Canal Boat Problems & Solutions
Tony Brooks is an expert on Marine Diesel Engine & Boat Maintenance matters. Thanks to him and TB-Training for permission to reproduce these materials. We've got Faultfinding Checklists and over 150 answers to problems in the sections below.
If you have a question..
Tony may answer, time permitting, your email problems concerning UK canalboat mechanical and electrical issues - Tony cannot answer questions about sea-going or overseas craft.
Give him plenty of details about the problem, its background and your equipment. And don't be too impatient, remember this is a FREE service!
We will publish informative answers here. Check the relevant page first (below). Contact him via his website.
Fuel systems, lubrication, marinising etc.
Smoking engines & more smoking engines!
Overheating engines, direct cooling, calorifiers
Gearboxes, stern glands, propellers, transmission etc.
Skin tanks, stern glands, fresh water systems
Wiring, earthing, alternators, battery management, etc.
Boat Maintenance - Breakdowns.
Best practice is to ensure your boat does not breakdown, rather than to try to learn to fix it if it does. Because of the virtually infinite combinations of equipment and installation methods, the only way to prevent breakdowns is to get to know your own boat - what is normal, what is not. Investigate oddities in performance of equipment, 90% of the time you will not find anything wrong, and the other 10% of the time you will prevent a breakdown.
The only way to get to know it is to spend time investigating it, finding out where the cables run, the water pipes run, and what type of equipment is fitted.
Having identified a piece of installation or equipment you are unsure of, seek advice on what it does, seek advice on how it works and what maintenance it needs. Boaters are, by and large, a helpful lot and will be happy to pass on their experience. In these modern times use the Internet! Join the news group uk.rec.waterways - just read the postings for a while and then you will be happy to ask for help when you need to.
One piece of advice if you are getting a boat built..
Ensure the design of your boat allows all the fixed structures to be put in place BEFORE the pipe-work (all of it - gas, fuel & water), control cables, calorifier, and wiring is put in place. This might require more design effort and cost a lot more, but when something goes wrong you need access to it, and to be able to remove and replace it.
You can not do this if it has been built in! It is ludicrous that a dinette has to be dismantled before panels can be removed to give access to change a water tank breather hose. How can an intelligent person run a main water supply hose through bearers and under a screwed down and built over narrow boat floor?