30 August 2018

Bowbridge Spill Weir

About two weeks ago, work was carried out to investigate a potential blockage in the spill weir at Bowbridge.  On the odd occasion, it has over topped and water has flowed into a neighbours patch.
With some material extracted from that exercise, mostly junk thrown in during the house construction nearby, it seemed appropriate to undertake a test to see if there had been any improvement.  Our concern is that under flood conditions, the problem might be repeated.

Yesterday, Gough's Orchard syphon feed was set going with the intention to fill the canal all the way to Bowbridge, so that the maximum we can achieve was being bypassed round the lock.  Then, under a controlled test, the paddles at Griffin Mill would be lifted and send a lock full surge down to Bowbridge and see if it could cope.

Most of these conditions were met this morning.  There was a reasonable flow over the weir, however, the syphon had stopped a few hours earlier due to a lack of battery power (we understand why).  There was no quick way to restart it, so the test went ahead anyway.
By cycling up to Griffin Mill, to open the paddles, it is possible to get back to Bowbridge before the surge wave appears.  Watching the arrival of the water and seeing the change in conditions was most interesting.  Quite dramatic, in fact.
You can just see the brick arch of the inlet in this image

Observations of the inlet and outlet points confirmed that the bypass conduit was handling the flow well with still plenty of room at the top of the feed aperture.  Some polystyrene beads were ejected from the outlet, possibly more to come.
This test will probably be repeated on Monday, given we are happy that full flow conditions across the pounds have been met.
The Harry Brown's of Bristol Shanty Evening

Cotswold Boatmobility have wonderful line up of entertainment from The HARRY BROWN'S of Bristol, for you on:     Friday 14th September. 

This promises to be an evening of fun and sea faring frolics, and music for everyone. Tickets are £10 only, or £5 concessions and are available now from your friendly local agent ( Keith or Clare or Jan or Colin or...) .

This is an important fund raiser for Cotswold Boatmobility. Please encourage everyone to come. Nautical wear optional. The Village Hall has a bar.  Parking is available. Put the date in your diary ...and don't miss out....buy your ticket now!

29 August 2018

Two out of three ain't bad

by: Myron

Another big day for the Boat Team today. We had 3 big tasks today, to be attempted by a team totalling 12 people.

Weedie, managed by Rob, was to complete the cutting of the Walbridge pound up to Capels Mill, and then bring Weedie back down to Ebley to continue the good work in Ebley and Ryeford pounds.  A team had taken Weedie up to Wallbridge pound on Bank Holiday Monday to clear the weed either side of the burned out warehouse in preparation for the clearing of the obstruction in the canal by the Dredgers.  It was decided to continue the good work in this pound today, before bringing it back down to Ebley, where it ended the day.  How they did all that cutting and managed to get Weedie all the way back to Ebley I don’t know.

Tony took Aquila out to complete the survey of the Dudbridge to Ryeford section, which they completed easily by lunch time. Just as well, as Aquila was needed for a very important job at Ryford locks, see below. Even more impressive was that they found time to survey Wallbridge lower lock, which is so encumbered with silt that it is almost inoperable.

The team taking Margaret out, led by Nick, was supposed to take Delilah down to the Coal Wharf to pick up a load of scaffolding to be used on the renovations of the Lock Keepers Cottage.  Well guess what, they didn’t turn up.  Some pathetic excuse of the ‘lorry breaking down’ did not wash with anyone.  This left poor Shane and Jo a bit let down to say the least.  But for us it all worked out ok in the end. We left Delilah at the Coal Wharf, in the vain hope that it may end up with some scaffolding on it, and went back upstream.  We’d had a very productive training exercise in pushing barges.  Then fate took a hand. As a training exercise for some new to Margaret, we opened the weed hatch, where we found a thick knot of wire round the prop.  Poking at it from 2 foot above was not going to shift this lot. I know, why don’t we put it into Ryford double (our dry dock in times of need) and we can all learn the particular aspects of subjecting Margaret to this tried and tested method of boat maintenance.  A dummy run to see what the results might be were successfully completed in time to let the trip boat pass, before trying it for real.  Aquila, who now joined us was put in her customary place, close to the prop, where the offending detritus was eventually removed.

Everything put away, we debriefed in the pub. There were a number of suggestions for improvement, inevitable really, in putting so many on such a variety of tasks. 

It is also of note that Floyd Baker has now joined the illustrious group of
qualified Deputy Team Leaders, more commonly known as a skipper with the
arrival of his WRG 21c license. Welcome Floyd.

Thanks all for a brilliant day.

Community Engagement - just today

Our HLF quite rightly attaches a lot of importance to this aspect of the bid and the Trust has responded accordingly in making every effort to meet those requirements.

Today, with an opportunity to cycle our canal from Brimscombe to Eastington, observing at first hand our local community 'enjoying' the fantastic amenity we have created and are currently in the process of further enhancing, the trip was both very satisfying, but tinged with a spot of the most depressing.

Many folk were out and about walking and riding the towpath, the majority of which responded positively to a happy 'hello'.  Here's a series of observations taken along that westerly journey.

Last night, the lovely old bridge at Gough's Orchard was vandalised.  We were there yesterday afternoon and all was well.  The moron(s) had left their mark.
Fortunately, we were in a position to go and get some graffiti remover from Bailey's Paints and the application of that performed a remarkable transition to a complete removal, washing clean with just water.

 By attending to it immediately, it is less likely to attract yet more attacks.  Do we have an anti-graffiti team?

Further down, the fishermen were quietly sitting on their platforms above Ham Mill.  On informing them that there will be some extra water on the way from the Syphon, the response from one was 'What we really need is some boats through here'.

From what was the bare earth of the dredged section below Griffin Mill, nature has now taken its course and the banks have greened up very nicely.  This is one of the most scenic sections, so far.

Just setting up at Capel's Mill were some members of Stroud Valley Canoe Club.  Their craft lined the bank as they prepared to launch into the water

Lunch was taken astride the balance beam of Bowbridge Lock upper gate, towpath side.  Various folk passed by, some staring down the irresistibly decorative spill weir grating irons.  Just a trickle was going over.  One conversation included a number of references to the bible and some spiritual guidance!

Lunch over, moving on and the sad evidence of some more negative community engagement.  Already well reported, but nevertheless provokes many comments from passers by.
Outside Lock Keepers Cafe, many enjoyed the warm sun that had now broken through the early clouds.  Just below the lock, our craft Weedie was receiving attention between jobs. Again, a number of our towpath community comment on the novelty and effectiveness of this weird and wonderful craft.

An SDC presence at Lodgemore Bridge was overseeing work on the lift bridge control gear.  Down outside the mighty Ebley Mill, Dredger Patricia had just received some attention, a couple of minor jobs.  When observing the many towpath walkers around the middle of the day, the majority, wearing company I'D's around their necks,  have escaped their air-con offices and the like and headed off out for a breath of fresh air, before going back to the coal face.

Many viz vests buzzing around at Ryeford Double Lock.  Here, our new Tug boat Margaret, was having her propeller attended to in our 'pop-up' dry dock  (empty the middle bit).  Apparently, apart from the normal stuff that gets wound up around the prop', they had lengths of wire which were difficult to shift through the weed hatch.
Later in the day, they were seen heading back to Ebley.

Not many paces further on, our trip boat Percy was tied up at Ryeford swing bridge.  Invited guests on board were enjoying what looked like a fine lunch.  Their venture had taken them to St Cyr's Church, Stonehouse, where they turned about, just before the swing bridge at the Ocean.

Boatmobility also had their armada out just on the west side of Ryeford Bridge.  They too had made it to the Ocean and appeared to be having great fun, perhaps more so with a gentle tail wind at that point.

Our volunteers that relentlessly attack the jungle weeds that grow along the towpath were near Upper Mills.  Their cutting left a trail which demonstrated vividly how much ground they can cover given the right tools.
 Wookey Hole was spotted further down near Nutshell Bridge immersed in the undergrowth on the opposite bank.
On arrival back at Western Depot, the plethora of activity noises that emanated from the workshops just further demonstrated the involvement of our local community in restoring and enjoying our canals. 

Howzat HLF? 

28 August 2018

SDC Thursday Group

by: Ian Moody

Last week our regular Thursday group was joined by Stroud District Youth Council for the ongoing towpath repairs between Stanton’s Bridge and Griffin Mill Lock.  Who can resist another wheelbarrow opportunity?

In addition to the towpath repairs we also reset some of the coping stones which had been pushed out of alignment.
And, it’s been a little while but you’ll be pleased to know that the team photo tradition is alive and well.

27 August 2018

Two Vignettes

by: Buffs

Western Depot volunteers have been tasked to upgrade and revitalise some aspects of Bonds Mill Bridge.  This pioneering composite bridge needs continual TLC to get it through to replacement as one of the projects for phase 1B of the restoration project.

Over the next few weeks the pedestrian path will be re-marked and the yellow warning stripe at the factory end will be repainted.  One welder and two safety marshalls were sent to re weld a broken joint.

Marshalling requires all round awareness of the task and the approaches of traffic on foot and wheels. During one of the non welding moments we were graced by a family of two swans and their 4 surviving cygnets.  They approached the bridge in perfect line astern gracefully lowering their long necks to pass under the bridge.  They thwarted attempts at photography by breaking formation to approach pedestrians on the towpath that stopped to admire the group. It was good to see that the cygnets had grown to a good size and were starting to show their white adult plumage.  This family group is probably this year’s clutch incubated in the large nest in the reeds at The Ocean Basin.

Forming up in the distance

4 cygnets and their parents just above the Ocean Railway bridge in early July


If you walk the towpath between Dudbridge and Ryeford bridges you will have noticed the canalside leat which feeds the former factories around Ford’s wharf. WD volunteers have at various times carried out repairs to some of the sluices which controlled the draw off of water to power water wheels providing power in the workshops before coal, gas or electricity did so. This leat also provides water to the canal via a flap valve when the water levels are too high.

WD volunteers David and Chris were sent to look at the condition of a pair of sluices behind Kellaway’s yard. The sluices are well protected by a thick belt of brambles. The sluice gates were in good order but the frame is showing its age and will require some work. 
As they were crossing the yard one of the workers approached them and showed them around the various water related sites across the land occupied by Kellaway.  Hidden in the undergrowth are several more sluices which fed several buildings.  There are hidden remains of structures which had supported water wheels and further artefacts relating to water power still on the site.

This site is just one of many along the Stroudwater which remind us of the level of industrialisation along the five valleys and the longevity of some of the factories built to support it.  It would be a shame if this history and those who have passed it on or rediscovered it was lost before it could be properly recorded.

26 August 2018

The 'Small Room' takes shape

by: Andy P.

Something different that will hopefully become a gents urinal or some french sounding word folks keep using. 

Slow progress for this first time bricky but even with Duncan's help and numerous levels and 2 eyes it still does not look level where it should. We are taking the optimistic view and blaming the bricks. 

We could not initially blame the tools as we were sharing 1 trowel and a level until a wheelbarrow load of goodies arrived and we could really metaphorically crack on.

Thank you for finding these and for people supplying us with bricks, sand, cement and a whole load of encouragement from the numerous visitors to our little patch. 
Yes it will have a window and a sink and is being sized to our largest member!

24 August 2018

Fishing today in Pike Lock Spill Weir

Whilst passing Pike Lock late this afternoon, a group of 4 young men were spotted fishing in and around the area - with magnets!

Apparently magnet fishing is a sport.  A brief exchange enquiring as to their success revealed that the main catch was rusty nails!  It was pointed out to them that the lock had recently been cleared, so unlikely to yield a WW2 shell.

I asked them to let me know should they find a propeller or £1m!

Christening the clean, shiny, new tipper.
by: Ian Moody

23 August 2018

Gough's Orchard Feed

Reported earlier this week, was the activities to try and improve the performance of Bowbridge spill weir, which seems to be partially blocked.

Following that, to test the system, it is necessary to firstly, get the canal full and water flowing over the spill weir.  Recent boat movements have left both the Bowbridge & Griffin Mill pounds low on water.

At 08:00 this morning, the syphon feed was started.  It takes some 30 minutes to reach full flow.  Operation continued all day, but the level in Griffin Mill pound had not reached the top of the spill weir by late afternoon, so the decision was taken to leave it running overnight and levels will be checked first thing tomorrow morning.
The ball at the float switch, which stops the air pump

A large overhanging sycamore tree that completely blocked the light to the solar panel had been removed, a bit improvement.  We washed the surface of the panel which was a bit grimy.  There is a huge ash tree on the opposite bank which would make a great difference to the received light, if that was removed. (hint!)
The flow over Ham Mill stop planks was most impressive.  An attempt to measure the actual volume was made, the numbers remain to be crunched.  

If enough energy has been captured, we hope to see the syphon still in  operation tomorrow.
Sight and sound

22 August 2018

Pat's Progressed - 'Polishing the Diesel'

Our trials and tribulations with Pat's contaminated diesel have more than once graced this blog recently.  However, today was the day when we engaged the services of a fellow boater and friend of Bob's that has the kit to test and clean contaminated diesel systems.

Our own checks for water were quite basic and certainly engine performance indicated that all was not well with the plumbing.

Initial checks of the contents of each of Pat's fuel tanks revealed something of a chamber(s) of horrors.  The tanks have sloped bottoms, so sludge and water would tend to settle there.  Pat had not been disturbed prior to the visit so as to fully settle out the fuel.

A suction pump and pipe inserted to the bottom extracted much that in no way resembled diesel.  It was possible to sweep the area and slowly collect the grunge.  Often the pipe would block with large particles and then had to be back flushed before continuing.

Port side tank - left, Starboard side tank right

This process continued until we were happy that the worst of the larger rubbish had been removed as the next stage employed the use of a fine filter to completely clean the diesel.  The fuel was first cleaned in the port side tank, followed a while later with the starboard tank.  Due to limited access to this tank, suction took place in the starboard tank with the return to the port tank.  The flow then returned through the coupling pipe between the tanks.  

It was a matter of waiting for the diesel to be circulated through the filter, which took most of the day.  It took two filters to do the job, but by the end, a sample extracted from the tanks resembled closely how red diesel should look.  A big improvement to the system and we have the knowledge that there is now little water present and the vast majority of the contamination has been removed.

Looking more like red diesel

Whilst all this was going on, a couple of other jobs occupied our time.  Firstly, an additional and longer flexible coupling in the exhaust pipe was fitted.  We were suffering from bad vibration resonances at certain engine revs, especially tickover, getting coupled into the various cabin components.  To decouple these, the larger joint made an impressive improvement in isolating the engine from the craft.  We have a small leak which will require fixing.

Secondly, an accumulator was inserted into the water system so that the water pump did not cycle so often when the tap is turned on.  This involved a piece of new woodwork to support it.  We were able to test its function later in the day when there was both hot water and plenty of dirty hand washing to be done.
It was very busy around Ebley Wharf, as you'll have read in the previous blog. 
A major milestone for the Boat Team

by: Myron

Today, the Boat Team had 3 teams on the canal, all carrying out different tasks. This is I believe a little bit of history.  Each team had 3 people making 9 in total. Margaret went off for another try at the Ocean headed by John Sirett.  We had a team surveying the canal to see exactly where the silt is, headed by Tony Jones. We also had a team on Weedie, headed by Nick Carter. I spent most of the day looking very managerial.

The objective on Weedie was to finally see if we could cut weed without the whole thing falling apart. I’m glad to report that the trials were a complete success. 

The result was 2 full loads of eel grass and pond weed.  The section from Ebley floodgates to Wiggals Yard now has appreciably less weed in it that than before.  Later inspection showed the mesh repairs that we have been working for so long on all held up very well.  

We had got about 90% of the way to a complete set of procedures when operations ceased previously.  By the time we finished today we had quite a slick operation going, that will only get better with practice.

The team doing the survey completed a section from the floodgates to Hilly Orchard bridge, a very good days work.  We already have a comparison with our original 2014 survey and on average there is a staggering 300 mm more silt in that stretch of canal than 4  years ago.  No wonder we are finding it hard going. Can’t wait to see dredging start here.

The team taking Margaret down the cut had a much more comfortable day than Monday, which you may recall had to be abandoned because of low water.  A pleasant run down was terminated at Boakes Drive Wharf by an angling competition from there on down. There  was no need to disturb their efforts, which would of course happened twice. The latest crew member to be initiated into the amazing qualities of Margaret, Paul Weller, came back with the now customary big grin on his face, gushing how wonderful a boat Margaret is.

In all respects, a marvellous day. Than you to everyone who joined in.

Here's a video of Weedie in operation.  Not great quality, but gives an idea of how it works.

essage Body

SDC Team catch-up

by: Ian Moody

The Tuesday and Thursday SDC teams have been busy in recent weeks on a variety of tasks. The electricity cable is now installed at Lodgemore bridge and we are awaiting the meter installation and delivery of the control cabinet to enable the lovely Western Depot folks to install the new hydraulics.

We’re well underway with towpath repairs between Stanton’s Bridge and Griffin Mill lock. This was a section of towpath that was damaged during some other works so we’re replacing some of the edge boards and then we’ll top up the topping.
We’ve finally got around to making a permanent repair to the ends of the overflow weir footbridge at Ebley.  The towpath had eroded where it meets the concrete leaving a small but significant step at each end, which had become an obstacle to wheelchairs and pushchairs.
And yesterday the team made yet another attempt at earning their Scout badge for van packing. Some of them have been trying for over half a century.  Sadly, they still need a bit more practice.

The Cave Dragon of Bowbridge Roars.

by: Buffs

A flurry of emails over the weekend saw workboat Jasper delivered to Bowbridge lock to support a water jetting team who were coming on Monday morning to attempt to clear the blocked spill weir culvert.  Unfortunately a competent crew was not properly arranged.  Lifejackets were to be provided for the event by the SDC canal team and were duly delivered to an empty lock site. At the same time a volunteer from Western Depot arrived to add some modifications to Jasper.  These two hapless souls were sufficiently dedicated to the cause that they did not leave until 17:30 – way past their bedtime. 

The jetting crew from Just Surveys arrived with their jet pump wagon.  The 4000 litre tank was not full, very not full, so the driver then left in search of a hydrant to fill up.  The enforced interregnum was spent leaning on a fence and looking down a deep hole. The function of the weir and culvert was explained to the jetset who had not met such a beast.  They were regaled with tales of dragons hiding in the tunnels waiting to catch the unwary spitting fire and damnation on those too slow to run away.

When jetting ready to commence two young men from the jetting team were fitted with lifejackets and joined in the boat piloted by the WD volunteer.  With Jasper held in place at the mouth of the spill weir by the SDC volunteer the jet hose was inserted into the culvert and jetting started.  Progress was slow with much muddy effluent emerging from the tunnel mouth. We need a bigger head was the cry from above and the biggest head was sent down.  More jetting and more muddy efflux but still progress was slow.

Jetting Nozzles

The tunnel was probed with a barge pole.  It was evident that the silt in the tunnel had become compacted and hardened over the long period of abandonment.  There was also evidence of fine root growth into the silt from an unidentified source. The nozzle was changed again, this time for what was called the cutter. This issued a much more powerful and copious jetting action.  It would also waken the dragon in the pipe. Jetting recommenced with greater penetration and silt removal.  It was evident to those in Jasper that the oldest and most compacted silt was being removed.  The effluent was much darker, almost blue, and came with the unmistakeable perfume of Canal No 2. Also evident were great clumps of fine roots, some of which caused the hose to be held in the tunnel.
Root Mass from the Culvert

 It had been suspected that the culvert had been penetrated to a greater or lesser extent by the stand of willows along the bank of the Frome.  These trees have a magnificent coat of green fronds sweeping down from the high branches to caress the ground below.  The coats shine in the sun having been fed through the dry of this summer by the passing of the waters of the Frome.  It is a sight worth seeing from the East even if willow is no real friend of ours.

During the second tankerful of water the hose started to buck and twist.  The Dragon was fighting back!  More roots and more foul blue effluent were spat out of the dragon’s lair with a roar a spray.  The dragon had beaten the pump which had to be replaced.

While the pump was away a video survey of the upper end of the culvert was carried out.  It revealed that for some of the length it was in good order but was fouled by debris.  The debris was much more modern than expected and includes modern house bricks.  A recording was made and some stills may be reproduced here later.

When jetting resumed the effluent slowly changed colour to a light grey losing its aroma on the way.  The effluent now contained evidence that it was much more recently deposited with plastic bags and bottles surfacing in the lock.  Jetting was getting very close to the dragon’s lair and with very thrust and withdrawal of the hose being greeted with a roar which forced spray and debris into Jasper and onto anyone foolish enough to get close. 
The Dragon Roars and Spits
Jetting was brought to a halt when it was evident that no further progress into the culvert was being made.  The total length of hose in the tunnel was measured at 7.6 metres, which is about the distance from the lock wall to the estimated line of the culvert parallel with the canal.  
There has been some debate about the shape of the tunnel.  Is it a continuous slope from weir bottom to a radiused turn to the lock wing wall porthole or does follow it a flattish line to a right angled drop to canal level and a right angle turn to the wall.  Plans are afoot to find out.

21 August 2018

Even Margaret gets stuck

by: Myron

Monday, the Boat team intended to go to the ocean but found the Ryford flood gates and paddles shut.  The pound below the floodgates was about 8 inches down. By equalising the two halves of the pound the levels were ridiculously low. We had gone upstream while the levels equalised.  We could go no further than Hilly Orchard bridge.  Margaret would just not go further.  When we went the other way through the now operable floodgates, we had all sorts of problems all the way to Ryford locks at which point we gave up and went back, after waiting an hour for the levels to come up a bit.  The journey back was not quite so bad.

The other objective of the day was to give three of our crew members familiarisation on Margaret.  The really good thing about the day was that John Sirett, John Ferris and Bob Poole all had a real baptism of fire on Margaret and all did well.  I hope they’ll not come across conditions as bad as that for a long time.

Note to self.  If you find the Ebley flood gates and paddles all shut in the summer, then set the paddles as per standing instructions and find something else to do.  DO NOT GO BOATING.