Thursday 19 September 2019


When Dave Freeman was installing our new gas hob during the summer, I asked him about the chimney rising from our Squirrel fire, because the bottom two or three inches were showing signs of corrosion. He said it was a double flue, and that the rusty bit was on the, largely cosmetic, outer tube – would probably respond to a bit of rust treatment and paint. Tonight I ran a finger over the offending part to see how easy it would be to rub down, and my finger went right through it!

So I rang Dave, with two questions in mind. (1) Would it be safe to have a fire tonight? He is, after all, a Boat Safety Scheme inspector. Answer: Best not to. (2) Is it something that would fall within his competence / remit / work schedule to fix? Answer: By all means. In fact, he thinks he should be able to do it towards the end of the coming week, while we are away from the boat. All very satisfactory – apart from the coming bill, of course.

Meanwhile, we'd come back to the marina. Tixall Wide was a treat in the sun this morning, as the traffic got under way.

We sauntered around, waving to the clients of the Canalside café on the way. Everyone is very chilled. In order not to be too chilled tonight, we'll have to use the central heating instead of the fire. But at least the electrons to run it will come from the mains supply, not the batteries. The outside temperature is likely to be pretty low, but the meteorological conditions have produced a fine evening.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

3 Day tripper

We came down to Tixall Wide last night.

What with one thing and another, I think this is the first time we've taken Erin Mae out of the marina all year. A succession of medical events, coupled with some family things, meant we needed to be in the south a lot. As for the time we'd allocated to sorting out the kitchen windows, which we'd expected to tackle while cruising a bit (or a lot), it turned out much easier to stay put while I worked on them. That facilitated getting a bit of local help when needed, and picking up what seemed to be regular Amazon deliveries from the Post Office every time I decided another tool was indicated.

In addition, it has to be said, August was not a good month weather-wise. Rain and wind made the maintenance work more difficult, and the problems would have been compounded if we were trying to travel at the same time. But now, with the windows done, and a fine week, we filled the water tank, emptied the other, and have come down to what must be one of the most delightful spots on the network.

Mind you, it's turned cold, so I've laid in some SuperTherm and we'll have a fire tonight. The radiators are good, but nothing quite beats a good Squirrel.  Anyway, the Webasto tends to rely a bit too much on the batteries, and even though the clear skies which drop the night-time temperature also mean the solar panel is working well during the day, I like to look after my electrons.

This morning we walked up to the Post Office and then round to Shugborough for coffee and one of their exceedingly good home-made sausage rolls. Back on Erin Mae, it is peaceful and quiet. There are some water birds and butterflies around. We've got to drive home at the end of the week but, for the moment, we're in a very happy space.

Tuesday 17 September 2019


Well, the aluminium of the window frame came up trumps.

At both top corners the vertical section coming up to the mitre was bent outwards slightly, but I managed to straighten them with careful use of some screw clamps and a mole wrench, before fixing and sealing the corners with Gorilla epoxy glue. When that was set I applied the neoprene window tape all round the edge and then carefully pressed my long M4 screws through all the holes, piercing the neoprene.

This was my cunning plan for making it easier to locate the screws in their holes. Using long screws as a first step, it was easy to position the window with every screw in a hole. Then, one at at a time, I removed the long screw, squeezed a glob of Sikaflex 221 into the hole and inserted the final fixing screw. I had been concerned about the slight warp in the steel work at the top of the window cut out, but the aluminium of the frame eased itself into shape as the screws were tightened, and it all seems weather-tight.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the techniques I've learned with these windows. Drilling and tapping for an M4 screw now seems pretty ordinary, but I have noted how important it is to have the right tools. My original drill bits and taps were simply not up to the job. Getting pieces of the right quality turned it into something pretty straightforward. Painting has also got better as I've gone along. Thinning the paint appropriately was key to getting as good a finish as I'm going to manage.

A mother brought two of this year's brood for an approving inspection, though they seemed more interested in what was available below the waterline!

Saturday 14 September 2019


Doing Erin Mae's second kitchen window, I've come across an unexpected problem.

My very straight edge shows that the steel work in the window area is not completely flat. I don't know how much the window frame will flex – hopefully enough for its neoprene seal to maintain a water-tight join. Meanwhile the painting of the surrounding block has gone well – the weather has been great for it.

Its being nice and shiny is very pleasing – except that it then rather shows up the dullness of the next section!

Wednesday 4 September 2019

Window done!

Erin Mae's first kitchen window is finally back in place, surrounded by a newly painted panel. The one thing still to do is to fit the black gasket that will cover the screws.

It's been an extraordinarily long process, with the need to solve numbers of problems along the way, and sometimes acquire new tools to do so – appropriate drill bits and taps, for example. The last came today – a countersink bit appropriate for aluminium and small enough to get into the channel where the screws sit. Sometimes I faced a problem with deliveries. For eight years we've had all sorts of things sent to the post office in Great Haywood for us to collect. But of late there's been a problem when a package is being delivered by Hermes – something to do with the shop's insurance. Today's Amazon delivery was to come by Hermes, but I didn't know that until I'd placed the order. So I had to go to the Post Office early and negotiate with them to ensure they would accept it when it came.

The painting has gone really well, though a good finish seems much harder to achieve with this red than it has been with green sections. It's encouraged me to think that I could do the whole side. It would be very obvious it was an amateur job, but at least it would be the same shade all the way down.

I now have to complete the work on the window the other side of the kitchen. That will have its own idiosyncrasies, but at least I've acquired some experience in regard to the principal steps.