Stoke Hammond and Seabrook

We are on a short autumn excursion south along the Grand Union. The plan is to visit the Wendover and Aylesbury Arms. We have done both arms before but not for sometime. Water levels are critical on the Wendover so we shall have to see how we get on.

We left Yardley Gobion mid morning on Friday and made good progress through Milton Keynes. The weather was not too good in the morning but it was sunny in the afternoon. Great to be on the move again.
Autumn in Milton Keynes

Cutting through a carpet of floating Crab Apples

Had a little fun with the lockside swingbridge at Fenny Stratford when I forgot how to use the release mechanism. Over a year since we have been down this way. We moored up just above Stoke Hammond Lock - the day's are getting shorter.

We started with good weather today and it lasted well into the evening until it became drizzly. It was a day of meeting boats we know, although not necessarily encountering their crews. The first was Calypso Rose which for many years resided in Braunston but has recently appeared at Kingfisher Marina. It passed us at Stoke Hammond and we met up with the new owners outside Tesco in Leighton Buzzard - a popular spot to take on provisions.

The second boat was Balhama who we knew as fellow bloggers until sadly Mo passed away in 2015. The present owner was going north and passed us on the Soulbury flight. I will always remember their comments about our meeting on the River Nene in 2006 when we moored up at the Rushden & Diamonds football ground:

"Again, we heard them before we saw them as NB Albert pulled up behind us and squeezed onto the last mooring bollard. With two families and a couple of comics onboard they were enjoying themselves and their chuckling kept us amused."

That's boating with our friends the Winters - always good fun.

We then passed Imagine and Soup Dragon moored up by The Globe at Leighton Buzzard. They were our partners when we went on the Tidal Thames in 2007. They appear to have moored together for some years.
NBs Imagine and Soup Dragon

An unusual feature of this trip has been the extensive dredging that CRT are carrying out on the Grand Union mainline. Over the years we have come across dredging operations on several canals but not as extensive as this. It is welcome. The first section we noted being dredged was Jackdaw Pound (Soulbury to Leighton) but a section around Grove Lock had already been done and there was a section north of Slapton Lock being treated. A spin-off from this was the Land & Water operator who was chatting to a local resident about the "old days" at Slapton Lock. It turned out that he worked for Willow Wren in 1969 and had many tales of how they operated working boats from London to locations in the Midlands and the River Nene. Regretfully, having not joined the conversation at its start, I wasn't able to pick up his name.

Explaining the Work and its cost

Dredging in full swing

Dredgings being processed

Disposal of dredgings as bank protection

Blustery rain clouds started moving in from the west. At the second of the Seabrook Locks we found a service boat reversing down the cut to enter the lock backwards. He was visiting clients just below the lock and this unusual manovere was to avoid a long trip down to Slapton for the next winding hole. 

We called it a day just above the last of the Seabrook Locks and it rained more heavily. 

The Lensbury, Teddington

Our daughter and her family have just joined The Lensbury, mostly to avail themselves of the gym, racquet sports and swimming facilities. However, it also has great watersports facilities including sailing, kayaking, and motor boating. By way of an introduction, on Saturday we hired one of their motor launches for an hour and went through Kingston-upon-Thames for a river trip. The weather was glorious and it was great fun for both adults and grandchildren.


Kingston Reach

Amelia at the Helm by Kingston Bridge

I particularly enjoyed the trip (down memory lane)because as a youth I spent may hours rowing the reach between Hampton Court and Teddington when I was at Tiffin School. I just had to point out the school's old boathouse (Albany Boathouse).

Albany Boathouse 
(Formerly Kingston Rowing Club, including Tiffin School, 1935-68)

And for those with an interest in history, The Lensbury Club was photographed from the air back in 1947 and images are available from the Britain from Above web site.

An Annoying Engine Fault

Intermittent engine problems are annoying. On our trip to the Thames the rack that alters fuel delivery from the two injection pumps to the injectors started sticking. One morning I found it stuck out after I had pulled the stop lever. A judicious application of WD40 to the rack appeared to fix the immediate problem but after that we had periods of occasional erratic running - but only on tick over. At higher speeds and under load the engine was always fine.

Diesel injector pumps
(Number 1 on right)

Now these symptoms are not normally a problem for most diesel applications, because a bit of throttle is all that is required, but navigating at low speed around a lock requires low throttle settings and the last thing you need is the engine stalling approaching a lock gate. As a result, for the rest of our trip I increased the slow running speed and for most of the time it was fine. However, we did have a patch of particularly erratic tick-over when we were in Braunston. It caused a bystander to comment that we were running on one cylinder -  he was almost right because number one cylinder was coming and going. Once on the move the engine sounded, and operated, normally.

Once back in Yardley Gobion I contacted Phil Lizius of Longboat Engineering for assistance. It was clear that this fault wasn't common although it had parallels to the injection pump failure we had in Braunston in 2011. That time both injection pump failed to operate and the rack was jammed. This time after laboriously checking all possibilities, including the governor, Phil finally became convinced that the number 1 injection pump was the cause of the tick-over problem. The pump was stripped down and a gummy deposit was found on some of the key components. After thorough cleaning and reassembly, the pump was reinstalled last week. The engine appeared to tick-over well. But as with all intermittent problems, you never know when they are fixed properly - you just hope you have rectified the fault.

A short trip to Stoke Bruerne bottom lock last weekend gave me the confidence to think that the problem had been resolved. Tick over on the 2YWM is factory set at 500 rpm, which is a bit higher than I wish. So today I reinstated the spring device that adjusts tick-over - it's now set at 450 rpm and appears from my tests tick over smoothly. Let's hope that we got to root of the problem.

Injector pumps with slow running adjustments
(Additional adjustment by small light spring)

So what caused the gummy deposit on the internal parts of the injector pump? The two fuel filters on the engine were the first area to be examined when the fault was investigated and they were fine. I also regularly use a well-known diesel additive. However, gummy deposits are not unknown in diesel systems. I don't suppose I will ever know precisely what the cause was.