Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saved by tent pegs

Somewhere in Warwick or Leamington is the bridge that demolished the top of our Morco chimney.  It’ all Rick’s fault, even though he wasn’t on board and it was me who steered Herbie into the bridge arch.  He was in front, under the bridge steering Chertsey, and he was having big problems avoiding a couple of (I am afraid to say) incompetent boaters coming the other way.  They were all over the place, no doubt panicking at the sight of Chertsey’s huge prow looming at them.  I was so busy trying not to run into Chertsey, which had come to a sudden halt, that I got on the wrong side of the bridge hole and wedged us under the side of the arch.

Alright, it wasn’t Rick’s fault it was the daft nerks on the other side of the bridge.

Stupidly I didn’t take a photo of the damage, but here is a picture of the chimney in the good old days before the demolition.  That time it just got under the bridge.  Can anyone guess the bridge? (on a very different part of the system)
outwell upweel march 016 (1024x768)

Anyway, back to the story.  It was like a slow motion disaster.  I could see we were going to crush the chimney, but with the boat hard against the wall I had no steering, and so there was a scraping, and a screeching and a crunching as the chimney vents bent and squashed.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if it happened again I would stop the boat, push the tiller over to bring the back out a give a quick burst of forward gear.  The boat wouldn’t have gone forward because the front would be in the wall, but the chimney, which is near the rear of the boat might have escaped.

There was however a good outcome due to my life long love affair with camping.  When we first got Herbie I equipped her with a set of tools and for some reason I can’t fathom, I included a handful of tent pegs and some guy ropes.  Don’t ask me why, I just did.  I suppose I thought they must come in useful for something some day.  Well six years later, that day came.

The fins on the chimney top were buckled and squashed flat and a delightful shade of brick dust pink.  It looked very much like a terminal event for the poor chimney. The fins  are rivetted through from top to bottom with spacers in between.  I cut through the “rivets” and got the whole top to pieces.  A hammer and a flat concrete surface proved adequate to knock the fin rings back to something near their original shape.  The rivets were now useless but the spacers were intact.  All I needed was some long screws or bolts to replace the rivets and rebuild the chimney top.  I don’t know if you carry screws or bolts three inches long and 5mm wide, but I don’t.  Then came the brainwave. Tentpegs!  At last, a use for them.  I hammered their ends into a simple right angle and dropped them through the rivet holes in the reassembled top and hey presto.

IMG_1671 (1024x683)

Not elegant I admit, but the weight of the pegs seems enough to hold everything in place and it doesn’t rattle or wobble.  Come to think of it, when I come to make a more permanent fix, I’ll keep the idea of removable drop through fixers so i can quickly remove the top should we meet another very low bridge.  Maybe screws and wing nuts underneath.

I knew those tent pegs would have their day.

PS Richard on Indigo dream is calling for crew for a fanastic narrowboat trip next weekend.  If I were you I would jump at it. Extreme narrowboating it may be, but Indigo Dream (and Richard) are as safe as houses.

We'd be there for sure if we weren't off camping.  Now where did I put those tent pegs?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug - I'm gutted that I can't go on the Barking Creek cruise myself!

That low bridge - is it the one on the Nene downstream by Barnwell Mill?

Sue, nb Indigo Dream

Amy said...

I reckons its the low bridge by the church in Upwell/Outwell. And I wish we could.come.boating on the Thames but we are Olympics watching that weekend!

Neil Corbett said...

Well done Amy. Spot on. I suppose you must know that bridge quite well by now. As I recall, the one at Nordelph is pretty low too.


Jim said...

I've often wondered if there would be any point in removing the Morco "chimney" in the event of meeting a low bridge but wasn't sure whether there would be a fixed vent pipe or something inside it. Presumbaly there isn't?

No Direction said...

Wonder what the incompetent boaters
thought of it all.