It all started when I came up Stoke Bruerne lock 17, the pound above was very low and I edged out slowly to see if we would clear the cill. We did so I stayed in the middle of the pound to avoid the edges. My first mistake was not encouraging the crew to empty the next lock more slowly. The resultant fierce current blew me around a bit and I had to use a fair bit of power to control the boat.
There was then a very loud and violent knocking from the prop. The engine faltered and I hit neutral. The bang when we hit the lock was enough to break one of the week links on the fender.
I decided to go up the lock with ropes and sort it out above the lock. There was a hire boat coming down and we got them in next to us first then pulled Dotterel out onto the lock landing and then into a convenient visitor mooring which was vacated as we arrived.
So stop the engine down the weed hatch - no the engine stop button doesn't work. I suspected the ignition switch and was thinking about taking the panel apart when my bother in law said, 'I think I can small burning.'
I opened the engine bay and there was a moments shock as we both stared at flames. the back of the engine where the oil cooler is was on fire. Fortunately it was easy to put out as it was actually the plastic support for the cooler and the wiring loom on fire - no fuel.
My second mistake was no photographing the fire and putting it on Facebook before putting it out.
We stopped the engine manually and I stared at the damage. Some very large wires had completely broken in two.
I had nothing of that size with me so called RCR. They had us going again within 3 hours of calling them.
So what had happened. The loom was fitted when the engine was put in some years perhaps before I got the boat as that would be 14 or 15 years ago. It had been forced in a very tight bend underneath the oil cooler pipe and had the weight of the multiway connector hanging on it. It had, I guess, just been subject to stress fatigue over the years. Externally there was no sign of a problem.
And , by the way, we had a pipe fender complete with rope round the prop. We could start an argument about hanging fenders now if you like. And whoever owns it I ain't giving it back so don't ask.
ps apart from that we had a nice trip to Aylesbury! Spot the canal in the photo.
pps not sure if maintenance is the right place but it was a maintenance issue!