Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for July 12th, 2015

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 14

Posted by indigodream on 12 July, 2015

Tuesday 23th June

Wakefield to Wakefield

The Hepworth Gallery - impressive but Richard still can't decide whether he likes it...

The Hepworth Gallery – impressive but Richard still can’t decide whether he likes it…

What a day! I woke up sandy-eyed and weary – I’m not sure why, because we’d had a very quiet night on the moorings. Richard made a quick trip to Howarth Timber for a replacement lump of wood for a spike (£1.80). We then debated going to visit the Hepworth Gallery, which had caught Richard’s eye last night. But I wasn’t sure – Richard had been impressed, though not necessarily enamoured, by the exterior with its monumental, somewhat brutal architecture. But neither of us is an art buff and my previous gallery visits have involved wandering aimlessly saying “very nice” without a clue as to what I’m meant to be appreciating. We decided to cruise instead – an activity guaranteed our full appreciation!

We had three potential targets for the day – either Stanley Ferry (1 hour cruise), Castleford (2 -3 hours away) or Lemonroyd (5 hours away) – all places where we could potentially leave Indigo Dream for 10 days. Sadly we didn’t get to any of them!

As we set off I remarked to Richard that the throttle lever was very stiff – I had some difficulty getting into gear. I’d thought it was stiffer following the service at Sowerby Bridge, but that’s not unusual if they’ve tightened the throttle cable. I though no more about it until I got to the massive Fall Ing Lock. An upcoming boat had left a gate open for us, so I cruised into the lock and dropped Richard off. As I was manoeuvring into place so that I could shut the gate behind me, it was obvious that there was something going wrong with the throttle. After some to-ing and fro-ing of the throttle lever, it was evident that the lever was no longer operating the gearbox and we were jammed in reverse! Richard hastily told me to turn the engine off and I lassoed the lock gate before she reversed back to Wakefield!

A different architecture - Chantry Chapel of St Mary, built in the 1300's on the old bridge - the back protrudes over the river Calder and looks more like a fort than a place of worship :-)

A different architecture – Chantry Chapel of St Mary, built in the 1300’s on the old bridge – the back protrudes over the river Calder and looks more like a fort than a place of worship 🙂

We got the boat tied up in the lock (luckily this is a very quiet waterway) and Richard got into the engine, expecting to find a broken throttle cable – it’s a common enough problem and one that he can fix. In the meantime, I took the hounds for a rummage around the lovely lockside paths.

After a few minutes or so, Richard realised that the throttle cable was fine but there seemed to be something drastically wrong with our gearbox. We rang River Canal Rescue and were wondering where/how to move her out of the lock when some locals from the residential moorings came to help. They took our ropes and helped us to tow Indigo Dream right back to the towpath across the wide canal (big push) to where we could tie up safely and wait for help. This meant two things – firstly, with a likely wait of  few hours for RCR, we weren’t going to be cruising anywhere today; secondly, I may as well get the train back to Sowerby Bridge to collect the car.

I set off rather despondently, it was dispiriting that Indigo Dream had broken down so soon after a service – we could only hope that it wasn’t anything too serious. I left Richard with the hounds – he was best placed to talk technical with the RCR engineers!

It took me almost 3 hours to collect the car – I had to catch a train to Leeds and there was a long wait for a connection (long enough for me to explore the station’s eateries!). But my timing was perfect – I got back to the boat just as RCR’s engineer arrived, they had called in Bronte Boats from Hebden Bridge to assist us. He gave us the bad news that we would need a new gearbox – luckily a reconditioned gearbox would do and they cost 75% less than a brand new gearbox. Luckily our RCR membership covers the cost of parts – well worth it as it would be at the £500 mark!

We weren’t too sure whether we were on a 14-day or  72-hour mooring so we rang CRT to ask permission to moor there for 10 days. They were very understanding so we packed up and drove home.

Although we were a bit despondent, we really had to count our blessings – she broke down before we started to drop down the lock – if the gearbox had gone 15 minutes later, she’d have been stuck in a VERY deep hole; 20 minutes later and we’d have been on the big river and throwing out the anchor! The locals were really helpful – we couldn’t have managed the tow back to a safe mooring without their help.

Fall Ing lock - we almost made it onto the Aire and Calder!

Fall Ing lock – we almost made it onto the Aire and Calder!

Note: How to influence the English weather….

When we set off on the Odyssey on the early May bank holiday I stocked the boat up with clothes – cotton trousers and t-shirts, with just a few “emergency” jumpers in case of cool evenings. Ha! Since then it’s been nothing but unseasonal chills and rain on every visit to the boat (fine at home in-between cruises of course!).  After this weekend I gave up – I took every last pair of summer trousers and t-shirts off the boat and decided I’d start again with my boating wardrobe and, you’ve guessed it, we’ve had a heat wave. With the heat wave being so intense, I packed the t-shirts back for our boating on 4th July and……torrential rain and cold! THIS is how you influence the cruising weather!

Henry and Ollie have been quite the pair on this trip - Archie has been showing exemplary recall - Ollie's being a bit senile and wandering randomly - Henry has been following him. Henry's trying to convince me that he's Ollie's carer so can't come back when called - I don't believe it!

Henry and Ollie have been quite the pair on this trip – Archie has been showing exemplary recall – Ollie’s being a bit senile and wandering randomly – Henry has been following him. Henry’s trying to convince me that he’s Ollie’s carer so can’t come back when called – I don’t believe it!

A few technical notes:

  • We change the oil in the gearbox at every service, rather than at every other, beats trying to remember which is which and only takes a few minutes. The oil has always come out looking clean. The last service had been only a few weeks ago and talking to the boatyard after our breakdown they remembered that the oil had been a bit mucky, unfortunately they did not mention it to us, perhaps assuming that we had not changed the oil in a while. If they had mentioned it we would not have been any wiser at that time but now we know more!
  • Our gearbox is a PRM 150D2, pretty standard on Isuzu engines, loads of them about but the question was do we go for a refurb or get a new one, particularly as the refurb is coming off an another engine and may not have been as well maintained as ours. It was a bit of a worry, I can check the oil, check all my fuel filters, check belts, check water levels, oil levels but I can’t look inside a gearbox, what happens if it breaks down on tidal waters or just above a weir on a river?
  • Talking to engine guru Neil Coventry he was very surprised that our gear box had failed but he said that they are easy to refurbish. Max Greyhound’s Dad has been repairing gear boxes for 38 years so we talked to him next and learnt loads. Firstly he confirmed that they are easy to refurbish, he thought Bronte Boats’ estimate of it taking 10 minutes to change a gear box was an exaggeration, it would take him 15. The PRM150D2 won’ t be worn out by an Isuzu 42 so absolutely nothing wrong with going for a refurb. More interestingly he said as soon as you see your oil is a bit mucky or a bit smelly then your gearbox is on its way out – great advice, add that to the engine checks.
  • River Canal Rescue were interesting to talk to. They are obviously slightly overwhelmed at the moment as still not back in a permanent office but that sounds like it is happening soon (and not next to a fireworks factory). They were happy to supply a new gearbox, we would need to pay the difference which would be around £500, possibly a bit less depending on who had a gearbox ready to deliver to us. Their experience of refurbished gearboxes has been good, no particularly noteworthy pattern of breakdowns. Oddly enough they are seeing a pattern in breakdowns of new PRM gearboxes, they don’t seem to be made as well or more probably engineered down to a more economic offering as they seem to be cheaper now then they were 10 years ago.
  • We have opted for the refurb. The other bit of great advice from RCR was carry out an extra first oil change after 25 hours or so as that flushes out any dirt after a refurb.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »