Highest ever canal boat breakdown callouts

Boat breakdowns, frequently caused by fuel issues or lack of maintenance, probably reached their highest level ever in 2022. River Canal Rescue says its number of general callouts for electrical, fuel and engine issues, flat batteries, over-heating and gear box failures, is likely to reach an all-time high by the end of the year.

Figures up to 30 September are already 3318, ahead of 3235, logged for 2021, and 2850 in 2020. RCR believes the rise is partly due to the high number of people unable to visit and maintain their boats during lockdown, resulting in minor niggles now becoming larger problems.

So what are the top causes of breakdowns this year, why do components fail and how much do they cost to replace? Replacement part prices are in brackets.

Contaminated fuel filters caused by fuel issues, specifically ‘sticky fuel’ problems, were the biggest single cause of breakdowns. (£5 – £15)

Electrical problems came next causing a total of nearly 50% of breakdowns between them. Cables suffering wear and tear or badly routed. (£20 – 140), Battery problems caused by using the wrong type of battery, wrong capacity or charging levels and lack of attention to electrical connections. (£80 – 230), Alternators misaligned, fan belt too tight, electrical faults or damp. (£70 – £270)

Mechanical problems caused over 20% of problems. Starter motors failed due to over-use, dampness, electrical faults, over-tightening of parts (£120 – £600, £1200 for Vetus), Gearboxes suffered from lack of servicing and heavy-handed operation (£450 – £1200), Worn fan belts (£10-30), Drive plate issues caused by hitting underwater obstacles, stern gland too tight, misaligned engine, excessive vibration due to worn engine mounts, engine revs too high. (£70 – £160), Couplings hitting underwater obstacles, snapped bolts, stern gland too tight, misalignment. (£80 – £800), Engine mount issues due to hitting underwater obstacles, wear & tear, age, rubber degrading, misalignment and bolts shearing, morse controllers failing due to wear& tear.

Pump failures also resulted in breakdowns; Fuel pumps & injection pumps were liable to blockages from contamination and fuel pipes degrading (£50 – £150) and Water pump and Seal failures were caused by wear & tear, impeller break up and sheared components.

RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton concludes: “This list demonstrates why our Replacement Parts Cover is important as it covers the most common parts that need replacing. RPC also has an excess of £50 so covers items that have a higher value.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue and its services visit www.rivercanalrescue.co.uk

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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