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Breakdown cover?


Jak
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My boat is working properly and has been / will be regularly maintained. But she's an old girl (1990) and I have been thinking about breakdown cover, which I always have on our cars.

 

I've heard people mentioning RCR and see they have various levels of cover. But wondered what other owners do in practice. Do you use any breakdown service and is it any good?

 

Thanks!

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Bronze with RCR. Cover is more or less the same whatever level, but bronze only covers the boat if I'm on it. They'll replace starters or some other bits and help when you break down but their in-house engineers are useless for old engines so they buy in contractors. But you do get sorted in the end. They paid £1000 towards my last gearbox disaster and may well be doing the same again next week, which I reckon covers my subs for the rest of my life...

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Bronze RCR for the past 2 years. Only needed to call them out the once, the engineer arrived within 2 hours and got me sorted. Having used Halcyon extensively this past 2 years, I now know she is reliable. I'll decide soon whether to continue with the Bronze cover, or maybe drop down to the 'Retainer' cover.

 

Kevin

Edited by Kev's Halcyon
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A lot depends on how competent you are (mechanically and electrically) and how many tools and spares you carry. If you are somewhere between pretty useless and half competent then RCR will be a good idea. If you can do most routine stuff yourself then its less clear cut.

My big fear is a major engine failure on a River (Thames etc) or in the backwaters of Birmingham and I suspect RCR will be of limited help in such a situation.

Essentially RCR often only phone a local man on your behalf and you can always do this yourself.

 

.................Dave

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Thx Dave. I'm a reasonably competent 1980s/90s car mechanic, but this is our first narrow boat. I'm already learning a hell of a lot by reading the posts on here over the last couple of months. I'm tempted to take up a policy and then not bother renewing if managing ok...

 

Edit: will definitely be stocking up on some spares. Any tips, apart from the obvious I might guess from running old cars?

Edited by Jak
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Thx Dave. I'm a reasonably competent 1980s/90s car mechanic, but this is our first narrow boat. I'm already learning a hell of a lot by reading the posts on here over the last couple of months. I'm tempted to take up a policy and then not bother renewing if managing ok...

 

Edit: will definitely be stocking up on some spares. Any tips, apart from the obvious I might guess from running old cars?

 

Belts & Filters, glowplugs if the engine uses them. A selection of cable various sizes, terminations and fuses, particularly the big ones. Spare diesel hose

 

A reasonable set of tools, spanners, self amalgamating tape.

 

Oil, grease K99.

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A lot depends on how competent you are (mechanically and electrically) and how many tools and spares you carry. If you are somewhere between pretty useless and half competent then RCR will be a good idea. If you can do most routine stuff yourself then its less clear cut.

My big fear is a major engine failure on a River (Thames etc) or in the backwaters of Birmingham and I suspect RCR will be of limited help in such a situation.

Essentially RCR often only phone a local man on your behalf and you can always do this yourself.

 

.................Dave

Fine if you have contact details of an engineer local to where you breakdown.

I can fix most things myself but my old BL1500 suffered a major fault when the 1/2" dia shaft in the diesel pump snapped.

Not much I could do about it at the time - is that something RCR could fix?

Luckily fox me I was only 200 yards from my home mooring (amazing and hitched a tow from a passing boat) after a month out, a week of which was on the River Weaver - goodness knows what we would have done caught in the current without an engine and no other boats around at the time - but what could RCR have done themselves?.

As an aside to the question, what does one do in this sort of situation - drop an anchor and wait? - panic - or what?

Is there a code-of-practice for summoning rescue - I can't say I have heard of one in all the years of cruising on our own boat.

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Fine if you have contact details of an engineer local to where you breakdown.

I can fix most things myself but my old BL1500 suffered a major fault when the 1/2" dia shaft in the diesel pump snapped.

Not much I could do about it at the time - is that something RCR could fix?

Their list of parts they'll replace for you is: Starter Motor, Starter Alternator, Water Pump (engine only), Injection & Lift Pump, Gearbox & Drive Plate, Couplings (including aquadrive, python drive), Hydraulic Pipes, Engine Mounts, Remote Mechanical Steering and Hydraulic Controls (pumps, ramps, morse), Fuel Injection Pump (excluding injectors), IC Igniter/CDI Unit, (outboard), Carburettor (outboard & petrol). (Taken from the manual)

They've replaced my starter (though I'm not at all sure that they needed to).

If you break down completely they'll organise and pay for a tow for you, either home or to the nearest yard that can fix whatever's gone wrong. When the clutch went in my gearbox, they said they would get me a tow but I'd be better off getting home by myself if i could as the cost of it would come out of the contribution they would make to the cost of the repair. Had to haul it down the Bosley flight but got towed by a variety of friendly boaters the rest of the way.

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Thx Dave. I'm a reasonably competent 1980s/90s car mechanic, but this is our first narrow boat. I'm already learning a hell of a lot by reading the posts on here over the last couple of months. I'm tempted to take up a policy and then not bother renewing if managing ok...

 

Edit: will definitely be stocking up on some spares. Any tips, apart from the obvious I might guess from running old cars?

 

Boat engines are a bit like old cars (1970-1980s) so you should be ok with the engine, though diesels are different to petrols. RCR really only do the engine and propulsion stuff, all the "domestic" things are excluded.

 

Basic spares are belts and fuel filters plus hoses. A spare drive plate is not a bad idea. Copper pipe and a few fittings might also be good, enough to rig up a temporary fuel supply to a Jerry can. Control cables are also a source of failure. If you are really serious you could carry a spare cylinder head and gasket etc!!!!! There's a lot of BMC stuff on this forum so try to read through it to find out what the typical failures are. You need to become expert at getting air out of the fuel system.

 

...............Dave

and engine mounts.

and keep your fuel tank and fuel system clean.

  • Greenie 1
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Much appreciated. I suppose the big difference is any experience I've had is with 4 and 8 cylinder petrol engines. Never had a reason to go anywhere near diesel. Mrs J doesn't understand but I want to get to know the boat and at least take care of any basic maintenance and repairs.

 

All advice very welcome, thanks.

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RCR do not cover domestic equipment so on a twin alternator engine they would be unlikely to attend for a faulty domestic alternator and certainly not for any lights or shower/water pumps. That puts what they will cover very much within an area you will quickly become competent in if you are not already. If you have mechanical ability you can probably work out what to do on most things by inspecting the problem kit and applying previous experience.

 

As far as the engine is concerned it really is not much more than a beefed up BMC B series petrol unit so once you get your head around bleeding the fuel system you should be fine with it. I would advise getting hold of a manual and cleaning the injector pump drive skew gear lubricator though (to you the injector pump drive is all but incidental to a petrol engine's distributor drive.

 

If you are going to struggle anywhere it will be the gearbox and some are more reliable than others. Many BMC 1.5s were/are fitted with Hurth gearboxes (vertically split, oval in section with fins on the outside the square section ones with fins are PRM mechanicals). If you have a Hurth gearbox then in my view it is definitely the weak link in the chain so some form of RCR membership may be a good idea. It may also help you to get a grip on things if you attend one of the RCR maintenance courses. You do not have to be a member.

 

Some may suggest that I would not need membership of RCR and when I am boating in the south I do not have any cover but when I go north of Birmingham where I am not familiar with local engineers etc. I joined as a Retained member. At the time it cost about £80 a year and £40 per call out. When the alternator failed in Burton it was easier to google for a local alternator specialist and take it to them rather than wait for RCR but it woudl have been different in the wilds of the Leeds & Liverpool say. I considered the £80 money well spent for peace of mind

 

 

 

 

 

  • Greenie 1
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Thanks Tony. Your advice is very welcome. The PO kept EVERYTHING so I have the BMC repair operation manual and Hurth gearbox installation, operations, maintenance booklet.

Edited by Jak
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Thx Dave. I'm a reasonably competent 1980s/90s car mechanic, but this is our first narrow boat. I'm already learning a hell of a lot by reading the posts on here over the last couple of months. I'm tempted to take up a policy and then not bother renewing if managing ok...

 

Edit: will definitely be stocking up on some spares. Any tips, apart from the obvious I might guess from running old cars?

Never change a fuel filter unless you're near a pub, especially in winter!

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Never change a fuel filter unless you're near a pub, especially in winter!

 

In fact Never do any routine maintenance unless you are near a good pub, and fairly close to shops and a road, and in a spot where you would like to stay for a week or two, just in case it all goes wrong.

 

A good continuous cruiser has a shrewd idea of what is going to go wrong well before it actually happens, and finds a suitable location to have the breakdown. rolleyes.gif

 

...........Dave

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In fact Never do any routine maintenance unless you are near a good pub, and fairly close to shops and a road, and in a spot where you would like to stay for a week or two, just in case it all goes wrong.

 

A good continuous cruiser has a shrewd idea of what is going to go wrong well before it actually happens, and finds a suitable location to have the breakdown. rolleyes.gif

 

...........Dave

I try to work on that basis, I try to do any work back at my home moorings in case it goes pare shaped. Even just an oil change.

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