Friday, January 18, 2019

SDC Thursday Group

by: Ian Moody

Yesterday saw us splitting the team. One group worked at Gough's Orchard lock, shifting the stones and winching out buddleia roots. The other team headed up to Bourne Lock to do a bit of a tidy up.
At lunchtime I took the opportunity to provide some more hands-in-the-air training. Still a work in progress I'm afraid...

Ham Mill Update - Weds Jan 16th

by: Andy P.
6 folks arrived (Bob, Duncan, Richard, Mathew, Vic and Andy) to find the tree stump finally lost-thanks to Alan J and very strangely, most of the water had gone from the canal. 
This did allow the full size of the collapsed wall to be revealed.  Its big, very big.
A very early 16t load of type 1 was delivered ready for the towpath
First job was to lift and then Bob cut and placed the coping stones very carefully onto the top of the bypass weir.
Then concrete was added to the base to get the correct drainage levels. A very time consuming and difficult job but it does look very nice. The fence was refitted and another job wiped from the to do white board.
In the meantime the temporary by pass tow path was attacked with the mini digger and revealed another tree stump. Positive energy washed over us, as it was not as big as the previous one. However as it was slowly revealed, it was still a metre across with lots of side roots.  The 4 man axe team lined up taking turns. It did not get easier with practice.
As night started to fall and the rain eased off we called it a score draw, us v the stump. But it is moving and has to come out.

Some becoming routine and some new horizons

by: Myron

Wednesday saw the Boat Team fielding three full crews again.

Goliath went through Ryeford locks to carry out a few tasks down towards Stonehouse way. All were completed successfully.

Margaret moved a hopper and then the crew joined the Weedie crew at Dudbridge.  Here, we were happy to find Delilah at the top of the locks, but waited with trepidation for Weedie to come into the pound.  Would it get passed.  It did, easily.  Then with Weedie and Margaret moored up at Wiggals Yard, the two crews set about seeing how far up the canal we could get Delilah in the rest of the day.
Did I mention that Weedie has been brought down to be able to work on fitting the new mesh, which incidentally arrived at WD yesterday.  We hope to do this at the landing stage at Stonehouse Court, where the large flat field right next to the landing stage makes a perfect working area.  Also, Delilah needs to go in the other direction to join up with Samson, which will play a big part in what is effectively change of gender for Delilah, specifically fitting the new crane to it.  Can we really continue to call her Delilah once this is completed.  Have too, as its unlucky to rename a boat while it’s in the water.  Maybe we can nickname it Delboy. There’s another thing, boats being ‘she’.  Not very PC but a fifty foot barge called Samson with a great crane on it, is not the most feminine of images.  Goliath has a similar gender problem in my mind.  I think I’ll just have to settle on calling the boats in our fleet ‘it’.
Anyway, Samson is currently moored just below Griffin Mill lock, so that’s where we had to get Delilah.  This was new territory for it, and quite a daunting prospect, as we would have to bow haul all the way.  This is never the Boat Team’s favourite pastime.   I believe the furthest Delilah has been before was just through foundry lock, but I might be wrong.  The task progressed really well, except for the fact that it started to rain steadily around twelve o’ clock.  It was a bedraggled crew that arrived above Wallbridge mid afternoon.  We’d made excellent progress, so we called it a day and invaded the Heritage Centre for a late lunch and a warm up.  They didn’t mind at all.  It was still raining when we came out, and we still had the walk back to Weedie and Margaret, which then had to be driven back to base and put away.  A very successful day all round.
Thursday found the weather dry and sunny, albeit cold.   Five of us met up, ably assisted by David from the Landing Stage Team.  We were soon on our way, hoping to finish by lunchtime.  Unfortunately, one of our number became quite unwell at Capel’s Mill.  He became dizzy and was really out of it for a good few minutes.  The most expedient way to get him to hospital, was for his wife to pick him up.  I’m very , very glad to say that he checked out ok.  But it was a salutary reminder that we all need to be looking out for each other.
After this set back we resumed the journey East, ‘there be dragons there’.  The twists and turns around Capel’s Mill were actually great fun to negotiate.  Bowbridge lock was a new experience for us, and then Delilah was finally reunited with Samson. The final task was to get Delilah passed Samson. This was so the crane on Samson is up against the right end of Delilah where we want the crane fitted. This was achieved without any great bother. Before setting off back, we had a discussion with Alan to map out what jobs needed doing first on getting the crane fitted.  Anybody good with an angle grinder.  The walk back to the cars was so much more pleasant than the day before, finishing off a very satisfying couple of days

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Bench Team head west

by: Will F.

This morning, the flat bed Transit was readied and many men were gathered together in the yard to help lift two benches onto the loading deck for an onward journey to Saul Junction, on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, where they were duly installed.

Family celebrating Pat Pewsey

Bench in honour of Dario and Beryl Burton.
Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Workforce numbers were a bit down on Monday. but much was achieved.  The turret was on final approach last time, so our first job was to reinsert the jacks and perform the final docking manoeuvre.  Something more akin to the shuttle connecting with the International Space Station!  

We had a good grip on the various vectored forces we could apply to shift the turret in all planes.  A stage was reached when there was a gentle lowering followed by a most gratifying clunk as the mating faces sat perfectly aligned.  We were half a hole out on the slew ring gear, so a tiny lift to free the ring, so that it could be rotated slightly, did the job and all the bolts inserted and tightened.  They still need the application of a torque wrench.
Next on the priority list was the mounting of the hydraulic control block in the old hydraulic oil tank, now reused as a secondary containment vessel should there be a leak.  

This involved making a couple of right angled brackets to mount inside.  Firstly, a baffle plate had to be cut out.  This proved quite difficult using disc cutters, so the rather dusty plasma cutter from the welding bay was deployed.  What a fine job it did too.  With far less fuss, the baffle was extracted.
Another area of restoration pondered over today, was the repairs to the rusty metal panels at the base of the doors and the cabin.  Here, we need to let in some new metal.  The sheet material is available, but due to the nature of the repair, we do need a fine day to do it.

A good days work by all. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ham Mill Update - Mon Jan 14th 2019
by:Andy P.
Duncan started to repair the broken garden wall and we (Bob, Maurice, Mathew, Richard, Andy) all went into the garden to move the shed back a few feet. Dangerous.  Gravel moved up to the back of the shed, plants and pots moved out of the way, shed emptied again and mini digger gently pushed the shed back.  Lots of levelling to get it finished.
More plants donated to the bank.  More trees and plants were dug up and moved to the bank.  More trees were taken out of pots and planted in the garden.  Mill stones moved.  2 horses repositioned.  Washing machine moved. Caravan moved and levelled.  More soil found and put into the holes left by the moved trees.  Washing line is now accessible.  We are a helpful bunch and the neighbours are very pleased.  Even Dino seemed content.
A new home has been agreed for the 17 very heavy stop blanks.  About as far away as possible of course.  Tried a 3 or 4 man carry but gave that one up in favour of hauling them on the dumper and using Bobs supreme driving ability he got them as close as possible.  The numerous fence posts appeared, along with a dingy, were all neatly stack and covered.  Created room for 3 more cars now. 

Dave and Les arrived with the screw piles and hydraulic machine.  More seriously heavy stuff but a home was found.  They also took another tipper load of metal away-thank you.
Cleared the area behind the bypass fence to keep the other neighbours happy.
A plan and route has been agreed with John P. who, with his team, will re-install the towpath along the canal side when the final bypass pipes are installed.  So a last job for the mini digger was to start to make a pathway to follow the fence lines
A good mixed up day and the tree stump had its last day off.

A Tall Story 
by:Bob H.

Tuesdays are designated as our Dredger Training Day.
Today was a little different as we needed to carry out some maintenance as well.  With the weather having thankfully been dry, we decided that since the bilge pumps (three of the set of four) have proved intermittently unreliable, we have a go at fixing them.  Deck plates lifted (and screws regreased for next time) we cleaned out two of them and installed a new one for the third position.

That done, we also fixed the tiny leak on the exhaust pipe with good old-fashioned “Gun Gum.”  With that too successful (the smoke alarm in the engine room is VERY sensitive!) we continued the familiarisation of two more experienced operators.

In contrast to yesterday’s post about Dredgman Derek, one of the trainees today was John S. At 6ft 4inches, his bump cap is necessary! 

The hopper is now full and ready for the tug team and the dry boys to empty it. 

"May all your combined leaks never exceed your bilge pump capacity.

New Dredge Crew recruit

by:Bob H. 

The working up to speed of Patricia continues as we gain more experience and develop our techniques.  Today above Ryeford we continued clearing along the offside of the channel. 
The silt here is well compacted and contains a little foreign debris as seen here. 
Today we were joined by a new recruit.  Small in stature but big on detail and compatibility. He doesn’t argue with the Instructor and keeps his hands firmly in his pockets! 
He’s not very good at making tea though, despite full PPE including life jacket, high viz and helmet with CCT logo. Tim K had to show him the best way while Bob H was at the controls. 

So everyone, say hi to Derek the Dredgman.   Lovingly and skillfully made by Sam Sirett. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

 Project 'DNF' -  No.5 Refit

Work continued on two main fronts.  The remaining bits and pieces left in the control cabin were removed leaving a large empty space ready for cleaning and later painting.

Some time was also spent un-crumpling the crumple zones on the cabin roof!  These had been bashed more than once by the boom.  The metal was quite difficult to flatten.
On the turret, the remaining 1.5 sheared bolts were finally extracted and threads re-tapped.  This meant that the process of replacing the boom could begin.  Ă€fter sourcing 20 new M18 nuts, we clamped the bearing ring in place, tightening all the bolts evenly. 
There then followed a very slow and careful exercise to lower the turret down.  Using a combiration of jack's and packing pieces, it gradually inched closer to its landing point.  Daylight ran out, so we will continue on Wednesday.   The original lift was done using a HIAB.  The ring gear has now been turned 180 degrees so that we wear a new bit! 

Chestnut Lane wig-wags

by: Frank L.

Following a period of construction and testing at Wester Depot,, the  new control equipment was loaded and taken to Chestnut Lane where Jeff and Frank attended Gas Works Bridge to complete the power change over on the towpath unit.

A bit of Lego building was required, but job completed and bridge swung just to proof test the system.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Summit Working Party
(Phase 3)

Karen, together with a small team enjoyed a few hours clearing the brush from near the road bridge at the end of the cutting today. Quite a lot had been left laying following a previous working party.  A large fire soon consumed all the evidence. No chainsaw operators were available, so the larger pieces were not cut up.
Putting the last few twigs on the fire at the end of the day

Dates for the next two work parties will be:

Sunday 24 February 2019 (with the Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers)

Sunday 17 March 2019

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Ham Mill - Weds Jan 9th

by: Andy P.

The day started quietly. Another white board to do list would keep Bob, Duncan and myself busy.

First quick job was to level off the soil on the bank using the big digger. However a gentle bucket kiss to the corner wall was fatal.  It cracked and dislodged the block work. Annoying, really annoying.  Will need rebuilding and then refix the fence panel.

Ron and Harry arrived and set about big digger soil moving onto the bank, to help support the now broken block work. The job being made difficult as 2 large trees prevented easy access.  Lots of support shovelling was also needed to get the slope correct.  Several trees were up rooted and replanted.  It now looks a lot better.

Mathew and Richard arrived and began constructing the fence by the bridge steps.  Another post was cut and installed to support the rails.  Buffers arrived in the tipper with a supporting box of screws.

Bob was in the by pass hole and having to cut every brick, often at several angles, to make the top courses level, so the coping stones would fit. A really challenging bit of work.
As the tipper was on site, we went to Brimscombe to collect the last few bricks and to identify suitable coping stones.  Some stones to be cut but still needed a 3 man lift.

Lots of scrap metal was taken from Ham Mill back to the depot-still quite a bit left.  The 1 foot diameter tree stump, that heavily defeated the big digger, began to reveal itself as it became apparent it was in the way.  The mini digger small bucket nibbled away around the 1 metre+ stump.
A borrowed big axe rota was set up to chop around the exposing roots.  A few minutes chopping, with the just enough time to gather your breath, before your next turn.
So that’s Tree stump united 2. Big digger, mini digger, 4 man axes 0

The substitute chain saw is being warmed up.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A day on the cut

by: Dave I.

Despite the cold, Dave, John & Steve ventured onto the cut in Goliath today. It started with an introduction to Goliath for new trainee Steve. After covering the essentials of safety, and described the boat and its operation, we set off for the Ocean.

First stop was Ryeford Locks, where we saw the results of WDs new stop plank shelter building program – and very impressive it looks too! Apparently theres still some finishing off to do, then he planks can be placed inside and live a longer life sheltered from the elements.
Steve learned how locks work, and put his new knowledge into practice. Then we were through Ryeford swing bridge and onto Ryeford Wharf, where we could see the results of yesterdays log collection exercise. Its a big pile, but what you cant see is the huge stump that defied all efforts to get it out of the water – its now ‘beached in the shallows awaiting further attention.
By now, Steve was getting the hang of steering straight, and seemed to be enjoying himself. I guess thats what skippering is all about :--)
Upper Mills was slowly reached and passed; so was the Old Ship Inn site; and so was Stonehouse Wharf, at Boakes Drive. Its a generally narrow and/ or shallow section of the cut, and we were clearly disturbing the silt. And the seagulls noticed – we don’t know what was coming to the surface, but they clearly liked it
So did he local kingfishers, but getting a publishable photo of them is rather more difficult. Its a wonderful sight to see the blue flash skimming the water, then emerging from the water with a silver fish in its beak.
Lunch at the Ocean, looking at the lovely view of the hills, and then we started back home. The seagulls liked us again!
We seemed to be going a little slower than we did in the morning, and suspecting something on the prop, we decided to check while going back up Ryeford Locks. Not too much debris compared to some previous experiences, but we removed it anyway.
We still had a little time when we arrived back at Ebley, so aiming to gain maximum training experience for the day, we carried on to Dudbridge, turned at Wiggalls Yard, and finally returned back to moorings at Ebley for the end of the day. We managed to moor without spoiling the new bright white bollards (very nice they look, too) or getting paint onto us or the boat.

What a great day - wed covered the entire length currently available to us, and seen some good things both natural and volunteer-made.  After a de-brief in the local hostelry, Steve told us hed really enjoyed the day and plans to come again. Were looking forward to meeting and to help train all the volunteers whove contacted us after the article in the recent Trow.
It's all 'White' at the Wharf!

This morning, the mooring bollards at Ebley Wharf received a coat of white paint to their tops.  For H&S reasons, this is a good idea to help prevent trips.  Black is certainly not  best.

Work Boat Wanderings

by: Myron

Wednesday it was a return to some sort of normality on the canal after the Christmas break. It was a lovely sunny day but cold.

Arrangements had been made with WD to transport tools and materials from Ebley to Ryford for the new stop plank shelter there. Goliath was earmarked for this job along with its tender, Aquila. Whilst we were waiting  for the load to arrive, we readied Margaret for the job of shifting a couple of hoppers. Patricia has started to get busy and is regularly filling them up now. Margaret was just about to depart, when Wookie came through the floodgates and the engine died.

I should mention that we had been due to take Wookie down to the Causeway, for some tree clearing operations on the Leat. This is due to the well advertised fact that Wookies engine has a mangled gearbox and is u/s. However this was cancelled on Monday as they had been given that old 1.5 hp outboard that used to reside in Jaspar. You know, the one that Ian Moody loved so dearly. Since that time it has been back to WD and assurances made that it was now serviceable. Well, guess what, it got just passed the floodgates from the landing stage the other side and stopped. No amount of pulling by Ian would get it going again. That motor is jinxed. So, of course we offered a push, which was gratefully accepted.

Off went Margaret and Wookie, and Goliath’s customers arrived. It took a while to organise the loading of various bulky and heavy items, and that was just the workers, but we soon got all loaded on Goliath and Aquila and all enjoyed the trip down to the locks. Unloading was quite efficiently done as we now had an idea what we were doing.

Whilst this was going on, Margaret had finished her chores and had joined us in the lock. Not wishing to have idle hands I gave the crew a couple of minor engineering jobs whilst Isla and I walked to the site of the tree felling. Here it was established that they would dearly love a hand taking Wookie to the Coal Pen to unload later. I returned with the news, found the jobs done and we all had lunch in the sunshine. That’s what it’s all about.

After lunch we left Goliath outside the lock, locked Margaret through and arrived at Wookie as arranged. We had to get a log out of the water which had been tied up Ford’s Wharf. My God what a beast. About 7 to 8 foot long, and covered in thick ivy. After much heaving we managed to stand it on end resting against the bank. Ian then lopped off a foot or so with his chainsaw. More heaving and we managed to get another foot or so showing above the wharf wall. Now, with a last heave we got the remainder on the bank. Some time later it was in manageable pieces and loaded onto Wookie. After a short trip to the Coal Pen, we helped unload Wookie and said our good byes.

On the way back we obviously admired the new shelter, it is a thing of beauty. Alas I didn’t take a picture. I hope someone else did and puts it in a blog here. It was gone 4 by the time our tired but happy crew retired for a well earned pint.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Team numbers were somewhat down on Monday's numbers, however, three main areas were tackled.

Firstly, the diesel tanks received their second and third coats of paint.  The final colour is white, not all of this was completed.  They are looking really splendid now.
Another tank, has found a 'repurposing'.  The old hydraulic oil tank from inside No.5 has been earmarked to act as a containment around the control block manifold just in case there are any leaks of oil which can be just a drip or a high pressure spurt.  Some internal modifications need to be made, but it will perform the function well.
At the rear of No.5, the current hydraulic oil tank has been released from its fixings and is now ready to lift out.  We are looking to relocate that in a better position, clearing away one of the big trip hazards on the deck.
The afternoon saw us attending to the turret ring broken bolts.  Four of them sit buried in their threads.  A process of drilling and then re-tapping seems to work.  So far we have dealt with two and started on the third.  Once complete, we can devise a way to replace the turret back on the boat - it is heavy.

When all the major components are around us, including the engine, we will gather them together and contemplate the positioning of them within the hull.  A good day's effort. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Ham Mill update Mon Jan 7th 2019

by: Andy P.

What a busy start to the New Year.  Following an update meeting at the depot a gang of people descended on Dock Lock and returned with the 4 x 6m lengths of pipe. 3 were loaded and roped for their trip to Ham Mill and a curious site it all made. WD rocket launcher was heard as a description.

Lots of activity. Cars were parked all the way down the roadway as there were so many people.
Pipes were unloaded and the remaining bends checked to see if we can get down the concreted tow path. We can but need a towpath bypass building first.
Bob, back onto bricking up the overflow inlet-a slow job still, due to all the cutting and crazy angles.
Welcomed guest appearances from Ron and Harry and with Digger Duncan, enabled the mini digger, big digger and dumper to be brought into use. Clearing the yard of its glutinous top structure which was quite capable of swallowing volunteers, tidying up the off side bank, extending the yard entrance now it had been semi cleared. The big digger was used to try to lift out the tree stump which is in the way. Tree stump 1, Digger 0.

2 Fence posts were fitted to allow the end of the bridge to be fenced off at some point.  
Mixer Mathew, Monday Maurice, Calibration Kay were joined by Richard and set about bringing the trees, shrubs and cuttings, down to the slope from the garden. They were carefully placed before being beautifully planted in a very pleasing and satisfactory manor-it looks really nice.