Monday, 11 April 2011

Some Good News! - Then On To Braunston, And Back To Plan

Bugbrooke to Braunston Puddle Banks

(posted by Alan)

Last night we had a most unwanted discovery - large amounts of engine oil deposited in the bilge.  We were lucky to have checked before levels in the engine dropped to the point where oil pressure was lost.

Old BMC engines tend to leak small amounts of oil, (and often fuel and coolant too!) but this was quite different.  The quantities involved pointed to sudden failure of something, rather than a "routine" small leak.  We knew roughly the part of the engine it must be coming from, but none of the obvious "joints" seemed to be likely causes.  Much had dripped from the starter motor, (not a part that normally contains the oil!), and our forum friends had suggested that failure of the front oil seal on the crankshaft would probably throw oil around the flywheel housing, and hence into the starter - this didn't look good.

I decided to remove the starter to peer into the flywheel housing - I couldn't possibly see the oil seal, of course, or anywhere near it, but it should show how much oil had been thrown from the crankshaft and flywheel.  Good news! - the answer was "very little", so the failure we feared no longer seemed anything like as likely.  I decided to put oil back in the engine, and run it, to try and see a source.

I actually ran it for a quite a while, and could see or feel nothing, and went off to post progress on the forum.  Cath said "before you send that, check one more time!", which I did, and found oil dripping from the starter motor.

Eventually we got to that "eureka" moment - oil was forming on the casing of the sensor used for the oil pressure gauge, and dropping from there on to the starter, (all hard to see, as there are lots of other bits obscuring a clear view).  Chalice's 1970s engine had wrongly taken the blame again - the failed part was a brand new addition only a couple of years old.

A bit more investigation revealed the sensor as "quite broken and not fixable", but it was possible to take it out of the equation completely, as a non-essential part.  So jubilant, and about 3 hours later than we might have been, we were set to head off again.

(posted by Cath)

The most seriously burnt out boat we have yet seen - frightening!
We stopped at Stowe Hill Wharf for fuel, where we met Dominic, from the Canal World Forum - his price a bit cheaper than others at the moment.  Nice to put a face to a person that we've both corresponded with.

Ascending Whilton & Buckby Locks
On northwards until we got to Whilton, then we worked up the flight, following a pair of boats, a Wyvern hire boat and a private boat.  The flight wasn't busy, but we met a couple of single boats coming down.  I walked Charlie up the flight, but he was very excitable, and impatient to get moving when we stopped at each lock.

In The Buckby Lock Flight

Efficient hire boat crew help make Braunston flight
Alan steered us through Braunston tunnel, meeting only one boat coming the other way.  By the time we got to the Braunston flight, we had lost one of the boats ahead of us, so we went down the locks with the hire boaters, who were experienced and efficient.

In Braunston we went to moor after the turn, on the Puddle Banks.  The side of the canal here slopes considerably, and it is difficult to get close to the bank.  Just as we pulled in the wind whipped up straight across the plain to the right, and pushing the boat out.  It took all three of us, pulling with all our might, to haul Chalice in and moor her.

After mooring Alan and I took Charlie for a walk, and met with John, Cotswoldsman, from the Canal Forum, arranging to meet for a drink later in The Boathouse.

We ate a good and reasonably priced meal - several vegetarian options too - at The Boathouse, and shared a drink and a chat with John.

Back at the boat we slept well.

Bugbrooke to Braunston Puddle Banks
Miles: 13.4, Locks:13

Total Miles: 53.4, Total Locks:35

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