68. Narrowboat down the Oxford Canal to Priors Hardwick

{Quiet countryside sounds with
distant clock tower chiming} {Engine sounds} Leaving Napton on the Hill, we climbed through
the flight of locks. Between bridges 116 and 117 there’s The Old Engine House Arm that
once fed a pumping house that moved water up from Napton Bottom Lock. Winding our way south along the Oxford Canal
I moored up for a few days just west of the village of Priors Hardwick. The canal goes through some lovely countryside
west one minute and doubling back on itself east the next before passing the medieval
village of Wormleighton to where the next mooring spot at Fenny Compton. In the last episode I expressed how disappointed
I was with the breeze block coping stones at lock nine in the Napton flight. The chamber
wall needed to be completely rebuilt here and after a bit of a delay the new coping
stones were delivered. However, Canal and River Trust rejected them as they didn’t
meet the engineering and heritage quality and so the project’s been deferred until
later in the year. I’m pleased to say these breeze blocks are
purely there for the summer season. One of the jobs I wanted to get done was to
fit metal fairleads on the bow to avoid the ropes rubbing. After positioning them and
marking their holes, I drilled two small pilot holes. I’ve only ever used a tap and die
set where you manually wind a cutter into metalwork. However, I have recently seen in action a drill and
tap all in one, so thought I’d give them a go. The drill cuts the hole into the metal just
like a normal hss drill would but then it tapers into a thread which taps the hole.
I used a cutting lubricant to help the process. I reversed the drill once the tap had started
to cut to remove any debris and re drilled it again and job done. It’s a lot easier
than turning a handle and so much quicker. Once again, I fitted window tape foam to the
underside of the fairleads and fitted them in place. Note my reflection in the polished
plating! South of Napton one narrowboat owner has created
their own little mooring spot in the middle of a field. By the looks of the surrounding
soil, the boat’s been craned out and of course I expect there’s no need to pay for
a Canal and River Trust license. {Hunting horn} Whilst enjoying the warmer days west of Priors
Hardwick the locals were taking part in a hunt. And no, I saw no sign of any foxes. Now that I was getting used to a new way to
tap holes, being watched over by the boss, I fitted the rear vents in the stern doors
before moving south again. The weather heated up for a week or so and
it was a real pleasure to be on this section of the canal. {Gentle water lapping sounds} Next time I head down to Banbury where I find
the statue of the fine lady at Banbury Cross. Until next time, see ya later.


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