Friday, 29 August 2008

Day Twenty-Eight- Come, friendly bombs...

Little Venice- Bull's Bridge- Iver

Grand Union Canal- Paddington Arm, Mainline, Slough Arm

19 miles, 0 locks.

In which the Duck and its crew accompany the Warriors, exercise the engine to keep up, provision at Bull's Bridge Tesco, and make encounter a slow slough of seaweed on the Slough Arm, before meeting James' uncle for a professional opinion on the propshaft.

The day dawned grey and miserable. Amy headed off to the Halifax to pay in her cheque from work, and found it strangely as a counter inside a department store; presumably so hard-pressed shoppers can buy cushions, rugs and mortgages!

We planned to travel up towards Cowley Peachy junction with the Warriors, where we would peel off down the Slough Arm to see my Uncle, and they would continue on to Uxbridge. The first snag was the two boats ahead of us; they'd moored onto our mooring pin as there weren't any convenient rings, and there was no-one about. I didn't want to leave it behind, so hammered a stake of wood into the ground and moored them to that instead, so we could retrieve our pin.

Crossing the North Circular aqueduct

I tightened up the grub screws and set off after Warrior at about 10:30. We travelled in reasonably close convoy until, passing some moored boats, two pushed off in front of us and got into the convoy. We were working the engine reasonably hard to keep up; 1,700 rpm or so, whereas our normal cruising speed is 1,500; and, coming towards Acton power station, we got something in the intake. Whilst it didn't block it completely, it made the engine run hot and lose power, so we moored up to some convenient rings by the power station. Presumably this was a former wharf for the coal to be delivered to; it felt quite historic.

Interesting bridge, with wooden laminated beams.

We flushed the intake clear and tightened the grub screws, and set off once more. We'd stopped for 10 minutes or so, and thus were quite some distance behind. We pushed the engine reasonably hard- apart, of course, from when we were passing moored boats, which we did at tickover- and pushed on, overtaking the boats ahead and, eventually, sighting Warrior again- reassuring to be able to see them, especially if the engine were to break once more!

Art by local schoolchildren- mosaics of narrowboats. The one on the right looks like the boat featured on Grand Designs!

A lighthouse, a long way from the sea!

A model heron and nest, made from rubbish recovered from the canal by a local artist.

Eventually we arrived at Bull's Bridge junction, where the Paddington Arm joins the mainline. We'd picked up something else by that point, so the engine was running at nearly 80 degrees when 70 was the norm; we were also low on oil, and having run out of spare oil, we resolved to purchase some in Tesco. This is where having a standard engine pays dividends- unlike a vintage engine, we can get our oil (15W/40, according to the workshop manual) from many places, as we don't need specialist oil for mollycoddled old engines!

We moored up side-by-side, however rather than reversing onto the mooring I'd gone in forwards to try and minimise the amount of reverse gear used, to try and save the grub screws; there was room to wind easily which we would do when we set off again.

Amy stocked up on provisions (thank goodness for Tesco Value!) and I checked the grubscrews and filled the watertank from a nearby waterpoint. We also flushed the intake again. Amy was considering Tesco Value engine oil, but decided against it. Whilst I'm happy eating Tesco Value items, I'm not sure our engine would be!

Factory- smelling of coffee- next to Bull's Bridge.

When we'd set off again, having topped up the oil, the engine was a lot happier and we kept up with Warrior easily on less rpm; though, as Sarah was driving Warrior, they may also have been a bit slower!

We reached Cowley Peachy junction soon, and turned off into the (unsignposted) Slough arm; we almost missed the turning, as it was so unprepossessing. Once onto the arm, we had a taster of things to come on the Ouse and Nene- thick, prop-clogging, intake-blocking weeds.

Dead straight, dead slow, dead weedy...

Even bursts of astern didn't shift it; for the moment, we'll leave them, as we'll only collect more tomorrow when we leave the arm!

Another strange moment was seeing nb Silver Satin at the High Line brokerage; this was another boat we'd looked at buying, moored exactly where it was all those months ago, and still on the market. We never thought at the time that we'd see this boat, which we viewed on the same day as we saw the Duck for the first time, from the counter of our own boat.

We're currently moored up three-abreast next to my Uncle's boat, nb Jamkarat. He's promised to machine us a new, longer propshaft. The current plan is to remove the flexible coupling, fit this newer propshaft and fit a bolt-on flange to the end, and bolt this directly to the spider on the gearbox; that should solve the problems once and for all.

All we have to do now is get to Ramsey where we can do the work....

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Nostalgia! Melaleuca was bought from High-Line, and we moored there for three months at the start of this year before the epic, snowy, trip to the Fens at Easter. No weed then, but there was a whole office full of computer terminals bobbing in the water at intervals during one trip down the arm.

    I'm glad you've reached a conclusion on the transmission problems. Good look for the trip here. I can report that there's no significant weed on the Nene, at least downstream of Lilford, nor on the Middle Level between Stanground and Ramsey.