Sunday, January 29, 2006

New Toy

I've just taken delivery of a hydraulic log splitter. It's very useful. I was given about a ton of leylandii logs the year before last. The trouble was they are about 20 inches long and full of knots. Still not too long for the stove. I gave up splitting them with axe and wedge because it was taking a very long time. 20" is a bit long for splitting with an axe so I was forced to use the wedge a great deal and the knots make the logs particularly resistant to splitting and I couldn't be bothered to cut them all in half. The result was nearly all the logs have been sitting in the shed waiting for me to split them since I got them. They're lovely and dry now. Along comes Mr hydraulic log splitter. With 10 tons at my command I can split any of these logs with ease. It wouldn't be as fast as splitting ordinary short (8-9") logs with an axe but it's certainly much quicker on the long logs. The only problem was that I bent the first of the little projecting log supports first time I used it. You can see them in the picture, two on each side. Well, I put a block between the log to be split and the head of the piston to push the log further to complete the split and the block caught on the supports each side and I pushed them flat without even noticing. Never mind, it hasn't affected how the thing works, which is very well indeed, if a little slow. I can see the attraction of an electrically operated hydraulic log splitter but it's not justifiable in terms of the amount of use I'd make of it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Change of Mind?

Yesterday saw us visiting two narrowboat fitters. I started the day 60:40 in favour of fitter number two because of the comments about complicated systems I had on the phone while setting up the meeting with number one. The impression I got was that number one was wary of novel systems because of the risk of cost and time overruns and that number two is keen to tackle novel systems. I was a little disappointed because I really liked number one's interior designs.

After the visit however and a talk with both fitters I am now in favour of number one, about 70:30 I think.

D pulled a sickie with sore throat so was off school. He came with us. We were shown over a completed boat by each fitter and over a boat in progress by number one. The owner of the finished boat (live-aboards) by number one was rathe non-plussed when D took it upon himself to look in cupboards he was not meant to. We as parents suffered the usual cringeing embarrasment of parents with children in public who haven't quite understood the rules of a novel social situation.

Of course, the visits raised more questions than they answered, for example: If the diesel engine is cocooned with hospital silencer wil it be as quiet as an electri c propulsion motor? Have to ask the canalworld boat builder forum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thoroughly Clever

I finally cracked it at the weekend. I managed to get the Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard talking to my Dell Axim. It only took me three weeks! Now, what shall I do with it?

Busy Day Next Monday

The visit to one narrowboat fitter has expanded. I thought that as I had the day off I should nake the most of it. I've arranged an appointment with another fitter later in the day. They're based about a half hour apart. One does rather good looking curvy modern interiors and at first impression appears relatively inflexible, offering a smaller choice of options for mechanical systems. This presumably keeps the risk down as there are less likely to be surprises during a build. The other sounds a little more willing to try innovative systems but his interiors look more traditional. It will be an interesting comparison.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Still very early days yet. I've arranged to go and see a boat fitter the week after next. He's a one man band and I spoke to his partner on the phone last week to arrange the visit (screaming child in the background - theirs, not mine). I'm still keen on the electric propulsion idea but she said he doesn't usually go for systems he's not familiar with on the basis of the potential extra cost and complications so not very encouraging there. I really like the look of his interiors but if he's not flexible it may not be feasible.

I had an email follow up from another fitter (note to fitters - keep in contact with your enquirers; they may change their minds and put you back on their short-list) who is experienced at gas free boats. Maybe they are a little more adventurous.

Of course, another option would be to take the newly completed boat to Thames Electric Launch Company and have them treat it as a retro-fit. I'm sure it's best to design the system in from the start though as it would be a good idea to make sure there's enough room for the batteries etc.

Stoves and Sofas

We went shopping yesterday as we're in the process of refitting the smallest (living) room in the house. The vestry (as we call it - well it was one once) has an open fireplace and the worst chimney in the world. Lighting the fire requires breathing apparatus until the short chimney warms up or the wind drops to nothing.

We decided to get a corner sofa for the room and a stove to resolve the poor initial draught problem with the fireplace. The sofa will be delivered in about seven weeks and the stove man is coming to survey the fireplace and chimney on Tuesday. We've decided on a Poacher stove.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Frustrating Christmas Present

I've received the most frustrating chirstmas present yet. Cathy gave me a Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard but I've been trying since Christmas day to connect it to my Dell Axim x50v. You know how it is. You follow the instructions step by step and nothing works. Something will get thrown soon.
I'm listening to Eels - Beautiful Freak.