Atlas – winter maintenance continues

Our secretary showing he can hold an angle grinder as well as a pen!

Our secretary showing he can hold an angle grinder as well as a pen!

Today we took some angle grinders to wire brush the rust and grunge off the hull below the rubbing strake, and applied a coat of bitumen.

Blacking on the starboard side nearly finished

Blacking on the starboard side nearly finished

Next Saturday there will be another work party to finish the blacking, and do some preparation work on the cabin sides.









Fitting the new gunwales

Fitting the new gunwales

Tony Friar welding in the new gunwales

Tony Friar welding in the new gunwales

Meanwhile Tony Prior was cutting and fitting the new steel gunwales.

Atlas and Malus Diary – Kingswood Junction to Minworth

With thanks to Jeff Carter, whose notes these are

Kingswood Junction to Saltisford Arm, Warwick.  Saturday 21st June

We left Kingswood junction in glorious sunshine at 10.30 and had a gentle run to Hatton allowing some of the new members of crew a chance to steer.

Arriving at Hatton locks at around 12.30 we had a clear run down the flight encountering only a handful of boats coming up, and plenty of interest from the many gongoozlers.

After finishing the flight in a little over 2 1/2 hours we moored up in the Saltisford arm at around 3.30.

Crew: Adrian smith, Paul Smith, Michael Payne, Mike Rolfe, Allan Richards and Steve King.

Saltisford Arm, Warwick to Kingswood junction. Saturday 28th June

We set off from the Saltisford arm at 10.15 and immediately set to work on the Hatton flight, closely followed by steam boat Laplander.

We worked our way steadily up the flight encountering several boats heading down.

At the workshops we passed the CRT heritage boat Swift moored.

Arriving at the top of the flight at 13.30 we moored up for a break. Suitably refuelled we carried on to Kingswood getting caught in a few showers. At 16.45 we moored up at Kingswood junction and on cue the sun came out.

Crew- Adrian Smith, Paul Smith, Michael Payne and Paul Cardy

We have also discovered that the bilge pump in the hold of Atlas has stopped working, fuses OK needs a circuit tester to check continuity.

Kingswood junction Grand Union to Sampson road. Saturday 5th July

The Journey went smoothly, with Paul Smith on the tiller of Atlas and John Worrell handling Malus, left me (Jeff)the opportunity to do some housekeeping, try and find the fault of no supply to the bilge pump, and of course make the tea.

Knowle flight was soon dispatched, now the lines for strapping the two boats together had been explained, practice over the past weekends on Hatton flight, were starting to prove the usefulness of training.

The contrast between rural Warkshire and the industrial area on approach through Birmingham are most striking on this section of the GU, complete with a burnt-out and sunk narrow boat.

Paul Smith slept on board Saturday evening.

Crew; Paul Smith, Adrian Smith (to the top of Knowle Flight),  John Worrall and Jeff Carter

Sampson road to Cuckoo Wharf.  Sunday 6th July

Jeff arrived early walked up Camp Hill flight around 7:30am to find the paddle had be forced open with a piece of rough timber, Kids !   Long pond complete empty.

Set off with Paul to send water down from the top lock, once we had sorted out a brew.

As the by weirs unable cope the flood wave, decide to sit and wait on the balance beam for the levels to drop within the long sweeping pound, before the towpath disappeared under own self generating tidal wave.

Mind my own business, watching the world go by, when “Hi, what you doing opening them paddles !! ”, just when you thought you need CRT, the bugger sticks his head over the railings, talk about right place right time and not even a phone call ?

Once explained the lower pound was empty, Martin and his crew set about sorting the flight out (made the faulty mistake of calling him Barry, ie ‘Barry the Grab’ from the workparties – how to impress friends! Oops Martin)

By the time we had A&M singled out ready to descend, we managed to just get in front of the lass from Newcastle and a hire boat, once we had descended the flight, we pulled over to let them past, that’s the least we could do for she made tea for us.

Our decent down Garrison was becoming a problem, with 4 boats all going down leaving Atlas touching the sills, just squeezing free of the locks.   At this point a flush of water was sent from the top for good measure.

We approached lock 4 in the distance, to spot rather large gentleman, bare chested, clutching the mandatory Carling/Super Tenants can of ale, what I took to be a windlass in hand, and 3 of his chums.

Thinking that the last narrow boat down (hire boat) had kindly left the paddle up to set the lock for us, and I for one was not loosing that lock set in our favour to no body , now that I was convinced they were off a hire boat coming up !

I then realised this group were in fact fisherman complaining about ‘them two barges upsetting our fishing match, don’t know what them doing, flooding me bait away…’

I left it with John to talk with the closed minds of the natives, while we locked the pair through.

I just raised a hat as we slipped past on Malus ‘afternoon’, to the replying comments ‘yu broken down then mister….’ ‘arrah’ I replied and thought “leave it at that” as we passed the remains of a burnt out house …welcome to Brum.

The long pound down from Start City, gave me the opportunity to try different ropes on Malus, ie cross straps, long line, snubber and running the line off the Lubey, the latter defiantly is not for sharp bends, now I know why the sign says “Please don’t hit our wall” only a slight touch, honest Governor.

Cuckoo Wharf had plenty of space available, but we tucked the pair behind CRT workboat, so that we didn’t cause anybody a problem leavening the pair for a week.  The only problem was we needed to wind the pair for the next leg.  I recalled from the last work party that there was small disused arm 100 mtrs above Cuckoo Wharf, so into the undergrowth we went poling the pair round.  Only just had enough water, but that concluded another fun filled day , just on cue the heavens opened , with a horrendous thunder storm, just in time for home.

(Paul Smith has looked up the arm – its name “Carter’s Arm”. Now there’s quality for you !)

Crew; Paul Smith, John Carrington and Jeff Carter

Cuckoo Wharf to Minworth Saturday 12th July 2014

Day started off with azure blue skies. kettle on, every body now seams to know what’s required to get us under way without much having too said.

Shot through to Minworth with very little effort, 3 locks dispatched no problem, and we only ground once. Spent time clearing by-weirs on our way down the flight, didn’t look as if CRT hade been down here for some time.

Mel Carter and John Worrall swapped around steering Malus.

Crew; Paul Smith, Mel Carter, John Worrall, Adrian Smith and Jeff Carter


Atlas and Malus on their travels – Titford pump house to Kingswood Junction

This year’s travels have been under the direction of the new manager – Paul Smith, ably reported by Jeff Carter, whose notes follow.

Titford Pump House Saturday 24th May

We spent the rain soaked day, supping hot tea and drying out around the Epping Stove, not much sense moving to Birmingham in the monsoon, day spent greasing shafts and bearings, making sure all electrical connections were cleaned, bright and Vaseline protected, as we found the start battery flat, probable due to the bilge pump running over the week.

Dug out the 1940’s battery charging set with the Villers motorcycle engine we played about with the previous weekend and fixed the fault, this gave us the ability to re-charge the main (only) battery, but proved our vulnerability of one battery for starting and supplying the bilge pumps when unmanned.

Re-clothed Atlas to reduce the rain water, sorted out a second battery for leaving the pumps connected, will have to monitor the main battery in near future for reliability as it 4-5 years old, and has spent 6 months uncharged, which accelerates the sulphating process (look to replace?)

Titford Pump House to Birmingham (The Vale) Saturday 31 May 2014

Finished off greasing inline bearings on prop shaft.

Started descent down Crow, with expectation of Atlas being tight. Front button removed, every lock was a problematic even with all the bow and stern fenders final having too be removed, it was down still down to millimetres in squeezing around the doors through the flight.

Convinced the old girl put on weight and length!

Our expected times for descent down the Crow with a pair was 1.5 hours – it actually took 4 hours.

Seriously considering next time bring down Atlas astern so that the bow clears the cill.

Crossed strapped Malus, saves a lot of time and gives confidence to the steerer. Recommended using this set-up for inexperienced crews, it gave me time to get the kettle on and make the tea, while happily swimming along.

Smethwick flight – again removed all the buttons, sailed through with little in the way of problems.

Great to give Atlas her head as we charged down the main line to Birmingham, starting to get into her stride.

Birmingham looked more like a boater’s convention, with no space for a pair, final end up mooring at the Vale along side University’s of Birmingham Worcester and Birmingham towards the station.

Hire boat couple from Norway took great interest in the pair; we swapped a cold beer for a tour around Malus .

Crew: Paul Smith and Jeff Carter.

The Vale to Swallow Cruises, Dickens Heath. Saturday 7 June

The weather was hugely variable – sometimes beautiful, sometimes atrocious, thunder storms, and the tow path muddy boots job.

Thanks to the narrow boat who kindly gave Jeff a lift to catch up with Atlas and Malus, rather that having to hike through a ploughed field of a towpath.

Biggest problem was trying to light the gas stove for tea! I have replaced the box of matches for a gas lighter.

Crew: Paul Smith, Charley Johnston, Michael Payne, John Carrington, Mel Carter, John Worrall and Jeff Carter.
(PS – Thanks to Swallow Cruises yard, who kindly dropped us off at Dorridge station)

Swallow Cruises, Dickens Heath to Kingwood Junction.  Saturday 14th June

Saturday was a good charge down Lapworth flight, that’s probably down to have a large crew on the day and most being boat owners therefore the experience showed in the smooth flow and organised speed through the flight.

Arrived at Kingswood Junction around 15:00.

Atlas battery will have to be replaced on the return leg towards Hawne Basin.

Crew Saturday 14th June:Paul Smith, Charley Johnston, Mike Rolfe, Adrian Smith, Tony Robinson, Allan Richards, John Worrall and Jeff Carter

Time: 10:00am moored up time 15:00pm

Atlas getting a new bottom – Help needed.

Atlas is getting a new bottom this winter (very much needed – the bottom is getting seriously thin!)

The plan is to empty as much as we can on Monday and Tuesday 28 and 29 October, prior to to bringing her round from Hawne Basin to the Engine Arm for the bonfire rally.

After the Bonfire Rally, Ivor and Adrian will be bringing her round to the Cannock Extension for re-bottoming.

All help to empty her will be appreciated.