Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The engineer behind it all

On the left, Alan, boat engineer.....

Our boat conversion is complete. AND had its BSS (boat safety scheme) inspection today and passed. (OK, subject to me organising a few bits and bobs, as our builder would say.) Whilst Des (who else?) did this I had a chance to fiddle with working the electric drive and the generator... this boat is going to be SUCH FUN! As Des says, also.

Quieter than a whisper when run "pure electric", only slightly louder than a whisper with the generator on. And, boy, no lack of potential power!!!

The jury's out over how long it can run without the generator on - or, more acccurately, we've not actually run it anywhere significant to see what happens in practice. I guess we won't get to try that until after a visit to see a half-painted cocktail balcony this week-end....

The man on the right (for strangers, that's me) provided rather a lot of money and the basic science (that's not me, it's all received knowledge) to insist the conversion could and would work. Alan did the incredibly neat and painstaking work to fit the actual units brilliantly. (And the manufacturers of the units provided things that do do what they said they would (surprise!) - after a bit(?) of tinkering by Alan.)

In case you aren't aware, this is the ONLY narrowboat I know-of (and I've asked around a lot) that works in precisely this way. And this is the first public announcement that it WORKS, apparently extremely well. (I've heard of quite a few conversions that didn't!)


  1. Congratulations mate! Now, funnily enough, I was talking about this to a chap in the pub last Friday and he reckoned that you won't need to keep the generator running for long periods if you use a "twin screw" (or some such thing, I'd had a few at the time). Anyway, with luck he'll be there on Friday so you can take it up with him.

  2. Uh-huh. I know the answer. An "ideal" propellor design would increase efficiency by about 10% at best. To fit twin screws would mean a new boat.

    I spent many happy(?) hours looking up propellor fanatics' entries on the web. I won't pretend I understood a half of what they were saying but I'm quite sure I got the gist.

    So, a complete new boat (minimum cost over £50,000 let alone detail problems) or simply turn on the generator for 10% more of the time? I leave you to deduce the conclusion I came to.

    But if your friend wishes to propound his theories I'll happily pretend to be listening and won't admit I know the answer. So long as he buys the beers.

  3. Anonymous3:41 PM

    Hi there,

    We're considering converting a narrowboat to electric (with genset like yours) as part of an environmental education project.

    We were wondering if we could pick your brains: we'd really like to know if the "run genny for 40mins for a whole days cruising" works out, how many batteries, and, of course, cost...

    We'd be really grateful if you could drop us a line on lancaster [_at] seedsforchange [dot_] org [_dot] uk

    thankyou :-)!