Favorite Mooorings

We stopped at Flore Wharf on the way home from our August trip. I see that Keith & Jo on NB Hadar stopped there recently on their way to Stoke Bruerne for the Village at War event. They did us the honour of a link. I thought I would add a photo I took this August showing Hadar and Albert by the Admiral Nelson at Braunston.

NBs Hadar and Albert in the rain at Braunston

We were moored up in the pound and had just left Albert on our way into the village to meet friends. Hadar arrived to go up the lock just after we left the boat. We didn't go back to say hello because it was raining "stair rods" - as they used to say. Perhaps we shall see them at Stoke Bruerne over the weekend.

A Couple of "Rustons"

I've recently seen a couple of interesting Ruston engine installations.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the blacksmith, Bob Nightingale who works out of the Tug Store at the tunnel mouth at Stoke Bruerne. As I walked back to the village NB Pyrus was mooring up. Pyrus won the "Best in Show" at the 2009 Crick Boat Show and is still used by William Piper Narrowboats, who fitted her out, as their demonstrator. I took the opportunity to have a short chat to Martin Baker, who runs William Piper and was steering Pyrus, The engine of Pyrus  is a 2YWM Greaves version that was renovated by Phil Lizius of Longboat Engineering. As with Albert she has a PRM 260/160 gearbox.

Greaves (formely Ruston & Hornsby India) 2YWM in NB Pyrus

She looked very smart and the engine installation interesting. The Greaves 2YWM in Pyrus very similar to the Ruston & Hornsby (India) 2YWM in Albert but the most obvious difference is the inlet manifold. Our manifold is labelled as being for the air-cooled version (2YA) although our Ruston and Hornsby parts manual, supplied with the engine, shows it as being correct for a 2YW. Other engines of the same ilk (supplied by Keith Jones) have similar manifolds. Albert's engine also has a slightly different position for the oil filler and Albert has two fuel filters. I notice that  Pyrus has dispensed with the engine-mounted control panel and the high-level hand-start mechanism. That, and the simpler control system, makes it a "cleaner" installation than on Albert.

The other Ruston engine we recently spied was much older. Last weekend we visited the open day at the New & Used Boat Company at Blisworth Marina. Some friends of ours are thinking of getting a bigger boat wanted to size up the market so we tagged along. In the marina was Empress, built by the Mill Wharf Boat Company from Blisworth, a 2011 replica of the famous FMC Boat . She is not quite finished but is fitted with a rather fine Ruston 2VSH and a very interesting Caledonia gearbox.

Ruston 2VSH in NB Empress
The gearbox is labelled as being made by the Ferguson Brothers of Johnstone, Scotland. I can't find any details of the company, or the design, on the web.

Caledonia gearbox with control chain drive (right lower) and engine cooling pump (top right)

The control mechanism for the gearbox is via a chain drive. This is connected to a speedwheel. As a result  both the controls of Empress (that is engine speed and gearbox) are speedwheels. It would take some getting used to after a more conventional speedwheel and push-pull D-handle, and is certainly very different from a modern single-lever system. Interestingly the details supplied by the broker do not mention the gearbox or the age of Ruston.

Further Boat Improvements

Following our overheating incident in early August I decided to improve the air-bleed system on Albert's Ruston engine.

When we purchased Albert, back in autumn 2003, overheating occurred on our first trip which was from Bath from Bradford-on-Avon. It was undoubtedly caused by an air lock. This didn't reoccur again until this summer. Twice in 8 years means it isn't a serious problem, but I decided I needed to sort it - it's called peace of mind.

Automatic Air-bleed Valve

I am trying an automatic air-bleed valve of the kind you find on domestic central heating systems. It replaces a manual equivalent that required a screwdriver. Being brass it looks the part and is something else to polish!

Boat Improvements

I've been doing some engine room improvements associated with electrics. Our Adverc Battery Monitor, which gave good service for many years, gave up the ghost when it got wet (engine overheating!). I decided to go down a slightly different route with the new monitor and purchased a Sterling ProCounter that monitors volts, amps and amp hours. I was also attracted by a Adverc Quick Monitor which is a voltage indicating LED that indicates approximate state of charge - "as it says on the tin". This should be useful to glance at when passing through the engine room.

Sterling Battery Monitor and Adverc Quick Check

For several years I have considered upgrading the Victron inverter/charger. Our original, that came with the boat, was a physically large (and heavy) quasi-sine wave version (circa 1995). I have now replaced it with a new Victron - a 12 volt/1200 watt/50 amp MultiPlus Compact. It is considerably smaller and lighter than its predecessor and has a better performance.

Victron MultiPlus Compact Inverter/Charger

My last improvement was to add some new plastic signs to indicate the battery isolation switches. Previously I used some laminated self-made signs. These are much smarter. It is amazing what you can get designed and made on-line for very little cost.

Engraved plastic signs

Bovine curiosity with boats

Granny Buttons has again posted about the curiosity of cows. We too have noticed this behaviour and have some images of cows watching us pass by, particularly on rivers.

I haven't got an image of a line of cows available, but our most memorable example of curious cows was when were moored overnight at Cogenhoe ( by the way pronounced Cook-no by locals) on the River Nene in 2006. A group of cows and their bull approached us and got right up to our side hatch which gave us a very close view. The image below was taken from inside the cabin with a standard compact camera - Canon PowerShot A40. As you can see we were at eye level.

Bull by the River Nene at Cogenhoe, Northants

You will notice that the bull was nearest and, although he was grazing when I took the picture, he appears to be keeping a "weather eye" on us.

Waitrose Towcester supports the Canal Museum

As part of its support for local community groups Waitrose at Towcester donates £1000 to local charities based the on amount of customer tokens placed in a three boxes.

One of the three supported charities this month is the Friends of the Canal Musuem. So far they are comfortably ahead in the ballot. Let's hope it stays that way.