Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sand Serin listing

Sand Serin listingA short way down the river from me is a Cemex yard, just by St Mary's, home of The Saints, Southampton's football team.

The Cemex yard has dredgers coming and going at all hours, day and night. Often discharging their cargo, a very noisy process which takes hours, at some ungodly hour.

Anyway the other night a dredger, the Sand Serin who is a regular there, ended up listing really heavily to starboard for some reason. You can just make her out as she leans over in the picture there.

I was half expecting to hear the crack of her mooring lines parting as the tide went out, followed by a huge splash as she went over.

All was fine though. I suspect the only real problem was an uncomfortable night's sleep for the crew.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Replacement scupper

Replacement scupperHere you see me positioning a newly made scupper, ready for welding into place.

This is one of two scuppers I'm replacing completely, as the previous incarnations are rusted beyond any hope of repair.

Fred will be well pleased to read this, as he has long disliked the streaky rust effect these have had on the beautiful blue paint job on the outside of the hull.

This has been more learning, but fun to do.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Misty mornings

Misty morningWe have had a series of misty or foggy mornings recently.

Everything is so calm and still. It's wonderful after the battering the weather has been giving us recently.

At one point during the night, I could hardly make out Lady Jane's bow from the wheelhouse.

Thick fog like that obviously makes it tough for everybody working out on the water.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lifeboat for sale

Lifeboat for saleEver wanted to own a lifeboat?

It looks like you might just be a little too late to own Edith Emilie.

There I was thinking they only took her out for a run up and down the Itchen as a way of advertising her.

It's a lovely looking vessel, though I would not want her fuel bill.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Platform Launch

Platform launchThe newly repaired, and painted, platform has now been launched - some six months after it was damaged.

A perfect day for it, as you can see.

Finally, after all this time, I've now been able to get a much needed thousand odd litres of fresh water into Lady Jane's water tank, courtesy of the platform.

Now there is no excuse for not getting on with work over the side again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Remote generator start

Remote generator startFriday night, at 8.19 according to the log, I finally managed to start the generator by clicking a button on my PC.

More importantly, it shut down correctly afterwards - And I could repeat the cycle.

Now, when the voltage hits a certain point, the generator can automatically kick in, run for a specified time, then shut off again.

Here's an extract from the logfile (UK date format):

12/10/2008 12:59:26 Voltage is at 24.40 initiating auto start of the generator
12/10/2008 12:59:26 Starting generator
12/10/2008 12:59:26 Fuel pump on
12/10/2008 12:59:27 Starter motor on
12/10/2008 12:59:27 *****Oil light is Off
12/10/2008 12:59:28 Starter motor off
12/10/2008 12:59:28 Generator started
12/10/2008 13:29:27 Stopping generator
12/10/2008 13:29:27 Generator stopped

The process checks the oil light is on after turning the fuel pump on, then checks it is off after the starter motor has run for a specified time. If not, there is obviously something wrong.

In the end it was surprisingly easy to do, a bit of a steep learning curve though.

I used a Phidget 888 interface card and their Precision Voltage Sensor, a few small relays (electronic switches), one big relay for the starter and a bit of programming to pull the whole thing together.

It all looks a bit temporary at the moment, that's because it is. The white board you see is a breadboard, where you can push wires and components into a board, rather than using solder.

I discovered quite quickly that it was a mistake to solder (sodder for you guys in the US) everything in place while learning about the various relays and wiring configurations. I killed a few small relays in the process, and also bought a few that were too tough for the interface kit to switch with it's 5V, low current, output.

Next will be to install a kind of master relay, mostly because of the way I've wired the oil and fuel warning lights, finish off the programming, do more testing, solder everything onto a proper board then mount the lot into a robust container. Oh, and I also need to plumb in and label the control cable and house the generator in a weatherproof place.

When the concept of starting the generator remotely, based on low battery voltage, was first mooted, it just seemed like such an impossible task. Now, it's a reality.

With the automatic generator startup, along with the automatic switch Andy installed, that generator simply becomes an extension of my battery bank for all the boat's power requirements.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Engine upgrade

Engine upgradeAfter a long delay, and more money than I'd have liked, the Old Sow finally has her original engine back.

The impeller has been replaced, the cooling water tubes cleaned out and the engine given a good servicing.

That 15 HP Honda pushes the sow along at a good clip now, getting up on the plane with no problem at all.

What I found was that the engine is probably a little heavy for the boat, so a lump or two of ballast has been pressed into service up forwards.

With the ballast in, the Old Sow is also much more controllable than it first was.

The only down side, so far as I can see at the moment, is that fuel consumption will inevitably go up.

I'm still on the same tank of fuel from when I switched the 4 HP engine in, at the beginning of July.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Whitecaps on the Itchen

Whitecaps n the ItchenOk, so maybe a bit of poetic licence with the whitecaps there.

It's been yet another in this series of miserable weekends we've had to endure in the UK recently which, in turn, slows down work on Lady Jane.

I thought 'I usually only take pictures on bright days, and not so much on miserable days'. So this is to adjust that balance slightly, just to give you an idea of how grey the river gets when it's like this.

That painting will have to wait for another, better, weekend

Monday, October 06, 2008

What a day

What a day
I'm fascinated by this stuff...

Here's another trace, showing my battery bank voltage over time. Much more lively than the last one.

The morning starts off at a fairly low voltage, after a dead calm day and night previously, and as the wind picks up during the day, so the voltage jerks it's way upwards on wind power.

The big trough at lunchtime shows the effect on the battery of the water being heated by the central heating system.

That big drop, at about four thirty is the water pump - topping off the main engine fresh water header tank & filling the freshwater pressure tank.

The peak, starting just before five o'clock, is the effect of the main engine's 24V generator kicking in, from when I ran up the main engine.

From six or so onwards is various lights and the telly drawing power down.

What a day - windA pretty windy night helps keep the voltage over the green line. Anything over the green line is good, as the battery refresher kicks in at that point.

As a matter of interest, I've also shown a chart of the wind speeds for the same timeframe, taken from the Sotonmet website.

The clue as to the function of the red line on the monitor screen is shown in the panel on the left of the screen.

The idea is when the voltage drops below this line, the generator is automatically started & run for a time. It's set artificially high purely for testing purposes.

And yes, before you ask, there will be a 'sleep' function - so the generator does not suddenly start at an unsociable time.

So far, I've managed to show the oil light correctly, turn on the fuel pump etc. (sort of the ignition) and run the starter motor from the PC.

The problem is, I've not been able to do this properly, or in sequence, for a variety of reasons I've still to iron out.

The biggest issue, so far, is that I started the starter motor running with the PC, but then it wouldn't turn off without me pulling the wire out at the generator (after a short sprint).

I suspect I might need a tougher relay to handle the high current there before I try that again.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Platform painting

Platform paintingHere Fred diligently sweeps the platform, in preparation for painting.

All the platform will need after painting is a set of wooden skids, to help launch the thing.

The skids should also make subsequent recovery so much easier than the last time.