Problems And Solutions!

Last night’s temperature dropped to -7C, and we woke to a fair covering of very fine, dry snow. The stove wasn’t shut down as tight as we normally do through the night, and a few extra shovelfuls of coals was added to the stove at 2:30 and 6:30 this morning. We didn’t get up specifically to stoke up the fire, we just took advantage of  the ‘call of nature’ getting one of us out of bed. We were as warm as toast throughout the night.

We woke to a covering of snow on top of the already frozen canal

The sun started to come up just after 6:30 am. I popped out onto the towpath to sweep the snow from the three solar panels.

Despite the winter still keeping a hold of us, nature is starting to wake up. Hope the early shoots are not checked back too much.

The lake across the way doesn’t appear to be frozen. Though it does look to be a lovely alternative home for the water birds that normally swim about the canal.

Our leisure batteries kept us ‘occupied’ for a fair time yesterday. Gosh batteries are complicated, I settled on ‘my’ simple analogy of ‘saucepans’ (How John laughed…. 🙂 ):

‘the capacity of water (‘water’ aka electricity) in a large saucepan (‘large saucepan’ aka a good battery) takes longer to heat (‘heat’ aka solar/alternator power), but keeps hot longer (meaning charged). Whereas the small amount of ‘water’ in a small saucepan (‘small saucepan’ aka a bad battery) is very quick to ‘heat’, but cools much quicker (‘cools’ aka discharged).’

Basically, this means our ‘broken’ batteries are quick to charge, and quick to discharge (we’ve got a tiny ‘saucepan’ 🙂 ) (My physics teacher would have been amazed at Jen’s clarity of thought…and the size of her saucepans! John)

Our mission is to replace four (heavy) batteries, but the logistics of doing this when we’re frozen in, with ‘yellow weather alerts’ for the next four days, and not being near a road, is a bit of challenge.

John had found over internet the batteries he’d like, so we searched for boatyards that are along our planned journey, right up to Harefield – Harefield Marina looks to have the best chandlers/facilities, but they are miles away, and we’re not into rushing. There were a few boatyards we phoned, but… (least said).

Like most ‘things’ in life, our solution is right under our nose; well about a mile away at Grove Lock Marina. Grove Lock Marina is part of a group of other marinas, such as ‘Kings Orchard’, ‘Fazeley Mills’, and ‘New Mills’ marinas. They don’t have any ‘maintenance facilities’, but we wondered if we could book into the marina for a few nights while the batteries were delivered, and if we had to, we would change the batteries between us, and just in case there’s a problem, we’d be on shoreline.

John made a phone call to the marina this morning, and spoke to a really helpful guy called Paul. Unfortunately Paul said the marina was full. John explained our problem, that we were frozen-in just a little away from them, and that we needed new batteries. Paul suggested when the canal is thawed, we could moor up at the pub (on C&RT property), where we can order the batteries, and have them delivered to the pub’s car park. That sounded brilliant. John asked Paul if he knew of a good mobile engineer; Paul suggested a guy called Ed Bowden who they use a lot, and he’d recommend!

After about 5 minutes Paul phoned us back, he’d just thought of a boat that’s normally moored at the marina. It’s presently out of water being blacked, and if its mooring was available, would we be interested? “Yes, of course we would”. Paul made a phone call to the owner of the boat. He returned to say the boat will not be returning to its mooring until Easter Weekend.

So our solution now is to sit tight until the ‘thaw’ (maybe Sunday/Monday?), cruise the canal for a mile, and up Grove Lock. As soon as we moor we’ll order the batteries for delivery the next day, where hopefully the mobile engineer will fit them for us.

(John explains our situation further below.)

John’s input:

“Despite our best efforts at being energy frugal the leisure batteries are not holding charge. Fortunately, the sun is shining sufficiently to provide Solar energy to meet our daytime needs. After dark we are resorting to topping up from the two alternators.

The 2 year battery warranty is a ‘Return to Base Warranty’ or put another way, return the batteries to our works (Market Harborough) and we will assess their condition prior to taking any warranty action…. As we are frozen into the canal and without alternative transport, plus being without batteries while they are away being ‘assessed’, there is only one option open to us. Ignore the remaining 7 months ‘Warranty’ and look for new replacements.

Through the power of the internet we located some replacement deep cycle (600+) units with a 5 year warranty that fit the bill, the price includes free next day UK delivery. In hindsight we should of perhaps considered that a ‘2 year’ warranty was a reflection of the battery quality? You usually get what you pay for in life!

We have obtained the services of a mobile electrical engineer to assist with the replacement battery installation and  check that all is well ‘lecky’ wise, and found a place to moor nearby with a mains hookup. So now we just need for the thaw to set in before we can move and get our  ‘Current Restored‘ again!”

It’s still snowing……

5 thoughts on “Problems And Solutions!

  1. Hi Both
    Did you order the new ones from Alpha Batteries? I swapped our 4 110Ah flooded lead acid with 4 100Ah AGM from them nearly two years ago and they are still going strong. They had an offer on at the time, all 4 for £320 with free next day delivery… Might be worth a look…

    • Big thanks for the info Geoff, we’ll always welcome recommendations, and are really grateful for them being relative newbies on the canals. John’s just had a quick look on Alpha’s website (his heads stuck in a football match at the moment), it’s a project that needs careful thought. This is the battery he’s thinking about https://advancedbatterysupplies.co.uk/product/advanced-xd31-dual-purpose-leisure-battery/ it’s the right size and layout. Looks like John will be studying Alpha’s website tomorrow. Hope you both are keeping warm, doesn’t Seyella come out of the water in March? Think I remember you saying she’s being blacked in Trevor?

    • Hi Geoff, Guess batteries are the ‘other’ subject that boaters discuss!
      I have checked the battery dimensions and noted that the terminal layout is positive front right side. The AGM offer batteries are opposite layout. When we had the batteries replaced in 2016 I remember the struggle the Leky had with the connectors, even replacing one of the negative links. For this reason I am searching for replacements with the same terminal layout…I take your point that a slightly lower ‘capacity’ is more than off-set by the greater access with AGM’s and will try to find suitable AGM replacements. As Jen says, your input is always very welcome. Regards John.

  2. Hi both. Even though the terminals are arse about face it might be worth the extra hassle. You can discharge AGM further and more often without damage, and they’re sealed so you don’t need to worry about topping up with distilled water.
    You should only have to replace two links in the worst case.
    Yes, we are going in to Trevor for blacking, just after Easter. Be glad to get going after that. This bit of canal is looking very familiar…
    Hope the message gets through to the kids and you have no more trouble. You’re a bit of a stationary target at the moment, I guess.

    • Thanks once again Geoff. We’ve now got a plan which kicks off when we get a thaw. John spoke to a guy at Advanced Batteries who have AGM batteries at a good price, they are 100 a/h for £100 each, with a 5 year warranty, they are basically a Varta battery under a different name. The engineer is a bit busy (which is always a good sign in our experience), but he’s pencilled us in for the week starting 12th. He carries bits in his van that can link the terminals. No problem with the kids this afternoon, it’s always good to show a camera 🙂

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