Monday, July 28, 2014

Watching Paint Dry

It's a hard life. Here I am at Crick in the sunshine with nothing to do but sit and listen to Test Match Special while waiting for paint to dry so I can put on another coat (of paint that is, it's too warm to be wearing coats).

Herbie's hardwood handrails are a boon when it's very hot or cold, saving much burning of freezing of hands, but they do seem to need painting every couple of years, so here I am pacing up and down like a pregnant father waiting for the sun and wind to do their bit before I can slap on the next lot of paint. I put on the first top coat before breakfast this morning!

The painting is easy, but the masking of the boat side is a bit of a pain, although the Craftmaster plastic tape we use is brilliant once it's on, peeling of easily and leaving a sharp edge (fingers crossed I don't have to eat my words tomorrow. Here you might be able to see the tape and you can also see one of the scarf joints in the wooden rail

One bit of paint that never dries, and I do mean never, is that on the paintbrush when I hang it in the Brushmate box. I have written about these in the past but these boxes are brilliant. No washing of brushes or steeping in white spirit overnight, just hang it in the box and next morning grab the brush and carry on with the bristles still wet with paint.

There's a brush in that box that's had wet paint on it for well over a year.

Lastly, I can show you a bit of dry paint. It's our Claxon aka the harrooga, given to us by Jim and Sarah and now cleaned up and respendent in Herbie livery.

PS. for TMS fans. I'm staggered that Aggers just announced that he thought that kippers could be caught in the wild. Tuffers put him right.

PPS If you think you don't like cricket, listen to TMS anyway for the best conversation show on the air.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Seeing red on the Slough arm.

Herbie’s cants and handrails are painted in Blakes / Hempel Bordeaux Red. I like it, bright but not garish.  I’ve been prepping the handrails for repainting and popped into Wharf House at Braunston for some pink undercoat.  When I mentioned what the top coat was to be, the lady there remarked that the rotten people at Hempel had discontinued the colour.  The rats.  Luckily I still have a fair bit lefti n old tins but it won’t last forever so I cast my mind around for anyone who might still have stock of the stuff.  Aah yes, High Line Yachting down the dear old Sluff Arm. They use to sell it and they don’t turn over too much paint stock so they might still have a tin or two. 

Well on Saturday we happened to be in Windsor, so it was a short detour over to HLY at Iver, and sure enough they had two tins of Bordeaux Red which I snapped up.  While we were chatting to John Bolsom, obergruppenfuhrer of HLY I enquired what the weed situation was down the arm.  “Don’t get me started,” he started, and proceeded to explain that they were weed free down their bit and all the way on into Sluff ‘cos CRT had dredged the canal down that end.  “ But that’s not the end that needed dredging” quoth I.  “Exactly” quoth he, “I’ve been telling them that but they don’t listen.”

John is indeed right to be upset, and so am I.  True the arm needed dredging all the way along, but as funds were only available to do half of it, why did they dredge the bit where no one goes, worse still, the bit that no-one can reach because they have to pass first through the undredged bit.  I despair.  According to John, the cost of the operation was nigh on a million smackers (I can’t verify that) partly because all the spoil (probably hazardous waste) had to be carted by lorry up to Peterborough for disposal.  I fear the end of the arm which joins the Grand Onion is probably still heavily infested with floating pennywort. It was last time I looked.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

RYA helmsman cert day 2

Well, it seems I dunnit! Subject to receiving my bit of paper in the post, I have been certified.  Day 2 of the course was fun.  We spent an hour or so on rescue stuff and enjoyed playing with throwing lines and all that palaver.  It convinced me it would be a good idea to practice every now and then, as I didn’t get it right every time.  Then we took the good ship Samson up to Clitheroe lock and practiced dropping crew off at the lock steps, then entering the lock and going up, then picking up crew, turning round and doing the same going back down.  Here’s one of the others taking the boat up the lock, we each had to do it so the whole rigmarole was done three times.

samson lock 1

I was beginning to get the hang of this peculiar craft by the end. It’s perhaps not as quick to respond as a tiller steered boat, but the level of control is good, especially in reverse.

One of the big differences of course is the propulsion screw, seen here hoisted up and turned through 90 degrees. (I fear that pink bit at the top is a bit of my finger.)

samson screw

The free end of the screw when in the water faces away from the back of the boat and the whole thing swivels left and right to effect steering, so no rudder required.  Although this one has a plastic back stuck in the little gap behind the screw, it does affect the steering. The screw itself very rarely gets fouled they tell me.

I liked Samson very much.  A good floating workshop and it even had a cosy little space for tea / lunch breaks or to shelter from storms.

samson cabin

And there’s a flushing loo too!  I’m really glad to have had the chance to do the RYA course on such a different boat.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RYA course day one– surprises

The first day of two leading hopefully to an RYA inland helmsman certificate, and very enjoyable.  The first pleasant surprise was to discover that our instructor was the redoubtable Andrew Phasey, leader and organiser of most of the St Pancras Cruising Club convoys on the tidal Thames, including the Nb section of the Queens Diamond Jubillee extravaganza.  I know Andrew to be a good organiser and planner and a clear leader, so I could tell we were in for some “proper” training.

The morning was spent of safety stuff mainly – use of life jackets, fire extinguishers and the like and then some tying of basic knots which I am glad to say I already knew.  (Thanks Rick for teaching me the wind it round the bollard clove hitch).  Then some stuff about tunnels.  Then this afternoon we drove down to Brentford to do some real  boating, not on a tiller steered narrowboat, but on a hydraulic wheel steered work boat  Sampson!  Here she is, on the left of the picture


Ooh er, not at all what my finely honed boating skills are applicable to.  Here’s the back end


That wheel takes a bit of getting used to, as does the hydraulic drive to the steerable Archimedean screw which propels the boat.  Once you gat the knack it handles quite well, especially at slow or near stationary speeds.  At higher speeds it comes a something of a shock to find you can go from full speed ahead to full speed astern at the flick of a lever!  On Herbie, were it even possible, you might wreck the drive plate and even the gearbox.  The Beta engine in this boat is one you might find in loads of narrowboats, but in this case it sits up near the front of the cabin driving a hydraulic pump.  Normal cruising revs are 2000rpm upwards and we touched 3000 at times!!!

After a first go of tootling along the doing a couple of about turns and bringing the boat back in, we quickly moved on to the fancier manoeuvres such as driving the front of the boat gently into the bank and holding her steady there for a couple of minutes, first at right angles to the bank then 45 degrees right, then the same left.  After that we each took her up the canal towards the GSK building the reversed a couple of hundred yards back through the bridge and into the basin.  I’d like another go to do it better, but I think I did enough to get through.  I’ll find out tomorrow.

Oh and we did an emergency stop too, which actually takes nearly half a minute in this heavy boat, thus teaching us lessons about thinking ahead.

All great fun, made even better by the fact that one of the three trainees was Clive the CRT operative who actually runs this boat on a daily basis (and loves his job).  Even he was learning things he didn’t know.

More tomorrow including some tests on what we learned today.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Exciting times?

After recent days of domestic pottering- dead heading flowers in the garden and putting the first undercoat on the Buckby can (here it is as far as I’ve got. Ignore the colours, they may be different at the finish, although it’s already close to Herbie livery so may be not. . . ) can undercoa

I’ve also been trying to practice painting some canal roses but so far I’m rubbish at it.  Oakie did some brilliant ones a while back.

Where was I? Oh yes. I  have three rather more exciting days in prospect starting tomorrow. Sadly it also means getting out of bed rather earlier than I am accustomed to these days, as I have to be at Adelaide dock in Southall at 8am tomorrow for the first day of my RYA helmsman certificate training which is being provided by CRT to allow me to be a volunteer boat mover.  At last I might find out how I should have been operating a canal boat all this time.  I suspect I might get ticked off for some of my bad habits.  Some readers will no doubt have done such a course in the past, but for those who haven’t I’ll try to report on anything interesting that crops up.

The course is two days, so what is my third exciting day?  Well, it’s off topic, but I might as well report on that too.  On Thursday we’re going up to Stratford (upon Avon) to visit a guitar shop.  After buying Maffi’s old Squier Stratocaster a year ago I have been bitten by the solid electric guitar bug and now I want to get a rather posher one. (I’m sure Maffi won’t be offended that having really really enjoyed his cast off, I now want to move up the ladder a bit.)  I am a bit of an occasional sufferer from GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome), having bought quite a few in the past.  Some of my good friends are now enjoying ones that I have passed on.  Why all the way to Stratford?  My researches have led me there.  In my experience you want to be careful who you buy a guitar from.  Guitars need careful setting up to give of their best and a lot of shops are rubbish at it.  Of course I may well come away empty handed but I do have my eye on a nice G&L Tribute S500.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Come and see my disastrous etchings

Sorry the old blog has been a bit moribund lately.  I have been busy with the general “stuff” of life.  However I have been doing a little bit to make Herbie more presentable.  Our old “Buckby” cans ( I know, I know, probably not Buckby) are suffering the ravages of the weather and big flakes of paint are falling off here and there.  In an effort to preserve the goodish bits I brought one home and am restoring it by rubbing down and repainting just the bottom half of it. Being galvanised it needed an etching primer, but the old thin of that in my shed rattled rather than sloshed when I shook it so I went in search of more.  I came across a spray can version in Halfords so I thought I’d give that a go.  Less paint for the same money, but I don’t need much anyway.  You don’t want to breath in this stuff when you are spraying.  My lungs are not in need of acid etching.


image of U-POL Acid #8 Etch Primer

For the fun of it I also painted the bare metal with vinegar first which is an old trick.  It did put a dull finish on the zinc so I guess it did something.  Then of course I masked off the bits I wanted to preserve, and unknown to me that was where my real problems began.  Here is the can still masked up after being sprayed with primer.


The I took the masking tape off to reveal this.


Oh well, I’ve learned two things

a) the paint was a lot flakier than I thought so it wouldn’t have lasted long anyway so I’m better off repainting the whole can, and

b) now I know a good way to remover the old paint without rubbing and sanding.  I’ll just use masking tape and it’ll leave a better, unscratched finish .

Hey ho.  I guess the can was never properly primed in the first place.