23 February 2019

Had better Post this one!

Some of the great things that happen on our canal are often not reported, so stumbling across this was a pleasure.

For a long time, the old stone post has stayed bare, but now, one of the new cast locally made replica milestone plates has been fixed in position adding great interest to the towpath section just below Hope Mill.
 Above Hope Mill, but below Gough's Orchard Lock, much clearance activity has taken place.  Two interesting developments, but which group(s) of elves had the pleasure?
The towpath has also received attention and is now in superb condition for all to enjoy. 

22 February 2019

WOT? Dredging on FRIDAY??

by: Bob H.

One of our stalwart volunteers, Sue only spends the Summer with us, as well as doing farm work during the week. (She Winters in Scotland!!).  The busy week means she is limited to when she can help.  Being a farming girl, she has a lot of tractor driving experience, so she was persuaded to come and learn how to remove silt with a lovely piece of plant which had a JCB origin. Almost!! 

Since she is so busy elsewhere, FRIDAY was offered, as one of Instructors was available. 
So a full day was set up.

Here’s Sue C, hard at work, concentrating furiously and doing a good job of using her two hands to control the bucket position. 

Left, right, up, down, forwards, backwards, open and close.  Again and again and again. 
It takes time, perseverance and not a little imagination to achieve good safe, smooth, and efficient movement.  And that’s without a single bucketload of silt leaving the bottom of the canal. 

She’ll be a good ‘un!  
Ham Mill Feb 20th 2019

by: Andy P.

A different sort of start to the day.  A 9 am start in fact.  Leader Bob was at WD trying to get some transport to take the screw pile machinery back as we may not be using it now as screw piles are non heritage.  Only the tipper was available.  Great but it had a flat tyre.  Not great. 

The 4 of us Bob, Mathew, Richard and Andy loaded everything on the now suitably tyred tipper as we all set off into the middle of nowhere to return everything.  We got back just in time for lunch suffering from non working withdrawal symptoms. 

That soon changed as we set about moving the trench box.  Bob on the BD had to very carefully dig out more of the trench, not helped by some inappropriate signalling.  Heavy chains were fitted, refitted, adjusted and refitted to get the box to vertically fit tight against the wall side and miss the end of the pipe.  There is not much space to work.
The BD slowly and carefully back filled the exposed trench areas around the trench box but ran out of reach, but at least the somme is looking a bit flatter.

The BD is big and only has a big bucket so we need a combination of this and something smaller for trench work.  Let’s hope one is available to hire next week.  Exciting.

21 February 2019

The Boat Team

by: Myron

Quite a lot happened this week with the Boat Team.

On Monday, Weedie was relieved of all the old debris associated with the old mesh.  Thanks to WD for taking on this thankless task.  A crew from the depot met Weedie at Stonehouse Court and a short while later Weedie was able to continue up the cut.  The boats systems were thoroughly tested and all checked out fine. The boat was taken up and moored at Ebley. Next week she will travel through Dudbridge Lower and on up to Stanton’s Bridge area where she has unfinished business.  Some of you may recall this is where the old mesh finally gave up the ghost, just as Weedie was getting stuck in, in earnest.

Meanwhile Goliath was out training and I believe they had a very pleasant day.

Tuesday was a big day for Goliath. Two trainees carried out their final assessment.  This is something that we have started doing over recent months. It is overseen by an instructor who has not had much experience with the trainees.  The trainees are expected to command the boat through all the major activities it can carry out, including general handling, lock work and hopper movements.  It goes down well with all concerned, as it both introduces a second opinion and proves to all including the trainee, that they have what it takes to command a tug in all situations.  It Needless to say, both passed with flying colours. Congratulations to Ian Nie and Malcolm Webb on achieving their WRG 21c tickets.

Wednesday was I believe  a day that might now start to be called routine. Margaret made herself useful moving hoppers for the Dredgers.

On Thursday I made my contribution along with others.  I welded some angle iron onto Delilah as part of the fitting of the crane.  It was interesting to observe the amount of activity on the canal. Apart from us three on Delilah, there were about eight people just next door getting on with the latest landing stage.  The SDC gang were also in the vicinity, doing all sorts of maintenance to towpaths.

Sorry there is no photos, mostly 'cos I wasn’t there, but even when I was, I had my head stuffed inside a welding helmet.

Ham Mill Feb 18th 2019
by: Andy P.
I have never liked returning to work after a holiday but Monday was probably one of the worst.  I do not know what it is about Ham Mill and land slips but we arrived to see that the wall down the old tow path had slipped almost into the trench, that had been dug for the pipe. Lots of d and f words.  Numerous emails had already been flying around but the scale of it was bad.  I am sure Sir Doctor Hindsight (SDH) will have a field day.
 So another challenge for the gang of 8. Duncan went to retrieve the BD-ah but it was trapped on the wrong side of the canal so he had to rebuild the causeway to get back over to help dismantle the collapsed wall.

In the meantime we entered the Somme trench, protected by a hefty trench box to hand dig out the solid mud. Buckets were lowered and filled and lifted out as Kay added the spoil, to the Somme sculptures. We finally, after several rotating hours reached the water table which allowed us to assess the pipe levels. All part of the punning clan!

The mole award of the day going to Jason and his funny bone.
The BD slowly lifted out the wall stones which were all carefully placed in a chosen spot ready for the rebuild.
Then began the task of digging the trench deep enough, without undermining the other wall side, to accept the new pipe we wanted to fit. This took a long time with lots of finger signalling going on.
We had several important visits during the day from designer, engineer and the big boss.  We are grateful for their contribution and support as it was confirmed that the bridge itself would not fall over and a revised plan was established to rebuild the now disappeared supporting wall.  It’s worth noting that no one was hurt or injured and there were no serious risks.  Everything is being done in a considered and controlled manner, despite things seemingly conspiring against us.

The pipe was cut and cut again and 2 bends fitted and tried, first in the trench and then assembled up top with the help of the mini digger straps.

The part length pipe was put in place and gently squeezed into place by bucketless BD. Now for the 2 bends.  'Lets use BD again' was the shout, so late into the evening it was all in place.

The final act being to drag the trench box over the new pipe end to hopefully stop anymore land slippage.
Our neighbourly neighbour appeared with a spot light so we could see to refit the BD and move it to a safer place.  It was late and dark, very dark.

Thanks to Bob, Jason, Kay, Monday Maurice, Duncan, Andy, Richard and Matthew (also for the blog in my absence) without whom, the day would not have been so fruitful.  It’s downhill all the way now.

No time for SDH thinking, other than we should use the proper kit and for certain jobs work more than 2 days a week to finish things off.

20 February 2019

Project 'DNF'  - No.5 Refit

And yet another fine day.  As usual, the bodywork shop was in full swing today attacking the encrusted layers of old paint on the engine cover.  This has required a considerable amount of effort to reduce to dust.  Many ancillary parts were attached to this, leaving many odd holes, but there will be none after the refit as we are planning to make this a sliding cover to greatly improve access to the engine bay.

Our hydraulics man duly arrived as arranged and this contributed to the already blooming planning session concerning the layout of piping and other components inside the hull.

There will be a full refit of the boom and jib, with careful consideration given to the dynamics of the hoses as the turret is rotated.  The old hoses clearly show signs of friction on their surface, not ideal for high pressure duties. 

The cradle for the hydraulic oil tank was finally bolted to the hull and the tank placed in it.  The eagle eyed of you might have noticed that the engine is now facing the other way.  This was a consequence of the detailed hydraulic plumbing logistics assessment!
Two other components were extracted from the store.  The oil filter/water separator assembly is now fixed near the back end of the starboard fuel tank and the battery tray will find a place to rest right at the foot of the engine on the port side just as soon as some paint has been deposited on the bare and rusting metal.

We hope to have a very tidy engine room with all the pipes and wires neatly tucked away, unlike the old No.5 spaghetti solution.

And finally, with the cab still awaiting a decision on its future, an alternative and attractive idea capable of carrying sponsorship, was trialled this morning.  It's much simpler and far less costly.  What do you think?

A38 Whitminster Roundabout - CCT working in Partnership(Phase 1B)
by: Dave C.

It was Monday morning when 2 pick-up loads of CCT volunteers and one pick-up of Stroud District Council personnel descended on Whitminster Roundabout.  CCT had been asked by the Contractors via SDC to help clear the centre of the roundabout of some of the trees, specifically those that obstructed the way for equipment to dig the new canal.  As most of you would imagine, working in the middle of roundabout involves multiple permissions and agreements, as well as working under the rules and regulations of Agencies.  So having had a brief at the depot, a man in a White Hat came and told us how to be safe and made us sign his form (he had a clipboard and everything), another chat with Amey's work supervisor to ensure we didn't get in each other's way and a couple of minutes with Geotechnical to check out their bore hole kit, and everyone was (almost) happy.  The traffic management people then turned up and put cones everywhere making us all very popular with the locals.

Dave P, Derek and Mike L set off with their chainsaws while Richard, Fred, Maurice, Ian M and John P (yes SDC personnel rolled their sleeves up and got on with the work).
Soon after getting started, a nice man from Amey wandered over to see us to ask if we could spare some volunteers to clear the space for the bore hole machine.  Suitably briefed off went Derek and Richard with chainsaw and pole-saw to clear the way.  Back came the man from Amey to tell us he needed the brash and wood taken away, a quick scan of the task quickly resulted in the conclusion we needed reinforcements, so out came Buffer and Jeff in the tipper. Clearly the work was taking its toll on some, so a trip back to the depot was arranged at lunchtime.  As the amount of wood was quickly pilling up, we called for the tipper again and Steve C dutifully arrived and a ferry system was established.  With all the logging cut and transported we called it a day and went for a nice sit down.

Wednesday we were back on site and Ian arrived with the new toy , an industrial sized chipper.  After a bit of head scratching on how to get the thing going, a few random buttons and leaves were pushed and pulled and the thing leapt into life.  There then began the competition to find the biggest bit of wood to through into chipper to see what would happen - the chipper was very chipper and coped with everything we had.
Clearly this was a bit of a different activity for our volunteers, involved in the first meaningful step of 1B restoration and working alongside Gloucester Highways, Amey, Geotechnical and of course SDC is a sign of things to come for anyone wanting to be involved in getting the Stroudwater Navigation Connected. (Now - Cotswold Canals Connected....ed.)