Lessons numbers one and two just have to be the secrets of the impellor and the mysteries of the alternator as related in "The Voyage Home" and do not need repeating in here.
LESSON NUMBER THREE - THE SECRETS OF THE FUEL FILTER
My craft has an inboard, marinised Ford Escort 1600 cc diesel engine. This is connected to an Enfield140 outdrive and the combination appears to work well together. I was suspicious that I might have oil and water leaks somewhere and was unable to discover these myself. I therefore arranged to take her to Shepley Bridge marina for a general look around and a service. Brian had been recommended by David Hinchliffe MP, another earnest boater. I also wanted to take the opportunity of seeing the hull out of the water in the dry dock. This I did and was quite pleased with the general condition of the hull. No great disasters to report there, no osmosis, delamination or any other fatal disease. Brian srviced the engine and outdrive pronouncing them healthy enough.
Once again myself and Bosun Broadhead decided to have a few days out and set off in the direction of Leeds via the Calder and Hebble and Aire and Calder. Everything was going very well, the boat seemed much easier to steer and the engine sounded sweet.
We got to Altofts Lock. I went to work the lock when i heard a unpleasantly loud crunch. Somehow, Ian had managed to ram the towpath bow first. Then the engine just died! Stopped, ceased, did not work. We tied up and began a panic stricken examination. The engine fired on turning over then stopped again. It has to be a fuel problem and, at first. I supposed the crunch had stirred up all the muck in the fuel tank and all this was a symptom of crap going through the system and it will right itself. But no, this was not so. Time to look further. Looking in the engine compartment the first thing I spy are a couple of pieces of white nylon, broken from somewhere but no idea where and not the answer I'm looking for I initially conclude. I carefully follow the fuel lines checking for any loose connections or leaks. Nothing and also nothing obvious on the fuel pump either. Eventually I discover the location of the fuel filter and after feeling around come away with a hand dripping with diesel. I feel about again and discover a hole leaking underneath. The mind clicks over a few steps and I now know what the pieces of white nylon are. I make a forlornly hopeful phone call to the ex-wife's live in chappie who had previously boasted servicing a boat diesel engine for years! Would he help?? Lots of words and oh it might be this but not a sign of movement! Who was I kidding in the first place in ringing him.
Ian rings his neighbour who, bless his cotton socks, agrees to take him to Halfords to buy a new one. Returns in an hour or so with filter and a can of diesel for priming and I try and fit new filter! Will not screw on. It must be a different thread. Never mind, just swap plugs which i did and lo and behold, away we go with thanks. We saunter through Lemonroyd Lock which is positively huge and must compare with Cromwell for sheer size. It seems an awful lot of water is shifted for our little ship. We pause for a while at the also impressive new Lemonroyd Marina, courtesy of British Waterways. Onwards and we arrive a Woodlesford Lock and "phut" one dead engine again. Looking in the compartment there are the second lot of pieces of broken nylon. After a lot of examination and debate we agree that the steering gear is fouling the plug of the filter and breaking it. My mind wanders back to the recent service and I ring Brian and tell him what has happened. Once he realises we are out and about, rather than at my mooring, he says he will come out to us. On arrival he examines the culprit and pronounces our diagnosis as correct. He did not fit a bigger fuel filter at the service, these had changed shape slightly and the nylon plugs now had a bleed pipe. The first thing brian does is reverse the fitting of the steering gear, effectively lowering the assembly by at least half an inch which will prevent any further occurrence of this calamity. When it comes to the filter itself he has not brought a replacement and also is very suspicious of the dirty black colour of the diesel we have bought. So, he returns to Shepley, collects another new filter and some of his own pristine clean diesel. Plus a battery because ours are now flat!! Brian fits the new filter, bleeds out the whole fuel system and away she goes. Not a penny does Brian ask for despite two trips out. Possibly as well as i am not over rich at the time but very impressive all the same so Brian will get a mention on my "Good Links". Less than an hours steaming and the engine dies yet again........ in the middle of a lock this time. It is fair to say that a few foul expletives were muttered. I go straight for the filter, fingers crossed that we do not have broken plug number three! No it is there in one piece but wet and dripping and loose!!! A deft tighten up and all is well again and since that time no further trouble.
All this means we are now highly educated, knowledgeable and skillful fuel filter technicians. We keep adding a few pieces and soon we will be diesel mechanics.
LESSON NUMBER FOUR - FRIDGES
When I bought my boat there was an Electrolux fridge in the compartment common to Normans that strangely is the exact size ! These are known as 3 fuel fridges, gas, 12V and 240V. This one was battered and old and not even connected. This is where I went astray !! I perused all the chandlery sites and found a couple offering new Electrolux RM122 fridges. I continued to look and actually found the same fridge cheaper on a caravan site. I bought one. I then wandered off to Beeston Marina. This is because, even though he is an expensive old bugger, he has 10ml gas fittings which most do not. I bought the fittings I needed and then searched out a Corgi Gas Fitter who worked on boats and LPG. This was not easy in West Yorkshire. Eventually I found a fellow who came to the boat to look, hummed and made noises, then departed with my fitting instructions and the fridge manual.
The following day he rings me and tells me I cannot fit the fridge, it is illegal under the new safety regulations. I say but its like for like??? Does not matter he says, if you get your old one mended you can fit that! Now does that sound daft or what?? I can fit a rickety old fridge but not a shiny new one. I posted queries in newsgroups and asked all manner of folk but the answer was always the same, no it has to be one of the new room sealed fridges. Now electrolux, or Dometic to be accurate, do not make one of these new room sealed ones the same size, they are substantially bigger.
I am now stuck with a £300 fridge i cannot use. I am also annoyed because established chandlers are selling these still and you naturally assume that they are selling these for boats! I have voiced my dismay and anger to both Electrolux and Dometic vigourously. I am now in negotiations to get a full refund!