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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Saturday 18 November 2023

You learn somthing new every day!?

Yesterday's glorious sunny weather was but a distant memory because today we woke to grey skies and rain. We delayed our departure and did wonder whether to stay for the day, instead though, because the forecast was for improvement later, we set off toward Atherstone.

Nothing exciting happened on the journey apart from a Kingfisher flying from tree to tree posing just long enough to get a few photos.

Atherstone visitor moorings were pretty full although had we wanted to stop we could have squeezed in by the bridge. Shopping was on our agenda and we have found in the past it's not as far to walk if one can moor below the locks rather than at the top, so I dropped Ian off at the bridge so we could start our downward journey (I kept offering to do the locks but he insisted he was okay) and watched him trying not to hobble. Bless, he managed better than I would have thought. Those painkillers seem to be working.


At lock 4 the bottom gates were wide open, ah a boat was entering lock 5 and the crew were working one lock ahead. But oh my, they took their time and I was left hovering between lock three and four with that bridge spanning the canal and a decision to make. Do I go through the bridge onto the landing or hold back and wait. I held back which I think was a wise move! It gave more room for both our boats to pass. Turns out it was a historic boat with a Bolinder engine and whether rightly or wrongly, told by one of the crew that it couldn't reverse because there was no gear box.  Hmm, How on earth does he get to stop then? We watched as the boat entered the lock and one of the crew whipped open the top paddle letting the water in before closing the bottom gate. Ian asked why and was told it was the only way to slow a boat with this type of engine, Personally I have never in all my boating years heard of this before but if someone could please enlighten me I would be very grateful!

So we did stop at the Atherstone visitor moorings below lock. Shopping was done and Ian was all for continuing down the flight. I put my foot down and said I had had enough.  Not 5 minutes later what was heard??? That bloody Cockerel! Oh, we knew all about this particular bird having been woken many a time in the past. In fact stopping on the Atherstone moorings is a no no for us normally, it usually starts calling in the wee hours.  I think I may regret my decision when we get woken at some silly o clock tomorrow.


Graham said...

Hi Irene,

The earlier Bolinder engines didn't have a reverse gear, but then neither do horses. However, the engine would run in backwards, so to reverse the engine had to be stoppes and then restarted in reverse - not the kind of thing that can be easily done in a lock. I did once see it done by a boat at a Huddlesford Gathering.

Incidentally, your spelling of the name is, I'm afraid, wishful thinking, even so close to Christmas. Bollinger is champagne. Perhaps Ian can be persuaded...................?

I'm really enjoying your bird pictues - herons and kingfishers seem to have the best poses.

Anonymous said...

I think that reverse is possible but difficult with a Bolinder engine. I also think it would be more usual to stop the boat in the lock using a rope. Perhaps, though, the Atherstone locks are missing a suitable 'strapping post'. Best wishes, Marty (leisure boater)

Dave Ward said...

Bolinders are two stroke "semi diesel" engines, and will run in either direction subject to fuel injection timing. The following quote is from:


"The drive was direct without any gear box, to reverse the boat you slowed the engine until nearly stationary and then reversed the injection position with a smart pull on the lever and the whole contraption reversed"

I suspect that most owners will try and avoid doing this if they possibly can. If you get it wrong, and the engine stops, you'll be faced with a lengthy re-starting procedure!

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

That reason for opening a paddle while the gate is still open sounds like a crock to me. My thinking is that the boat would never be able to moor up if it couldn't stop without a body of water approaching it. I reckon its gearbox is broken and this is the result for locking.

Have you been doing trigger point therapy and stretches on Ian's leg?

And did you go and get a haircut at the Turkish barber shop in Atherstone's main street?


Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Thank you all for your comments and Graham, maybe my mind was on Christmas Champagne!
It's amazing what one learns from other boaters, thank you again.

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Marilyn I have found out the Bollinder has no gearbox, the comments above have explained it very well.

As for the haircut, no and no also to to do those trigger points. I don't feel confident enough to get to the right place so we will leave it up to the Dr when Ian goes to see them in early December.


Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Irene darling,
You KNOW there will be no trigger point therapy from the Dr - he'll just give Ian drugs or suggest amputation ... And for you to find the right spot to massage, just dig in with a very firm finger until he yelps - then you've found it!
I stand corrected re the Bolinder and no reverse. I still reckon though that if the steerer was as skilled as you are at slowly cruising to a stop, they would not need to open paddles while the gates behind are still open. How do they stop to moor up if they cannot slow down to a halt?

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