Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Good Days Work

by: Myron

Wednesday, the Boat Team was out in force again.  The day started well with a fly past by four swans, parents teaching their young to fly I think. So, the five of us got the two tugs ready and motored up to the confluence weir, where we readied Samson for a day of dredging. Once we had her in position being held by Goliath, we started up the crane, and as we pulled up the first bucket, a serious oil leak was apparent. Fortunately it turned out to be only a loose union and all was well once we had tightened it. Work then commenced in earnest.

Then a couple of us took Margaret down to Ryeford to shift some hoppers. Collectively, the Boat Team is still quite inexperienced when it comes to moving hoppers for real, but we get there in the end, and I’m sure we will get much better at it after several months of action. One thing there is always a lot of help when we go down to Ryeford.

Once we had the mud hoppers where they were needed we went back to Ebley.  I could hear the engine for the hydraulic pump engine clattering away so all seemed well there. The next job was to do the final adjustments and checks on Weedie. I dropped a couple of crew there and took Margaret up to Samson to join in the fun there. Incidentally, the guys and gals working on the ballast for Patricia seemed pretty positive with the way things were going. Weedie went out for a trial run and all was found to be satisfactory.

About another couple of hours dredging saw us finish the section around the confluence weir, and with that we finished our months loan of Samson We could have done more, could have done less. It was a great exercise, strengthened some friendships, weakened others unfortunately; learned a lot. A massive thanks to all the Boat Team who rallied to the cause, I hope you had fun. Also massive thanks to Alan and his team for letting us use Samson and to Peter for seeing the benefits of the exercise and giving us the go ahead. It has been well worth it. We no longer have to climb the Himalayas at the confluence weir, under Hilly Orchard bridge and around Oil Mills bridge as well. We have made a good stretch of our canal much more navigable and significantly safer.

What now for Samson. We are due to start moving it up to Bowbridge for the Piling Gang to use on their next landing stage, but you’ll probably have heard that Dudbridge Lower lock is in a sorry state and passage through is currently uncertain. Anybody got an ideas what we might do with a great big barge with a crane on it?

Pat's Progressed

Heavy metal day had arrived - in a large lorry which reversed into the yard for a manual unloading process.  Hand balling the lumps of metal direct from the load deck into our CCT vehicles saved double handling. We had some 2.5Tonnes to shift.
With Patricia, our first job was to lift the deck plates and commence the removal of our existing ballast metal. The old material was taken away to the transport and was swapped for the new metal which was in 13.46kg rectangular lumps which could be densely packed in the bilges, so keeping the centre of gravity as low as possible.
It took all morning to complete the procedure.  Soon it was time to check the trim before too much load was added.  This was a case of fine adjustment of the trim.  Pat's legs were lifted so that she floated.  We aimed for a level trim port-starboard and a slightly heavy stern.  
In all we added 1.4Tonnes of metal, replacing a bit over 700kg of less densely packed rail and iron lumps.

The transformation of the buoyancy behaviour was quite remarkable.  Particularly noticeable when stepping onto the boat.  The displacement of the trim was far less than before, suggesting a much lower centre of gravity due both to the effectively lower load and the increased weight.
Our next job is to repeat the stability measurements that Jim conducted before so that the actual improvement can be quantified and recorded.  We're pretty confident that she'll get the all-go to start dredging trials very soon.   A great day for the team. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dredging Tuesday at Ryeford

by: Andrew Rendell

Found hidden from view but always heard a trickle of water above Ryeford Lock.

Today as fog lifted off the commons around Stroud the Dredging team started a training day for a new Dredging trainee. 
First a Trainee Safety briefing, then daily routines before any dredging. Full greasing of 26 grease nipples, then clean the decks.
First main task was to pump out water from both hoppers.  Team of four working well together to ensure efficient and safe pumping.  Cup of tea and discussion about rest of dredging tasks for the day. 

After the last few dredging sessions by different teams the Ryeford pound at the locks was full width and opposite the landing stages was clear of reeds and some brambles.
The new trainee was put straight to work with the basic task of hauling a hopper, he fully understood the method of using low energy to haul a hopper.

Bob as lead for the day, trainee Peter watching with enthusiasm as new trainee by his side wearing the safety lanyard and Tim at the stern of Annette2 controlling direction and positions with outboard.  We started to hunt offside for a water outlet from the land drainage pipe.  Firstly removing more read base around the area with coordinated guidance from me on radio spotted the appearance of concrete and a rickety fence Bob gradually removed some major brambles using many bucket operations to reveal !!

The next photo shows there is a concrete shelf over a metre from the outlet edge where bucket is sitting, note 6 inches below surface which will cause damage to passing vessels.
We continued east along edge of canal 3 metres and discovering another concrete outlet but worse still jutting out another metre into the canals width with a shallow, long cobbled shelf jutting into the canal.  This is a more major obstruction of the canal.

We have left soil for present around this but should canal edge behind this outlet.  There will be a need in short term some signage and markers to ensure vessels don't damage their hulls and propellers.

More healing of hoppers to reposition and leave one ready for Dry Dredging team tomorrow. 

Whilst doing this Perseverance passed by with trainee/s on, practised in the locks and returned later in the day and gratefully thanking the Wet and dry dredging teams for such good work.

I think Wookie could now produce finishing touches in the removal of the rampant bramble and general weed control around this area to stop the outlets disappearing again and make a lovely approach to the locks as well as allow future maintenance.

Trainee Peter had a go at operating the Dredger doing the difficult task of cutting the bank at the correct angle and reed removal and clearly enjoyed the day.  A very good session, could get through training fairly quickly although still lots of skills and knowledge to learn.

As Dredger Manager I was pleased with the approach of all members today and what a way for a trainee to start with lots of technical advice and some practical experience. 

WARNING TO EVERYONE WHO USES A VESSEL JUST EAST OF RYEFORD LOCK. Keep centre or tow path side where these outlets are.

Andrew Rendell (Wet Dredger Manager)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Pat's Progressed

Not a huge amount to report, but we've been active doing various small jobs when time permits.

Shortly, Patricia will receive a boat safety inspection and for that we need to have certain key items in place.  Smoke and CO detectors have been in stock for a while, so now was the time to get them mounted in the facilities cabin and the engine room.
A general tidy-up of 'stuff' has cleared the seating area.  We still need to mount various hooks to support clothing, life jackets and other PPE.  Further work on the bilge pumps has revealed one temperamental unit.  There was a good dose of water in the bilges after the precipitation of the past few days.

The engine cranking and starting has been a tad sluggish in the recent past.  A visit to and inspection of the battery compartment produced connection contact surfaces that were nowhere near as bright as they should have been, so all were cleaned and then protected with grease.  A test start  in the afternoon sounded far more convincing than the morning event.
On Wednesday, we will be receiving the new ballast, all shiny 2.5 Tonnes of it, so a serious heavy metal session beckons.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Beating A Path To The Door

by: Ian Moody

Yesterday saw the Thursday SDC group engaged in a clearance job at Brimscombe Port. The objective was to clear a vehicle path to the mysterious, and possibly haunted, Unit 5.  Between us and the unit lay a whole host of stone, earth, chippings, weeds, wood and random other stuff.  The digger certainly earned its keep and a large fire took care of the wood.
The end result was a neat track through to the unit and a badly focused pic (sorry...)

And finally we have a rare photograph of the Brimscombe Port Correctional Facility for Naughty Volunteers. We’re hoping to rehabilitate them and, ultimately, integrate them back into society.  We start by training them to wave their hands in the air for the camera.  As you can see, one of them shows a small amount of promise but the other three need quite a bit more work.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A step up for the Cotswold Canals

by: Myron

Some time mid afternoon a thought occurred to me.

It was towards the later part of a really great day, we have a lot of those these days on the canal.

First thing we had first refuelled Goliath and Margaret, emptying Western Depots bowser in the process. Then the fleet proceeded down the cut.  Margaret was not well with a prop full of detritus so had to be towed by Goliath.  On the way we picked up Samson to do some spot dredging just East of Oil Mills bridge, a nasty little shallow, narrow that makes the tug feel like it is climbing the Himalayas.  That was a convoy of four boats in a row, Goliath, Margaret, Aquila and Samson, quite a sight.  Wookie was, I believe lurking around as well, no doubt doing some serious damage to the rampant bankside vegetation.  As well as this a crew from WD were fixing some electrical gear onto Samson.  We passed the dry and wet dredger teams and entered Ryeford locks to clear the props on Margaret and Goliath as well, seeing as we were there.  This is a process never to be taken lightly and took some time to do both vessels, but the team were marvellous, getting both boats grounded first time. 

Then the tugs were unleashed on the unsuspecting hoppers, above Ryeford locks, and soon shoved and shunted into place where they could be loaded /unloaded.

It was while returning to base enjoying a belated lunch while Nick drove Margaret that I had my thought. And that was how we have gone through a large step change in the last year or two. Back then we would trawl our single tug up and down the 4km navigable section and never actually meet anybody else except maybe Wookie.  Today there were 9 boats in the same pound and 5 different teams, 7 if you count the fact that the Boat Team was split into 3. It was all pretty harmonious and it was something to behold.

The Kindness of Visitors

by: bob Hallam

Having started work recently on the Ryeford to Oil Mills pound, the wet and dry teams joined forces again to to remove reeds preparatory to dredging silt. 

We regularly have to stop for passers by. 
Today was gloriously sunny, so even more folk were walking along the towpath.
Bob, in his normal cheerful way, chats with almost all who pass during his stint as banks-man. 

Today a lovely couple on holiday in the area (from Suffolk apparently) stopped to ask how the Ryeford staircase lock worked.  After the explanation, Bob's usual jocular comment, "Normally, passers by drop off gifts of cake to us chaps and chappesses when we've provided some information for them," was well received amid much comical reciprocal comment.
It was with great gratitude, humility and profuse thanks about an hour later, the couple reappeared walking to their hotel, they dropped off a gift of cakes!! 
This lovely and generous couple are, as far as we are concerned, now honorary ex-officio members of the dredging team! 

"May your bilges always be dry and your anchor always hold."

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A new beginning -again!

by: Bob Hallam

Today saw a new joint dredging venture begin! 
With the weather set fair, the water level just about high enough (Low Tide on the Ryeford to Dudbridge pound) the Wet dredging team met early at Ebley to have a chat about the coming venture. 
Mob-handed, we then walked smartly to the field (AKA Langley's Field) near to Ryeford Locks. This is the site designated to receive the dredgings from this pound. 

Gosh, those dry dredging boys were up early again! When we reached them to discuss how the task would be managed, they had already moved several tons of arisings from the canal bed. 

Decisions made, Dredger No. 5 was then moved into place alongside the long-reach excavator. Bearing in mind a trip boat charter was (almost) following us along, we began moving reeds to a place where the dry boys could reach and transfer them onto the disposal site. 
The resultant action was a balletic dance of interlacing buckets! 

 No trip boat was harmed in this operation!

"May your bilges always be dry and your anchor always hold."

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Gough's Orchard Feed - update

In the recent past, we have been adding additional sealants to the various joints on the syphon.  Work initially started at the top pipe joints, as they carried the greatest vacuum loads.

Today, the section down into the lock chamber was removed so that, not just the overhanging joint could be safely accessed, but also made the upgrade of two other joints easier to work on.  
By mid afternoon, the section had been restored and the syphon run.  Unfortunately, there was no improvement in performance.  There are a couple more unmodified joints down besides the factory wall, so they will receive attention next time.
Looking for bubbles!

Final final River Section Dredging

by: Bob Hallam

The early autumn mornings bring a freshness to the air of the Stroudwater Canal. Some of its beauty was, however lost, on 2 of the stalwarts of the dredging team as they fought against the time left available to clear a vicious shoal immediately UNDERNEATH Dudbridge Bridge. This creates a problem since even with the long arms of Dredger No. 5 fully extended, clearance twixt bridge and mud hopper "Warp" is, shall we say, minimal! 

An urgent call was made to The Western Depot manager for a lock-side crew to assist with getting dredger and support vessel Annette 2 down the last Lock. Arriving with their normal great alacrity, life jackets donned, the vessels were speedily despatched downwards. 
Thank you chaps!! At the bottom of the leaky lock, the lock-side team departed back to base. 
Now to half-fill the hopper!

The reported shoal was - and is - truly a monster! It consists mainly of hardcore, bricks, rocks and gravel. Presumably this is the remains of the towpath and lock wall washed on during floods some years ago. 
 Today, we were fortunate that we had a dual-use dredging team member who also held a Tug driver qualification, so better to manoeuvre the hopper, we made use of the tug Margaret not being used today by her regular crew. Clearly, more cross-fertilisation would be a great benefit! 

  As normal, we found much objet d'art. 
Today's haul included a skateboard, garden fork, traffic cone, sandbags, sheets of polythene, eel matting from the eel pass, reinforcing bar and what we see here, a sheet of corrugated iron sheet! 
We half filled the hopper, pumped out the excess water and were very fortunate that 2 of the Tug Team were on hand to assist with tug Margaret and the mud hopper. Many thanks to them! 
The final session of the day was to move hopper with some shoal contents, Margaret, Dredger No. 5 and Annette 2 back to Ebley and a secure mooring. 
 This must be one of the largest gatherings of the combined CCT and SVCC maintenance fleet! 
Margaret, Patricia, Weedy, Warp, Dredger No. 5 and Annette 2.  
So now we move onwards to Ryeford and Canal Section dredging. 

"May your bilges always be dry and your anchor always hold."


In a rare departure from the normal meeting venues, CCT's Trust Council members held their meeting at Western Depot today.  This was also great opportunity for those that had never, or very rarely, seen the facility, to take a guided tour round the works to see where many of our volunteers spend and enjoy their volunteering time.

After Reg's informative 30 minute session, our TC's headed into our facilities caravan for their meeting, which concluded in the dark at 19:15.
Jeff is seen here working on the wig-wag lights for Lodgemore Bridge.

Maize Battalions Stand To in the Sunrise

by: Buffs

With the passing of the Autumn Equinox the changing of the seasons gains pace.  The lengthening nights allow the early riser to see the dawn and the low early morning sun cast its long shadows over the land.  The crystal clear air its moisture laid upon the ground as dew creates a sharpness to the horizon and the vista rising from it.  Monday’s clear blue dawn was capped by the distant condensation trails of aircraft far away perhaps even as far as France and the Low Countries.  The plane below the Cotswold is revealed as a rival to stand against the landscapes painted by the Grand Tourists of earlier centuries with stands of slender poplars seen in sharp relief backed by the low sun.  Here and there are fields of maize part harvested the remaining plants standing to attention, formed into squares, bayonets fixed awaiting the early charge of some distant cavalry. In slow hollows the heat of the early sun lifts the dew into a mist rolled on by the land breeze being drawn up the sloping hills. 

Around the Stroudwater we are seeing Autumn’s golden rain falling from above as the trees put on their final coats of many colours before settling down for the long winter sleep.  Here and there the quiet is punctuated with the clatter of falling conkers and passing schoolchildren still collect them - especially if Grandad is walking them to school.

After last week’s extreme activity under the barn Western Depot has returned to a less frenetic pace.  Hidden behind the effort at Eastington was an equally intense activity for the logging team.  The high winds of mid September had brought down many trees in the county. The canal and its towpath was blocked in several places by fallen trees and branches.  A team of three sawyers and three banksmen dealt with fallen trees at the ocean railway bridge and by skew bridge.  The former was one trunk of a group of three growing from the same root.  This poor quality wood was rendered into handling size pieces and laid alongside the towpath.  The smaller branches and were reduced and put back in the undergrowth adding to the natural habitat for the smaller mammals and insects of the woodland.  The embankment around the railway bridge is expected to be cleared for some distance either side of the canal when Network Rail start work preparing for the re-opening of the blockage with a new bridge in May 2021. 

The tree at Skew Bridge was much more of a challenge.  A large tree had toppled into the canal from the offside.  Much of it was underwater and the root had been torn out of the ground.  The combined efforts of the WD Sawyers and the crew of Wooky Hole set to over two days to make the tree safe and remove it piece by piece from the water.  The lumber was returned to the landowner.
After the long hot and dry summer many trees are likely to be vulnerable to falling over during the winter and the loggers at both ends of the Cotswold Canals expect to be busy.  If you, dear reader, on your perambulations along the cut see trees which are looking the worse for wear or worse then please let us know so we can address the problem before it becomes an event.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Summit Section Canal Days Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 October 2018

by: Karen Shaw

Hi all

The landlord of the Tunnel House inn has now informed us that they have a party in their Barn for the 13 October, so the Open Day has had to be postponed for now - we will wait to hear from them of another suitable date. The Work party will still go ahead on Sunday 14 October as per my recent email.

Just to remind you that the CCT will be holding Canal Days with videos and a marquee, arranged with Clive Field and Sam (owner of the Tunnel House Inn), to promote our work and the CCT. There will be the usual work party on Sunday to continue to strim and manually clear the tow path bank down and past the road bridge over the canal. 

If you can come along for any length of time to man the marquee in Saturday (during the same hours) to talk to the public and show what we do, that will be great, or Sunday to do the same or get involved in the usual work party activities.  

Sunday 4 November 2018
Sunday 9 December 2018 with lunch at the Tunnel House Inn after.
Sunday 13 January 2019 - calling chain saw operators for this and next 2 work parties to continue to cut down the saplings along the off bank down to the road bridge.
Sunday 24 February 2019 with Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers - off bank.
Sunday 17 March 2019 - continuing off bank.

For the work party:
I usually provide tea / coffee / biscuits and Christine the cake but please feel free to bring along your own hot or cold drinks, and a packed lunch or have lunch in the pub.

As usual, please wear sturdy (preferably steel toe capped) footwear or wellington boots and stout clothes. Long sleeves and trousers are recommended to avoid nettle stings and insect bites. Gloves and all other PPE are provided along with all necessary tools.

The site is reached by a well sign-posted, but rather pot holed track, to the Tunnel House Inn on the right, as you come down Tarlton Road out of Coates and after a tight bend under a railway bridge. Postcode is GL7 6PW. On arrival at the pub car park, pit is best to park on the right. 

Any questions please contact me.
Karen Shaw