White Mills Marina, Earls Barton

During our autumn cruise along the River Nene in 2016 we moored up for the night at White Mills Marina which had only opened a few months earlier. This led to an extended stay at Earls Barton when river levels in the Northampton Washlands dropped and we had difficulties getting back onto the Grand Union.

Because we are looking to cruise the River Nene again in early this summer, we went to visit the marina yesterday with a view to mooring Albert at White Mills for about a month. We received a very warm welcome and have made our arrangements. The major change in the last couple of years is The Boathouse which appears to be a popular local destination for lunch.

White Mills Marina with The Boathouse on left

Floating Moorings

We shall look forward to our stay.

Diesel Drip Pot

The Ruston & Hornsby 2YWM in Albert has a Mico (Bosch India) direct injection system that utilises a pair of jerk pumps driven from the crankshaft. The two pumps are controlled by a rack attached to the governor. As part of the system minute amounts of fuel can seep past the rack mechanism. This leakage is normal and is emitted from a port at the base of the injector. When Phil Lizuis was working on the engine a short time ago he pointed out that some similar engines have a drip pot fitted to collect this fuel. The drips are few and far between but they are occasionally noticed. After I recently carried out an oil change I decided that although the amount was very small, allowing this fuel to collect in the drip tray below the engine was not really acceptable so I set about designing a collection system to fit onto our engine.

Fuel drip line from direct injection pump

The two ports on the injector pumps are 5/16 UNF - or so I found out after some investigation. It isn't easy establishing internal thread sizes on a engine with mixed Imperial and Metric thread sizes and the R & H parts manual I have wasn't very specific. I decided to connect the injectors to a drip pot using standard 1/8 inch flexible fuel pipe that is commonly used on a variety of diesel engines. This should have been quite simple via standard brass adapters but the fuel filters on our 2YWM were too close to one of the pumps and so I had to resort to making up a pair of special short adapters. The drip pot I sourced by adapting a glass-bowled fuel pre-filter. I removed its internals, adapted its porting to take two fuel inlet pipes and then drilled an air-vent into the top. The drip pot is bolted low down on the side of the engine casing. I will have to wait and see just how much fuel makes it into the pot.

New fuel drip pot showing air vent

The original photos (below) from Waterways World, promoting the 2YWM MkV engine show a drip pot to the right and below the two fuel filters.

Ruston & Hornsby 2YWM MkV as delivered to customers by Keith Jones

IWA Rally Milton Keynes 1985

I rarely discover collectible waterways books on eBay, probably because the ones that I wish to own are now more rare. That is probably why leaflets and brochures related to boating sometimes catch my eye. The other day I saw a souvenir brochure from the 1985 IWA National Rally for sale. The rally was held during the August Bank Holiday on the Grand Union close to the centre of Milton Keynes.

IWA National Rally Brochure 1985 Milton Keynes
Location of the photograph is Waterside, Peartree Bridge, Milton Keynes

Living close to Milton Keynes, and remembering that we visited the rally, I couldn't resist purchasing it. In those days we weren't boat owners but we were interested in canals; living close to the Grand Union we had visited Stoke Bruerne a few times. I must admit I cannot remember much about our visit to the Rally, but I did remember the approximate location of the site and viewing the boats moored up. We were certainly not intending to buy either a holiday or a boat, they were both well out of our league, but we did have a good day out.

The National Rally at Milton Keynes was held at a time when the New City was expanding rapidly and Blisworth Tunnnel had just been reopened after it rebuilding. There are many references in the brochure to the relining of the tunnel. It was therefore a time of modest optimism. The brochure includes an interesting section reflecting on the famous/infamous first IWA Rally at Market Harborough in 1950 where divisions in the newly-formed IWA came to the fore.

Lord Lucan and John Knill judging the best decorated working boat at Market Harborough in 1950

Commercial input into the 1985 rally was significant. The trade show directory featured eighteen boat builders including well known names such as Peter Nicholls, Calcutt, Colecraft and Springer. Of particular interest to me is the advert from K E Jones Steam Cruising. Keith displayed his steam boat Firefly and around nine years later he was responsible for the installation of the Ruston engine in Albert.

South Midland Water Transport, were based locally, obviously brought their wooden working boat Hesperus to the rally. It was formerly owned by Lord Lucan (father of the infamous holder of the title), who took her to the 1950 rally (above). For many years we saw her around our local waters - slowly deteriorating.

The site of the 1985 rally is also interesting. It is just north of Bridge 82 and near Campbell Park. This is close to the designated connection to the proposed Bedford to Milton Keynes Link and just north of the new marina that is being constructed close to the city centre. The maps below are from the rally brochure and from Google where I outline in red the location. Today the rally site is mostly occupied by the Gulliver's Land attraction.

Rally Site Location as shown in the brochure (1985) and Google Streetview (2019)

The "Events Bowl" shown on the right of the brochure site plan is still a noticeable feature - you can see it well on Google Street View. The circular area near Willen Lake hosted a Barron Knights concert on the Saturday evening. We didn't attend, so I can't report on how well attended it was, but it was a modest venue. This is unlike the National Bowl in Milton Keynes where earlier in the year U2 performed in front of 50,000 and they were supported by REM, Billy Bragg and The Ramones (what a line-up!).

Whilst discussing numbers, the attendance at the rally was nearly 30,000 people with 514 boats present.

I leave you with this thought; next year it will be 70 years since the first rally at Market Harborough and the 35 years since the Milton Keynes Rally. I think the changes in such boat gatherings in the last thirty-five years have probably been greater that in the first.

Cropredy Circular Walk

Yesterday our walking group took a circular walk around Cropredy. It was version of the Village Circular route but I added in a diversion up to Wardington which gave us the opportunity to have a welcome coffee stop at the Hare and Hounds.

Cropredy Church

The weather was very kind to us and we had glorious sun although the wind was a bit fresh.

Group Photo at Cropredy Lock

Our route passed Cropredy Marina which being winter appeared full of boats. Hard to believe that just over six years ago we passed here and excavation was just starting.

Views across the Cherwell Valley 

We had a good lunch at the Brasenose Arms. I had and an excellent fish & chips and Maggie enjoyed her baguette. Our friend Neil posted on Facebook a picture of his pint - I also had a pint of Hooky.

Always welcome after Seven Miles

William Bliss and The London Mercury 1930

I recently received a mail from a contributor to a blog on fantasy fiction and the supernatural. They recently ran a piece on William Bliss and added it to their site because of the waterways connection and because Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman both wrote ghost stories. I can recommend their post.

It appears the Wormwoodiana bloggers first established a connection with William Bliss via an article published in the interwar literary journal, The London Mercury, on the English Waterways. Not being familiar with this article, I got hold of a copy of the magazine and discovered that the article was effectively the first chapter to Bliss's first canoeing book - The Heart of England by Waterway that was published three years later. Reading through the article bolstered my enthusiasm for Bliss's evocative writing.

The London Mercury was edited by non other than J.C. Squire who accompanied William Bliss on a canoe trip and reported it in Water Music. In the magazine was a wonderful woodcut that related to waterways. I couldn't resist including here. Note the great title!