tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor

dawncraft chronicles

tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor

Where to begin? I suppose some bright sparks idea to change the gas bottle sizes meaning if I wanted gas, I am going to have to earn one the hard way. I needed to raise the tank sides by at least 25 cm to accommodate the bottles. I did get a quote to do this in situ without disturbing the tank but sadly where it sat meant the extra size bottles wouldn’t clear the deck beam so nothing else for it. Time to remove the gas tank, its drainpipe, and half the cockpit with it. Oh yeah, the quote! £400 hmm. Now before we go much further there is a quaint term used when I am busy doing something that many have neither the skills nor aptitude to try - it’s called tinkering! How lovely... let’s get started.

First tank hasn’t been out in forty years so plenty of rust treatment – I use the Hammerite rust convertor. That done, order £50 quid’s worth of 3mm steel plate cut to size and a pack of 5mm welding rods – we going to have to get it hot. An hour's tinkering later, and the tank is now 25 cm higher. Next - which I hadn’t bargained for - replace the rotten ply it sat on. Tank painted yellow with a large gas sign, and it can go back in if I could find a 28mm Metal to copper fitting for hull and a small length of 28mm tube.

After a week searching (something has gone wrong post Covid: no one seems to stock anything) I found a second hand one on E bay. Always remember copper olives for anything gas never brass. Tank back in and guess what - it fouled the water pump locker and worst the door... OK, two foot of water pipe later and pump is moved; mercifully the boat was so badly built there was enough of a gap around the door to move it across by half an inch and I made it fit properly.

Now for the hard bit: the gas bubble. This came with two shocks: first the cost for what is a safety device and secondly the fitting. OK in the UK we tend to still use imperial pipes so in my case 3\8th but the bubble is made by our French cousins, and they don’t, so its 10mm. If you are a non-tinker and clueless on the gravity and severity of most situations, that’s a 0.5 mm gap – big enough to blow me and boat to Valhalla. There are no 3/8th to 10mm fittings and my tame gas engineer (or rather fitter, as an engineer makes things work) promptly shook his head and said he couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Hmm ! OK. With years of old bikes, Morris 1000s and even a Morris Ital, one learnt to flare brake pipes – a process whereby they are stretched slightly, I used a proper hydraulic type to get an even flare to 10 mm – sorted.  Tool of the year - small pipe benders, remembering you can fail on unnecessary fittings.

gas locker

dawncraft "dawntreader"

Time for some gas which mercifully fitted the locker snugly, put fluid in bubble tester and try. I have never felt so deflated, mentally exhausted and down-hearted as it looked like a glass of champagne. Rowlocks now what the heck do I do? Worse still, where is the leak? One thing many can’t do is think laterally, start at cooker (the furthest point) and turn off its tap. Hey presto bubbles stop and why? because I ran out of gas this time last year and the cooker knobs rely on high melting point grease to seal them – that’s quite frightening when you think about it.

OK - magnetic tray at the ready and dismantle the gas rail and get the knobs out , if you have ever done this you will see what the magnetic tray is for, as the springs try and fall out the moment they are unscrewed. Cleaned, greased and re try and no bubbles even for three minutes- ooh we are winning. But not only that, the gas “ engineer “ was happy with everything including the pipe clips .

Next kettle de-scaler through the water heater and wait for leaks – the stuff that came out of there and shower was amazing !! Another bubble test and all is good. The engine bay has its own fire blanket because the outboard is probably the biggest risk, it also has a spill kit (not that that’s in the safety, but ought to be). We have two co detectors because of the fumes from boats in locks, and three extinguishers whose job isn’t to put the fire out but shove it back whilst I escape.

Day of the test and a heart stopping moment when gas pressure dropped because we left cooker slightly on (I think bubble is a brilliant idea) and she passed with one advisory. Wait for it ……………. Ventilation in the door - which if I hadn’t spent hours making it fit properly the gap alone would have sufficed. Still you can't tinker it all .