Paint going on

With the "Beast from the East" hitting this area (tonight it's already - 5° C) I'm glad Albert is in a heated dock. I visited High House Wharf on Monday and it was cold, sunny and clear. Paint is at last being applied to Albert - the roof has had some coats applied.

Colin's gaudy van

Grey satin finish roof

"Red-oxide" roof at the stern

Later in the week Colin applied the first of the gloss coats to the cabin side and sent me a video. It shows the stern section where the base coat is black. This part of the cabin sides will be scumbled and sign-writing added. It looks shiny! Most of what you can see is the reflection of the sides of the dock building and the companion ways.


With today being one of those glorious bright sunny and very cold winter's days, we went for a walk along the Ouse Valley towards Cosgrove and then back across the Iron Trunk. With temperatures hovering around 2 °C we were luckily the wind wan't strong otherwise the wind chill would have been very high. Later on this week we may get snow.

The Re-watered Section of the Buckingham Arm
Same Spot 2011

We walked across the fields from the River Ouse to the Buckingham Arm where the Buckingham Canal Society are doing a great job at restoration. A section of the arm that extends towards Old Stratford is now in water and they are in the middle of rebuilding Bridge 1.

Bridge Rebuilding

A Sunny Day at the Junction

The Iron Trunk looked spectacular in the winter sun. The repainting and refurbishment a few years ago makes it look smart. I noticed the aqueduct was dripping a little in places.

Iron Trunk in the Winter's Sun

Painting Progress

Visited Albert on Monday to check on progress. I picked up the brass fittings so I can start polishing. I also picked the liners for the stern doors. Maggie did the decoration and its lasted well over the last 10 years. However the varnish needs renewing so I have a little project.

Sample panels for the earlier scumbling

Under the wooden liners that I removed there was an interesting artifact that doesn't often see the light of day. When an earlier boat painter (prior to 2003) was trying out scumble systems he used the area as a "sample piece". My guess the left door is the Dulux Brushwood that he used. This time with Brushwood being discontinued an new solution will be needed. I gather Colin has got it sorted out


No I'm not tired. This post is about metal fatigue.

As the book says:

Fatigue may occur when a member is subjected to repeated cyclic loadings. The fatigue phenomenon shows itself in the form of cracks developing at particular locations in the structure. 

Cracks can appear in diverse types of structures such as: planes, boats, bridges, frames ,cranes, overhead cranes, machines parts, turbines, reactors vessels, canal lock doors, offshore platforms, transmission towers, pylons, masts and chimneys. 

When Colin Dundas was preparing Albert for painting he noticed a narrow fatigue crack adjacent to the engine room hatch on the port side and called me in to inspect it. Fatigue can influenced by geometry. The hatch surround was likely to be the weakest spot for vibrations from the engine.

Albert has a classic two-cylinder engine and I suspect that fatigue was at its worse just before our engine mounts failed in summer 2016. When I looked at the engine mount damage I suspected that one of the mounts had had a long term crack and that vibration levels had been slowly increasing long before both mounts on the starboard side let go. 

The cracks by the hatch were not in part of important structure, but I was thankful for Colin recognizing what they were and then hiring in a welder to sort it out. The welder drilled the ends of the cracks to stop further propagation before neatly welding it all up.

Cracks prepared for welding


Repaint Progress

So Albert is is in the dock and all the fittings, windows and hatches have been removed. Rust spots are being treated and some rubbing down has started.

We visited High House Wharf and discussed with Colin colour shades and details such as how the windows will be refitted. Start of a long process.

Windows Out

Fitbit Boating

For Christmas our family bought us Fitbits. We are now more aware of days when we take little exercise. With my role as a scientific editor being sedentary (long periods on the computer) I have certainly been pleased with the occasional vibratory reminder on the wrist.

Now I know there are arguments about the validity of step counting (activity tracking) and its link to fitness, but I have wondered just what my Fitbit would make of boating. There are periods where you may be sitting or even standing (i.e. steering) followed by periods of activity mostly associated with locking. So last weekend, when we left Yardley Gobion for Weedon, I wore my Fitbit Alta for the first time whilst boating.

The day started by getting Albert prepared for the trip - turning on the power and gas, disconnecting the shoreline, fixing ropes etc.. This was followed by steering to the bottom lock of the Stoke Bruerne flight. One problem identified by some users is boat movement being recorded as steps. This certainly didn't occur, I presume because compared with most other boats canal boats are usually stable.

Once at the locks Maggie steered and occasionally helped with closing gates and I opened and closed the paddles, gates etc. from the bottom to the top of the flight. After the flight I took over the steering again and was at the helm all the way to High House Wharf. This was followed by a period of winding, tying up and turning off power etc. The whole day was recorded as a creditable 11,569 steps (above the magic 10,000 recommendation) but what interested me more was the pattern - when and where was I most active and by how much.

The Fitbit is linked to my iPhone so I can examine the data reasonably easily. Below is a graph of my day's steps with the yellow portion indicating periods of "active" steps.

The boat preparation period, around 11:00 in the morning, contributed some steps but locking up the Stoke Bruerne flight from 12:00 onward certainly changed the day's profile. Over an hour of moderate activity and a good number of  steps were recorded. I must admit I didn't hang around when operating the locks, but I am in my seventh decade and I don't move that quickly. Reaching High House at around 4:30 and sorting out the boat also added some steps but not any of the "activity" variety.

I think the data clearly show the benefits of locking for improving your activity profile. I don't suppose this comes as a particular surprise but is interesting to see how locking can be quite an active pastime. Of course it's not a substitute for a session in the pool, or perhaps the gym, but it's perhaps not as sedentary as some observers think.

Albert having a Repaint

Last August I noted in a post that we were considering having Albert repainted. Our last repaint was successful and it lasted well, but on the basis that much of the paintwork has faded and a few spots of rust had appeared, we felt it was time to have a repaint before serious deterioration set in. A few of our friends have commented that we hadn't had it done that long ago - I had to remind them that the last paint job was 10 years ago!

Albert looking shiny - but this is the good side and its just after the rain!

Having arranged with Colin Dundas for a slot at his facilities in March, I rang up Colin recently and discovered that he could move us forward into February because of a change in plans for another client. This was OK by us because the dock is heated and humidity is monitored. So last weekend we moved Albert north to High House Wharf.

I got the boat prepared in the rain on Saturday. I could not resist taking a photo of the sign-writing because, somewhat ironically, it looked really good in the rain. On Sunday we made our way north going up the Stoke Bruerne flight alone and with only a pair of boats coming south. The dry bright but cold weather had brought out the walkers and both the canal-side pubs at Stoke looked busy. It's great boating on days like that.


In the top pound Stoke Bruerne Flight

Stoke Bruerne Top Lock
CRT installing mooring rings at Stoke Bruerne

We made High House around 4:30 PM. At this time of the year that's just before dusk. We winded and then moored up just outside the dock. The process wasn't made easy by a plonker mooring a boat right opposite the winding hole! There was plenty room all along the section between the bridge and the marina - a typical case of "not engaging brain". We winded with only a few inches to spare. 

On the Monday I moved Albert into the dock and discussed paint matters. A few sheets of thin ice had formed overnight on the surface of the canal. We are basically going for the same scheme but with a few minor changes/improvements. I think the first job will be removing the windows.