Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RCR to the rescue

I rang River Canal Rescue first thing on Tuesday morning, and a mechanic arrived before 11:00. Grace had gone to the Farm Shop to buy a meat pie (and some delicious ice-cream, the like of which I'd been hankering after for days!), and met the man as he got out of his van a few hundred yards away from Kantara. The weather had been bad overnight, and was a bit iffy now, but it wasn't raining as he stepped down into the engine compartment to trace our Morse handle problem. He found it fairly quickly.

The Morse handle operates two independent cables, one to the throttle and one to the gearbox. These cables are made of tightly coiled metal wire, moving inside a plastic sheath. The one to the gearbox had at some time in its history been fastened, part-way along its length, to a metal bracket, for stability and security. This metal bracket was itself attached to the exhaust pipe. Over time, the heat from the exhaust pipe had melted the plastic sheath, and molten plastic had seeped over the cable. Each time it got hot, melted and moved, the plastic then hardened again when it cooled. Eventually, this had resulted in the cable being rendered immovable. The RCR man fitted a new cable.

He also identified the source of an engine shake (and tightened a loose engine mounting), and of a rattle, both of which symptoms occurred when the engine was being turned off (and he told us that the rattle was worn drive plates, and, though there was nothing to worry about at the moment, we would need to keep an ear open for it getting any worse), and of the coolant which keeps appearing in the bilge under the engine (an air lock in the skin tank was causing the coolant to blow back under pressure, from the radiator cap).

He also pointed out that we didn't need to turn on the ignition for five or six seconds prior to turning the starter motor, as he saw me doing. It was what we'd been told to do by boat hire companies over the years, and what the likes of Colin and Simon do routinely. The idea is to heat the glowplugs in the cylinders, to make ignition easier. It's a diesel engine, it's how things are with diesel engines we thought. Not so Kantara's engine. Hers doesn't have glowplugs! We'd learned a lot from the mechanic. Not bad for a morning's work, I thought!

We had lunch, and went on our way happy. The weather was good now, too. We ascended Preston Bagot Locks and four more, took on water and disposed of rubbish at Lowsonford Lock, then moored up opposite the Fleur de Lys pub for the night. There was a clear, blue sky, and bright sun.

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