Category Archives: narrowboat

We’ve purchased a narrowboat

Monday, 1st March 2021. Lockdown. I paid for Elysium last Friday and have been told that she is ours.

Elysium is her current name, but neither of us really like it, so we are trying to decide on a new name. This may take us a while.

We organised a full survey and a river trial. Essentially she is sound with a good 10mm base plate, 6mm hull and 3mm cabin. The engine is a Lombardini LDW903 20hp 3 cylinder diesel, and it not considered a great engine.

She has a rather odd layout inside. A nice shower with a grim loo leading into a kitchen, bed and a lounge. This will change. I like the idea of a bed at the bow.

The gas hob and oven will be removed. I don’t trust myself with gas on a boat, if there is a leak the gas will make its way to the bilge. We will have a meths cooker and a microwave. Not sure what to use the gas lockers for.

The plan is to get her ready to move in April/May from near to Heathrow back to the Fens and to a marina near to Newmarket. Its going to be an interesting summer.

Elysium is being craned out of the water on the 3rd of March to be cleaned and the hull blacked, then an engine service and cam belt change. The engine bay is in a poor state and needs a good clean. Craned back into the water at the end of March.

So, the plans for this year are :

  • Disconnect Gas
  • Install Spirit cooker
  • Remove Oven
  • Move and rewire fridge
  • New toilet
  • Remove sofa
  • Remove mattress
  • Make table/seating
  • Make ottoman bed
  • remove front cover/cratch
  • Move hot water cylinder
  • Move batteries
  • 48v from Engine
  • reconfigure batteries to 48v
  • Install Inverter/charger

..oh and to install some radios

48v narrowboat electrics

Hopefully this week, we will finalise the purchase of Elysium. I have a medium term plan to convert her to hybrid power using a 48v motor as well as the Lombardini 20HP diesel engine.

Elysium ( her name might change ) currently has a 12v system configured as below ( circuit drawn with kicad ) :

This is all fairly standard. However, Elysium’s 12v system needs upgrading and I have plans to convert Elysium to a hybrid diesel electric drive and will need a 48v high capacity supply for this. So, the questions is – should I install a 12v system for the short term or a ( complicated ) 48v system for the long term ?

Below is the proposed solution. I like Victron kit. The engine’s existing 12v alternator charges the cranking battery and the 12v/240v inverter feed one mains input to the quatro, the other being from shore power/generator. This has the minor advantage for being able to charge the 48v battery bank to its full capacity ( 14.4 bulk charge ).

The disadvantages are the unnecessary complexity, especially creating the 12v for the fridge, bilge pumps and comms radios. The design feels unsatisfying. In order to charge the 12v battery bank, both the quatro and the 12v charger will need to be running, with the power loss that entails.

The next image is a slight modification where we add a fictitious 48v input 12v 3 stage battery charger, I’m not sure these exist.

Of course the upgraded 12v only system is easier, it will just need replacing if I move to 48v propulsion :

So, that’s it for now.

Buying A Narrowboat in lockdown

Before the second covid-19 second wave and associated lockdown hit us in December 2020, I had looked at a number of narrowboats with a view to purchase.

Of course I found a narrowboat that seemed solid, albeit rather scruffy. She had an odd engine, reverse layout and a cruiser stern. She ticked all the boxes and we could just afford her.

Unfortunately, when I saw her at the brokers near to Heathrow, it was pouring down with rain. I had a brief look outside, and good look inside but no view at all of the engine. After some consideration I put in an offer, negotiated and it was accepted dependant on survey and river trial. I fully expected to be there to chat with the surveyor after the survey, and visit during the buying process to measure things up.

Then we went into the second lockdown. We were taking lockdown seriously so a trip to the brokers was not possible, and the broker forbade it.

The boat was taken out of the water for a full survey and I had the report that evening. There are issues, but nothing terrible.

I’m just rather uncomfortable taking the purchase forward on a narrowboat that I have only seen once, in the rain.

Anyway, to put this in context, I realise I am very lucky to be able to sell our motorhome and buy and narrowboat during the pandemic, when so many people are suffering.