Friday, 1 February 2019

The Constraints of Major Rebuilding in the Winter Months?

Area prepared with a switch having been moved.
There are not many still active blogs being written by people owning historic narrow boats, or at least not many that I'm aware of.  In fact I noted a recent post by Sarah, owner of "Chertsey", who has recently revitalised her blog for 2019, which said that none of the handful of us that were doing it had produced any output in months.

In the case of "Sickle" and "Flamingo" it is not that surprising, as our blog has always been mostly about our travels, occasionally wandering on to topics about the history of either boat, or our attempts to maintain and improve them.   Unlike some of the other bloggers, we rarely go beyond that to "life, the universe and everything".  So no travels generally means not much blogging.

However it has always been my intention to also try to give some idea of what you let yourself in for if you buy an historic boat that has been allowed to get into a state where it needs a major refit throughout.  (That said, I'm never quite sure whether such material will be of great interest other than maybe the very small number of people who have bought an historic boat that has been allowed to get into a state where it needs a major refit throughout!)

Trial fit of first pieces
Anyway we have found that there are limits to what can reasonably be achieved in the winter months if you need to be reasonably comfortably whilst staying on the boat and pulling things apart.  Certainly no stripping out and refitting of heating systems is advisable, and that is something we need to do in order to make it possible to remove hull linings on the right hand side of the boat, where the stove and radiators are, and where central heating pipes run most of the length of the main accommodation cabin.  In fact, as we also want to take a very extended trip on "Flamingo" throughout most of May and much of June, it is now unlikely that any major stripping out can occur until the summer.   Obviously external paintwork and other renovations can't be tackled mid-winter either.

That reduces me to more contained internal tasks that don't put major systems out of action for any significant period.  Recently I have been making doors for the bathroom area - it now has proper doors at both ends, meaning that people actually have a lockable barrier between them and the main accommodation when using the "facilities" - no longer are the sole doors just curtains!  I've also put doors on the cupboard that now contains the calorifier, (the hot water tank), and associated plumbing.  I'll get some pictures once Cath has finished painting it all up, (I do carpentry, but she is not a fan of my painting - or "dobbing" as she calls it!)

Getting there - 2 shelves above the actual cabinet.
However recently I have finally turned my attention to the topic of Flamingo's 12 volt electrical system.   Although the previous owner had told us he had rewired it, the reality when we started exposing wiring was something quite different - metres and metres of unsuitable cabling all jointed in completely unsuitable connectors.  In fact we didn't need to expose anything to know there was a significant problem - the way the 12 volt lights pulsed from bright to dim as either the fresh water pump or bath draining pump emptying were running had already told me the wiring was totally inadequate.  (Don't ask about how bad it got if both pumps were running at once!).

In fact I have already upgraded much of the cabling, and the lights now stay bright with pumps running, but this has only been achieved in the short term by retaining bundles of connections buried in the voids where the cables run along at gunwale height.  My plan for some time has been to establish a 12 volt electrical "cupboard" at the back of the main accommodation cabin, fed with a hefty supply from the battery bank in the engine room, and then to introduce a proper breaker panel with circuit breakers, each handling specific parts of the cabin 12 volt electrics.  The obvious location was on the right hand side of the cabin at the back, as that's the side the batteries are on, and also the left hand side at the back has already been grabbed when I rewired the 240 volt electrics.  Having the distribution point for the high voltages segregated from that for the low voltages is clearly a good move!

The cupboard part, showing cable ducting behind
So for much of the three days sent on the boat recently, I have cleared the relevant area and started constructing my cupboard.  The opportunity is also being taken to construct some much needed book shelving in the space above it.  In fact by the time we left progress was more advanced than any pictures I have taken, and primer was already starting to be applied to the woodwork by Cath.  Pictures of the more complete object will have to wait until a subsequent post, but I have broken the back of the construction part, although the actual rewiring part is likely to take some time once the cupboard is complete and fully painted.  At that point we will have to manage without 12 volt electrics for a while.  This isn't too much of a problem on the mooring, as we also have some directly fed 240 volt lights.  The biggest annoyance will be any periods for which the fresh water pump s not available, but we will be able to ferry water in from a tap outside, (provided it hasn't frozen up in the sub-zero conditions are ongoing at the moment).

1 comment:

  1. I'm certainly interested! (I think I might well fall into your category, although at least Chertsey didn't have any fit-out or systems to need replacing)

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