Paddington Basin- Camden- St. Pancras Lock
Grand Union Canal
4 miles, 3 locks, 1 tunnellette
The morning didn't get off to a great start; we recieved a phone call at 8am from Amy's mum, telling her that Scrappy, her cat, had been hit by a car and was seriously hurt, to the extent that he would have to be put to sleep. This was a great shock and very upsetting, for both of us but of course for Amy especially.
We put our minds to happier things by cruising through Little Venice, and seeing it together in daylight, before heading down the Regent's Canal, intending to wind at Battlebridge Basin by King's Cross and either spend the night there or return to Paddington. This stretch of the canal was again familiar to us, as we've walked it several times, dreaming of having a boat; and, finally, that ambition was achieved. It helped lift our spirits a bit, but Scrappy's accident put a black pall over the whole day.
We moored on the short-stay moorings by Camden and looked around the market, enjoying some hot, fresh doughnuts, before visiting the local Halifax to reclaim bank charges (£100 back between us, rather nice really!) and then heading back to the boat. Warrior had, in the meantime, passed us whilst we were out, as we later found out, heading back from the Lee and Stort towards Uxbridge.
We moved off and descended the locks in fine style, impressing several gongoozlers and enjoying the attention of a community boat full of children- "Do you live on that boat? What's it like?" "Erm... awesome, thanks!"
And then, coming into St. Pancras lock, the day got even worse. The propshaft came loose AGAIN, very annoyingly.
It turns out that the most crucial grub screw, in the deepest hole, had sheared. Not wanting to continue on two grub screws, we moored up in desperation on the lock landing stage, leaving a note in the window to apologise and explain the circumstances, and then phoned around local DIY and hardware shops. One helpfully pointed us in the direction of Clerkenwell Screws, a shop selling nothing but nuts, bolts and screws; they had some high tensile M10 grub screws in stock- only these ones had more of a point, to ensure a better fixing, and they were twice as long for a better hold.
We raced over as quickly as we could, and just managed to get in and buy some before they closed. Once back on the boat, we found out that the sheared-off grub screw wasn't in the prop shaft, but was instead stuck between the flexible coupling and the oil seal; however, no amount of chiseling, hammering, levering, sawing, prodding or poking- or indeed swearing!- got it out. The only way to do the job properly, we reasoned, was to move the engine forwards to free it; and so we did. This time, as we knew what to do, it took about 15 minutes to move it. The grub screw came out easily, but after three attempts at getting the engine back and realigned, we gave up as it was getting too dark to see easily; the one 30w bulb in the engine room was insufficient, and we were too tired, upset and hungry for the precise task; we'll deal with it first thing in the morning.
There are a number of options on fixing the prop shaft properly. The best way, we've decided, is to replace the cone inside the flexible coupling so that it will properly attach onto the shaft- as it is designed to do!- rather than rely on grub screws. At the moment, the end of the prop shaft is too worn to do this adequately, so the solution may well be to cut the worn inch off the end and pull the prop slightly closer to the stern tube. However, more advice will be taken before we attempt anything so drastic. Anyone with experience of cutting and working with solid stainless steel is welcome to get in touch and offer advice! This is, we think, the permanent solution and it's how prop shafts are meant to be fitted; grub screws just don't work adequately, as we've found out!
So, all in all, rather a trying day.
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