Monday, 26 July 2010

A Major Technical Breakthrough

I would be the first to admit that when it comes to machinery of any sort my ability to deal with problems - or even routine maintenance - is limited. In fact, one of Hilary's uncles, who has some boating experience, when he heard I had bought a narrowboat said he thought I was very brave - as I was "even less technically competent than he was"!
So when, earlier this year, the throttle lever on "Starcross" appeared to be working loose from its mounting, my first reaction was to ignore it and hope that it would get better and when this didn't work to ask a boatyard to fix it for me. The fact that this only cost me £70  made me realise that it couldn't have been a big job  - any boatyard job costing less than three figures is obviously minor. So, when the lever started to work itself loose once more a few months later on the way back from Braunston I realised that to ask them to mend it again would mark me out as a complete no-hoper, not to mention an easy target, so I determined to put it right myself.
Starcross' control panel and the errant throttle lever.

The first problem, as it had been back in March, was to work out what was holding it on in the first place. There are no obvious bolts or screws on the front and access to the rear of the panel is prevented by the side wall of the built-in cupboard behind it. I tried following the throttle cable up from the engine, this disappears into the bottom of the panel but the lever was too far up to reach. Doing so did, however, confirm that there was a narrow space between the panel and the cupboard, which housed the rest of the assembly. Eventually I realised that removing the instrument panel above the lever would provide the necessary access - but here I admit I hesitated. Long and bitter experience has shown me that it is much easier to take things apart than to put them together again, when I am usually faced with "a bit missing" or, more perplexingly, "a bit left over"! I had visions of the whole panel coming apart as it was removed and of being showered by assorted bits and pieces that it would be impossible to re-assemble in the correct pattern. Despite a strong feeling that it would all end in tears I steeled myself to remove the panel. It came away cleanly and only one of the connecting cables came loose - and that therefore was easy to put back on. With the panel out of the way I could see the two bolts that were supposed to hold the different parts of the assembly together. Although there were two pretty obvious "bolt-holes" in the rear part, the bolts that led from the front bit (sorry about all these technical terms) didn't line up with them and so the lever was just fixed to the rear of the front panel by a couple of nuts, which had come undone. It was a simple matter to tighten them up with a spanner and, hey, presto, £70 plus a reputation saved!

My technical inability, however, reasserted itself during the ensuing trip up to Market Drayton when I not only managed to let a dribbling tap drain the water tank but when re-filling  at Market Drayton I left my BW key at the water point! 

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