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Braunston -> Yelvertoft

Braunston -> Yelvertoft

Step 1: Braunston to Watford Locks

Two flights of locks. One of them staircase locks at Watford.The other Braunston Locks. One that I’ve done a few times now.

Braunston Locks are very tiring. And I was kind of happy when I found that due to water shortages, the Watford flight closed at night when the volunteers went home.

Being staircase locks, only one boat can go through at a time. And the CRT like you to book ahead, (which I didn’t).

During the day, the CRT prefer to keep it manned. Previously, at night, they let the public traverse the locks as they wished. Due to water shortages, this practice stopped, and passing through the flight is only possible with the aid of the lock-keeper.

I woke up around eight, and got going just before nine. Entering the first lock at 8.50am. Luckily, they are good and fast and I made it through the whole flight in around an hour. Apart from my button getting stuck under the gates at the top lock, all went without event, and I set off on my way again.

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Flecknoe -> Braunston

Flecknoe -> Braunston

People do moor in-between, but there’s no road access, so it’s useless to me.

Fairly picturesque and popular.

Old Braunston

At the moment, I’m at Braunston, ancient Bargee village.

All things barge are here, chandlers x 3. Marina x 1. Canalside pubs x2. And some other shops and services connected to the trade.

I was moored here for the winter on the Rugby arm.

This time I’m on Oxford arm.

There’s no piling and I’m moored up on pins but it’s a much better mooring for a number of reasons.

Not least because:

  • The towpath isn’t overgrow. On the Rugby arm, the trees hang down and you have to crouch to pass them. This is for about 20-25 yards.
  • The trees don’t overhang. They stand up straight, not grow up over my solar and cast shade over the boat.
  • Parking is better. Not on the A45 which you have to cross daily.
  • Quicker into town. Not by much, but a shorter walk into Braunston.
Mooring in Braunston
Mooring in Braunston

Views are better.

Got a better all over ambiance certainly compared to mooring on the Rugby arm, but also in toward the village. It’s nicer here because you’re out in the country.

Will have to turn Bonnie round in due course, as she’s pointing in the wrong direction.

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Fitting flexible solar panels to a narrowboat

Fitting flexible solar panels to a narrowboat

This is a short guide to installing flexible solar panels to a narrowboat.

Background

I’ve lived on my boat for 2 years. When I first started, I was located in a Marina. Everything was laid on, showers, water, electrical hook-up.

It reminded me of a high-rise flat for boats. After my boat was painted, I took it up on a journey to the most Northern and Southern reaches of the UK canal system.

It was called Bonnie Journey, in the name of the boat. You can read about it here.

It included some cycling, which I had to postpone due to injury. Whilst I was waiting for my injuries to recover, I stationed myself on the Kennet and Avon.

Kennet and Avon

Burbage wharf
Near Burbage

As visitors to this waterway will know. Kennet and Avon Marinas are few and far between.

I decided to try continuous cruising. When you’re continuous cruising, all your energy has to be self generated.

You’re entirely ‘off the grid’. In the winter, this was a case of starting the engine.

As the sun began to shine, in the run up to spring, I began to think of the advantages of solar.

After my boat was fully painted, I decided that the next job to be done, was to fit some solar panels, and take advantage of the free energy!

I’m now in a position to do that.

Researching

Most people are going to find that this is the most lengthy part of the process.

Before you shell out large sums of money, you want to ensure you’re getting something which is fully compatible with your needs.

The first question you need to ask yourself before fitting solar is –

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Calcutt Boats -> Flecknoe

Calcutt Boats -> Flecknoe

It’s amazing the power a little post on social media has…

Imagine.

My little problem with invoicing at Calcutt boats magically disappeared! Simply paid the bill and left.

Social media and complaining

I was discussing this with my respondents the other day. If you’ve got a grievance with a company these days, often the only way to get someone to take notice of you is posting some nasty stuff about it and spamming it out on social media.

They no longer man the phones any more. You’ll be lucky to get a response by letter.

Working for people like Amazon, I know this to be true.

They will just ignore you till the cows come home. Nothing you can do.

Once you start blowing them up on social-media, it’s a different story, you get a response pretty quick.

Same with this Calcutt Boats thing. One day there’s a problem. Post it on social media and it disappears.

Magic!

Flecknoe

I’ve moved the boat a little further down. To Flecknoe.

This is out in the wilds.

The nearest real shops are Daventry, which is 5 miles away.

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Weedon -> Calcutt Boats

Weedon -> Calcutt Boats

Calcutt Boats

Supposedly to get a Eberspächer fitted, which on arrival, they claim to know nothing about.

As well as that, they’ve given me an invoice with a cost from my last visit. That was on the 8th July 2017.

An invoice that was paid at the time. On my querying it. The guy Matt, went off and brought out another invoice.

This time the invoice, which was again paid at the time, had been “entered it into the system wrongly”.

For this reason. It was up to me to pay it again.

Calcutt Boats dodgy invoice
Calcutt Boats dodgy invoice

Whether they’re trying to scam me out of money here, I don’t know. I do have eyes. That’s certainly what it looks like to me.

Blacking

Apart from that I’ve had some blacking done.

Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Fitting Anodes at Calcutt Boats
Fitting Anodes at Calcutt Boats

This and a service, which, to be honest, I could have done anywhere.

Eberspächer

The main reason for bringing the boat here was to have it priced for the fitting of an Eberspächer.

Something which was agreed in emails months before.

When I arrived. They claimed no knowledge of it.

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Painting a narrowboat water-tank

Painting a narrowboat water-tank

** Update 27th July, 2018.**

After coating with Vactan
After coating with Vactan

During last summer, the heat of the sun on the hull and the cool of the interior of the water-tank caused a lot of the coating, previously discussed in this post, to flake off.

This left flakes of toxic residue in my water and made it unsuitable as a potable water source.

As an alternative to climbing into the water-tank and getting myself covered in toxic bitumen water-tank paint in the blazing hot summer sun, I decided to try another suggested solution for the coating of watertanks on narrowboats, that would be VACTAN.

Vactan

A water based product. Instead of bitumen, it applies a latex anti-corrosive coat to the watertank.

The advantages of VACTAN vs Rylards Water-tank coating

VACTANRYLARDS
PreparationRemove lose materials and residuesRemove lose materials and residues
Number of coats12
Time between coats1hr8hr
Drying time1hr7days
TypeWater basedBitumen based
DatasheetDatasheet

Below, there are 5 steps to coating your water-tank.

To amend that.

  1. Strip the loose and decayed metal (#1)
  2. Apply VACTAN (#4)
  3. Flush the residue (#5)

If you decide to use one of the other coatings, then you need to take the steps below.

I’ve made a short video about my experience in applying VACTAN and some of the practical observations about using the product.

Painting a narrowboat water-tank, old version

This little story is about how to paint a narrowboat water-tank:

There’s 5 steps

  1. Strip the loose and decayed metal
  2. Work surfaces down to bare metal or non-corroded paint
  3. Apply Iron Oxide paint to areas still rusting
  4. Apply bitumen blacking paint
  5. Remove paint residue

Time:

Stripping and prepping (rusty tank) – 2days
Painting (1 primer and 1 top) – 2 days

Total – 4-5 Days

*This is doing it fast. If you want to paint the tank in two halves it’s going to add a day.

Cost:

Paint – £15-£20
Brushes – £15 -£20

Total – £40

Step #1:Strip loose and decayed metal

Tools:

Shave-hook – Triangular headed scraper

Triangular headed scraper
Triangular headed scraper

Water pump

rule il280p pump
rule il280p pump

 

Narrowboat watertank rust
Removed a few shovel-fulls of rust.

Located right at the front of the boat, the water-tank has been rusting for a while. The paint has come off over time leading to corrosion and a build up of sediment at the bottom of the tank.

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Adding to narrowboat battery bank

Adding to narrowboat battery bank

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been planning to upgrade the electrics of Bonnie Lady narrowboat.

One of the first jobs has been to add to the battery bank

Battery Bank

Is a collection of batteries which feed the boat and all the appliances on it.

Currently, we have 2 AGM 120ah leisure batteries in the bank. (There’s a starter battery, since none of the appliances run off this, I’ve not included it. It starts the engine. End of).

agm-leisure-battery-lp120
Due to the ‘live-on’ nature of the boat, this really isn’t enough:-

  • If you want to watch telly
  • If you want to be able to charge your computer, run printers, charge hoovers etc.
  • If you’re planning on having solar panels fitted

Solar panels will charge 4 leisure batteries during the course of a sunny day and less on more covered, cloudy conditions. The more batteries in the bank, the more cushion you have to soak up and store excess energy when it’s available. This may be through running the engine, or through the solar panels. When it’s raining, and you end up sitting around the boat all day with the lights on using the internet, you’ll really appreciate the difference!

Adding batteries to the battery bank

Major considerations are:-

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Weedon -> Dodford

Weedon -> Dodford

Or thereabouts…

Dodford - Grand Union
Spot Bonnie

This is my new home. It’s perhaps 800m from the car. A little way.

Flore Bypass

There is a meadow opposite and some constructions where they are building the new road connecting the A45 to the M1, bypassing Flore, which it currently runs right through…

The A45 is a noisy, busy road. They are building some new houses in Flore, so I guess it’s going to alleviate residents concerns by removing a lot of the ‘through’ traffic.

It’s very peaceful and there is a meadow opposite, meaning you get a few butterflies coming over.

Pretty uncommon in modern day Britain. I’d seen moths, but these were my first butterflies this year.

They weren’t Red Admirals or anything, Purple Hairstreak according to this website.

Here’s a picture of where I’m located now.

 

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Painting the water tank (cover)

Painting the water tank (cover)

Not actually climbing into the water-tank this time. Just on the outside, painting the lid.

It’s been one of those jobs waiting to be done but never got round to it.

The weather has cleared up for the past few days, so I removed it and got some paint on it.

This is when I was painting and sanding it.

Eventually took the orbital out. Sanding by hand just takes too long.

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Stowehill -> Weedon

Stowehill -> Weedon

Now just on the outskirts of Weedon. Weedon Bec I think they call this place. It’s all very peaceful apart from some horrible yapping dogs which belong to the permanent moorers pictured on the left and side of this photograph.

They’re on the other side of the canal, or I might be tempted to give one of the little shits a swift boot in the head as I walk past.

Annoying little rats.

Nene Valley Way

Here’s some pictures from Stowehill, Nene Valley Way, which runs right along beside the canal and then down to the Narrowboat Inn on the A5.

Whilst I was moored over there, I took a walk down the Nene Way on a number of occasions.

It runs along the river at some points.

I cycled down the Nene Valley Way through Northampton and down to Cogenhoe and had lunch in a pub.

It becomes a little wider after you reach Hunsbury fields, turns into a cycle path until you get to the other side of Northampton, at which point it reverts to a path.

 

Nene Valley Way

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