Hello. Mick here. Apologies if this post isn’t up to Pip’s usual standards but I thought you would like to know how things are here on Oleanna.
On Monday morning Pip headed off on the number 35 bus to Oxford City Centre then changed onto the S3 for the hour long journey to Chipping Norton.
I spoke to the engineer who had been called out to the overheating problem and he agreed to come and have a look at our cooling system on Wednesday (30th October).
The boards were still on red so even if Oleanna hadn’t been poorly I wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway. So I pottered around for a couple of days, went to Sainsbury’s, went for a walk, that sort of thing. I watched two mad boaters taking their narrowboats through the red boarded Sandford lock, against the advice of the lock keeper, downstream on the way to Abingdon.
The boat moored behind Oleanna had five cats on board. They seemed to be allowed out at all times of the day and night. Tilly was having a quiet little stand off with one of them, Tilly at the stern of Oleanna and the other cat at the bow of its boat. But the stand off soon got more complicated, it was no longer between Tilly and one cat but Tilly and three cats with another one looking on from a distance. I decided I didn’t want any unnecessary vet bills so I called Tilly and persuaded her to come inside. She didn’t need much persuasion.
On Tuesday the lock keeper knocked on the roof and asked if we were ok for water. The boards were still on red with no signs of turning yellow for a while. I said we could do with some (there’s no water point at Sandford) so he suggested that I reverse Oleanna back into the lock and connect the hose up to the outside tap at his house. Marvellous! I put the washing machine on whilst filling the tank.
On Wednesday Rusty (Marine Engineer) turned up to have another look at our engine. Last Friday he had removed the thermostat that was full of crud and we thought that had fixed the problem. But Saturday’s events had proved that there was more crud to find. He took the bottom hose off the skin tank and the contents of the tank and the coolant in the engine gushed out at a healthy rate. This was good as it meant the skin tank wasn’t blocked which would have been difficult to clear. He removed the other end of the hose from where it connects to the oil cooler and there was quite a bit of rusty crud in the pipe. Here is some of the rusty flaky crud now in a bucket.
Then he took off the housing that the hose attaches to. There was much glee and laughter at this point, “Ah! Found the problem. Yay!” and other words to the same effect! This housing was blocked with more of the same stuff.
So that all got cleaned out. On the engine where the housing is attached is a gauze, presumably to catch this sort of stuff and that was cleaned too.
Then it was all put back together again, filled with new coolant, system bled and we were good to go. The engine was started and you could immediately see a much greater flow through the header tank than before. Job’s a good’un. Rusty had brought a wet and dry vac to pump out the old coolant from the bilge. I offered him electricity from our inverter but he’d also brought a generator to power the vac. He poured it all into a container and took it away with him.
I’m very confident that we have found the immediate issue but the question remains about where the crud came from in the first place. Oleanna had a change of antifreeze last November. The antifreeze that got put in then was supposed to last five years. Rusty is going to show some of the crud to a friend of his who has been doing boat maintenance for about 60 years (Keith Duffy from RCR, now retired) and see if he can shed any light on where it might have come from. Rusty also suggests doing the same procedure again at the end of next summer and see what is there then. We decided not to put the old thermostat back in but to get a new one. I shall do this in the next few days.
On Thursday the boards at the lock had changed to yellow! Yay! But the lock keeper advised that this was only as far as the next lock (Iffley lock) and beyond that there are still red boards.
The share boat moored two behind us was preparing to move on. They have an appointment with a boat painter in Braunston and need to be above the Claydon flight on the Oxford Canal before they shut for winter maintenance on the 4th November. I asked them if I could join them to save having to work the lock by myself. Of course they were only too happy to do so. Sorry I didn’t get your names nor can I remember your boat name other than it begins with S!
I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge and, with the thermostat out, it didn’t manage to get above 40 to 50 degrees, not enough to heat the domestic hot water! Normally Oleanna runs at about 80 degrees.
When we got to Iffley Lock that was also showing yellow boards so we decided to carry on upwards. There was an off duty lock keeper there who operated the lock for us. However he advised that Osney Lock (the next one) was very definitely red. The share boat decided to carry on towards the centre of Oxford. About half a mile above Iffley lock I spotted a single mooring with bollards to tie to just near to Hertford College Boat Club. There were no “No Mooring” signs in evidence but it looked to good to be true. However I plonked Oleanna onto this mooring and tied up.
I worried a bit about the strong stream and whether to let Tilly out or not. But she’d been pretty much cooped up for quite a few days so I relented to her meows and opened the door for her.
After a couple of hours she came home and I went out on the bicycle up to Osney lock to have a look. The current is flowing quite fast through the narrow bit at the East Street moorings. Hopefully in a couple of more days without rain it will ease off and we can gat back onto the benign waters of the Oxford Canal.
10 litres of Antifreeze, 1 happy cat, 1 happy boat engineer, two happy boat owners, 1 red board ahead, 1 rainy forecast for Saturday. 1 substitute blog writer who can’t remember how to do the map thing.