Trillium's Trundlings...

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Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:56 pm

More ravings from the Continent....


AND here, O best beloveds, we start the Expedition Log of the gallant MV “Trillium”… colloquially known as “Trilly”. Today, indeed, should have been far into the furthest reaches of said Expedition; however, things being what they are, mechanical mischief being what it is, and also given the usual dose of procrastination on behalf of her Captain, Owner and Master, being the triumverate comprising your faithful scribe, the total distance covered so far amounts to the difference between the Roman and Arabic numbering systems… the Zero.
 
Yes, ‘tis true….not one micron has her keel travelled; to my eternal shame I have been sorting out the myriad of problems that aged mechanics are heir to…that’s Mechanics as in Machinery, not Mechanics as in Henry Royce, Mechanic…although the mechanic writing this drivel is, indeed, ageING (if not actually agED)… so THINGS, not those of us beholden to them and fated by our ancestors to delve into the uttermost recesses of stuff wot go whirr! and chug! and pocketapocketapocketa! (if you remember your Walter Mitty). It has taken far, far too long to deal with all the thousand natural shocks that flesh (even mechanical flesh) is heir to. Who could forget the saga of the fuel system? That ran for the whole of last summer and has only just been concluded with the Cleaning of the Starboard Tank and the Changing of the Petrol Tap….not quite in the same class as the Changing of the Guard, but requiring a similar degree of effort. At least. Then there was the Fitting of the Hood…by a man with two dysfunctional arms, Laurel and Hardy weren’t in it, must have been a wonder to behold. Also the Stripping, Sanding and Varnishing of the Wood Around the Hull…and the brasswork…and the Grab Rails on the Cabin Roof. Oh yes.. and the Fitting of the New Bunk Light, with it’s attendant Dedicated Accumulator.
 
It has, for sure, been a semiHerculean Task…one for a half-assed God… but now….. at last……it has been completed by the Fitting of the New Tyre to the Ship’s Bicycle (one with WHEELS, not what you rude engineering types might have thought) and the Adjusting of said Bicycle to make it rideable by an obese oik in his 70th year.
 
Today was to have been the start… but I was shanghaied into lunch. As it was with Oscar, he of the Wilde persuasion, I can resist anything but temptation….so it will be Wednesday the 19th August that this gallant little vessel, once the denizen of the Thame and Isis, crosser of the World’s Busiest Shipping Lane (in thick fog, once), cruiser of the continental waterways and the reason that I found Mole End…it will be TOMORROW that the lines are cast off and the first lock negotiated en route to the Main Line of the Upper Canal.
 
After that….I could go North…towards Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses, Chatillon-Coligny and Montargis…..or South, towards Beaulieu, Mole End, Léré, and Sancerre. Since I fully intend to go one week going south and then north and another going north and then south, finding myself back where I started not once but twice, it will make little difference. I think I shall toss a coin at the exit of the Cognardière lock and leave the decision to those same fates that have, in equal measure, been dogging and assisting my miserable efforts.
 


AND here,dear readers, is Day Two of the Expedition. This day, we finally quit the Harbour at Briare… and launched ourselves upon the navigable waterways of Western France. Even then, it took far longer than I had thought… given the need to fill water tanks and go shopping and change the lines for the cruising ones and sort out the odds and sods that every cruise requires…
At this point, I would like to thank Paul and Debs for the loan of their garage… in which Viv –the-Volvo is currently dozing. One thing less to worry about….
Bit by bit I worked my way through the pre-flight checklist… until there were no excuses left; and it was time to head off and drag the old girl away from where she had been hibernating for several seasons. Various luminaries ( mostly of the Scottish persuasion)  were in attendance to see the expedition through the first lock…. At 1430 precisely. We then trundled up the remaining two locks to the Main Line…. Having to wait at each one, for assorted hire boats and the curse of the waterways…the Trip Boat.  This thing insisted on coming down through the La Cognardière lock…. And then turning round and going back UP again!!!! Totally bloody pointless. They used to run from the Port de Plaisance  and go through all the locks… then across the aqueduct, the Pont Canal by Eiffel… and back again. Now….. they just get in the way. I was glad that I managed to be on the Pont Canal as they were crossing in front of me…. This meant that they had to stop and wait as I crossed , until I had got to the other side. After waiting for them to fart about, this cheered me up quite a bit….
Having traversed the Loire, I continued to Chatillon-sur-Loire where I am  now moored for the night. A very pleasant trip in the sunshine and totally hassle free; and cocktail hour was enjoyed with a couple of large tall freezing draughts, thanks to my NEW freezer… this is its first trip …. Gotta love those icy drinks…..
Tomorrow we shall press on southward… could stop at Beaulieu.. or  Léré… or wherever. No pressure….. Even managed to put the hood up…with my limited upper body movement….. And so… at 0050….to bed.



 
The Cruise….Days Two and Three. I think…..!!
 
It is now several days since I found myself in new and unusual circumstances….(that’s a paraphrase of the opening of “Journey into Space” by Chares Chilton…!) In my case, it’s not the Moon but the boat.. not been on her for any period for several years. Much work has been done to restore her to some semblance of Bristol Fashion…and reasonably successfully, too, having had several compliments from other voyaging matelots. They all like the polished and lacquered brass…so much nicer and distinctive than plebeian chrome….
 
And now to The Voyage. We left our readers with Trilly moored at Chatillon-sur-Loire, where we passed a comfortable and FREE night…
Always the best sort….and finally, after a late and restrained breakfast of the ubiquitous croissants and the unheard-of-in-France Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade…after that, we set off towards the South. I had fired up the GPS that Tony had given me…this is the first time EVER that I have known how fast Trilly goes; and it pleases me to report that my estimations have been accurate…with the throttle set to the line I marked on the throttle quadrant, we were indeed doing 6 knots. Normal cruising speed on the cut seems to be about 5mph or 8 to 9 kph. The day’s run consisted of 15 kilometres or so and one lock…but was destined not to be hassle free…
 
The first clue to this was when I was passed by a duo of agricultural types with tractors and….MOWERS…. aarrggghhh… They are cutting the grass!!! Not good news, as all the clippings go into the cut…and are unerringly drawn to form a sphere of redundant greenery around Trilly’s prop. This makes progress difficult…prop efficiency becomes the square root of bugger all and the poor little Anglia van engine labours mightily under the strain….the usual dodge of going into reverse didn’t seem to be helping. So I pressed on….and the aforementioned Anglia van engine decided it would protest by misfiring. Splutterspluttersplutter she went…. Tried applying Lots of Power, but that didn’t clear the problem… although it was interesting that the speed differential between a gentle cruise and flat out was only about 1mph….at the cost of mucho pushwater. We limped along in the afternoon sunshine…thought about stopping at Beaulieu…but pressed on to Belleville. This is well within walking distance of Mole End…should facilities be needed…and the bike on the back meant that I could easily pedal off there if circumstances warranted it. Still…engine too hot and evening too nice to be “engineering” so I mixed a long tall coldie and gave up for the day.
 
Had a nice chat with the lady in the tourist office..she only had electrical leads which were tens of metres long…but said that the shop in the shack next door might have some shorter ones…in any event; it was all “gratuit” wot is Frog for FREE….(!) Shop next door sells immensely overpriced “gourmet” stuff…charging over twice the supermarket price. So I just got my leccy lead and connected Trilly and got the batteries on charge and settled down for the evening. Dined on a bacon chilli cheeseburger and chips……for which I have been suffering ever since… judicious administration of Immodium has helped, however.
 
I have been reading avidly ever since I got on board…under way, stopped, in locks, wherever. I have read 5 novels in three days…. Bliss!!
The new reading light over the forward bunk has proved ideally sited and of more than adequate illuminating intensity…
The third day has been characterised by immobility..Immodium immobility, if you get my drift…so I have just lain fallow at the moorings, in the sunshine…got out the garden umbrella and sat under it in a pleasant breeze, reading one of the Jesse Stone police novels…finished that about 1300 so decided I would look at the engine….
 
Misfiring. Annoying, or what? This is 99% certain to be down to the ignition system…the fuel system having been reduced to separate components, inspected, cleaned, rectified and reassembled, I was pretty sure that at least that bit had to be OK. Thus, first thing…take the plugs out, the distributor cap off, the rotor arm out, retire to cockpit inspect and see what they all looked like. The plugs came out, no problem, using the first tool I ever bought…an articulated plug wrench I bought to get the plugs out of the MG TC back in 1967…aaarrggghhh…how can I be this OLD???!!! The distributor cap and leads came off, along with the rotor arm…they went onto the old tin tray with a painting of a prowling ginger cat on that I bought in Woking when we were all young….and I took up residence in the cockpit.
 
First thing: clean the plugs. So I had my Official Champion Plug Cleaning Brass Wire Brush…and grabbed a plug and began beavering away. Off came the coating of carbon…then I prodded down inside the thing with a Very Small Screwdriver and prised the carbon out of the innards of the thing. Cleaned it right up…checked the plug gap using my own personal feeler gauge…the Calibrated 22thou Left Thumbnail! Once I was happy, I pressed on with the second plug…
Hang about!! It looked different somehow…the gap between the centre bit and the outside seemed bigger? So I looked at the two plugs side by side…and they were different…the first one was a Champion, and the other three were NGK. So I explored the boat for other plugs… in lockers and drawers and cabinets…and found three more Champions (different from the first one) one more NGK (rusty!) and three Marechal French ones. The only set I had, all the same, would be the three NGKs that came out of the engine and the rusty one I had found. A good look at the rusty Cousteau revealed that it didn’t look too bad… so I set to with wire brush and scourer and screwdriver and thumbnail…and declared it to be serviceable. Then I did the other three…and finally had a set of identical plugs…which had to be a Weapon Against The Misfire…!!
 
The distributor cap and rotor arm were inspected and tweaked a bit, then I put the thing back together.
 
And turned the key….
 
And she went pocketapocketapocketa just like wot she orter. I did go through the usual twiddling…adjusting for perfection…and in the end she was idling at a satisfyingly slow speed and responding to the throttle, so I put her into gear and she was just as perfect driving the prop…which makes me think that my grassy sphere (remember the grassy sphere?!) around the prop had miraculously dispersed.
 
Me happy bunny. Otto and his Four Cycles have been assuaged…and it was unilaterally declared to be Beer O’clock….not going anywhere today, more reading to do…..   

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by Chris Meyer on Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:02 pm

Please clarify, are you reading or writing books? Envious of your journey, although not of your vexatious trials and tribulations* (fairly certain if you say this word with a french accent it is correct, since I understand that 1500 words that end "tion" are the same)

Chris

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:50 pm

Dead right, Chris...spoken French is a whole lot easier than the written sort, as the endings all SOUND the same....and if you can produce a half way decent accent, it works well. I get mistaken for a Belgian...the complete opposite of Poirot..... Trials and tribulations are all part of the fun!!

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by Liberty on Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:54 pm

Poetry.... Pure poetry!!!
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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by Simritdave on Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:06 pm

Brilliant, I try to read it as you might recount your stories.  It really would help if you were to post a picture of you at the helm. 
I look forward to the next leg of your journey, will you be doing doughnuts down the canal as Dean did in The North Sea?
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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:40 pm

I despise "doughnuts"...unless they are sugar coated and contain jam!!! Trilly does go round and round in small circles sometimes...but usually only when waiting for a lock on the Seine; these are huge and have no waiting facilities for our sized boats, so the circular holding pattern works well!!! Don't get me started on the tyre destroying dolts....There were some photos on one of the earlier incarnations of this magnificent forum. No photographic apparatus on board, sadly....but I shall see what I can manage....

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by RichK on Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:40 pm

And I thought Tom Rolts Narrowboat book was good, this beats it hands down, keep it up Smile
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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by F23 flittermouse on Sat Aug 22, 2015 11:07 am

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful peagreen boat ...............
Edward Lear watch out , Moley's in unbridled verbose mode !!!

I can even smell the newmown grass and the " Eau de Canal"
Wonderful  Very Happy

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Sat Aug 22, 2015 11:50 am

Another Indolent Day….
 
Still moored here at Belleville; the clouds of water vapour rise lazily from the cooling towers of our local “Centrale Nucleaire”…yes, a nuclear power station. It has two reactors and is one of many that lie beside the Loire…you can navigate your light aeroplane by the artificial clouds, makes things very easy. Back in 1996, when I was first in Briare, my chums brought our aeroplane over to the local aerodrome…and I flew myself around the course I had taken from Auxerre to Briare. Down the Canal du Nivernais, and up the Canal Lateral à la Loire…during which trip I first saw the little chalet that is now my residence secondaire in France. The boat trip took weeks; the Airtourer did it in a bit less than an hour(!)…both great fun, in different ways.
 
Today’s weather bids fair to be soporific…it is 80 F at 1130…hardly any breeze…but the sun umbrella over the cockpit gives pleasant shade, and the gas fridge under the helmsman’s seat is readily to hand, with it’s cargo of beer, wine and drinks, soft, thirst for the assuaging of. There is electricity; I have just refilled the water tank; the nearby café and supermarché (just down an alley from the canal) stand ready to provide the necessary sustenance…if I can be bothered….and the Test Match Special on R4 long wave will suffice for the day’s essential misery. If yesterday’s effort is anything to go by….
 
I may yet move the old girl a few kilometres further up the hill; that would put me on the same pound as my chalet. There is a restaurant at Sury-pres-Léré  that I have never tried…just dropped by for a swift celebratory beer after putting the power unit back into the Lotus some years ago, when they had just opened. “Chez Fred” the place is called, and people speak well of it. My personal favourite is La Gaieté Léerienne, in the next village up. That is truly magnificent and has a reassuringly restricted menu, changing four times a year with the seasons; everything is made by the chef-proprietor and it now has a mention in the Michelin guide… So the pleasures of the trough may yet conquer the idleness of the day.
 
I have been sitting in the cockpit watching one of the local raptors in a desultory hunt. What this bird is, I know not…but it’s big and glides effortlessly, banking to display the invasion stripes on its wings. It hungrily surveys the wheeling flock of lesser tweeters as they intercept insects; they can learn nothing from us about aerial combat…the need for lunch is their driving force. I wonder if the eagleything is one from the wood close to my chalet…it nests in the wood, and I once saw it hand a kill over to its mate in mid air…to take back and feed the ever open mouths of family. Every time I see these raptors, I wonder if they can SEE the air currents? The roiling atmosphere, the thermals giving effortless altitude, the downdraughts laying in wait for the unwary….what does the world look like to these keen eyed hunters?
 
A slight disturbance in the time/space continuum…a few ripples on the canal(!).. heralds the arrival of a fully loaded péniche . A rare sight on the canals these days, although there is still considerable commercial traffic further north, down here such sightings get fewer every year as the trucks take over. A péniche is a thing to be wary of when in a 22 foot plastic eggshell; this one was called “SUNNY” and was a standard Freycinet canal barge…all 38 metres of its riveted iron hull, scraping along the bottom of the canal raising clouds of mud and silt. They are dreadfully slow… being behind one is misery…but they usually respond cheerfully to a request to pass them, they listen out on VHF channel 10. It’s a bit like the first encounter with a dinosaur in “Jurassic Park”… one gets used to the small stuff on the cut, so when the sort of boat they were made for shows up it comes as a bit of a shock. They may be big, compared with we plaisanciers … but they are not immune from attack by even larger vessels.
 
The first time I was in France with Trilly…in 1980…I had left Calais on the canal and meandered through one idyllic, bucolic ecluse before I got to the main line canal. I remember one lock in paticular…according to Bristow’s tome, “Through the French Canals”, it should have been either a three lock staircase or a hydraulic boat lift…in reality it was a rectangular door in a cliff face! You entered once the gate had risen, passed under it through the opening with the water still draining off it and splashing all over you. Then you found yourself in a gigantic chamber…football pitches weren’t in it…and I was first in; so I went as far down as I could and gratefully made fast to a floating bollard, which would rise gently with the placid water and gave no cause for concern. The lock was so deep that the sky seemed a very distant blue rectangle… then I noticed the péniche that followed me in…it was actually two of the things, one behind the other, lashed together with steel hawsers. That was the biggest thing I had seen so far…but things were still evolving. Behind it there came something that dwarfed any idea of a canal boat. It was a pusher convoy of tanker barges, containing hydrocarbures .. essentially, diesel fuel. There were, if I remember correctly, three of these immense semi submerged tanks…decks awash…pushed by a twin engined  pusher tug, with a control room that would rise and fall by hydraulics, to give visibility forward and still be able to get under the bridges. This was being runn by a man and his wife…he was at the front of the behemoth, taking care of the mooring, and she was at the controls. It slowly trickled into the lock alongside me, and behind the twin péniche . There was a roar of engines as Madame went astern to stop the thing…after which she shot below to put the kettle on.
 
Sadly, it hadn’t actually stopped…it was still moving forward almost imperceptibly…but the man on the twin péniche had noticed, as it was getting closer to his rudder.. and he yelled at Monsieur on the front tank. He tried to get the thing stopped…shouting “ARRIERE!!!ARRIERE!!!” into the intercom…but Madame was making coffee. So he seized on the hawser mooring lines and swiftly threw it over one of the mooring  points set into the side of the lock and made it fast. This was about as effective as trying to lasso a horse using string cheese. The hawser stretched…got bar tight…and went PING, as the force exerted on it went past the breaking strain. The tanker convoy was still moving, inexorably, towards the péniches rudder. Much shouting ensued…but all possibility of a successful outcome had now gone, so I watched the inevitable mouth agape, still learning new words for my French vocabulary(!) The tank made contact with the rudder…this is made of about 3/4” steel plate. It crumpled like wet cardboard. More new words!!! A fine demonstration of kinetic energy being ½ M V squared…not much velocity, but by golly there was more mass than you could shake a stick at!!! The rudder pintles gave way…the péniche was now immobilised…even MORE new words!!!! The lock keeper came down from his lofty eerie overlooking the scene. He had his turn at shouting…then it was decided that the lock should be filled anyway, and up we all went. Once the top gates opened, I was out of there faster than a fast thing from Fastville. Never did know what happened after….I was away and headed for the Canal St; Quentin, having decided that the Canal du Nord and the heavy stuff was not for me….
 
And that’s yer lot, England….all out for 168….one presumes the follow on will…er….follow on? Only thing to save us now is the weather. It appears to be lunchtime here…so a cold beer is indicated. May even do some boating this arvo……or I may not….. j’suis pas pressée as they say….

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:40 pm

Later….on the same day….
 
There I was, sitting happily in the cockpit with my book and the Test Match special… not VERY special, I thought…when up came the biggest hire boat you ever did see, with its crew of mittelEuropan cutthroats. Seems they wanted water…and the size of the thing precluded them getting anywhere near the tap…so could I please move?
MOVE?? I was gone like a shot… unplugged, unmoored and lazily trundling to the lock..which was about 200 yards away. Sadly, there was a boat in it, already going up…so I floated about for a bit…until the lock opened again..then in I went. Too soon…there was, it seemed, another boat coming..so I reversed out with alacrity to leave the whole lock free for him to biff. Needn’t have worried.. a Brit in his own boat, it were so seamanship wasn’t the usual hire boat scarey standard. Up we went….then, as I was leaving, I put the gearbox into ahead…..and the lever hit the back of the engine cover. Ah. That hasn’t happened before….anyway, applied some power…revs went up but vessel failed to proceed. Pushed lever harder…and she reluctantly eased out of the lock. Tried astern….pulled lever…would NOT move. Oh dear….pulled harder, lever moved, no reverse, and the lever now moved through it’s full range of movement but did nothing to affect the total lack of ahead or astern.
 
You may remember my recent daft remark about the little mechanical problems being part of the fun?? It has come back to haunt me. With a vengeance sublime.. I coasted in to the bank, hopped off and hammered some stakes in and moored up. OK… lets have a shufti…. Up with the floor…moved the lever, and yes, it moved..but no, it didn’t DO anything. Hmmm. Top off gearbox time, then…four bolts and a wee tap and off it came. Moved lever. Innards of gearbox didn’t move in sympathy. Lever was turning the cross shaft; but cross shaft wasn’t moving the selector mechanism. The two are held together by a couple of steel pins, hammered into the cross shaft through holes in the selector mechanism.. so the two should rotate together and the bottom of the  selector thingy moves the ball race that operates the ahead clutch engagement, this being three over centre toggles. Looked like the two pins had sheared? Out with the trusty Mole Wrench, a swift tug, and out they cam like rotten teeth. Inspecting them showed they had, indeed sheared.
 
I had noticed that the lever had been wabbling about a bit in recent years… reverse seemed to always be further and further back, although ahead had been fine. A loo at the innards had shown a bit of lost motion in the selector mechanism, but a halfhearted  bit of tuggery had failed to extract the two pins. Which had now failed.
 
Looking at the Manual (such as it is!) it seemed that all I needed to do was to lock the shaft and the selector thingy together again. Since the gear lever is on a spline, I could turn the thing round a bit and drill down the original holes in the selector into a new bit of shaft. Sounds like a plan……so I needed electricity, didn’t fancy drilling into steel with my aged one lung hand drill. This meant walking back to where I had just returned the special connector…getting it back again amid general hilarity… and walking back to the boat. Then it was pullyhauly and I had to drag the beast a couple of hundred yards to the nearest electrical outlet…which was by the slipway. Nobody was going to be using THAT, I reckoned…so I eased the bows into the ooze and hammered the mooring spikes in and then set to.
 
Dragged out the aged but mighty Black and Decker two speed..found my sets of drills…selected on that looked sharp and was, amazingly, the right size!! Then got loads of kitchen towel to fill up the top of the gearbox to keep the dreaded swarf at bay. Applied the drill….it cut like a demon…wonderful…drilled into the relocated shaft (I’d turned it about 90 degrees) until it HAD to be deep enough. Cleaned up the paper towel and swarf and so forth. Got the two pins, which had at least 3/8” length to spare…put them in the holes…gave them a smart tap…and refitted the lever. Now, I had done this operation with the box in AHEAD, as the holes were a lot more accessible like that. So I put the lever in the usual ahead position … then gave it a tug to go back to neutral.
 
It would NOT move. The more I tried, the more it didn’t move. Wot?? How can this be? It’s all joined up again…so  slightly more mighty heave…AND THE TWO PINS SHEARED AGAIN!!!!
 
Dis-aster. End of the simple stuff. I can only think of one thing that could cause the lever to move too far forward and jam itself to the extent that the pins shear…and that is if the front of the drum has become detached from it’s rear. Burst, in other words…
So I ain’t going no place. Fortunately I am on my home stretch of the canal, so if all else fails I can blag a tow to the bank by Mole End… and have full workshop facilities!!! Who said the Gods don’t smile one me??
 
Still, being a persistent sort of chap? I launched into Gearbox Removal Mode and started undoing things…things like the shaft coupling, the rocker cover, the throttle and choke linkage and the rear engine mounts… got everything ready to haul the beast out, except for the four fasteners that hold gearbox to bell housing. This needs the engine raising so that the output flange clears the shaft flange… This I intend to do with a mixture of the gear lever as a lever and a few bits of rope, so that as one end of the gear lever rests on top of the battery box at the helm position, the other end is by the door to the cabin. Then a loop of rope goes around the exhaust…the lever is hauled upwards, raising the rear of the engine and gearbox…the door end of the lever goes into a restraining loop of rope running around the grab rail over the door… and then I can undo the four nuts holding the gearbox on and pull it off the back of the engine!!
 
Should drain the gearbox oil…but I had thrown away the empty plastic 5 litre containers…then realisation hit, and I opened the fridge and swigged off the last third of the 1.5 litre of icy soft drink…aaahhhhhhhhh! And then I had somewhere for the oil to go. At this point I decided I would drain the oil and stop for the day; I was getting tired and weary….best wait until fresh tomorrow.
 
I was just doing a bit of a tidytidy when I heard noises off. I t was a mad French motard (you could tell by the tattoos and the skull bandana from Sturgis 2014) who had arrived with his girl friend and their mobile pizza wagon!!! A few beers followed a few more… much chat about motorcycles (he has a trike with a carbine in a special holster…France, eh?) and it seems that pizza is on the menu for this evening. I am also two large scotch and cokes to the good…(BLENDED, before anyone throws their hand up in horror) and…in some mechanical fit of masochism…looking forward to tearing into the gearbox!!
 
Does seem that the decision NOT to head for Paris and to go South towards Mole End was guided by benevolent fates…. Stay tuned to this channel, folks, for more from Moley, the Mad Mechanic…..
 
Oh yes… I got the guitar out and extemporised Broken Gearbox Blues. Something intended for one heartfelt performance only….       

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by F23 flittermouse on Sat Aug 22, 2015 8:55 pm

The gods were smiling on our expat mariner this time !!
It could have happened here......

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
.so it will be Wednesday the 19thAugust that this gallant little vessel, once the denizen of the Thame and Isis, crosser of the World’s Busiest Shipping Lane (in thick fog, once), 

Maybe it time to hang up the roll neck sweater  !! And leave it to the younger Dean's of this world to carry on the proud tradition  Titanic

On the other hand....just one more time ..??. Rolling Eyes

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:32 pm

NONSENSE!!! In any event, she's never coming back to the UK, that's for sure. I'd sort of known things weren't quite right for a while...she wouldn't go into gear with the engine stopped, for example...but was always OK when turning and burning. The way that reverse kept getting further and further back, too... despite inspection and adjustment. The cross shaft was definitely loose on the selector mechanism, but nothing you could hang your hat on. This time, the problem isn't going to go away....so I can solve it properly.

Anyway, I'm no stranger to mid-Channel engine hassles... spent an hour or so laying in the bilges of a twin diesel cruiser with double engine failure. All fully serviced by professionals...who had changed the filters, but never even found the primary seperators, which were crammed full of stuff that looked like coffee grounds. Could only get at one of them... so emptied that and bled the system and we limped into Brighton on one. Took forever..... also did for my motorcycle oversuit, too much diesel and filth and so forth to countenance using it again. Wonder what prompted me to take that item on a boat cruise to Paris.....(!)

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by F23 flittermouse on Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:37 pm

I didn't expect you to hang up your cap......the clue was in the final comment !

 Old sailors never die, they just..........(you make it up ?)

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"2012/13 to present ......1971 Freeman 23 "Flittermouse"....

Before ...... 1974 Freeman 22 Mk2 . "Verona" Narrow Beam
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F23 flittermouse
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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:03 am

Blast!! Rumbled!!! Make it up; not entirely, but why spoil a good yarn by sticking strictly to the truth? (!)
It's 0900 here on the Loire canal, and I am going to have breakfast and wash up before I get to the levers-and-bits-of-rope part of lifting the back of the power unit so the flanges clear, then undoing the four nuts and heaving the J type off the back of the lump. And it's sort of raining; luckily I looked at the Frogmet forecast last night and put the hood and sidescreens up. Also it's only about 65F on my ancient cabin GPO thermometer... cool, man!

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:24 pm

Sometimes…I wonder if all holidays turn into expeditions, or is it just me??
 
Still in the same spot as yesterday… the Day the Box had no Gears. I had already undone everything needed to get the beast out..apart from the four nuts that unite gearbox and engine. No hurry… so had breakfast first; thought a spot of energy might come in handy. Then sorted the emails…washed up…read a book…replenished the ice trays…you get the idea; General Procrastination, that’s me. Around 1200 even I thought I had been sufficiently laid back, so it was time to get the gearbox out.
 
This meant lifting the rear of the power unit high enough so that the output flange cleared the shaft flange. I had thought about this… not having the scissor jack from a long defunct Mini that I usually use, there were two choices. Go to my workshop and get the jack was one. However I am a cussed sort of idjit and I prefer to use what I have on the boat…. This one was easy. A loop of rope around the exhaust bend and the gear lever…one end of which was resting on the top of the battery box under the helm position. Then lifting the other end of the gear lever, using the Principle of Levers..the rear of the gearbox rose into the air and the flanges cleared. Then I pushed the rear engine cover..the one with the wooden slats..under the end of the gear lever and there was the engine and gearbox assembly at a nice height for removal.
 
Off with the four nuts and washers…didn’t drop any of them into the gearbox, but of course that didn’t matter as it was coming out! I thought that this would likely lead to something evil later, when I was putting it BACK, and tinkly tinkly of washer or nut into gearbox innards would be a right nuisance. Once it was free, a mighty heave and I had the thing out… and it was dribbling the remains of its oil onto my left knee. Ungrateful bloomin’ thing….
 
Looking at the innards from close up revealed no obvious nasties. All the big lumps were intact, no expensive fractures… So I unscrewed the rear of the drum, where the ahead clutch engagement mechanism lives, and took out the drum with it’s assorted gears and clutch plates. These…naturally…all fell out and formed a disorderly pile of cogs and plates and spindles. As I have been here before, it didn’t worry me…
 
Once more, inspection showed nothing but a spot of normal wear. Nothing wrong, then….So how come it broke? And the two pins securing the gear selector to the cross shaft had sheared… not just once, but twice!! Yesterday, with the gearbox in situ, I had turned the shaft through 90 degrees and used the original drillings in the selector to drill new holes in the cross shaft…then tapped in the remains of the old pins. This seemed to be the answer, at least logically…but as soon as I tried to go into ahead the thing jammed and the pins sheared again. Something was Definitely Odd.
 
A read of the book is always a good thing at this point…whilst your conscious brain is peering at the words and pictures, the inner recesses of the psyche are doing their own thing…and that is where the answers generally come from! Fun this, isn’t it??
 
There were nice exploded drawings of the innards of the villain of the piece…a Proper Drawing done by a chap in a sports jacket with leather elbows in the drawing office at Watermota in Kingsteignton. Or was it Newton Abbot? Anyway, just up the Teign estuary from where my grandparents lived in Teignmouth. Technical illustrators are probably a dead species now… but the magic they could work with a pencil and piece of paper has often served to illuminate the complex stuff one is trying to come to terms with.
 
I looked at the drawings. Noticed that the cross shaft was drawn with a curved piece machined out of the lower side…. Peered closer…yes, definitely drawn like that.
 
Hmmm.
 
Looked at the gearbox. Why would there be such a piece machined away? So I tried moving the cross shaft and thus the selector….and it stuck solid. The forward gear clutch engaging mechanism has to slide UNDER the cross shaft and selector…and without this bit gouged out, it hits the shaft and won’t move any further…so instead of getting AHEAD you have all the leverage of the gear lever applied to the stuck selector via the two small pins….which give up and shear off.
 
Sounded like a diagnosis….and there was more…the original problem was that the gearbox wouldn’t go into ahead without the engine running. The shaft was wobbly in the selector… so sometimes the alignment was wrong and you got the conflict between the shaft and the clutch mechanism!!! If the engine was running, it would all be vibrating about and the vibrations would ensure that the shaft and selector could move enough to align….this was a credible explanation. So when I had redrilled the shaft at 90 degrees to it’s original orientation I had unwittingly created something that COULDN’T work.
 
Solution….turn the shaft back to where it was to start with. Drill down the original holes, through the remains of the pins (I had been trying to avoid this!) And then a few sharp taps with the giant club hammer would encourage the pins to locate, lock the two parts together, and be sufficient of an interference fit to stop them coming out again!!
Now we had A Plan!!
 
A bit of fiddling with electric drill and drill bits and loads of kitchen towel to keep the swarf out…and fishing around afterwards with a magnetic screwdriver, to get the rest of it… and the cross shaft and selector rotated and the clutch mechanism slid back and forth and it seemed the Fates were smiling on me again.
 
A short beer break…. And all the bits went back together. A bit of a fiddle…but keeping the box so that the drum assembly had to go in uphill stopped all the bits falling out…and then the rear part with the plungers could screw on… Then I turned the cross shaft and the selectors moved and the plungers plunged and the clutches clutched and the box was in ahead. A move in the opposite sense locked the drum with the brake band, and the epicyclic gears reversed the output rotation to give astern!!
 
A small amount of jubilation was indicated. Looked at the clock…I had started at midday, it was now just short of 1330. Press on regardless….next thing was to get the gearbox back on! I tried several methods without success… finally I gave way to the inevitable and squatted in the bilge…then it was dead easy to lift the box and fit it to the four studs. You have to align the crankshaft key with the keyway in the bronze cone at the front of the box…this can be deadly, back and arms aching as you try to push the thing on whilst turning the output flange to just shift the keyway about a little bit until the things engage. Today, I had a Permanent Marker Pen….you can tell by the state of my fingers, all blue like I’d been overdoing the woad…so all I had to do was align the two marks and lo! It fitted first go. Wow!!
 
Now, you remember how happy I was when I didn’t drop anything into the box whilst taking it off? When it didn’t matter? And how I had had this nagging feeling that I would have to pay for this later on…well…. Now was the time. The first washer and nut inside the gearbox went on perfectly….buoyed with overconfidence I fitted the second…Yup…tinklytinklyTONK it went, as the nut hit the bottom of the box.
 
So off it came again…..this time my magic markings didn’t work quite so well… and I had to go through the ritual of strainy turny shuffly achy twiddle…but fit it did, in the end, and I stuffed it full of kitchen towel to stop any further nutty excursions.
 
This time, natch, didn’t drop a thing ! Got all four nuts in place and tightened… all except one, which would NOT tighten…because it had stripped it’s thread in the bellhousing casting. SO….you bastard….still not subdued, eh??!!
 
Then I looked at the stud… and the bit that had stuck out was longer than the bit that had been in the bellhousing; Could it? Would it? Worth a try….and the stud went in the other way round, picked up on the undamaged 10mm or so of thread, and tightened up perfectly; YES!!YESS!!!YESSSSS!!!!!
 
By now it had got to be cocktail hour, I was on a winner, needed to eat something and knew enough to quit whilst ahead. On very tall very cold drink later, boat was tidy (enough!) and that was it until the morrow. Made a list of things needing doing before the First Start….and, with this cliffhanger, you’ll have to wait for the Next Enthralling Episode !!!!

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by Liberty on Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:50 pm

Bravo!!!  Keep up the good work....  I'd have given up by now and fitted scuttling charges and retired a safe distance!!!
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They call it Stormy Monday....

Post by molemot on Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:35 pm

Another day, another facet of the same old story of me fighting the good fight against the Gremlins… For those who have never encountered these creatures, they live in the inaccessible bits of aeroplanes..and by extension, anything mechanical..cars, motorcycles, even boats…(!) They are characterised by the appearance of obvious but untraceable faults. You can see them, dancing out there on your wings, as you watch the oil pressure falling on the starboard inner…for no apparent reason….and then the starboard outer starts doing the same, even though the two engines have totally separate lubrication systems. There he is, the little bugger, gambolling about just out of reach….and you are stuck with whatever problem he has invented THIS time. But are we disheartened? Demoralised?? Depressed??? Of course not….this is a HOLIDAY, isn’t it……(?)
 
Today’s spasm involved the final recommissioning of the gearbox I had stripped and rebuilt over the past two days. It was all bolted back together and just the final touches were needed…oil in the gearbox, tightening the prop shaft flange bolts, reassembling the linkages, so forth. So no rush, then….luckily, because it was blowing a hooley and the driving rain was rattling on the sides of  my gallant little boat…So I rolled over for the final hour’s doze….
 
In the end, prostates being what they are, I had to get up…so breakfast was indicated. In foul weather one really appreciates the Great British Fry Up…but this is France. The nearest decent sausages and bacon were in my freezer at Mole End…and that was far too far to go in this weather. Hmmm…inspected the contents of the Emergency Tinned Rations locker. AHA! A small tin of SPAM!! (waits for compulsory chorus of Scandinavian types with cornute chapeaus) A blast from the past…back in the late 40s, SPAM was a Wonder Food. Beat the bejabus out of snoek, anyway… so breakfast was going to be two croissants, a small spot of Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade….supercharged by the addition of the small tin of SPAM, cut into four slices and fried to within an inch of cremation. Yum!
 
Breakfast being over and washed up, I dealt with the emails and read a bit before starting on the final thrunge to a once more serviceable boat. How hard could it be?
 
I worked my way through the checklist I had written as an aide memoire last night.. always helps, check lists are what keeps aviation as safe as it is. Oil in box, linkages connected, etc.etc. and then…finally…..it was time to start her up and challenge the Gremlins at their own game.
 
Turned the key…engine burst into life….waited for about a minute…could that be the suspicion of a MISFIRE?? After all the efforts??? Anyway, this was a gearbox test… So I eased her gently into ahead and she ticked away happily with the prop shaft rotating as it should and no untoward vibration or other signs of impending disaster. Try reverse…so I eased the lever back and she went snick! And engaged reverse in a very positive manner. Also there was no lost motion on the gear lever…since the cross shaft was now firmly fixed to the selector mechanism. I went to neutral and switched her off and allowed myself a small smug smile. Drafted a signal back to Fleet Headquarters….
“Beg leave to report Chief ERA has informed me that gearbox now clicking into ahead and astern gears open quotes like a precision instrument close quotes; Vessel about to proceed on sea trials for final drive adjustments. Signed: H. J. Watson-Douglas, Master and Commander ends”.
 
A bit early…but the sun was over the yardarm in Ranjipur, so the engine room ratings were allowed a bottle of beer each.
 
There still remained the suspicion of a misfire…. Couldn’t leave that. So I started up again, refreshed (!), and selected ahead…then opened the throttle. BLOODY misfire!!! Cretinous thing!!! AH… and the gearbox was slipping, so the final drive adjustment was going to be to rotate the internal clutch adjustment a few divisions clockwise. Might as well do that, whilst the innermost recesses of the grey matter gets on with solving the misfire… Off with the gearbox top, undo the locking bolt, release the locking tab and rotate the mechanism a bit…try the lever… a bit more…that seems spot on. Do up the locking tab and bolt. The reverse adjustment also needed a touch of a twiddle… so I did up the giant castellated nut which adjusts the reverse brake band. Now we need a new split pin…and they are in their storage box in the workshop!! Surely I MUST have one on the boat… so another huge search was undertaken and I did locate one at the very bottom of the tool tray. So that was fitted to the giant castellated nut and the job was jobbed.
 
Apart from the misfire…. So I started up again…went into ahead…opened the throttle and she banged and farted, misfiring worse than a musket when you have failed to keep your powder dry…. A spot more power… still just as bad, but the gearbox wasn’t slipping, so more progress… a bit more power…and a giant gust of wind from the tempest raging outside and the mooring spike was torn bodily out of terra not so firma and the boat was charging up the canal and the electrical lead was pulled out of it’s socket and the only saving grace was the bow line….
 
Now, in France, the law requires French citizens who wish to own a boat to undertake training and pass examinations for the permis fluviale … so it is reasonable to assume that a boat owner could be trusted to tie up a mooring line, non? Sadly it proved this was not the case….I had had to move the boat with the gearbox in bits, to clear the slipway for a local chap with an outboard powered thing on a trailer. He had been nice enough to take the bow line and help me to move Trilly back out of the slipway and around the side and moor up. A brief glance at his efforts with the bow line on the mooring post looked OK….oh, all right, I was being stupid by not doing it myself. Shan’t make that mistake again…. 
 
As you may have gathered, grace was not saved…the line unwound from the mooring post and we were adrift!! In the howling gale….O goody. I had enough presence of mind not to try to manoeuvre using the engine and the just-repaired gearbox, as there were lines and cables dragging behind us…straight into neutral and sort it out. Hauled the lines on board and coiled them up…then managed to get away from the other side of the canal to which we had been blasted by the mad gusts of wind. Now to get back to the moorings…..again I was daft. I tried to get back to the same mooring with the boat the same way round…starboard side to. The approach went well… I stopped the boat…stepped off the helmsman’s position to cross to the other side and do my thing with the lines, forgetting totally that the floor WASN’T THERE as I had taken it away whilst fiddling with gearbox and couplings and seacocks and so forth…right foot plunged into the bilges, missing anything vital, thankfully. Dragged self out once more and tried to get out the starboard side of the hood but it was all too late… my one despairing line toss missed (the duff shoulders didn’t help) and we were drifting away AGAIN…
 
There followed the sort of thing that Buster Keaton might have written. Trilly blowing all over the canal…me leaping about ineffectually like a partially whirling dervish… ropes going nowhere useful…boat blowing around AGAIN…. In the end I decided that thought would outthink these Gremlins and made my approach in the other direction…so the bank was on the port side, and I could use my long line from the bow to subdue the poxy creatures who were making merry over my misfortune. This time we got moored; I dried out the mains connector and plugged back in; and decided a brief rest wasn’t out of order.
 
DULL bugger, eh? Another manifestation of the Law of Unintended Consequences. At least the gearbox seemed fine. But we still had the cursed misfire…the basic rule is that the more you think it’s carburretion, the more it turns out to be ignition, and it sounded and felt like somebody had ordered a case of misfires from Central Casting and they had delivered in spades.
 
Took the plugs out…peered at them…nothing to remark about. Checked the plug leads.. nothing there. So I sat in the cockpit at my little folding table and went through the entire ship’s supply of used spark plugs….sixteen of them. They were all duly cleaned and inspected and gapped…. And I selected a matched set of four Champion RN7YCC  plugs to go into the engine. I also had found a shiny new rotor arm, so that went into the distributor. NOW we’ll see….
 
Turned the key. YANGYANGYANGYANGYANGYANGpop she went. WHAT?? At least it RAN before…and now this?? Tried again. Same result. The Gremlins were cackling merrily and turning cartwheels….those who could spare the time from their impromptu game of water polo….
So what was different? All four plugs can’t be duff… I took one plug lead off and fitted a spare plug and cranked her over. Nothing. Bugger all. No sign of a spark!! I checked all the leads were on the right plugs…1,2,4,3…that’s right….better try changing the rotor arm back. So I went to take off the distributor cap….and noticed a white 3 wire connector dangling forlornly, not attached to anything. I recognised it at once; the boat has the same Joe-Lucas-Prince-of-Darkness electronic ignition as my Lotus Esprit Turbo. And the self same connector between the LED and phototransistor and the Magic Spark Box was about the only point of failure; in this case, the two halves had seperated and electrons were refusing to leap across the six inch gap. More Gremlin cackling and catcalls….but now I had them on the run!!! Plugged the connector back together…who knew how long it had been barely making contact?? This could be the root cause of much hassle in the past…with it now back as it should be, turned the key and she settled into a perfect idle…back to POCKETTAPOCKETTAPOCKETTA  again. Into ahead….apply power once more (now it was ME that had moored up, belt and braces and springs and breast lines as well as fore and aft…not giving the gale or the gremlins another INCH) eased the throttle open…smooth power…gearbox running sweetly…..full power….well, full noise anyway, and a lot more fuel consumption (!) .. and she ran, and ran, and ran, and was as smooth as my balding bonce. Gremlins slunk away into the undergrowth, discomforted…
And so ends another happy day of proving that man’s intellect can still triumph over whatever idiocy he has managed to subject himself to. Now it’s six o’clock and cocktail hour… enough for one day!!

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We’re back on the move again!!!

Post by molemot on Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:14 pm

Not much can stop us…well, temporarily, may be…but once more Trilly is trundling up the cut. Having survived everything that wind, weather and assorted gearbox and engine malfunctions, all conspiring together, could throw at us…all is now going nicely. For the moment…not making any predictions! This morning dawned on a mini hangover, after yesterday’s triumphs a small celebration was in order…. So I disposed of a nicely chilled bottle of rosé, some scotch, and about a third of a bottle of armagnac along with several coffees as a post prandial treat. Thus…not being used to this sort of thing any more…the morning came rather hard. The French have a great word for hang over…well, phrase really…they call it guele du bois which translates as “wooden throat”…quite a reasonable description. In the same vein, French ducks don’t go “quack, quack” but “coin coin”…you need the nasal French accent to get the best of it…also things falling in the water don’t go “splash” but “plouf”.
 
My first task on dragging the protesting organism out into the daylight was to do last night’s washing up. Then I found why I hadn’t done it the evening before…the water tank was empty! Aaarrrgghh…I’m going to have to live with myself in this state?? Ugh. Let us find some SHOWERS…and a water tap….as the mooring I was at, by the slipway at Belleville, had power but no working water point. I disconnected the power and traipsed back down the road to return the special power lead…of course, the place that issued it was shut…so I put it into the special slot at the tourist office, where such things go outside of hours. Back to the boat….and time for a wee cruise.
 
She started up first turn of the key and settled to her work…the newly cleaned set of aged out-of-the-scrap-box Champion RN7YCC plugs were sparking nicely… and the newly reunited parts of the white 3-wire connector were communicating with each other…a metronomic idle was the result. Power cable reeled in, lines undone and stowed, a bit of a push to get the bows out….fingers crossed….into gear….and off we went, all the mechanics mechanicking like wot they orter. Hadn’t been as smooth and powerful as this in a loooong time! Not far to go…I experimented with different power settings and she responded beautifully, from harry flatters down to the slowest time signature. No sign of any misfire…gearbox not slipping…perhaps she has forgiven me for the few seasons neglect? But I’d better not count on it….who knows what the Gremlins may throw at me once they have regrouped…
 
Went past my little chalet…the “residence secondaire” over here… and arrived at the little port of Léré. And very nice too…free electricity and water, excellent showers and toilets, even a special air pump for bicycle tyres! Of course, this is all paid for by the local tax payers, so it wasn’t exactly free for me, but sort of pre-paid…! Once moored and water supply replenished and power connected and the headache somewhat subdued, it was off to the showers to apply soap and water and flannel and towel to body and bonce, and cold steel to the face…carving off several days of beard. After that I felt reborn! The wooden throat had dwindled to a mere splinter… and I sat in the cockpit and read for a bit, happy to be in clean and non-oily clothes and especially in new undergarments….I shall draw a timely veil over how long they had been in use. No point in changing into clean stuff when you are going to be sitting in the oily bilge….
 
After the ablutions, I thought I’d wander into the village and do some shopping. Usually I drive to a supermarket…but the village shops had always seemed interesting, especially the butchers. So I mooched up from the canal at about 4pm; and found the village shut. Every shop and commercial premise was shuttered. Dreams of pork chops vanished in a faint pop! of reality. I’d even taken a bag with me, for my purchases… Now there is a problem. I had had enough of cans and ready meals…my last chance was the restaurant, La Gaiete Leerienne…but that was locked tight too, even though it functions as a bar during non-restaurant hours. I was outside…peering into the deserted premises…fearing the worst. Took out ancient one lunged Nokia  mobile. Dialled the number….and it was answered! Yes…they were open this evening…and yes, they were happy for me to have a table all to myself…and I didn’t even have to tell them my name, as they recognised my voice! So a            t 1930 I shall present myself and my rumbly tummy (nothing gone in it since last night) for a well deserved treat. Even the engine room “black gang” need sustenance…shovelling all that coal takes it out of one.
 
Back to Trilly…and, a trifle depressed at my empty shopping bag, I pulled out the lower drawer of the dinette…thus exposing the ship’s wine cellar. I wasn’t expecting to find anything…but there was a bottle of Listel gris rosé, a 2004 Morgon, and – wonder of wonders -  a 2006 Aloxe Corton! No need to buy wine for a few days, then!!! And the restaurant does an excellent red to go with the cote de boeuf…yum.
 
Tomorrow; what to do? Two possibilities…continue up the hill southwards to Sancerre (the nearest the canal comes is St: Thibault, a little port at the foot of the giant hill atop which lies the village of Sancerre, all crottins and flinty white wines… Perhaps I should explain; crottins, if you haven’t encountered them, are small hard cheeses made from goat’s milk…they go excellently with the Sancerre whites…and are so named for their resemblance to goat droppings, crottin being the French word for turd. St .Thibault is on the short canal which used to link the Canal Lateral a la Loire to the river itself…the lock still exists, but is now used as a dry dock. In drought conditions like this, you can see why the canal was built…you can walk across the river, there is so little water coming down.
 
The alternative is to go back down the hill and back to Briare and then up and over the hill on the other side of the Loire. This is, I believe, the first ever canal to be built across a watershed… to link the Loire and the Seine and enable trading  between the two river basins. That would mean a fair few locks…but they are all automated and one can usually whistle through them at speed. No windeewindy stuff…just a few simple controls and the hydraulics do the rest! Stopping at Chatillon Coligny and Montargis, before heading back to the moorings at Briare and then by car to the ferry and my next 6 monthly encounter with the prostate cancer team at the Royal Marsden. At least they have kept me alive to enjoy the slings and arrows of outrageous Watermotas…. No need to rush a decision; I shall peer at the met in the morning….

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Them Pesky Gremlins Strike AGAIN…

Post by molemot on Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:07 pm

IF you recall, today I had been intending to have a shufti at the Frogmet and decide whether to continue South or go back North. This decision was rendered redundant by circumstances….
 
I had dined at La Gaiete..been through the whole menu and a bottle of Maucaillou..and, thus replete, strolled back to Trilly at about 2300. As I approached her, she seemed to be….leaning to the port side. Obviously an optical illusion. Anyway, got on board and decided to turn in…take pills (HOORAY for statins, I’d be dead without them!) so I turned on the tap for a glass of water.
 
Faint hum of pump and polite farting noise. No water issued forth. Hmmm. I had filled the tank to the brim only a few hours earlier… a faint suspicion of a suspicion flickered at the back of the skull. Too many armagnacs…it sputtered and expired. Tried again…the ultimate sign of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Witness politicians…ever since Mrs. T spouted that garbage about “the lady’s not for turning” changing course has been seen as an admission of failure. This has wrecked the entire business of trying to run the country for decades. If something is manifestly NOT working ( poll tax, for example) there can be no objection to trying something else which will…or even might(!) We all remember what happened after that wonderful display of unswerving policy….
 
Still, this is about boats….and no water was forthcoming. I even tried the siphon suction priming system by taking the faucet in my mouth and sucking with all my might…did get a few dribbles, but no steady flow. Oh well…shall have to take pills with Coke and sort out the pump in the morning. And so to bed….
 
In the wee small hours, the subconscious linked the lack of water with the list to port. I was instantly awake…. Heaved self out of pit and peered back at the bottle of armagnac on the cabin table. Made a very good indicator of the boat trim…and we were laying on our ear!!! Illusion, be damned….I lifted the right hand bunk cushion and the lid to the locker where resides the 30 gallon flexible water tank. Instead of being swollen with good fresh water, it was a flaccid and empty bag. So where had the water gone?? Obviously to the port side…as that was the way we were leaning. Carpets were dry…no sign of damp around the tank…or in the cabin. First thing to try…turned on the bilge pump.
 
On Trilly, this pump lives in the only sensible place in a Freeman 22…where the water collects…at the front of the engine bay under the crankshaft pulley. It is surrounded by a “dam” of oil absorbent stuff…so it pumps (mostly!) clear water. Pump ran….and ran….and ran….and ran……sound of water coming out of the pump outlet and into the cut. Pump still running….and it ran for a LOOONG time… until it sucked dry. That’ll be the escaped fresh water beating a path to freedom and joining it’s other friendly molecules in the Loire Canal. OK…we aren’t sinking…and all can now be left until morning. My still naked figure slunk off to bed.
 
I lay there….trying to work out what had happened. Then I remembered the mad attempts to moor up again after my battle with the tempest and my idiotic acceptance of some helpful Frenchman’s knots…I had stepped down, uncontrolled,  into the engine bay bilge…as the floor had been removed for access. We must be back to the Law of Unintended Consequences again…bet I’d stepped on one of the hoses from the calorifier and that had been enough to disconnect it and then the water system had drained out into the bilge. Since the engine is offset to port, the bilge is too and thus the weight of 30 gallons of water would be what had made the old girl tipsy. Relieved by this analysis, I drifted off to sleep to wait for the morning and the simple repair…
 
Was that faint Gremlin laughter? No….couldn’t be.
Could it??
 
Finally rising at about 0900, I decided to fix the pipework straight away. So confident was I, that I armed myself with the correct sized screwdriver for the hose clips and a sharp knife in case I had to circumcise one of the hoses. Up with the cabin floor… nearly at the point where it would do it itself, on the word of command…. Knelt down and had a bit of a pull at the hoses on the calorifier. I should explain…the calorifier is a small 2 gallon or so affair which lives at the aft end of the engine bay; it has a 3kW immersion heater which gives pretty much instant hot water…when the shoreside supply is up to the 13+amps that the boat takes with battery charger and immersion. Whatever….gave a bit of a tug on the pipes; both the cold IN and the hot OUT were fitted correctly with the jubilee clips nice and tight.
 
So that wasn’t the cause of the leak, then…..
 
A faint sound of Gremlin giggling was beginning to manifest itself. Even cackling from one or two of the more venturesome types….
 
What to do? I could refill the tank and run the pump and peer about to find where the leak was. That would entail filling the bilge with water AGAIN and pumping out AGAIN only in the daylight and not the dead of night…so any oil slick would be obvious, and jolly embarrassing, too. So I inspected all the pipe work…and there was no sign of any leak. Must have a hole in the calorifier!! So I took the pipes off it and the entire 2 gallons ran out and into the bilge. It had been full!!?? So WTF is going on?
 
I sat and had a think. Seemed the obvious thing was to bypass the calorifier and refill the tank and see what happened… So I tore up more of the floor and disconnected the cold water supply to the calorifier and connected it directly to the hot water outlet. That way, nothing goes into the calorifier…and there is no open hose to flood the bilge, and both hot and cold on the faucet will simply give cold water.
 
Filled the tank. Ran the pump by turning on the faucet… both hot and cold provided a good strong flow…more than before, if memory served….turned the tap off and allowed the tank to fill to the brim. That was over 3 hours ago, and there is no sign of a leak or the tank draining in some mysterious, Gremlin induced, manner…. In the interim, I have been pumping out the less accessible bits of bilge, using my Henderson Handy Pump…intended for dinghys, but a godsend for a job like this. Sponged out the remainder. This was a great job for a lithe contortionist…neither of which words describes your scribe….but I managed to get it all under control and felt a whole lot better with the bilges dry.
 
Exit Gremlins..(temporarily) discomforted. I’ve decided to stay here for the day and simply relax and do NOTHING….except read. Now reading Arthur C. Clarke’s semi autobiographical novel “Glide Path” in which he describes (as fiction)the design and development and entry into service of the Ground Controlled Approach radar system in WW2. I never dreamt that, when I read the book for the first time as a lad, a few years later it would be me sitting in the cloud listening to the controller saying “On centreline…on glidepath…” and knowing that these comforting words meant you were as good as already standing at the Mess bar with the first pint in hand….. Did meet him once; I was on duty at Terminal 4 Heathrow when he arrived for his 80th birthday, and I cursed the fact that my father’s old treasured copy of “Wireless World” containing ACC’s article on satellite communications was sitting at home… wish I could have had him sign it!! We did have a good chat…and I found that when I was in New York, I had stayed in the same hotel he had been in when collaborating with Stanley Kubrick on “2001”. Sadly, the Chelsea Hotel is no more….
 
Will the Gremlins finally give up? Are there any further little tasks ahead for Moley? Will the next week or so go by without drama?
 
Book now for the next tense episode…. Soon to be a serial at a Saturday Morning Picture Show near YOU!!!

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Another day…another douleur…

Post by molemot on Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:36 am

Somehow this episode got lost in the posting...so here it is, now.

We arose this morning, after yesterday’s welcome sunshine, to a pretty clammy sort of day. Overcast…cloudy…threatening to rain. Something was nagging at the back of the Douglas brain…it was the date
.
This was the Twenty-Seventh of August.
 
Now, Twenty-Sevenths are mystic days in the Douglas family. Thing s happen on the Twenty Seventh… good, like marriages that have withstood the test of time, and proved more fruitful than could ever have been conjectured…and here we are talking quality, not quantity. Bad, as in people dropping dead unexpectedly…the two are connected in ways that will not trouble us here. Still..the 27th of the month has a ring of expectation. They always seem to end in a way not imagined at the outset…and this was to be no exception.
 
Up with the lark…assuming it to be a civilised lark who rose at around 0830.. out of pit; what to do…fill the water tank and check for leaks… dump the rubbish (mostly bottles)…lower and stow the hood…disconnect the shore power, then clear away the hose and power lead and start up!
 
Engine started first prod. Seemed to be happy with itself…. So the lines were cast off and  Trilly was away northward once more. Heading for Briare, Ouzouer-sur-Trezée, Rogny les Sept Ecluses and all stations to Chatillon Coligny.
We bumbled along happily…using the GPS to give groundpeed; we seemed to be happy at about 9.5 kph. A gentle cruise past my residence secondaire, looking, slightly more scruffy but just as desirable as when I first saw it in 1996… and a half hour or so later we were at the first lock. By then I had tried every combination of power setting and speed, and this had revealed that going apparently a bit slower made very little difference to the ground speed of the vessel.
 
We went down through the first lock, and then trundled off to the last lock of the before lunch period…Maimbray. Now, the lock keeper here was an inveterate drunkard… so one approached with caution… In the event, it was a Summer Relief student chappie, sober as could be, who helped me through. And off we toddled to Briare…a long old stretch, including Eiffel’s Pont Canal which takes the cut over the Loire in the longest aquaduct in Europe. Got stuck there, waiting for a hotel barge carrying a posse of dyed blonde tourists, probably from Cincinatti, across the Mighty River…..actually a trickle, at present. After about half an hour the north bound boats made it on to the bridge…
Now it was too late!! The locks shut from 1200 to 1300… so I mooched across and moored up in the yard of Charmes Nautiques, a hire cruiser base …amongst other things. I moored behind my chum, Rex MacKay, who is Briare’s resident Scottish Nationalist and Wearer of the Kilt. Quite a fellow, he…a fount of anecdote and warrior’s tales… from selling ice cream on the Scottish paddle steamers through Suez, Malaysia, Borneo, frozen places in north west Russia, service with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders ( even though he really wanted to drive a tank!) and the French Foreign Legion. One could listen to him for hours…and I have, right willingly. (He listens to my tales as well, so we have become dining companions apart from matters covering the boat he lives on) There have been several people, cruising by, who have disregarded his advice to their detriment…. The first thing a young officer learns is to ALWAYS listen to the SNCO…especially if he is a Warrant Officer explosives specialist…(!)
Anyhoo, I moored gently to the quay behind the “Reveries of Balnakiel”,  the boat on which he presently dwells, and repaired on board for the customary dram. We sat and chatted over the TV coverage of the athletics… and found ourselves in one mind when it came to the drugged up cheats who have been RE-INSTATED and now infest the tracks once more. Seemed very simple….If proved to be cheating, that’s it. Gone. Forever…no second chances… for who can tell what lasting advantage they have gained from their drugswallowing activites??
Usain Bolt was in the final of the 200 metres…so that ( plus Rex’s invitation to lunch on a Malaysian chicken dish..delicious!.. was enough to delay my departure.
And what a fortunate delay….
Having watched the Lightning Bolt dispose of the Drug Cheat (and everyone else!!) it was time to hit the canal once more. So… back on board, fire up the engine, hear it settle to it’s business…back to the pocketa thing… let go the lines and…
It’s stopped.
OK, So restart it,, just a bit cold. Leapt aboard, turned key , VROOMVROOMCOUGHSPLUTTERSTOP.
Hmm.
Do it again…. We have spoken of this in the past. This time was no different. Started… but would NOT run.
Was fine all the way from Léré….but won’t go now?
Alain, the Head Honcho of Charmes Nautiques (to whose quay I had moored) enquired if I needed any help?
Er…yes….here’s a line; a bit of a tug wouldn’t go amiss, either …
So I was ignominiously hauled back to the bank, and expertly moored.
WHAT, in the name of HADES, had happened NOW???!!!!
Grabbed spare plug..
Bags of sparks..
Not that, then.
Fuel??
Disconnected petrol pipe to carburetter… put end in glass kept for the purpose ( once bitten, etc. etc.) and cranked engine…
 
The largest, most offensive, foulest and most disgusting blob of yellow filth oozed out of the petrol pipe, slowly expanded, and finally, very finally, plopped into the glass. Imagine the worst ever lump of phlegm or the foulest piece of unmentionable snot you have ever disgorged.. Or, if you are in the medical profession, SEEN disgorged… and this beats it hollow. I have never seen anything with as many different shades of yellow or such a sheen or so inclined to make me throw up my hands in horror and head for the hills. In fact, I could be quite sure that…whatever else it might be… it WASN’T petrol.
 
I guess that’s why she’s stopped, then??
 
So.. top off carburetter, out with float…. Same yellow filth in the float chamber…
 
Not going to work like THAT.
 
Various things were then tried. First I simply cranked away as the yellowness oozed forth….after it had given up, I decided to check the tanks individually; probably should have done that first, but the shock of the pusyellow muck had me in thrall.
Then I disconnected  each tank in turn and allowed fuel to drain out of them into a container. Seemed to be filth in both tanks?? The starboard tank had, only a few weeks ago, been out of the vessel, pressure washed on the interior, dried out and inspected with an endoscope. That HAD to be clean… still, I loosened the pipe and allowed petrol to drain out into the receptacle. No nasty yellow snot.
 
Try the other tank…that had come out last summer, for the same treatment.. a bit of discoloration, but nothing to hang your hat on …
Here I should mention the intervention of Mackay. I was struggling to get the fuel pipe union to go on to and do up on the petrol tap on the port tank. This was proving Very Difficult...you HAVE to get these things to fit using your fingers, or they WILL go crossthreaded and be totally f****d. And it wouldn't go...duff shoulders were hurting from the weird angles to which they were being subjected. Lesser beings would have been reduced to hysterics, tears, swearing, shouting, so forth. I had almost given up for a rest pause....when Mackay strolls down the quay with the wee doggie and says "It's the Curse of the Mackays!!!" Unbelievably, at just this point, the threads engaged and the union screwed sweetly into place. He can curse me again!!!(And undoubtedly will, in any case!!" I went back to thinking...

Hang about! I had fitted a fuel filter… time for that to go… I had found the original Goodridge braided hose during my Spark Plug Hunt…so now was the time to put it back…and back it went.. A brief twiddle with the fuel taps and their connections revealed no incipient hassles…er…..if you discount the gas fridge by my right ear as I was working on the port petrol tank??? At least, there was a nice wooden bulkhead betwixt fume and flame….Still, she kept burning happily and we had all survived....so far....It did seem to be reasonable to turn the gas tap off, though, so I did!
 
Hauled off the fuel filter. Utterly, utterly, full of filth… So I decide that it needed more pumping. After pumping at least a litre of petrol through the system, it seemed that that the problems were at and end.
 
 
BUT…it was the 27th…..(!)
 
 
I decided to do a trial. I would run one tank at a time for ten minutes each, at a reasonable power setting, in gear. With the odd burst to harry flatters….  And so we started. All the ballet went well… and the gentle chorus stuff…until I had a brainstorm and put on some Wagnerian megadecibels. Now…Rex is your man for Wagner.. Götterdämerungen is just about enough to feature. So I had to press on regardless… we were now devoid of a fuel filter(for all the use THAT was!) and the filter was in the bin and so was the mass of kitchen towel and assorted detritus I had used. Top off the carb…and it didn’t look too bad. Time for a Last Trial… so I stuck her in to AHEAD and let her idle for about 15 minutes, until I was happy that whatever filth there may have been had passed through. Top off carb to inspect, each time…did the same for both tanks….Jobsagudddun!! Hooray!!
 
However.
 
I had tried her at max RPM during the trials.. and she had jumped out of ahead gear.
Simple job to fix… tighten the AHEAD clutch. So I decided to do so.….And to do this, I had to take the top off the gearbox…and I found that the two steel pins connecting the operating shaft and the gearbox selectors, that I had thought mended a few days before, was now a morass of wabbly steel pins and unsecured selectors and selection mechanism.
BUGGER.
DOUBLE BUGGER…..
Really needs rolpins, so I went on line and searched FOR the buggers…..
No use at all. Went to the Charmes Nautiques office and saw Alain… tried to explain ROLPINS….he recognised what I was describing and the drawing and left to find some.
 
Sadly…all too big; or too small.
 
So….enough of this, old thing, I’m off to the pit….
 
More tomorrow… when I try to find a ROLPIN or – in frog a MECHANABUS.. ( a pretty demoralising portmanteau word combining Mechanical and Abuse)…… That, or I shall drag the car out of the garage and drive to the workshop and use the lathe to turn down a 10mm or so length of  a socket headed bolt…grab the taps  and go create a thread in the selector, then I can screw in the machined down  socket headed screw… so that it fits and thus lock the shaft effectively to the selector.
BLOODY Twenty sevenths….should have stayed in bed….

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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by Prof Pat Pending on Fri Aug 28, 2015 10:37 am

You get all the fun don't you. 

We did 140 miles over the last couple of weeks, the most fun I had was twiddling with slow idle mixture, that I still haven't got quite right  Embarassed
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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by F23 flittermouse on Fri Aug 28, 2015 10:41 am

There is a positive in this Moley, if you didn't own Trillium we wouldn't be "enjoying" the daily tribulations you so eloquently feed us and the world would be a poorer place. Long live Trilly
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Before ...... 1974 Freeman 22 Mk2 . "Verona" Narrow Beam
Mirror / Enterprise / Leisure 17 /Hardy 17MS/ Hardy 20 Pilot
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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by Simritdave on Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:30 pm

Loving it, its like listening to that fellow of the old time music hall, we should all gasp and ooooh! at his "trundlings" Old Man
I was thinking while I was reading it though, it's not a particularly good piece of marketing for the marque Very Happy
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Re: Trillium's Trundlings...

Post by molemot on Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:46 pm

I would be prepared to bet that no other Freeman 22 has had the life of Trilly...she had been a hire cruiser before I bought her, and since then has covered thousands of miles of river, estuary, sea and continental canals. I stayed on top of the maintenance for decades... but in recent years I have failed to give her the attention she deserved...and she's making her point! This was always going to be a sort of shakedown cruise, as we hadn't gone anywhere in a long while. So the niggling little things were bound to arise...and get sorted out along the way. Now for today's stanza....


Twenty-Sevenths vanquished…but Gremlins get personal!!
 
HAVING made it through the witching hour, into the Twenty-EIGHTH of August, I had been hoping things might improve…
 
The weather certainly hadn’t. The 27th was a beaut bright sunny day…I had, finally, turned in in the wee small hours and had the fan running to waft a cooling breeze over the contours of the recumbent Douglas…aaahhhh….soothing, or what? I had had the presence of mind to peer at the Frogmet online weather forecast…so I had struggled to erect the hood and sidescreens for the predicted precipitation. Threw head at pillow and emitted Zeds….. sure enough, the climate took a turn for the worse…a spot of water even had the audacity to dribble through the forward hatch and discommode my REMsleep. Had to close it…and then, “whilst I was up” attended to the internal pressures.
 
The “whilst you are up” thing is a Douglas family catchphrase. It was a bit like a Mexican Standoff….Everyone sat there, watching the home made television (Dad was pretty good at making things) and, despite whatever needs or wants they might have had…cup of tea, for example, or a few biscuits… nobody would move a muscle. In the end, someone would be forced by natural causes to stand and make to leave the room; then came the chorus…”OH…whilst you’re up, could you just..” make the tea poke the fire close the window get some biscuits go and get some more coal for the fire pour some more Dry Fly….no wonder movement was avoided. This was also before the days of television remote controls; in fact, it started when there was but the BBC to watch…and you watched what Lord Reith wanted you to, and were grateful! When the commercial channel arrived, so did the selection of programmes…a Converter was built for the home made telly, and we had TWO channels to watch. Of course, this changed the “Whilst you are up” game…wanting to watch the Other Channel was liable to lead you into MOVING…then, once you had done all the various requests and tasks, the programme you wanted to see was but a memory. No recording, only live TV, blink and you’d missed it…
 
That was then…now, 60 odd years later, it was a grey and miserable dawn. I noticed that my little portable freezer was flashing red distress signals….they went off after a bit…seems the power tripped and Rex had had to go to the boatshed hangar to kick it back into life. Meanwhile, I was plotting the day ahead…. Needed to go to the lockup garage and reclaim the trusty Volvo estate…then go shopping, to try to find some M5 rollpins and a set of Champion N9Y sparkling plugs…or equivalent. I had been reading the heat range chart… and reckoned that one level hotter would help the plugs burn off the carbon fouling from the constant slow running on the canals; So one step up from N7Y was N9Y…let’s give the old girl a treat!! I slid myself into the oleaginous filthy clothing once more, and went to face the day….the rain was pattering on the cabin roof and the canal was being swept by miniature squalls … and it was a fair old walk to the car in it’s garage. Ugh.
 
Breakfast sounded like a better idea…so the two croissants rapidly disappeared and the day improved. I went to the cockpit and started to uncover the stuff I was going to have to prod at…at least the fuel taps and unions hadn’t leaked overnight, a good sign…. I took the top off the gearbox and got a Mole Wrench and managed to dislodge one of the two pins I wanted to change. Then I went to the boatyard office and borrowed Alain’s digital vernier calliper.. to get the exact dimensions of the pin. Looked like a 5mm rollpin would do the job; or some sort of M5 bolt, after I had tapped a thread into the holes. Not too enamoured with that idea….too easy to have the tap snap and ruin all the work.
 
By now the rain had abated enough to walk down the hill to Viv-the-Volvo…there is a reason for the name, but it’s rude…so those of you who know don’t need to be told, and the others aren’t going to be! A shopping trip was in order…so I went to the Briare branch of Weldoms…the D-I-Y store..no rollpins, but assorted stainless and hardened bolts and setscrews… so I bought a selection, in case rollpins hadn’t penetrated this bucolic wonderland. Then I drove to Gien and tried Bricomarché…still no rollpins, but managed to enlarge the fastener collection. No plugs, either…bougies, in French….then I remembered the car parts supplier across the roundabout. Better be quick…all of France shuts down for lunch from 1200 to 1430 and it was 1155… so I swooped around the roundabout, nothing coming, so I swept into the drive to the shop in a rather unapproved fashion…it looked shut. But… it wasn’t!!
 
So I got my bougies and even managed to explain what a rollpin was… and he knew what I meant… and got a packet of M5 rollpins for me!!! Wonder of wonders…. Things were looking up. It was also lunchtime….sartorially and also from a personal hygiene point of view, I was a disaster area…so I wasn’t going to try any decent restaurants..thus the drive through MacDonalds was a godsend, as was the Big Tasty Bacon Burger…yum! Then, back to the boat.
 
Soon got the rollpin into the hole from which I had extracted the original solid tapered pin. Trouble was, could NOT budge the other one..all the attempts with mole wrenches etc, were met with faint Gremlin merriment. I had three assorted other mole wrenches back in the workshop… so off I went. Got there, unlocked the workshop door (thus answering the mystery of What did I Do With the Workshop Keys?? I hadn’t locked the deadbolt, so the keys on my keyring sufficed. Gleefully realising that his probably meant I HADN’T lost them.. I turned on the lights, went in and made a beeline for the tool chest where the moleys were, caught my right great toe on the recumbent stepladder and came crashing down on top of it. This is what happens when you defeat the Gremlins…they get personal….
 
Didn’t break anything or dislocate anything this time….phew… but it has left me deprived of some areas of skin and with magnificent bruises and contusions bulging in all directions. I was  bit shaken by this…so I was half way to the supermarket before I realised I hadn’t taken any analgesia with me…. Blast. In France, you need a prescription for One Paracetamol. You won’t get ANY analgesia, not even an aspirin, without one…. Potty. So I reconciled myself to an aching night and went back to the boat, via the Super U supermarket. Bought a few oddsn and finally the day was dragging to a close…but, before it did, I tested the fit of the new rollpin…perfect!… and got mentally prepared for whatever the afternoon might bring….which was a change of sparkplugs and the fitting of one rollpin (on the basis that if I couldn’t drag the other one out, it was more than likely to stay there!) An engine run and gearbox test ended the efforts, and maybe tomorrow will dawn a nice day and maybe Trilly and her long suffering Master and Commander will manage to get some troublefree miles under their belt. Shall, of course, be inspecting the innards of the Frankencarb and the cog box at the end of the day….assuming all goes well….

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Report from Casualty Clearing Station….

Post by molemot on Sat Aug 29, 2015 4:28 pm

Not much in the way of an expedition, today, gentle readers. Falling over a step ladder is not the way to go voyaging…. Most of the abrasions and swellings had subsided by the morning; the one the size of a cricket ball on the right forearm had pretty much gone… and the right little finger, which I had thought could have been torn bodily from it’s moorings, is once more fully mobile and scarcely bruised. The right leg, however….there is a piece of skin about 3cm by 2cm that seems to have vanished. Yesterday I cleaned this by washing it and an antiseptic wipe before applying a Proper Dressing… not some sticking plaster thingy. That, too, appears to be repairing itself nicely…I have since exposed it to the air and it’s a lot better. Next to it, though, is a mighty bruise.. must be bruised down to the bone, it took a lot of impact..and that does ache; couldn’t find any position in which it didn’t. Tedious; very. A few soluble aspirin which expired in Dec 2007 took a bit of the edge off. There is no surface sign of infection, and the skin is just tight over the swelling. No call for meatball surgery, Hawkeye and  Trapper John aren’t going to be needed. I ended up sitting…no, wrong word…sweltering in the cockpit under the sun umbrella with the fan running in 30°C+ temperature, reading the last 60 pages of “Glide Path” and the entire Robert B. Parker novel “The Godwulf Manuscript”. I have also refitted the little rail inside the cupboard-under-the-sink where the tea towel hangs, and also fitted a new fastener to the starboard sidescreen to replace the one ripped out by the Tempest some days ago.
 
Rex, the Resident Scot, turned up with some paracetamol…he takes it every day as part of the myriad of pills he swallows to deal with his assorted medical conditions…and I was VERY pleased to have them. 8 soluble 1 gramme tablets; so far, I have taken 2. Thank you, Rex! It also occurred to me that something cold could ease the swelling (cries of BLOODY OBVIOUS from the medical types) so, in the absence of the traditional pack-of-frozen-peas, I have been using one of my 1 kg freezer packs; and it has helped significantly. I’ve moved from the triage of “leave me to snuff it” to “will probably survive with no further treatment”. Hopefully we shall be back navigating in the morning.
 
Meanwhile…some diligent searching has produced a filter/separator for boat petrol fuel systems… looking at the gen, seems that it could be the answer to the waxy, watery snot that bunged up the Frankencarb and the fuel pump and the ordinary fuel filter. This beast allows the snot to build up in the base of the filter separator and there is a drain tap to enable it to be removed.. a lot more easily than dismantling the Frankencarb! SO I shall acquire one of these.. and fit it during the Closed Season so that next year won’t be a repeat of this one. I knew that diesel boats used them, but hadn’t realised that they were available for us petrolheads….
 
It really has been jolly warm today…coming up to 5 o’clock and the cabin temperature measures  92° on the Fahrenheit scale…the fan is keeping me cool as I type. Rex has just wafted back on his latest mobility scooter…it’s red, so he calls it The Ferrari (also because it is faster than his previous ones…and anyone else’s, too!) It is a thing of wonder to behold…Rex with his liquid oxygen life support system, a holder for his stick, the GPS system…and Skye-the-dog, sitting in her trailer behind, with the dog bed and the natty cover to keep off rain and sun. This trailer carries a saltire and the sign “Skye Mobile”…to see Rex bimbling along with the neck piece of his Foreign Legion Kepi fluttering in the breeze of his passage is one of the tourist sight of Briare! Fred Karno would have approved.
 
I was sitting in the cockpit when I saw something out of the corner of my eye…it was a pair of dragonflies, intent on making MORE dragonflies. They mate on the wing… and you can see where the USAF got their particular aerial refuelling idea from! The RAF use probe-and-drogue, where the tanker deploys a hose with a sort of cone shaped basket on the end…the recipient then has to prod this with a probe, until a hole-in-one (or however many tries it takes) is achieved, whereupon the two lock together and fuel is transferred. The USAF tankers have a boom which comes down from the tail and engages with a receptacle usually just behind the cockpit of the recipient. This boom is flown into the receptacle by the Boom Operator. Thus, the RAF rely on the skill of the recipient to fly formation and prod the drogue…whilst the USAF has the recipient flying formation AND the boom operator stuffing the boom into the correct spot. This doesn’t always work… I know of at least one instance where the boom operator managed to spear the pilot of a B-52, which resulted in a lengthy search for the underwater wreck and the weapons-of-mass-destruction on board. Best only one person doing the skill stuff, I think….but back to dragonflies. The front insect had engaged the rear of it’s fuselage with the back of the second ones neck… and they were flying around like this for some time. It must have been tiring though, as they came and settled on the boat sun umbrella… about 9 inches from my right hand, which was holding my book. The No.2 insect then curled their fuselage up to contact the No.1 just under their head…So it was a true Oozlum and they had formed the circle! They were still at it 15 minutes later, but then they flew away…still coupled. It felt as if the boat had been blessed…good luck to them and whatever progeny may result.
 
Not much boating went on today; but I’m glad I had cooler weather for the engineering which characterised the previous couple of days…. Assuming the leg improves, more Tales of the Riverbank tomorrow!!

molemot
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