31 December 2017

Gough's Orchard Syphon update

Following the joint potting activity yesterday, the time came to run up the system and see how much improvement had been achieved.

With recent snow and rains, the mill pond outlet weir was running at full tilt with the level as high as it has been for a very long time.

It took 30 minutes to achieve syphon action.  Once flowing, the key measurement of success was the duty cycle measurement of vacuum pump on time to off time.  In the past it has been, at best, about 4:1.  Today it was nominally 10:1.  Some air was still getting into the system, but exactly where requires some investigation as aural evidence suggests that it is in the section that should be submerged!  We have not run out of potting supplies, so those joints low down could also receive supplementary sealant.

Our key indicator as to the air in the system is visible in the top float switch section which can be seen operating in the above video.

The syphon was run for about 90 minutes before switching off the pump and venting the pipes to stop it.  There is plenty of water heading down to Bowbridge at present.

Good progress, but a bit more to do....

There's a Moose Loose in Stoonehoose

Moose, the WERgies gaffer, had a fine team of about twenty which had gathered from the north west, Devon, London and many points in between for their festive season working party along the pound at Bond's Mill.

The results of their labours are only too evident and impressive with a massive clearing success on the north side of the canal.  The remnants of brash smouldered away with the more valuable cargo of logs stacked on the bank or unloaded from Ratty (the work boat) into the vans.  One of the willow trees has been fenced off due to its condition.  During the strong winds, the trunk which was rotten inside, was splitting open due to a twisting action.

Also rotten were the remains of two landing stages that have been uncovered either side of the lift bridge.

This new year's eve evening, they are looking forward to a fine three course meal cooked by team members in their accommodation at Brimscombe port. 

Do take a walk along that stretch and see the vast change that has taken place. 

30 December 2017

Job going to Pot on New Year's Eve eve!

Following on from our pre-Christmas donation from Robnor Resins, with ideal mild temperatures and no rain, it was a great opportunity to return to Gough's Orchard Lock and continue the encapsulation of the joints.  On the way we dropped by at Bowbridge Lock to see the levels at maximum and a respectful flow over the spill weir, ably assisted by the snow melt water.

As of today, all joints have been dealt with, with just a bit of topping up to do on a few.  What was interesting, was the number of joints that leaked potting as we filled them, a sure sign that all was far from satisfactory with respect to gas tight joints.  Some time was also spent back filling around the pipe to improve mechanical support.  

All being well, we can undertake final checks and then get the pumps going to initiate the syphon.  

27 December 2017

Ebley Mill flood weir in action

The Ebley Mill flood weir has had an easy time over the past several years as the winter rainfall has been very low. During that time the flood weir became infested with saplings which completely obstructed the inlet and exit of the weir.

All that changed in the run up to the very successful HLF inspection trip in November. Work by SDC Tuesday and Thursday gangs completely cleared the flood weir of saplings and scrub.

The benefits of that can be seen after the Christmas rain and snow which has raised the water level so that the flood weir performs its function perfectly.

Richard Attwood – Western Depot veteran volunteer

22 December 2017

Gough's Orchard feed.

As you know, we have been awaiting the delivery of more potting material to seal the joints and hopefully get them all gas tight.

To this end, today, we headed off and received  a generous donation of new potting material from Robnor Resinlab based in Swindon.  They have supported our project and had already transmitted details of the innovative canal syphon application over their global intranet.  

When conditions are right, preferably a fine mild winters day, we will continue the encapsulation.  Hopefully this will be some time over the holiday period.

20 December 2017

'Mole' takes to the water

Constructed at Western Depot, Mole (fellow of Ratty, of course) headed out for the waters at Pike Lock to enter service for the WRGies over the Christmas period working around Bonds Mill.

Not quite finished, the interior had not yet received a coat of paint, which will now have to wait.

Our new minidigger was the motive power and dragged Mole out from the hole and onto the highway under the control of a full traffic management contingent and 'craftsman' controllers.

The slipway was the launch point, but no champagne, wine or cheap beer was spilt or sprayed in the process.  It later headed off up through Blunder & Newtown Locks driven by 2 paddle power. 

After having her bottom, front end and one side washed, today engineering works got underway. 

We need to remove the rams which operate the stabilisers to repair the ram top seals. 
To do this, the arms need to be removed. There are 6 large pins that need to
be removed on each corner. 

Today at Western Depot, the skilled staff and Bob wielded heating and cutting gear, magnetic base drills and VERY large hammers. Stubborn those pins, we managed to remove 2 only! 

Better news, we have a cracking good access steps built instead of a stepladder. Some wag called it “The Stairway to Heaven!”  We’ll reserve judgement. 

Bob H. 

18 December 2017

Patricia - the project begins.

As Monday was the first opportunity for the volunteers to view the new, old Dredger, Patricia, the day inevitably began with some guided tours of the craft.  The diesel was fired up and ran very smoothly, with the support legs exercised for the first time since arrival.

Some time was spent pumping out the bilges which had collected mostly rain water.  There appear to be three bilge pumps which hummed quietly when the buttons were pushed, but nowt was ejected, so suspect blockages are present.

A list of tasks was created so that project planning could go ahead.  We expect that more will come to light, the closer we look.  Inside the cabin was once a stove, this has been removed.  Alongside is the bunker, complete with some coal.  This should make a reasonable size biscuit tin once cleaned and renovated!

The rudder has seized and the hydraulic actuator disconnected, this will be repaired.  It would also be good to fit a 150ltr grab bucket on the jib. Approaches to JCB for support are planned.  Plenty of other jobs, but more anon.  

Early days, but an exciting project which we're sure will yield a very useful dredger.

16 December 2017

First Class First Aid
Emergency now in hand, Richard and Polly Millin have provided very enjoyable first aid training to those attending today's session in Brimscombe Port.

Further classes are planned for 29th and 30th Jan. If you haven't put your name down, then it is not too late. Please contact John Maxted who will endeavour to include you.

Did ResusitAnne survive?

Ham Mill Piling progress

Andy reports that it was a record week with 5 piles and extensions on Monday and 7 piles with extensions to finish the job on Wednesday.  All managed in spite of what the weather was throwing at them.

The team are looking forward to shoveling a serious load of ready mix in the new year.

Management look on!

14 December 2017

Progress at Ford's Wharf

Arrival at lunch time found the team catching some very welcome sun beams up on the bridge.  Down below, the site looked much  more complete with the coping stones set in place.  The block paving was in progress of being laid.

Patricia has landed

This afternoon, we took delivery of Patricia at Western Depot, all 20.5 tonnes of narrow beam dredger, which arrived from Eynsham in Oxfordshire.  Originally built in the 60's for BW, she has seen little use in recent times and is fully operational, however, there are a number of jobs which will be needed before she can enter service.  An assessment of the work will take place shortly.

An 160 tonne crane performed the lift, which took a fraction of the time taken to prepare the set up.  The dredger consists of a bog standard JCB back end.  The bucket will probably be replaced for a clam shell type, which has worked so well on our other dredger. 

Work will take place out in the car park where she now rests.  The job's list will probably grow as we uncover the inner details of the craft.  As you can see, she is self propelled.

There are 4 hydraulically powered feet which are deployed prior to dredging.  The metalwork could well do with some serious TLC, the rams will also require a  referb'.  

13 December 2017

Bonds Mill - update

You may not have seen the transformation that has taken place at Bonds Mill with the removal of the overhanging Willow trees.  This was the result of a fine effort from the WRGies recent working party.

Your fundraising team had a meeting in the Gate House this afternoon and the opportunity was taken to capture the much improved aspect of this part of the canal.

 View west

View east
The first craft through Bowbridge Lock

This morning and after a team meeting, we broke the ice (to get the gates open!) and our dredger team took their boats through Bowbridge Lock for the first time since restoration.  

The water level was not up to the spill weir, so it was heavy going with a degree of weed dredging to clear a passage.  The water levels did improve as time passed.

Another historic event in our restoration of the Cotswold Canals.

12 December 2017

3mm of Ice in the Lock

From little water in the pound above Bowbridge yesterday, this morning, it was over half way up, but not enough to take the boats through.  Tomorrow, there will hopefully be sufficient level following 24 hours of melt water to proceed up to Stantons Bridge.

11 December 2017

I knew we should have brought the Nav' Lights!

Today, the Armada set off for Stanton's Bridge.  The voyage was initially in question due to fairly continuous snow on Sunday, but it was not too bad in the valley bottom to present a serious concern, so the trip was on.

Firstly, the stop planks had to be extracted from Walbridge Lower Lock  entrance.  A tricky operation employing two land based volunteers assisted by Augustus.  Eight had to be teased out before we  could move forward.  

It was a tight fit in the lock but with the two work boats alongside each other the bottom gates could then be closed.  The mud barge, Weft, followed after the three work boats and was hand-balled in, as it was at Wallbridge Upper Lock.  The historic Armada then continued up the canal.

Weft rising in Wallbridge Upper Lock.  It makes a snug fit between the gates.

The canal was a bit tight for Augustus, up to the bridge at Dr. Newtons Way overbridge.  Wookey Hole propelling Weft was a considerable length, but was just able to make the tight turns around Capel's Mill.  

Arrival at Bowbridge was much like the HLF journey, in that, there was insufficient water in the pound above to progress any further.  So, the work boats were moored in the empty lock, whilst Weft sat outside tied to the scenery.  Unlike the HLF trip, we were now in fast fading light and plummeting temperatures.

It was an all action day making this trip.  All the volunteer crews and bystanders had an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

As they say:  "Onwards and upwards" - but another day...

08 December 2017

Barring a few stop planks..

...The way is now clear for the work boat fleet to move into Wallbridge Lower and move up the T&S to work above Bowbridge.  The mighty AP spikes have now been installed, these should prevent all humans and local wildlife from attempting a balancing act on the pipes, but will certainly make a great perch for a Kingfisher or two.

Bob needs.....

Do you know where we can find a good petrol concrete mixer, just like this one?

07 December 2017

Gough's Orchard Syphon

Yesterday, a conduit was laid from the top float switch into the brick enclosure.  It now resides under the surface out of view and away from rodents.  We operated the syphon for a couple of hours, but the air leak problem still exists and will only get sorted once all the joints are fully back potted.  

One indicator of full flow having been reached is the tip of a sunken wheelbarrow just breaking the surface!  

The Armada has gathered

Access through Wallbridge Lower Lock will not now happen until Monday as the chamber is still blocked with scaffold etc.  Bowbridge Lock is now full, but with not quite enough flow to to take the level over the spill weir.

What awaits is the section of pound below Stantons Bridge to Bobridge Lock, plus a small area up near Griffin's Mill Lock which cannot be reached with the diggers.  So plenty for Augustus to get on with.

The long reach diggers have now almost completed their work above the bridge.  The dredging spoils will be emptied from the barges along side this section

05 December 2017

Wallbridge Lower Lock

Today just as we were leaving site, I took a couple of pictures from the front deck of our dredger.

One shows the Lock almost free of the steelwork which has been supporting the offside wing wall for what seems like forever!  The permanent horizontal supports can be seen at the top of the picture. The second photo is the last support being lowered to the ground. 

In the next couple of days, the Dredger, both work boats and a mud hopper will be on the move upwards to assist with dredging the Bowbridge to Griffin's Mill pound. 

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

Ham Mill bank retainment.

Just received, some pictures from Andy of last weeks activities at Ham Mill where the screw piling has been taking place.  The team has been making good progress.