General Boat Maintenance
It’s so important to take good care of your narrowboat, if they are neglected they are likely to cause problems and potentially even breakdown. Carrying out general boat maintenance is just as important as servicing your car on a regular basis.
However, even the most well maintained boats can breakdown - you can never account for all uncertain circumstances. That’s why we offer a specific narrowboat breakdown assistance to ensure you are protected if this happens to you when you least expect it. Most of the time, the things that go wrong can be fixed if you have the right equipment. So in addition to breakdown assistance, recovery and crew relay, our narrowboat breakdown assistance provides a practical telephone helpline which can help you to locate and fix simple problems, and potentially prevent the need for a recovery - saving your weekend’s cruising!
Listed below are just a few items that you can keep on board to prevent breakdowns.
Appropriate spares to keep on board:
- Multi-meter (battery tester)
- PTFE tape (for domestic leaks)
- Spare lengths of electrical / insulation tape
- Heat shrink tubing (for cable repairs)
- Refractometer for checking anti-freeze and batteries
- Spark plug sockets (for outboards only)
- Jump leads
- Morse cables for throttle and gear selection
- Fan belt
- Fuel filter
- Extra rope
If you are unsure where you can buy these parts then visit the River Canal Rescue’s online chandlery for any of the items listed above.
- Adjustable spanners
- Filter wrench
- Side cutters
- Socket set
Common issues with boats
- Fuel issues and contamination – diesel bug and water contamination are one of the most common issues that cause canal boat breakdowns. This can be any bacteria that could be building up inside your fuel or water tanks. The best way to treat this is to put additives inside the tanks to help kill the bacteria. Also note that when you fill up your water tank, you want to make sure this is clean and drinkable, to do this you would need to add water purification tablets.
- Electrical – this could be anything from loose wires to dodgy fuses – these are easily avoided by making sure you check that all wires are connected, any splits in electrical cables need to be repaired immediately with heat shrink tubing after being reconnected and if there is any sign off damp ensure you use water resistant spray.
- Cables and Linkages – cables have a tendency to rust, so keeping them greased or using a waterproof silicone lubricant will help to prevent this.
- Batteries - There a two different types of batteries; a cranking battery which is gives out a high output quickly which is great for spontaneous use and a leisure battery gives out a low output continuously making it ideal to be used frequently. It is important to know that cells can die if the battery is not used regularly, so if you don’t use your pleasure craft frequently then you should be sure to test your battery before setting off on a journey. Be sure to check your battery level and top up using de-ionised water and make sure the battery terminals are kept tight and greased.
- Overheating and cooling systems - Airlocks can cause overheating problems on narrowboats but not to worry this can be quickly resolved. You can tell if your system is working efficiently by seeing if there is a difference in temperature on the top and bottom of the swim tank. If you discover this is not the case then you can fix this by unscrewing the bolt at the top of the tank to release the air in the system. A few other causes for overheating issues could be a due to burst hoses, water pump failure, broken alternator belt that drives the water pump or even a head gasket.
Other important checks:
- Check for leaks and tape up where necessary
- Clean your boat engine for any spillages
- Check oil levels and top up
- Look for loose pipes or bolts
- Look for any wear and tear of cables and other electrical equipment
By keeping on top of these regular checks, you will be able to enjoy narrow boating on the waterways stress-free!
For those breakdowns that just can’t be fixed by yourself, please see our page for information on our breakdown cover.
Want to find out more about our Narrowboat Insurance?
Providing cover for your vessel, outboard motors, equipment, fixtures and fittings.