Our son Tim won’t believe I am capable of understanding or doing it, but yesterday Ed gave me some instruction in engine maintenance. I asked him after reading Paul Smith’s Living on a Narrowboat newsletter a couple of months ago where he described the tuition he had from Kerry of RCR (River Canal Rescue who we used a couple of times early last season, before we discovered Aqua Narrowboats and then the lovely Ed).
So here’s what I learned (by doing) yesterday:
· How to change a fuel filter, preparation, doing the job, checking fuel for diesel bug, restoring bits afterwards
· Then how to bleed the air out of the fuel line via the filter
· And how to bleed the four fuel injectors
· Checking the alternator belts for appropriate tautness – I doubt I'll be adjusting the bolts on the alternators though – requires more brute strength than I have to move the alternator, but I will know when to stop at the next engineer’s place and get it done
· Checking the engine mounts
· Checking and refilling the PRM gearbox
· Oil changing process and changing the filter
I know that for most boaters this stuff is easy peasy lemon squeezy, but for us it’s been a bit of a black art. I’ve known it in theory – after all, I am my father’s daughter and you couldn't assist dad in all the stuff** he needed a labourer for without getting the explanations and process discussed and taught – but I've not actually done it before. I did try to change the oil last year, but the manual failed to mention one critical instruction – undo the nut at the bottom of the pumpy thing so the oil can come out of the pump. That time, we decided it was better to pay someone to do it for us. Now I feel confident that we can do it ourselves. The only issue is whether I can contort myself down into the engine bay and survive the cricks in my neck and back. I am small enough to fit easily, it's just the contortions that left me feeling rather sore yesterday!
** included building a number of jet boats (wood covered with fiassisting David and me in the renovation of our home in Johnsonville .. unless it was fixing a radio or TV or wallpapering he would do the job.
As we are heading for London, we need to be a bit self sufficient and able to identify and eliminate issues if something goes wrong when we are out of reach of the fabulous Ed. It’s a gradual process, this learning about the boat. Steering it has been easy peasy, but learning how it all works, in the cabin, in the electrical department and in the engine bay has taken some time. We will never be able to do the things I read about on the boating forums - I don’t even know what most of them mean or even where to start looking, but we can now manage the basics.
I am feeling quite chuffed!
Today Tim David from Onboard Solar is coming to fit our 4 solar panels and MPPT controller – another thing to learn about, and as it’s electrics, it’s David’s domain.
I have to go to the bank and get the cash, do some food shopping, go to the chandlers and buy some spares (fuel filter, belts, air filter) plus a marine magnet. We’ve had the Webasto on this morning warming the boat (it is a bit chilly in the Midlands at the moment) and heating the water, so now I can have a shower then make brekkie and face the day – it looks like it’s quite sunny – yay! The forecast last night said it was meant to reach a whole 19 deg C today and that the UV rating would be quite high – what are they on about???
PS We met some more antipodeans yesterday – Diane and Malcolm on Idle Jack who’ve just arrived back from Melbourne in Australia and are moored up a couple of boats away before they head off today. They came over for a glass of wine last night – I have to confess I was asleep on the sofa when they arrived, but it was lovely to see them and I hope we see them again on our travels – they are heading in a different direction at first, but maybe as we converge back here later in the year.