#21 Base ‘Camp’. Winter 2015/2016

Friday 23rd October      Well (deep hole with water in there sumwear) (sumtimes, anyway) Folks. No we have not (completely) disappeared. Parallel world thing again, me thinks. Blog Readers, beware Black Bart be still ‘ear. Are you listening ??  Aaaaaarrrrrrgh !  !!   !!!

Bart World has still been ‘creeping’ along. On occasion, even moor slowly than during the ‘summer’ although, admittedly we have been mostly static. That means Bart is resting after all her/his hard work cruising during the past six months. Especially those rivers. Oh! soo many rivers.

Upon our safe re-birth at Base ‘Camp’ our main crew of two (1st mate Roxy is resting as usual) are off to find Nell. Nell being our Lovely trusty steed of a Land Rover Defender. She be a very reliable, steady work horse (elephant actually). The solar panel has been a successful addition to Nell for her period of rest. She ‘fires up’ immediately. After being still & silent for 26 weeks. Darned impressive. Cap’n Anders had very kindly re-inflated that squichy rear tyre for us prior to our re-entry of the berth canal. Wot they call a slow punch-er  ya-no.

End of Oct thru November into December      During the weeks following our re-entry into this berth canal place a few jobs are slowly (this is a narrowboat you know) (not best known for that thing oftenly called speedy) being dealt with. Crossing tings off the ‘winter work list’ as Skip might say.

Cracked Glass      Morso Squirrel stove’s door glass cracked recently so skippet had ordered a replacement kit. Ta-Intra-net is a marvellous thing, sum-tyms. Package waiting for us upon arrival (re-berth) at marina (Base ‘Camp’). ‘Five minute job’ this one. Yeah! Right. Glass retaining/clamping screws are being very stubborn. Cap’n Anders offers assistance & moor-all support. After much care & caution including de-seizing lubricant (Wildly Doused 40 times, at least) the first screw finally starts moving, me thinks. Then the screw head Shears off. ‘Oh! Dear’ is one of several expletives gently mouthed by Skip. Second screw is nurtured out very gently, eventually coming out whole. Magic !!  Third & 4th are not soo successful. Three out of four heads sheared. Bugger !!  Did I say that. No, not me. Do NOT want to be purchasing a new replacement door if it can be helped. Moor tools are are outed ready for attempts at door saving work. Careful centre punching of protruding shank of each screw, pilot drilling each, d1.5mm d2mm d2.5mm d3mm d3.5mm & finally 4mm, to extract, drill-out (really) the steel screws from the holes in the cast iron door. After drilling out each ‘plugged’ hole, a tap (not of the faucet variety) is utilised to ensure the threaded holes are cleaned-out & saved. A slightly nerve-racking process, but all OK. Skippet steps in to remove old fire-rope glass mount seal & ‘glue’ in new, then new glass is secured into position with new screws sourced from Bart’s extensive stock.No screws with kit. No prob for Bart though. Lower vent door old fire-rope also replaced with new. Fantabulosous !!  A job Very Well Done.  That Was FUN !!!

A Little Rusty      Rear zone of forward locker (formally gas locker) & port side seat box (cratch area) are a wee-bit rusty. Relatively aggressive preparation followed by more gentle cleaning procedures are carried out, then first coat of rust-busting (hopefully) gloop is applied. cold & damp weather hinders process with trusty (not rusty) hairdryer re-aquisitioned to assist curing of magic liquid. Some cursing takes place, on several occasions due to difficulties & Skip’s foolishness in attempting such things in ideal (not) conditions. A wonderful weekend trip to IOW end of October helps the crew recover recent (in some cases self inflicted) annoyances. Although it is moor the weather’s fault really. Upon return to Bart the 2nd & 3rd coats of anti-rust-bust are applied, finally over painting in a pleasant shade of ivory. Weather fighting hairdryer technique in repeated use. All painfully slow but finally there, hopefully. Isolated section of Bart’s base plate, below Herbie (the Eberspacher) (of course) is messy with rust developing so similar procedures carried out as above, still fighting cold & damp, particularly as this area (unsurprisingly) is sitting in that cold water below us. Does anyone fancy a nice new hairdryer for Christmas ??  Te ! He !!

Extra Lighting      Last winter we introduced led lighting into various ‘dark holes’ to make life a tittle easier. Storage area under the well deck, underside of cratch table, cupboard to rh side of galley sink, larder cupboard & wardrobes. This (extremely wet very windy) winter we have added moor led magic. Above the Epping stove at the stern, in skippet’s ‘dressing table’ dropdown cupboard & in cupboard Lh side of galley sink. Jumping to sum-it slightly different we ‘upgrade’ the toilet’s macerator operating rocker switch to a ‘momentary’ switch which automatically returns to the off position. Good idea.

Diesel Leaks      The next issues are the diesel leaks we have been managing in the engine room for some time. The main diesel supply pipework into the engine room has an inline coupling where the old fuel feed to Herbie (you’ve ‘eard of him before sum-wear) used to be T-ed from. Tweaking compression fittings on numerous occasions never stopped the leaks. Never wanting to play with things too much while still out on the cut, we hoped things would hold out till back at base. New pipe, compression fittings & shut-off valve have now been acquired from a chandlers. Might be handy to be able to shut off diesel supply locally in the engine room. Using a combination of screw (sealing compound used) & compression fittings (dry) we appear to have a promisingly un-wet result. no Leak (yet). Time will tell. Few days later. Oh ! well !  Upper fitting to hand pump (to fill day tank) (look it up) is now a tittle weepy. A tweaky nippy adjustment is made to troublesome compression fitting. Time will tell if all is finally OK.

Banjo fittings      Ah ! Banjo fittings I hear you cry. These tittle ‘assemblies’ (we will call them) to the original (but empty) fuel filter casting (empty of filter only, not fuel) & then to the fuel injector block have both been a seepy leaky issue for a fair olde while. Supposedly better Dowty seals had been fitted in place of the older style copper washers previously by us ‘ere. That didn’t work. Leaky problem still with us. Dis-assembly, cleaning & re-assembly at both naughty locations attempts to finally stop the diesel losses. Drips they may only be, but annoying is wot they is. Still seeping. Aaaargh !!  Pirate talk (in this case) for annoyed !!  Dis-assembled again. during re-assembly the banjo screw into the fuel injector block stops tightening up, but is still turning. Does not feel good. We need to cross the pond for purposes of black tank vacation process. Suck it all out. smelly, but not too messy. upon our arrival back at birth (or should that be berth) (who cares, doesn’t matter) banjo fitting taken back out for further, more detailed investigation. What Fun this might (not) turn out to be.     to be continued……..  

We’re ready now  –  Moor about those delightful Banjo fittings. The assembly connecting diesel pipe to filter casing seems to be ‘holding up’ OK. Tis the fuel injector feed assembly that be of concern. Following removal of both the (possibly now dodgy) banjo bolt & the reducer for securing it into the injector block, threads are cleaned checked. All appears to be OK. Don’t want a problem with the injector block, as is likely expensive. Being aluminium, tis causing some concern. Sealing compound is used to re-secure the reducer in the injector block. Then banjo assembly is screwed into reducer. As the banjo bolt is tightened up it shears. Now we know things are definitely not good.    to be continued……..

Francis      The olde Brass Francis Lamp sits (stands really) at the bow when Black Bart (our Narrowboat) (Not the man/Pirate himself) negotiates tunnels & other dark holes. When olde Francis is resting he be relaxing in the engine room. That be sharing time with olde Lister. Francis & Lister. Best of mates. Ship mates they be. Olde Francis is a mite wibberly wobberly during rest periods. His stool (me thinks we shall call it) has become rickety to say the least. Woodworm (not sure there was many of them little so-and-so’s really) chased out of Bart & new woodwork has been shoed in. All sorted, Francis now sits proudly upright in his rest room, steady on just his one leg. Pirate ya-know !

Herbie      (The Eberspacher you know) also sits in the engine room. Forgot to mention him earlier. Obviously, Herbie has some buddies too. They be called Lister & Francis. Surprised at that news ? No we’re not either. Herbie sits quietly on his wall shelf, although not that quietly (it has to be noted in the log) when he wakes us up in the morning. Herbie lives in a lovely dark green box with a beautiful door. To aid Herbie’s breathing (air flow ya-no) said door has been ‘improved’ greatly by young Master Jigsaw. A Large ‘H‘ has now been cut into/thru the door. Unfortunately, old Mr. H.n.S. Officer (others known as twitty) stuck ‘is ore in (is that how it’s spelt) (or is it oar) & a most splendid (& protective apparently) steel mesh now adorns the large aich-y hole. Spankingly good.

Nell’s Lights      are being a smite troublesome. Nell is our very trusty Land Rover Defender (if you did not know). On our return from that tittle island off the south coast skippet noticed rear offside light not working. New bulb is fitted having been acquired from a place called a shop. We are still light-less. OK. Fused checked. It’s blown. Oh well. New fuse. Still nothing. Fuse has blown again. Head scratching & messing about follows. Finally, the rear reg plate light is found to be the culprit. The insides be disintegrating. Mostly rusty crumbs in the housing. We have a short. Think that’s wot it be called. We get our feet wet (surfing those internety webby waters) & a new led reg plate light is soon flying to & bolting itself onto Nell’s bum (rear left cheek to be exact), cable connections sorted, fuse replaced again & ‘We Have Light’.      We now have a problem with the headlights. Only there be side lights. Headlights are not with us. Headlight fuses (yes there be two of these) checked firstly likely. Not blown. OK. Bulbs checked. OK. Strange one. Master switch. Yes Master light switch has gone !Splat!. Wet toes again & new switch is ‘ere, fitted & Nell’s headlights is working again.     We ‘Like’ (some) things that are sent to test us.     Squichy Tyre. That rear left tyre is getting worse. Dropping to 4psi within a day or so. Big chunky tyres on our Nell. Fortunately was repairable so bill less than feared. Would have been expensive if we’d had to buy a new tyre. Phew !!

Shelves       An extra shelf or two. Yes. Shelf. or is that shelve. Difficult to say. We need to ‘unpile’ a few tings in a couple of Bart’s galley cupboards. A small triangular upper shelf is introduced into the triangular (no surprise there then) cupboard to the side of the cooker. Introduced makes it sound strange. Strange it certainly is. ‘Hello’ Mr. Cupboard, here is the new extra tittle shelf. He’s almost tiny & his name is Tim or Tom or summit like that. Very handy tittle fella though. Amazing how much he can hold. And then an-udder is bish-bash-boshed from our recently increased wood (not the burny stuff) stock. Yes Woodstock. Have you ‘eard of it ?  I digress. Again. Well, large storage facility to right of galley sink is emptied, Little chap called upper shelf/shelve is introduced (moor pleasantries required) across far end, and galley (kitcheny) equipment & other moor secret items are re-entered into facility & re-organised. Much Better. Good job (reasonably) well done. Skip (short fat fella) had to curl ‘im-self into a (not soo small) ball, climbing inta said cupboard for purposes of construction. Photographs (fortunately) unavailable at time of going to press. Sorry !!!!

Toilet      Such Fun !!  As you may not be aware Bart has had double toilet trouble during this summer’s cruise. On both occasions (we won’t go into too much other detail today) the water feed supply pipe has been most unkindly painful to remove. This flexible ridged pipe is simply put, a ‘pig’ to separate from the toilet pan ‘Y’ splitter/joint feed. Not wanting to damage the ‘Y’ feed pipe which is ridged, in ta opposite direction, the flexible pipe ends up splitting after extended efforts to remove damage free. Failed again. Don’t think there be much more free play in the feed pipework, so time to change. Upgrade even. Investigations are made to find the other end of the flexy pipe. Tuther end is successfully found & pipe completely removed. A clean, clear, reinforced (& smoothly like) (unridged) pipe is acquired via the usual (dirty) black market & position secured with luv-ely jubilees clippety-clips. Very nice. Maybe we should also change the ‘pooh’ pipe to clear. That is a great idea !!  Will see (quite literally) what we can do. Most unpleasant.

Bathroom storage      Extra storage in the bathroom area. Yes we have a bathroom. Proper like. You should come and see. You can’t use though. Only look. Bart has excellent storage, but we shall improve things further my tittle blog readers. The toilet is forward of the wall, with half hearted box work trying to cover the pipework that travels to/from said apparatus. A fair few hours /days are spent creating (what both Skips) are quite chuffed with. It might only be a storage box to sum, facility even, but to us it is both splendidly good & muchly handy like. Woodwork not bad. Prep, stain & varnish just finishes it off purfeck. We like out new toilet box, as it shall be named.

We have been enjoying quite a good sustained productive period for close on two months now. Admittedly the work days do not start early, but quite often into the evenings we do strife. One crew member in particular has been making those many different needles smoke. Creations aplenty of marvellous woollen designs. Do not understand how it all works, but most impressive. Some extremely lucky people out there.

Merrrrrrrrrry Christmas to all our Lovely friends & Family peoples. 

Christmas & New Year     What a Wonderful Christmas Black Bart’s crew of three have enjoyed. Pre-Christmas travels & celebrations to/in deepest darkest Kent to see loads of Lovely people. Christmas Eve on Board our Bart. Christmas Day up to West Brom to see two lovely people & one even more Lovely person. Lovely Boxing Day ‘Lunch’ (Feast) with Fab boaty friends & neighbours, before journeying back to the dark place called Kent, where we took temporary ownership of Amberley Inn for aboat a week. There were some other lovely people ‘staying’ there also. After muchly fun (& relaxation at times) we finally make our return drive in that trusty gal Nell, arriving at our Lovely Home, our Narrowboat ‘Black Bart’ (Bartholomew Roberts to be most exacting) again, a short couple of days prior to twelfth night.

Happy New Year to one & all 


January 2016      Hello Again. Lazy start to the New Year of 2016. Crew being a wee wit snotty, cloggy, gunky, throaty & other such things. Most unpleasant. Finally we pick up that batten again, getting on with moor ‘winter boat work’.

Twin 12vdc sockets      That’s what we have ordered. Two of these little beauties & twin core cable to-boot. Units with cigar lighter & dual USB sockets. Where to fit ….     First one sorted. Boatman’s cabin, mounted to face of starboard seat box. Fab !!  Took a fair while, extending wiring across from port side cupboard at foot of bed, but worth the effort. And it works too. Phones & tablets can now be charged via the 12v dc power supply. Second twin socket to be fitted in the utility room. Yes, we have one of those too. Ain’t we lucky. Slight change of plan, to improve flexibility of 12v sockets on Bart The final/second set is split up into separate/individual sockets. One being mounted in the utility room & tuther one in ta saloon area. Job Done. Mighty handy these tings will be. Already are proving so.

Inverter      We have made a number of steps in our attempts to reduce the crew’s dependance 0n the inverter (240v ac) when our Bart is static, moored on the cut. The inverter will be turned on when cruising. That’s OK but as the inverter always sucks power from the batteries when turned on (all the time at the mo) we can reduce the drain on the domestic battery bank by turning the inverter off during the night & through the day too when we be moored. Soon, we should hopefully only need the inverter on (when static) for tings like the tv & a few udders. Last part of the ‘de-inverter plan’ is to ‘upgrade’ the freezer (yes, one of those ‘ere too) from 240v ac to 12v dc. This is the ‘biggy’. Our current (ac) (not dc) (get the ‘joke’) freezer is the last reason why we need to have the inverter on all the time. Being that we changed the fridge just before we departed for our splendid 2015 season cruise. That were easier, due to there being a dedicated 12v dc supply already there for such a cooling facility. Unfortunately there be no such supply for the freezer. Installation of new heavy cables needs to be confronted.     to be continued……..

Pipework      Forward locker is accessed by a small hatch on the bow. Originally Bart’s gas locker this now provides a very handy & surprising dry storage area. With the area cleared skip goes in head first to renew a length of pipework. Even with the long arms available required access to far starboard rear corner is difficult. Old is removed with a little difficulty. Fitting new pipe proves more awkward. After several attempts, with said worker using numerous different positions of attack things are not looking good. In fact, things are now NOT feeling good either. Actually Pain is all around. Particularly down skip’s right hand side. Cannot get thyself back out of the forward locker. Laying head first, upper body through the hole, one is unable to extract oneself from the ‘ole. NOT good. More painful attempts fail. Nobody around to commence safe retrieval procedures. Just thow legs are sticking out back through the access hatch, dangling in mid air. Probably a strange sight, if anyone was there to see. a good fifteen minutes + is spent down there, before, by luck a friendly boat neighbour happens by, delivering a parcel to Bart. After Skip announces his dilemma further help is called upon & two good friends manage to pull skip back out through the hole. BIG sigh of relief. Not the most pleasant experience of recent times for old skip. Quite a few pains is suffered during following days. Likely to be so for coming weeks. Jobs will be scaled back &/or rescheduled to take account of reduced capability. Hospital visit a few days later confirms right hand side of chest wall/cavity is badly bruised. Possibly some muscle &/or tendons in recovery. At least nothing too bad. Don’t want to go there again for a while, if ever. How on earth is job going to gone done now. Not an easy place to access & work. Very friendly, co-pontooner  and luckily, experienced Engineer of smaller stature gained full body access into forward locker successfully finishing pipework upgrade for Black Bart & her skippers. THANKYOU Sir.  You know who you are. Fellow pontooner’s also know who you are. Eyes-Luvly. Fantastic !!!

Gas Locker      Plans discussed, spec. agreed, Steel acquired (legally), welding kit & associated supplies sorted & we’re off. To make better use of the fore space available for general storage & Gas bottles Bart is being tweaked by Cap’n Tyers. A damn Good friend to have. Multi talented & multi skilled (if they are different tings that is). Full width storage is split with new divider plate creating more suitable, dedicated storage for 2x 13kg gas bottles, starboard side. Port side now provides seperate storage facility for udder tings. Very Handy indeed. Yes sir !!  Cheers very much Cap’n T.

Roof Boxes      Maybe only two odd years old but are already being beaten up by the weather. Following preparation works stain is applied to the wooden side panels. Suck-it up. Suck-it up. They be sooo dry. Don’t understand that as it has be sooo wet out there. Now three coats of varnish is ‘slapped’ on. This is not  a quick job ya-no. Takes a lot of time. Looks really good now though. Fabulous !!  Fore & aft panels are canvass covered. The original black has faded to grey. Soon is sorted. Re-blacked. Looking Good. Job done.

Freezer      Black Bart ‘currently’ (good joke, eh!!) has a 12v dc larder fridge (added to the galley’s facilities pre-cruise last year) & a 240v ac upright freezer. We require to ‘upgrade’ the freezer spec, replacing with a new 12v dc Freezer. We need to be sure we can remove the existing freezer from Bart’s utility room. Measurements taken indicate the cold facility is physically bigger than the holes (the doorways) it needs to travel through, to be excavated from utility room & removed from Bart. Much time & care is needed to separate one side of the galley/utility door frame from surrounding bulkhead, without completely destroying the wood. Freezer lid & door are removed & on-site test removals are carried out before crew can finally commit to intended replacement (and associated significant costs involved). Freezer is re-instated for the time being. Need to keep things cold matey ! New chunky 10mm/sq. cables are acquired & with some difficulty, much time & the usual persistence, installed through, round, under, across & along things & places providing a dedicated power supply from engine room to utility room. Just the ticket !  Freaky Friday provides the opportunity to spend the dosh (saving a few squid in the process) & Bart’s new freezer is transported by Nell to Bart & thy food is cold again.

Larder Cupboard      The larder cupboard floor area has become a busy old place in times gone by. In fact, it is most of the time.


Sofa bed     The base (bum) cushions on our sofa (also doubles as a bed, surprisingly)



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