The story so far…
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Merikala being launched by Tony Tugboats

Delivery at last

A mixture of excitement and trepidation as we arrived bright and early at the marina to accept the delivery of Merikala.

Tony Tugboats was already there, preparing the boat for launch. If anybody ever needs a boat moving, Tony's your man, we can't recommend him highly enough.

She slid gracefully into the water without a hitch. We tied her up and climbed on board, now the moment we were dreading – would she start? We bought the boat without a river trial, as she
It was with some relief that she eventually coughed into life
was so cheap, but had no idea how she would run. It was with some relief that she eventually coughed into life.

All was not well with the engine though, she would only run with the revs kept well above idle and was decidedly lumpy, with a tendancy to die suddenly. This made the short trip back to our mooring quite interesting!

Despite the rough running, it was obvious that this was a sweet little engine, with no smoke from the exhaust and no rattles or knocks.

Closer inspection showed the carburettor to be leaking a lot of petrol from around the float bowl. The gasket had been removed and the joint sealed with silicone sealant, which had completely disintegrated.

Next we turned our attention to the fuel filter and fuel tap. The fuel filter was a Crossland type unit, that wasn't suitable for petrol, and the tap was also meant for diesel.

The filter was replaced with a combined filter/water separator unit and the tap was also replaced.

We weren't sure how long the petrol had been in the tank, so we drained off about five gallons and filled the tank with fresh fuel.

Ignition system woes

Inspection of the ignition system showed some problems. The distributor shaft was very worn, with a couple of millimetres free-play. A replacement rebuilt unit was sourced on eBay. We took the opportunity to replace the points with an electronic ignition unit from Accuspark too.

I can thoroughly recommend the Accuspark unit, it makes a real difference, and is well worth the modest cost.

We replaced the ignition coil, plugs and leads as well.

The engine ran sweetly for about half an hour and then just suddenly died. A little investigation showed the fuel pump to have failed! Back to eBay for a new pump…

Once the new pump was fitted and primed, the engine fired up first time. The valve clearances were set and the valve gear appears to be in very good condition. The ignition timing was set with a timing lamp and then tweaked by ear. After an oil change she was ready to go!

We're really pleased with the engine, she purrs like a kitten, much quieter than our old Freeman. Has always started first turn of the key and will push the boat along quite happily at idle.

Work planned for the coming winter

We've a lot planned for this winter. Mainly work to the windows and keels.

The windows leak like a sieve so will have to come out and be refurbished. We'll remove and refit the windows ourselves, but have them professionally stripped and rebuilt. We have a very competitive quote from a company in Brundall and will post a link if the work is up to scratch.

We need to have some steel keel shoes manufactured to cover the exposed keel bolts. The keels are otherwise sound, but as is usual on these boats, the area around the bolt heads has rotted away. These will simply fit over the bilge and main keels, bedded on mastic and bolted through. Hopefully they'll be good for many years to come.

Time and money permitting we'd like to replace the porta-potti with a proper flushing sea toilet, as the boat was originally on the Thames where overboard discharge is not allowed. No such restrictions on the Great Ouse though.

We've got more than enough work to keep us going for years to come, but as things stand, she's a very useable boat. Our intention is to use her as much as possible during the warmer months and do any major work to her over the winter.
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Lots of wood in the cockpit to refinish or replace
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A view of the spacious cockpit. We intend to make the bench seat deeper for a bit of extra comfort
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The Ford Wortham Blake 1600cc cross-flow engine was clean but rough-running and the bilges were full of water.
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The Stromberg carb being stripped, cleaned and gaskets replaced. The float bowl gasket was missing completely!
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The new fuel filter an tap!
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The remanufactured Fomoco distributor is as good as new!
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The windows need to come out and be refurbished
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One of the exposed keel bols.
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We will make a new dashboard and furnish it with a few more dials
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The wiring is ok, but will need updating in due course