#39 Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal – South. August 2016

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Wednesday 24th August 2016      nb:Black Bart has cruised from the T&M into the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal’s waters. Sailing over the River Trent aqueduct.


Cap’n Bart salutes the robin watching our passage as we make our way


to & through Tixall Wide. Crew are becoming concerned. Lister is Not Well. There be unpleasant ‘clonks’ coming from Lister or (we hope) from summit of an ancillary nature that be very close to Lister. We are unsure as to if there be tings-a-bad ‘happening in that there engine room. We is not sure if poor old Lister is hurting inside. We chug & clonk on our watery way. Then the clonking noise changes. Now it be an unpleasant short, sharp bang. In Baswich we arrive, trying to moor near a road bridge. Too shallow. We go on. Tis the evening already. Has been a long day. Finally Bart be ‘landing’ just South of Weeping Cross. We phone RCR. Canal River Rescue. Just like the RAC of our water world . We await their return call confirming an engineer’s visit to Bart to investigate our poorly Lister. The call does not come. Don’t matter. Will see what tomorrow brings to Bart World.

Thursday 25th August      This morning’s phone conversation tells us an engineer is on their way. 10.00am & a young RCR engineer arrives. Symptoms explained, Lister is woken up. That clonk. What clonk?  That short sharp bang. What bang?  Although, that said, Lister is being consistently noisy now. Not her usually calm pleasant self at all. Some opinions & judgements are made. We do not have a definite solution. That be because we do not know what the actual problem is. Another avenue of skill & knowledge needs to be travelled. Just not sure where that is likely to be.

Roxy plays with her new Staffie friend Doyle from next door, while Lister loudly chugs. Mr. Engineer is off. No-ting to be done. After chats with our interested neighbour, Cap’n Bart decides it be time to go. We move off, making noisy progress. Lister is just letting everybody know of our existence. Can’t creep up on anyone now. Locks lift Bart up as we is heading South, passing though Acton Trussell, towards Penkridge. Before we get that far we arise Park Gate Lock & moor by Midland Chandlers. While in the chandlers looking at a couple of tings, we enquire if there be a vintage engine specialist in the local, as our Lovely Lister is a tittle bit sickly & needs some qualified TLC. By shear luck, there is. In possession of engineer’s business card we is back to Bart & leaving a phone message. A tittle web surfing provides positive vibes for our ‘chosen’ engineer. A while later said chappie phones and can amazingly, come over to us in aboat an ‘er. Here he is. You know when you get that feeling you can trust someone. Know they are a Good person who you can rely on. Well we have just met one of those people. Vintage engine specialist Richard Milligan. He also lives on his Orion Narrowboat (same at Bart). His boat has a four cylinder Lister JP4 engine & there also be a Lister 9/1, used as a generator. He certainly knows his ‘stuff’. And not just aboat Lister engines. Has a wealth of knowledge & experience in modern & classic engines & all udder tings boaty. Lister is woken up. Doesn’t sound good. Lister is rested. Investigations ensue. Rocker covers removed. Engine side plate cover removed. We can now see right inside Lister. Proper like.


Crank shaft & many other important parts & assemblies all there to be seen. Lovely.  What is the trouble with our Lister ??  Two likely reasons for the sickliness. Big end bearings or flywheel mounting is faulty. Exuberant heaving on & levering of the crankshaft, from & in numerous positions seems to show big end bearings may not be the issue. Hopeful we be. That is muchly many hours of labour & Parts resulting in BIG money repairs. Fingers & toes crossed. Our new Best Friend can come back tomorrow to find out what is making Lister soo Poorly. Cannot believe our luck.

Friday 26th August      Is this day to be Lister Day ???   Engineer Extraordinaire Cap’n RM is back & following further investigation he be confident Lister’s big end bearings are sound. Little Bearings good too. In fact Lister’s internals are in Very Good condition. FAB !!   Next area of moor detailed investigation now is the flywheel. Huge lump of metal. That’s a technical description. Prop-shaft disconnected from gearbox output shaft. Gearbox removed. Drive plate assembly unbolted from flywheel assembly. Drive plate mounting ring removed from face of flywheel. Someone has obviously had a problem with this in the past as the very large nut & associated locking washer securing the flywheel on Lister’s output drive shaft have been part mullered by heavy-handed hammering & chiselling techniques. even the end of thread on the shaft has been damaged….


NOT good. Fools !!   Much dogged persistence by our star engineer wins the day. Mechanical locking devices removed. That were Not easy. Took ages. Thanks !!  to who-ever didn’t know what they were doing. & should have left well alone. & paid someone qualified, to do the job properly. Threads filed, wire brushed & cleaned. Taper shaft, corresponding flywheel bore &


drive plate mounting ring all cleaned with emery cloth & oil then wiped thoroughly. Lister output taper shaft & flywheel bore copper greased ready. Flywheel assembly is re-instated, correctly mounted on taper shaft & secured with monster nut & locking washer assembly. Close inspection proves the drive plate assembly is k-nackered. A very important mechanism connecting Lister/flywheel to the Newage PRM260D2 Gearbox. The splined bore of the drive plate is also suffering, which in-turn has started wearing & damaging the gearbox input (splined) shaft. Off to Midland Chandlers to see if they have a new drive plate assembly in stock. Cross those toes (& fingers) again. No, unfortunately not. It’s a special. Not standard…..  Great !!!  Richard phones a friend in the business who can make a new higher spec. model that will better for the installation & has a broader mounting on the gearbox shaft to get the drive back onto the undamaged area. Fabulous !!!  Could be a fair few squid & take aboat a week. Slight problem. We leave to old k-nackered unit behind the desk at MC. OK. There is an ‘old’ spare drive plate in Lister’s room. We return to Bart to investigate. Apparently, tis likely to be the original from 16 years ago. Actually in Good working condition. Decision made. Re-instate the original. Richard is sure there was a problem in the past with the drive plate incorrectly made the culprit. Then poor attempts to ‘adjust’ the flywheel mounting just made things worse. Quite incredible tings have survived this long without causing moor lasting damage. Bart can have propulsion again, without much moor delay. The new drive plate assembly will be fitted at base camp in the winter. The original ‘spare’ is moor than capable of transferring drive from Lister to the gearbox for the ongoing cruisings. FAB !!!   Engine (Lister) coolant is part-drained. Apparently, the water/coolant pump’s impeller needs replacing every couple of years as some of the ‘teeth’ can get broken. Pump internals is accessed.


OK. Lister’s impeller is on the right. Tis a tittle bit ‘bald’. Amazing !!  Never had an overheating problem. The new impeller is fitted, pump re-assembled & coolant mixture poured in to refill the system.

IMG_0809Gearbox oil seems OK but as we doubt it has been change in the last six years, or even moor. Should be done every couple of years. Richard’s gearbox/drive-plate friend expert says nobody changes their gearbox often enough, if ever. Needs to be done, even though it is usually very awkward to do. The manual suction pump is brought into action. Gearbox oil sucked out, then drain plug removed & remaining dribbles allowed to escape. The drain plug incorporates a magnet. Very Handy. It ‘atracts’ those tittle bits of gear teeth that wear off during operation. Needs to be cleaned off then plug screwed back in place. Engine oil is used to re-lubricate the gearbox. Just what the original manufacturer used. Engine oil is sucked out. Much easier through the massive open side of Lister. Wipe out the bottom & udder places to remove as much as possible. Don’t think this had been done properly like this for an awfully long time. If ever. Now, with rocker covers removed the (very) old oil is sucked out of the tittle ‘trough’ in the bottom.


Wiped out & new engine oil poured in here, & all over the rocker arms & tappets, etc…  This to be done every engine oil change. Lister gulps up aboat two gallons of Morris Lubricants Golden Film SAE 30 Classic Motor Oil + the rocker ‘troughs’ & the gearbox. We have paid ‘engineers’ to service Lister in the past. No one ever did any of the things that Richard advises. No one ever took the side of the engine off to ensure they removed as much of the old oil as possible. Wish we had met Richard four years ago.

Gearbox is hoiked back into position & connected to Lister using the original good drive plate. Output shaft is re-connected to the universal joint linking back to the propeller shaft. Rocker covers back on. Lister’s side cover plate re-secured into position. Flywheel guard re-instated. Linkages reconnected for gearbox & accelerator control at helm. A few tittle jobs & Lister re-awoken. What a Wonderful Sound. Lister ‘runs’ better than ever. Oh JOY !!   The last couple days +  have been a bit of a worry. Today has been such a GREAT Day. So much fun helping such a clever guy attend to Lister & associated team. So many extremely usual snippets (& moor) of valuable information imparted to Bart’s crew during this day’s work. THANKYOU So Much Richard. YOU ARE A STAR.  The bill was extremely reasonable considering the hours, effort, skill, knowledge, patience involved + parts, coolant, lubricant supplied.  Richard Milligan. Such a Fantastic Guy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Saturday 27th August      Lister is chugging Beautifully. Poor Richard. Here from 10.am to 7.00pm yesterday, after coming over late afternoon the day before too. Blooming Marvellous Engineer.  We go for a Cruise. Didn’t think that was going to be happening this quickly. A seven hour chuggen delight. Coven Heath is the place. Just by our ‘famous’ toilet dismantling, unblocking experience. Happy memories.

Sunday 28th August      There be a rusty areas on Bart’s roof. Particularly bad under where the gang plank, barge poles & udder tings live. Time to be aggressive & take back control.

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Scraped, rubbed down, washed off & allowed to dry in the sun. Out comes the lovely silver hammerite gloop again. Not bad. At least is should (hopefully) be OK & protected now.


& the plank/pole mount brackets are being buffed & brasso-ed back to life. What a crew we have on board nb:Black Bart.

Monday 29th August      Visitors are coming to see Black Bart & crew today. Previous ‘guardians’ of our Wonderful craft. Wonderful Home to be moor exact. Lovely to see Cap’ns P&S Joy Louis. First Mate Bella too. Great to hear Skippet J is feeling soo Much Better. Fantastic Roast Lamb for Dinner & ‘Right Mess’ for dessert. Yes we do on occasion have a ‘posh’ dessert. Usually just pudding though. Thanks ‘Guy’s’ Great to see you. Tis evening. Weather is Mighty Fine. Time to enjoy an evening chug-chug with our Bart. & Lister (& friends) Too, of course.

We swim along, breathing in through the squeez-ee tight narrows, mooring just South of Autherley Junction.

Tuesday 30th August      Today we be leaving the Staffordshire & Worcestershire waters. Waters we Do Love soo Much. Definitely one of our Favourites. Up & Lister revving by 7.00am. Yes you read right. Unusual indeed it is too.

Only a few minutes & we are turning South-East

at Aldersley Junction& upwards we do start to travel as we join the deeper waters of the BCN. Birmingham Canal Navigations. See you there….  If you want to come of course. Don’t matter mate if you don’t want to. Your Loss……

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Black Bart has cruised (noisily, mostly) West, then South to Aldersley Junction from Great Hayward Junction, swimming 21 miles of the bewitching Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, crawling through no tunnels of any description, ascending 12 narrow lock chambers, sailing over five strange channels called aqueducts & Swimming slowly, carefully under 57 bridges.


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