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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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Air gap behing thermal insulation panels

In a recent article you referred to a recommendation for an 'air gap' behind thermal insulation panels fitted close to on board stove, this being backed up by a detailed sketch from the Solid Fuel Technology Institute. This is recommended as otherwise the boat wall will get hot. I accept this.
I write to ask if this best advice gas been re-assessed in the light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. That fire had issues over air gaps and cladding. Metal boats flex and seals easily beak going undetected which could easily result in untamed flames hunting oxygen and causing further fire spread for example into the roof lining. I my day job I am a Chartered Surveyor specialising in residential property, and I can clearly see a very uncomfortable parallel here.
Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Many Thanks
Chris Marriott FRICS

Asked by: Chris Marriott  | Sunday 18 November, 7.51pm | 1 answer

noise from narrowboat prop shaft

I have a wining noise on my Isuzu engined (hours 2800) 8 year old narrowboat only in forward gear nothing in neuteral or in reverse.I have had the propeller repaired has it was slightly damaged also tried a borrowed prop but still have the wining squeeling noise,I have been advised its your engine mounts, gearbox, cutlass bearing, which does not seem to have any play in it on dry dock inspection.Any idea's on what to try next I may change engine mounts 4X £50.50 seem a bit expensive.

Asked by: mike farmer  | Wednesday 14 November, 8.10pm | 4 answers

Black particals in diesel tank

Hi just put the boat to bed for the winter, I sampled the bottom of the diesel tank, no sludge and a good clear diesel but did find small black and soft particles which I picked up from the bottom of the aluminium tank,I treat the diesel with marine 16 DBT any thoughts appreciated.

Asked by: doug  | Tuesday 13 November, 8.01pm | 3 answers

Mushroom Vents to let light in?

I am looking at ways to get more light in to my soon-to-be-purchased narrowboat that only has small portholes and no roof lights. Can I replace the current metal Mushroom Vents with ones that will light through? If so where will I be able to obtain them from please?

Asked by: Neil Murfitt  | Monday 12 November, 1.49pm | 5 answers

Multi fuel stove

We want a multifuel stove installing in our sailaway narrowboat, does the chimney have to be double skinned as I've heard new boat fires have to be double skinned .

Asked by: Vince Sherlock  | Wednesday 7 November, 4.41pm | 3 answers

Problems with domestic power

I have a long story but please bear with me. My narrowboat has an Eberspacher 5 dwsc water heater with a mini timer control unit. Also a Sterling 1250 50amp battery charger and 3 Superbatt 110ah domestic batteries. Yesterday I pressed the button on the timer start the Eberspacher for 60mins of water heating. The unit would not fire up and the display on the timer was flashing, as it would when the battery isolater switch is turned off, and I had to reset the clock. I tried this several times with the same result. This has happened in the past but with a bit of fiddling (turn battery charger of and wait a while, then back on again) I have managed to get it to fire up. This time it did not work so I decided to switch the engine on and heat the heat up (I turned charger off). I ran the engine for 1 1/2 hours (I have 70amp alternators) switched the charger back on (forgot to mention I am connected via landline and keep charger on constantly) and took a shower. while in the shower I noticed Whale Gulper was running very slowly and seemed to be labouring but after a couple of minutes it sped up to normal operating speed!. After the shower I decided to try the Eberspacher again and it fired up straight away. I obviously suspect some kind of power problem but do not want to purchase expensive batteries (only 7months old), Charger etc. without knowing what the problem is. I would appreciate any advice on how to isolate the problem and thereby fix it. Thanks in anticipation Paul

Asked by: Paul Jones  | Thursday 1 November, 12.19pm | 4 answers

Ball Park figure on a 50 ft narrow boat weight.

Hi all
Before I start I know it's a bit of a guess but am just after a guide.
We are looking at buying a 50ft traditional style narrow boat.
Iron riveted Hull the draft of the boat is approximately 2' 2".
We have in the past looked at similar steel Hull boat that was weighing in at 25tons.
My question is and I think I am right in thinking a riveted boat is going to come in slightly heavier.
Would like your views and input please on the best way to get to as close a weight as possible to plan a lift.
Thanks in advance.

Asked by: Tim Gilbert  | Wednesday 24 October, 10.44am | 3 answers

Failing Leisure Batteries?

The boat we have owned for a year has 3 x 120ah leisure batteries charged from solar panels via an MPT controller, a 55 amp alternator or from a charger when on shore power. The batteries are of indeterminate age.
Our 12 volt system runs led lighting, water pump, a LEC 12 volt fridge and a Webasto heatre (though only rarely). We have recently fitted a 2000 watt inverter but this is rarely switched on.
Recently it appears the batteries are acting very strangely. Over the course of a sunny day, they charge to 14.4 volts. They then rapidly lose charge to 12.8 volts and seem to sit at that voltage overnight with the fridge running. However, if any load is put on them, say the Webasto or the inverter, the voltage immediately drops to below 11 volts and has dropped below 10. When the load is switched off it slowly recovers to about 12.5 volts.
I have disconnected each battery in turn when fully charged; the charge on a multi-meter shows as about 12.7 volts and matches the voltage shown on the solar controller. All three batteries show about the same voltage so it doesn't seem to indicate one particular battery has failed.
We have just changed the starter battery as this had obviously failed; voltage dropped to below 8 volts, wouldn't charge at all. The starter and leisure batteries were probably fitted to the boat at the same time.
Do you think the leisure batteries have lived out their useful life and need replacing? If so, I'm inclined to replace them with 4 x 100ah lead / carbon batteries. Thanks.

Asked by: Darryl Cunnington.  | Wednesday 17 October, 12.00pm | 2 answers

Watermota exhaust

I have nauticus 27 with ford watermota 1100 petrol engine. The exhaust is straight through, water cooled the outlet stops about 100km above that water so is noisy. Can I extend the outlet to under the water surface or would there be too much back pressure

Asked by: laurence  | Saturday 13 October, 1.15pm | 6 answers

over heating engine on rivers only

For those whos engines overheat on rivers only, would it be feasible to add a small radiator with a fan running out of side of hull. Waterline may be a problem if so mount it higher up ??

Asked by: Gary  | Friday 12 October, 2.24pm | 2 answers

Painting ones boat

Not a question just a report of a fatal mistake. We had the paint on our roof bubbling and badly stained by droppings etc. We deduced this required stripping and re-paint. Following advice read and paint manufacturer recommendation we stripped back to bare metal. A long job as removing the sanded surface kills sanding discs etc, and was eventually achieved using 4" blade paint scrappers; hard work but cleaner and successful. Paint application was 4 coats of primer, 2 coats of pre-coat (undercoat) and 2 coats of top coat. The final finish is quite good for an beginner. Whilst applying the pre-coat in the open air we noticed small specks of paint on the sides of the boat which we then had to clean off with white spirit and re-polish, not a quick job. To avoid this when applying the top coat we booking a polly tunnel paint dock and took the precaution to cover the sides with plastic dust sheeting secured at the edges. BIG MISTAKE. On removal of the sheeting after only 6 days we discovered the paintwork on the sides had 'bloomed' in random patches to ruin the paintwork. The paint manufacturer advises that this is not recoverable(T-Cut and polish won't touch it) and a repaint is now necessary.
The moral is be warned. Our attempt to save money by doing the work ourselves has cost us dearly. Lets hope we can now find a professional painter who will do a good job at a reasonable cost. We have all heard of customers who have paid a lot of money for a finish that fails within 12 to 18 months.

Asked by: John Boggis  | Friday 12 October, 12.12pm | 3 answers

Boat company scam

Does the magazine cover stories of boat companies going bust and then starting again under another name only to go bust again, leaving people's lives ruined?

Asked by: costas  | Thursday 4 October, 2.27pm | 4 answers

What's the best way to drain the engine coolant?

I need to change the engine coolant in my Isuzu 42 hp engine as it is of unknown vintage. There is no separate tap or drain point to do this, so I have to remove the hose attachment from the bottom of the skin tank. But the bilge will then be filled with a large amount of toxic liquid, so cannot be just pumped overboard. What are the best ways of extracting and disposing of the old coolant easily and efficiently?

Asked by: Rod Nelson  | Wednesday 3 October, 12.45pm | 1 answer

2-pack on top of bitumen

My narrowboat was blacked only last year, but in the winter I was forced to do some icebreaking and it neatly removed a lot of the bitumen. I wanted to get it done again, and the boatyard is recommending 2-pack epoxy. Your last feature on the subject (October 2017) said 2-pack would last a decade or more - does that apply to icebreaking too?

Asked by: Andrew Denny  | Tuesday 4 September, 10.45am | 2 answers

Ironworks Company

Do you know anything about the Ironworks Company, which is named as builder of my 1989 57ft narrowboat? I have searched extensively, but I can find no reference to them, which is a pity as the boat seems to be quite well put together, currently moored at Wenlock Basin in Hackney.
Many thanks in advance
Andrew Drinkwater

Asked by: Robert Cowling   | Tuesday 4 September, 9.53am | 3 answers

Boating and epilepsy

Hi I'm interested in getting a canal boat in a few years. I have epilepsy and I was wondering if I can sail a narrow boat with epilepsy even if I engineered the back of the boat to be safe for me. My seizures can accrue months apart from eachother and are well controlled but I was wondering how I go about been allowed to sail a Narrow boat and with epilepsy if I'm even allowed? I shall look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards Isabel.

Asked by: Robert Cowling   | Wednesday 29 August, 1.22pm | 1 answer

water tank

our water tank has started acting strangely where we cant fill it up! it looks like an air lock - any ideas - we get a mini water spout every 30 seconds or so as we try to fill up.

Asked by: ashley chambers  | Tuesday 28 August, 1.37pm | 3 answers

Gardner engine

My Gardner 4l2 engine has started to race when in neutral, this only happens when engine is hot after say 2 hours of running,anyone know the cause of this, thank you.

Asked by: andy wakler  | Tuesday 14 August, 10.53pm | 1 answer

Electric engine power

Hi, I am thinking about putting an electric engine in to my 39 foot narrowboat and I am trying to find out what kind of power I will need.

Asked by: Fiona  | Thursday 9 August, 8.07am | 1 answer

Oven/grill search

Dear WW,
I'm refitting the kitchen on my 50ft narrowboat, needless to say I have limited space, for ages now I've been searching for a oven/grill (preferably integrated not freestanding) that will fit in the space I have which is 50cm wide and 55cm deep.
Please help, it's driving me to distraction.
Kindest rgds

Asked by: paul mappley  | Wednesday 8 August, 11.23pm | 3 answers

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