Thursday, 26 September 2019

One of the most photographed bridges?

When the rain - and the threat of rain - passed I put a second coat of paint on the well deck. The pits are still there but are smoothing out as they fill with paint. I had thought of smearing filler over before painting, but reasoned that it would crack up as the deck flexes when walked on.

I took only one photo today, that of us et al at the Indian restaurant. Before showing that here's one from yesterday as we approached Drayton Footbridge.

I guess most boaters who have travelled along the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal will have at least one photo of this unusual bridge.

Several historic boats passed us on their way to Birmingham. Some, if not all, will have been at the gathering at Huddlesford Junction last weekend. This is Whitby having just passed the entrance to Fazeley Mill Marina.

And so to the meal out tonight. Nine boats have now congregated in Fazeley for the BCF event this weekend; fourteen of us enjoyed a meal at Kudos Indian Restaurant. I realise I have omitted Gwyneth from the photo, sorry Gwyneth.

Stephen, Hazel, James, Elizabeth, Richard, Sally, Chris, Chris, Gill, John, Tony, Jan

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

A sign on a sinking boat

We were just about to set off from Minworth this morning when our friends Chris and Di came past on Ultreya. We followed them down Curdworth Locks and stopped just above the Dog and Doublet where they joined us for lunch on board Jubilee.

While there Alder and Clover passed on their way up the locks. This is Clover, looking immaculate as ever.

At Bodymoor Heath some wag has put a sign on a sinking boat.

"HMS Brexit".

Yes, well, I have a sinking feeling about Brexit too.

All too soon we were doing our last lock of the year (probably): Curdworth Bottom Lock. After yesterday's deluges it was a pleasant change doing this in sunshine.

We topped up with diesel at Fazeley Mill Marina and had hoped to get a new gas cylinder too, but they had run out. We winded at Fazeley Junction and tied up by Tolson's Footbridge ready for a BCF event this weekend.

In the evening we joined David, Mary, James and Hazel for a meal in the Peninsular Chinese restaurant.

Jan, James, Hazel, David, Mary

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Overspill weirs doing their job

We noticed last night that the Farmer's Bridge flight seemed to be set in our favour, so we got up reasonably early hoping to be the first down the locks. While we were having breakfast, listening to the rain, at least one boat went down, scuppering our plan. Then Edwin appeared on Ferrous with his remote control at the ready.

As we were no longer in a rush we attended to the boat's needs at the services before entering the flight in the pouring rain.

By Lock 4 my shoes had so much water in them that they squelched with every step. My hat and coat performed well, though. Did I mention the rain? We had planned to be in Fazeley by Wednesday evening so we were on a schedule. Having done just six locks in the previous two weeks we had 27 today, all but one against us. At least it wasn't cold, and once you're wet you can't get much wetter.

I don't remember ever seeing overspill weirs doing their job with so much vigour.


One of the new houses where (I believe) the Cincinnati works used to be has made a big effort with the bank, mowing the grass and putting in many potted trees. Incongruously a bus stop stands amongst them.

One for Jim?

I'm pleased to report that the new well deck paint doesn't seem to have suffered in the rain.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Is this a boat counter? (As in counter of boats)

On our way to Birmingham this morning I put a topcoat on the well deck. I had applied the primer a couple of nights ago so it had had plenty of time to harden. I've used a cheapo topcoat as a temporary protective measure; we'll see how long it lasts. It's certainly looking a lot better then the rusted, pitted surface it's covering. I doesn't seem to have suffered from the rain which came this afternoon, about four hours after I had finished.

We had a peaceful passage along the Old Main Line, the only incident of note being a moorhen's nest (we think) getting round the prop. There were a lot of quills - when I opened the weed hatch I thought it was a dead peacock.

I was pleased with this photo - very different from Telford's New Main Line.

At one point fixed to the bank close to the water were a couple of low metal boxes, one each side of the canal, with apertures for what looked like an optical sensor. Is this a boat counting device?


The centre of Brum looks very different from the last time we looked round. Tram tracks have appeared coming close to the Symphony Hall. It will look very smart when it's finished.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Few people, much rain and some paint

Day two at Tipton Canal Festival has been pretty much a washout. There was very heavy rain at 0500 - yes, it woke me up - and people stayed away. So when we went to St. Matthew's Church five hours later the site was almost deserted.

A two-piece band played throughout the weekend. The Master Butchers Band comprised accordion and drums and they sounded really good. They played mostly old classics, segueing between them for what seemed like hours on end.

Today, though, they were largely playing to themselves.

Those traders who had bothered to return today packed up early. It didn't actually rain much during the day and the sun even peeped out occasionally, but the punters didn't come back. Boats drifted off too, among them Darley steered by Blossom.

Shortly before 6pm we moved round the corner to the BCLM facilities and moorings and will head to Birmingham tomorrow. Oh yes, last night I primed the well deck, finishing at 2230. An hour later there was a light rain shower but I don't think it caused any harm. By the time the heavy rain came it had dried sufficiently; it now looks much better than it did.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Memories from a man who used to work on tar boat runs

Day one of the Tipton Canal Festival turned out to be sunny, warm and busy. There was a constant stream of people walking past our BCF boat race game; most of the time it was just Jan and I running it. We were helped for a while by Trevor, who had driven from Stoke-on-Trent to see us.

Before the crowds arrived a man came over to say that he could remember the Halford Branch, the location name signwritten on our boat. He then told me that he was born on a boat, first steered aged five and worked with his family, the Tolleys, first for Fellows, Morton and Clayton, then for Thomas Clayton bringing tar from Ellesmere Port to Oldbury for distilling. He said that it took only 15 minutes for the tar to be pumped out of the boats. I wish there had been more time to talk to him as his memory was sharp (although I find it astonishing that tar could be pumped so quickly). His surname is Tolley but I can't remember his first name. Can anyone help?

I grabbed an opportunity to have a quick look round the festival in the morning and came across a mobile glass blower. Fascinating. I asked him one or two questions about his craft but he wouldn't give anything away. It worked by magic, he said.

We were at one end of the site, but this didn't seem to affect business.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Removing rust from the well deck

A number of historic boats arrived at Tipton today, among them Bittel ...

… and Trent.

I started to tackle a job I had been putting off for too long: the rusty well deck. The main culprit was the hard rubbery matting with small feet. These had quickly worn through the paint and caused the deck to rust. I removed as much of the flaky rust as I could, finding that an old knife was the best tool for this.

At Crick a couple of years ago I bought a Tercoo Roatating Blaster attachment for an electric drill. I tried this, but it couldn't cope with the severity of the layers of rust.

When I had had enough of scraping I Fertanned the whole area. We'll see what it's like in the morning.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Meal out rounds off a day of maintenance

Here is the promised photo of the Morse control, looking from the back. At the top you can see the two metal clips, the right-hand one of which had slipped down to prevent the lever moving beyond the tickover position.

I spent some time baling out the bilge sump under the stern gland. A lot of water had appeared there over the last couple of weeks. Could it all have come from the stern gland? I have a drip catcher which has been filling more quickly than it used to, so I tightened the stern gland a little and mopped up all the water I could. Something to keep an eye on.

Another repair job was to get my bike sorted out. It had lain unused for months with a flat back tyre. My tardiness in getting round to fixing it was because I had thought that the hub gear cable would need to be removed before I could get the wheel off. In the end I found that not to be necessary, and I successfully replaced both the inner tube and the outer tyre. The old inner tube had 16 repair patches!

This evening we went to Mad O'Rourke's Pie Factory just up the road in Tipton. We were part of a party of ten and had a most enjoyable time. The Lumphammer Bitter (3.6%) was by far the tastiest ale I sampled (beating Sledgehammer (5.6%) and the Ruby Mild (6.0%).

L-R: Keith, Colin, Helen, Andy, Tim, Tracey, Sue and Jo.  The chap at the top of the photo with his thumb up is photobombing.

I'm hoping to organise a similar meal out in two or three days, to a curry house.