on for the Alvecote event.

A 180 degree turn is required at Hawkesbury Junction.
And so we set off, deliberately allowing more time that we might usually take, so we could run the engine less hard, and hopefully make less smoke.  In practice, although it was quite bad when we did need to run the engine hard, if we accepted lower RPM, and hence a slower cruising speed, we  were able to carry on.  I suspect we were not actually a lot slower than the casual pace at which many people do their boating, as we rarely seemed to be holding boats behind up, but by our standards it was certainly a bit pedestrian.  However we dearly wanted to get to what looked like being our final event of the year, in a year where we had missed many, and make it we did!

High House Wharf, Weedon to Alvecote, Coventry Canal
Miles: 51.4, Locks: 28

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Steel-work on Sickle - Part 1

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

(Retrospective post for Tuesday 16th August 2016)

Section near right hand front cut out and replaced.
This was our first visit to Stockton Dry Dock to actually look at work in progress on "Sickle".  When we were up just over two weeks ago, Graeme was still in the preparation as assessing stage, but now things were really starting to happen.

Basically when "Sickle" was first rescued around a decade ago now, the family restoring her put large amounts of effort, (and money), into replacing the bottom, and quite a lot of plate-work at the rear end, including long sections of side, and the counter and uxter plate, (the bit that sits above the propeller).  However whilst they had also thoroughly cleaned and painted steel forwards of this, in fact not a lot of replacement work had been done on the front of the boat.  Last year's survey had revealed most of the problems to be in this area, and this would now be the main focus of this programme of works.

Three things in particular were true.....

New steel let in on right hand side and being pulled in to shape.
Firstly when "Sickle" was converted to an ice-breaker in 1942, large amounts of additional internal steel had been added, not part of the original boat.  In particular long girders were supported by brackets along the hull-side, running through to brace the large ice-ram that was originally added to the front of the boat.  This extra steel-work  had remained in place ever since, so during her period as a largely unloved maintenance boat, rain water had continually run down and over and around these additions.  Furthermore the various muck and mud that no doubt regularly sat in the boat, probably trapped this water in more.  The end result was that the worst corrosion was around this additional steel-work, and much of the outside plating of the boat was now heavily thinned out at these points.

Repair to right hand side viewed from outside
Secondly the entire bow of the boat had been rebuilt as part of the ice-breaker conversion, to make it double thickness, with additional plate on the inside, between the knees.  Where the boat was corroded around the area of the front bulkhead, this extra layer would need to be cut back, to allow inspection and the required repairs in the outside layer of steel.

Right hand side shaped, and tacked in place, awaiting full fixing.
Finally, anyway, 80 year old boats regularly suffer around the knees, as water gets between the knee and the side of the boat, and corrosion builds up, trying to force the two apart.  There is a view amongst the specialist repairers that the boats built by W J Yarwoods at Northwich suffer more in this respect than those built by Harland and Wolff at Woolwich, because Yarwoods used less rivets on the knees, and as Harland and Wolff ones the two parts are joined in more places, maybe water can penetrate less.  Either way, "Sickle" now had significant corrosion in the hull sides around the leading knees, that were not tackled by her previous owners.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Sickle in dry dock, ready for some serious steelworking.

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

(Retrospective post for Monday 1st August 2016)

"Sickle" did not actually end up in dock quite as soon as we had at first hoped, but now we were finally at a point where things were starting to move.

Graeme, at Stockton Dry Dock, had needed to complete enough work on the other boat already in his dock that it was watertight to the point the dock could be filled, and the boat floated and moved to allow "Sickle" to share with it.  This had occurred the previous week, and "Sickle" was now in there as well.  When we visited Graeme and John had already largely stripped out the areas where work was known to be necessary.

We arranged to travel up to meet with Graeme, as well as Trevor, our surveyor, so we all understood and were in agreement about what needed doing.

Basically the pictures speak for themselves.  The bits with chalk lines all over them identify the main problem areas, and, until any extra surprises were found, these parts are were what was likely to be keeping Graeme busy for the next few weeks!

Despite appearances the actual bottom plate is already brand new in recent times.

This bulkhead is not structural but will be repaired as part of these works.
The sections marked here are badly wasted, and the plating will be replaced.

No, its not all OK - Some of this still needs the chalk marks!