Monday, August 13, 2018

Log Orders being taken for 2068!

by Dave P.

Dave and his merry men are moving into arboriculture by the looks of it and when they are all the wrong side of the grass their successors will thank them for having such wonderful foresight.

Admittedly the saplings have self-seeded – goodness only knows how – and the picture shows (from L to R) oak, sycamore, oak(2) and ash. There’s also a hawthorn hidden from the camera.

In addition we had a lovely visitor to the Logs Depot today in the shape of a red underwing moth, Catocala nupta picture attached.  Quite common apparently – but I’ve never seen one!  It will add to our wildlife collection as a stoat was spotted last Wednesday.

"Local Company donates a shipping container"

by: Frank Laurenson
Western Depot

Over the past five to six years "Tricel (Stonehouse)" has donated hundreds of imperfect trench boards, which any volunteers who deal in the art of getting dirty will be well aware of.  We have been very grateful to the company as it helps provide safer working areas, and we expend less energy by not tramping in mud.  They also adorn most of the yard at our Eastington depot.

Last week we were given the opportunity of a 20' shipping container, provided we shifted it as soon as possible.  Say no more, as it will be useful for storage and shelter when 1B gets under way. 

Needing a haulage company urgently this morning, I was steered by local knowledge to see if Andrew Wheeler could assist us.  What a brilliant result, as a vehicle made for the job was heading back to their base at Ryeford, and they diverted to help us move the container to Brimscombe Port. 

Dan Wheeler did a marvelous job of extracting the container from a tight fit amongst the factory stock in the yard and delivered it to Brimscombe.
We would like to thank both Tricel, and Andrew Wheeler for their help. 

Link:  Tricel

Friday, August 10, 2018

Traffic delays, Bridge 32

Not a common occurrence, but today, there were hold-ups at Bridge 32 on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal as 4 boats owned by CCT members from Western Depot converged on Bridge 32.
Bob H, heading south on the return leg of his epic holiday to the Wash and beyond, followed by Peter A. running just behind met Dave P. and Richard A. sailing north.  Unsurprisingly, some words were exchanged as each took it in turn to go under the bridge. 
Later in the day, a thunderstorm struck and the heavens opened.  Fortunately, a brief event.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Pat's Progressed

There's a great satisfaction when you can embark on a quest to produce something from the 'junk' that is to hand -  a sort of Scrapheap Challenge.

We wanted to make a transit hanger for the Pat's heavy jib (Item 1), a rough idea of the design had been sketched with a borrowed pen on a recycled piece of corrugated cardboard.  10 minutes spent routing around in one of the containers and various other likely places produced the makings of component.
A casting which had a couple of forks at the right spacing, which given the chop in a suitable place and the holes made/modified, really looked the part.  Bars were produced to complete the assembly and the bits welded together.

In a rash dose of over-confidence, we actually applied the first  coat of red oxide and together with item 2, headed off to the boat for a trial fitting.

Item 2
You may remember that a new flexible coupling for the exhaust was sourced.  This had to be grafted onto the two flanges from the broken part.  The new coupling was welded in place, double checking the overall length which had to fit the gap in the engine room.
In order to test Item 1, It was extremely desirable to have Item 2 in place to start the engine!   One thing immediately apparent was that the engine vibration now coupled quite well into the metal structure of the cabin, with a resonance that occurred near tickover.  We raised the revs slightly to avoid this resonance, which also ensured the alternator charged the battery.  We're considering fitting a second flexible joint.

Up the front, Item 1, was a great success.  All the parts fitted correctly first time and it did the job.  The first coat of yellow paint has now been applied.  It will be possible to leave it fixed to the lower eye and drop it in over the hooks when required to park the jib in the transit position.

Now, to Item 3.
Much thought is being given to the safety of deploying the spud legs at 90 degrees, which involves inserting a rod, releasing a pin and cranking it round.  Our first improvement was to make an extension piece that could extend the rod, so that the forces taken to shift it were reduced.  This worked well.  Further thinking is needed and initial ideas as to what else can be done are beginning to take shape, but not physically - yet.

Stop Press. Weedie back in action

by: Myron

After months of trouble with the mesh and steering on Weedie, it was returned to operational service today. This involved taking the mesh from stowed out of service mode to where it is ready for use. Many thanks to the team for showing up in sufficient numbers to make light work of it. A special thanks to Colin from Western Depot whose expertise on Weedie was badly needed again.

Then it was a case of moving her down the canal to where it is needed most. Dudbridge locks – no problem, getting passed Sampson – no problem, even Lodgemore Bridge – no problem (apart from a couple of near heart attacks pumping the bridge up). But Chestnut Lane bridge would not co-operate as usual. So we moored up at Strachans Close slipway and went off to the Clothiers for a thorough debrief.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Dudbridge Grill

by Andy P.

A simple update as it was finished last week. Just needs some steps to get down to the platforms
If you wanted to know what there is at the end of the tunnel-a light of course
From the previous weeks it was nice to see Patricia and her new small friend were looking on

Monday, August 6, 2018

A new Tug!

by : Dave Irving

Our new tug Margaret had a good day today.  After her exertions last week, her prop had picked up a lot of 'stuff', so we took the time to remove it: we found a large industrial strength plastic bag as the prime culprit, but a lot of sturdy weeds as well.  Her weed hatch made this a more convenient job than it is for Goliath, but it still took us close to an hour to remove all the tightly wrapped detritus. 

So off we went, aiming to make it all the way to the western end of the navigable cut - 'To the Ocean!' we cried.  Once past Ryeford locks, we found the pound about 6 inches down, and could feel Margaret encountering underwater obstructions of various types.  Dragging through Ryeford Wharf we disturbed the usual mountain of horse chestnuts, and by the time we reached Upper Mills it was clear we should look at the prop again.  It turns out that bicycle tyres can trap a lot of weed!  But we were soon(-ish...) off again.  By Boakes Drive (aka Stonehouse Wharf), the clear water showed us both shallow water and a blanket of weed, but (with frequent reversals of the engine helping to clear lightweight weeds) we made it to the Ocean swingbridge, where we turned and had a well-deserved cup of tea. 
The return was similar to the outward journey.  The major differences were that travelling back through the channel we'd just cut clearly made life easier - we need to do more of this!, and this time we found that sweatshirts can also trap a lot of weeds and can also be very reluctant to unravel from the prop. 

Arriving back at Ebley, we moored and decided to have one last look at the prop (we're already getting well practiced at lifting the weed hatch).  And look! - another large industrial plastic bag, plus clothing, plus weeds.  We wonder how long it will take us to find all the submerged rubbish in the canal. 

Pat's Progressed

With our girl at Ebley now, it is a case of meeting at Western Depot and carefully organising what it is we wish to do and then making sure that no widget is forgotten before heading off.

Today, two jobs.  'Fitting' some holes into the clam shell bucket, secondly, attending to the fractured flexible exhaust coupling on the engine.

Cutting holes required the services of the mag' drill and that, in turn, required the services of a rather large generator as the drill was rated at nearly 2kW.  A wheelbarrow at WD was commandeered to gather the bits together for the work plan.
The steel on the clam shell was quite easy to drill, which made the task that bit easier.  The drill pattern used on Dredger No.5 was adapted, since our bucket is 150L and No.5's is 250L.  On completion, we grabbed hold of a bucket load of weeds from the canal surface and observed the draining process in fill swing.

Down in the engine room, our assessment of the exhaust coupling fitting resulted in us removing the existing one for modification at WD.  It was not possible to get the replacement to fit without the services of a proper workshop.
Our thoughts also turned to a transit hanger for the boom, a sketch produced.  Not too difficult to fabricate, but it might be possible to acquire one from somewhere from an old JCB 3CX.

Here's the piece, if you know of one going spare.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Pat's Progressed

Our quest for more suitable ballast took a distinctive turn for the better yesterday after an impromptu visit to our local scrap yard at Ryeford.  By chance, there was a quantity of un machined iron castings which would do nicely and they were prepared to energise the great magnet and extract them from the pile for us.
Each one weighed 1.13kg and we were after about 0.25T's worth.  So, this morning, a van headed over and collected the load, which later found its way to Patricia via Western Depot.  At WD we located and cut in half, a number of empty 25L oil containers.  These were ideal in that they made handing the load much easier and safer.  A few old milk bottles made an impressive contribution also. 
At Dudbridge, the old breeze blocks were extracted and the new iron loaded into the bilge.  Our main task for the day was to relocate Patricia to Ebley Mill.  Goliath was to called upon to tow Pat backwards, as there was no suitable location to turn her.  
The mighty fight with silt commenced.  Progress was very slow, but we eventually reached a point near Ebley where it was necessary to call in the services of Margaret with her many more horses with webbed feet!
The cavalry soon arrived and made easy work of dragging both Goliath and Patricia.  All vessels were then moored outside the mill adding a significant splash of SVCC purple to the area. 
Patricia is just visible live if you visit:
Pat's Cam

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trials but no tribulations.

by: Myron 

An historic day on Monday. Both our tugs operating together.

Margaret continued to impress by effortlessly pushing Delilah. At the same time Goliath's steering repairs proved to be up to the job, so that is now back in service.
At the same time the steering modifications designed and made by Western Depot were fitted, and trials then undertaken.  They proved very successful. We must now mount the screen in its operating position and cut some weed. 

An excellent day.  It would be nice to hope that we have now overcome all of the technical problems that have plagued us for the last 18 months.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pat's Progressed

When we left Pat last week, it must be said that she was not too happy.  Our first job was to get the fuel primed in the diesel engine and get that running.

Several responses from our last blog provided all the information we needed.  Thanks guys.  The process was followed and within the half hour, or so, the engine fired into life and ran.

However, as reported before, we suspected an electrical fault as well.  The voltage on the control panel was not the same as the main battery system.  Not only that, it appeared to be unstable indicating that there was an intermittent and resistive joint somewhere.  The front of the control panel was removed and the internals probed.  Checks were also made on a fuse board mounted on the side of the engine.  Not the best place given the heat and vibration conditions directly on the block.
The examination revealed that there was indeed an intermittent joint associated with a 10A fuse that fed the control box.  Whilst the fuse looked o.k, the problem went away when a new one was fitted.  It happened to be a tighter fit in the socket.
With the engine now running reliably, we set about adjusting the ballast in the back bilge.  With the water level in the lock increased to ensure we were actually floating, the heavy rail ballast was repositioned as close to the bottom of the boat as possible and in locations most likely to correct the trim.  It should be noted that the jib position has a major influence on the trim, very small shifts make a notable difference.

The results of our labours resulted in a reasonable improvement, sufficient to give us the confidence to move just outside the lock into shallow water and undertake some experiments with the stability of the boat under jib position exercises.  
The feet were deployed and then the jib carefully taken to one side, observing the effect on boat trim.  Movement was significant, but not too worrying.  Another test followed after we had swung the port side front foot 90deg to its most outwards position.  The improvement was quite dramatic.  Jib movement felt much more secure with little trim deviation of the boat.  A full bucket load of water lifted made little difference.  It might be possible to set the feet to their 90deg positions and manoeuvre in that condition knowing that a secure and stable platform awaited when it was time to dredge.  Very early days, but reassuring that, given the proper operating disciplines, dredging should be safe and productive.

At the end of operations, Pat pulled back into the lock and was left moored, sat on the bottom.  Additional iron ballast will further improve matters.  We also checked the water separator after operations and there was pleasingly no water present.

Pat is a lot happier tonight.  It should be noted that when we arrived, both mooring ropes had been cast into the water.  Leaving the vessel in such a location that there are no locals to watch over it, is probably not best practice.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Two Get Seared In Wales

By: Buffs

Readers of this blog will be aware of the Bucket list of items identified as being wanted to support the activities of the volunteer workforce of the Trust.  It was in pursuit of possible solutions to meet one of these items that two WD volunteers left the safety of the East side of the Severn and ventured deep into the heart of Wales.  Their target was to be reached through the ice carved valleys and sharpened hills of mid Wales with breathtaking views and broad winged raptors soaring above green wooded hillsides and yellowing meadows.

The Bucket list, so called because we need to shake a bucket to acquire the funds to buy the items on the list, includes a heavy lift capability for Western Depot.  It is listed as a fork lift truck but further thought has expanded this to include lifting and moving heavy items not just in WD but across the whole SVCC estate to support both maintenance and restoration tasks for the foreseeable future.  WD has widened its scope of possible solutions to include a class of vehicles known as mini loaders.  These are a versatile group of agile wheeled and tracked vehicles which can be fitted with a variety of attachments for construction, grounds maintenance and agriculture.

Several different types of mini loader were on display at Builth Wells, the home of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show.

After a draft requirement was worked up for the two WD volunteers they visited a number of stands at the show.  The type of mini loader which meets many of the lines of the draft requirement, including being able to work on the towpath and not cause damage to it, is a four wheel drive articulated machine with a hydraulic drive which supports both traction and working equipment.

These two images show examples of the type of machine which could be used to support the work of CCT. One manufacturer has over 120 possible attachments and the other has over 170 possible attachments.  The base machine is available in a range of sizes and available power.

The WD volunteers left the stands with day sacs weighted down with brochures and with a better understanding of the machines and their utility on the canal. Now for some serious deliberation and to work up a requirement set for a possible future purchase, either new or second hand.

The RWAS is huge with kit on display ranging from handsaws to tractors and trailers the size of a small terraced house. We took the opportunity to talk with grounds maintenance equipment manufacturers gained some useful nuggets of information to add to the knowledge pool at WD. 

Here is one for our logging team
The most popular stand was demonstrating a cattle cooler.  It created a water mist which sprayed over one of the walkways.  Heavenly on a very hot day.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A good day for the Tug Team today

by: Dave & Myron

The steering on Goliath has been fixed and she is now back in service.

Some tyres were fitted to the front of Margaret.  These are to enable her to push our wide bean barges, acting as a cushion between the tug and barge.  A very simple and cheap solution to this important requirement.

Margaret had another voyage to Dudbridge and Ryford. Three more crew members were introduced to the delights of her stunning performance.  What was really noticeable was that the cut was much easier to navigate today than Monday, we seem to be doing some good already.  We carried out two inspections of the weed hatch, clearing large amounts of detritus from the prop, not that the tug seemed bothered by it.  The weed hatch on Margaret makes it a simple job to clear the prop.  Good, because we shall be doing it a lot.
Good news as well regarding Weedie. T he parts to repair the steering have been finished.  We look forward to getting her going again, hopefully next Monday.

Dudbridge Grill

by Andy P.

Another few strenuous sun baked days.  The top platform was duly drilled and attached to the wall at the requisite height and all made level.  Next it was the jigsaw fitting sequence as we fought, literally, with the drawing and metal on the ground to figure out which existing piece was going to be the down slope.  Duncan was right it just took the rest of us some time to agree.
Scaffold was easily moved and lowered to take the weight and we were off a boltin, drillin, and screwin so the song went.  The grill was put in place and with the first steps we relaxed on the top platform.
Next it was the lower platform and sides which very quickly surrendered to our efficient pace.  We were in danger of finishing this today until we ran out of nuts-a quick dash down the road and we were off again to complete the lower platform and grill.
A wavy photo as we completed our work with only 4 pieces left.
Nice to see Patricia and new small friend were looking on
If you wanted to know what there is at the end of the tunnel-a light of course.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pat's Progressed

A difficult day spent investigating the issues which caused us some grief on Monday, namely the engine running fine soon followed by stalling.

We knew that there were electrical issues in that the battery had taken been exhausted, however, all day Tuesday charged from the solar panel, it had recovered, but initial testing showed that the problem of engine failure persisted.

When we checked the fuel systems at WD, tests were done to probe for water in the fuel, none was found, but the disturbance of launching the boat and then rocking and rolling seems to have released undiscovered water.  The fuel water separator was almost full of the stuff as witnessed by the contents of the container we drained it into.  The thin layer on top is fuel, below is water.
Not only that, some had been carried over into the fuel filter.  Late in the day, we managed to secure a new filter, but then we had the problem of priming the diesel engine.  None of us were familiar with the exact method for the Perkins unit in our boat, so that is the next thing to do when we can get some expert advice. 

We also changed the engine battery as the one fitted was of unknown condition and did not seem to have the sustained cranking capacity expected of it.

Other than that, lock gates were swung to release some of the sediments around them.  Also, greasing of most of the spud leg joints, those that could be reached, offered a welcome diversion.
Shortly after this image was taken, we drained the lock to ensure she rested secure on the bottom
Once we up and running reliably, our attention will focus on trim and stability.