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Willington, Alrewas and back to Willington (24 miles and 12 locks)

So our journey continues fairly uneventfully, compared to previous weeks....

Leaving Willington last week early in the morning with a beautifully well behaved engine

We had a few coal deliveries en-route, meanwhile we passed under the new bridge works at Burton Waters.  The canal was closed for a while whilst the bridge was installed.  This once pretty and quiet area is now going to be built on, let's hope it embraces the canal and the remaining countryside.

Waiting beyond the bridge for the lock to be ready at Wychnor, which will raise the boats to the river level to take us up to Alrewas

The river was like a mill pond, but then we hadn't had any rain for a few days

Winding  (turning around) at Alrewas winding hole, we moored back alongside Church Road, forward planning access for a small coal delivery.

Because the weather was so mild, I put a few items for sale on the cabin top over the weekend, and enjoyed catching up with fellow boaters and had a visit from eldest son and my mum on the Sunday.

The coal was booked for Tuesday between 8am and 6pm.  Richard spent the time tidying and sorting out the area in the butty hold so that we could easily drop the bags in when they eventually arrived.  At 5.45pm, Richard decided the delivery was not going to happen and thought a nice hot shower would be a way to calm down.  At 5.50pm, a phonecall from the driver, just up the road, be 5 minutes!  
So we now have a stocked hold, in readiness for Christmas sales, better late than never in more ways than one, as we had planned this delivery before the crank went on the engine!

The black swan is still around and thriving along the stretch between Stretton and Claymills pumping house.  Our journey, punctuated with the occasional coal delivery, took just a day to get back to Willington, but with sore legs and backs after Tuesday's coal delivery, we were glad to get moored up in Willington once again!

A relatively quiet (apart from random bouts of heavy goods trains going past!), Willington village for the next few days.  This will take us up to 27th Dec when we will be moving towards Stenson and Swarkestone once again...

All that remains is for me now to thank everyone (you my readers!!) for your support and encouragement over the past year and wish you health and happiness for next year and above all a


Back to coal deliveries and life on the 'cut'

Back to normality for us now as we continue our endeavours as a newby coal boat on the Trent and Mersey canal between Alrewas and Sawley Cut.  

(To order coal, please contact us via the website or Facebook ~ Chamberlain Carrying Co)

A short video of us as we travel along the river section between Sawley Cut and Derwent Mouth Lock

Passing through Shardlow flood lock

'Carnage corner', as I call it, as we usually meet boats as we wiggle around this 'S' bend with usually lots of boats moored out side the pubs.  On this occasion, all was quiet!

Nearly at Swarkestone Lock, where we were going to stop for the night, this cruiser (which has been left here for weeks) seems to have met it's maker.  Tickled us how someone has rescued the kettle, placed carefully on the cabin top! 

Richard waits in the bridge hole as I serve a customer with coal enroute to Stenson the next morning

Needing some extra antifreeze for the newly rebuilt engine, we do a quick detour to Midland Chandlers in the complex of Mercia Marina on the outskirts of Willington

Spent up (again) we singled the boats out, after winding, and returned through the tunnel entrance back onto the canal once again to resume our journey

Turning right onto the canal for our night's mooring further along the canal in Willington village.  It was busy when we moored up with coal sales, so we planned that a coal order would need to be imminent if we were not to be the Coal Boat with no Coal for sale ('Pub with no Beer' reference for those familiar with the lyrics...I'll get my coat)

An Engine Disaster but not for long! Last part...

 After a week of being in the workshop in Manchester, our beloved Gardner 2LW was ready for collection, but not before the offending crank damage was revealed!

Apparently, it was a cruel twist of fate that we should suffer a crank failure.  Nothing to do with his (or my for that matter!) thrashing of the motor.  Just one of those things...

In the workshop looking like a new £12,000 Gardner engine!!

Cheesy picture of me (to give scale!) against the huge engine in the hire van on Richard's marathon pick up session from Manchester.  He had set off at 4.30am to avoid the traffic and was back in the yard for 10.30am!

Safely unloaded onto the bank 

Hoisted into the engine room once again and the roof replaced, Richard was ready to get started bringing her back to life.  (He did a cup of tea and a sandwich first)

A short video of the engine now running and Richard tweaking where needed tweaking.  Sound quality is rubbish as (we discovered later) the screen cover on my phone had a flap over the microphone!  But you can just make it out...

A few hours of checking temperature and other techy mechanicy stuff later and we were off!   Bye for now Paul and Viv Barber, thank you for being our saviours in our hour of need (Old Skool boaters proper!) and we'll see you in March for blacking and welding jobs as originally planned!

Turning the tight corner out of Sheetstores yard on the Erewash Canal, we had to go a little way to the winding hole to turn, which would return us past the yard and onto the Trent.

Winding after breasting up

So back we travelled and nearing the lock past the lovely houseboats

Trent lock drops our boats down onto the river which was just in the green, after a period of amber levels.  As you venture out onto the river, the flow takes the boats left, so to aim for the far bank and slacker water is the plan.  On this occasion, we turned right against the flow and had a fairly steady and graceful (I wouldn't go so far as enjoyable, as this river always needs a fair amount of respect!)  plod up to Sawley Cut

Another very quiet video.  A 360 of our plod up towards the lock where we moored up for the night just before the heavens opened......

An Engine Disaster & A Nervous Wait! Part 3

Now we were in a better place to remove the engine from the boat, Richard completed the process of stripping all peripheral components off the engine.

Next he prised the wood panelling from the ceiling - none of it came off cleanly.  It will require completely replacing, but that isn't a priority for a while.

Luckily, all the bolts holding the engine hole hatch down came undone with no sagas!

Almost ready for hoisting through the cabin roof

Tied securely with ratchet straps ready for lifting

And there she goes, slowly and gently with the 'welded' in exhaust included!  Something else that Richard will have to put right at some point!

Hatch and exhaust on the ground out of the way, attention now went to hoisting the engine out 

The engine also came out of the hole without any argument and was soon safely resting on a pallet, to be ratcheted down tightly

Quite a snug fit! Weighing in at just under half a tonne apparently, I was concerned that our little van may groan under the strain!  Richard set off early the next day to Walsh Engineering (Gardner specialists) in Manchester.
As soon as the engine was unloaded at the other end, the engineers undid the conrod on cylinder 1, which was the suspect end of the engine.  The shells were fine, they rotated the crank and sure enough, there was a thin crack on the crank.  Richard asked them what might have caused this, whether towing a butty was too much, working her too hard, to which they replied that it was 'just one of those things' ~ a flaw in the casting perhaps.  Remembering that this engine was manufactured before ultrasound and xrays were common practice!  We were just unlucky!

Moored in the middle of the basin (the 2 boats on the right of the picture) ~ as late comers to the party!

Meanwhile, as the engine is being rebuilt in Manchester, Richard takes the opportunity to paint the engine room walls grey and the engine hole itself.  Brightens it up in the engine room as it was quite dark in raddle red!

Hopefully, soon our beloved boat will be complete again and we can get back out on the cut selling coal and getting back to normal!   Ooh and there's just the small matter of the bill....

An Engine Disaster and a Rescue Part 2 (15 miles and 9 locks)

Safely moored in Willington once again, Richard began the dissection of his beloved Gardner engine..

Piston barrels which apparently weren't scored or marked, so keep looking..

Meanwhile the boys blissfully relax through the whole traumatic experience, whilst it had sunk in that the engine would need to be totally removed to find the problem.

And I had a prearranged booking with friends.... I did want to stay and help honestly, but Richard really wanted some peace for an hour and to know that I was doing something else than crying!

Saturday was a quiet day for me, whilst Richard went to work, and I just sat in the butty and painted. Randomly I checked for our savours to arrive later in the day.
And then they did, at about 4pm!  Viv and Paul Barber pulled their narrow boat Whitby into the winding hole, waited for the last boat between us to move onto the water point out of harm's way and began individually winding (turning around) our motor and butty in readiness for a long day's towing on Sunday.

Once Richard returned home, we suggested Viv and Paul join us for a pub meal in The Green Man and bloody lovely it was too.  We will return!
The next morning, we set off in a long convoy of 3 narrow boats joined by crossed straps to ease the towing experience for little me on the butty on the back and Paul on Whitby right at the front!

Everybody seemed to come out of their boats as we went past them, remarking on this rare sight!

Approaching Stenson and the first lock of the day!
The plan was that we would all pull onto the lock approach, set the lock, disconnect the butty, whereupon Paul would take the motors in.  Then the water is dropped, after closing the gates and the process is repeated for the butty all on it's own (unless another boat arrived to share)
This worked really well I thought, compared to the  fiddle and faff, I thought it would be!

Snaking a bit, but  once around the tree, the boats straightened up beautifully.

Viv takes a turn on the tiller, whilst Paul has a break.  Girl power! 

A short video of the boats approaching Weston on Trent

Dropping down the lock in the butty.  This made Paul's life easier catching me on the opening of the gates, as I could steer the butty a little and he didn't have to fight to get the butty into the side to get me back aboard.

Nearing the end of the day as we snake through Shardlow village

And last 'proper' bendy bit at the road bridge outside the Malt Shovel and New Inn pub (I call it 'carnage corner', as we usually always meet a boater coming the other way!)

Completing the last lock out of Shardlow, we began the short stretch of River Trent to get to Sawley Cut, then dropped down onto the river once again for the last mile, turning left onto the Erewash Canal.  I have no pictures as it was pitch black by now, our path being lit by Paul's navigation/tunnel lights and the surrounding buildings.
By 6pm, we had arrived at our destination, to be met by Richard, who helped us back the boats into our mooring in Paul's basin, Sheetstores.
At this point, I would like to publicly thank Viv and Paul for dedicating their ENTIRE weekend to come to our rescue.....