Thursday, 7 July 2016

The engine blew its top

Wednesday 6th July; bridge 129 to below Claydon locks

A beautiful sunny morning on a beautiful mooring.  We left soon after 9 and gently bimbled along through the peaceful and remote countryside.  The sheep, newly shorn, were alert and keeping an eye on us as we passed – all except for the one in the middle who had an itch.

1 shorn sheep in the sun

It would have been idyllic except for one small thing.  On the way to Fenny Compton, the alarm on the instrument panel started to beep.  Not a lot, and intermittently.  No warning lights came on, the oil pressure was fine and the engine temperature was ok.  But the rev counter kept going down to 800 then back up to whatever it should have been, though the engine note didn’t change.  Luckily we were nearly at Fenny and pulled in on the water point.  Dave lifted the engine board to use the emergency stop button (as the solenoid has failed) and saw there was water below the engine and the pressure cap was lying in it! (** warning – technical terms may not be entirely correct….)

Meanwhile, I had tried and failed to unlock the water point we were closest to, and a boat had already pulled in to use the other one.  So Dave did some hard thinking and I reported the broken Yale lock while we waited for the other boat to finish watering up.  Once we’d pulled the boat back and taken on water we moved along to the moorings.  I cycled off to the village for some shopping and Dave mopped up the water then got his laptop out to do a bit of research.  When I got back he had found the pressure relief valve to release the air and started to refill the cooling system.  After lunch he took the pressure cap along to Fenny Compton marina and discussed the problem with the engineers, who realised that it was missing a washer.  Dave had noticed the cap was a bit loose yesterday.  It seems that, missing its washer, it wasn’t seated tightly and though he had tightened it up, it had gradually worked loose again and finally came off.  The lovely engineers didn’t have the right washer but managed to fashion one from some window seal (it’s the lower of the two washers, not quite as smooth as the top one!) 

2 pressure cap with handmade washer

We ran the engine for a while and everything seemed ok so we went on, through the ‘tunnel’ – which no longer has a roof;

3 fenny compton tunnel

it’s narrow.  This boat had seen us coming and wisely waited for us to get to the end before they started through.

4 its narrow

We continued on to Claydon locks without incident.  The cottage at the top lock (with no direct road access) still seems to be empty.  We moored on the long stretch below the locks.  Here is Dave using the emergency button to turn the engine off.  Actually he has to lie flat but I didn’t quite catch him in time.

5 using emergency stop button

He continued to work on painting the front deck while I – to my shame, for the first time in my life – mended a puncture on the bike. Dave picked it up when he went up to Fenny marina. 

Surprisingly, although there were a lot of boats on the move this afternoon, we were the only boat on this huge stretch of mooring overnight.

Just under 7 miles, 5 locks.

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