Major DIY-age

March 31st, 2008

The long bank holiday weekend over Easter is traditionally time to begin big DIY projects (and then leave them part-finished for most of the next year!) and I decided that it would be an ideal opportunity to do all the electrical work that I’ve been planning since virtually the day I bought the boat.

The new battery tray, with two new domestic batteries and the engine battery

So, what’s been done? Well, I fitted the four new batteries I bought back in November, replacing the one old and knackered one that’s been on its last legs since I bought the boat. They’re all connected together with heavy-gauge cable, and the plan was to connect them up to a Victron Phoenix MultiPlus combination inverter/battery charger. The Phoenix unit duly arrived (although I ended up buying it from a more expensive supplier as my first choice cheaper supplier mucked me about) but once it was mounted on the kitchen wall it became clear that I had a problem.
The manual recommends very heavy 70mm2 cable to connect this unit to the batteries. The cable I had ordered in from Barden UK, and because the manual didn’t specify any kind of connector, I went for bare ends on the cables to the inverter. Opening up the unit, however, reveals that the cables should have a crimped terminal fitted to them. Unfortunately, once these terminals are fitted to the cable, the terminal is too big to go through the strain relief gland on the bottom of the inverter. I’ve now worked out that I can take the glands off the bottom of the Phoenix, thread them on to the cables and then take the cables down to my local electrician’s supplier who have agreed to crimp the terminals on for me – you need a special hydraulic crimping tool, as the terminals are massive! Unfortunately their tool is out on hire, so I’m hoping for a call at some point this week and then I can finish that job. Once fitted, the Phoenix will give me mains power from the batteries and also act in reverse to charge the batteries when the generator is switched off.

Inverter wiring
The Victron inverter and chaotic wiring on the kitchen wall

Other jobs involved assembling the new office desk and filing unit in the office area, and wiring 12v and 240v power through to the desk. I’m now sat at the desk with my PC, which is marvellous! I still need to sort out the floor, though, which is messy – some old ceramic tiles need to be lifted and I need to lay some consistent flooring over the whole office area.

office desk
The office desk

LED spotlight
LED spotlight for the office – very bright blue-white light – came from Screwfix!

boats in the snow
Dreaming of a white Easter – it got worse than this, about 4cm fell in total!

Changing hosting

March 31st, 2008

I’ve just migrated the website to a new hosting firm (, so please bear with me if bits of the site are broken. Do let me know if you find some part of it that’s stopped working in the move!

Tidy cabin and improvement plans

March 12th, 2008

Not the most exciting post this one, but…

Last weekend I took the boat to Cambridge to “do the tanks” (fill the fresh water tank and empty the foul) and so I offered some friends from church a ride on the boat on the return journey on the Sunday. So, faced with having guests, I cleaned and tidied, which was long overdue. I also bought more storage boxes – some to improve the storage efficiency under the bed, and two recycling boxes from Homebase to store kindling and coal for the stove. Previously I’ve just put the coal bag on the cabin floor, which leaves coal dust all over everything it touches…

recycling boxes
Recycling boxes adapted as wood and coal bins

I also discovered that by tidying up and removing the nasty folding chairs that came with the boat (which I only ever use to dump stuff on anyway), I create enough space for me to get six of us around the dinner table, and after folding the table back to the dinner-for-one size, the cabin looks positively spacious!

I took some pictures to prove that the boat is occasionally tidy!

Tidy cabin, looking forward

Tidy cabin, looking aft

My improvement plans are moving forward. I’ve ordered a corner desk and filing unit from Mrs Flatpack and hope it’ll be delivered before too long. I’ve got the long weekend at Easter planned for the Big Electrical Upgrade (new batteries, new split charge, new inverter/battery charger) and so I’m about to place a very large order for all the parts so that I can check them all whilst I have time to order anything I’ve forgotten.

Oh, and whilst it’s been incredibly windy (50mph+ gusts), the boat’s been fine so far. Martin’s new concreted bollards are much more effective at holding the boat in position than the mooring pins were!

One of those awkward self-portraits done with a self-timer…