Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Bells and Whistles

Whilst waiting for the boat build to start and engine rebuild to complete, I became actively involved in a couple of canal boat forums. This gave a dramatic boost to my knowledge of narrowboats, but it was whilst browsing a canal boat magazine that I saw featured a boat with an oversize searchlight mounted on the bows. Investigation revealed it was from the renown manufacturer Francis. It just looked so right albeit way more powerful than needed for a tunnel lamp. Nevertheless I just had to have one.

By chance I discovered a lady whose late husband rebuilt ex fire service ones, removing the chrome and highly polishing the brass body underneath. She had one left at a substantial price so I initially tried bidding on similar but unrestored ones on eBay. This proved fruitless so I bit the bullet and bought the 11 inch F type lamp from her when she agreed to throw in an original brass base.

Further investigations of antique brassware evolved into a secondary interest and other modest purchases followed including a three bell terret to be mounted on the engine room pigeon box. I could only get excited about items I could see fitting into my boat concept though. Some items just looked right others didn't. So far I have old kitchen scales, a twin burner oil lamp, miners safety lamp, copper kettle and the ubiquitous horse brasses to adorn the boatman's cabin.

Following visits to various narrowboat rallies I saw many boats toting vintage brass trumpeted horns. Back on eBay after much web surfing I began to get a feel for what was sort after. After failing on the bidding for several classic horns I took a gamble on a vintage Desmo one from the prolific manufacturer in Birmingham and finally won the bid. The chrome on the trumpet was worn in places to the extent that I could see the brass underneath. After at least twelve hours of hard labour which included rebuilding and re-painting, this was the result. I have since fabricated a mounting bracket.

At the Braunston historic boat festival I bought this huge old oil pressure gauge. The calibration was just right for the Lister and as soon as I saw it, pictured it sitting on the engine room bulkhead. This will be complemented by the brass tidal clock and copper anchor lamp I already owned plus an extremely cheap old brass grease gun, another eBay purchase. Another smaller brass oil pressure gauge will sit mounted on the roof behind the pigeon box in view of the steerer.

Clearly I'm going to get plenty of arm exercise in the future.

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