Monday 28 October 2013

Dee Lock Story Continued

Hi all,
You may recall I posted about a possible passage through Dee Locks in Chester and on up river into Farndon (click here).  Well following my post I was contacted by a good friend David Andrews who until recently was a committee member of the Chester Heritage Trust.   His email gives a fascinating insight into event of a trip made by Narrow Boat Auriga.  David has kindly allowed me to share his email with you.  Below is his account

The reason for me writing is that in your September blog you talk about the state of the Dee Branch and navigation of the Upper Dee, a subject in which I have been keenly interested in for many years. I have made the passage over the weir twice some years ago and the experience was fantastic, both going upstream and also downstream. Here are a few useful facts which I have picked up from various people who have made the trip. A 28 ft. tide at Liverpool should just top Chester Weir. High tide at Chester is 1hr 5 mins later than Liverpool. There is (I am told) 2ft 6ins of water over the weir when the water level is up to the path along the groves. I went to check this last Sunday but the state of the tide prevented me from doing so. By using the gate in the weir by the Dee Bridge a further 12" ? of draft can be obtained. Apart from passing over the weir the main hazards are safely passing the railway bridge pillars, avoiding floating debris and on the downstream journey judging your approach to the Dee Lock as by then the tide is starting to ebb strongly and there is no landing stage to use as a refuge. There is still a statuary right to navigate this lock although as you know virtually impossible. The last time it was used was by "all by water". A person circum-navigating Wales for charity in a small inflatable.

I have recently come off the Chester Canal Heritage Trust where as you possibly remember I was a trustee, but one of the things we were working on was to try to get the C & WC Council to adopt a scheme to unify the canal and river for the benefit of locals and visitors. This still rumbles on with no great vision from the Council.

As you may be aware the IWA is to hold a campaign rally over the Dee Branch next June 6th, 7th 8th. and hopefully this will really start the ball rolling. At the moment CaRT do not see the point in restoring the Dee Lock (which is slipping down into the river) unless there is somewhere worth going, so any scheme must include a lock in the weir. It very tricky getting it right as things stand at the moment. You really only have about half an hour at the most at exactly the correct moment to complete the passage and only then when there is at least a 30ft tide. High tides are Chester are not entirely predictable as atmospheric pressure and wind direction have quite an influence. Some years ago I took a series of photos of Edmund Mortimer taking his 72ft narrow boat Auriga over the weir and into the canal in text book style and I have attached these for your interest. He had previously taken his boat up above Farndon and turned it at Crewe Hall. This is the furthest upstream I have know a narrow boat
navigate (I am not sure of the upper limit of legal navigation, but I think it might be Farndon).

I hope you find all of this interesting, and I wish you all the best with your future boating!

David also provided me with some fascinating photos of the event he mentions.  No doubt some of you may know the boat Auriga and her owners.  Is she still around and being used?

Monday 21 October 2013

Wow factor and we have a date

Hi all,
Never mind the X factor we had the wow factor today.  Chris, Amy (on her first visit to AmyJo) and myself visited Fernwoods today and I have to say the lads must have pulled the stops out over the last couple of weeks as progress was astounding.

Of course, when mum and daughter(s) get together there is always too much frivolity and they could not resist poking fun as I took a photo of them through the porthole. I decided to live up to my name of "grumpy old b*gg*r" the girls gave me, politely smiled and left them to it sorting out where everything was going to be stowed after the launch and had a look round outside.

First thing of notice is AmyJo now has her portholes installed and this had given AmyJo a different look and feel if you know what I mean. Can't put my finger on what it is just yet but its amazing what a difference they make.

 Up on the roof all the mushroom vent bases and other fittings are now in place including the plank and pole supports and the antenna for the internet connection.

Outside AmyJo is beginning to look like she is nearly finished but there is still more to be done.  The gunwales have to be painted as do the stern deck and well deck.  As there is a lot of foot traffic on these areas at the moment they will be treated nearer the end of the build.

 At AmyJo's stern I found Peter, the electrician, busy wiring up the myriad of wires to the control panel.  I do hope they will be labelled up as there seems to be so many of them!

I then joined the girls inside and everywhere I looked there has been much done.  Our radiators have now been installed

The fridge and oven are in place in the galley.  

As you can see from the photo, they look after us while we're there and we had our first cuppa on board today so a sort of christening in a small way.  If you are thinking of having a Fernwood boat I can recommend the boys for their tea making skills as well as their joinery :-)  Not a bad cuppa if I may say so!

There was also much progress in the day room with the cupboards and washing machine installed.  The long doors of these cupboards, when open, will divide off the day room from the galley to give privacy when guests use the room as a bedroom.

The empty cupboard in the photo below will house the tumble dryer eventually.  Some of you may say we should have gone for a washer dryer to save space.  Well we did consider that but we have one at home and Chris is not completely happy with it.  She does not like the fact it does not dry as well as a stand alone tumble dryer, so wanted a separate one as we have a separate one in our shed at home that we use more than the combined one indoors.

In the wet room the flooring is now down and the contrast with that and the panels work nicely to brighten up the space.  Might be a pain to keep clean as we walk through the boat but we'll have to see what we can do if that proves to be the case.

The bracket sticking out with the red tube is one of two mountings for the vanity unit that will have the sink on it.  The brackets are necessary as the unit will "float" on the wall without touching the floor.  The wall space without lining is where the loo will eventually go.

In our bedroom I could not get many photos as there is a lot of stuff in there at the moment but did manage to get this one of one of the wardrobes and what will be a chest of drawers.  The bulkhead space will eventually be all mirror to give a feel of more space.  There will be a similar arrangement on the other side of the bed.

 The back cabin is starting to take shape.  I did not want to disturb Peter too much but did manage a couple of photos.  As you can see the inverter and mains circuit boxes are going in and Peter was making connections to the control panel.  Just out of shot by his feet nestles the engine under dust covers.  Its in but not fully installed.

 Peter explained to me the various parts on the control panel that houses the main circuit breakers, LCD battery monitor, waste, drinking water and diesel tank level indicators plus the central heating control unit.

Best of all though, there was a lovely surprise waiting for us written on a board outside the office door.  I can now say AmyJo has a target launch date!  I'm afraid I'm going to keep you in suspense for that just for now as it's is only a target date and not confirmed.  Unfortunately Andy Munro was stuck on a stationary M11 after a lorry had over turned shutting it completely so was not present for us to discuss this in more detail with him. All I can for now say is it's in November :-)  I will reveal all nearer the time, I promise.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Tiller Pin, the end result

Hi all,

We just got our tiller pin ornament back from the plating workshop today and we’re really happy with the result


Unfortunately the photo’s do not do the chromium justice as it looks like the brass is still showing through but in fact they have done a superb job.  I found a small firm call Niphos Metal Finishing in Crewe who did the work and they only charged me £20.00, I think that's a good price.

We also took delivery of our captain's chair for the saloon during the week so our home is starting to look more and more like a chandlers at the moment.

We're off to Fernwood's again on Monday so should have some more to report on progress.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Latest visit to Fernwoods

Hi Everyone

Just back from another visit to see how things are progressing on AmyJo today.  The journey there was interesting as the sun was bright and low making driving at 8am difficult at times.  Signs of Autumn were everywhere and those glorious gold colours were making their mark on the foliage everywhere you look.  I do so love these autumn colours in bright sunshine.

Chris had to work today so I had to make the visit on my own.  I arrived at Fernwood's at 11am and found AmyJo's transformation is still going apace.  There are no new pictures of her outside as she is covered up in sheeting while the other boat in the shed gets its cabin painted.

I apologise for the quality of the photos but I forgot to charge the camera battery and it decided to warn me it was low on power as I took the first pictures so the flash was not at full strength.

Starting with inside AmyJo at the back cabin, the Erberspacher heater has been installed and the calorifier was in progress of being fitted.  The small back toilet compartment now sports a cupboard and a sink

Ample room in front for the porta potti
Our bedroom was starting to take shape and all the wardrobe components were ready to be put together

In the wet room the towel rail was in place and we understand the flooring will be laid next week.

The day room had not changed much but the remaining units were now in place in the galley.

The essentials cupboard
In the saloon the rest of the panelling was going in giving a better idea of the finished look.  I must say it looks amazing.

Front entrance moulding

It was off the boat that was the most interesting and everywhere I looked parts for AmyJo could be found.  Most noticeable is AmyJo's heart, the Beta 50, has arrived and will be fitted into her next week

In the fitting workshop another surprise in the vanity unit for the wet room was getting its finishing touches

The front doors are complete and are waiting to be put aboard as is the day room table and radiators.

So that's about is for now.  We have another visit arranged for the 21st so Chris can go along and see for herself.  We're extremely happy with the way things are going and really enjoying this part of AmyJo's journey.

And the news I promised?  We do not yet have a launch date but its not far off.  As AmyJo's launch is looking to be in November we will not be able to cruise her home until next spring so we have managed to acquire a winter mooring for her near where she will be launched so Christmas is looking to be extra special for us this year. 

Saturday 5 October 2013

DIY Tiller Pin

Hi all,
I'm dead chuffed with myself tonight.

Chris and I have been looking at tiller pins for AmyJo but have not been able to find anything that takes our fancy.  With our sailing background we really wanted something that relates to sailing boats.  We looked around and simply could not find any sail boat tiller pins.

I did bit more Googling and realised that most tiller pins consisted of a brass ornament with a stainless rod, usually 6mm to 8mm diameter, screwed into its base.  So I searched around for a brass sailing boat ornament or paper weight but most of them consisted of tall, sharp and pointed sails, far too dangerous for my liking.  

I was about to give up on the idea when I came across a brass sailing boat about 4 inches tall with sails that would not act as a dagger and thought it would make a suitable tiller pin, but, how to make it into one?

My metalwork skills have never been that good but when Roy passed away I inherited several taps and dies suitable for creating threads.  I looked through these and found a tap and die for an M6 metric thread and resolved to have a go at it myself.

I purchased some 6mm 316 stainless steel rod and set about cutting a thread on it with the die.  Once that was done I carefully mounted the brass sailing boat in a vice.  Drilled a 5mm hole in its base and then tapped out an M6 thread into it. Screwed the rod into the sailing boat and voila ....

I'm really pleased with the result if I may say so myself.  As AmyJo's fittings are mainly chromium the next step is to get the sail boat Chromed so it matches the rest of the fittings