Well, we've had Pat's Progress, during the renovation and upgrade stage.
Then, Pat's Progressed, following launch and during the commissioning stage.
Now, Pat Testing. Which takes us through the sea trials and safe operating procedure development.
Yesterday, the CCt's fleet of craft were under the keen eye of the boat safety examiner who was on site around Ebley/Ryeford for most of the day.
Various issues were spotted, but suffice to say that Patricia scored as one of the best. We are required to add some more insulation to the exhaust pipe circuit. A pity, since the flexible coupling makes quite a good hand warmer!! However, this we will do.
Before testing today, we had noticed a small spark, on Monday, from around the fuse panel that is bolted to the engine. We've mentioned alternator problems in the past, so further investigations revealed a slightly slack stud supporting a large fuse.
This was then dismantled and cleaned, together with checks on all the other components. Following the rebuild, the engine was started and behold, the battery voltage meter hit the green for the first time and the intermittent warning lights went out. This is a very pleasing result as it has been niggling us for a while now.
Back to Pat Testing. It is important that we fully understand the use of the spud legs. As the JCB boom is swung from side to side and the load shifts with it, the feet tend to settle further into the canal bed/silt. Nothing too dramatic happens, it is a gradual process. Our plan is to evaluate this characteristic with the feet both in the straight position and at right angles, protruding outside the boat.
Time today was short and did not permit a full evaluation, so will probably continue next time. It is interesting the odd things that you stumble across which can contribute to safe operation. Although we've known before that the spud legs can be lowered when the hydraulic drive is not selected (used when loaded onto lorry at Western Depot) It is a handy way to establish where the canal bed is without forcing them down. Just letting the legs naturally rest at the bottom is a very gentle way of preparing them for taking load and at the same time ensuring that you have actually made it to the bed. So this will make its way into the manual.
The sun shone today. The rest of the dredger team were busy just a bit further east.