Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Refleks Stove

We have only recently noticed the ‘tar’ weeping from the external joints in the Refleks stove flue.  Some of this ‘tar’ has either run or dripped onto the cabin roof.

Obviously this is unsatisfactory and we need to remove it.  I first tried white spirits..  In the end we used the ‘Pink’ Jan purchased in Skipton last year. The Pink was applied using an old galley foam scouring pad.  The ‘tar’ was gradually removed from the bottom section of the flue and the collar using a gentle circular motion. I’ll post another photo when the job is complete.  Interestingly, despite the stove being lit I could grasp the flue with my bare hand whilst cleaning it.  My conclusion from this is the stove is very efficient dissipating most of the generated heat inside the boat.  This is the third year we have used the stove and the first time we’ve had a problem with tar.  I suspect that I caused the problem by not cleaning the inside of the flue at the end of last winter.  Lesson learned.

It’s been a rather frustrating cruising day.  You might almost think moored boats had deliberately spaced themselves out to ensure we moved at tick over.  It appears at least one boat has been abandoned.  I assume it will be CRT that has to pay the cost of recovery.

One that didn’t make it to London.

At least one boater was still celebrating Christmas.

Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill were advertising red diesel at 69.9p/ltr, but we had read on nb Inca’s blog diesel could be purchased for 62p at Bridge 32 Supplies.

On reaching Bridge 32 we discovered their price had risen to the same as Rugby Boats.  Nevertheless, it’s still the best price we’ve seen in quite a few months.  The gas had run out last night so we also purchased a refill.  We appear to be using four gas bottles a year.

Bridge 32 Supplies

It Is not long since we filled all the fuel tanks at Newbold so we just topped up the Refleks tank.  I subsequently did the calculations and the stove is consuming 200ml/hr.

Shortly after leaving Bridge 32 Jan could hear and feel a rattle and vibration coming from the engine.  We lifted the engine board to see the engine vibrating on it’s mountings when on low revolutions.  My immediate thought was we had a problem with the engine mounts.  1200rpm appeared to be the speed than produced the least vibration and we continued along at that pace reaching Gayton Junction.  There wasn’t a vacant mooring and we continued on to Blisworth where the moored boats were again nicely spaced eliminating any chance of mooring.  Shortly afterwards we reached the northern portal of Blisworth Tunnel.  Only one boat had passed us all day and I was hoping we wouldn’t meet another boat in the tunnel.  It’s nearly 3 kilometres long and we slowly cruised through.  With all the recent rain water was cascading from the ventilation shafts.  Initially it was warmer in the tunnel but halfway through the temperature dropped and both of us started to shiver. The small speck of light at the far end slowly got bigger and eventually we emerged into daylight.  

The cruising day ended above the top lock at Stoke Bruerne.  During a late lunch of hot soup I read that narrow boating tome of knowledge, the Canal World Discussion Forum to see if anyone had a solution to our problem.  Apparently boaters had previously suggested problems such as loose engine mounts, failed big end, loose pulley, air in the fuel lines, etc.  All of this seemed to be terribly complicated and expensive to repair.  In the end I donned my onesie and disappeared into the garden shed with a large spanner.  All the engine mounting were tight and the pulley looked secure.  “Look for the simple things first, Tom!”  We had a vibration when in gear and doing low revolutions.  I then took the engine out of gear and ran the engine at the same revolutions.  No vibration!  My deduction was we either had a gearbox, drivetrain, or propeller problem.  It was only yesterday evening that I’d previously been down the weed hatch to check the propeller.  The water is so cold I’d worn those elbow length thick rubber gloves.  However checking the propeller is the easiest (but coldest) job so I went down it again.  This time I didn’t wear the gloves.  Behold, we are now the owners of a one metre strip of towelling that was carefully tied to the prop shaft with fishing line.  Hopefully our vibration problem has now been solved!


Leo No2 said...

If you have something on the prop your tiller will 'nod' - that's always a good indication of what's happening.

Tom and Jan said...

It was nodding pretty damned fast :-)

Halfie said...

Looks like you'll be going past Jubilee - shame we won't be on board again until the end of this month.

Raymond Pearce said...

Hi Tom

we checked the chimney for our stove, and whilst there were a few bubbles of tar inside, there had not been any leakage, but we took the chance to do some preventative cleaning using a stainless steel cleaner and much better - just have to keep an eye on it.
I wonder if it has to do with changes in the quality of diesel?


Tom and Jan said...


I've been thinking that it might be a combination of the weather (cold) and the fact that the flue doesn't get very hot. The diesel residue might be condensating in the flue! I've also check the inside of the flue and it's black but not heavy with a tar like substance. A good clean is probably required.