Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Well I stuffed that!

I forgot, and as a result managed to “blow” the 12V power socket in the bedroom.  All the 12V circuits on the boat are protected by digital fuses.  This makes it much easier to reset a fault.  Additionally, the Empirbus power distribution system will report a fault by illuminating a red LED on the rear control panel.

My mistake error lapse in judgement was in plugging a 12V inverter into the bedroom socket.  This overloaded the circuit and it not only ‘tripped’ the reset fuse but also ‘blew’ the backup safety fuse.  This meant one of the eight output terminals on the affected node circuit board was now permanently unserviceable.  As I was using all eight terminals, the circuit board needed to be replaced.  It’s not a big job, but this is the first time I’ve taken the cover off a node and replaced a card.

The wiring has been tidied once but it really needs to be done again.  All the wiring unplugs from the node and the cover can then be removed to reveal the four circuit boards.

It’s card ‘C’ which needs to be replaced.  Just pull out the old card and plug in a replacement, then put the cover back on and plug the cable terminals back in.   Not a very long or difficult job.  By examining the old circuit board it’s possible to see the “blown” safety fuse.

Two of the small white rectangles in the middle of the photo are yellow rather than white.  Can’t see them?

Even with MY bad eyesight I can see the problem.  The 12V power socket in the bedroom is again working. 

Now I could turn my attention to the GSM Module.  Just to keep the SIM card active once each month we send the boat a text message .  But for the last two months the boat has been very impolite and failed to reply.  I couldn’t see anything wrong with the module.

I took the SIM card out and tested it in one of our phones.  It worked and there’s still credit on the account.  Having eliminated the SIM card as a potential problem I was stumped!  Then Daniel from Empirbus informed me that the module can be reset by disconnecting the power supply to it.  Doing this isn’t as simple as it might seem because the module is always active (24/7) even when the master isolation switch is removed.  This is because the module can send emergency messages from the boat.  Anyway, I managed to disconnect and then reconnect the 12V power supply to the module and it burst into life sending replies to the last two months of test messages from our phone.  That has solved the current issue, but I now want to do more with the module.

It has some spare messaging capacity which I’d like to utilize.  What would be desirable?

I’m thinking that it would be very useful if the boat were to send us a text message if one of the bilge pumps was to activate.  The pumps have a manual and separate float switch.  If Waiouru were to spring a leak when we weren’t present then with the existing setup the automatic float switch would start the bilge pump until either the water level dropped or the batteries ran flat. However if the boat were to warn us that a bilge pump had started we could arrange to have the matter checked.  It would also be an advantage of we could remotely turn on the bilge pump.  I was also thinking it would be handy to be able to remotely turn on the central heating.  It would be useful to be able to warm the boat prior to our arrival.  Alternatively, if there was a very cold snap and we weren’t at the boat we could remotely start and stop the heater thereby reducing the possibility of frozen pipes, etc.  I’ve fitted an engine imobilizer which could also be remotely controlled by text message.  Waiouru has on board GPS tracking and already sends us a message when it is moved whilst it’s unattended and the alarm is on.  We could send a text immobilizing the engine if the boat told us it was on the move!  I’m sure there are other uses!

Jan has already thought of two further uses.  She wants the module to do the laundry and wash the dishes. Smile

Mixed Day

An early start because of an appointment with Dracula. Apparently there is some confusion regarding my blue blood and as a consequence Dr Black had decided a meeting with Dracula one of the phlebotomists at the local hospital would resolve doubts about my genealogy.  The plan was to get there early to prevent my rumbling stomach upsetting the locals.  An early appointment would also give me time for a late breakfast on my return.  It was a good 40 minute walk and on my arrival at the clinic I could see four people milling around the doorway.  Now I’d chosen Monday because I thought it would be the quietist day of the week.  Obviously the other four thought the same thing.  Then I realised the door was open and upon looking into the large waiting room it was immediately apparent there wasn’t a spare seat in the house.  I thought I’d arrive 30 minutes before opening time yet my number was 115 in the queue.  Next time I will go later and the other victims can just suffer the sounds from my vocal stomach.

Back at Waiouru I cut myself a slice of Jan’s carrot and parsnip cake (that’s two of the five daily veg covered).  Actually flour is made from wheat so that’s a 3rd veg.  Then the sugar comes from cane so the 4th veg is done.  I think I can live on carrot and parsnip cake!

Daniel wanted to take me for a walk after lunch.  We completed a reasonable size circuit ending up in the dead centre of Rugby.  That’s the cemetery found!  There are some rather attractive public footpaths behind the golf course.

Most of an old railway bridge is situated in the middle of the golf course and Daniel has admitted to a secret desire to gain access to it. The brick arch bridge is almost completely obscured by the hedge and trees in the middle of the following photo.  He is working on a cunning plan to gain access.

Back at the boat there was time to unpack the latest purchase.

Rather hard to see a black case on a black footstool.  The case was very cheap and all I really needed was the accompanying cable.  However to just by the cable was only 30p less so I purchased the entire external hard drive case.  The hard drive is out of the old laptop.  No point in wasting it and we now have an additional 500GB of available storage.

This will probably become the system backup storage drive. 

Oh….. the reason for the delayed post is there was no internet last night.  Not a case of no signal.  We had all five bars on the phone from the aerial on the roof.  But there was no available data.  I’m wondering whether that was a consequence of the school holidays or whether 3 Mobile is restricting mobile data access with their ‘Trafficsense’ software?

Monday, 28 April 2014

Sunday Lunch

The weather wasn’t very kind to us today and as a consequence only a small number of exterior maintenance tasks were completed on the boat.  During the boat design stage I was filled with dread at the thought of polishing brass and specified either chrome or stainless steel fittings.  To my horror I found the chrome mushroom vents and fairleads had tarnish on them.  The Craftsmaster polish wouldn’t remove it which meant a trip to the nearest supermarket to purchase a small container of Silvo and a soft duster cloth.  The Silvo has made short work of the tarnish but in the process of cleaning them I noticed the first signs of rust from one of the mushroom vents.  It’s adjacent to a stainless steel fixing screw.  I’ll obviously have to rectify this problem at the same time as the porthole rust stain.

Because it was Sunday morning I made the weekly call to dear old mum in Perth, WA.  She is looking after my inheritance and it’s important I regularly check that she is monitoring the stock market! Mum told me she has been feeling rather gaga for the last fortnight with blurred vision and an inability to concentrate.  Two days ago she made the unilateral decision to stop taking the powerful painkillers recently prescribed by her doctor.  The pain has returned but she reports she’s actually feeling better!

We had a mid morning boaters meeting and decided to treat ourselves to the smorgasbord lunch at the Thai Orchid Restaurant in Rugby. 

It amuses me to see a Thai restaurant located inside a Tudor style building.

My eyes got bigger than my stomach and as a consequence I had two serving of the main course and a dessert.  There was quite a queue for the food but most people wanted the roast and western food whilst the three of us are happy to eat Thai food.  I won’t say it’s traditional Thai food because it has been slightly “westernized” for the local market.

I have a sweet tooth!

After stagging back to the boat Daniel and Jan started checking their emails and browsing the web whilst I took the opportunity to closely examine the inside of my eyelids for a couple of hours.  Daniel then produced the collar and lead calling out “Walkies?” which had me bounding out of my captains chair and eager to lace up my boots.  Two hours later lunch had settled providing some capacity for dinner.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Why Us?

The area below the gunwale to the rubbing strake on the port side was rubbed back and lovingly painted before we commenced cruising this season.  The starboard side wasn’t accessible and therefore looks rather battered after our first full cruising season.  During the first three weeks of this season the battered looking starboard side of Waiouru has been the side facing the canal and no boat has hit it.  We winded three days ago which meant our ‘good’ side is now on the canal side and in the last three days we’ve twice been struck by passing boats.  Today Daniel and I returned from a long walk to find a very shaken Jan.  Initially I assumed it was fright but then I realised it was anger.  She was absolutely livid about nb Cream Cracker whose steerer had managed to grind his boat right down our good paintwork.  No apology! 

Now that the starboard side is accessible I’ve commenced the process of repairing the area below the gunwale.  The two pack blacking looks fine, it’s just the area above the rubbing strake that needs some TLC.

All rubbed down and a coat of primer ready for a guaranteed sunny day!

One of the first jobs this morning was to replace the plug on a 240v multi-way distribution board.

I need to convert the IP44 output socket on the Kipor generator to a standard 3 pin socket and this was the simplest way with the resources available.  Why did I need the converter?  Recently we purchased a 240v rotary oscillating polisher from the local Halfords.  The idea is to eliminate some of the hard graft when polishing Waiouru.

This elderly gentleman was passing and offered to give the polisher a test run!

We could have plugged the polisher into one of the power sockets in the boat but I prefer to run it directly from the second output socket on the generator.

Now that we have been able to gain access to the starboard side I’ve had the opportunity to examine it more closely.  There is some damage to the handrail paintwork where the fender hooks have been chaffing over winter.  I also noticed the following vertical rust line below one of the portholes.

Some hard rubbing with Craftmaster polish managed to remove it.  I’m quite pleased with the finish from the electric polisher.  It’s probably slightly better than my manual effort and is certainly easier and quicker.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Warning regarding Samsung Smartphones

After purchasing two Samsung smartphones overseas at a very reasonable price I was shocked to discover Samsung have added a second “lock” to their smartphones manufactured after May 2013.  Most phones have a “carrier lock” which prevents the user from changing the SIM card for another operator.

Recently Samsung added a “Region Lock” to the smartphones.  The effect of this is to prevent the phone being used in another country unless you use the SIM card from the country of origin.  This means that if you buy and activate the phone in country A and then go to country B (business/holiday) you may not be able to purchase a local SIM card and use it in your Samsung phone.  You must continue to use the Country A SIM card and pay the high cost of international calls.

I have read that Samsung claim they have done this to “improve the owners experience”!  However my opinion is that Samsung has done this to prevent the sale of cheap “grey” imports.  What Samsung want to do is divide up the world into regions and price the same phone according to what the local market can pay.  If you live in the you can obviously afford to pay more for the phone than someone in Laos or Equador.  So the phone gets sold cheaper in Laos and Equador and to prevent the 3rd party shipping and sale of Samsung phones from Equador to the UK Samsung has Region Locked them to ensure they won’t work.  The problem is this affects genuine travellers.

If you have a Samsung smartphone be advised that Samsung is adding this Region Code lock retrospectively to all firmware upgrades.  So if you have an existing (pre May 2013) smartphone is may currently be Region Free, but if you upgrade the firmware the Region Lock will be installed.

I’ve found the hidden file on my Samsung phone and it has 48 locked countries

460    China
454    Hong Kong
250    Russia
255    Ukraine
401    Kazakhstan
259    Moldova
437    Kyrgyzstan
438    Turkmenistan
436    Tajikistan
428    Mongolia
400    Azerbaijan
282    Georgia
283    Amenia
257    Belarus
525    Singapore
452    Vietnam
505    Australia
520    Thailand
515    Philippines
502    Malaysia
510    Indonesia
456    Cambodia
414    Myanmar
457    Laos
404    India
405    India
470    Bangladesh
413    Sri Lanka
429    Nepal
724    Brazil
370    Dominican Republic
338    Jamica
374    Trinidad and Tobago
706    El Salvador
734    Venezuela
714    Panama
712    Costa Rica
740    Ecuador
704    Guatemala
708    Honduras
710    Nicaragua
744    Paraguay
748    Uruguay
736    Bolivia
732    Columbia
722    Argentina
730    Chile
716    Peru

Apparently the number of locked regions depends upon where you purchased the phone! 

After corresponding with Samsung UK I was directed back to the Samsung distributor in the country of purchase.  They informed me by return email that provided I first used the phone in the country of purchase with a local SIM for more than 10 minutes the Region Lock would automatically be deleted. 

I’ve now checked the phone and they are correct.  Because I used the phone in the original country for more than 10 minutes the Region Lock has gone.  However it is worth noting that if you purchase a Samsung smartphone as a parallel import then it may not work!  So a cheap parallel import Samsung phone may not be that cheap after all.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Strange engine noise

For the past week Jan has been mentioning a strange engine noise.  My hearing isn’t nearly as acute and it wasn’t until yesterday that I also heard an additional “ticking” sound.  My initial thought was it was something around the propeller but then Jan mentioned the last time she heard a similar sound was when the large alternator belt failed.

This morning I went into the garden shed to look at the Beta’s main Agal.  It was just starting to fray, hence the ticking sound.

Damned camera wouldn’t focus on the belt!

After the first belt failed we purchased a set of spare belts.  So it was a case of replacing the failed belt with the spare.  I’ve done it before, apart from the difficulty of caressing fondling groping the engine and avoiding dirtying the spotlessly clean engine floor it’s not a difficult task.

The three marked bolts are loosened allowing the 175A alternator to drop.  This allows removal and replacement of the belt.  You can see the alternator has been modified (red arrow marked A).  This is for the Sterling PDAR which forces the alternator to generate more power.

Looking down over the end of the of the engine it is possible to see the dust from the last failed belt.

It’s all caught in the absorbent matting under the engine.  I’ll need to check and re-tension the new belt after a few hours of running because it will have stretched.  Now all we need to do is purchase a replacement spare.

Daniel took me for walkies just before lunch.  It seemed to be a loonngg walk to Aldi and then he decided to walk back to the town market for bread, veg and a pork pie.  I was knackered by the time we returned to Waiouru.

Personal domestic battery bank recharged, I made a start on the preparation for the repainting of the starboard gunwales.  The port side was done before Christmas but the starboard side hasn’t been touched since 2012.  Last week a boater hit us attempting to moor.  Then he ground his way down the side of Waiouru (no attempt to push off) before deciding he didn’t want to moor after all.  Today nb Halcyon hit us on the port side.  One assumes he felt it wasn’t sufficiently hard enough because he hit us a second time… and then a third before disappearing into the distance without looking back or offering an apology.  Why do they hit the side I’ve repainted?  Stupid question!

When I started sanding back below the starboard gunwale to the rubbing strake I thought “I’ll never finish this today!”  Well to my surprise I did……. and then I went on to give the bare metal a touch of primer.  Tomorrow will probably see me giving it a light sand and a first coat of gloss black.

Meanwhile Jan has been busy inside the boat on he hands and knees scrubbing the Flotek carpet.   It’s come up rather well, although the water she used doesn’t look that healthy.  Daniel had another driving lesson in the afternoon so wasn’t available to assist either of us.  He must have realised his predicament because he quickly disappeared on to return with cold alcoholic beverages for his elderly parents.  So pleased that all that early training is finally coming to fruition!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Tails Up!

The morning half of today’s cruise was very pleasant but the showers in the afternoon dampened our spirits slightly.  The water tank gauge was almost showing empty which proved to be of great assistance with the pump out.  We can now see the first two inches of the top of the rudder.

Daniel took todays photos as he is a much better photographer.  Unfortunately I did the selecting for this blog post.

The dwelling Daniel and I passed on our recent walk.  This time was passed by canal. And it is named “Boat Inn Cottage”

It took almost an hour to fill the water tank, and there was no lack of pressure from the tap.  We took the opportunity to have lunch whilst the tank filled.  Then a Calcutt hireboat had excellent timing arriving only five minutes before out tank was full.

In the afternoon and at Jan’s request,  I fitted two more sections of chrome railing under the gunwale in the saloon.  This now means the railing runs the full length of the saloon gunwales.  Jan is using the area for drying the laundry.  Having the finrad heaters at floor level directly below the drying rails is an added bonus.  Actually if my memory is correct it was Diane on nb Ferndale who mentioned the idea of the drying rail under the gunwale.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Nose down or we’ll stall

We probably wont stall but the bow is very high and the stern quite low.  This is a condition we have deliberately created in preparation for the pump-out at Brinklow Marina tomorrow morning.  All three diesel tanks are full and the toilet tank is just over two thirds full.  The water tank is almost empty which has left the bow quite high.  The toilet tank outlet is at the stern so; everything going well; the trim should be very good once the tank has been thoroughly emptied.  Tank capacity is two months but we do start to get rather low at the stern when it’s full and the water tank is empty.

I forgot to take the camera with me on todays walk so the photo below was taken with the phone.

Most of today was taken up with general housekeeping and computer maintenance.  We’re off to the Barley Mow tonight for a few sherberts!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spoilt !

The weather today was supposed to be miserable but somehow it missed us.  Daniel and I managed to fit in another walk around the general area. That’s two walks in three days…. we’re spoilt!   This time we went NW.  It’s an area I’ve previously walked but which was new for Daniel.

I can’t get enough of this ability to wander the many public footpaths, but am still hesitant to walk down someone’s driveway, despite the signage indicating there is public access.  Today we came upon a mother calling out for her children who had somehow managed to get themselves on the opposite side of a fence.  The damned stupid lambs obviously had been warned about “stranger danger” because they seriously resisted our efforts to reunite them with mum.  Eventually the reunion was achieved but with no thanks from their mother.  The only thing she gave us was her name, “Baa bra”.

Daniel thought this one was also lost but was quickly disabused of that notion when mum appeared and rather aggressively saw us off!

After crossing a field of wet knee high corn (footpath hadn’t been cleared) we came upon a rather charming cottage behind the field boundary hedge.

The footpath continued on the opposite side of the road and this time the crop had been poisoned along the route of the footpath.

This took us to a narrow lane with a small complex of old brick farm buildings.  Daniel took several photos but the only thing which interested me was the sight of a potential replacement hand basin.

Unfortunately it’s too big for Waiouru’s vanity unit.

A hard left turn took us back to the Oxford Canal at Hungerfield Bridge No35. 

If I recall correctly there was a sign above the door of the cottage on the opposite bank which read “Canal Inn Cottage”.  The next footpath took us across the fields to a rather dilapidated pedestrian bridge over the railway lines.  I guess the footpath was there long before the railway and therefore in order to retain the “right of way” the railway either had to build a bridge or tunnel.  The bridge looks like it only gets used by the odd walker.

Four electrified lines in rural countryside.  Unheard of in Oz or NZ!

We skirted around the boundary of Brinklow Marina having only recently walked the same ground.  At the far end of the footpath we detoured down a very narrow country lane which ended in a ford across the River Avon.  Diverting slightly north, we found another footpath and a low bridge across the river.

Obviously the Avon can flood because you can see the slightly higher adjacent walkway.

We were both slightly buggered by the time we returned to Waiouru (well I was buggered and Daniel wouldn’t admit to it!).  In our absence Jan had been running the engine to top up the batteries and had done the laundry.  She didn’t appear that pleased as we both stripped off our wet and dirty walking clothes.

Jan also mentioned another blog reader passed on nb Bluestem but unfortunately didn’t get their names.  It continues to surprise me that people find the time to read all this rubbish! Smile

Monday, 21 April 2014

Old Newbold Canal Loop

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser http://nbharnser.blogspot.com left a comment on our “Where have we been” posted on 17 April asking if we had found the route of the old canal and the old tunnel entrance.  That wetted the appetite, (nothing like a challenge) which led to some Google research.  I was rather surprised (perhaps I shouldn’t have been) to discover Les of nb Valerie and Jo & Keith of nb Hadar had beaten me to the south pole!

Because they have already covered the ground this post is going the be slightly long with more than the usual number of photos.  By the end of the post you should be able to find the former route of the canal should you pass this way.

When the North Oxford Canal was first built it followed the 300ft contour line between Hawkesbury Junction and Hillmorton.  By following the contour lines the builders reduced the need for bridges, embankments and locks.  This significantly reduced the cost but resulted in a long and wandering route.  The direct distance between Hawkesbury and Braunston is 14 miles but it’s 44 miles by canal. The Oxford Canal was quite profitable and by the early 1800’s rumours started to circulate that another company was planning to build a more direct route.  In response the Oxford Canal Company shortened the route by cutting out a number of the loops.  They managed to shorten the route by almost 11 miles.  The following maps gives an idea of what happened around Rugby.

We moored this winter at Clifton Cruisers and they use the end of the former loop [A] as an arm.  Recently Daniel and I walked the length of the exiting portion of the former loop at Brownsover [B].  The start of the loop at [C] is used by Rugby Boats.  What interested us was the former route at Newbold and the old tunnel at [D].

The following is what we discovered or deduced.

The canal used to turn right where the sandwich boards are on the towpath

It ran to the right of the “Barley Mow” and “The Boat”.  The towpath would have been where the man is standing.

I suspect the brick building on the right probably wasn’t there at the time.  Behind is is an older looking building which may have been stables for the horses.

The entrance to old Newbold Tunnel was probably located in the middle of the following photo.

Possibly on the corner.  The tunnel ran directly away from the photographers position and to the right of Newbold Church which is obscured by the trees.

In 1976 a portion of the tunnel collapsed in the church grounds.  Signs of subsidence can be seen on the lawn (red line).

The public footpath passes to the right of the church and then exits the churchyard via a gate behind the church continuing in a straight line across the fields.

Looking back at the church from the position of the gate

Immediately after the gate you are standing on the bed of the old canal and the south-western entrance to the tunnel is behind you over your right shoulder.

This is the former canal bed on the opposite side of the church boundary.  The entrance to the tunnel is obscured by the scrub.  Walking closer Daniel and I could see the bricked up tunnel entrance.

Apparently the holes were left for the bats.

turning around it was possible to see the route of the former canal as an indent in the ground.

Both of us were amused by the fact that we had walked across this same piece of ground the previous day and hadn’t noticed the indentation.

The route follows the cemetery boundary until it reaches the trees in the distance.  This area was fenced with barbed wire so we took a detour approaching the area from the opposite direction.  After some searching we found the canal bed and headed back towards the tunnel.  I was rather surprised to come upon a low brick wall which appears to have been the southern bank of the canal.

I was even more surprised when the brick wall headed away from the church ending in a bricked two sided apex.  It appeared to be a winding hole!

Bricks obscured by the undergrowth

Turning 180 degrees we beat a path through the scrub noticing more brickwork.

The vegetation then started to thin and the stinging nettles were fortunately only at calf height.  The bed of the canal was now clearly visible along with the brick walls on either side.

We then came upon a pedestrian footbridge crossing the canal bed.  I suspect the bridge structure isn’t original as the air gap between the base of the bridge and the water level would probably have been too low for boats to pass.

However we were definitely following the route of the canal because the grooves for the stop boards could be seen in the bridge abutments.

From this point onwards the canal route was quite clear.

There was a standard brick arch bridge at the end of the woodland section.

Both ends of the bridge hole were partially blocked.  I assume the farmer has done this to prevent his stock wandering out of the field on the far side.  The bridge is still in use with a sealed narrow country lane crossing over it.  On the far side is open farmland and the bed of the canal has almost disappeared.

However if you look carefully it is possible to see the slight indentation.  After the walk I marked the part we had re-discovered in Google Earth.

Back at Waiouru we found a very p!ssed Jan.  Apparently a Calcutt hire boat had decided to stop at the water point immediately behind us and decided to use Waiouru as a fender.  The steerer bounced against the side of Waiouru and slowly ground their boat all the way down the side of our gunwale until reaching the water point mooring.  No comment… let alone an apology!   At least it’s the side I have yet to repair and repaint after last season (the off side during last winter).