Moly Hoses! Time spent upside front and back to down! #narrowboat

Engine coolant hose worn down beyond the wire reinforcement…

I’ve been spending an awful lot of my time recently with my head under water-level and my backside (and builder’s cleavage, no doubt) in the air, catching the breeze. Sometimes I’ve been lying face-down over the engine, sometimes I’ve been on my back with the fuel injectors in my kidneys. Other times I’ve been crouching as best a 6′ tall 3′ wide bloke can crouch in a space intended for a medium-sized gibbon. Inbetween times I’ve been performing the engine-dance, an old English folk pastime consisting of mounting an engine, straddling an engine, heaving various legs from one side of an engine to another (while trying not to slip off the engine rails), one foot up on the swim, one down on the baseplate – and repeat.

The reason is, in part, hoses. Well, engine enamel, wiring, stainless-steel jubilee hose clips and because some twerp, many moons ago, tack-welded the rear edge of the gutter rail around the engine hatch instead of welding it continuously (and properly). This little historical oversight accounts for my wet bilge every morning… This wee experiment was what finally proved that I wasn’t going nuts. I lined out that portion of the gutter with a black bin-liner, and hey-presto, no water in the bilges.

Gutters tack-welded instead of continuous-welded… leaky leaky (but not for very much longer, I’ve got to take control – oops, slipped into the Timewarp there, sorry)!

Whomsoever twas what done put the engine’s jewellery on seemed to have a fetish for making everything that could rub against something else rub against that something else. Fuel lines are crossed and tie-wrapped together, then tie-wrapped to the corner of a post. Wires are virtually plaited. Coolant hoses have been strapped, by and large, in some sort of web formation…

The result is things like the horror in the topmost photo above – a coolant hose worn by rubbing (wholly unecessarily) on a mounting – and worn through beyond the wire reinforcement.

Some items that were made to rub together have, like boy scouts at church parade, been separated by being (tie-wrapped) in protective rubber, and this protective rubber has then worn through!

Protective rubber wrapped around a coolant hose, worn through to the wire reinforcement.

Exciting stuff huh? Well, it would have been, soon enough when the Cardinal’s warp drive engine developed serious incontinence and overheated, doubtless at the worst possible moment. So, although I may never stand wholly upright again and may always now experience a frisson of sexual excitement at the touch of a four-cylinder diesel engine, it has been worth all of the contortions.

The engine is beginning to look ticketty-splendid in its new coat of blue enamel, with new hoses everywhere, shiny new stainless steel jubilee clips – and soon enough, a new wiring loom too! This new loom will facilitate, among other fings, the shiny new instrument panel with gauges as well as the old “warning beeps only” version. The flow of the coolant has also been simplified, so that there’s damned well just less coolant hose in the first place now too. Less is definitely more, and better (for some things).


Fuel hoses will be next to be re-routed and replaced.

The alternators have been shown 162some love and are (halfway) remounted using these things, from McGill Motorsports Ltd – fruity nutty bolty things with swivel eyes, usually used on rally cars and suchlike, so that tensioning the alternator belts is now a matter of twisting a centre tube with a spanner and then re-tightening a lock nut (no more levering about with a lump of wood and trying to tighten up three nuts at the same time as holding the wood in place).

On a more domesticus note, the steps (five in all, two at the pointy end, three at the blunt end) have had their old rubber covering removed, been dried out thoroughly and have been sanded ready to be given a nice fresh coat of varnish to help them stop getting soggy in the future – and coconut husk door-mat has been cut to size and laid in place (when it gets manky I’ll just cut and lay fresh, is the theory)…


On a slightly medical note, odd things have been appearing on the sides of my well deck – I think I’ll be sprouting a cratch cover and rear tonneau soon. I suppose that puberty comes to us all eventually.


So, how, I hear you ask, have I been having fun? Well, today and yesterday have been sunny and warm and delicious, so I’ve started each day with a flagon of coffee and watching the soothing, dappled water reflections on my cabin roof. Each workday I’ve ended with a long, hot shower – water not being at a premium while I’m in the marina. Before that though England was cold, wet and windy – so I’ve done things like begin to try out my oven.

I baked some bread (buns, since buns is easier than loaves to experiment with in an unknown oven). These I baked for second-breakfast, luncheon and first tiffin. Good idea and bad idea. The bread turned out well, but so did the aroma – and I am moored upwind of half of the marina. Within ten minutes my windows and portholes were covered with slobbering, pawing boating zombies, all muttering “breadz – we need breadz”…

Once I’ve discovered what this oven is like with bread I’ll see if I can remember how to make pastry, and we’ll move on from there. Step one of each recipe though – lock and bar the windows and doors. Step two, make darned sure to thoroughly wash hands – bread flavoured with bilge paint, oil and diesel is no fun at all.

Nice buns. Thank you, I work out a lot. At the gym? No, in my engine bay.

Believe me, those buns tasted a whole lot better than they look! Hot and steamy…

Maybe I should add a food column to this blog? Bloke-food afloat…

One-pot curries for the ravenous but lazy…

Dumplings R Us.



    1. Now it’s funny that you should mention that particular deficiency; the various barge-poles and such are also on my list to be sanded down, treated and repainted in something other than their current stripes! I think perhaps blood-red, so that the stains don’t show!

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      1. When painting the boat poles, my friend marks and paints his at each end, different lengths. He knows the draught at the pointy end, and at the noisy end, and paints the ends to this length. Then when he is unsure of the depth for mooring, he simply uses the boat pole to ensure he has enough depth of water to moor.

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    1. The work may truly never be done, but I plan on confining it as soon as possible to an hour a day or so! What do you reckon? Cardinal Recipes? Bloke-food afloat? I’m one step above opening boxes and microwaving – I like my food to begin with mud on it, and to have been plucked fresh, alive and terrified from the field – but I’m not exactly cordon bleu…

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    2. Longboat ahem! We are not after rape and pillaging you know- well not personally.

      Thems are called narrow boats themselves is. Sorry we are a bit touchy about these things.

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      1. Now that idea about painting and marking the poles is brilliant simplicity in action – thank you and thanks to your friend, too! I will be painting them up in a similar way. I love tips like this that cost nowt except thought and yet are so useful! 🙂

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