Friday 30 October 2015

Holiday ends and everything hits us at once.

Hi all,

Sorry for suddenly dropping out of sight for a while. Since we got back from our River Weaver cruise everything has come at us at once so we have not had time to draw breath. To make matter's worse our bank manager has now taken us of his Christmas card list.

So where to begin.....

We left Middlewich and was surpised to find very few boats queuing at the locks for a Saturday only having one boat ahead of us but plenty coming the other way. As the locks were in our favour this meant we made Barbridge by 3pm and was lucky to moor outside the Barbridge Inn.  We booked a table for evening meal and spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning AmyJo.  During our meal that night the rain started and a spectacular thunder storm with lots of lightning passed through.  Note to self don't clean the boat again!

Our last day out, Sunday, started off fine but as the day wore on the black clouds became our companions.  It was not long before a heavy shower hit us.  As luck would have it we had just stopped at the Shady Oak, mooring right outside, and was inside having lunch.  Seems our run of good weather was over.

We made it back to Tattenhall to be informed by Amy that the builders we booked to do our front room wanted to start work as soon as possible i.e Monday.  They were taking down the ceiling, putting up larger rafters, plaster-boarding the ceiling, then plastering it and all the walls.  It was a case jumping straight into the car and off to the house to move all the furniture out of the room into our bedroom as quick as possible.

Rafters to be added to beef up and straighten
the sagging ceiling

New electrics and fire place going in

Hall re plastered

The end result in the front room

and hall

Whilst this was going on you will recall our batteries were having problems holding a charge.  I managed to get a load tester and found four of the 6 were no good.  Nothing for it but to order six new ones.  We decided this time to upgrade to AGMs.  The cost meant no Christmas card for us this year from the bank manager but never mind.  We think what happened is the batteries were discharged too low as we were not cruising more than 2 hours every other day and they did not recover from that.  An expensive lesson learned.  Monitor my battery state more closely!

To add to this our solar panel fitter announced he was fit for work at last and could he come and install the solar panels which he did on Tuesday.  This meant I had to finish off the top box to take two of the panels.  I'll post on this later.

On 7th October AmyJo was lifted out of the water and we spent the week having her bottom blacked and a few other jobs done.  We have also had a bracket welded on the stern to allow a car tow ball to be mounted.  This will facilitate a bike rack to be set-up.  I don't like the bikes on the roof as Chris cannot see over them.  At the same time I touched up the gunwales and tunnel bands plus a few minor rust spots here and there.

AmyJo's hull after power washing.  Not too bad but plenty of bare steel

Blacking begins

Dave hard at work putting on the second coat of blacking

Gunwales sanded and ready for a coat of Epithanes

Freshly painted Tunnel bands and the new Bike rack bracket welded in place

All spruced up and ready to go back in
Back to the batteries.  Whilst replacing these with Rolls AGM 115AH ones, I took the opportunity to upgrade our blue VE.Net display to the new colour control GX as this allows the Solar controller to be connected to it so the charge from the panels can be seen on the display.  The new colour control needed a different battery monitor to the blue panel so one of these was also to be added.  This will upgrade AmyJo's electrics to the latest Victron control systems and add the solar panel display so we'll be able to report back on their output.  One good outcome of all this is I'm getting to know exactly how AmyJo's electrical system works.

The batteries arrived a few days later so we arranged to move AmyJo onto the visitors mooring.  The reason was the batteries were delivered to the house.?  At 72lb (30kg) each they are heavy to carry so we loaded 3 each into our cars and transported them to AmyJo, having only a short walk to get them to her stern.

I then removed the old batteries 2 at a time replacing them with two new ones.  It was time to reconnect everything up and it was then I hit a snag.  The pos and neg posts on the new batteries are slightly further apart and this meant the cables were too short.  The solution was to turn every other battery round 180 degrees so its neighbour's post was closer.  AmyJo has a 24volt system so this meant wiring 2 batteries as a pair together in series then each of the 3 pairs in parrallel ( sorry for the techy explanation here).

The new batteries in place

Eventually, after all that heaving and cursing and huffing and puffing, I turned the isolator switch on and AmyJo burst into life with everything working fine.  Final job was to hook up the invertor via the USB interface to my laptop and calibrate it to charge AGM batteries instead of lead acid ones (not for the faint hearted and done with Fernwoods electrician on the phone to assist).  If you are not electrically minded I would not recommend doing this on your own.

We're now monitoring the voltage and once the batteries have had a good charge to settle them in we'll disconnect the mains and let them discharge as recommended by the manufacturer.  This helps improve battery efficiency and prolong their life.

The last job to do was to replace the blue controller display with the new colour display so we can see the solar panel performance as well.  This was delayed as I found out our current battery monitor is not compatible with the colour display so had to order a new later version.  This duly arrived so I got on and replaced everything.

The new display shows the output from the Solar panels nicely
I wonder, is life as hectic when you retire? I do so hope not.

Thats all for now.  Next post I'll update you on our solar panels and the other new addition added to AmyJo.


Tom and Jan said...

Very interesting. Does the new Victron panel show the amount of charge from the engine alternators?

Tom and Jan said...

Very interesting. Does the new Victron panel show the amount of charge from the engine alternators?

nb AmyJo said...

Hi Tom
sadly not yet but Victron intend to include that in a later update. The colour display is quite configurable so updates like that are possible

Unknown said...

Hi I have a system similar to yours (victron, 24 v AGMs etc.) It allows me to see charge to and from the batteries from all sources including the alternator. It might be worth giving me a call 07787427094 to discuss this and some of the other points you have raised. I am moored at Aqueduct Marina if you wish to see anything in the flesh.