Grantham Canal

You're never very far from a canal in the Midlands.

Last week I went to Langar in Nottinghamshire for a meeting of my professional institution. Arriving a little early at the venue I decided to drive on a short distance to investigate the lovely rolling countryside. Just two miles south along the road from Langar I came into Leicestershire and the village of Harby. At the entrance to the village I crossed a bridge which had the unmistakable signs of belonging to British Waterways - barriers painted in black and white. Looking down there was water in the canal and across the bridge there was a BW maintenance yard to confirm that I had indeed discovered a canal- the Grantham Canal.

BW Maintenance Yard, Harby, Leicestershire

If I had been a bit smarter I should have realised that the Grantham Canal must have been close because near Langar I came through the roadworks on the A46 where a new road was being built. Granny Buttons has posted quite a few blogs relating the difficulties that the Grantham Canal Society and others are having with the Highways Agency in their efforts to preserve the canal line from the new road developments. It appears from Narrowboat World that their efforts regarding Manns Bridge may have failed.

The Grantham Canal is not fully navigable, of course, but large sections are in water and it appears that the canal society do have a day boat operating along one section near Grantham. I decided I had enough time before my meeting to walk along the towpath towards Hose. This section is in water. I didn't manage to go far, but my short time by the canal convinced me that it is a delightful waterway. The first section of canal was fringed by large bulrushes (just like the BW logo) but the canal soon opened out into a clear section with the usual ducks and moorhens and a family of swans. The views from the canal across the Vale of Belvoir to the north are impressive. The canal is elevated at this point. If opened to navigation I am sure that this would be a popular cruising canal.

I walked about 3/4 mile and passed several walkers with and without dogs. I have to mention that the condition of the path was far better than many I have encountered when boating. During a wet period in autumn it was walkable in ordinary shoes - I was in a business suit!. A bit different walking along the Oxford Canal where you are often in danger of slipping in. The last time we boated along the South Oxford we witnessed a cyclist going into the canal in dramatic way. He was carrying camping equipment and it went in with him!

Bridge 42

As I stood by the bridge at Harby (Langar Bridge) I noted that it had a BW number (43) but at my feet I noticed that the coping stone on the edge of the canal had an inscription, presumably original, "Miles from the Trent". I couldn't discern how many miles it claimed, that was missing or it was underneath grass, but a handy modern marker near the hedge gave the figure as 18. So Harby is just about half-way along the length of the canal.

Milestone at Harby

Metal Milepost at Harby

Interpretation board near Bridge 41

I am tempted to try a "proper" walk along the canal. The Vale of Belvoir has a lot to offer.

Useless Machine

Our friend David Marks has the knack for constructing interesting items, mostly useful. His recent credits include a fabulous doll's house for his grandchildren. He also has some long-term projects on the go such as building a wooden organ driven by MIDI technology - he is skilled at both woodwork and electronics.

However, it was with some amazement that I recently discovered his latest device - a version of the Most Useless Machine. You Tube has several videos showing versions of Useless Machines in operation.

Unique or not, David's version is really great fun. You just can't stop trying it. Last night when there was a gathering at David's house it got a lot of use. Hope you enjoy the video.

By the way, the ghostly red light was added at my suggestion.

Starter Motor

Just installed a service exchange starter motor on Albert. Now our engine works fine!

As I indicated in the earlier blog, I looked around for a replacement stater motor when it became clear the troubles I was experiencing were more serious than just a solenoid.

The original motor was identified as a CAV 45F. Searching the web I found a company in Preston who handled the range. It turned out that the original motor, or rather the one delivered with the engine, was a rebuilt 12-volt unit. I had my suspicions when I found the casing was marked with 24-8 but overplated with a Lucas CAV label.

The replacement unit was turned around in 24 hours by CAV Automotive Ltd and the price was resonable. They certainly know their stuff. They identified that the motor required was a C45F 12-11 with clockwise rotation. Evidently they supply to factors throughout the country. They have an ebay shop that gives examples of their range including motors for Gardner, Perkins, Petter, Dorman and Lister engines. I registered the 2YWM (Greaves /R&H) with them.

Replacement CAV 45F starter motor

Granny's First WW Contributions

This morning the November issue of Waterways World came through our letter box. It includes a welcome to Andrew Denny (Granny Buttons) in the editorial. I see they already got Andrew to report on the opening of the Droitwich Barge Canal and reply to a boater's question on single-handed boating.

Looking forward to more contributions.

U-Boat Narrowboat and Albert's Starter Motor

Last night I read about the U-Boat replica narrow boat on the Narrowboat World web site. Today its featured in the Guardian and the Daily Mail, although its interesting that British Waterways don't think she has a licence. Perhaps that's why the owner appears illusive, according to the Guardian.

The Royal Navy used to run warship-outlined narrowboats in the 1970s. I understand that one was a ballistic missile submarine. It appears that Waterways World ran an article about them in July 1977- all part of recruitment.

As one who was interviewed by the River Police about my terrorism threat before tackling the tidal Thames past Whitehall, I wonder what their approach might be to mini warships passing Parliament?

Albert's starter motor troubles are a little more serious than I originally thought. I have now sorted out a service exchange deal for a new motor. I will post more news when I get the problem sorted - hopefully early next week.

Boat Average Speed

With modern technology we are familiar with instrumentation providing lots of information about the performance of machines and equipment. Our Volvo car provides information to the driver on average and instantaneous fuel consumption, how many miles to the next refuelling, and average speed.

Albert, of course, is very low-tech with just oil pressure and water temperature gauges in sight of the steerer. However, below decks there is the control panel that was supplied with the engine. It contains water temperature and oil pressure gauges, an electrical hour meter and a mechanical revolution (RPM) meter. It was the the last two that got me thinking.

I scarcely note the RPM meter except when moored-up or when someone else is steering. However, when asked "What engine speed do you use when cruising?" I usually answer "Between 500 and 600 RPM on canals and maybe 750 RPM maximum on rivers". It has recently occurred to me that because the original mechanically-driven RPM meter incorporates an equivalent hour meter I actually have information available for a more accurate answer, at least on the overall average speed.

The mechanical hour meter effectively counts engine revolutions but it displays them as hours assuming a speed of 1500 RPM. If you are operating an engine at constant maximum speed, for example in a generator set, then this would be very useful information - particularly for servicing. On Albert I had yet to find it useful but recently I decided that it might have a use in calculating the average speed of the engine.

I believe the electrical hour meter was installed new with the engine and that the mechanical hour meter was set to zero on delivery; certainly I have not reset them and a majority of the hours on the engine have now been done in our ownership. So, taking the mechanical meter reading (at the moment 838.4 hrs) dividing this by the hours done measured by the electrical meter (at the moment 2381 hrs )and multiplying this by 1500 (the nominal RPM), should give the average RPM achieved by the engine. The answer is 528 RPM.

This sounds about right given the occasional higher speed periods spent travelling along rivers and the periods spent idling in locks.

Surprising what information simple technology can give. Of course it isn't directly accessible and it doesn't come up on a fancy display at the touch of a button!

Stoke Bruerne at War

We visited the third Village at War weekend at Stoke Bruerne on Saturday. I don't know how we missed the first two but this weekend's activities made us wish we hadn't. It was quite frankly a remarkable event. The organisers, the Friends of the Canal Museum, the Canal Museum and the village, should be very proud.

Field Marshall Montgomery & colleagues

1940s re-enactors

The weather yesterday was kind, and the crowds came out in force, but today I suspect they may have suffered with the same rain problems as the Ryder Cup in Newport. We had planned to go up to Stoke by boat for the whole weekend but Albert has suffered an electrical problem. The starter motor solenoid appears to have developed a fault and I am certainly not strong enough to start the engine by hand!

Replica Spitfire Mk IX EN398 on show

The first thing that struck us, as we got to Stoke, was the large number of people wandering about in 1940s costume. There were numerous re-enactors playing Land Army girls, the Home Guard, politicians (Winston Churchill), members of the RAF and Army, and civilians of all trades. There must have been well over a hundred people in costume. It was, of course a photographers dream and many cameras with large lenses were in evidence.

LDV, USA airman and civilians
(Note the Silver Cross Pram)

Authentic 1940s picnic

The whole village had adopted the wartime spirit with houses with taped-up windows and bunting, and the primary school acting as a Lyons Corner House. There were displays of military equipment; including jeeps, armoured vehicles, a replica Spitfire with a working Merlin engine, and a wide selection of 1940s cars and vans.

Vintage Helter Skelter

The boaters, of course, played their part in creating a 1940s atmosphere with crews of working boats in costume. Several of the more familiar working boats attended including Raymond & Nuffield, the tug Pelican, the museum's Sculptor, Cyprus, Victoria, Angel and Corona.

NB Angel being polished

Amongst the boats was also Hadar. We have passed Hadar when boating, notably at High House, but have yet to meet fellow bloggers Keith & Jo so it was great to stop and have a good chat with them. They were, of course in costume.

Jo from NB Hadar in costume

Keith and NB Hadar

We were particularly taken with their bargain Measham teapot. Although it is not perfect, it has a few chips, it certainly looks the part.

Keith & Jo's Measham being admired

There was music in the form of a George Formby tribute performing in a air raid shelter under the canal bridge.

Paul Casper aka George Formby performing

There were some really interesting displays in the military display area. We were particularly taken by the authentic Ministry of Food caravan where advice on cooking spam, and cheesecake without cheese, was available. The samples didn't look very palatable!

Ministry of Food advice caravan

Just before we left for home we found one of the cottages in Stoke were selling pumpkins; not long to halloween. The purchaser looked very pleased with his purchase.

Pumpkin and its proud owner

You will note that I resisted the temptation to reproduce the images in this blog in sepia. I bet lots of images taken at the event will!