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Q & A

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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Underfloor heating on a narrowboat

Hi, I am interested in fitting a wet underfloor heating system as a primary heat source in my boat, which is 58ft long. I have been advised that most of the heat will be lost downwards in the bilge, is this true or can the floor be sufficiently insulated without losing too much headroom? Also, is there a way of calculating the amount of heat needed and what centres the pipes should be set at? Many thanks, Isaac Davis

Asked by: Isaac Davis  | Friday 4 February, 3.56pm | 5 answers

tv aerial

what is the best type of small tv aerial for use in a bad signal area.must be able to pick up freeview channels

Asked by: christopher smith  | Sunday 30 January, 5.59pm | 3 answers

Help with fitting out a boat in cambridge

We have bought our first boat its 42ft and have not got a clue where to begin as its a shell.
We contacted a marina and it would cost mega thousands to kit out.
Has anyone any ideas of builders or workers that can help plan and design our boat please.

Asked by: susan  | Sunday 30 January, 12.40am | 4 answers

Engine and prop. shaft problems (leaks)

Here are 2 novices in narrowboat world who are in the process of buying the boat. We felt in love with a boat which was over our budget so to cut the cost we unwisely cut the surveys (it comes with new BSC). The engine sounds good and the first impression was the same but few days later I brought better light and found the leaks around the engine.
First there is a bowl sprayed with black grease around with a bilge pump under the propeller shaft, here is a photo:
Then I found the pot under the engine half-full of engine oil:
and one of the valves shows some small leak too:
There were not any leaks when we tried it today for half an hour (mostly idle gear)
Well, we should take the survey before but could anyone suggest us how serious and expensive can it be to repair? The brokerage (or the owner) does not want to agree for a service now (we would pay for it), before changing the ownership so we are a little suspicious. My wife wants to pull out and just loose the £1000 deposit but I would find some money to fix it if it is not very expensive. The boat seems to be very good except the engine.
Could anyone share his/her experience or give a piece of advice please?
Thank you already.
Kind Regards
Jarek and Joanna

Asked by: Joanna and Jarek   | Saturday 29 January, 7.23pm | 4 answers

Boat insulation

The insulation on my boat is between the roof ribs only, leaving the bottom of the ribs exposed causing water marks on the roof panals(one inch gap between bottom of ribs and roof panals),the builder says this is to allow for ventilation to carry the moisture away. But this is not happening as it is dripping onto the roof panals and penetrating through them leaving water stains. Should all the steelwork be covered with insulation?

Asked by: David Anderson  | Saturday 29 January, 4.46pm | 1 answer

water tank leak

We have a leak in steel tank on 1970's springer narrowboat, any suggestions to fix

Asked by: Lynne  | Saturday 29 January, 1.56pm | 1 answer


We are considering fitting a Solarventi Sv3 a Solar powered ventilation system to our new boat -have you come accross this and have any thoughts? We welcome you opinion
Thank you
Steve and Sally Edis

Asked by: SALLY EDIS  | Thursday 27 January, 8.43pm | 3 answers

New cooker

We want to upgade our cooker to a twin cavity unit, ie separate grill. We need a 500mm wide,(crucial) 600mm deep, 900mm (ish) height freestanding unit, LPG, preferrably 12 volt ignition. I have trawwled the net but there are very few units 500mm wide.
Has anyone got any ideas?

Asked by: Chris Marriott  | Monday 24 January, 10.00pm | 3 answers

Solar panels

We are thinking of installing solar panels on our 60' narrowboat - we live aboard for long periods in the summer but the boat is often unattended for equally long periods in the winter. We want sufficient power to keep lights and water pump working on non-cruising days in summer and to keep the batteries alive in winter. Any advice would be useful, thanks.

Asked by: Lynn Barrett  | Sunday 23 January, 4.12pm | 2 answers

re-packing a stern gland

I am about to re-pack the stern gland on my boat. When I was on an RCR boat maintiance course, I was given some tips on how to remove any old packing from around the prop shaft. Is it really neccessary to remove any old packing or could I simply add some more? My thought is that if old packing was left in place then I wouldn't need to worry about water flooding in through the bearing before I could get new packing in place. The packing that has been used previously is a type of impregnated rope cut into short lengths.

Asked by: David Stebbens  | Wednesday 19 January, 6.00pm | 1 answer

Wigan Flight

We are planning to go to Skipton via Leigh Branch. We aim to be at the bottom of Wigan flight overnight for an early start. Where's the safest/best place to moor?

Asked by: Robert Bush  | Monday 17 January, 10.11am | 1 answer

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

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