spring maintenance

Am I getting more like Victor Meldrew or are simple things really getting harder to get done? Perhaps that’s why that company is called Saga, because once you’re over fifty everything turns into one. All I wanted to do was pop a new filter in the boat.


Now not a lot has happened with the boat over the last few months as I have had my mind on other things, like retiring in March. But that means I want to ready her for cruising in the spring.


But first things first, I went on a weekend engine maintenance course arranged by RCR. What a mixture there was. Plenty of Captain Bird’s eye chaps, some couples both old and young, those who went to brush up on their knowledge and yet others that seemed to know how to hold a screw driver, because it hurts if you hold it by the other end!


The instructor started by asking around the table what engines our boats had. I was last in line, “ a 1500 BMC” said I proudly. He replied, “Ohhh, mmm, we always get one!” From there on in nearly every story of difficulty, obsolescence or breakdown ended up being attributed to a BMC, and I saw pity, sympathy and amusement in various faces. It culminated with the comment “and if you have one of these on your boat, get rid of the boat!, it’s too old”. I just whimpered at that, guffaws ensued.

It got better when they were talking about the modern accessories that go wrong, most of which I do not have, and how BMC’s do just keep going if looked after.


We all seemed to have one thing in common, a need to write a list of what was needed to be bought or changed or added to our boats.


Well  to get back to my story I decided that I really must add an extra fuel filter and replace the fuel lift pump. Not too much of an engineering task. The picture shows the filter on the right, with a grey metal bowl, the nice new lift pump and the two hose tail fittings needed to connect the hose to the filter. Simple eh. Order them , fit them.


Pump and filter

Pump and filter


Well the filter was ordered with  hose tails to fit from one supplier, the pump from another. The pump arrived fine. No problems, other than it was delivered to the neighbour’s and they forgot to tell me., but I found it after a few days.

The filter arrived at the local sorting office that I can only get to on  a Saturday. So on collection I found it had.. a glass bowl, not allowed on the canals! So went to phone the supplier .. they don’t provide a phone number. Emailed the supplier, they don’t work Saturday. Monday they agreed to send a replacement, which arrived Wednesday, at home. Great.

Not much doing Wednesday night so I thought I’d just check over the filter, it was fine, but the hose tails were the wrong thread and did not fit! So as I am writing I await replacement hose tails. I only ordered the filter from that company because they had the right tails in stock to fit the filter.

Hopefully on Saturday I can pop it in. I have just counted that to on the old and new filters, and the new lift pump, when I put it back together there is a total of 20 different places that diesel can leak out and air can get in. Any air leaks and the boat won’t start. Am I being pessimistic? I won’t be smoking when I do the job.

Fingers crossed that it won’t be another saga,

Where does my help come from*?

Wilkins aboard


Not to be defeated at my last attempt to take friends out, which was foiled by the broken bridge, I arranged to take out another party last weekend. It started out with all the hall marks of the previous failure.

Janet and Richard with their grand children, Daniel and James, were really looking forward to a few hours and lunch on the boat. So to make sure all went well I got there early, with extra food and drink and board games. I got the fire going to take the chill off. The bridge looked in working order so what could go wrong?

At nine I judged I would not disturb anyone by starting the engine. Well I didn’t, because it didn’t, start I mean. Over and over she went until the battery was flat. I jumped her to the domestic batteries until they were flat. There was fuel and glow plugs so why won’t she start?

By now I was looking forlornly into the engine bay, the only sound being the gentle buzzing of the charger trying to get some energy back into the batteries.

Now I know some of you will not approve, or think me mad, but I shot a quick pleading prayer “upstairs”.  “After all Lord, it’s not my pride and joy, I just want to take the family out”. I tried her again, and she just turned over and over until the battery was flat again. Then a light came on in my head. I am a member of RCR (River canal rescue), and there would be enough time for them to come out before my guests arrive! A quick call and they were on their way, such nice people!

So I sat, somewhat relieved, and listened to the charger for a bit more, and thought, but why won’t she start? There is fuel, but at only 40 litres now it is lower than the engine. So, if there is an air leak the fuel will drain away from the pump, and we have a air lock, maybe? Why not try re-priming with the lift pump? So I pumped for a few minutes, another quick prayer and  .. she started first time.. Whoopee! A quick call to RCR to cancel the call out, no charge, such nice people!.

Well that just teaches me not to rely on my own self confidence. Be prepared to ask someone else, and even if you don’t need them in the end you at least know there are there to help.* psalm 121

Oh yes, we did go out and share lunch aboard. I think they really enjoyed themselves.

I must find out if I have got a leak ad fill the tank up a bit as well.