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Tom and Bex

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About Tom and Bex

  • Birthday 10/31/1975

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  • Occupation
    Emergency Care Assistant
  • Boat Name
    Diesel & Dust
  • Boat Location

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  1. Down to Salford Junction, up Perry Barr, Ryders Green, and Spon Lane, then down Smethwick and into Birmingham via the loops🤣🤣🤣 (and yes we have done that just for fun, and not during the BCN Challenge!)
  2. Or depending how much time the OP has, they could do Perry Barr and Ryders Green... Same here - some people have an aversion to sharing rings (or bollards!) even in busy places. You should have seen the look we got coming into this gap, they were adamant we wouldn't fit (didn't touch the boat at either end)🤣
  3. We've had various small stoves in different houses and boats, but so far nothing comes close to being as controllable, easy to use, easy to light, easy to keep in for 24hrs, and with such good ash management as the morso squirrel. Also designed for burning wood or coal, with finely adjustable top and bottom air vents, and widespread parts availability. As others say, you're bound to hear about more problems with them than other stoves as they're much more common. That's not to say they're without faults though - cleaning behind the back boiler being one (although a simple mod to the blanking plate helps). The main reason I think they crack is poor installation (eg not being installed level, too rigid a flue connection etc). High temp silicone should be used to seal flue joint at top of fire and roof collar, not fire cement. Also screws not being over tightened. If the stove is otherwise solid and secure, and the cracks are only small and not structural, I might be tempted to smear high temp silicone over them and monitor closely for further deterioration, but only if I had working CO alarms. Would very much depend on where the cracks are, and how big they were though.
  4. If it wasn't for Knowle locks, I prefer heading the GU way. As others have said, not sure I'd choose to go via Star City, but then you could say what's the point of any out and back trip! Personally I find it much more interesting than the Stratford and W&B route. The bit through Catherine de Barnes is definitely much improved following the dredging, certainly no worse than parts of the Stratford. Moorings as mentioned already, plus we've moored on the moorings above Ashted locks a few times with no problems. Easy access from Aston junction as well if it's getting late when you get there and don't fancy farmer's bridge until the morning. If you take the direct route via Ashted locks instead, you could take a short detour to Typhoo Basin. Definitely advise avoiding mooring between Worcester bar and the mailbox if it's a weekend, but just around the corner is fine. Mainline outside the arena on the same side as the lego giraffe can be noisy and rowdy too, (particularly if there's football being shown on the big screen at The Distillery!) but the opposite side is much quieter, as is the mooring rings out beyond Vincent Street Bridge.
  5. Sorry to hear that. Get well soon Tree Monkey. All the usual crew we have on Tatty Lucy also send their best wishes for a speedy recovery.
  6. If I'd thought we'd be that high up, I'd have taken more care with my answers! We got 2 wrong, through silly mistakes, and missed the Withymoor one.
  7. Wow! Didn't expect 2nd! Was hoping for top 5, but never expected that high. Congratulations to Vulpes, overtaking you on the Walsall didn't help us in the end though🤣 This year we took a different approach to usual for us, and chose a route with less locks, and no long flights. There's only so many locks you can do at once with an 8mth old and 6 year old before they get bored🤣 Surprisingly Bea, our 8mth old was much more tolerant than Lily! That's 4th, 3rd, and now 2nd in our last 3 Challenges - watch out next year!!! Huge thanks to the organisers for putting in the work to organise and run this event, particularly with the last minute problems around Netherton and the Daw End closures. Thanks also to Withymoor Island for putting on such a warm welcome. Going to be a hard ending to beat!
  8. Whichever you decide to use, be aware that some (all?) of the Sikflex range in screwfix etc has changed to a "low odour & solvent free" formulation that doesn't seem quite as good. Suspect the other brands may have followed suit. I only noticed this as the info has changed and it now states "apply in dry conditions only" and I was specifically looking for something to use as a temporary repair in a damp location. I'm 99% certain it was previously sold as suitable to apply in wet conditions, as was most of the other professional pu sealants.
  9. How many and what size panels are people fitting for 1400w of solar? That seems an awful lot of roof space used. What about roof use during cruising? Pole and plank storage? We've only got 500w solar at present, but considering upgrading. Part of our problem is our mooring is shaded by trees until mid to late morning. As to solar thermal, we use the 2nd option, a direct system. Flat panel mounted on the roof, and using the direct system will heat the calorifier. It's plumbed in as your diagram, the main difference being that it uses a 12v differential controller to switch the pump instead of powering it direct from a solar panel. This means it doesn't waste the hot water if you have a tank of hot water after cruising etc. Fairly cheap and simple to set up, biggest problem was routing pipes up to the roof. Looks in diagram as though hot water drawn from the taps would bypass the tank, but this doesn't really happen in practice due to length of 10mm pipe pump etc adding resistance to flow compared to just straight from the top of calorifier. Given a preference, I'd go with heating water via extra coil, but we don't have that option. Biggest downside to direct system is the need to drain down in winter (indirect systems can be filled with antifreeze). I do agree things have changed a lot in recent years, even since we bought our current boat 5 years ago. Not sure the extra effort to install solar thermal is worth it now over having extra solar PV. Price drop of pv panels, combined with lithium batteries really does seem to have changed the balance and is a real game changer for off grid use.
  10. Buy it direct from MCS, much cheaper than Midlands! https://www.mcsboatproducts.co.uk/our-products/freshwater We have there fresh water and pumpout tank gauges. Seem to do the job well enough.
  11. Similar to them allowing the Wednesbury Old canal on the BCN to become overgrown with reeds, then advising boats it's un-navigable and not to even attempt it😥
  12. Same here. In fact the first challenge we've not encountered any delays at locks, low pounds, getting stuck, or any other significant problems (other than the usual weed hatch trips!). Weed seemed to actually be the biggest problem this year which makes a very pleasant change.
  13. And very useful extra crew he was helping with the locks to burn off all that energy🤣 Not yet - seen no boats since turning right at Birchills junction. Next you'll tell me I've gone the wrong way🤣
  14. We've got an aldi battery one, and it's not got great pressure, but better than a hose. We use ours for boat washing and other general outdoor cleaning which it works quite well at, although very slow on cleaning wood. It's surprisingly very effective at cleaning the nonslip paint on the gunnels though, so much so it now looks almost new, when I thought it was so bad it needed a repaint! At the price I paid, it was worth it for that alone, nothing else seemed to work at all on the nonslip. Nothing like using a mains one, but if it's cheap enough, a worthwhile tool for use around the boat. Just be aware that the battery doesn't last long (at least on the aldi one, but luckily it's the same battery as the Bauker drills and other cordless tools I've got).
  15. Think most of them were heading up Lapworth flight yesterday! Took over 4 hours to do 19 locks when it usually takes us 2😥 Mind you the volunteer lockies weren't exactly helping the chaos.
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