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  1. It was originally built in sepia but converted to grayscale in the 60’s, it then became full colour in 1975. Sadly due to the lack of funding the colour palette has had to be removed and sold at auction to raise funds for a new Spectrum Manager to ensure the general public can look forward to a full colour canal in the future, possibly.
    11 points
  2. We've been home a week since our 4CR trip, and I thought I'd close off the flog with some thoughts. Altogether, it was a great experience for both of us. We learned a lot, some about general canal skills, and a lot about how we like to cruise and what our wishes and limitations are. Here are a few things we learned: * 110 miles and 94 locks in two weeks was barely doable, and we will prefer to plan less pure mileage per time in the future. We were flat-out tired by the end of it all. When we do a day of 17+ locks we want a day off from cruising afterward, and we could not afford any days off and get the boat back in time. We would have been happy to spend more time in towns like Nantwich, Sandbach, and Stone. A full day each just hanging around would have done well by us. * After being pinned to the opposite wall by the strong bywash trying to enter Tyrley Lock #5, here's the strategy this newbie came up with: Take a running charge with the bow pointed directly at the bywash (with power at, lets say, not just a tickover), be ready to turn the tiller hard away from the bywash when it pushes the bow away, then flip the tiller hard in the other direction when the bywash hits the stern. Cut power somewhere in there (I don't know when, it was instinctual). After more tries I was lucky enough to enter Tyrley #1 touchlessly. Is this actually the right way? It worked, but it felt kind of kamikaze. * We need to figure our way around some of the ergonomics of canal boating, For example: -- We found the tiller handle too high for comfort given the "proper" standing position on a semi-trad. We had to crank our arms at an uncomfortable angle and I found myself leaning forward at the waist to compensate. Having the handle 12"-16" lower would be helpful. Don't know quite how to deal with this. -- In general, standing for 4-6 hours of piloting without a break is murder on my back, and I'd want to figure out some way to sit and take a load off periodically. Not a practical way to do that on the boat we hired. -- The working of locks is also hard on my back, and I hurt myself somewhere fairly early along the way. I think I would like to have one of those ratchet windlasses for paddles, and I want to experiment with using lifting straps for when I have to pull on a gate to get it started from a position where I can't get in to lean on it with my bum. Active geezing requires thought. (And a well-designed at-home exercise regimen.) *We need to check a piece of luggage to be able to bring a 14 day supply of undergarments and whatnot for a fortnight's cruise. We can't depend on the availability of laundromats. Trying to fly with only carry-on was a nice idea, but impractical for anything more than a week of boating. * Manchester Airport totally sucks. In fact, connecting flights are a pain in the prat in general. Nonstop San Francisco to Heathrow next time. I'd rather spend 4 extra hours on a train than have to catch a 1 hr. connecting flight. I have no love for any airport. They are all just shopping malls with Gestapo inspections. So, for all this, a grand fortnight out. Looking forward to our seocnd time on the L&L in September, and our first cruise on the Oxford on our share boat next May. Cheers all!
    11 points
  3. Thank you! Tatty Lucy won! Very pleased with results and big thanks to the crew including our girls who have to put up with my planning and early starts on the challenge! Lily (our 8 year old) is delighted with the result!
    11 points
  4. Absolutely do not buy a new boat for first. The confidence borne of ignorance is a massive factor in boating, and the evidence is to be found in sale yards across the system, at discount, waiting for the next inexperienced mistake-maker. I think it takes living on the boat for a winter to learn what you don't know at the outset, about living aboard, about boat designs, and the 'dream' which can so easily be the 'living nightmare'. In my case I learned that winter on the K&A in a narrowboat was pretty awful - claustrophobic, windy and wet, mud from the squelchy towpath, and every few days a cold and wet trip to refill with water. Roasting hot in the front saloon, and very cold in the back bedroom. Cramped conditions and too much time in the same tiny space is not a recipe for happy relationships either. Damp muddy clothes, muddy boots, muddy floor, mud everywhere - feeling more and more disconnected and alienated from the world in general and more and more like a vagrant. Of which there are no shortages on the cut. Not so good for mental health. What I learned is that I am not hardy enough to live aboard on the cut, and now I am a seasonal boater. Retaining some sort of land based accommodation is in my view vital - compromise on boat and land options to enable it, because the one-way jump from land to boat living might be a huge and irreversible mistake.
    11 points
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  7. wow, the knowledge base on here is astounding thank you all so much, the advice you've given and keep giving is incredible, we're convinced now to keep the house, thank you, for that wisdom. we have enjoyed many holidays on hire boats, we do know that 70 foot is too long for us, but, we've also enjoyed a broads cruiser, we liked the width and the stability of the wide. We wouldn't opt for a pump out loo, we're used to cassettes, we've even used a composting loo, but, i don't like having the used loo roll in a separate bin i'm not too bad at push fit plumbing, so little leaks i think i'd be able to fix. We've hired boats in the winter too, tbh, we loved the winter, snug n cozy by the fire with that amazing melody of the rain battering down on the roof or the ice cracking as you move around onboard please, keep these pearls of wisdom coming, we're finding it incredibly informative, thank you so much to each and every one of you
    10 points
  8. One important thing that needs mentioning is DO NOT buy a new boat for your first boat!! You will have no idea what you reeeeeely want until you have done it for a while. A new boat is as stupid as buying a new car. Shiney paint and an instant loss of money.
    10 points
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  11. Sorry to hear of his passing, Iain supplied me with many parts for my boat when I was fitting it out so got to know him well. I remember Iain having trouble getting paid for parts he had supplied to a boatyard in Wigan, with the boatyard owner always making excuses for not paying him by claiming cash flow problems. Iain & I hatched a plan whereby he would go into the office and ask for his money (knowing that the same old excuse would be proffered). I would time my entrance to the office a minute or two later handing over my mooring fees - in cash. The guys face was a picture! 😆 Iain got his money!!!
    9 points
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  15. A different perspective. We were at the Bradley festival last weekend and I toured the workshops twice, once in the morning because the weather was foul and the workshops were dry, and once in the afternoon when my family arrived. I can't quite remember who the people running the tours were but I think they were the workshop manager and the head of lock gate manufacturing for CRT. CRT currently has 5000 lock gate leaves (each individual gate, so mitred pairs have two) and they last an average of 25yrs. They currently build around 140 a year so clearly not enough. They think they can increase productivity with the same number of staff by going to CNC manufacturing for some operations. Rounding the heel post was cited - this currently takes several hours on a rounding jig via multiple passes through a horizontal planer followed by sanding with a hand-held sander; change that to a CNC router and the job can be done in 12mins. The process of converting to CNC manufacture also results in full drawings which then only need updating when a new gate is required, rather than running the whole process again. There were various other operations which can be accelerated without changing quality and where the cost of the investment adds up. They think they can get 220 gates a year out of the same facilities with the changes they are planning. They also have requests to supply gates for other people such as the Scottish canal network, which they cannot currently meet because they can't build enough for the CRT network. If they can reach 220 they can start making small numbers commercially which generates profitable income. I hadn't realised that the gate paddles are already plastic. This saves money with no compromise on lifetime or performance. They are bringing cutting for the braces (angles and tees) in-house. The cutting equipment has become much cheaper and it allows them to make custom angles without delay or increased cost, to deal with gates where the brace is not actually at 90 degrees. There was a point where timber was cheap but labour was expensive (WW1?) and many gates were changed to solid heavy timbers right across as a series of vertical squares, bolted through, rather than frame and board construction as it took less labour. Timber is now expensive, so discussions are ongoing about which locks it is appropriate to revert to the original style as if the machining is automated it will substantially cut manufacturing costs. There is consideration of other materials, although this is more complex. Gates are being re-designed to allow changing of balance beams and heads of posts which are the most common points of failure. This can be done without removing the gate so the stoppage is minimal. Sometimes the balance beam fails a couple of years before the gate is renewed. The beams are now being re-used when that happens as they may well outlast a second gate. The metalwork below the collar is no longer being painted. The paint rubs or flakes off within three months and there is no life extension benefit. It saves about 2hrs per leaf to do this, increasing production rates for no loss of function and reduced cost of materials. None of the above will change the finances of CRT around, but the thinking is all in the right direction and I certainly did not leave with the sense that CRT staff were sitting on their hands and waiting for things to happen to them. Installation teams are making similar changes too apparently, but there is more of a challenge in achieving compliance with safety requirements there I suspect. Alec
    8 points
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  19. So today I painted the hull, it Caribbean blue, I like the colour that much that I think I will do the van the same! The bottom is finished one Tie coat and 4 anti foul coats all looks good
    8 points
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  21. So, it is different rules for ex working boats and other boaters ? If they want to be traditional, they should take out their engine and get a horse -:)
    8 points
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  24. I very rarely read blogs or cruise diaries, but I hope others will agree that this was one of the most entertaining and readable. Thank you, Robin.
    8 points
  25. Something I occasionally point out to any boater expressing any concern their boat might not be posh, shiny or fashionable enough, is the canals look every bit as pretty and are just as enjoyable from the helm of a bargain 1976 Springer as from a £250k new-build.
    8 points
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  27. To be honest I am not sure what, if any, questions you are asking. You say 150k is your max budget, and the owners of the boat you want won’t sell at that price. There doesn’t seem any scope for any advice about that other than to try again in a little while if the boat hasn’t sold. The other boat you mention could be bought for £155k but that is still over your stated budget so I’m not clear what advice could be given about that either. What I would say is that a good quality boat a few years old is a better option that a cheap and cheerful brand new boat at the same price. New boats are not like new cars, they likely come with all sorts of build defects especially if they are budget priced. These build defects are a stress and hassle to get put right. The older boat’s previous owners will already have done this for you.
    8 points
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  29. Why turn your back on something exactly like you want, when you can obviously afford it, to buy something you don't like as much, just to save a few quid? Seems a weird attitude, to me. If they won't sell it to you at the price you offer, then it isn't overpriced, you've undervalued it. It takes two to make a sale, and you're the one who wants a boat.
    8 points
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  40. I am not really too bothered about which compartment you put it in and I will continue to check with the steerer before I wind up a paddle. Manners cost nothing and I think it is bad manners and inconsiderate to open a paddle because you and you alone think it is OK to do so.
    7 points
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  42. Going through photos: The victors, and the first boat moving on the challenge that we passed, Tatty Lucy heading up the Rushall. I had just given up trying to polish the exhaust stack because it kept burning my fingers. Then we met Scorpio and Leo just the other side of Newton Junction. This was a couple of miles short of midway between our starting locations as very similar pairs. At the time I was very disconcerted as I thought they'd started from even further back towards Brum. Atlas' rudder was out of its cup at this point making her very hard work to steer. We discovered this just after passing Tatty Lucy, thought we'd got it back in, but it must have been teetering on the edge because it fell down again. Fortunately the Tame Valley is straight! Eventually fixed in the bridge narrows near Ocker Hill. Passing Oates south of Ocker Hill. They had been through the Dudley Tunnel already. A large crowd completely ignored the gongoozling opportunity as Mike turned A&M into the Oozells loop at Old Turn. One of us had roped in a couple of ~18yo relatives. Steph, having never steered a narrowboat before Saturday morning, steered A&M from Smethwick to Oldbury Junction in the dark. We didn't hit anything or even get stuck, except the one corner she wasn't steering! (we wanted to pick up a crew member in a bridge hole, so I pulled in toward the towpath and straight onto a trolley). I like the way young people will do pretty much anything you point them at. "Oh well, I'm doing this now." The conversation at the top of Spon here (paraphrased): "there's a lock ahead" "we're not going down these, bear left past them" "oh good, I was worried we'd have to work the locks in the dark" "Titford flight is just a bit further along, we'll be doing those instead".
    7 points
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  45. Here goes, I'm prepared for the backlash 😉. I began lock volunteering last summer for selfish reasons. During our 11 years as liveaboards we've spent a lot of those years cruising the country, but pressure from Mrs Grassman about missing the grandkids etc meant a compromise was needed. So nowadays we only travel about 400 - 500 miles a year, away for a month or so in the Spring and again in the Autumn, meaning that in the main summer and winter we stay in and around our 'home area' for much of the time. So in order to get my 'fix' , for a lot of the summer I do a few shifts lock volunteering at Fradley and in the core winter months the offside vegetation cutting. With the locking, because I see it from a boaters point of view as well as taking on board comments on here 🙂, I'm always considerate to boaters and ask them if they'd like assistance before I go ahead. Most like the help but I respect those who want to do it themselves. However if the locks are particularly busy (queuing) and there's a single hander, we are encouraged to help them through whether they want assistance or not, and I think in consideration to other boaters that should be so. In fairness, my lock keeper colleagues who aren't boaters are pretty good in relation to dealing with boaters, unlike some (thankfully only a few) whom I've encountered on my travels around the country. I love the 'boaty talk' chats to boaters, finding out where they've been or are going to, and sharing both of our experiences and reciprocal advice about places all around the system, admiring their boats, and the banter too of course, as it all helps to quench my thirst to be out there boating around the country instead of stuck in a mooring for the summer!
    7 points
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