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Got a technical question or a boating query? Post your quandaries here and pick the brains of the WW team. You can also add your answers to others' questions, or browse through previous answers.

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Hydraulic drive system

I am interested in exploring the feasibility of a +/- 60ft long-term cruiser/liveaboard narrowboat that incorporated a transverse engine with hydraulic drive that could also power thruster(s) and a generator. Following a recent WWW article, I would like to consider the option of electric drive by using traction-type batteries to power an electric pump driving the same drive, effectively providing the option of electric or diesel running.
Can anyone suggest references that might be helpful in collecting information to assess the feasibility and costs of such a project?
Naturally I expect a cost premium, but some of this would be offset by the space gain from the transverse engine and from the lack of requirement for a seperate generator.
Any information gratefully received.

Asked by: BJM  | Thursday 13 January, 2.59pm | 7 answers


Our boat biult by Big Fish is just 4 years old and we have just started to have two leaks under the port side gunnell.one leak is at bow about 15 foot back the other is 12 foot from stern please do you have any thoughts on sourcing the route of problem

Asked by: Bayliss Brown  | Thursday 13 January, 10.36am | 2 answers

Norfolk Broads accessibility

My understanding is that the Norfolk (and indeed Suffolk) Broads are a discrete waterway that is only accessible via the sea lock(s) on the east coast. Am I correct in this belief, or is it possible for a narrowboat to access the Broads from the rest of the UK inland waterways?

Asked by: BJM  | Wednesday 12 January, 3.13pm | 1 answer

the wash

article on a trip boston to river nene

Asked by: tony down  | Tuesday 11 January, 2.13pm | 1 answer

Painting a Morso Squirrel

Plan to install a new Squirrel, but want a change from black. Plenty of good quality spray stove paints now available (Clearview, Stovax etc), so would like to give the stove and stovepipe a respray before use. Had any experience of tarting up a Squirrel like this? Any special preparation needed? Wil the paint stick OK? Does it last OK?

Asked by: Dave Martin  | Monday 10 January, 7.51pm | 1 answer

Water from dehumidifiers

In the January Waterways World you have an article on dehumidifiers. It states that the water from them is suitable for topping up batteries - but I was always taught that you shouldn't use water that has been in contact with metal, as this will have been. Can you clarify please?

Asked by: Dave Cleaver  | Wednesday 5 January, 3.08pm | 1 answer

G.R.P. resurfacing query

Our 22yr old G.R.P. brown/cream 23' Highbridge has acquired a surface coating of polytrol over the years which I am not strong enough to clean off, or to resurface without painting (just the brown sections). Do you please know anyone skilled to do this work please - and/or any other advice.
Many thanks.

Asked by: ros  | Wednesday 5 January, 2.02pm | 2 answers

Are Horses Getting Smaller?

I am thinking of returning to canal boating after sailing for 35 years.
Looking at boats for share and sale I see a vast improvement in heating, lighting and comfort levels.
I am interested in why engines have grown so much. My last boat a 35ft Piper had a 10hp engine and we used on the canals and ventured onto the River Trent. I believe it takes about 6hp to propel a 50ft narrowboat at 4mph so why are 35hp and above now the norm?
What are the downsides and fuel costs of using these engines that are seldom on little more than tick over?

Asked by: Jack Thompson  | Monday 3 January, 1.34pm | 1 answer

engine size

would a perkins 4108 or bmc 1.8 be big enough to power a 50ftx10ft widebeam narrowboat style with standard steel spec.also what prop size would i need thanks

Asked by: christopher smith  | Sunday 2 January, 1.26pm | 3 answers


Hi Graham, I have worked out a design and know what i want and it is different to most widebeam designs (i.e. slightly forward of centre cockpit) and Hydraulic Propulsion.(amongst other things) is there anybody out there that can take what I have and cad/cam it into a final design and dxf files for my cutting and bending people) - obviously at a reasonable price??

Asked by: PAUL BROWNETT  | Thursday 30 December, 4.05am | 1 answer

narrowboats: centre-cockpit design?

I have recently read G Booth's book on narrowboat planning. Many of the ideas can be taken in when contemplating a centre-cockpit design (canal users seem to call this a dutch barge arrangement - pardon my sea-sailing parlance!)but I imagine there are other ideas and considerations to be borne in mind? Do you have any suggestions where such information might be found?
A second issue: I plan to spend periods of up to a couple of months cruising and a narrowboat is of course just that - NARROW! Are there any clever techniques for reducing any feelings of claustrophobia (a widebeam is a problem, since it cuts the cruising area in half!)
Any help/guidance you can provide would be gratefully received. Thank you, in anticipation - Tony.

Asked by: Tony Perris  | Tuesday 28 December, 9.49pm | 2 answers

Calder & Hebble Locks

When I saw Chris Clegg's email, explaining how you get a 60ft narrow boat through Calder & Hebble locks I thought, at last somebody how knows what he is talking about. Then I read the note at the bottom written by the technical team.
The lenght of 57ft is the max lenght of a wide beam craft. The locks have to be longer, so the bottom gates can be opened and closed. Chris's drawing clearly shows a boat longer than 57ft, because the bottom gates could note be closed if the boat was wide beam.
I can assure you that a 60ft narrow boat will fit into these locks and it is done exactly as Chris says and not by diagonal positioning.
72ft narrow boats have to do the same in Bishop Meadow lock on the Soar, as it will only except a 70ft wide beam craft.

Asked by: Mick Poyser  | Friday 24 December, 1.36pm | no answers yet - add one

new to narrow boats gas ?

can anybody tell me if i can use 15 mm copper for gas supply down the boat ?
1/2 inch is long out of date and to expensive and cant find it in lenghs always on a coil

Asked by: dave  | Wednesday 22 December, 7.33pm | 4 answers

Hull thickness?

We used to live on old (1976) narrowboat and we want to come back to old times. We have found a boat from 1997 built by BJ Welding (we believe it is small company because there is not too much of them on internet) and we think about buying it.
Our old boat was specified as 6/5/4 (when new) and after 30 years (the survey) it had still 5 mm of solid bottom and almost same thickness of the rest.
New boat was built as 10/6/3 but after just 6 years in 2002 survey the thickness was 8.2/5.1/3 and there was an information that the bottom was not painted. The seller says he took her out every 2 years and painted her and he seems to be trustworthy but...
I've read on internet that sometimes newer boats have the steel of very poor quality comparing to old ones and I want to avoid the disappointment.
I know the simplest thing would be to take her out and measure the thickness but we have very tight budget.
The second thing is the engine - BMC 1500, older then the boat (it is not said how old) but in good condition (the owner is the mechanic) with more then 3000h on the clock. I wonder if it is good engine comparing to others?
Well, I thank you in advance for any help and advice.
Kind Regards

Asked by: Joanna and Jarek   | Tuesday 21 December, 3.16pm | 2 answers

winter heaters on boats

can i use a greenhouse type heater to provide a low level of heat in my boat during freezing weather

Asked by: HGRIFFITHS  | Monday 6 December, 5.58pm | 3 answers

Axiom prop

Does anyone have an Axiom prop on their narrowboat? If so,does their narrowboat revers in a straight line as claimed by the makers of Axiom props?

Asked by: ELAINE INSOLE  | Monday 29 November, 10.04pm | 4 answers

Drained calorifier

I used my water pump to drain the water tank, pipes, shower and calorifier for the winter. If I run the engine to charge the batteries or for cruising is there any risk of damaging the calorifier. Engine cooling is by skin tanks. Thank you.

Asked by: Dave Fearns  | Thursday 25 November, 8.29pm | 2 answers

Will ultra low sulpher diesal ruin my engine?

I'm a liveaboard and have recently fitted a replacement 2.2 BMC engine in my boat, my aim is to try to modenise my boat but keep it as original as poss, if that's not too contradictory!! When I filled up with fuel I was told that the fuel will be city diesal, ultra low sulpher, from now on due to an EU directive. Will this new fuel damage my old engine? When I was a mechanic and this fuel came in to use, we virtualy had our whole fleet of dustbin lorries go down with fuel and engine problems within the first month.
Is there or will there be an additive to put into the tanks to replace the loss of the sulpher?
Thanks, CRAIG.

Asked by: craig sheaf  | Tuesday 23 November, 11.16am | 3 answers

Rudder Problem

I caught my rudder on a lock sill yesterday and it seems to have knocked the tiller up about 4 inches from the deck. It still works but it is obvious that the rudder has become detached from the bottom bracket. I am tempted to get in the water(shallow mooring) and lift it back in place - would this be viable

Asked by: martyn holder  | Sunday 21 November, 3.28pm | 2 answers

12 v vacuum cleaner

We have recently bought a Narrowboat with a 1500 W inverter and are having problems with our 1400 W vacuum cleaner and have been told that the only answer is a 12v one, but my experience of those is that they are useless on carpets. Does anyone sell an efficient 12v cleaner or a lower wattage mains cleaner, or do you have any other advice to solve the cleaning problem?

Asked by: Chris Dann  | Tuesday 16 November, 4.40pm | 5 answers

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