Sunday, 18 January 2009

Area XL

This weekend we decided that we should go to the London Boat Show. Although we didn’t really know why, but we thought we should as we live on a boat. The show was OK and probably very good if you have a yacht or wanted to buy a huge gin palace but we were a little surprised that more areas of boating weren’t represented such as powerboats, hovercraft, canoes/kayaks and of course houseboats (although we didn’t really expect that). We did pick up lots of catalogues and brochures from the various chandlery stands and picked up some information on paints and 12 volt supplies which will come in useful when we get going again properly with Real’s conversion. The biggest selling item at the show was… inflatable aliens from Fusion. They were everywhere and by the end of the day Excel was beginning to look like the final scene from Close Encounters. I have no idea what Fusion make or sell as their stand was only selling Aliens, but as an advertising campaign it was probably very successful, I just need to look them up on ‘tinernet to find out what we’ve brought home and why.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Two Goldfish in a tank…

…One says to the other, “have you any idea how to drive this thing?”

Sorry, a bit late for Christmas cracker jokes but it leads very nicely into the story of the Fuel Tank and the Teaspoon.

A while back, (it seems ages ago, but it’s probably only a few months) we had our lovely Somy Delta F25 boiler installed. The name makes it sound like some sort of Jet Fighter, the type you see at air shows flying vertical with afterburners scorching the grass from 30 thousand feet, actually there are times when our boiler sounds like that.

Anyway, boiler needs fuel but at the time of installation the state of our existing fuel tank, which was originally intended for the engine, was unknown and for some reason, our tame marine engineer, didn’t seem very keen on it, suggesting we buy a new plastic one and stick it on the deck. This wouldn’t have been ideal for several reasons and top of the list was cost, so in the meantime our fuel feed came from a 20-litre jerry can. This worked quite well during the late summer and autumn, I just had to nip to the local garage every few days on my way home from work and top up the jerry can, but this wasn’t going to work well in the long term. So armed with a torch I ventured into the depths of the engine room.

We’ve got two fuel tanks, each should hold about 700 litres, and should normally be joined by a balance pipe. This pipe seems to have disappeared but as there’s a stopcock on each tank we would be able to use just one. The top of the tank is about 8 feet from the floor of the engine room making it a bit awkward to get to as you need to be perched up a ladder but once up there I opened the small hatch (about 18 inches by 10 inches) and looked inside. It looked OK in there, no obvious rust, but there was about an inch of nasty looking sludge covering the bottom and after poking it with a stick I then realised that the outlet was via a cylinder (about 3inches in diameter) at the bottom. The idea of this arrangement is that any water in the fuel will end up at the bottom of the cylinder, which can then be periodically drained off, with the fuel outlet slightly higher. The problem is how to get the sludge out from the tank, including the outlet/drain cylinder, which is 6 feet deep through a small hatch 8 feet off the floor.

Enter the Teaspoon.

By screwing a teaspoon to a long length of wood, I would be able to scoop out the cylinder at the bottom of the tank into a small bucket which was lowered inside on a length of string. I could then scrape the bottom of the tank with a garden hoe, scoop the gunk into the bucket and ‘Bob’s yer Uncle’ one clean tank. Well despite sounding slightly insane it worked. With my head inside a fuel tank halfway up a ladder I scraped and scooped for about an hour, occasionally
shouting rude words when my teaspoon of scoopings fell into the cylinder again.

Once I’d taken out the bucket I then need to get rid off all the little bits, so I decided the best thing to flush a fuel tank would be fuel. So I stuck a big bucket under the tank and chucked about 10 litres into the tank, stirred it around with a stick, drained it into the bucket and repeated this about 4 times. Now the inside of the tank was as good as new. I’d already looked at the various stopcocks and filters earlier and decided they’d need replacing, and once done I put some more fuel in, checked for leaks and found all was good. Just needed to connect everything to the boiler and the job was done. We then phoned our local bunkering people, they arrived a few days later and filled her up. Hopefully 700 litres will keep us going for while.
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