Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Low water, a messy oil change, then more low water.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

Closer to the railway than is ideal.
We always try not to moor overnight right next to the railway bridge on the entrance to the Stratford Canal at Kingswood Junction, but sometimes we have to, and this was such an occasion.  I always think I can remember how frequent and noisy the trains are, but I'm always surprised that it is more invasive than I remember from last time.  It's also a mistake to say "at least the trains are short", (although most are), because the next thing along will be a thundering 40 wagon Freightliner. Fortunately we had just come up Hatton, so were tired enough to sleep through much of it.

First lock of the day
The other thing about today I was not looking forward to was to do an engine oil change - we had been told to do one once the rebuilt Lister had completed 50 hours running, and we were now at that point.  As I wanted the engine to be hot when I pumped the old oil out, we decided to go up 7 locks to a suitable pound, and do it there.  It was at this point we started to realise all was not well at Lapworth.  All the pounds between locks were well down by between about six inches and a foot.  A CRT man arrived and told us that CRT had let the level in the "fifty mile pound" at the top of the locks go some five inches low.  This was bad news, as that pound includes our entire run on into central Birmingham, and then some considerable distance thereafter.  He had been told he can not run down water to top up the low pounds in the Lapworth flight, and right now this was our immediate issue,  We struggled to get over many of the lock cills, but found use of minimum "tick over" power would eventually succeed, whereas using any more power than that generally made things worse.  As a result progress was very slow, but we did eventually pull up for the oil change.

Very little room - a lock rebuilt in the 1980s is much shorter than all the others.
I ended up making a right pigs ear of the oil change, dropping loads of old oil under the engine, then struggling to mop it up again.  By the time I finally had us up and running again we were already well into the afternoon, and well down on any plan we started the day with.

Boats coming down chose to pass in ways where they got into a muddle!
We continued to plod our way up the flight, continuing to find most pounds well down.  Again "less is more" seemed to be the order of the day, and I rarely went at more than tick-over in ahead gear.   Not content with throwing low water levels at us, near the top of the flight we encountered a CRT push tug strapped firmly to a hopper, drifting around mid channel.  Cath and David eventually found enough bits to re-moor it, though it is questionable if we actually put it back where CRT staff last left it!  Eventually we got to the top lock, with no real further issues beyond the time taken.

Most of the flight is very attractive
The level at the top in "the fifty mile" pound did not look to be down by the amount the CRT man had claimed - perhaps more like half his number,  However this canal is pretty silted at the best of times, making getting round some of the sharper bans challenging.  You also do not expect to ground some 8 feet from the bank when lining up for one of the lift bridges, but today we had that pleasure.

Split bridges to allow a tow rope to pass through are a Stratford feature.
We stopped briefly in Hockley Heath in an attempt to find some shopping.  How a town like this boasts not just a high class specialist cleaners, a large specialist store selling spas, and even a dealership for both McClaren and Rolls Royce cars, but offers only the most basic "One Stop", I don't fully understand, but suffice it to say whilst we could buy milk, cheese and a newspaper, that was about it.

David and Cath dealing with break away CRT work boats.
Cath steered for a while, then left me to press on as long as the day would hold out, then find a mooring.  The latter part proved a challenge, and the best David and I could achieve was about a three foot leap to the bank.  We wondered if the dogs could achieve the leap after dark - Odin has impaired vision since his fight for life three years ago.  Fortunately both have just been off for their final pee of the evening, and are back safely on without a splash.

The first two lift bridges encountered are hand cranked with your windlass.

Kingswood Junction to Dickens Heath Northern Stratford Canal
Miles: 6.9, Locks: 19
Total Trip Miles: 45.0, Locks: 78

1 comment:

  1. My mooring concerns are always dog-related - Rosie and Buzz are already showing the scars of a few piling bashes! Glad you made it


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