Thursday, 16 June 2016

20 mile round trip (by cycle) to get bilge pump

On a recent trip home to mow the grass etc. I discovered that the car's radiator had sprung a leak. Not a catastrophic, empty-out-all-the-coolant-in-one-go leak, but a leak big enough to drain the reservoir overnight and for the engine to run at slightly higher than normal temperature.

Fortunately the car is a Volvo 240 and everything is easily accessible. Three Jubilee clips for the hoses (and one small pull-off hose); two bolts and two screws. Unfortunately all my tools were on the boat. Fortunately that is not quite true. I found a couple of screwdrivers and a socket set. I located a replacement radiator in Ipswich at Brookhouse Volvo and I wanted to be sure that all bolts etc. would come undone. At home, therefore, I undid and retightened everything except the two screws holding the plastic cowl to the radiator.

With assistance from a friend I hacksawed and chiselled the screws off, and found replacements. In Ipswich all went swimmingly (as the old coolant poured out ...) and the new rad dropped in a treat. Only problem: one of the securing bolts sheared off as I turned it. (I'd loosened it but not enough.)

At Writtle Jan's dad helped me drill out the bolt and provided another bolt to help secure the rad. This bolt was smaller than the original as, having drilled through the damaged bolt I couldn't remove the remnants from the captive nut into which it had been, er, bolted. We couldn't find a suitable nut for this new bolt, but at my parents' in Shenfield my dad provided a nut and bolt which did the trick.

We got back to the boat at 1500; Jan went to the post office in Rugeley to see if our postal votes had arrived while I cycled to the Penkridge branch of Midland Chandlers for a bilge pump. I had more success than Jan. Our postal votes STILL haven't arrived, despite having been forwarded a week ago.

My cycle ride was mostly enjoyable. After losing my way a little trying to find Penkridge Bank, a road leading through Cannock Chase, I got back on track and began the steady climb through the forest. Having reached the summit at last I relished the downhill run - until encountering a large amount of surface water on the road. This was nothing compared with the return leg; a sudden downpour led to the A513 being more like a river in places. I got wet.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I chose a different route after picking up the bilge pump. This took me through the village of Brocton. If you're ever in the area the village shop is worth a detour. At the time, having already cycled about 14 miles, I was pretty hungry. The sign outside the shop advertised hot sandwiches - I screeched to a halt. Unfortunately the "chef" had clocked off and there were no hot sandwiches. But the coffee machine (£1 a cup) was tempting so I grabbed a £2 chocolate cake and asked for a coffee. Another but: the coffee machine was on a timer (why?) and had no power. Neither had the microwave oven. No problem, said the friendly shopkeeper man. He went round the back, boiled up a kettle and provided me with the best cup of instant coffee I've had for a long time. While talking to him as I drank the coffee I found out that he remembered the days of horse-drawn boats with their cargoes of coal from the Cannock pits, and talked about the canals of his youth which are now housing estates.

Suitably refreshed I set off from Brocton for Rugeley via the aforementioned A513. Before reaching the main road the heavens opened. I was able to shelter from the heaviest of the rain under several large trees (it's all right, there was no lightning about). Rain water flowed down my side of the road, as I have said. Somehow I avoided getting drenched by passing traffic, but my feet still got soaked. My route took me past the Shugborough estate - it was slightly weird seeing it from a non-canal perspective.

I have waffled on long enough. Tomorrow, if I can dodge the showers, I ought to fit the new bilge pump. I went for another 750 gallons per hour machine, the same as the old one. And I hope our votes will have arrived at the post office.

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