Friday, January 29, 2016

Why wasn't I told??

Why didn't somebody tell me about this wonderful web site THE GRAND JUNCTION CANAL compiled by Ian Petticrew and Wendy Austin?  It is absolutely brilliant and it's been there since October 2012 without me finding it until now.  I cannot think of a better web site dedicated to canal history.

I won't bother to describe it all, as you can look for yourself.  Suffice it to say that they have drawn together a shedload of fascinating guff about the canal. It'll be especially useful to us London Towpath Rangers 'cos we are planning guided walks along the canal pointing out this or that.  Now we'll have loads more to point out, especially in our patch from Uxbridge to Paddington and down to Brentford.  So if you want to know what Paddington basin looked like when it was first dug, or what the packet boat fare was from Uxbridge to London or how many aqueducts there really are on the Slough Arm  (more than the three most people think), this is where to look.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Is this a record?

Just because I did all the stuff to qualify as a volunteer helmsman for CRT, it doesn't mean the qualification stands in perpetuity.  Apparently I have to do at least 400 hours boating over a five year period otherwise I would have to go through a reassessment procedure.  So rather belatedly, they've issued me with one of these:

Its a smart little log book in which I have to record all the boating I do -   date, vessel details, waterway, hours, and (ominously) any "incidents".  Fortunately I am allowed to include hours I do aboard Herbie, so keeping the numbers up will be easy peasy.  Backdating my entries for a few months I already have 154 hours logged.

Changing the subject- I have at last returned to flinging my deathless prose  at the computer screen and filling up the virtual pages of my next blockbuster novel, working title Eric II.  I had suffered an extended period of writers block after getting poor Eric into a spot I couldn't see a way out of.  Time is a great healer and Eric is now moving again, so I'm up to 22746 words and counting.  I guess that's about a quarter of the book.  Quite how I will fill the other three quarters I have no idea, but I am having great fun researching one particular aspect which shall remain secret for now.  My target is to complete the book before complete senility sets in, so I'm in quite a hurry.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Double Glazing

I occasionally get requests for more details of Herbie's DiY secondary double glazing the latest request being from VallyP who of course I cannot refuse, so here goes . .

I claim no credit at all for this valuable and ingenious addition to our windows, it was all done by Herbie's previous owner Roy who was a dab hand at such things.

Basically what we have is a made to measure set of simple wooden frames over each of which is stretched flexible transparent PVC of the type use for tent windows.  Roy managed to stretch it very tightly so there are no wrinkles or ripples.  The material itself is very strong and durable.

I found a few old photos to show how they fit. First this one of the galley window where you can see the frame in situ.

As you can see the frame has a central vertical spar for strength. The whole thing is a tight push fit into the outside of the boats window frame, leaving an air gap of perhaps an inch and a half.  lets look more closely.

Here's a corner showing that the frame is really simple being mitred and stapled at the corners.  I can tell you is is pretty rigid though and has stood up to more than ten years of use without bother.  You can also see the swivel tab which holds the frame in at the corners. Couldn't be simpler could it?

The secret of course is the precision with which Roy made the frames.  They really are a close push fit with the slightly compressible pvc I suppose being squashed tight between the double glazing frame and the boat's normal window frame.  I doubt very much they are completely airtight, but they work well enough to virtually eliminate condensation between the frames as long as you take care to have it all very dry when you install them.  and of course the pvc facing the inside of the cabin doesn't get condensation either.

Here you see a third picture showing the top centre of the frame.  The fit is tighter than it looks.  each frame is marked with which window it fits and which way is up e.g Starboard No2 TOP

The little ribbon tag is needed to pull the frames out when we remove them after the winter.  That pvc needs a clean doesn't it?  We just wash it with soapy water now and again.  The stuff is pretty clear over all and as you can see from the top picture, the view out of the window is only very slightly compromised.

So there it is.  It really works even though there is no fancy carpentry.  There are frames for each of Herbie's seven windows. During the summer, we take them out and store them at home.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ice Breaking and an ice cold duvet

Today we took a gang of CRT volunteers out for a ride on widebeamer  Jena, with fellow volunteer Richard and me sharing the helming..  In Adelaide dock where Jena lives the ice was a centimeter thick which made it really hard to manoeuvre her about in the confined space at tick-over speed. It wasn't much better out on the main canal until we got to Bull's bridge where water began to clear of ice.  It's quite noticeable how the ice melts near to large buildings.

I learned how wide the canal is at Adelaide dock.  Assuming that Jean is 60ft long, we now know that the canal is 60ft and one inch wide.  Coming out of the dock in reverse, as we have done on previous occasions is not too bad, because at least the back of the boat steers, but today we had to come out forwards and couldn't really steer until we had already hit the other bank.

Anyway the sun shone and we had a pleasant run up to Cowley lock and back, warmed by Cup-a-Soup and various nibbles provided by Debbie the CRT volunteer co-ordinator who sadly couldn't join us for the run.  Arriving back at Adelaide dock bang on time we once again ploughed into the ice and then Jena's engine stopped quite suddenly.  No, not the ice, but something big on the prop.  Taking off the weed hatch lid, I saw a sight I had never before seen.  The level of the water in the weedhatch was higher by several inches than the water in the canal.  That could mean only one thing - a large object was completely blocking the weedhatch. It turned out to be a big white duvet wrapped around the prop so tightly that we couldn't shift it.  After half an hour with a boat hook and a knife we managed to clear half of it - enough to fill a black rubbish sack, and then we had to go home because the yard was closing for the night, so the poor guys at Adelaide will have to finish clearing it in the morning.. Sorry guys, that water is literally freezing cold.

I found out how the car that I reported on yesterday got into canal down the Slough Arm.  Apparently some oiks had nicked it and pursued by the constabulary had driven through a field to the canal where they hopped out and shoved the car into the water before scarpering.   What a pain in the backside these kids are.  I have rather more sympathy to the two people we saw sleeping rough by the canal today, huddled up in blankets on the hard ground .  Just imagine how cold they must be.  We have to report where we see them and someone from CRT will visit them with a social worker to see how they can be got in the warm and dry somewhere.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Slough arm mystery

Apparently there's a sunken car in the Slough arm, just at the end of where we are now moored.  I can't imagine how it got there unless it crashed through the parapet of the road bridge, which I doubt.  I may well get the full story tomorrow from the guys at CRT because I'm off down to Adelaide dock tomorrow to skipper Jena for a volunteers' floating day out, probably tootling up to Cowley and back.  We'd all better wrap up warm because Jena is only heated when attached to a land line.

Co-incidentally I was down the Slough Arm only yesterday to check up on Herbie.  There is a thin layer of ice on the canal, but not around Herbie because we are moored inside another residential boat which keeps us warm.  You see, there is some benefit in an on -line breasted up mooring.  Now that winter seems finally to have arrived, I installed our temporary secondary double glazing and removed the shower mixer to prevent it freezing up, both very quick and simple jobs.  The domestic batteries are now at 100% thanks to the solar panel and the fact that I have switched off the loo fan. The Airhead loo remains odourless thank goodness.  All in all Herbie seems fine.  It's nice to be able to get to her in only half an hour from home I must say.

Constant rain and seasonal coughs and colds have kept us from cruising since November, but we're hoping to resume boating soon.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Answer to the science puzzle.

Just this once, I'll allow you to feel sorry for me, as I have been in bed with a nasty cold for the last 48 hours. Kath has been playing Florence Nightingale, so I am well looked after.

Anyhow, enough of my troubles, here's what I think caused the sudden leap in the temperature graph I described in my previous post. Well, when I say "I think" what I really mean is "what our Peter tells me" 'cos he is a professional scientist and I am not. When we took the gubbins out of the freezer, it immediately got covered in condensation, which briefly froze, the room being a lot more humid than the freezer. Now we all know that when water evaporates it cools things down (like when we perspire), well it does the opposite when it condenses and freezes, releasing latent heat, so our temperature sensor got a good dose of that heat when the water in the air condensed upon it. So that's the answer. Don't say I don't try to teach you anything. Full marks to Bill S who got it spot on. The rest of you, read and inwardly digest and you will become wiser people.

We're hoping next week to take Herbie out for a few days, maybe dowln to sunny Brentford if there is room down there, or at least to the rather wonderful Fox pub at Hanwell. I may well do a bit of towpath rangering while we are down there as it is on my official patch. I keep meaning to go to the musical useful at Brentford. I'm partial to a bit of mighty Wurlitzer. Has anyone been?