Maxem gets an engine!

When I found Narrowboat Maxem one of her many immediate attractions was that her engine location was inside the boat in an engine room about a third down from the stern rather than an engine that was fitted under the stern!

However, no engine was in the boat!

This is a traditional location for a narrowboat steam and then diesel engine and enables the display of the engine and a great access for servicing.

My research about Maxem revealed (probably accurately) that Maxem had been built in 1998 and had a Kingfisher diesel engine which the previous owner had dismantled, removed and sold for spares to finance a new engine.

The engine room was very empty, very spacious, and gave me the opportunity to research what new engine I was going to purchase and fit and how and where I was going to get it done.

So, I started to do lots of research about what was the most suitable engine and where would I get it fitted.

Maxem is 57’ long and weighs about 20 tons. She will spend much of her time in the Leeds and Liverpool canal where the maximum length for the locks is 60’.

There were many challenges in selecting the correct engine including:

  • Meeting the environmental demands – some in the future!
  • Moving a boat between 60 – 70 feet long
  • Dealing with a weight about 20 tons
  • Turning a propeller 18’ to 12”

After lots of research I decided on the 45hp Barrus Shire Engine. Since 1998 Barrus has been manufacturing Shire marine propulsion engines specifically to suit narrow boats, wide beam boats and Dutch barges. They are based on Yanmar Engines. In their first year of production, they were the first – and are still the only – engine manufacturer to design and fit a genuine twin thermostat system. This enables hot water to be produced from the engine and cooling to be efficient.

Having decided on the desired engine the next challenge was how to get it fitted. My original plan was to get the engine installed at Whilton Marina, but they seemed uninterested in doing that and even if they were there would be a considerable delay.

So, I set about discussing options with all the boatyards close to home and had very little success. The issues included how I would get the boat to them and then in the canal, what timing could they offer and was I convinced with their skills.  

Eventually I started to move back towards the Whilton Marina and discovered The Botany Bay Boatyard which is on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Chorley. The yard has been trading for many years on the longest canal in northern England and has built up an excellent reputation and experience for lifting boats in and out of the canal and giving great customer satisfaction and value. I was very impressed with the engineer and the value of what they could provide.

The Barrus Shire engine was ordered, and it was decided to add a hot water system linked to the engine and build and install a pump out toilet system.

How to get the boat to Chorley was the next challenge and I discovered a great boat mover called AS Taylor International and got Maxem onto a wagon, up to Chorley and then using their crane into the canal!

She arrived very early one Saturday morning……………

I was quite amazed that Maxem arrived on an American style Lorry – I have seen many of those but not in the UK with narrowboats on their backs!

And, I was very surprised that when the driver’s door opened a very young lady driver emerged and started to attach Maxem to the crane!

A S Taylor were a great company to deal with. Very flexible in dealing with the craning needed at Whilton and delivering to Chorley exactly as they had promised.

Maxem was quickly craned off the truck and in the canal!

The next challenges were about fitting the engine, the hot water system and the pump out toilet which included constructing and fitting a toilet holding tank under the bed!

The challenge now was how to get the new engine into the boat! Dismantling the engine enough to get it through the side doors would impact the guarantee so we decided to cut a hole in the roof of the engine roof, use the crane to get the engine into the engine room and then weld the steel plate back in place! That would destroy lots of the woodwork in the engine room but would be effective!

The engineer at Botany Bay did a great job of fitting and testing the engine and I have replaced all the wood which was damaged and fitted a steel fence which prevents Luca from getting “involved” with the engine!

I made as traditional an engine room as I could.

The engine works beautifully, and the room is a great place to keep all the necessary engineering accessories.

The steel fence is effective in keeping Luca (and other crew members) from getting “involved” with the engine!

Getting access for servicing the engine is great – all the filters are easy to replace and changing the oil is also easy! – much better than locating the engine under the stern although it does take up some of the boat space.