Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Seat of power

When the award-winning owner of this blog first kindly invited me to join, it was with the strict instruction (I lie) to post weekly news of our house development. In this case, no news isn't necessarily good news, but, just to update, I found out last night that the architect now hopes to have the plans ready on Sunday (it was supposed to be today)... and then they have to go off to the council for planning permission. So let me warn right now that there will (probably) be no significant news on this score for at least two months.

However, something is going on. Our narrowboat is very nearly converted to run electric. The engineer called me in just this morning to confirm that we've no idea if the boat will go forwards when you push the lever to forwards - it may go backwards. And vice versa. This had caused him to wake up with a start in the night. Madly enough, I happened to realise just last night that this would be true. Talk about coincidence!....

And so to the photo. The seat of power is visible top left. If it worries you, this has a cushion tied on it when in use - and is quite comfortable. Dead centre is the all-important control lever - at last in place (but not quite yet connected.) Just visible below is the over-ride cut-off manual switch to hit if everything goes pear-shaped.....

Hence the title. It's (going to be) the seat of power - power control or power shut-off, in emergency....

It's all very exciting. Because when it all works (electric drive is incredibly quiet) we can ambush anglers in the morning mist. Have people quizzically wondering why on earth the boat goes at all... (I bet the first comment is actually "So you're the boat that was converted to electric?" Or "So you've got electric drive, I thought about that but decided it was a waste of money. And wouldn't have the power in emergency.")

Ah, but we have twelve kilo-watts of searing power under the bonnet. Well, the deck. Never mind that if we actually ran it at that we'd probably just cause an alarming fountain at the stern (it's called turbulence and cavitation. Something propellors do if spun too fast.) Or that the battery pack would only last 20 minutes... at that power.....

Actually, it should just use a twenty-fourth of that power (on average)... and the batteries run for eight hours, therefore. Not that they have-to, if the whim takes one (or the meters reveal it's a good idea,) you can turn on the generator.

Which brings me neatly to the grey plastic bit on the right. No doubt you have all been wondering endlessly what it is. Ah, that's the siphon break. If you'd asked me three weeks ago I would have gone "uh?", also. I'd no idea how complicated the generator's exhaust system is to make it whisper-quiet. They say - I've not heard it yet! Now, actually, having at last read the generator's manual......

Firstly, I had to be wiped off the floor because it's translated from German and some of the errors of translation were so wonderful....

Secondly, I could write a thesis on how the exhaust system works. Fear not, I won't. Let me just explain that without that siphon break canal (or river) water can potentially be siphoned right into the generator's diesel cylinders causing about £6,000's-worth of damage, if not more.

I don't like money being a reason to do (or not-do) something... but I guess I'm glad the siphon break is fitted!

It may be as soon as Friday things actually "go".... pass me a tranquilliser... I've been wondering about this idea for at least eight years.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck for Friday (or should one say "break a generator")

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