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25 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Sorry to hear of your difficulties. Are you saying that River Canal Rescue are handling this breakdown?

A PRM 150D2 box should be easy to source, try Calcutt, (£1105),   ASAP,(£1202)      Midland Chandlers or even PRM directly.

River Canal Rescue handled the breakdown. Canal Contracting is the subsidiary that does the bigger job of replacing the gearbox.

 

Am aware of ASAP (althought tbf that isn't in stock. Canal Contracting's rate is £1250 plus labour, although the labour charges look OK). Calcutt looks interesting....

Also know of another place I can get a suspiciously cheap one supposedly in working order

 

They just called me back with "we have the gearbox. How does Monday next week sound?" I've asked about my right to cancel.

 

Mainly just hoping after all this they don't finally take the box off and find the problem was the drive plate...

 

 

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Other suggested engineers/solutions very welcome. I do have contacts for CT engineering, Calcutt and one engineer who does callouts in the Ely area

Edited by enigmatic
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1 hour ago, enigmatic said:

River Canal Rescue handled the breakdown. Canal Contracting is the subsidiary that does the bigger job of replacing the gearbox.

 

Am aware of ASAP (althought tbf that isn't in stock. Canal Contracting's rate is £1250 plus labour, although the labour charges look OK). Calcutt looks interesting....

Also know of another place I can get a suspiciously cheap one supposedly in working order

 

They just called me back with "we have the gearbox. How does Monday next week sound?" I've asked about my right to cancel.

 

Mainly just hoping after all this they don't finally take the box off and find the problem was the drive plate...

 

 

-

 

Other suggested engineers/solutions very welcome. I do have contacts for CT engineering, Calcutt and one engineer who does callouts in the Ely area

Be Aware.   Canal Contracting is a dissolved company       https://www.companysearchesmadesimple.com/company/uk/05659938/canal-contracting-ltd/

 

Also be very sure of what you are buying via RCR, if the gearbox is from Key ( another RCR subsidiary company ) it may not be new, it may not be "reconditioned", it may be no good at all. But it may have a pretty coat of paint.

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17 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Be Aware.   Canal Contracting is a dissolved company       https://www.companysearchesmadesimple.com/company/uk/05659938/canal-contracting-ltd/

 

Also be very sure of what you are buying via RCR, if the gearbox is from Key ( another RCR subsidiary company ) it may not be new, it may not be "reconditioned", it may be no good at all. But it may have a pretty coat of paint.

For some reason they still use its brand. Staff and telephone number are still RCRs

 

Your point on new vs reconditioned is a good one. RCR/CC's price is RRP for new, no idea about the actual box they supply. Since they haven't called me back to confirm whether I can or can't cancel (or move me off the bottom of their engineer's list of priorities) I'm considering their offer cancelled unless I really need it

 

I'm fine with a reconditioned one, but have much better offers on prices now I've tried a bit harder to locate one myself...

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On 20/08/2021 at 23:01, Slim said:

Not that I'm in RCR currently but I'd never thought of that as one of their wheezes.  Do gearboxes carry a serial number? If so it should be easy to discover an approximate manufacturing date from the manufacturer. The limitation that always makes me smile is the 2 hour limit on a 'free' tow.  I spent that long getting through one lock last week. 

In the absence of any replies to my question of serial numbers I did a bit of Googling in respect of PRM boxes. The answer is Yes. It's on a plate riveted to the top of the box. The PRM sites specifically states that if you contact them they can tell you date of manufacture. Their statement was contained within an answer about warranty duration but I'm sure they would give information out.

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5 hours ago, MtB said:

 

Nothing surely, I'd have expected, given you were in RCR.

 

What are the terms of your contract with them?

I was on the retainer with RCR, so any call outs repairs etc. to be paid for by me.

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On 21/08/2021 at 11:57, Tony Brooks said:

 

I strongly suspect that its down to the lack of training in the basic principles since NVQs and shortened training times were brought in. I found it very difficult to do any sensible diagnosis unless I had a model in my head of how something worked, and that required lots of theory learning. I am not talking about Maths, English, IT, and Physics apart from where it is needed to aid understanding and modelling the principles. In latter years, I found it impossible to find sufficient information about how new developments  work. That is why I migrated to inland marine work - I understood the technology, but now I find even that is getting beyond me.

 

If you don't understand the basic theory, you are forced to fall back on experience and that, without understanding, is a very costly thing. We get the situation where parts get changed or actions taken because that was what was wrong last time similar symptoms occurred. Now, back to the base of the topic, what would have been the reaction if the chap had initially said it's the drive plate, I know which one it is and need to order it. Two days later they turn up and find the drive plate serviceable but a faulty gearbox?

I used to deliver NVQs which are practical and not theoretical. However, I spent a lot of time on theory as an important part of the mental toolbox. As I told every student I ever taught,  "if you don't know how it works,  how the fu<k do you expect to work out why it doesn't?" Diagnosis is a technician's job, after that it's a fitters job. Unfortunately, the former is almost extinct and the latter has to do his best when out of his depth. 

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16 hours ago, Sir Nibble said:

I used to deliver NVQs which are practical and not theoretical. However, I spent a lot of time on theory as an important part of the mental toolbox. As I told every student I ever taught,  "if you don't know how it works,  how the fu<k do you expect to work out why it doesn't?" Diagnosis is a technician's job, after that it's a fitters job. Unfortunately, the former is almost extinct and the latter has to do his best when out of his depth. 

The danger then is that it is the symptoms that get fixed not the cause. As, in IT specifically, I always preached: making a problem go away only means that it will come back and bite you when you least expect or can afford it.

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2 hours ago, Mike Todd said:

The danger then is that it is the symptoms that get fixed not the cause. As, in IT specifically, I always preached: making a problem go away only means that it will come back and bite you when you least expect or can afford it.

That's IT for you. Most devices continue to work unless and until a component fails. Only in the computer world do physically sound devices not work due to a bad mood. 

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29 minutes ago, Sir Nibble said:

That's IT for you. Most devices continue to work unless and until a component fails. Only in the computer world do physically sound devices not work due to a bad mood. 

Whilst I realise that the above is meant humorously, it is alas not correct! Whether physical or digital, systems are complex arrangements and many malfunctions arise not because something is 'broken' but because an unforeseen set of circumstances conspire to defeat the designer's intentions. It is also important not to forget that a rapidly increasing proportion of 'things' contain one or more 'computers' ie programmable digital devices'. There is, however, a lot of commonality about how failures are diagnosed, however the 'system' is constructed and whether or not its misbehaviour is because a component has failed.

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16 hours ago, Mike Todd said:

Whilst I realise that the above is meant humorously, it is alas not correct! Whether physical or digital, systems are complex arrangements and many malfunctions arise not because something is 'broken' but because an unforeseen set of circumstances conspire to defeat the designer's intentions. It is also important not to forget that a rapidly increasing proportion of 'things' contain one or more 'computers' ie programmable digital devices'. There is, however, a lot of commonality about how failures are diagnosed, however the 'system' is constructed and whether or not its misbehaviour is because a component has failed.

Horses for courses. If your lights don't work it's not a software problem. If you turn them off and on again and they work,  that's a dud switch. If you fix the symptoms, you've fixed the problem. I don't doubt you're right for the starship enterprise but not for the pumps and lights etc of a narrow boat. 

 

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1 minute ago, Sir Nibble said:

Horses for courses. If your lights don't work it's not a software problem. If you turn them off and on again and they work,  that's a dud switch. If you fix the symptoms, you've fixed the problem. I don't doubt you're right for the starship enterprise but not for the pumps and lights etc of a narrow boat. 

 

 

But it's a bit more than that. Taking your scenario as an example, it could be a loose connection at the switch, so a half decent technician would have checked for that as he removed the switch and tightened it if that had been the case. If he had blindly changed the switch, he would have fixed the problem but cost the customer more than it needed to and in this case might have replaced an old and robust switch with a modern cheaply made one.

 

The fact remains that the chap needed to understand that there was a possibility of a loose connection and act accordingly. That only comes about by a good deal of experience and knowing how things work at a fairly detailed level. To go a stage further, if he knew enough to recognise that the switch on the shower pump was an AC switch he would be able to deduce that possibly burned contact would be more likely than a loose connection, but would still need to check the connections. He could then discuss with the owner about fitting a more suitable switch for that duty or adding a relay to the circuit if the customer wished to retain that style of switch.

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Based on yesterday, think the main reason for RCR's engineers defaulting to "you might need a new part for this" isn't skillsets but their rules of engagement

 

Spent last night in the engine bay with the original engineer sent by RCR (he said he called me back after hearing from nearby marinas I was calling round that there was a bloke stuck nearby, not from being hurried up by RCR!) 

Yes, he did know how to open up and remove a gearbox, but they didn't want him to do that on the first (free) visit. OK, they've got a business to run, but I'd have happily paid for an hour or two of him opening stuff up there and then, and it would have made life a lot easier for me afterwards.

 

So RCR's original proposed process was "do basic diagnostic checks only on first visit to confirm that it was some sort of fault with the gearbox or possibly the drive plate, order replacement gearbox and wait for it to arrive, then book chargeable date to get gearbox out and check it and drive plate. then order drive plate if necessary (and not use gearbox) then arrange a return visit to actually fit it". Which is not the best way of doing things....

 

It turned out to be the drive plate which is an annoying thing to discover having [i] damaged the apparently condemned but actually fine gearbox trying to do my own diagnosis and [ii] waited 10 days for a part I didn't actually need

but at least all parts now sourced for a lot less than the new gearbox RCR lined up for me!

 

Can see how it can still work for people if they've got parts cover as part of their deal with RCR, and tbf I can believe they generally don't actually fit the expensive new parts if it turns out they're not needed after doing a bit more work to open things up, but I think I'll be taking the "call local marinas and ask for engineer recommendations" route if I have issues next year, because that would actually be less inconvenient. 

Edited by enigmatic
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1 hour ago, enigmatic said:

Based on yesterday, think the main reason for RCR's engineers defaulting to "you might need a new part for this" isn't skillsets but their rules of engagement

 

Spent last night in the engine bay with the original engineer sent by RCR (he said he called me back after hearing from nearby marinas I was calling round that there was a bloke stuck nearby, not from being hurried up by RCR!) 

Yes, he did know how to open up and remove a gearbox, but they didn't want him to do that on the first (free) visit. OK, they've got a business to run, but I'd have happily paid for an hour or two of him opening stuff up there and then, and it would have made life a lot easier for me afterwards.

 

So RCR's original proposed process was "do basic diagnostic checks only on first visit to confirm that it was some sort of fault with the gearbox or possibly the drive plate, order replacement gearbox and wait for it to arrive, then book chargeable date to get gearbox out and check it and drive plate. then order drive plate if necessary (and not use gearbox) then arrange a return visit to actually fit it". Which is not the best way of doing things....

 

It turned out to be the drive plate which is an annoying thing to discover having [i] damaged the apparently condemned but actually fine gearbox trying to do my own diagnosis and [ii] waited 10 days for a part I didn't actually need

but at least all parts now sourced for a lot less than the new gearbox RCR lined up for me!

 

Can see how it can still work for people if they've got parts cover as part of their deal with RCR, and tbf I can believe they generally don't actually fit the expensive new parts if it turns out they're not needed after doing a bit more work to open things up, but I think I'll be taking the "call local marinas and ask for engineer recommendations" route if I have issues next year, because that would actually be less inconvenient. 

You have got it in one!  This is precisely why I distrust RCR, its not a repair or get you going service but a make as much cash as possible from someones misfortune and ignorance.

I detest such a business practice.

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New service. Your battery isn't charging. I show up, do a few checks and condemn the alternator. I leave the boat with your £800 Leece Neville in my pocket (special trousers) on the basis that if repair comes to more than 50% of a replacement I'll call you for a decision. Next day I come back having done a £100 repair and chucked bearings and brushes in whilst I was at it. 

Thing is, I'm not cheap! Head office needs to keep me fully employed or they just can't afford me. So what's the alternative? You have to get people on an ad hoc hourly basis. That means the nearest boatyard. 

They could run a serious QC set up with techs being "approved ". Maybe they do but the higher the standard they set, the fewer and further between the approved people are. You want a bloke with Tony's skills, he may be 100 miles away and so paying him to travel becomes prohibitive. 

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1 hour ago, Sir Nibble said:

New service. Your battery isn't charging. I show up, do a few checks and condemn the alternator. I leave the boat with your £800 Leece Neville in my pocket (special trousers) on the basis that if repair comes to more than 50% of a replacement I'll call you for a decision. Next day I come back having done a £100 repair and chucked bearings and brushes in whilst I was at it. 

Thing is, I'm not cheap! Head office needs to keep me fully employed or they just can't afford me. So what's the alternative? You have to get people on an ad hoc hourly basis. That means the nearest boatyard. 

They could run a serious QC set up with techs being "approved ". Maybe they do but the higher the standard they set, the fewer and further between the approved people are. You want a bloke with Tony's skills, he may be 100 miles away and so paying him to travel becomes prohibitive. 

Still stinks, I never ran a company like that.

Still made enough, and friends, and regular customers, and manufacturers and slept well.  And people enjoyed working for me, never had a staff problem.

Edited by Tracy D'arth
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15 hours ago, Sir Nibble said:

Horses for courses. If your lights don't work it's not a software problem. If you turn them off and on again and they work,  that's a dud switch. If you fix the symptoms, you've fixed the problem. I don't doubt you're right for the starship enterprise but not for the pumps and lights etc of a narrow boat. 

 

And if it wont switch off, just take the bulb out

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I always question whether or not I should renew my RCR membership. I have the "parts cover" option. I do the majority of maintenance and repairs myself and carry a decent stock of spares. Over the years I have probably fixed stuff that was covered by my RCR membership, but I enjoy doing it myself and know exactly whats been done then. 

But each year I end up renewing. Mainly to cover myself in case the gearbox / drive plate / starter motor etc fails on me whilst 150 miles from home. I guess it is peace of mind that something like that would get sorted if required. Or would it?

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1 hour ago, Big Bob W said:

But each year I end up renewing. Mainly to cover myself in case the gearbox / drive plate / starter motor etc fails on me whilst 150 miles from home.

 

And what's the worst that can happen if you do break down 150 miles from home? You leave the boat moored to the towpath, take public transport (and maybe taxi to the nearest station first) home or to retrieve your car. Buys you time to sort out the problem, and you then just have to weekend the boat home if you have run out of annual leave.

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17 minutes ago, David Mack said:

And what's the worst that can happen if you do break down 150 miles from home

You are quite right. And these days, whenever we leave the marina, theres an increasing chance we'll not get back again due to failing canal infrastructure anyway!

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2 hours ago, Big Bob W said:

I always question whether or not I should renew my RCR membership. I have the "parts cover" option. I do the majority of maintenance and repairs myself and carry a decent stock of spares. Over the years I have probably fixed stuff that was covered by my RCR membership, but I enjoy doing it myself and know exactly whats been done then. 

But each year I end up renewing. Mainly to cover myself in case the gearbox / drive plate / starter motor etc fails on me whilst 150 miles from home. I guess it is peace of mind that something like that would get sorted if required. Or would it?

How much have you paid RCR over the years? I bet it is more than  a serious breakdown would have cost. A new decent gearbox can be had for £1K, a drive plate is probably less than £150.

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1 hour ago, Tracy D&#x27;arth said:

How much have you paid RCR over the years? I bet it is more than  a serious breakdown would have cost. A new decent gearbox can be had for £1K, a drive plate is probably less than £150.

Do those prices include fitting ?

 

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8 minutes ago, Laurie Booth said:

Do those prices include fitting ?

 

 

No they don't, and there's the rub.

 

If you've broken down 150 mils from home and 2 miles from the nearest road access, getting an independent marine engineer to turn up to diagnose the problem then return, lugging a new gearbox weighing 50kg plus every tool he might possibly need 2 miles along the towpath will be the Devil's own job to achieve. But this is what RCR undertake to offer.

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31 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

No they don't, and there's the rub.

 

If you've broken down 150 mils from home and 2 miles from the nearest road access, getting an independent marine engineer to turn up to diagnose the problem then return, lugging a new gearbox weighing 50kg plus every tool he might possibly need 2 miles along the towpath will be the Devil's own job to achieve. But this is what RCR undertake to offer.

I think I got good value for my money, paying £355.00 for the drive plate and fitting inc VAT. So RCR got £285 for the work done. (4 hours labour and driving to my spot).

I will be renewing my retainer membership with them.

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38 minutes ago, Laurie Booth said:

I think I got good value for my money, paying £355.00 for the drive plate and fitting inc VAT. So RCR got £285 for the work done. (4 hours labour and driving to my spot).

I will be renewing my retainer membership with them.

 

I would also predict the engineer who did it got significantly less than the £285 that stuck to RCR, and he is currently wondering why he bothers working for them! 

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