Oily rags and leaky seals

June 15th, 2010

I’ve been back living on the boat since Monday, albeit moored up in Fox’s boatyard. On Monday afternoon at about 3-ish, the boat rocked gently and a pole appeared outside the window. It was Gary, who hadn’t realised I was in. Between us we punted round to the covered dock (punting 20 tonnes of Innocenti is quite hard work, even with two of you) and Gary got the deckboards up and introduced the new gearbox to the engine. By 5 o’clock when he knocked off, the engine and gearbox were mated up again, but the oil cooler and propeller shaft remained to be connected.

This morning I cracked on with lots of thesis-writing (2500 words and counting!) and some followups from my trip to Krakow. After lunch Gary reappeared (he’d been painting another boat in the morning) and fairly quickly finished off connecting up the gearbox. The engine came to life again and drove the prop nicely once in gear. We left the engine running for the oil to warm up before changing it and Gary went off for a cuppa.

On his return, various of Innocenti’s engine gremlins were duly squashed. The engine mountings were re-adjusted to stop the engine from wobbling – although the wobble has understandably worn the Aquadrive coupling somewhat, so I need to be careful with that or that’ll be another £500 for a new coupling…

The oil drain pump turned out not to pump out all the oil from the sump, as the little tube that it sucks through was too short. The tube was lengthened and lots of grotty oil removed. The old oil filter came out and a new one went in. New oil, too. Apparently the right oil for a BMC 1.5 diesel engine is very old school SAE 30 oil, which isn’t readily available from yer average Halfords. It does seem widely available on the ‘net though, and doubtless the helpful A1 Motor Stores in Cambridge will be able to order it for me. Gary also pointed out that what I had previously believed to be a water trap in the fuel line (hidden down in the depths of the engine bay where it’s hard to get at) is actually another fuel filter. This was duly replaced and the fuel system bled and the engine restarted. The engine sounds less noisy now – possibly because the old blocked fuel filter was starving the engine – and definitely because of the bad engine mounting. All well until a wipe round with a rag revealed a drip from the oil filter casing. Out came the O-ring from the casing and much fiddling and muttered invective resulted until the new one was seated properly and the filter stopped leaking. This explains why Innocenti’s had a very slight oil leak for ages…

Anyway, you’d think I’d be ready to go now, but there’s one last obstacle between me and the river – the bill. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the admin lady’s day off, so they can’t give me a bill until Thursday. Gary said he’ll have a final check of the engine on Thursday anyway to make sure that nothing’s leaked, and I’ll need some diesel and a gas cylinder before I go anyway.

I’ve updated the cruise plan – to summarise, this weekend I’ll be on the River Nene (with no crew as yet – please come and join me if you’re free) and next weekend I’ll be in the Chilterns going over the Grand Union summit level. The following weekend, circumstances permitting, I shall be in London!

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