24 June 2019

Harpers Field Update

by: Steve. Ph

Team Strikes Water in Harpers Field.

The Western Depot team lead by Dave C with support from dry dredging continued to make good progress in Harpers field with the first services trench reaching the bottom of the field near the current landing stage.
By the time we finished on Monday the water pipe and blue duct had been installed, and the first manhole fitted so that water and services can be provided for the current and planned moorings along the canal.  While the mini digger was working on this the rest of the team decided to check out the water supply at the top of the field and having eventually found the right manhole cover turned on the tap, with the result than no water came out of the end of the pipe near the original horse trough!  After some headscratching and hand excavation we managed to find the end of a working waterpipe plus a cut off section of the original plastic pipe and several sections of older steel piping.
Work continued on Wednesday with a second manhole being installed at the top of the field, and the original & new piping being connected up – we then managed to prove that we had water at the bottom of the field but so far not at the pressure or flow rate that we had expected;  – the investigation continues!
The team also managed to measure up some of the key dimensions in the field, and prepare an updated sketch – when completed the plan is to have 9 moorings (5 in the CCT part of the field, the others closer to Horsetrough Roundabout) plus a concreted dock (yellow in the sketch below)  for unloading dredged material which will be allowed to dry out in the field before being moved off site for disposal.
Work will continue this week on the services trench along the bottom of the field while we continue to investigate getting an electrical supply into the field, the design scheme and planning approval for the concrete dock and better water pressure and flow rates.
Sitting down on the job

by: Will F.

We are used to Chris having an Angle Grinder, but who would have thought he would be sitting down on the job? 
Still, the excellent work he and Geoff have done in welding up the rust damage to the portable Welfare unit is coming on a treat.
Inside the “Groundhog”, Will and Ray have fitted new seating, a new worktop and a posh cupboard for mugs. Geoff has fixed the electrics, so now need some painters!!

Ham Mill June 17th to 20th 2019

by: Andy P.
Well things are starting to happen this week.

On Monday Jason, Kay, Vince, Richard and Andy P returned. Jason fired up BD and set about rebuilding the dam across the canal-lost count of how many times this has been done.

Kay was punting us across with ropes and chains and enjoying herself as the bog mats were attached and put back in place. After a few hours BD was back on side.
The newly made spill weir grill was placed in position to help stop large pieces of debris getting into the pipe.

Roy returned with the tipper and 3 large sheet piles were delicately placed and positioned and then driven to Harpers field via the petrol station.
On the return 6 very long and brand new stop planks were also delicately placed and positioned and driven back to the depot.

On Weds, Bob, Richard and Andy P who arrived early to accept the new shiny galvanised sheet piles. Navigating the large lorry down the narrow lane, squeezing passed parked cars, waking builder to move their van, finding a very heavy 3 man lift steel plate to cover the hole for the new water pipe to the houses and finally removing gates, the lorry drove into the muddy yard.

Bob on BD lifted the 36 sheet piles and placed ready for the barge to start its work.
Lock Maintenance

by: Frank L.

Back in 2013 I took on the job of painting and greasing locks as there seemed to be a gap in anyone regularly carrying out this task.  We now have 10 operational  and 3 partially restored locks. There are now two volunteers to each lock who keep them tidy, and report faults or issues as they arise. This has been a real success story as far as we at Western Depot are concerned, as it takes the load off our mobile team at the Eastington Depot as we need to respond to SVCC,SDC, and CCT requests for tasks to be dealt with (grafetti being just one example).
This month has proved to be very productive with Maurice, Les P, Royston, Colin, Richard A, dealing with various tasks - subject to weather of course.
This year so far we have cleaned down the bottom gates of 3 sets of locks, painted where necessary at most of them, and dealt with other issues as they are reported to us.  Grass cutting, scrub clearance and weeding around spill weirs is always ongoing - especially from Spring onward.  This sort of job is time consuming and man power dependant, and anyone who would like to help out is more than welcome at the depot.
With the increase in CCT's fleet of vessels, we can now ask for them to provide platforms for maintaining the gates when necessary as they have the high cabins which is required when trying to reach the upper levels of the taller gates (the punts are unsuitable for that job). 

Although our team is not high profile, we get around and spread the word to passers-by about what is happening with the regeneration of the canal, and also get a lot of satisfaction from leaving a lock looking well kept and serviceable.

An interesting find in a field

by: Andy J.

Whilst excavating a slit trench for a new water supply in Harpers Field these two very corroded "rivets" were unearthed very close to the location of two Trows that were stored in the field as shown on an old mid thirties photograph that is in the Western Depot.
The rivets (rather than nails, as both ends of one piece are peined over) are approximately 14" long.
Normal service will now resume.

Sorry for the distinct lack of blogs, best blame the weather.  Whist out on the boat we got trapped on the Erewash canal for 5 days due to flooding.  Since then, every mooring has been well away from  a Wifi.

Now, expect a flood of blogs.......

17 June 2019

Dredging Monday -Rain, rain, rain.

By: Andrew R.

As a Team of 3 we arrived at Ryeford Upper and after investigating the possible points we could turn Patricia by using a very long rope with two knots in representing the length of Patricia. We discovered only where Perseverance was moored was the only place in the pound we could turn.
So we trekked back to Ryeford and started Patricia up after safety checks. By this time a tug team arrived.
We manoeuvred steadily backwards which was a new experience for one of the dredging crew over such a distance.

Then with Margaret following behind with a hopper at a distance, we steadily made our way to Wiggles Yard. On the way we did continuous depth checking and clearly the river section was silted up more since a year and half ago when No 5 came through last. We were surfing the silt which slowed us down considerably.

We set up just before Dudbridge road bridge next to the tow path and Margaret pushed the hopper up next to us. A new technique was developed because the basin was a extended concrete platform.

Straight away we were finding the remnants of the flood that washed the wall and towpath away in recent past on Dec 30th. Shale, bricks, chunks of stone, large coping stones, reed bar and of course silt.

Tuesday - Rain
The morning was slow as the gas bottle ran out before the kettle boiled and we had to find a local supplier. The problem solved we made progress.
This was training day for a more accomplished trainee. This was a new challenge as mentioned above, needing new skills. We now began to find other interesting things cloth, builder sacks, more reinforcing bars, the shale was more evident but the rocks were slowing us down as clam shell couldn’t shut. Progress was steady. Stability was a slight issue as we could not lock the latch on the jib as the road bridge was to low. As the jib and dipper were slightly extended the was a tendency for Patricia to roll when moving forward and the importance of having the feet outward facing was more important. The problem was the silt was too high touching the hull and therefore very difficult to rotate the feet.
This was good experience for the trainee as he saw how the vessel reacted. Another reason why training takes time as a wide experience is needed so prepared for eventualities. The hopper was nearly full and long 5 inch water pipe fo pump found with hessian bag on end, more stuff left behind by team who restored the lock.

Wednesday -rain!
Boat Manager paid a visit and discussions were held whilst newly qualified operator of Patricia set up and practiced new skills (as above).
More interesting materials and objects found. 4 x 1ton builders bags still partly filled.
Margaret came and took a hopper away and Wookey appeared.
With no hopper we were ask to find the large steel sign post that was knocked down that warns of a 2 metre ledge on the offside.

Started to hunt and found a massive coping stone. Repositioned and then found the sign. Hadn’t travelled far as so heavy. After careful repositioning we managed to get the sign onto the tow path. 
Still no hopper after 1 1/2 wait so explored nearer the lock gates. There’s a very large quantity of material to remove.

A hopper arrived back at 2:30 so the new operator worked continuously for 1 1/2 to get as much into the hopper as possible. A lot more to go.....

We really now need to ensure hoppers are emptied and returned ASAP so continuous dredging can happen on work days.

As Patricia takes on lots of water we now wrap her up in known bad weather and when near trees because the debris or bird muck goes down into bilges through big spud leg holes either side of cabin.