30 April 2018

Pat's Progress

With a fine day forecast, we were able to kick off with the usual pump out of the weekend's rain from the bilges.  At least it's a clean operation now and relatively quick. 

In the engine room, the first coat of white paint was applied to the walls.  The particular brand of paint used was horrible to work with in that in flaked and splashed very easily.  

Out on the roof, brackets to mount the solar panel on were fabricated from some square section steel tube.  They will bolt to the hatch cover once the cabin is painted.

In the welfare cabin, the plumbing has progressed onto the cold water system.  A trial fit of the sink/hob unit indicated that a couple of small modification were needed, nothing tricky.  Over the weekend, some mixer taps, called Edith! - from B&Q, had been sourced.  These have been mounted in a cut out section from the old sink unit taken from the original welfare container.  Some tin fettling has made quite a tidy job of it.  We hope to get it all installed on Wednesday.

Work is nearing completion on the pins and bushes for the spud leg mechanisms.  We need some JCB golden yellow paint for these and the digging jib.  The preferred scrounge method is being tried out first.  In all, a good days effort.
Sponsored Bricks - More laid today

The team loaded the pickup and headed off this morning to lay another batch of bricks at Capel's Mill.  This now takes the total over the magic 100.  

Today, the weather was perfect for laying.  The team soon had them in place.  A plan is produced in advance for the position of each brick.  We will be extending both directions, either side of the bench.

Thank you to everyone that has supported us with this project.  You can find a link to the sponsorship form on this blog.


27 April 2018

Pat's Progress - Late update

It has come to light that hard-working members of the restoration team are anxious to get at paint & rust removal tools stowed in the MX5 car boot. 

No cars were damaged as a result - the key owner arrived in time! 
DBS Continued...

Today, two of the stalwarts of the wet dredging team continued the dramatic transformation of the section of canal between Bowbridge Lock and Stanton's Bridge. 

Whilst dredging, we regularly find interesting and amusing articles. 
Today's haul included a brick built gate post

and a welly boot (Hopefully without a body on the upper end)

We have many problems with equipment failures, broken hydraulic hoses, a worn out oil burning engine and leaky hydraulics to name a few. Our dry dredging mates are with us most of the time - though usually not today!  
But we had fun pushing and pulling full mud  hoppers - without a tug - to the unloading point. 
A short personal note. As promised last time, a brief interlude and pictures.
  Personally, I can't get enough of mud shifting - it's the only job I ever wanted to volunteer for - and these pictures show the main reason why. The early morning spring sunshine (showers came later) and gorgeous fresh greenery reflected in the newly cleared water surface. 

Bob Hallam.

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

26 April 2018

We Say Goodbye and You Say Hello

by: Buffs

We were welcomed to the yard by a fanfare from a mistle thrush high in the treetops above Western Depot. The day was full of early promise and anticipation. The bright sunshine belied the promise of showers later.  Today’s primary task was to rename our two Western Depot produced workboats with their formal titles.  So it was fingers crossed for good weather until lunchtime.

The producer of the extravaganza was Chris from Standeasy Productions (Motto: every expense spared).  Chris had worked tirelessly for at least 20 minutes on the design for today’s show.  The location was chosen from a list of two both of which carried the opportunity for dunking the official guests thereby enhancing the fee by sending the resultant video clip to You’ve Been Framed. The eventual choice was Blunder lock which offered a bigger splash and more photogenic surroundings.

The name boards for the boats were ordered through Rickenbacker from Wrangler designs.  They came in bigger than was practical for boats with just one foot (30cm) of freeboard.  I think he is still smarting from being admonished by his first boss.

Seizing on the opportunity the boards were handed over to David in the chippy shop who made two goal-post stands to lift them to eye level, one for each boat.  Thank you, David.

The production team then set about assembling the means of revealing the names to the world.  The ribbon cut by the Prince of Wales has been locked in a secure vault along with the Blessed Scissors and were not available for recycling.  So, off the back of the Standeasy Store, also known as Chris’s garage, where an extending curtain rail was seized upon and then wrestled to the work bench where it was rent asunder to make two rails, one for each board.  With Maurice’s help, the complex engineering required to ensure that the curtains would open correctly was completed (after getting it wrong the first time).

And so, to the big day.  Ratty and Mole were brought to Blunder Lock by John and Jill who had lavished much care - and paint - on both boats.  A small team brought the name boards and set them up in the boats.  The boats were then dressed overall with the one CCT pendant per boat that the budget allowed (borrowed ed.).  Supporting actors were inspected and found sartorially and wardrobe were asked to bring forward clean costumes.  Don’t actors understand the cost of clean Hi Vis?

With the cast briefed and a dress rehearsal lasting at least 30 seconds successfully completed Ratty and Mole were ready to receive the Official Guests. What they got was a light shower of rain.  While the Production team cowered under a tree Western Depot was scoured to find an audience.  Reg led the assembled throng to Blunder.  The Official Guests arrived and were introduced to their host and MC, CCT Vice Chairman John Newton.  There followed instructions to the ladies on what their role was and introductions to their guides.  Our cleanest of Lifejackets were fitted.

With a fanfare from the BT compressor working nearby John called the gathering to order.  There followed two addresses from Myron and Tony.  Both are known for their brevity.  Myron offered praise and thanks to Tony for his generous donation and personal support.  Tony responded with thanks to Western Depot for converting his dream to the floating reality before us.  He then, in an emotional moment for him and his assembled family, explained the reasoning for the names he had chosen for the boats.

Then came the great reveal.  John and Jill led the naming party onto the boats.  With John and Jill discreetly holding the curtains against the rising wind and backed by the silent crescendo of the attending Loyal Machines band Tony coached his wife and daughter in the correct invocation for the naming of a vessel as Mole gave up her yard name and became Jasper and Ratty gave way to Stuart. 

With honour duly done the Official party, as they always do on these solemn occasions, repaired to the home of a local volunteer to be served tea and sticky buns whilst the cast and crew were left to clear up.

Stuart will return to Western Depot to have the fittings for her cover made and Jasper will join the active flotilla of CCT boats.

And with judicious timing as the Official party crossed the threshold for their Refreshments the heavens opened on Chris, John, Jill, Andy and Les. Not just rain but hail too.

The event would not have been possible without the commitment of the team at Western Depot who helped in the building and finishing of the boats. We were blessed when a former active volunteer reactivated because of a change in his work pattern.  Damon is a coded welder and made light work of the welding together of the hull sections and all the internal supporting framework.  His skill, accuracy and speed impressed us all.  With his help, the construction phase for each boat passed very quickly.   To him and to all in WD who helped in setting out, levelling, moving, painting and fitting out goes a hearty thank you.

Jasper lying alongside with her new cover fitted

Hopefully Not a Sad Ending

by: Buffs

During the set up for the naming event we were pleased to see the duck family on the pound between Blunder and Pike. The ducklings had clearly grown in confidence and were swimming at greater distance from mum than on Monday.

A long shot of the family in the shower before the event shows four of the 8 ducklings out with mum in the morning.

At the end of the day when I went to try to get a better picture I saw a duck straining in that erect Jemima Puddleduck pose clearly looking for something. She entered the water and slowly progressed from Blunder towards Pike looking at the water’s edge and quacking quietly in the manner of a mother duck calling her brood together. There was no response either in chirping or an emerging duckling.  She did look a little forlorn.

If you are on the tow path between Newtown and Pike look out for them and let us all know if you see them.

Nature is nature and the fight to protect young from predators goes on.  Whilst I was on the bank above me was a loud dogfight between a rook from the Pike Lock rookery and a buzzard.  The buzzard was being driven off but I’m  sure it will be back

25 April 2018

Work Boat naming today - Blunder Lock

by: Myron Burak
Tug Team Leader (Joint)

Today was the naming ceremony for the two new work punts. In honour of the
fact that Tony Jones designed them and also in recognition of his many, many
years of service in the Trust, the two boats were given names in memory of
two members of his family.  A good crowd of people attended, from Western Depot, the Dredging team The Tug team, Landing Stages and probably others.

John Newton started proceedings, welcoming all and passing on to Reg
Gregory, who expressed thanks to the considerable efforts of the volunteers
at Western Depot in the construction of the new workboats. I then gave an introduction to Tony, after which Tony gave his thanks for the honour of naming them. 

Tony's wife, Madeleine, then unveiled a plate for Jasper, quickly followed
by the plate for Stuart being unveiled by Tony's daughter, Kerry. Stuart is
named in memory of her husband who died of cancer some time ago. Jasper is
named after one of Tony's grandchildren, who died of a degenerative disease
about two years ago.  Unfortunately Jasper's mother could not attend, so
Madeleine stepped in.  Stuart's son Luke also attended, along with his son
Ethan, Tony's Great Grandchild.

Then, it was a short walk for some to Andrew Frank's house just along the
canal, where he kindly provided refreshments.

Pat's Progress

Exterior decorating faces some challenges when you are subjected to very heavy showers which, in no time, undo all your best efforts to keep the bilges dry.  Today was one of those days.  However, despite this, an amazing amount of work, which included painting, managed to get done.

In all today, 10 volunteers were working on Patricia's renovation at some time or other!   In the workshop, pin and bush manufacture continued apace.  The aft bilge, at end of play, sported a fully painted coat of red oxide, a major achievement given the conditions.  Some local sheet protection permitted the job to continue during the rain.

Up front, hydraulic oil, water and other bits were cleaned from the bilge with the application of much sawdust from the chippies.  Access here is very awkward to say the least.  The Spud Leg controls have been removed too in readiness for the interior decorating phase.  There are some more rust areas due to a leaky front window to attend to first though.

The middle bilge area has had much flaky rust and paint stripped off and has now almost received a complete coat of red oxide.  Keeping the rain out was simply impossible in this area

The best place to be today was in the welfare cabin.  Here, in the warm and dry, the hot water circuit that feeds the radiator and calorifier is now complete.   The cold water circuits are to follow.

Pat's name plates, together with her CRT number plates have been removed.  These will require repainting whilst not getting in the way of the painting of all the cabin(s) exterior surfaces.  In the engine room, the walls were being prepared for painting, which involved removal of some items, plus cleaning of the surfaces which will get a white finish applied.

Another fun and productive day.

Tuesday SDC Gang

by: Ian Moody

On Tuesday the whole SDC team were at Ryeford, completing the steps and building the towpath.  For some unfathomable reason the first picture seems to show some of the volunteers suggesting that I may have been running late with the tipper and the tools.  I’ve sent them for some training to learn about the difference between canal time and real time.  Of course, if they were really keen they could have started shifting that heap of Type 1 behind them whilst they waited for the wheelbarrows and shovels to arrive.

Once the rest of us, and the tools, arrived we were soon underway.  Everyone loves a line of wheelbarrows.

And then it was job done.  Once the shuttering is out we can declare that job finished.

24 April 2018

Western Depot notes

by: Buffs

The summer warmth of last Wednesday gave way to a cooler Sunday followed by Monday’s reminder that spring has been coughing into life.  The canal between Blunder and Pike locks was covered in buds and petals thrown from the trees.  In the distance above Blunder came the first sign of the avian response to the changing season.  A smudge on the water surface resolved into a squadron of very young ducklings following in line astern behind their mother.

As with all small ones the sense of order was soon lost and mother was shepherding them along the water.

A relatively small turnout today with Patricia taking a goodly chunk of the volunteers.  Work on the big trailer was in abeyance as the screen for the bypass at Dudbridge moved up the order.  Further measurements were taken and the design for the new grille is being confirmed.  Getting to Dudbridge was longer than usual with the closure of Cainscross road this morning.  Our thoughts are with the family of the unfortunate cyclist.

Closer to Eastington final preparations for the formal naming of the new workboats on Wednesday were progressed.  The soon to be renamed Ratty and Mole were taken to Blunder lock where the naming event will take place at 10:30 on 25 April 2018.  The boats were cleaned and the bottom boards for Mole were re installed.

The boat cover made by Attwoolls was trial fitted to Ratty to make sure that there were no differences between the two boats.  There were none and Ratty will get her new dress soon.  After the renaming event Mole will go into service and Ratty will return to the Western Depot yard for the finishing touches to the engineering to be applied.

Both Ratty and Mole have seen service on the canal even in their raw state. Both boats were pressed into service over the Christmas holidays when the WERgies needed on water support for their tree surgery exploits.  The boats provided very stable platforms and were much in demand.  

23 April 2018

Pat's Progress

A team of six made great progress on many fronts today.  Following the weekend rains, only a small amount of water required sucking out.

Starting at the stern end, a compressor and air chisel attacked the very crusty rust on the fuel tanks and surrounding parts.  After a thorough clean of fallout from that operation, later, we were able to apply rust convertor and red oxide paint.  The Limber holes were dressed flat to the base.

In the engine room, the hydraulic tank was investigated.  A dip stick test of the oil revealed that there was no water in the oil, good news.  However, draining the tank produced several bucket loads of quite poor cloudy oil.  We will need to flush the system before loading with fresh

In the welfare cabin, the construction of wall panels and framing continued.  Also, plumbing for the sink/hob unit progressed well.

The bilge between the two cabins has also been de-rusted and cleaned.  By end of play, almost all of it gleamed with a shiny coat of red oxide paint.  

Another major step forward was the delivery from our local Stonehouse company, ATH Hydraulics, when the four spud leg rams and their hoses were delivered back to us following reconditioning.  Once the pins and bushes are complete, we will be able to reassemble all the leg mechanisms.

20 April 2018

SDC Thursday in three pictures. 

The day started, as all good days should, with a toilet. The chap inside it made a bit of a fuss at first but soon settled down once we were on the move.

We then moved onto loading up the wheelbarrows for wheelbarrowfest at Gough’s Orchard lock. Most of the team went up there to continue the towpath construction.

At Wallbridge Lower lock we replaced a drain, seeded the lockside and continued the slow withdrawal from our “garage”. The final, rather mundane, picture shows the racking in its new home.  What the picture does not show is the scene of utter chaos that the racking left behind.  So the next task is to sort out a mountain of random stuff and a lesson for the future is to be much more selective about keeping broken and/or useless things.

19 April 2018

Tuesday/Thursday Dredging

by: Andrew Rendell

The Dredger team is still trying to load hoppers Warp and Weft.  It often seems we take one step forward and two back.  Problems we face are rain/ snow/ ice but this week we thought we finally were making progress and the Dry Dredging team could work again.  But disaster struck again.  The long reach was out of action as it had ram to bucket issues.
They assessed the situation and decided to unload with the smaller 8 ton digger. This is restricted but enabled progress.

We have 3 new trainees starting their training, Andy, Brad and Alex, with another to start soon.

Today John and Sue worked with Andrew hard filling hoppers on one of the hottest April days.  As a reward John and Sue faced the challenge of removing rotting willow trunks that had fallen into the canal over the years.  After careful removal we arranged them on the hopper buoyancy tank and one could say it was a piece of modern art.

John is chuffed with his new found skills.

The video shows what we are discovering in the silt bed.

We are hoping there will be more volunteers willing to help with the easy task of hauling hoppers and if they are interested in getting involved in training on the Dredger operations.  The Wet and Dry Dredging teams need support to increase the pace of Dredging progress if this part of the Canal is going to be navigable.

The sun's out and the few involved are enjoying the experience.