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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Launch of NB Centurion 2003

It seems hard to believe we have had our shared ownership narrow boat Centurion for 10 years now. The boat was handed over to the Syndicate after fitting out at Blue Haven Marine in April 2003. We are one of 2 original owners left in the syndicate, so for the record I will do a retrospective blog of the early years of Centurion.

Fitting out at Blue Haven Marine
Interior Fitting.
Handover Day April 2003 at Blue Haven Marine near Rugby, NB
Broadsword was also handed over the same day.
We would be based at Blue Haven until 2004 for ease of warranty issues, the most major been alternators and batteries not up to scratch.
Centurion is a 62 foot Semitrad, with a Nanni Diesel, Hydraulic Bow Thrusters, Fixed double + 2 temp doubles, Alde central heating and morso stove.
Our first trip on Centurion was from Rugby up the Oxford to Braunston, then the Grand Union towards Warwick, up the Hatton Flight and down to Stratford, a 2 week trip if I remember. Bit of a baptism of fire on the new boat with all the wide locks at Calcutt, Stockton, and Hatton, and then a long run of narrow locks down to Stratford.
Hatton Locks 2003
Near Wooton Wawen.
On the Aquaduct.
Bancroft Basin - Stratford.
The second trip was again just as long, up the Grand Union to Braunston, up Braunston Locks and through the tunnel, and then left at Norton Junction onto the Leicester section of the Grand Union, destination Market Harborough. The summit section is now our favourite canal.
Watford Staircase Locks.
Foxton Staircase Locks.
Union Basin - Market Harborough.

Monday, 18 November 2013

End of Autumn Cruise

Back home now after our Autumn cruise on NB Centurion. We cruised slowly along back to Alvechurch Marina on the Friday from Birmingham. Along past Edgebaston with the railway alongside, past the University and the Vale where it seems continuous moorers are setting up base camp with all their usual flotsam and jetsam.
Wast Hill tunnel was next, usual time of 25 minutes to get through and also very wet after the recent rain.
Leaving Wast Hill Tunnel behind.
We paused at Hopwood for lunch and a water top up.
Now glad to be in the country after the suburbs with all the usual graffiti.
Approaching Alvechurch in the weak but pleasant sunshine.
So it was back to base, usual chores of washing and cleaning, emptying the pump out and filling with diesel then packing the car and home to Norfolk on Saturday.
We will be back in Alvechurch next weekend for our boat AGM where we will discuss work required, pick our weeks for next year, and discuss a new base for the next couple of years.
We favour somewhere in the Potteries, the boat has not been there in the 9 years we have owned a share, previous to this we had a few hire boat holidays in the area, on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals and up the Leek and Froghall canals and liked the area.
I have done some research but many marinas are not able to cope with weekly turnrounds and maintenance. Of the 2 that can cope Church Minshull is very expensive and Aston has its quota of share boats although hopefully some may move on at the end of November creating space for our boat.
Nice to meet Fred and Lisa from Chyandour at Alvechurch. Have a good holiday.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Back to Brum

Had to push on back to Birmingham today, unfortunately first thing was quite wet so it was on with the wet weather gear. We where the first of the 4 Alvechurch boats away, straight to the water point opposite the museum, then away to Factory locks dropping down 3 locks on to the New Main Line.
Wet and Miserable at Factory Locks.
Thankfully it cleared up not long after. I cruised slowly to Birmingham to get some charge in the batteries after a whole day of the boat being idle. I am sure 3 phones and 2 Laptops to be charged take it out of the batteries with the invertor on.
I see the many Toll Islands have been cleaned up and dredged.
Passing Spon Lane Locks.
Telford,s Galton Bridge.

Smethwick Pump, was used for pumping water from New Main Line to Old
Main Line. 
Engine Arm Aquaduct.
Now moored in Oozell Street Loop, and have returned from a trip round the Birmingham German Christmas Market.

Black Country Museum

Spent a full day at the Black Country Museum on Wednesday. Was a sunny but chilly day, but had a look around all the various displays of old houses, shops, streets, etc all representing Black Country life in days past, all the buildings been genuine, and removed from their old locations and re-erected in the museum.
Had a look down the coal mine and pit heads, and at the replica of Britain's first
Beam Engine. Had to partake of fish and chips at lunchtime from the fish shop, cooked in beef dripping the old way. Very nice.
Had a ride on the tramway and watched Victorian lessons in the school, some of the children in the school party's looked genuinely scared of the strict teacher. Later we watched chain making and bronze casting demonstrations.
Wolverhampton Corporation Trams.
Lime Kilns and open "Joey" boats.
Castlefield Dock with Kildare, President, and Stour.
Spent a second night at the Museum moorings, there where now 4 shareboats from Alvechurch here, all our mooring neighbours.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

In to the Black Country

Pleasant day today, sunny, but with a slight breeze. After a quiet night in Birmingham we left around 10-30am on the New Main Line and turned on to the Old Main Line at Smethwick Junction. The rest of the crew had some work to do up the 3 locks after the lock free run from Alvechurch. What a contrast to last year, the locks and surroundings today where all clean, no rubbish and cans everywhere. In fact the whole of the Old Line was very clean, even the old "drinkers" who congregate at Spon Lane Top Lock have sacks in which the put their cans and bottles.
Smethwick Locks

Note how neat and tidy.
We continued along past the summit tunnel and along under the elevated M5, still repairs on-going to the motorway supports.
Who would believe this is the suburbs of Birmingham

Elevated M5
We crossed over the New Main Line on the Steward Aquaduct, past Oldbury and Dudley to moor at the Black Country Living Museum at Tipton.
Museum Mooring

Steamer President and Butty Kildare in the BCLM.
We never passed a boat all day, the only other boat which turned up later at the Museum moorings was our mooring neighbour from Alvechurch, an ABC shareboat. We are covering old ground here having done this trip last year, we really need the boat to move base next year, having been at Alvechurch for over 2 years, we have our Share Owners AGM this month and we have a few suggestions.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Wet day to Brum

After the nice weather yesterday, today was a contrast, constant mizzle till about 1.30pm. We had a debate, go to Birmingham, the steerer gets wet! or stay put. We decided I had to get WET! so I set off at 10-30, all wet geared up, the rain was a constant drizzle but the gear kept me dryish.
Not a lot of traffic about today.
Leaving Alvechurch in the drizzle.
Past Lower Bittel reservoir, then Hopwood, Wast Hill tunnel was next, not my favourite tunnel, 2726 uncomfortable yards of zero visibility as there must have been a couple of boats through with stoves lit.
Past Kings Norton Junction, then Bournville where we saw NB Chyandour, I think he was doing his blog at the timehttp://narrowboatchyandour.blogspot.co.uk/
Chyandour at Bournville.
We arrived around 2pm, and moored opposite the NIA. After a dry out and a spot of late lunch we headed for the impressive new library. This has an unusual exterior , being clad in interlocking rings.

We had a good look round, quite impressive architecture inside and a couple of levels with gardens to the exterior.

View of the central book rotunda and escalators.

Secret Garden on the 7th Floor.
View down from the Glass Lift Top Platform.
We could see from the 7th floor viewing platform our boat moored near Old Turn Junction, and also Cambrian Wharf where we could see NB Fizzical Attraction, last seen adrift in Birmingham, like ourselves along with 2 other boats, we all had ropes cut overnight approx 1 year ago.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Autumn Boating

We are away at the boat at the moment, arrived yesterday in fine weather which continued today.
Gill and daughter Toni headed off to the NEC for a Craft and Christmas show, not for me, I decided to try a little single handling, setting off towards Tardebigge in the sun.
Just did the 2 short tunnels to Tardebigge top lock, moored for a spot of lunch, filled with water and then made my way back to Alvechurch Marina.

It was relatively warm in the sun, bit cold in the tunnels and cuttings though.
This Sygnet seemed to like the wake, followed me for ages.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

O/S Welding nearly complete.

I completed the welding of the front wheel arches over a couple of weekends, dodging showers as the car was outside.Not the easiest of tasks but the repairs are solid and robust.

There was a small patch at either end of the sill on the lip underneath, these where cut out and new metal welded in.
Next it was the rear wheel arch, initially this looked solid, but after wiring brushing with a cupola on the grinder became paper thin on the outside, and the inner was again shot, so no option but to cut it all out. I am certain that any water was not coming in from the joint of the inner to outer wheel arch as this was rammed with sealer, I think it may somehow come down from the fuel filler and run down the inside and then become trapped behind the sealer.

The rear lower section of the O/S rear wheel arch was similar, again the outer was cut away to weld in new metal firstly to inner and then the outer.

All welded up, not pretty, a little bit of filling required. Monday the car was taken to a friends workshop where it will be kept over winter, we have the ramp there so will be easier to work on the near side which will probably be worse as that is where the puddles on the road usually are.
I will have a break for a few weeks now as we have a week on our shared narrow boat coming up.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sunday Run

Gill and I organised a little run on Sunday, this was just a short trip from Attleborough, via Diss, to Mendlesham and included both moderns and oldies. The object being to visit the excellent Chilli Farm and Deli for a light lunch and to sample some of the Chilli products.
Luckily we had great weather, nice and sunny.
White Lodge car park

Had a visit from an unusual car, GT40 Replica, Made by Tony Hare, one
of  perhaps 10 made.

Sorry to Alan in the GT40 for the big humps down the middle of the narrow lanes, I will organise wider, smoother roads next time! Sorry for rubbish photo's, camera died so I had to use the phone.