Sunday, 20 August 2017

Electric narrowboat

Not long after setting off this morning we met Arabia, a shortened 1907 Josher. And very nice it looked.

We have seen a few boats called Black Swan; this is the first real black swan I can recall seeing.

It was at Horninglow Basin, where we'd stopped for water and Elsan.

We saw our friends Chris and Joy on Wrens Nest at Willington, so we tied up and Jan went for a cup of tea on their boat while I cycled back to Branston for the car. On the way I stopped to talk to the owner of this boat, which appears to be called Ovaltine but which doesn't appear in the boat listing. Neither does the registration number. (To the right it says "Bob up & down".)

Anyway, Ken was very happy to talk about his boat which has an interesting drive train. The clue is in the signwriting: "Drink delicious Ovaltine for an electric experience"(!) This is what caught my eye as we cruised past. Yes, the boat is electric, in that the propeller is driven by an electric motor. Where there would normally be an engine there is a large diesel generator; where there would normally be a gearbox is the electric motor driving the prop shaft via a belt with a 3:1 reduction achieved by the size of the pulleys. There are four crates of lithium ion batteries, each crate not much bigger than a conventional lead-acid battery. The batteries are what are used in electric cars. The motor runs on 110VDC. Ken runs the generator, a "site generator" only while the boat is stationary and only for about three hours a day. He cruises on battery power with just a faint whine as the only noise in addition to the prop wash. Ken has installed a multiplicity of meters to monitor voltage, current, amp-hours and temperature. And probably a few other things which I didn't notice. I'm afraid I can't remember the amp-hour capacity of the battery bank, nor the power of the motor - although I think the generator is capable of 5kW and the motor might be similarly rated. The motor, by the way, looked fairly insignificant, certainly compared with the vast generator. One thing which surprised me was the almost complete lack of solar panels on the roof. Apparently they would have introduced too much extra complexity to the charging system.

I'm sorry I didn't take any photos "under the bonnet". I suppose I didn't want to intrude. I'd never make an ace reporter.

Thank you, Ken, for taking the time to talk to me about it all.

Keeping with the electric theme, after I dropped the car off at Swarkestone, my route back to Willington took me past the former power station's old cooling towers. A notice states that permission was being sought for their demolition between January 2017 and July 2017.

Well, they are still there, still dominating the landscape. I think they should remain. The power station itself seems to have been reduced to a few lumps of concrete.

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