Friday, 7 October 2016

Two visits in one week

27th September

Our cruising has brought us to Sheffield. The hope some weeks ago was that Oleanna would be ready for us to move on board in Sheffield, do the few jobs to Lillyanne that were needed for her to go on the market and head off into the sunset on our shiny new boat. But her build can't be rushed and at the moment she doesn't have an engine to be able to sail off anywhere.

Instead we made use of the time to do some of the jobs on Lillyanne and visit Oleanna.

Ken was about and with a bit more info regarding an MPPT controller from Victron,which has six settings the sixth being for Lithium. This is cheaper than the one Mick had found. Ricky had figures for us but the battery price needs checking as it may now be out of date. Once we have this we can finally make our minds up.

It was decided that having the PV panel on site along with speakers, radio etc would now be useful. These would all be extras so we will order them for delivery to the yard.

Kris was on hand as always with questions for us. Today was mostly about shelves inside the bedroom cupboards. I'd asked for a couple of drawers to be put in my bedside cupboard, I'd intended that these should be low down, making access to the very bottom of the cupboard easier, but they had gone in the top. Kris will move them down. Most other cupboards require a couple of shelves.

The drawing I'd done for the herb rack had one bit of information on it that had led to a misunderstanding over depths. So today I'd brought along my smallest and widest pots to try. Two of the racks were fine, but the third was just a bit too narrow. Kris will alter this for us.

Sockets in the bedroom will be swapped for those with USB charger sockets as well as 240v.

They are still waiting for the windows to arrive, this means that the internal linings can't be fitted as yet. But Kris had started on one which was in position in the saloon.

The corner Bubble Stove had arrived and was sat on top of a small cupboard. Our current stove sits on something similar, which means that you can store all the fire lighting paraphernalia inside out of sight.

The surround and flue are still to be sorted all to meet with the Boat Safety Scheme. These stoves normally come with a fiddle rail which stands above the top surface. We have gone for one without this so that we can stand a kettle and cooking pot on top.

We will need a narrower coal scuttle if we want it to live next to the stove.

A hole has been cut in the ceiling above the extractor in the galley. This will have a mushroom on the roof.

We chatted about a bathroom cupboard and mirror above the bathroom sink. It was decided that it would be nice if it mirrored the shelf unit above the toilet and had one opening door that could be mirrored.

Sighting of a longer mirror was chosen on the side of a bedroom cupboard and dimensions were taken for the mirror to be ordered.

Things are starting to happen in the engine bay. The calorifier was in position with pipes coming from it for heating and hot water. On the wood below are pipes for deisel, leading both to and from the engine.

In the starboard rear cupboard the Alde Boiler had been installed under what will be the electrics cupboard. This leaves a small area below it for something.

The Alde Boiler came with a roof flue to fix through the roof, but this would come out inside our pram cover, so a skin fitting had been bought and fitted. However the fitting is fixed between the two rubbing strakes on the gunnel at the stern, which is where the greatest impact is on a boat. The fitting is plastic and protrudes further than the rubbing strakes. A couple of solutions were talked about, one of a metal strap over the flue to protect it. But this would be even more proud and have the possibility for catching in a lock. Bolts could be used to hold the strap in place that would shear off should the need arise.
 More thought on the matter is needed as we are not convinced the flue would last long in it's current position.

The blind that we had been thinking might be a possibility for the bedroom doors can't be used. There is little space for it and also the front door handle is quite deep, so any window covering needs to be fixed to the doors. We have three options, narrow blinds, separate curtains for each window or bungs. Something for us to mull over.

30th September

A second visit before we left Sheffield to take some measurements for possible narrow blinds and to see if any more samples had arrived to look at.

Kris was busy fixing the navigation lights onto the cabin sides.

He had also made the bathroom cupboard which was fixed in place to look at. This will give us somewhere to store drugs etc and have a decent sized mirror on the door.

New sockets were waiting to be swapped. Some samples had arrived for the cratch and pram covers. There was a good blue that would compliment Oleanna's exterior blue, but none of the samples had a pale backing to them. We are quite keen on a pale backing as on our current covers as it keeps the well deck and stern quite light. So more samples are to be sought.

Dimensions of the front door windows were taken. A hunt for some narrow blinds will be made. So far the narrowest I've found are 30 cm wide, these need to be at most 20 cm! Separate curtains would be a bit Grannyish and bungs we would have to store somewhere.

The prices of the Lithium Batteries hasn't changed so we have given the go ahead.
The boat is going to be a 24 volt boat so we are going to have 2 x 24 volt 50 amphour batteries wired in parallel. This will give us 100 ah at 24 volts. As it is 24 volts this is equivalent to 200 ah at 12v. With lead acid batteries you can only discharge them to 50% capacity but lithium batteries can be discharged to about 90% without damage and they turn themselves off before you can damage them anyway. So in theory we will have the equivalent of a 400 ah 12 v battery bank. The time to charge to full capacity is much reduced compared to lead acid batteries and with a 250 watt solar panel connected we are hoping that engine running just to charge the batteries will be much reduced compared our current boat.  Hopefully with our first few months on board being in the winter we should soon find out if an extra battery is needed. Space is being provided for one. We are hoping that the longevity of the batteries (hopefully 10 years) will meet expectations and that we won't need to buy new batteries until 2027. Watch this space!

An extra 240 v power socket will be put in a rear cupboard so that we can charge our handheld vac. This will be on the back of one of the galley sockets.

We raised the subject of the Alde flue again as it is concerning us. No matter how careful we could be mooring, the flue in it's current position will not last long. Even with a protective strap across it it will get damaged. Our preference would be for it to be recessed and have a strap guarding it too.

Other fabric samples still haven't arrived and Julia hadn't heard back from Tucky's about where would be a good place to launch Oleanna near Manchester.

Winter stoppages mean that we need to start moving Lillyanne across the Pennines, so we will be getting further away as things are completed.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Sofa Bed and worktops

23rd September

John Lewis sample
Over the last week we've been trying to get to look at samples of worktop for the galley and bathroom. A trip to John Lewis in Sheffield gave us one option not holey satisfying. Hunting round on the internet can point you in the right direction but you still need to see a sample to know exactly what they look like.

Adam from NB Briar Rose mentioned Silestone, so I had a second longer look at their website and found a possible. A supplier in Doncaster had samples, but sadly not the one, a couple more possibilities.


With a hire car we were able to visit another kitchen showroom. Russell & Hutton had big samples which for us was good to see if there was a bit more life to some of the Silestone. In the end the best we have come across was the worktop we were resting samples on to look at! Daria has a mottled look to it and has more life than just a uniform slab. We made a short list and these have been passed onto Finesse.

Sofas on display

Having made a note of the measurements for the sofa a week ago we headed to see Michael Roberts at Sofa Bed Barn near Bradford. At Crick Boat Show we had chatted about what I was after and today we went to confirm dimensions, choose fabric and get the ball rolling.

The normal range of fabrics didn't have quite the shade of red I was wanting, so I was allowed to look in the drawer of samples. Most of his sofa beds have a drawer or box underneath for storage and this one was crammed full. Several options came to hand and were compared with the other fabrics we will be having. I could have matched it to the dinette, but that wouldn't have been interesting. But there was a chenille of a very close colour with a gold in it that stood out from the others.

Michael has several designs that he has adapted or made especially for narrowboats. The Hampton is designed as a sofa which opens flat and with the addition of a pouffe it will fit across a narrowboat to make a bed. You can get this made in several widths from a single bed to 5 ft 3" wide. The gap we have is just under 4 ft 6" so the mattress will be made a bit smaller. I need it to sit under the gunnel, so the height is being reduced to fit. We don't have enough space for the full width pouffe, but want it to be used to make a small occasional single by adding it to the end of the sofa a bit like the green pouffe in the photo. The pouffe needs to tuck into the gap under some shelving when not being used, but can be pulled out as an extra seat if needed. So it will be made almost square. The base of the sofa is a storage box which will get used for spare bedding and then the pouffe is also a box which I will keep my crafty bits in. 

All the amendments are easy as everything apart from the mechanisms are built on sight. Since we last visited the ground floor has become a workshop where the frames for the pouffes are made.
The lead time is around four weeks, but if Oleanna isn't ready for it Michael will store it until it can be delivered to Sheffield. 

Finesse Open Day

17th September
This weekend both Finesse and Tyler Wilson were having open days where people could have a good look around at the current boats on build and talk to all the people that mattered. We headed over towards the end of the day on Saturday and there were quite a few visitors milling around the yard. Finesse now have a container fitted out in a similar style to a narrowboat for their office. 

Oleanna had her dust sheet removed and had had a bit of a clean down before the open day. Apart from a couple of finished boats she was the nearest one to completion that Finesse had worked on. A spurt over the last week meant that various things had happened.

Most of the light fittings were up and the oak trim covering board joins were in position. Light switches and sockets in the most were also on.

The spice and herb racks had been made, nice and simple, hopefully enough room for all my jars. Underneath is space for our knife block and the piece of timber with the hole cut in it is for a double socket.

Above the cooker was an extract fan. We hadn't been expecting this, but Julia was insistent that every boat should have one. The amount of condensation you create by just cooking some pasta warrants one.

Behind the pull out triangular cupboard a drawer at the bottom had been installed. This means that anything stashed away in the bottom back corner will be reachable.

We overheard one lady being shown around saying, "There's no freezer compartment!" That's right. At times our current fridge isn't quite big enough for the fresh food that we buy, so we have dispensed with the icebox at the top. On our current boat the icebox only manages a pack of frozen peas and some ice cubes, so is a waste of space. The lady was shown the pull out freezer under the dinette.

The bulkhead shelf unit was in position. The top shelf should be deep enough for me to have a bowl of bread dough rising up there when the stove is lit.

The bathroom ceiling laminate was up. This had been waiting for the cabling to the solar panels to be put in place.

The colour of the laminate was matched as close as we could by the paint on the cream panels in the rest of the boat.

Wooden handles had been added to all the bedroom cupboards.

The base of the bed was also complete. The rear section is hinged to access the area behind the two drawers. This area will be for deep storage, such as winter clothes in the summer.

The cratch board was in position, but not the horizontal as this would have been bumped into by visitors.

The front doors were also in position.

Kim who is doing the upholstery arrived with the fabrics that had been ordered for the curtains. Sadly only samples that were no longer needed had arrived so we weren't able to choose a fabric for bungs in the bathroom.

A discussion regarding how the dinette cushions will work and how high they should sit. The consensus was in line with the gunnel so as not to cover any of the wood work.

We had hoped to be able to get everyone together to discuss various things, but with the number of visitors this wasn't going to be possible. So snatched conversations were had with everyone.

Ricky had got together various samples for the worktops. The granite we had been wanting is only available in 30mm, which is too heavy to have at gunnel height, it would affect how the boat handles. So we need to have another look for worktops that are available in 20mm and made from an engineered stone as this is less fragile.

A few more questions regarding the batteries still need to be answered. Ken will get back to us next week with the information required and final prices as without knowing the cost we can't make the final decision.

The launch was chatted about and Julia is going to get in touch with Tucky to see where might be suitable places south of Manchester north of Stone for this to happen.

Even though it was a busy open day for them all it had been well worth the trip.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Fabrics and handles

Visit 9th September

Since our last visit the carpenters have all been on holiday so we weren't sure how much progress would have been made, but we were pleasantly surprised. Kris had plenty of questions regarding shelves in cupboards, how many, would we like them fixing in place or to be able to adjust their heights etc. As most cupboards I know what will be going into them I made a list of large items to measure which would determine heights of shelves.

The back steps were in place, these are held in position by a big keyhole bracket. This means if you lift them they will become detached from the rear bulk head. One question from Kris was how we wanted the lower doors on the rear cupboards to work. One single door or a bi-folding door with a bolt in the middle. We opted for the bi-folding door. This means we can lift the steps and position them so that they sit vertically against the rear bulk head, the then exposed side of the cupboard door will be able to open giving us access to the lower cupboard. But should we need the whole door to open the steps will need to be removed, the bolt in the middle lifted and the cupboard door will fully open.

Discussions with Louis about the engine bay and positions of the various items going in there brought up that it was all going to be very tight with the boiler and hospital silencer. The lower starboard side cupboard was intended for my work tools, but Oleanna has more storage than our current boat so these could quite happily be relocated elsewhere so that the boiler can be housed in the cupboard. This decision was made as the Boat Safety regulations were complex for the boiler (gas) to be in the engine bay and the instillation would be a lot easier in the cupboard. This also frees up space in the engine bay.

The fridge is now in position and just needs a final adjustment. The bike slot next to it has now a finished drawer below with handle. Not sure what will go in here as yet, maybe shopping bags.

All drawers on the drawer tower have handles and the position of a shelf in the top cupboard was discussed.

The cooker position has been tweaked giving us a bit more space between it and the dishwasher opposite. The wooden surround has been brought forward to cover the sides of the cooker and also help anchor it into position. The granite work top will curve out to meet it.

Samples of worktop were looked at, there was one that was close, but not quite the one we have in mind, so a new sample will be sought for us to look at next weekend.

A stainless steel guard will be put over the woodwork on the cabin side to protect it from the rear burners on the hob.

An adjustable shelf has been added into the triangular cupboard. When this is closed it pulls out on heavy duty drawer runners so that you can access the corner cupboard. This cupboard will have a pan drawer at the bottom so that I can pull it out into the gap and access right into the back corner without having to empty everything out. Above this will be a shelf for things that don't get used quite so often.

The freezer is now in it's drawer under the dinette. There is a small amount of space next to it to be able to slot something else in the drawer, not sure yet but I'll find something.

The broom sits where the corner bubble stove will be positioned.

As the small shelf unit was in position and the trim has been fitted on the underside of the cabin sides I was able to measure up for the sofa and pouffe. The gap under this shelf unit will enable the pouffe to slide into the corner out of the way of the door into the bathroom. It will pull out to either be sat on or lengthen the sofa to make a single bed. We now need to arrange a visit to Bradford to see Michael at Sofa Bed Barn to get the sofa made.

The small box on the bulkhead is for light switches.

Looking down the cabin towards the stern. The ceiling panels are now in, the light surrounds are up waiting for the fittings to go in. Trim on the joins of the panels is mostly up, just a few bits missing.

The windows are on order at Caldwells.

The gap in the floor on the right is where there will be a radiator. The floor will be filled in once the plumbing is sorted.

The towel rail is in position in the bathroom waiting to be plumbed in. The flooring for the bathroom will be ordered shortly.

The sink cupboard is in position and doesn't need supports on it's front edge. The position of the sink needed finalising. At the moment the top of the unit is only a mock up and the sink has been centred on the doors. If it wasn't for the gunnel it would look fine. However as soon as I saw it it looked odd, so it will now be centred on the top, front to cabin side. Just hope it looks more meant than it does now.

The composting toilet is now in situ and the plastic urine tank is under the floor. The toilet only comes with a short length of vent pipe which would reach up under the gunnel, but our pipe needs to reach the roof. A hunt is on for the right diameter pipe to be able to extend it.

This shelf unit will cover the majority of the vent pipe and be handy storage.

The bedroom is all in position now. Wooden handles will be used on cupboard doors. But the two big drawers under the bed will have handles similar to those in the galley to cope with the weight that they will have inside them.

The water pump is in under the steps and cupboard doors are going on. Trim up to the ceiling is also being made to fill the gap above cupboards.

During our visit we got to meet Kim who will be doing the upholstery and curtains for Oleanna. We discussed how I wanted the curtains to work, a choice of three hanging methods. Tab tops, eyelet tops, or just a sleeve in the fabric. The later is what I went for. I like curtains to be functional, cut out the light and keep you warm, both the other options would let an amount of light in even if they are blackout lined.

In the bedroom our front doors have little surround to them, which may cause us a problem as we were wanting to have a blind here. The amount of space for fixing a blind isn't good. On our current boat we have roller blinds that are quite compact and are spring loaded. If we can make one of them work for Oleanna that would be good. Photos were sent later on to Kim, measurements need to be checked over.

Our bathroom portholes will need some form of covering, spring sunshine can flood a boat at sunrise even through the smallest of windows. Curtains would look wrong though so it was decided to have a couple of bungs made to fill them. These will need rubber backed fabric so some samples have been sent off for.

Blinds in the galley will have to be fire proof so more samples are on their way with a hope that we can get a colour to match the curtains. Hopefully all the samples will have arrived by next weekend when we will next visit as Finesse and Tyler Wilson are having open days.

At the weekend we will hopefully be able to have everyone in the same room at some point to have a final discussion about the batteries, lithium or wet cell?