Oz's travels.

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Ahh...one day having a shuffty around everyone's nightmare.... ebay.... you always find something you have to buy... anyway I typed in narrowboat. Scrolling down the pages I came across...…...

I called Phil an asked him can if we go an have a look cuz the boat was in Tyseley Birmingham not to far away from us. Phil made a call to the seller and arranged a viewing for the following Saturday. We went along an was shown over the boat. Andy (the chap who was selling it) had took 6 months rebuilding her. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her an I could see that Phil was going over her carefully but his eyes told me he was in love aswell. Another couple arrived a bit later to take a look. Phil was talking to Andy's wife but still studying the boat very carefully. I listened to the other couple who asked questions that Phil didn't, they sounded keen.... I was worried they would say yes straightaway. The couple then asked Andy if there was a cafe nearby so they could go an think about it over a cuppa tea. They went an I had a serious word with Phil about what I heard an can we buy the boat. Phil agreed an we shook Andy's hand. But fair do's to Andy, a hand shake is not a binding deal... MONEY IN THE HAND BINDS THE DEAL! During the next week I broke into my piggy bank an Phil called in to his bank to withdraw his money an we clinched the deal the following Saturday. 

Monday morning Phil contacted the Canal & River Trust to register the boat, at this point she was called the Carol-Ann, now for sometime we have wanted to own a boat an to call her HMS Troutbridge after the fictional boat from our favourite classic BBC Radio comedy 'The Navy Lark'. Phil asked the question if we can change the name, "No problem" the young lady said "what to?" Phil told her, she checked the spelling an it was done. A couple of weekends later Phil an I took Dave (Phil's Brother) to see her an with a bottle of Champagne an we officially renamed her. 

You can see in the photo I was so proud to be stood on the front of my own boat..... 

A few weeks later an she is a float.

When I showed off this photo on my Twitter page, Phil's best mate/brother Richard replied ' Didn't realize Phil was an Aston Villa fan!', he's not by the way! Us not being a football follower we didn't make a connection with the colour. We have plans to respray Troutbridge battleship grey in the future. 

The deck. 

lets go in an see the cabin.

This photo was used on the ebay page... the water boiler. instant hot water when you turn on the tap. but.... 

…. when Andy showed us how it worked it suddenly dumped all the water out the bottom. Andy smiled an said "no problem I have a brand new one in its box." Andy soon fitted an it works a treat, cheers mate.

Its has a shower, Phil tried it out an with the new hot water boiler he said it was brilliant.

A midship multi fuel stove for central heating... middle of the boat... central heating..... ok lets carry on.

The bed is in the pointed end, Andy has a mattress made to fit. 

The engine is a 2 cylinder air cooled Lister SR2.

The maiden voyage. 

 Friday 19th of April 2019 plan is to sail HMS Troutbridge from Tyseley to Oldbury. Now we would need to leave the car in Oldbury cuz there is no one to drive it back, so not been on it yet we thought we take a on ride the tram into Birmingham. Its a fair walk from Joseph Holloway's yard to the station, up hill all the way. Phil was puffing like a traction engine pulling a full load. We made it to the station.... just!

I let Phil recover while I had a look at this steam engine drive axle, I wouldn't mind this in the back garden, I'd make it into a bench.

The Trams run every 6 minutes... approx., one came in on its way to Wolverhampton.

Ours soon came along.

They don't hang about!

I relaxed, while Phil had to stand due to it was full. If you look below me you can see what Phil was carrying aswell as me.

We got off outside Snowhill station an I spotted a mosaics of a steam train scene, that would also be nice in the back garden.

Lets get our tickets to Tyseley.

Its all automated nowadays. 

I let Phil sit down this time.

I wanted Phil to rest due to it was about a miles walk from the station to Andy's yard. When we got there we didn't mess about, soon as we was on the boat Andy gave us a sort trip along the canal to show Phil how to operate it. You can see in the picture how far we travelled. 

We moored up here for the night, Andy said his goodbyes an we set about relaxing for our journey tomorrow.

I don't know how people can just throw rubbish down, I bet if someone dropped litter in their garden they would go hopping mad. 

Phil was relaxing nicely when I thought about food..... I sent him off up the road to the Chinese, it was only half a miles walk this time that way....

Right..... in the morning we was joined by Dave who came in on the train from Henley. We set sail at 8.30am. Here we found troubles with the boat. The throttle was a bit on the temperamental side, if you let it drop to much the engine cut out. an reverse was a bit of a no hoper.. A... it wasn't that powerful, normally you can use it to slow down and stop... nope.. it failed! B, once you got it in reverse the lever stuck!. So Phil had to be on guard all the time. We had 28 locks to tackle and to start off there was a empty basin between the first two locks that took about 3/4 of an hour to fill, after that we steadily battled our way through Birmingham. Phil planned to take photos, but not able to take his hand off the tiller an throttle he couldn't. Dave took on the job of setting the locks so he was very busy. In the centre of Birmingham there are 13 locks in a row to go up, luckily for us as we approached the first lock a boat came out of it, great... that has set all the locks in low water for us to enter. The canal attracts a lot of tourist, I laughed as cameras pointed towards Phil an he was trying to look professional as he stalled the boat an ran into the side of the lock entrance. He turned to me, looked annoyed for a couple of seconds then burst out laughing. We soon got to the top. After that we could relax for a while along the long stretch towards Smethwick, but the engine was not sounding right, so we stopped briefly to check it over. Not finding any obvious faults we set off again an soon we approached the last 3 locks. There was loads of rubbish in the water an as we left the last lock Phil felt a vibration in the rudder. Well we could of stopped again but we was so close to Oldbury we headed on. A strange thing happened as we came rounded the last bend when Valencia Wharf came into site.... (our destination) Phil said "we made it!"..... well Troutbridge cut out! and I will say, it wasn't Phil that caused it that time! We then drifted the last bit with Phil trying to start her, but she wasn't having non of it! I think we have bought a boat with a very strong character to her an she had already made a fond bond with us that day an she had done her very best to get us there, even though she wasn't running that well.... an on the mention we had made it by Phil (KEEP YER GOB SHUT NEXT TIME!) said to herself "that's it! shut down!"  

                                                 Bless you HMS Troutbridge!  

So.. we set sail 8.30am an moored up at 6.15pm that's a … errr.. 9hrs 45min journey of a distance of 7 1/2 mile approx!

After tying up, a wash an a brush up, then a trip to the pub 'The Pie Factory' in Tipton for a pie an a pint... with chips and very big onion rings,!! back to the boat, a small night cap, a chat about the day, then off to bed to recover.  


                                      Well done team, a challenging day but fun.   

The following weekend Phil an I was curious about the tiller wobble on the last stretch of our journey. Time to remove the weed hatch.

Looking in I can see something.....

Go on then Phil shove yer hand in....

So he did... brave chap.

He started to drag out some plastic.

Quite a bit was tightly rapped around the propeller. A good job done, but I told Phil it will be a regular check before we go out on our travels.

With the problems we had on our maiden trip, Phil an I discussed on priority jobs done to the boat. The first one was to sort the engine out. A friend of Phil's, Paul Clayton aka Wheel, owns a narrowboat with the same engine, well he had his rebuilt. Wheel gave us the number of the chap... John Long. Phil contacted him an booked ours in. So the next job was to get it lifted out ready. Luckily Holloway's own a JCB telehandler. Early one Saturday morning I got to work disconnecting and undoing all that was needed.....  

Making sure power was turned off.....

I disconnected the starter motor an alternator.  

The engine mounts were on the tight side but I'm quite a powerful gopher.

All undone so lets call in the lifting crew, they are Matt Holloway an Jack Holloway.

We had to lift the rear of the engine first due to the pully shaft sticks through the bulkhead. 

With a bit of wiggling it finally came out. 

Then strapped to a pallet ready for transportation to Johns unit.

Thank you kindly to Matt and Jack, a brilliant job done. A few days latter Jack discussed with me his plan to insert the engine. Instead of from the side we will lift it from the back of the boat, so it will be easier to tilt the engine, so the shaft will go through the hole on the bulkhead. Great idea mate.

Right now the engine is out we can get to work tidying the engine bay. 

The bulk head is lined with marine plywood, I think it better go due to is rotten, well if it is the original wood put in when the boat was built, it would be Hmmm 39 years old.  

These are the control leaver bars, they had rods attached for the throttle and gear selection. They have wood base that are rotten aswell so they need to be replaced. 

The control leavers went straight up through the deck, you can see that needs a blob of weld or two.

That's better, we can brush back the rust an treat it too a coat of Rust-oleum paint. 

We have planned to move the controls to the port side closer to the tiller, so next job was the removal of the old control box and to block up the hole where the control rods went through.

Handy Phil Job is regularly go in to scrap yards, locating bits of steel an buying them quite cheaply, I nipped out one day an found this bang on piece of steel. 

A couple of cuts an it fit perfectly. 

Then Phil..... YES PHIL.... got at it with his welder an after quite a few welding rods it was securely in place.

A blob of red oxide to cover all discrepancies an I think he's done a great job, well done mate.

With the weather being so changeable we discussed about buying a cover for the stern, I Googled Narrowboat covers, I scrolled down, when I came across Roberts Bespoke Canvas. The photos in his gallery looked great, plus their not too far from Oldbury. Phil gave them a call, paid a deposit and soon Pete Roberts came out and measured up Troutbridge. Phil asked if the colour could be Battleship grey, 

                                          "No problem" said Pete. 

Well a few weeks later Pete came an fitted it. It has made a big difference to Troutbridge. We are very pleased with it...… thank you Pete, great job there mate.

In the photo are the numbers to contact Pete an here is a link to his website...… 

Going back to the engine, a slight change of plan, John Long has seriously pulled his back, so he is off the road for sometime, I got to work looking around for someone else too rebuild it. Phil came up with a great idea, he rang Lyons Boat yard, Limekiln Ln, Birmingham. He asked the young lady who answered if they do or they know of anybody, She put us onto a chap called Mike. We contacted Mike and was surprised on how quick things soon happened. I emailed some photos of the engine, plus a description on what the performance of the engine was like when we moved Troutbridge from Tyseley to Oldbury. Mike soon contacted us with a date he could collect it, well that was on Monday 28th October. We received an Email off Mike on the 31st saying.....      

Hello again.

 Well – it’s a bit of a late entry, but your engine has shot into the lead for this year’s ‘most cobbled up repair’ category!

 I don’t know whether you have had a look, but the engine governing system is completely defunct and has been replaced (using the term loosely) with a control cable and springs arrangement cobbled directly onto the fuel pumps rack, within the pumps housing.

Were you having starter motor issues? the motor is missing a spacer that should be fitted; is missing one nut, was loose and has an iffy solenoid terminal. (We normally fire up incoming engines for an initial assessment).

     On the plus side, the reduction part of your gearbox feels quite good.


                          We will crack on and get it stripped in the next few days.


                                                                              Regards, Mike.

   It made us laugh an we was right that it needs a complete rebuild to be sure that there is no future problems. So great news that things are rolling with the engine, Phil better crack on doing the engine bay ready for it to be dropped back in. 

A couple of days later Mike emailed us with another report plus a photo of the inside of the engine.

Hello again.


Thank you for your mail and link. 


As it is quite a unique ‘repair’, I attach a photo of the set up within your fuel pumps housing.  Unsurprisingly, Jubilee clips, external cables and springs hooked around random items don’t figure in Lister’s original design.


The lower, drawn in red line shows the position of the actual governor link and the upper circled area shows where it should be connected. The interesting question is whether it has been disconnected deliberately because of some issue with the governing mechanism within the front cover, or has randomly fallen out (very unusual). We will know more once the gear end cover is removed.  Before that we have to remove the front pulley, which is well attached with the ultimate adhesive --- rust. Will do our best to get it off in one piece, but sometimes it just becomes more cost effective to split them off and the fit a new replacement. One thing you may want to think about  having read the account of the engine removal is whether you want the camshaft extension left at full length, or cut down to clear the bulkhead.


                                           Regards, Mike.

 At least its making a normal run of the mill job for Mike a bit more interesting. Phil and I don't like to cut corners, so what ever is missing or could do with replacing or even improving, we gave Mike the go ahead. We would like a solid and dependable engine and gearbox for future motor..... sorry... sailing down the cut.

             Mike soon emailed me with findings of the engine strip down. 

Nitty gritty time.


Having removed your front pulley (with terminal consequences, I’m afraid), the good news is there is no obvious reason why the governor link was disconnected and there is no damage to any of the pieces within the front cover.


Please see attached photos, in order --- Big ends; Rear Main Bearing; Cylinder.  All the shells are down to the copper backing to a greater or lesser extent and the centre wear line suggests some very contaminated oil has been going round the system.


The bearings are stamped at 0.010” undersize, so there is plenty of meat on the crank. For a proper job, I recommend we press on and remove the crank for accurate measurement and have it reground or polished as required and then replaced with new bearings.

The pistons are at 0.040” oversize, which means the pots are maxed out.  While they might stand just a hone,  (subject to measurement) one of them has significant rust marking (see photo).  This puts it beyond honing.

 The cylinder heads are basically sound (as SR heads usually are), but the proper recommendation is for new valves, guides and springs. If aiming to keep the cost down, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about leaving the heads alone.


So – some figures to work with:


Full rebuild, using aftermarket new cylinders and pistons.  £1600.00


Full rebuild, using genuine original, English Lister cylinders and pistons   £2000.00


Rebuild to include all machining, bushes, bearings as required. Fuel pumps and injectors. Oil pump as required.  Valves, springs, guides, valve seats.  Engine fully tested. 12 month unlimited hours warranty.


Rebuild as above, but excluding cylinder heads. Deduct £300. 


As you mentioned a lack of power, this may partly be down to the engine not running at peak efficiency – but also to the fact that the SR2M is only rated at 13HP @2000rpm (or 15 if wound up to 2500 rpm)


An option that may interest you --- we have a warranted low hours ST2 in stock.  This is the later series that replaced the SR. Same footprint and fit.  This develops up t0 21HP @3000rpm with improved lower rpm torque.


This is £1500.00; 12 months unlimited hours warranty.

Hummmm all that work done on our engine for very little improvement output and paying £2000........ well its a no brainer, Phil and I opted for buying the ST2 engine, look at the improvement to the HP sauce...… sorry got carried away there, thinking of a bacon butty. 


                               Ok on to the gearbox.    

Box now stripped. First photo shows initial view. I believe ‘Yuk’ is the proper technical phrase to describe it.  Second photo shows why reverse may have been even poorer than is typical – the relatively shiny bit at half past is where the brake band friction material has disappeared altogether and there has simply been metal to metal contact between the band and the drum. Probably related to the brake band wear, the reverse actuating piston was almost seized.


There is good news, however.  We have got to the box just in time and the really expensive pieces to replace (oil pump, selector valve assembly, actuating pistons/ rings and main housing) are all serviceable, despite their immersion in watery gunk.


Luckily also, the reversing box casing rear seal has done its job and prevented the watery mess finding its way into the reduction box, which is in good order.


There is no evidence of play in the thrust bearing in the reduction box, or leakage past the seals. I would proceed on the basis that as it’s not broken we won’t fix it and refit it as is.


For an appropriate refurbishment of the reversing gear box we will be looking at £800.00. This will include all new bearings; bushes as required, relined ahead clutch cone, relined reverse brake band, all new seals, O rings and gaskets.


12 months, unlimited hours warranty.

Well I'm glad to have a great result in a very quick time. Over the past years of having jobs done for Phil an I, I can say this has been the quickest one EVER! 

                                                        Thank you Mike. 

Mike sent us these last shots of the inside of the new engine before completion. Now compare them to the old engine and the word that mike quite rightly describes them is... "SPOTLESS". 

Well Mike delivered the new (to us) engine back to the yard, Now I will say we was out delivering when collected and guess what we was out again when Mike delivered.... so we have never met Mike yet! Anyway a Big thankyou mate for an excellent job.

We called in the lifting crew again, but with Matt this time was Jon (Left) and Neil. 

A it was dropped carefully in. I will have the job of levelling up with propeller shaft, Mike said to me "make sure it flush and the bolts slide in easily, if they don't go through its not level!"