Sunday, 25 March 2012


While preparing Patience for the summer boating season, we noticed that the red warning light on the control panel was 'on' when the ignition switch was off, and vice versa. One of the potential causes of this is a failed diode in the alternator, allowing battery voltage from the battery terminal to feed back through the diode to the field coil terminal and hence to earth via the warning light and the ignition switch. Some investigation with a multimeter confirmed that this was almost certainly the problem, rather than the alternative possibility of a faulty ignition switch. A replacement alternator was bought from Unipart at a cost of £57.23 (£24 of which is refundable when the old one is returned). The first photo shows the old one on the left and the new one on the right.

The only challenge then was to transfer the pulley and fan assembly from the old alternator, as these weren't supplied with the new one. The only way of undoing the 7/8 in AF shaft nut was to use a pneumatic impact wrench, which fortunately a friend just happened to have in his very well equipped garage. With the fan and pulley transferred to the new alternator, it only remained to instal it on Patience, adjust the belt tension and check its operation. With some relief, we discovered that this had cured the problem and the new alternator seems to be working fine and charging the battery bank. The second photo shows the new alternator in place on Patience (top right).

It's just as well that we spotted the problem when we did, as the failed diode would have discharged the batteries when mooored up overnight with the main power switch on. It shows the importance of keeping an eye on the instruments and investigating anything unusual as soon as you spot it.

With the sun shining and some spare time, we took the opportunity of cleaning the domestic water system and refilling the freshly painted bow tank with about 650 litres of clean water, ready for the first cruise of the season.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Paint Job

Patience is a reasonably dark green throughout. We find this suitably subdued and unfussy, as becomes dear Patience. Its official term is either dark green, Donegal Green or Racing Green - each slightly different from the other and easily confused. I don't mind which we use, but it must be consistent. The results of mixing instead of matching become apparent (though not obvious) in places where we have patched small areas instead of a whole panel.
While putting off the big effort of repainting we have looked at other boats of course and so, on a short visit to Bristol docks, I was interested to see these two.
Painted as a rural landscape with pale sky

The opposite of camouflage
Let invention and creativity thrive - but on balance Patience will remain dark green!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Painting in Preparation

Sunniest and warmest day of the year so far, so John and I were drawn to attend to Patience and to paint her less accessible regions.
The water tank was painted with bitumen paint last year and drained over the winter but there are still small rust spots so John donned his submariners' painting gear and leapt in.
Memo: try to do this with another boater in attendance; make sure you're fit enough to clamber in and out of a tight space; beware fumes; wear painting clothes
Meanwhile at the other end I was tending to the gas lockers.  The tight fitting lids seem not tight enough to prevent water seeping in and as the deck is flat not cambered water tends to stay inside the gas lockers - despite drain holes. So it was out with the gas and in with the wire brush. From one locker alone I extracted a pound weight of damp rust: not pleasant and not good for the boat.
However by scrubbing, scratching and mopping - and an important beer break while the lockers dried out - we were able to give the bottoms of the lockers a good coat of Hammerite. Should be all hardened by tomorrow so we can put the gas back in. John also fitted some draught excluder to the underside of the lid to see if that will help exclude the water.
Tools of the trade: battery powered drill and wire brush attachment, hand held wire brush, draught excluder, newspaper and elbow grease.

Memo: check the lockers next winter and apply more Hammerite if necessary!