It couldn’t be put off any longer, it was time to do some maintenance work. Having availed myself of the Halfords special offer on oil which gave me 10 litres and two sets of screwdrivers for forty quid (Many thanks to Sue on No Problem for highlighting that on the blog), all that remained was to get cracking.
First off I checked the bow thruster and its dedicated battery at the pointy end of Caxton, all was well but I topped the battery cells up with a little de-ionised water. At the blunt end I did the same with the starter battery and while I was there I went down the weed hatch and cleared a few bits of crap that had wound around the prop, nothing serious but it might as well be removed whilst I was in the mood.
The next job was to check and tighten the three drive belts and as I did so I made a note of the various sockets and spanners used. I’ve also made a note of the belt reference numbers and will source some spares before they break, thus avoiding extortionate chandlery prices in future.
Next up was the oil. The gearbox has a slight leak, more of a weep really, which collects in a plastic tray in the bilge so I had a pretty good idea of how much I would need to top up by. After that was done I ran the engine for ten minutes before pumping out the old engine oil. Despite the fact that there is a sump pump, it doesn’t sit high enough to accommodate a five litre bottle underneath. No matter, a bit of hose pipe and a jubilee clip soon allowed me to clear the sump of the black stuff. Removing the oil filter proved to be a bit of a challenge, I had a pair of rubber strap type wrenches for the job but the filter was on so tight that I managed to break both. Fortunately, the local branch of Screwfix is next to the marina so after a short walk I was able to remove the offending article with my new pair of oil filter pliers.
I almost managed to get away without dropping any oil in the bilge but not quite, however the small amount that did escape took very little effort to mop up. With the new filter on, it was just a matter of pouring in the new oil, running the engine for five minutes, checking for leaks and then topping up to the mark on the dipstick.
A quick check of the fuel at the bottom of the aggregator completed the service so all that was left to do was just clear away the tools and dump the rubbish and old oil.
I did mention to Sue that because of the cramped space that I have to squeeze myself into to do some of the work, our next boat (should there be one) will have a proper engine room. Her suggestion was to use child labour like they do in other countries!