Thursday, 25 May 2017

Floored again

Back in the house, the dining room floor has now been almost completely taken up - just the bits around the gas and central heating pipes to negotiate. Depending on the cost, we may well replace all the joists too, rather than just the obviously rotten ones. This would make it easier to shovel all the crap out from underneath, they could be better supported (at the moment the joins are sitting on wobbly piles of bricks); we wouldn't have to worry about all the old nails when laying the new floor, and it would be easier and more effective to buy pre-treated timber than to treat the old ones.

I think I will then go for reclaimed pitch pine boards (like on Warrior!) direct onto the joists, rather than laying new boards and then flooring on top. This should enable it to breathe better, and the height should be roughly the same as the sound boards in the front room, which I am probably going to have sanded and oiled as they are mostly aesthetically OK as well.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Chertsey in the dry dock

We drove down to Grendon at lunchtime today to see Chertsey in the dry dock. We didn't actually get to go down and poke about - there were a good few inches of water still to go - but from where we were looking, things looked fine.
The blacking certainly seems to have held up well over the last seven years - but as it was three coats of Coflex brushed onto shotblasted bare steel, I'm not entirely surprised. To have had Coflex again this time would have been prohibitively expensive so I'm having the Jotul stuff as recommended by Laurence.
What we did notice this time, that had either slipped our minds or escaped our notive previously, was how far the 'new' (1980s) baseplate extends - it could be that this is where we have mysteriously and invisibly stuck on a couple of occasions. As well as blacking, I'm also having the tunnel bands repainted - in proper scarlet and white this time. Martin meant well doing them in the same crimson and cream as Chertsey's livery, but I never liked it.
Finally, they're going to repack the stern gear, which has been semi-botched ever since I got her.
Chertsey will be in the dock for a week, and then Laurence is very kindly going to take her back to Alvecote.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Worthing Wurlitzer

I didn't even know there was a Wurlitzer in Worthing until we went to see Sebastian and Izzi playing in a concert with the Worthing Philharmonic Orchestra at the Assembly Hall, when I saw a poster about it - and a list of forthcoming concerts, including one by historic narrow boating's very own David Lowe. So I got Baz to snap up some tickets for last Sunday and we got a little party together.

The snapping up wasn't strictly necessary, as it turned out, as West Sussex did not turn out in great numbers. I felt quite ashamed on behalf of The South - the audience was much bigger in Saltaire.
The console, from the Troxy, Stepney

The Worthing Wurlitzer is a massive beast - an amalgam of at least three different organs with odd bits from many more, and apparently the largest in Europe. Its specification may be found here (read it; it's poetry) and its history here.
The audience's view of the cinema organist

We had a lovely welcome from David - and he dedicated a medley of water-related songs to the historic narrow boating contingent. There was tea and very nice lemon cake in the interval.
After the concert we all repaired to a local Wetherspoons for dinner (sorry David, tea) and lively conversation. It was a splendid afternoon and evening - and the first time at a cinema organ concert for Jim, Sebastian and Izzi. 'Astonishing', 'entertaining' and 'brilliant' were some of their verdicts.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Farewell, Angry People in Local Newspapers

I loved Angry People in Local Newspapers, ever since I first discovered it nearly five years ago. But it is no more - at least not in a form I can relate to. It no longer functions as a blog, so I have removed it from the blogroll. If you want to look at its Facebook page, or search for angry people stories on a website full of adverts, then you're even more devoted to it than I was. It probably has a Twitter feed too. But none of that is for me, I'm afraid.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dashing about

I am writing this sitting in a Wetherspoons pub in Worthing, having just had dinner (tea) with Baz and Izzi, my friend Dean from Brighton, and David Lowe, following a concert by David on the renowned Wurlitzer in the Worthing Assembly Hall... Yesterday we took Chertsey from Alvecote to be docked at Grendon, and they day before that, Jim was up in Sheffield taking up my dining room floor. Tomorrow we leave first thing to return to Sheffield so that I can attend a work meeting in the afternoon, and then on Tuesday it's back to Grendon to have a look at Chertsey's hull. After that things might settle down a bit, at least until we have to go and fetch her back.A fabulous afternoon and concert today though.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

When I've got a floor to put it on...

On Friday we also - with the help of Andy Halfie and his van - collected from Oxfam a rather splendid Arts and Crafts oak sideboard which will grace the dining room, once it has a floor.

Friday, 19 May 2017


I fear I may subject you to a few house-related posts over the next few months.

I got the keys to the house on Saturday, and popped in a couple of times to get the feel of it. All in all I am very pleased indeed - I know it will be a fantastic home when it is finished (and there are just under three months to achieve that as I have already given notice on the flat). However, there are a few jobs to do first. Jim arrived late last night and this morning we couldn't wait to get over there for a good look.

The first thing I wanted to investigate was the dining room floow, which sloped suspiciously. The front room floor - over the cellar - has recently been replaced, and we could see from underneath that it was sound. But the back room was another story entirely.

Before we'd even had a cup of tea Jim had taken up a fair portion of the cheap laminate flooring and almost immediately I put my foot through the floorboards underneath, closely followed by Jim in a different place a few minutes later. Fortunately, I wasn't carrying a cup of tea at the time. The floor was in every bit as bad a state as I had expected - wet rot, dry rot and many other varieties of sinister and mysterious fungus lurked beneath floorboards that were in one corner actually sodden.
 Jim wasted no time in taking up the floorboards
And then removing the rotten joists - they were incredibly light; just cellulose shells
About a foot below was the dirt floor
And some interesting inhabitants.
Dry rot I can recognise, but what is this revolting film of fungoid accretions?
Here's some of the timber we removed - with the laminate flooring in the background.
The problem is at least in part due to the ground having been concreted and tarmacked nearly up to floor level, and the airbrick being completely clogged up, combined with a leaking gutter above (incredibly, the house has wooden gutters!)
So with the worst bits removed and the air brick cleared it is getting a chance to dry out. All the floorboards will be coming up and out and possibly more of the joists depending on how far the dry rot has got, and Jim is also going to break up the concrete and clear an airspace outside. The plaster will be coming off in the worst corner too.  We'll replace the joists with tannalised wood and slosh about vast quantities of noxious chemicals. Very similar to what we did in the Newhaven house twenty years ago, but on a bigger scale. One of the good things about knowing Jim has been learning how a house is put together, meaning that this wasn't as terrifying (dry rot!!) as it might have been.

I took the opportunity to look under the carpets upstairs and was delighted to find the boards there looking very sound, not even a hint of worm. Not bad for a house built in 1893.