Thursday, 30 September 2010

Dove's off again

Well, we're of again on our travels. At the moment we're tied up four locks up the Atherstone flight, stood on counter, drinking beer and train spotting, how sad does it get. (ar gerts idea, not mine, she's into heavy freight).
We're going to Braunston to meet up with some bods from the railway to do the Warwickshire ring. More on Saturday and some pictures.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A bit of Gardnering

Sorry about the title, couldn't resist it.
We finally got round to removing the 4L2 out of the hold, trying to make some space for other things. A friend of ours just happened to have an Hi-hab to hand over the weekend while we were visiting so, we thought we'd make use of it.
A very useful tool when lifting nearly 2 tons of motor out of a hole. It took me longer to take the sheets off than to lift it out, all done in a jiffy.
The engine is now for sale, anybody interested.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The last bit

Due to our groundings yesterday, at just before bridge 75 and more so at Rodbaston lock for one and a half hours then at Otherton lock, made us late for a call at Midland Chandlers for a few odds and ends. So it was a late start this morning, 9:00am and hoping for a better day. Down and out of Park gate lock but it's not long before we're scraping the bottom and we could see the level dropping. About half way on the pound and we're on the bottom smack in the middle of the cut and the counter's about six inches out of the water, no point in polling or anything, just wait for the level to come back up. After ten minuets or so the level came up a little due to an ex-Canal time boat coming down Park gate lock. On passing they agreed to give us a pull and while doing so the level came up further and we were off. As we motored on we could see piles of spot dredgings where we normally have problems which are now clear, well done BW, now just fix the gates and we'll be away.
It was plain sailing all the way to Great Haywood in the wind and the rain. On the approach to the junction the wind was getting stronger and in the wrong direction for me to make the turn. Well, with the Cratch up acting like a bluddy great kite it was was obvious what was going to happen, yep, you guessed it, round the turn and straight into the reeds. At that point, you talk about luck, some friends of ours with a JP2 power plant in the engine room came popping along and chucked us a line and dragged us out. We had to go right back to the bridge before the kite lost the wind and we could get back in the middle of the cut, then full chat forward passed the junction and into the cover of the trees. After that, the wind seemed to drop and we had no more mishaps for the rest of the way. Stopping for fish 'n' chips at Handsacre which were very nice, we arrived back at Fradley about 7:00 and the first decent shower for a fortnight.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Windmill End

On the Friday before all the festivities James the steerer of Marquis, decided to have a jolly outing through Gosty tunnel to Hawne basin and back. This took us passed the site of Stewart and Lloyds, the holy grail to pipefitters.
We didn't get very far before the bottom of the BCN grabbed the blade and wrapped it in cable sheathing and various items of clothing so, someone had to go in, well done Joe.
We finally got on the way, soon looking at the derelict buildings of Coombswood industrial past and the very odd tunnel design, we decided that the tunnel roof was so high to accommodate the funnel of the steam tug. Correct us if we're wrong.
For the rest of the weekend we were surrounded by historic boats, beer and good friends. Also this year, some new friends, Chertsey and Minnow. There was the usual crowd as well, the ones that sit quiet and drink, the ones that talk endlessly ( Chertsey only had him one night) and the ones that make a total arse of themselves. It's all good fun and very entertaining.
One of the regulars to the event had a problem with his gearbox and asked if we could give him a tow when we left, so at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon we set off with The Gerald in tow. This boat was one of Stewart and Lloyds tube boats now converted to a cabin boat and very heavy as we soon found out.
What with the weight of the boat and the weed, our little AS2 was thrashing it's little nuts off. But once in clear water it was off like a good'n'. We stayed the night in the BW hole at the top of the 21, then set off down the locks at 7am Gerald went down first with some hired help and we followed and couldn't resist some more bridge spotting

Railway bridges cross at different levels. Note the viaduct has a skew arch over the canal. The red and white bridge behind is made from laminated riveted plates, lovely peice of work.
This viaduct is lower down the flight and again a skew arch over the canal but somewhat higher
At the bottom of the 21 we picked up The Gerald and towed him to Autherly Junction and there we left him.
We're now at Teddersley for the night and shattered after being grounded several times. Hope we have a better day tomorow.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Bent copper

As promised, more bridges. These are the bridges are at Windmill End and are a single cast span by Toll End foundry unlike the Horseley type on the main line.
Here we are tied up near Bumble Hole bridge. The reason for coming to Windmill End early, was to re-pipe an engine for a Friend of ours. He has a Lister HRW2 that was piped up with bits and bobs of soldered and compression fittings and he wanted me to smarten it up.
The pipework in boat engine rooms is one thing that puts me on my soap box. People who install a nice vintage engine then festoon it with domestic plumbing and yellow handled ball valves really get on my nerves and should have their engine room doors welded up. It doesn't take much to do it as it should be, when you've spent £xxxx why scrimp on the installation. Mind you a lot of boat yards don't have the skill nor the inclination to do a proper job.

As you can see, all the pipes are bent, no elbows, which are flow restrictors and of course potential leaks. All couplings are heavy duty LG4 brass and silver soldered.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Back on the BCN

Got to Curdworth last night in the pouring rain, wind and dark, what a day. We had the company of Swallow, the Cowburn boat with David Lowe steering, until Fazeley.
We left Curdworth at 6:00 this morning ready to attack the climb into Brum. The usual problems going up Curdworth, low water and bottom gate on lock 2, it doesn't open fully back so it's a pain in the arse to get in. Minworth was the same except for a sunken boat in the middle of the cut, just managed to get round it. Then came Aston, Andrea had to run water down every pound, even when the pounds were nearly full I was still bouncing about on scrap metal and bricks. The photo below is of one of the side pounds
Next came Farmers Bridge Locks, surprise, everything was great, we flew up. Even had time to spot this little gem of old Birmingham trapped between two modern Lego type structures.

This is what I like about the BCN, the industrial bits. It's a shame it's all disappearing.
While motoring down the New Main line I thought I'd do a bit of bridge spotting, how sad can it get. If you look at the photo above there's one of the most common bridges on BCN, these are of cast iron and in sections. The one below shows the Engine arm aqueduct, this is a real fancy piece of work, I can't see how it's constructed, must have a closer look one day.
The next shot is of Galton bridge through the railway arch with the bottom summit tunnel in back ground

It's now throwing it down with rain and I'm trying to hold the camera, brolly and the tiller. This is a concrete affair that seams to be falling down. It's steel clamps holding it together, obviously not a success.

I thought this was interesting, the stone arch joining the now derelict buildings to the railway, with the Old main line aqueduct twin arch in the distance and topped with the M5 monstrosity

This is the bottom of Spon Lane locks showing more cast iron tow path bridges, I think when horses were used you really had to know your way about.

Remnants of the industrial past, factory closed, wharf choked with weed. Shame!
Pudding Green Jct. with it's riveted lattis work bridge. I wounder why it's different to all the others.
Right, that's the bridge spotting over, next was the Netherton Tunnel then Windmill End. More bridge spotting tomorrow.

Monday, 6 September 2010


What turn out, I think there were more working boats than modern boats this year. We were tied up stern on to Empress, two FMC's, two Armstrong AS2 and the steerers born on the same day would you believe it.
While walking round the field, trying to steer away from beer tent we spotted this. Knowing a thing or two about Sea Otters, I don't think this Moggy Thou is up to dragging this about.
After an excelent weekend we left Shackerstone late Sunday afternoon being buzzed by the Red Arrows for part of the way and then chased by a Bolinder powered Dory, we were thrashing through the mud and shallow bits and he's in just above tick over... someting wrong somewhere!
We're now on our way to Windmill End see you there.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Bikes and Cloths

For quite a while I've been looking for a good old bike to go with Dove. The one's I found all seem to be a bit over priced for the condition they were in so I stopped looking. Then out of the blue a friend of ours had been to Cambridge visiting and came across this little beauty.
It's a 1956 Raleigh and really good condition, it's a ladies bike, so Andrea's really but you may see me on it from time to time.
While at Braunston, Sam Noon measured up for our new cloths. Well they have arrived, sooner than expected. Sam delivered them on Thursday last and we fitted them the following day.
As you can see, they all fit and definitely look the part.
After a close inspection, they are very good quality and very well made and would recommend Sam to anybody wanting new cloths.
We are sat at Shackerstone Festival surrounded by working boats, drinking beer and enjoying the sun.
From here we'll be heading for Windmill end and it looks like we'll be in the company of Blossom and Chertsey, see you there.