Sunday, September 18, 2016

Problem solved?

Colin's on holiday.

"I'll be in touch when I get back".

Colin's the man we need to figure out for us why our engine smokes so badly. And to service our Morse mechanism. And to re-pack our prop-shaft.

And then there's the issue of our washing machine working perfectly well off the landline mains supply, but not off the new inverter. Zanussi say they didn't build the washing machine for use on a boat, so they can't comment. Do they not know that this model is one of just two decent-sized washing machines available which fit in a narrowboat? The company that sold us the inverter have asked for a number of details, including battery voltage readings while the washing-machine is working. Which is a detail that's going to be hard to give, because the machine doesn't work!

We need to run the engine, then, turn on the inverter, and run try to run the washing machine. But we can't do that in the marina, because our polluted outpouring would be unsociable, to say the least. So we smoke our way out of the marina, intending to moor up just across the canal, and do the test there. Half way out of the exit , the engine stops. Our hearts sink. Kantara coasts silently across the canal, and I prepare to jump off with the bowline.

"I know what it is!" calls Grace as the bow bumps the Armco and I leap onto the bank.

And then it occurs to me, too. Because of the slight seepage of fuel from the injectors, I'd closed the fuel stop-cock. Just in case, you know. So Grace jumps off with the stern line, and we haul Kantara back a few tens of yards away from the marina entrance, and we tie her up.

When we start the engine to do the test, bluey-grey smoke puffs across the canal and into the marina. Uh-oh! The wind's changed direction since we left our berth. A group of four boaters are enjoying drinks and a chat at a table near their boat. They cough, and get up and move their table. We hide in the cabin, sheepishly.

The inverter failed the test, and we now had a drum full of partly-washed clothing, and the note of the voltages that the engineers needed. As we prepared to pull away and go back to our berth (having opened the fuel stop-cock!), one of the four displaced drinkers called out from across the canal.

"Are you OK? Have you broken down?"

I explained the situation to him, and apologised for having gassed him and his friends earlier. He was very dismissive and laid-back about it. No harm done, no offence taken.

Then he was really helpful. He suggested that the smoke might be because the air intake filter was dirty. And, of course, it was. The diesel and oil mix which had filled the engine when the boat broke down in Audlem Locks, weeks ago now, also filled the exhaust and air intake pipes. Ian told me as much. The filter must have been soaked in it, and that was constantly being drawn into the engine.

It took a matter of minutes for me to take the filter out, and, lo and behold, it was very contaminated. I removed the hose from the filter unit to the engine, too, and found that it, too, was very oily inside. I still have the exhaust pipe to remove, but I expect I'll find much the same wrong with that. Replacing the filter and both hoses should solve the problem!

As I type, I have the filter on order and being delivered on Wednesday. The same dealer thinks he has the hose I need for the filter, but I've not removed the exhaust hose yet. That one's a bit tricky to remove at the outlet end.

I'll get Colin to do it. When he gets back.


  1. Well at least you know what the smoke is now. Just the washing machine to's full of excitement, isn't it ;)