Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Mark and the Magic Torch

When our boat was built, we had a rechargeable torch mounted on the bulkhead just as you come down the aft steps.

It was similar to the aircraft emergency ones you see by the emergency exits on airliners.

Unfortunately, it has just given up the ghost after 8 years of valiant service.

Looking for a replacement, I was shocked at how expensive they are. The cheapest I could find was about £60 !!! :-0

It's not rocket science, but I've "devised" a small torch which sits in a charger on the bulkhead and runs from the boats 12V battery supply.

You just come into the boat, lift the torch out of its holster and use it to find all the switches, water cocks and so on, as you move throughout the boat.

When you've finished, you just put it back in the charger and it will be charged, ready for the next time.

It's also brilliant for the dark walk back to the boat from the pub - small enough to slip in the pocket (nobody wants a giant lantern on the table in front of them whilst supping a pint).

One charge lasts about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

I've connected it directly back to the domestic bank battery isolator switch, so its powered (charging) all the time (and protected by a small in-line fuse).

An added bonus is that it also fits in the cigar lighter on the car, so if I'm in the car it goes with me there and when I'm living on the boat, it goes on there with me.

The very neat feature I like is that when the torch is on charge, it has a little red light in the lens, which makes it easy to find when you're stumbling around half awake, at middle of the night o'clock, trying to work out whats thumping on the roof !!! - you can just see the red light in the photo above.

If anybody's interested, I bought two - am using one and have put the other on Ebay.

If it doesn't sell, some relative will get it as a present.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Float Switches Don't Float My Boat

I've never been greatly impressed with the float switches that are used in conjunction with bilge pumps to give automatic operation.

Many older models use Mercury tilt switches inside them. These are usually a small tube with electrical contacts at one end of the tube. When the float tilts, the mercury collects at one end of the tube and creates a conductive path to complete the circuit.

Mechanically activated float switches, which are often advertised as Mercury-free, use a steel ball in an enclosed run. When the float switch is tilted by the water level rising, the ball runs to one end and operates a lever, which in turn activates a micro-switch and makes the electrical connection to switch your bilge pump on.

Anything mechanical will eventually give problems.

I am now using a solid state switch for my bilge pump switching and bilge alarm applications.

These operate on electrical capacitance and are VERY reliable. So reliable, they come with a 5-year warranty. An added advantage of these is that they are very small, don't actually float up and suffer from unwanted buoyancy problems (never a good feature on a water levels switch) and they don't get triggered by an oil leak (which would result in pumping oil into the cut).

I've used these for a while now and am very impressed with them.

So much so, that I've started using them on my Intelligent Bilge Alarm design (my Mk3 version).

I also sell my surplus ones (and the bilge alarm) on my family Ebay site.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ebay Gum

Ebay, Gumtree, it's a different world.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I often produce interesting gadgets of a boaty persuasion.

You may remember my earlier post "Talking Bilge" about the Bilge Alarm shown above.

My workshop is getting rather crammed with pieces of boaty electrical equipment and finished projects, so in a tidying process, I've decided to pass them to my family who are keen Ebayers and have started an Ebay seller called Phoenix Marine as an outlet for my excesses.

Some of the equipment I have is still new in the original packing (I have a habit of buying more items than I need in case I need spares, etc) and some is what I suppose would be considered shop soiled in that they have been on my bench.
Anyway, one of the rules of Ebay is that it has to be clearly defined what is new and what is not - quite right too.
Although, they don't seem to have an intermediate condition for items that are new but have been gathering dust on my bench (classified by them as "used" I'm afraid).

I also have some very interesting items like clamp on, battery powered, LED navigation lights for when you take a narrowboat on a river and need lights just for a few hours a year (i.e. not worth the expense and trouble of running wires and fitting permanent ones).

Anyway, there might be a few interesting things coming in the pipeline..

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Alternative Little Venice

I've seen lots of blogs just recently, showing the same boaty pictures of the 2011 IWA Cavalcade at Little Venice.

To me, Little Venice is more than a line of massed reproduction working boats, flying bunting, with their owners Bolinder-waving to each other.

LV is a sub-culture all of its own, all year round.

It's an upmarket boating community - I guess it has to be with mooring fees being what they are, there.

It's one of the few moorings that I know, where all the boaters seem to have cut-glass accents.

In my eyes, these three pics portray the real spirit of Little Venice..