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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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Poo tank

We have been experiencing difficulty in emptying our poo tank for some time now, whilst we have found a boat yard that will pump out via the toilet itself this is less than ideal. The pump out stops after a short time and the vacuum air pressure is considerable suggesting that something may be blocking the outlet. I have tried a household drain unblocker - a tick wire some 2m long which gets into the tank without effect. The boat, and I assume the pipe, is 22 years old the last pump out operative suggested that the pipe may be de-laminating internally resulting in a blockage once the suction of the pump out takes hold. The suggestion being a replacement pump out pipe. A horrible job yes but attention is needed!!
Any thoughts?

Asked by: Chris Marriott  | Sunday 14 September, 9.00pm | 1 answer

Coolant problem

Recently came down the Thames form Teddington to Limehouse and was punching the tide for the first hour or so with my Canaline 42hp engine running at 1,600rpm. Engine temperature gradually increased from low 70's to mid 80's and stayed there for remainder of trip decreasing after the tide turned to mid 70's and as revs were decreased to more normal 1,500rpm cruising speed. On arrival at Limehouse, was a large amount of clear glycol mix in the sump pan yet the header tank has not lost any coolant. Could an air lock in the skin tank be the problem? Can't see any obvious leaks and running for power for last couple of days in Paddington basin has seen temperature constant in low 70's as usual. Suggestions?

Asked by: peter osullivan  | Thursday 11 September, 9.07pm | 3 answers

Correcting a list

Our 55 foot narrow boat has a slight list to the starboard side - probably about 1.5°. Various 56lb and 20kg are already deployed on the uxtor plate and front locker. My guess, from getting people to stand on the gunnel is that I need about 200kg of additional ballast. It has been suggested I could put some steel ballast on the base plate on the bilge which wouldn't be a corrosion hazard because of the grease in the bilge. Any thoughts? Should I consider lead ballast?

Asked by: Clive Dutson  | Monday 8 September, 5.33pm | 6 answers

Contamination in diesel tank

On dipping my tank, I'm picking up some mid-brown stuff on the end of the dipstick. There's probably no more than 1 or 2 mm of it. Should I do anything about it? Our engineer thinks it could be due to overdosing Fuelset - I don't particularly think I have overdosed but I may have erred on the generous side rather than on the mean one as it is not always easy to be sure how much the tank will take. He think it wouldn't be picked up by the intake and, if it was, the filter would deal with it. He suggests if I want to be ultra cautious I could get the fuel polished.
What would you do in our circumstances?

Asked by: Clive Dutson  | Monday 8 September, 5.22pm | 1 answer

changing prop zinc on Vetus bow thruster

Hello, Rupert-
What is the best way to replace the prop zinc on my bow thruster? Do I disconnect the drive unit within the bow compartment, or do I hire a long-armed gorilla to do the job within the tunnel?
I do hope things are well with you. Midnight Auer and I are doing fine.
Best regards,

Asked by: mike auer  | Tuesday 26 August, 6.59pm | 1 answer

Altenators for low RPM engines

I currently have the need to replace the Alternator on our Narrowboat Blue Rover, and am looking for some advice.
The Engine is a Beta BD£ Tug, that runs at between 700 & 1200 RPM.
Do I need to take the low RPM nature of the engine into consideration when selecting an altenator. If so, what do I need to look for when selecting the correct alternator?
Any advice would be much appreciated

Asked by: duncan  | Thursday 14 August, 3.27pm | 2 answers

Skin fitting

Hi, new member, have a 30 ft springer 1992 project boat and redoing the kitchen, old waste pipe was size of a standard garden hose with several u bends, and made draining very laborious, want to fit proper 1 1/2 drainage pipe, is this advisable? Is it ok to make a bigger hole for a more suitable sized skin fitting?

Asked by: robert hutton  | Monday 4 August, 8.02pm | 1 answer

Black resin removal

How do I clean off the ugly staining to my paintwork left by burning logs that we're not properly seasoned. Thanks

Asked by: robert statham  | Sunday 3 August, 5.16pm | 2 answers

Portable Generators.

I'm thinking of buying a suitcase type 4 stroke petrol generator at a good price and want to know if these or any portables simply plug into the boats Blue Mahle socket and supply the power like a Marina electric hook-up landline does?. Also what amp power would be best ?. thanks in advance.

Asked by: Trevor Smith  | Tuesday 29 July, 10.03pm | 3 answers

Engine hours

I realise a lot depends on whether it has been "looked after" but would you consider 9500hours to be too rather high mileage even if as I'm told the engine has been owner serviced every 250 hours? It's a beta 43 by the way.

Asked by: Kevin Cracknell  | Tuesday 29 July, 7.20pm | 5 answers

Hot Water

After recent 3 day trip.Water from hot taps has a very slight blue tint. Could not smell antifreeze. Could there be an internal split in calorifier coil? Aprox 20yrs old fed from Lister LPW3 engine (recently serviced). Also can we still run engine if this is the case? Many thanks Steve.

Asked by: Stephen   | Tuesday 22 July, 12.58pm | 2 answers

Candlebridge Carrying Company

Trying to get in touch with Candlebridge Carrying Company, I had some coal off them last year, Have tried the mobile phone number on the card they gave me (07973 915146)which appears permanently engaged. Anyone know if they are still trading, changed their phone number etc???. They did a good job last year.

Asked by: Paul Jones  | Tuesday 22 July, 12.53pm | 2 answers

generator problem

I have an unusual but not unknown problem with a 230 volt generator.
The system consists of a Vetus 6.5kW generator coupled into a shore power / off / generator switch and then into a Victron inverter / charger / controller. There is also DC battery charging from the main engine via its own charger controller.
The system is 24 volts and the batteries (which were replaced a few months ago) charge fully from both the main engine and the generator.
The problem is that when the generator that when the generator is started there is the usual delay whilst the controller allows for the generator coming up to speed then as soon as the generator is connected the 30mA RCD trips but the batteries still charge. When the generator is stopped the trip can be reset.
I spoke to a local boat yard and they said they had seen the same problem but put the fault down to the control board in the controller. This board was sent to Holland for repair but was returned three weeks later as not being faulty. By this time the customer was not happy and took the repair to another boatyard. The first boatyard therefore did not know the resolution to the fault.
I contacted Vetus in the UK but never received a reply to my email.
I then contacted Merlin who was the supplier and designer of the electrical system. They were extremely pleasant and helpful. I spoke a few times to a young lady called Vicky who was one of the system engineers. She gave me a number of ideas to try one of them being to connect to a shore supply or to a pure sine wave external generator fed in as shore supply. Neither of these were available so we connected to another boat which had a pure sine wave inverter. The trip did not 'blow'. The conclusion was that the control board was working correctly and the fault was definitely in the generator.
When we bought the boat the generator only had 37 hours on the clock because the boat had been mainly used on shore power. The problems started around the 100 hours mark.
I brought in a local boat electrician who was very good but in some thirty odd years of working on boats had not come across. The generator was checked for earth connections, shorts and speed. The speed was out by 16%. This was corrected with difficulty because his test equipment was giving erratic readings. This did not cure the fault.
On the electricians next visit I had set up an oscilloscope with an inductive pickup. The results were unexpected. The speed was exactly 50 Hz and the output was a sine wave but the sine wave consisted of spikes and troughs up to about 40 volts all along the sine wave.

Asked by: pat addy  | Thursday 17 July, 11.37am | 5 answers

Travel pack

I've been told that fitting a travel power generator to an Isuzu 34 hp engine is difficult and will cost around £4000 although there is plenty of room in the engine bay?

Asked by: Kevin Cracknell  | Thursday 10 July, 3.49pm | 1 answer

LED Down lighters

I am looking for a supplier for the lights. Can anybody recommend a company. I will need 35. Look forward to your comments

Asked by: Chris Tidy  | Thursday 10 July, 2.02pm | 2 answers

Engine power

Does a 34hp engine have enough spare power to run a travel pack generator of say 3.5 kva?

Asked by: Kevin Cracknell  | Thursday 10 July, 10.33am | 3 answers

Finding Alan Firth's relatives

I am sorry but I realise this doesn't exactly meet the brief for questions - I have some papers.emphera resulting from meeting the canal artist Alan Firth in the 80's I thought his next of kin might like these but don't how to find them. Also I used to teach Roses and Castles painting and have a collection of very helpful books etc.,
I can't find a copy of the Waterways world magazine here in St.Ives Cornwall! so don't know about scrap book page? Many thanks Angela

Asked by: Angela J Diggle  | Saturday 28 June, 12.58pm | 1 answer

Boat occasionally doesn't start

9 out of 10 times my nb starts first time but when she won't start it can take many attempts sometimes over 2 or 3 hours before she'll start. When I turn the key, heat the coil and then complete the turn it just clicks and doesn't start. My engine is a BMC 1.8 which was rebuilt when I bought my nb just over a year ago. Could it be the starting motor? There's no pattern as to why it won't start on the occasions it doesn't. It can happen whether I've not turned the engine on for a week or even if I've run it daily. I can even stop for 20 minutes and when I go to start up again it won't. At first I thought I wasn't heating the coil long enough but 50 seconds normally works. Any advice would be appreciated.

Asked by: Dave Snarey  | Tuesday 24 June, 7.39am | 2 answers

Toilet flush problem.

Sunday evening my Thetford cassette toilet would not flush.
I checked the fuse box in the engine room start cupboard and one of the fuses had tripped out so I re-engaged it.
Then followed a loud "whiring noise" and the toilet would flush but then the fuse quickly tripped out again and I was back to square one with no flush.
Everything else works ok and the water system to the taps and shower are fine along with the lighting and landline powered socket points.
Thanks in advance.

Asked by: Trevor Smith  | Sunday 22 June, 7.58pm | 3 answers

Q2! Two part epoxy colour integrity

Some of my co-owners feel that Two-part epoxy blacking fades with age. What is your experience of this?
Many Thanks
Robin Gulliver

Asked by: Robin Gulliver  | Wednesday 11 June, 9.44am | 3 answers

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