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Patience is a Morris Minor named Pentargon

Posted on April 22, 2012 at 4:00 AM

APRIL 2012

Patience is a Morris Minor named Pentargon

Initial draft submitted to website  2012-04-20


The whole experience of buying and commissioning a boat needs to be taken as a unit and this bald statement is about be proven. Pentargon was bought as an uninsurable wreck. She had been abused (not by her owner I quickly interject, but by 'professionals' who should have known better!) and needed to be brought back as much as possible to how she was, coming out of Market Harborough in 1973. The skipper/owner needed to get to know his boat and this process had commenced almost as soon as the search for Pentargon had begun in 2010.

Pentargon should be bottomed in 6mm [nominal] steel plate to ensure that never again would she need to be re-bottomed. This plate would give sufficient buffer for ultra-sound checks for the next 25yrs. Welder and dry-dock were contacted as soon as purchase cheque was cleared (mid-Jan.) and a date (7Feb'12) was set for her to go in to dry dock.  At this juncture one should caution that kindly advisors had warned us that no matter what time schedule you try to write for getting stuff done on t'cut it will be out by an order of magnitude ot two.

If you want or need work done on TIME it'll cost ya serious wonga.

This operation is not funded by The City so time is tee-totally negotiable.

 Pentargon was designed and built by Sam Springer with a v-bottom and [on Pentargon at least] there is no keelson. the original bottom having had 7º positive di-hederal pressed into 3/16 steel sheets (4.7mm for eurosceptics) at assembly back in 1973. It seems almost no-one in the canal business remembers how v-bottom Springers were fabricated, which might explain how repairers got it so wrong, when in 2003 they used 3.7mm plate to fcuk up a bodge so com pre hen siv ely. It doesn't enlighten us as to why and I'm not devulging in public at least who or where they did what they did. (Are all six of Kiplings honest serving men accounted for? )

Stories like the gasworks fiction abound on t'cut and this sort of tripe passes with other tripe as fact. By a stroke of luck, my surveyor knew the welder I needed. Paul works from a yard near Rugby and is a consummate expert at welding canal boats and equipment. He does jobs no-one else can handle, such as restoring cast-iron plates from lock gates for BW.  But it was necessary to go through some hoops to get perhaps the best man in England to work on Pentargon.

 While enroute to Rugby, Pentargon was advised that some delay was envisaged in getting her into dry dock and it might now be mid Feb. before a slot was available. Kindly advisors had warned us that no matter what time-schedule you plan for getting stuff done on t'cut will be out by an order of magnitude ot two. Skipper/owner being an opportunist and master of turning negatives to positives, saw this as an opportunity to hone the process of familarisation.

 Having to delay a fortnight meant the familiarisation process could be pursued on the cut while awaiting the call. Driving, manoeuvering, mooring, victualling, locking,  the intricacies of  Lone-Ranging on t'cut were sampled, tested, revised, honed. One got to live aboard in almost deep-freeze conditions, including being ice-clamped for over a week. All of that was accomplished without piped water, toilet facilities or, initially, on-board heat. A silly little Therm-X device was deemed entirely useless early on and was removed completely along with all it's associated plumbing and fittings. The boat had been 'winterised' so the plumbing had been isolated and drained last Autumn (or was it the autumn before?). Mid-Feb came and went and so did the cold. Mid-March came and went and Pentragon trialled a Hampshire heater,  the first Hampshire on t'cut . With April almost upon us, Pentargon was called in.   

 By then, Pentargon was fully acclimatised to conditions and lifestyle on t'cut under a new owner who his-self was familiar with the boat, the canals, the facebook community, websites, locking, docking, tunnels even to a great extent how the system works, like where underwater shopping trollies are [supposed to be] in the greater Rugby area. One also knew where to find toilets, showers, wi-fi, buses, lumpwood charcoal,  a Gongoozler's breakfast, a Badsey Pint, a bit of plastic hose or a garage to fix the support car. Rugby and it's environs is a place where, despite protestations to the contrary, you can sort just about anything. Well maybe not lumpwood charcoal but that will probably be a chapter of it's own later!

Whither the lumpwood charcoal? After a week of sub-zero temperatures on board without heat in February, Pentargon was treated to a Hampshire heater, the only Hampshire on t'cut as of time of writing. Hampshire is a 21c.AD answer to heating a narrowboat with 14c.AD know-how and renewable energy while producing [almost] no ash. The teeny bit of ash that is produced goes directly into an AirHead toilet along with processed No2s to become useable compost for on-board or land-side horticultural escapades at a future date. Suffice that some five weeks of trialling sorted out how to avoid being cold aboard. However, at the time of writing the Airhead is mid-Atlantic in a container ultimately bound for Whilton Chandlery where it will be collected at the waterside later. Whenever!

 A 36' Springer is to all intents and purposes a canal version of the "Morris Minor". Accordingly it is entirely fitting that her ship's horn is from a 1962 Morris Minor discovered in White's Breaker's Yard on the A45 just outside Coventry.  Rugby and it's environs is a place where despite protestations to the contrary, you can sort just about anything. The Lucas "WindTone" was refurbished (for which read "kicked into life overnight") by Autolec Rugby. It was 'field' tested outside Hillmorton and, in calm weather conditions was heard on Badsey's lawn from above the top lock. A 2nd one may be fitted later to make a duelling pair if we feel a need to subdue unruly gobdaws on t'cut. 

Autolec also sourced Pentargon's digital voltmeter which reads 'working' line voltage plugged in to an existing cigarette lighter socket fitted originally to drive a little inverter. Pentargon now sports a bank of cig.lighter sockets in the roof of the galley and supplied by Maplin Rugby. Into these are plugged all the kit normally used in the support vehicle i.e. GPS, phone charger,  charger, USB slots. An on-board independant emergency system acts as an alternative power source. Just because Pentargon is a floating Morris Minor does not mean she is 19c. 20c. in reality.

Once t'cut was for REAL work-boats exclusively: now most are look-alikes and pretenders. Think of Pentargon as proud as punch Morris Minor owners tootling along the newly opened Rugby to Leeds section of the  M1 in 1966, in their shiny 1962 MM complete with Windtone, a picnic hamper in the boot and an AA badge on the front bumper.  





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