Friday, June 28, 2013

It’s all about the timing…

We waited for the rain to stop today before shifting. We would have moved sooner though if the weather had been better; our overnight mooring between bridges 198 and 199 has a sloping concrete edge and we were on a bend, every boat that went past caused a scrape and a bang that rattled the cupboards.
So as soon as the rain eased we set off, first into Uplands Marina for the new starter battery and diesel, then onto the water point where we caught up with Ann and Chas, before setting off towards Middlewich.

Marbury WoodSAM_5846
We spent our first night aboard on that bit of bank on the left…8th August 2006. Nearly 7 years ago. Doesn’t time fly!


The canal winds east and south around Northwich passing the salt village of Marston where the Lion Salt Works is being renovated as a living museum after years of lying derelict

Lion Salt WorksSAM_5851

We stopped at the footbridge near the football ground. We wanted to visit the well-stocked DIY shop on Denton Drive, and this is the closest approach from the canal, via a footpath.

By the time Ann and I had returned after an only partially successful trip it had started to rain again so we decided to stay put instead of pressing on for a bit. Tomorrow is forecast to be better….. hopefully.

Thanks to Lesley, Adam, Carol and Gary and Della (boat’s looking great!) for  the responses to my request for recommendations for a signwriter for Seyella’s name panel. I’ll be getting in touch with them after the weekend, for quotes and availability.

Locks 0, miles 2½

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A damp trip back up onto the canal

No boat work planned for today; we were heading back up the boat lift onto the Trent and Mersey Canal.
 It was fine first thing, but rain moved in around lunchtime and has been with us since. We’re supposed to look forward to it continuing till noon tomorrow. Lovely.

Ann and I walked up to the lift office at 10:00, and got a booking for 12:50 for both boats. First trips up were 11:15, following a staff meeting, so there was a bit of a backlog.

Heading for the lift holding mooringsSAM_5820

When we arrived I walked around to the front of the lift, NB So Long and another boat were going up in the left hand caisson, the trip boat MV Edwin Clark was coming down on the right.



MV Edwin Clark appears as the guillotine gate is raised, watch out for the drips!

Meanwhile the two boats in the other tank will be moving out onto the canal. We were invited in about 10 minutes later for our own trip up.

Ann and Chas alongside

Passing two more boats on the way down.SAM_5838

Near the top level, looking up at the now redundant gearing for the balance weights.SAM_5839
The original operation of the hydraulic rams when built relied on river water, a sensible solution as it seemed at the time. But the acidic nature of the water caused corrosion within the cylinders, resulting in more and more frequent stoppages for repair.
After 33 years of operation, the decision was made to convert the system to electric motors, each caisson raised by wire cables and counterbalanced by weights. This required strengthening of the framework and construction of the winch deck on top. The rebuilt lift opened to full operation in 1908.Panorama_0
In 1983 routine inspection detected severe corrosion in the structure and it was closed for safety reasons. After repairs it was expected that the electrical operation would be retained, but in 1997 a decision was made to revert to hydraulics, using oil rather than water. The rebuilt lift reopened in 2002.

Top of the hydraulic ram supporting the west caisson

Looking south, upstream, towards Northwich, from the aqueduct spanning the gap between canal and liftSAM_5842

Moore2Life following us out onto the Trent and MerseySAM_5844
We didn’t get much further, mooring up on the visitor moorings in Anderton.

Tomorrow we’ll move on, towards Middlewich. We’ve got to visit Dave at Uplands Marina for diesel and a new starter battery on the way. Over the last few days it’s died, so I’m having to jump start the engine from the leisure bank. Not ideal.

Thanks, anon, for the comment yesterday (why didn't you leave your name?) but I'm way ahead of you. We've got the paint shed at Canal Cruising in Stone booked for a week in August to do the final coats.
Just need a signwriter to do the name panel. Any recommendations, anyone?

Locks 0, miles ½

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Drat those flies!

Why do flies have an almost magnetic attraction to wet paint? You watch them moseying along with very little going through their tiny minds, then they smell paint and BANG, something goes off inside their heads and they head like heat seeking missiles to the freshly applied coats.

Some land feet down and can be brushed off leaving their feet behind when the paint is dry….

Some splash down upside down, and leave an angel impression….SAM_5808

The worse ones are those that land unseen just before you lay off the fresh paint. They get smeared into the surface.

This guy in the undercoat really tried to get free… leaving footprints in the surface and paint up to his knees.

Luckily the red will need at least one more coat, and the undercoat is obviously not a problem.

We’re not only anonymous now, we’ve also gone into stealth mode.
The roof is finished, the handrails are on the way, and the cabin sides and rear are in undercoat.

I finished the left side this morning before we headed back up to Northwich for shopping and collection of new specs.
Mags thought she’d ordered two pairs but only one was waiting for collection last week so I had her second pair to pick up, and my two pairs too. So we can see what we’re hitting now. Although there’d better not be too much of that once the finish coats are on!

It’s struck me that although we’ve been down on the Weaver for a while, I’ve not taken many photos of the scenery. Probably because we’ve hardly gone anywhere!
So here’s a couple from today…

Cardens Ferry Bridge over the confluence of Witton Brook in the distance.SAM_5816
The river turns right just this side of the bridge. The brook was navigable through to Witton Bridge through several locks to service Witton Mill and salt works in the area, but since the mill closed the navigation has reverted to it’s natural state.

We used the services on arrival in Northwich, then went under Town Bridge to wind in the wide section where the novel Floatel used to stand float.

The raft sections which supproted the buildings were secrured to these piles…April 2010 132 Flotel
This picture taken in April 2010…

This one purloined from a travel website when it was in it’s heyday….101041
Built in the 1980s it closed early in 2009 and was demolished for safety reasons later that year. The decaying buildings had sunk two feet below their design levels, vandals had done their worst and the whole site was an eyesore.

The April picture shows the main shed of the boatyard with it’s original side slipway, May 2008 226 Northwich

The whole area is the the process of redevelopment, and will become a mixed residential and retail scheme, with pontoon moorings and boat services on the river.

Northwich Marina developmentSAM_5819

After the shopping we returned to moor below the lift, back up onto the canal tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 2

Monday, June 24, 2013

Back to Anderton, back to the painting.

We left Vale Royal on Thursday after a couple of pleasant days in the peace and quiet of the Cheshire countryside. The day started well, high cloud and mist on the water, but the promised rain soon moved in.

Early morning at Vale RoyalSAM_5794

Waiting for Vale Royal Lock in the rainSAM_5798

For the river my bike is mounted vertically on the stern rack, with the front wheel removed.

In it’s normal position the wheels are a bit vulnerable where there’s high banks, on canals it’s not normally a problem but on the river it could be. I‘ve got to fit a bracket to hang the frame on to make it easier to get it in this position.

We pulled in on the town wharf in Northwich, Mag’s glasses were ready for collection and I’d decided to have my eyes done as well. Then a visit across to the facilities gave us full and empty tanks before we returned to Anderton.

In between showers I got a few odds and ends done, but overall the weekend was a bit of a washout.

Fore-end looking a bit spotty, with chips and scrapes derusted and primed, and the top bend design sanded out.

Left cabin side rubbed downSAM_5802

Today the forecast looked promising for getting stuck in so I was up early, a yawning Meg walked and the front panel of the roof cleared ready for cleaning.You’ll remember I didn’t finish this when I did the rest of the roof, I needed somewhere to leave the top box. The next one back wasn’t brilliant either, a little patchy in places, so both sections were scrubbed with a sugar soap solution, dried and the gloss grey sections masked off.

I was interrupted by a light shower but it didn’t amount to much and the brisk breeze soon dried things off. A final wipe over with white spirit and the paint went on, finished by 11:00.

A quick coffee then I wiped down the fore-end and back cabin panel and got them undercoated as well.

Fore-end now a fetching shade of blue-grey.SAM_5806I’m going to have to have a serious think about how I gloss this section. With so many twiddly bits to cover it’ll be difficult to keep the edge wet. I had that problem with the undercoat, but it’s got to be flatted anyway so any poor surfaces will be removed.

I was on a roll now, so got out the can of Rochelle Red, wiped off the handrails and got a coat on the top and outside of both cabin sides. I’d already got three coats on the inside edge while doing the roof, these bits will also get three. It’s a heavy wear area, and red is notorious for it’s lack of covering power.

Finished roof, started handrailsSAM_5804
Whoops, got a drop to much paint in the slot in the scroll detail…

With fair weather forecast for the rest of the week I should be able to get the undercoat on the cabin sides before we leave here. We’ve got to go back to Northwich on Wednesday, this time for my new specs and we’ll be needing supplies by then as well, but that shouldn’t take too long.
Nerd smile

We're planning to go back up the lift onto the canal on Thursday afternoon. Dave at Uplands Marina has a new starter battery for me, the old one is getting a bit reluctant to wake up in the morning.
And you can't bump start a boat....Be right back

Locks 2, miles 4

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taking advantage of the fine weather

There’s a lot of folk been out boating these last few days of warm, sunny weather. We have too, but not far. On Monday we moved from the spot we’d occupied for several days near the Anderton Lift. Just over a mile though, that’s all, to move to the Town Wharf in Northwich. Mags had an eye test on Tuesday, and Specsavers is only a few minutes from there.

Anonymous Seyella and Moore2Life in Northwich on Tuesday morningSAM_5760

Town Swing Bridge from the hatch SAM_5756

Another ahhhh moment…

After shopping and the eye check (we’re coming back on Thursday for Mags’ new glasses and a test for me), we set off upstream to Vale Royal.

Northwich. Black and white bridges, black and white housesSAM_5774

Hunts Lock….

….and lock-keepersSAM_5780

Here’s a question for you… Who is responsible for looking out for anglers lines? The angler, or the guy facing backwards in a single scull?SAM_5783
This guy had a bit of an altercation with a fisherman using a long roach pole.
Coming up to overtake us (on the wrong side, incidentally) he picked up the anglers line on his right hand oar. I could hear them shouting at each other from 100 yards away over the engine!
He had to pull into the bank to sort it out, then sensibly stayed in the middle of the channel as he passed us.

MV Proceed, probably sat on the bottom nowSAM_5782

Just two locks today, the second being Vale Royal, not far below the moorings

Fine stone-built railway viaduct below the lockSAM_5785

Vale Royal LockSAM_5787
Chas isn’t going the wrong way; the small lock is just around the bull-nose. The large lock is rarely used these days. All the Weaver locks are paired, a large chamber suitable for the small freighters that used to trade up here, and a smaller, older chamber, more often used today.

Vale Royal moorings are on the towpath side about 500 yards further upstream, that’s where we pulled in.

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening preparing the roof for painting today. The forecast promised dry and warm weather, and we weren’t disappointed. I was up at 05:30 (yes, 05:30!) to get stuck in and get the paint on before it got too warm. After a long day the roof is done, well, 80% done, and the inside of the handrails are a fetching bright red. This is the only red on the new scheme. I couldn’t paint the front roof panel, the top box and other equipment normally on the roof is up there, and will stay there till the paint has had a chance to harden. Then everything can return to it’s normal position and the remaining panel finished.
Steerers eye view of the refinished roof

You can’t see them clearly from here, but each roof vent marks a separate panel, outlined in grey.
The Interdeck Sand Beige is not as dark as it appears on the colour chart, I was expecting it to be a bit browner. But it went on well with a small gloss roller.

Looking at the weather for the next few days I don’t expect to be putting any more gloss on for a bit. Next on the agenda will be the top and outside of the handrails for three coats of red, and using the orbital sander to level off the rest of the cabin sides. The whole lot will get one or two coats of grey/blue PreKote (undercoat) then we’ll be about ready for the paint shed at Stone.

Locks 2, miles 4

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rain stops play…

This wild and wet weather we’ve been having a put a serious crimp in my painting plans.
We’re down on the Weaver, having dropped down in the boat lift last Wednesday.
I have been hard at work sanding, derusting and priming, it’s just the gloss finish coats I can’t risk applying. One minute there’s sunshine, the next the black clouds have rolled in and dumped a load of water on us.

We’re anonymous now!SAM_5752

I really will have to find the aluminium number plates supplied by BW when we registered the boat. They’re in the bottom of a drawer somewhere…. I’ve sanded off the painted reg. number, as well as the name.

It’s handy being here, if I want to get at the other side I just untie the upstream end and let the wind and current (handily both going in the same direction) turn the boat around. I just have to time it to avoid “Donald Campbell” skippering the trip boat Bluebird Edwin Clark. He doesn't hang about!

Just checked the forecast, there’s an outside chance I may get the top coat of grey gloss on the roof bands and borders tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Fingers crossed

Monday, June 10, 2013

Preparation continues….

I’m still busy getting the boat ready for it’s repaint, concentrating on the cabin top initially.
After sanding, cleaning, de-rusting and priming, I was able to apply the first of two coats of the grey gloss which will outline the roof panels. I’d got the finish coats of ivory white on the mushrooms and pole rack a couple of days ago.

New paint…
SAM_5748 First bit of repaint
After the second coat of grey and a few days to allow it to harden off, it will be masked and a coat of sand beige Interdeck applied over the whole roof. But it’ll have to be done in two stages; the top box will have to be moved onto the new paint as soon as possible to get to the remaining panel where it’s currently sitting.

The roof in general was pretty good, some chips caused by carelessness, but the biggest problems were found under the feet of the box and the magnetic base of the internet aerial (above). Here the paint had blistered and rust had formed underneath, probably due to the paint becoming porous with the close contact holding damp in. I think, from a maintenance point of view, just moving said items a couple of inches on a regular basis will allow the paint to dry and recover.

I’ve been working my way around the rest of the shell as well, scraping back blistered paint with an old chisel, applying Trustan to kill the rust then several coats of primer to raise the level back to that of the surrounding sound paint. Consequently we’re looking a bit spotty at the moment. But It’ll get worse before it gets better….

It looks like the weather might be against me for the next few days, too damp for painting, but there’s always something to do.

On Friday we moved the short distance to the new moorings at Dutton Hollow, installed when the bank was repaired following the breach last September. First, though, Ann and I took the dogs for a circular walk, taking in the river and returning back along the towpath.

Dutton Railway Viaduct crossing the River WeaverSAM_5724 Dutton Viaduct

Dutton Locks from the wooden footbridge over the weir streamSAM_5726 Horse Bridge and Dutton Lock

Tug Kennet moored above the lock
SAM_5727 Tug Kennet
Built in 1931 at Faversham, she was used to haul barges on the Thames, and general maintenance work. Rescued from a scrap yard in Iver in 1973, she was restored and used as a pleasure craft on the Thames, with occasional “serious” work. She’s gravitated to the Weaver, with a period in the museum at Gloucester Docks (where she was used in the children’s programme TUGS), and a time on the Trent at Sawley.
Just beyond, MV Chica is slowly returning to nature.

Back up onto the canal at Bridge 211, it was just a short walk to the new moorings.

Breach Moorings at Dutton HollowSAM_5729 Breach Moorings

SAM_5732 Breach Moorings

SAM_5733 Breach Moorings

Fantastic views across the Weaver Valley, previously obscured by the wooded embankment.SAM_5734 Breach Moorings

They’re still doing groundwork on the offside, levelling of the excavated soil removed during the reinforcement of the embankment
We moved up to here for the weekend, there’s room for half a dozen boats here, and it was full on Saturday night. It’s going to be a popular spot in the summer….

Chas and Ann had to move to Barnton on Sunday afternoon to meet a parcel at the Post Office today, we followed on about lunchtime today when my paint had touch-dried.

Two tunnels….

Into Saltersford…
SAM_5739 Saltersford Tunnel

….out of BarntonSAM_5741 Barnton Tunnel

We pulled up at Anderton, on the 48 hour moorings between bridges 199 and 198.

Mum and Dad brought the little one around for tea…SAM_5747

Then later Mum cruised past in “kiddie carrier” mode.SAM_5749

We’ll stop here tomorrow, then drop down onto the river on Wednesday. That’ll give the paint a chance to harden a bit so it doesn’t stain with the muddy drips from the gates on the boat lift.

Locks 0, miles 5