Thursday, 5 July 2012

Brass bling?

Since we got back home, it's rained most days and the forecast for the weekend is poor with strong storms arriving from the near continent. Up until now the south, north and west have been getting the worst of the weather; it's now our turn. This is not really curtailing our boating because we had planned to be at home this week catching up domestic things like visiting parents, dentists, opticians, hairdressers, banks, charity shops, car boot sales, etc.

It has also enabled me to browse the internet for things for the boat. I came across a nice brass boat hook with two hooks and a pointy tip. It's arrived and now only needs a pole. I'm hoping the shorter pole that is already on the boat will be the right diameter (38mm). If not, I will have to source another one.

There's something about brass that sits well with narrowboats. Of course tradition has most to do with it but there is no doubt that the material (its colour, durability and quality) is just right when set along side wood. Practical and attractive. It beats stainless steel and plastic hands down.

I've also found quite a few brass bits and bobs in local charity shops and cbs's - things like wall hooks, small rings, door knobs, etc. picked up for a few pence. I'm not intending to cover the boat with brass 'bling' but these bits will not only be useful to hang coats and maybe a fender or two on but will tie in with my 'traditional' objective.

I found the two brass plaques on Ebay (there are so many to choose from and some of the final prices are out of this world!). I think these came from a couple of Victorian sack barrows - maybe only a remote connection with narrowboats but will go with the traditional theme.

A couple of weeks ago, while in Ely, I found a dressmakers measuring yardstick - the sort of thing a shop owner would have screwed to the edge of their counter to measure cloth. I can remember them from the 60's when my mum used to buy ribbon and elastic to make repairs to various undergarments (hers, not mine I should add). I'm not sure if these shops have them now - it's probably all standardised, platicised and digitised by now. Anyway, it's marked out with quarter, half and three quarter markings and looks fantastic on the edge of the steering step in the rear hatch. Again, it not only has the function of protecting the edge of the step from wear and tear but it also looks good. It certainly beats carpet off-cuts or checker-plate. A photo may follow, if I remember.

I also found in Long Melford Antiques, a brass bracket standing by itself in a darkened corner without a price tag. Recognising that it might have potential, I asked if it was for sale. I was told it was but it was part of an old oil lamp ensemble costing 40 quid. thanks. But we could sell you just the bracket Sir. (desperate or what?). So a satisfactory price was negotiated and I walked away with a heavy bit of brass that may work as an umbrella bracket in the rear hatch area. This is something for me to work out when I'm next on the boat. If you have any other ideas what I could do with it, just say. See John's face turn red!

I have also invested in a set of taps to enable me to tap and screw things to the steel hull. I have gone for just one size - 4mm. This simplifies things considerably with only one size tap, one size drill bit (3.5mm) and a small selection of screws (M4x16mm brass countersunk screws and the same size in round-headed s/s posi-screws). The last thing I wanted was to have a large set of taps and screws that would hardly ever be used, if at all. If I find I need more variety later, I will buy some then. I have also bought two old tap wrenches off Ebay. One has a short 'bar' handle  and the other with a small 'T' handle to get into confined spaces. They need to be short so that I don't risk breaking the taps.

I'll practice on a few bits of gash metal before I focus on the real thing because I've not tapped a whole for a few years. In fact, the last time was probably while I was at school, some years ago, and that experience is now lost in the mists of time. I'm sure it can't be too difficult. 

Now you'll wonder why I have added a photo of my new set of taps. This is what you do when you've got a new camera, some new toys and you're retired - right!

While writing about brass bling, I'll mention the new finger plates on the front doors. The original handles were just plain cupboard door handles which meant, when closing the doors from inside, you tended to wipe your hands over the door before you found the handle and this risked leaving scratches or greasy finger prints - can't have that Mrs Bridges! So, I found two attractive Victorian door finger plates, fixed a couple of small brass door knobs to them and, hey presto, a practical and attractive addition to the boat.

We hope to return to the boat next week, weather and river levels permitting.

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