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  1. I am looking to paint my boat, but without doing the full monty... Could do with some advice though. There are plenty of discussions here and elsewhere as to how to do a complete paint job: You blast off all the old layers, apply a primer, then add three or four layers of undercoat, and finish off with two layers of top coat. Sanding between each layer, controlling the temperature and humidity, using only the finest paint products, and so on and so forth... It takes a full Summer and no doubt can give a great result. That is fine if you have just bought the boat and if you are going to keep it for the next decade.... But my situation is the opposite. I am selling the boat. It does not look terrible, and there are no serious issues with rust. There is no need to change the colour. But it could do with a facelift. The paint is a bit faded and uneven, and there is the inevitable scratch and repair and so on. The whole boat is a DIY job anyway, practical but not stunning. It is intended for living aboard 365 days a year, so the glossy holiday finish would be out of place. I think a budget job will be just fine. So... I have a few weeks to spare, and some basic DIY skills. I am thinking, it should be possible to just give the whole boat a facelift by applying a single layer of paint... or perhaps two. This would hopefully lift the overall impression enough so the boat is presentable, find a happy buyer, and look fine for a year or two or three. A more substantial treatment can be a consideration for another soul, another time. Sadly there seems to be no information online as to how to achieve this. So I have been doing some guesswork. Below is my preliminary plan... But there are some open questions. Any comment would be welcome. - Paint and equipment will be found at Homebase or B&Q.. no need for specialised boat paint - I will aim to find colours as close as possible to the existing ones - I will start small, treating a limited area before embarking on the whole boat. Hence will soon learn if the products and process be suitable and/or if the approach needs amending (How would I know if the new paint and the old paint are compatible?) - First I plan to wash the surface thoroughly with soap (which soap?) to get rid of dirt - I will use a metal scrape to get off any loose paint. I would aim to avoid getting to any exposed steel, as the boat has a number of layers from before - Any rusty spots to be treated with Locktite or similar - Then I will rub the surface lightly with sand paper, to ensure the new layer gets a good grip (which degree sand paper?) - Painting to be done on a dry day, not sunny nor windy - On the morning of the actual paint job, I will treat the surface with white spirit, to ensure it is totally clean again - Painting, using the roll and brush tip off technique - I will decide after the one layer, if another one is required What do you think? S.
  2. So after a long time contemplating it, I finally bought myself a proper solar charge controller - the Outback FM60. Specifications are here: http://www.outbackpower.com/products/charge_controllers/flexmax/ For the leftover money, I got some solar panels - namely, 6 x 80W monocrystalline panels. Specifications are..: Optimum voltage: 17.39V Optimum current: 4.61A Open-C voltage: 21.97V Short-C current: 4.98A Operating temp.: 47C Temp.coefficient of VoC: -0.35%/C Max series fuse rating: 12A The panels will be fixed flat on the roof. The purpose of this installation is to supply most of my power needs in Summer, a little bit in Winter, and help charging the batteries all round. There are 6 x 110 Ah 12V domestic batteries. As a continuously cruising liveaboard with no access to mains power, I trust this kit will go some way towards keeping my batteries alive and topped up. Now I am pondering how to wire everything up, and what type of cable to install... The beauty of having 6 panels is that they can be wired in a number of ways: - All panels in parallell (17V, 27A) - Three strings of two panels (35V, 14A) - Two strings of three panels (52V, 9A) - All panels in series (104V, 4.6A) As discussed in these forums, there are distinct benefits to connecting more panels in series: - Higher voltages and lower amperes will mean less energy lost to heat in the cables, and/or cheaper cables. - With higher voltages, charging will start earlier in the day and importantly, continue longer into the evening... which is very good for batteries. But there are drawbacks as well – especially, it seems that shade can severely affect the output if the panels are connected in series. My lighting conditions will vary - I guess there is going to be a continuous mix of sun and shade all the time. I am tempted to connect all the panels together in one long series, but have seen advice to step up only two or three times from the battery voltages... Is there any risk at all that one long series could be too much for the controller? I certainly would not want to hurt that baby, but it seems it can handle up to 150V, and 6 x 22V makes only 132V... still leaving some margin (in case of cold and bright weather I guess). Could it be an option to connect the panels differently in Summer and Winter? I suppose it is crucial to get the voltage as high as possible in Winter especially. There is also the question of what cable to get? The panels will be around 10 meters from the controller, so voltage loss in the cables will be an issue. I would think 4mm cable is OK if I go for the highest voltage (104V, 4.6A), but am not sure about the next step down (52V, 9A). Perhaps it can be an idea to lay two sets of cables all the way...effectively, 8mm. Since the controller can handle all the different wiring configurations, it will be tempting to try every option and measure the outcome over several sunny days. Should I just plug the cables from the panels straight into the controller, or is an isolator and/or fuse recommended... especially if I will play around with the wiring? As to connecting the controller to the batteries, there is another 2m distance so probably some thicker cable would be good there. I plan to bypass the main isolator. Sven
  3. Thanks to all who contributed to this thread. Lots of great ideas have come up... I am currently busy researching it all, ordering new gear, etc. All the best, Sven
  4. >Are all the batteries the same age? Yes they were all bought new last Summer.
  5. >Can you see the pattern? I did not expect this to turn into a discussion of how the batteries are interconnected, and so the letters I chose might have been misleading..! The batteries are all connected in parallell, but not in an A-B-C-D-E-F fashion. The connections go like this: A-B-C-F-E-D. So there are short cables from A to B, from B to C, from C to F, from F to E, and from E to D. (The cables from C to F are longer than the others.) The main positive lead for charging and take off is connected to the positive of battery A. The main negative lead for charging and take off is connected to the negative of battery D... in other words, as far as possible (diagonally) from the main positive... as frequently recommended. Hence it does not look to me like the way the batteries are interconnected could explain the differences. Sven
  6. Thank you all for your answers. This has helped clarify what I probably should have realised long ago: My problem is not the batteries, but the charging. I promised some more measurements, so here are the figures for my three other domestic batteries, as well as the starter battery. These measurements were made exactly like the first three (see the first post of this thread): Battery D – 12.7, 12.7, 12.7, 12.6, 12.4 volts Battery E – 11.1, 10.8, 10.9, 10.8, 10.8 volts Battery F – 11.1, 11.1, 11.1, 11.0, 10.8 volts Battery S – 13.0, 12.8, 12.8, 12.6, 12.5 volts As we saw earlier, only battery C seemed to be in good order among the first 3. Now it looks like also battery D is okay, and possibly battery S – the starter battery. However, the latter has not been able to start my engine recently. It does crank the starter a bit, but not fast enough to start. Is it clear from the voltages above that the starter battery is past its useful life? Could it be the case that this battery has lost the ability to start the engine but might be useful for domestic purposes? >A much more efficient way to charge the batteries would be to use the Honda and Victron. Yes I would do that more, if petrol were typically available along the canal :-) I think maybe Arthur had the best idea of all... With my type of use (CC and heavy power usage) probably I should invest into some solar panels asap. It has been on my to-do list for years. Summer is soon here, so with a bit of luck and care and good weather, perhaps I can then keep my existing batteries for a while still. With regards to the individual batteries: For the short term I am considering to create a new, reduced domestic bank from the 3 apparently best batteries - C, D, S. Yes that includes the old starter battery. I feel I do not really need so many batteries if I get solar panels... at least not for the next half a year. So instead of replacing the whole lot now, all I would need to buy is a new starter battery. >If battery A is the first one in the line and battery C the last I would also be prepared to bet that the pos and neg are taken from the same battery and not opposite ends of the bank! The connections are at opposite ends of the bank already... But thanks for the reminder..! >If they are less than a year old I doubt a cell has gone yet; It's sulphation and partial recovery is possible Thank you, I will keep them all, and play around with them a bit to see what can be done..! Sven
  7. I bet this one is easy to answer for those of you who are passionate about batteries :-) Basically I have had my domestic battery bank for less than a year, and I wonder if the batteries are already knackered, because they seem hardly able to supply enough power for a single night of use. There are 6 x 110 Ah 12V wet lead-acid deep-cycle leasure batteries. As a liveaboard with no access to mains power, both my charging and discharging would be quite a random affair. Not ideal, I know. Today I have made some very simple measurements, which I hope can tell if the batteries are still any good. Here is what I did: First ran the boat engine for 10 hours or so, in order to give all the batteries a good charge via the alternator. Towards the end of the charge, the voltage at the battery poles was 14.3 volts. I then disconnected three of the batteries completely, in order to make some measurements... I do not have a hydrometer, but I have a good digital voltmeter and some light bulbs. I found some 12V 20W halogen bulbs and attached one to each battery, using crocodile clamps. In other words, I now had three separate sets of 12V battery + near 2A load. All 3 lights were shining brightly. However, the voltmeter would soon tell that there were differences between the three sets. I took readings after 5 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, and 5 hours - all while the loads were still on. Here are the results - all readings rounded to one decimal: Battery A – 11.3, 10.7, 10.7, 10.7, 10.6 volts Battery B – 12.9, 11.8, 10.7, 10.7, 10.4 volts Battery C – 13.0, 12.8, 12.7, 12.6, 12.5 volts My guess is that the first two batteries are ruined – possibly one of the cells gone. So do I now have two nice 10 volt batteries? The third one © is perhaps OK...? I thought it was intriguing that battery A started out much lower than B, but held the voltage better as the hours passed by. I hope to post test results for my other 3 batteries tomorrow. By the way I have ordered some Granville Bat Aid tablets and plan to see if these make any difference... are they any good..? Some other background information: I do use a lot of power (around 100-150 Ah per day is my guess). There are two alternators – a big one for the domestic bank (around 100A) and a smaller one for the separate starter battery. Here I only consider the domestic bank. I believe the cables and connectors are fairly sound. I also have a Honda generator and a Victron Phoenix charger/inverter, which I can use as an alternate way of charging - but these were not part of the test above. A few days ago I topped up the batteries with battery water. Some of them were mostly dry at the time (incl battery A above), while the others seemed fine (all cells wet – incl batteries B and C above). Sven
  8. Thanks to everybody who answered this. You inspired me to investigate further and I managed to completely solve the problem. For anyone who is reading this and having the same problem: You need to dig out that manual and read up on EXACTLY what is the correct way to measure the oil level. Sven
  9. Hi all, I have a Honda EU20i generator, less than a year old, which basically works fine. However, starting it can be a problem. Some times it stops after a few seconds, oil lamp lighting up. In these cases I will need to restart it around 5 times before it is happy to continue running. Once the unit has run more than a few seconds, it becomes super reliable and never stops as long as there is fuel. The oil level is just about right, as far as I can see. I have heard it needs to be neither too high nor too low. My Honda has been like this since new. I never bothered to bring the issue up with the manufacturer, as it is not really a problem... while I imagine packing and sending the unit for service would be a nightmare (is that what they'd suggest anyway?) Of course the above is a bit annoying though. Maybe you guys can think of some obvious solution that has escaped me..? Sven
  10. Wow what a meeting that was in Stanstead Abbots between BW and boaters..! Here are just a few observations from the first consultation meeting, for the benefit of those who were not there: The village hall was filled to the brim and consisted almost entirely of boaters. There was a show of hands indicating that about half were continuous cruisers, and the other half were other boaters. Only a couple of anglers and others had found the way. BW started by trying to summarize the background for the proposals, and their content. Sally Ash was there, doing most of the talking, and she went on to comment on a few of the well-known objections to the proposals. The declaration from the Lea and Stort Boaters' group was then presented. Essentially this was a complete rejection of the proposals but also an invitation to sit down and work out the best way forward. There was some debate about the consultation process itself, and Sally Ash soon agreed that the period will have to be extended. She also said that while certain details are up for discussion (e.g. the number and size of neighbourhoods), other parts of the proposals are not – namely, some of the principles at the heart of it. There was not so much focus on the actual contents of the proposals, although some arguments arose and I believe most of the boaters' arguments were raised at one time or other. Generally the meeting was rather rowdy, and there was clear hostility from the room towards the BW panel from the start. There seemed to be not much difference in view between continuous cruisers and other boaters present. Towards the end, the meeting was calmer and both sides seemed to warm to the idea of sitting down together and working something out. The BW panel insisted that they need to work with organised bodies, not individuals. Personally I noticed some rather surprising comments from Sally Ash which might suggest that the continuous cruising lifestyle is not entirely understood or embraced. Maybe these were just Freudian slips, but I noticed her saying that “we cannot have more and more continuous cruisers coming” and in another context “Ideally we would like to give you all permanent moorings”. No doubt others will add more detail, these were just some bits that I picked up. I suppose the meeting on Wednesday will have a similar format, in other words, there will be plenty of time to talk. Sven
  11. Making a boat move 7 miles will not free up any more space than making it move 1 mile. Enforcement of current rules would have solved the problem. The proposed new huge zones are not necessary and will introduce a whole host of other problems, like - more stress and less boating pleasure - boaters moving at higher speeds than they might otherwise prefer - more congestion at bottlenecks - more disturbance for on-line moorers, anglers, etc - more pollution - more waiting at locks - more erosion of banks - much more water required - much more wear and tear at locks And so on and so forth... And that is only for those who follow the rules. I guess there will also always be some who ignore whatever rules there are. s.
  12. I would like to say thank you to the organisers for such a professional event in Hackney Saturday. It was impressive to see the turnout as well as hearing the many thoughtful and educated contributions. Much of the discussion was focused on the possibility of attacking, by legal means, the consultation process itself. Leaving that to one side, I wish to focus on another issue: I believe there was also consensus that boaters should, in any case, turn up at the upcoming public meetings on 1 and 2 March in order to directly air their views about the content of the new proposals. Also, of course, boaters should write to BW and express their views. If every boater would do both, that would represent a substantial amount of input to the process. It was agreed that it would be best if each boater present their case in their own words. Among other benefits, I guess this would serve to humanize the issues. Instead of miles and weeks and pounds, we are then suddenly talking about daily life, families, businesses, etc. This might help win the broadest possible support. Some of the other interest groups involved might know precious little about boaters to start with. I know I had virtually no idea who these boating people were, until I got my own boat last Summer. And there is power in numbers. Twenty real-life stories weigh more than two. But, as was mentioned on Saturday, many boaters might be afraid to speak up.... To that end, perhaps it would be helpful if a framework or template be developed for how each boater can best present their case? This can help ensure that the maximum possible number of boaters do talk or write, and also help ensure that some key points come across many times... I am thinking of CCers especially, who are set to be hardest hit. On another note, and as discussed on Saturday: Because many other groups than boaters will be represented at these meetings (and later on in the process), it might be best if we all try as far as possible to take an inclusive, constructive approach, especially with regards to other groups of canal users. Below I have attempted to craft the beginnings of just such a template for CCers. Hopefully others can add to or otherwise improve upon this - but here we go..: 1. Introduction: Personal history with the canals - current lifestyle / situation. 2. Fundamentals: Referring to the 1995 Act and how our lifestyle has the protection of Parliament. 3. Recognition of some or all of the known problems in the Lea area (as recently expressed by BW). 4. Thoughts about what could be the real reasons for the problems (e.g. a lack of clarity and/or enforcement). 5. Feelings about the consultation process. 6. Personal consequences of BW's proposals - how they seem draconian, complex, unlawful, etc 7. General consequences of BW's proposals - e.g. how the proposed extreme increase in canal traffic will be disruptive, costly.. 8. Personal experiences with other interest groups (residents, anglers, etc). 9. About a desire to live in harmony with these other groups. Maybe something about low-impact living, community involvement, etc. 10. Ideas for better ways of solving the recognised problems. That last point is important, and further to it, I suggest we keep in mind that money is tight. Hence it might not be wise to suggest that BW spend money, without also indicating how it can be financed. On this point I guess it does not hurt if we try, at this stage, to be creative and throw in lots of (realistic) ideas. Here is just one such idea: Better enforcement of existing guidelines - financed by fees payable for failure to follow them. The order of the items is not important. Again, these were just my ideas for a template as to how each and every boater can speak up and make a case in the upcoming public meetings on 1 and 2 March (and/or in writing). It would be interesting to see alternative framework ideas - I am sure it can be done even better, and/or with more detail. Perhaps someone could even write up their full story / views - with or without building on this framework - as an inspiration for others? I would guess that the more we prepare and think about this in the short time available, the better we will fare in the process to come. All the best, Sven
  13. It seems nobody has yet commented on this particular statement in the new proposals: "By cruising continuously throughout the plan area, keeping to the 14 day limits and spending an equal amount of total time in each of the six neighbourhoods across a year, it is possible to remain in the plan area for the whole period of the licence without incurring any charges." To me this seems to imply that by travelling only up and down the Lee and Stort a few times per year, no extra charges are incurred. In other words, a CCer will not be required to ever leave that area. That is perhaps an interesting clarification.
  14. The way I understand the proposal, continuous cruisers will need to satisfy both of these requirements: - Every 14 days the boater must be in a different neighbourhood - During a 12 month period, the boater may not spend more than a total of 61 days in any one neighbourhood Link to BW’s mooring proposals: http://www.britishwaterways.co.uk/listening-to-you/consultations-and-reviews/current-consultations
  15. No, that is terribly wrong. The proposed conditions for the Lea involve something like 10 to 15 lock-miles to be travelled every 14 days, as a minimum. And even more on the Stort. Edited - Just to clarify what the proposal says..: 1) Every 14 days the boater must be in a different neighbourhood. 2) If the boater overstays in a neighbourhood beyond the 14 days they will incur a charge for each additional day they remain 3) Boaters will not be able to return to a neighbourhood they have just come from unless they have reached a terminus. 4) Between the start and end dates of the boat‟s 12 month licence, the boater may not spend more than a total of 61 days in any one neighbourhood.
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