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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Urban Navigation Part 2

Getting a bit lax at this blogging, heres the second part of our Urban trip on the canals.

We spend day having a look around the Black Country Living Museum, well worth the entrance fee. Various buildings and industry have been transported here from all over the Black Country to create a living museum, with many demonstrations of life in the late 1850's to 1940's.
We took a trip around the re-created drift mine, looked at the old pit head, saw chain and nails been forged and many other crafts being demonstrated. Fish and Chips in the old fish shop where fantastic. Every building had a volunteer in the authentic garb of the day explaining Black Country life.

Black Country Commercial Street

Typical housing of Black Country.

Re-created Pit Head

Garage from the 1940's

The following day we then returned towards Birmingham on the BCN "Old main line" following the land contours, crossing over our previous route.

Crossing the branch passed on the level last time,
now high over the branch to Netherton Tunnel and Dudley.

Link down 3 locks to "New main line"

The canal then spends a couple of miles going under the elevated
section of M5 - Not very picturesque!

Then crosses the "New main line" where the legs of M5 are in the water.

In and out under the M5 again where one of the old bridges now leads
to nowhere.

Another branch down to the "New main line" Spon Lane Locks.

Back along the Galton Valley at a higher level.

Then the final locks down to Smethwick Junction and the "New main line"
These where closed due to lock wall re-building, someone had forgotten
to check for stoppages, so we had to retrace our route back to Spon
Lane Locks.

At the bottom of Spon Lane Locks, we have to take a sharp left here back
towards Birmingham.

Back in the centre of Birmingham, we head left, under Broad Street then
out past Selly Oak and Bournville towards our boatyard.

Out the other side of Birmingham, have passed through the tunnel and
nearing journeys end at Alvechurch.

Was an interesting week, enjoyed the different aspects of an urban canal, but not having to untangle rags and wire from the prop!
I would like to do a ring around Birmingham at a later date using the Netherton Tunnel, Dudley, and Stourbridge canals.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Urban Navigation - Part 1

Just spent time on the narrowboat, something a bit different this time, taking a tour of some of the 100 miles of Birmingham and the Black Country canals. More canals then Venice. I have always wanted to cruise this area as it is the birthplace of British Industry, in which the canals had a big part to play, bringing in raw materials and carrying finished products to market, they where the motorways of that era.
We cruised into Birmingham from our base at Alvehurch, near Redditch, this is surprisingly picturesque, a green corridor into the heart of Birmingham passing the Cadburys factory at Bournville, through Selly Oak and past Birmingham University. We moored overnight in the centre of Birmingham, on a loop of the main canal near the Sealife centre and National Indoor Arena. It was surprisingly quiet and secluded, overlooked by regeneration of wharehouses into homes and apartments.
Nearing central Birmingham, waiting for oncoming
boat to pass through Edgebaston Tunnel.

Entering central Birmingham near the Mailbox.

Moorings on Oozell Street Loop.

Looking down the Farmers Bridge flight of locks, this canal heading for Aston,
past the Villa football ground and then under spaghetti junction.

The next day we left Birmingham for the Black Country, heading up the "BCN new main line" towards Wolverhampton, there are many old branches and loops which used to serve foundries, railway interchange basins, and factories. We did not explore all these due to time.

Leaving central Birmingham.

Canal crossroads, there is a loop to the left and a loop to the right, these
where part of the original James Brindley contour following canal, now
called the BCN "old main line" The canal ahead, the BCN "new main line
was cut later by Thomas Telford to relieve congestion.

Telfords "new main line" straight ahead, James Brindleys "old main line"
to the right following land contours.

One of many "Toll" Islands, boats where checked here and tolls paid
based on cargo carried. Typical Telford canal, straight and
wide using the cut and cover method (cuttings and embankments)

This area, once surrounded by Foundries and mines has reverted
back to nature quite nicely. This is the Galton cutting at Smethwick
with a short tunnel ahead.

Telfords Cast Iron Galton Bridge.

At Oldbury the M5 crosses with the legs in the centre of the canal and
just visible behond the Aquaduct carriying the "old main line" accross
the new.

Bromford Junction, a connection from the "old main line"comes back into
the "new main line" via 3 locks downhill.

Branch off the "new main line" leading to Netherton Tunnel and linking to
Dudley, Stourbridge and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.

Tipton locks, 3 locks climbing up to the Wolverhampton level.

Moored at the entrance to Dudley Tunnel just outside the Black Country

Dudley tunnel entrance. This was always quite low but has subsided over
the years, boats, have to check to see if they fit through the curved
height gauge on the right. no chane of ours fitting through.

Part 2 to follow.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Strut Brace

Arrived back today from a week on the narrowboat to find the parts for the Strut brace I had previously drawn have finally arrived.
Tried it out on the FHC first, only problem was I had made the holes for the turret top a bit tight at 8.5mm so had to open out to 9.5 as a couple of the studs up through the turret seem to be at a slight angle.
All fits ok now with plenty of clearance to bonnet and inlet manifold.
Then took it off and bolted to the DHC, dropped straight on with no adjustment needed on bar, so both cars turret position is identical even though the DHC has had new turret tops welded on.

Strut brace on FHC.

In its final position on DHC.

Took the DHC for a quick spin with the Strutbrace on, it makes a great difference to the feel of the front end, seems more precise in corners, visibily less scuttle shake, and seems firmer.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Winter Job

The car has been sounding a bit tappety lately, so I took the rocker cover off at the weekend to check valve clearances, a bit difficult to assess on a cold Sunday morning with cheap crappy feeler gauges that I cannot read the values on, must find a decent set and add it to the list of winter jobs.
Checking Valve Clearances.

The TR7 has had a lot of use in the last couple of weeks, mainly work and back and the usual weekend shopping trips, this due to the modern needing some MOT work, which it eventually passed.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Repair Quotes

Had to re-tax the TR7 convertible in order to obtain quotes for re-painting the damage when I scraped it at the end of September.
The quotes from the big car and commercial specialists where ridiculous, much as expected, however after speaking to the insurers it seems I can use whoever I like within reason. So off to some local sprayers who provided some very reasonable quotes, not just for the repair but also a full repaint.
Unfortunately on one of these trips I must confess to playing petrol roulette, and losing!
Damm low fuel warning light which normally indicates I am right on the limit has stopped working.
Had to be rescued with a can of fuel by Gill much to her disgust.
Nice place to run out of Petrol.

Outcome of all this is that the car will be re-sprayed early next year.

Gill has now decided to sell her TR7 drop head coupe now the season is over, had it up for sale for a few weeks now, had a couple of nibbles but no firm offers yet. 
1981 TR7 DHC for sale.

Had another spot of an unusual classic at Lotus today, a Jaguar XK140 on German plates, very nice condition too, and apparantly finished the Modern Mille Miglia recently, phone pic not very good though.
Jaguar XK140 Coupe.

Friday, 30 September 2011


A bad end to a busy week, have been busy moving some heavy machinery items from an old to new factory, using a well known heavy lifting company, at the end of the day one of the contractors crushed his arm minutes before they where due to leave site. Looked quite bad when he was taken to Norwich Hospital.
Then to top it, arriving home, I managed to scrape the TR7 on a concrete fire hydrant sign that is on the edge of my drive, despite having driven around succesfully it for 4 years. Scraped the paint on the rear quarter and door as well as denting the panel.
Was going to take it off the road after today as road tax runs out.

Does not look as bad in photos but wheelarch lip and door dented.

Rear wing damage, again dented round the wheelarch.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ride out to Henham Steam Fair

Took a ride out in the TR7 to Henham Steam Fair today, Gill hates steam events so went on my own, was a nice sunny day, perfect roof down weather, so gave it plenty of stick over some good Norfolk and Suffolk roads.
Henham is not far from Southwold on the Suffolk coast.
It is always an interesting show with lots to do, lots of Traction Engines, Trucks, vintage tractors, vintage motor bikes and cars to see. Showing a car here is by invitation only and even though we had enquired we did not get an invite so I had to pay public prices.
Liked this Mk1 saloon in grey and blue.

Showmans Engine busy generating power for fairground rides.

Vintage Dennis Ulster fire engine, and Bedford trucks.

This brought back memories, my first job in East Anglia 20 years ago was
for Marshalls of Cambridge building demountable military containers
similar to the one on the back of this Bedford Army Flatbed .

Fordson Tractors, during the 2nd World War hundreds of these where
imported into East Anglia from the US to speed up food production.
Steam Powered Galloper.

Threshing demonstration.
1938 Aston Martin sportscar.
Henham Park is only 25 miles from home, but ended up doing about 75 miles, I took a few detours on the way home through Sibton, Laxfield, Cratfield, finding some lovely lanes to cruise over, maybe an idea for a run next year.

Even found some hills in Suffolk.

Typical quiet Suffolk lane.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Norfolk Gala Day

Last show of the year with a Club Triumph stand, this was the Norfolk Gala Day on Sunday 11th September. 11 cars on the CT stand, thanks for all coming along. Was a windy day, tested the event shelter thouroughly with high gusts of wind at times. As usual plenty of attractions to keep all amused for the day. Overall attendance seemed down at the showground this year, in fact at most shows this year we have noticed attendance down, a number of factors I think, firstly most shows now charge admission, even to show a car! Secondly, high petrol prices may be keeping some classics off the road and Thirdly the recession may be biting deeper than expected. We ourselves will have to have a re-think as keeping 2 moderns and 2 classics on the road plus a share in a narrow boat is is straining the bank account. We already missed out the Auto Eccosse due to cost of fuel earlier in the year and I may take my seven off the road this winter, first time for a while to save on road tax.
A few pics of Norfolk Gala Day. 
Club Triumph cars.

Interesting Jowett Jupiter

The most Granadas I have seen in one place.

Team Lotus F1 Car.

Crayford Corsair.

Nice Mk 1 saloon, unmolested apart from Mk11 seats in Leather.

Early Morris Minis.

I won't be swapping a Seven for one of these!!

Raptor Trust display of Owls - Think this is a Tawny Owl.

Showmans Engine.