29 April 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Today's grand ambition was to reach the key stage when the engine could be started for the first time.  Well, as you've probably already guessed, we did not make it, although we got reassuringly close.

During the morning, we treated the engine to both oil and coolant.  Then followed some shunting to get the fuel bowser to a location where diesel could be put into the tanks.  Lastly, it was the hydraulic oil which conspired to prevent an engine start in that there was not enough to confidently charge the system properly, given that most pipes and cylinders were empty.
Never mind, there were plenty of other small jobs to get on with.  Out in the yard, the new engine cover received its panelling.  Some air vents also arrived for installation in each end.  
Back on the boat, we dismantled the exhaust system so that the joint sealant could be applied and the whole lot finally screwed together.  The sealant required 24 hours to cure, so another good reason not to pressurise the pipes too early.
The two ballast tanks had all the detritus cleared off them and duly received a good preparation to the tops in readiness for red oxide paint.  Given the warm sun, two coats of that were applied.  Grey to go on on Wednesday.
The electrics progressed with the connections to the lights and other safety switches getting terminated.  Out on the boom, all the hydraulic joints were checked for tightness, a few were found to be finger tight.  The blobs of red oxide paint were treated to some yellow.  
We have today's great team with us again on Wednesday and sincerely hope to get the rain protection flap to lift at the head of the exhaust stack!

28 April 2019

Time Warp - Bell House

Today was the annual FBHVC 'Drive It Day', an opportunity for those that have classic or historic cars to get them out, wind the handle and take them out for a run.  A local group, called 'Snails', mainly pre-war Austins gathered at the Upper Lock CafĂ© by Bell House this morning for a road run around the area.
It is often the case that anyone with an interest in an aspect of transport, also has a close association with other forms, be it canals, cars, trains etc.  At least three of the entries today were CCT members.
It is highly probable that there are many CCT members with shiny old cars tucked away safely in a garage.  An opportunity to link CCT with this related transport hobby will hopefully be organised in the near future.

Ham Mill April 24th 2019
by: Andy P.

Bob, Duncan, Maurice, Mathew and Andy set about finishing the bits of jobs left.
Dug or rather hacked the dried concrete mud from behind the wall and replaced with ‘top soil’ hand dug out from behind the new bungalow wall.  Looking much nicer now and ready for some grass seed.  Will and Ray arrived with 3 rails, whilst the post was being installed.  Another job completed.  Thank you.
The new temporary tow path was levelled and boards moved over in a nice sweeping pattern and to allow room for the permanent path to be re-laid when John P’s team can fit it in.

A mini digger bucket width was dug out along the length of the bungalow non supporting wall so this can be replaced with something more suitable.  Then it rained and within minutes the concrete mud turned to evil gloop.  We don’t like that.  The muddy mess being left piled up as back fill for when that job has been completed.

We also started to tidy up the lower wall which had been exposed but ran out of bricks and suitably sized coping stones-shame as might have finished that job as well.  Therefore, without any ceremony the tow path reopened whilst we blew our own trumpets...….
Our residence diesel fixer arrived to mend the diesel generator leak.  Steve P arrived with a magic potion to go into the BD fuel system to help stop the diesel bug which seems to plague the fuel and has caused numerous blockages. Interesting fact and maintenance thought of the day.

All types of stored fuel can deteriorate over time and stays in a usable state under normal storage conditions for up to 12 months. After that the fuel begins to age and deteriorate as it reacts with oxygen from the air.  When it does, sediments and gums collect which can be sucked through the fuel lines and clog filters.

Water is the single biggest contaminant for fuel.  Most water in fuel tanks is as a result of condensation when the tanks heat up during the day and cool at night. The presence of water in the fuel tank can create the ideal conditions for bacteria and fungi to grow.  The combination of water, food (fuel) and the typical UK temperatures can mean a ‘diesel bug’ or ‘fuel bug’ can rapidly spread.

Once they become established the fuel quality can quickly deteriorate.  The microorganisms can multiply quickly, creating a film on the surface of the fuel and leaving diesel bugs, sludge and damaged engines in their wake. 
That’s it for Ham Mill now as we are still waiting a decision for the collapsed wall.  After all its 4 years since work started and 15 months since we returned. So what’s a few more months or years whilst we wait and we move on to the next job and pastures new.

27 April 2019

A Grand Day Out?

by: Buffs

One of the joys (and perils) of living in the UK is the ever changing weather. The warm days before Easter have given way to the last of April’s squally showers. Holy week’s misty drive to the yard was completed with the paradox of visibility ahead no more than 40 metres and that above of 93 million miles as the sun fought its seasonal battle to burn off the morning mist and fog. In such conditions it perhaps one of the few times when we chaps have to think about what to wear today. Shorts and tee shirt for the late morning and afternoon but ah, how many layers for the morning?

No such quandary for Thursday’s ‘Meet The Volunteers’ Event. Cool and wet with showers in between. Early into the yard just failing to beat the alarm with the code. The call out list went into auto and people who we have not heard from for were reminded that they once were at WD. Some forgot immediately as they settled back into that fabled instrument of torture - The Comfy Chair. 

The van was loaded with some bits and pieces for display and the photos and notes for the display boards. Last but not least the Gazebo. Awkward and heavy, it was not going to co-operate but after three rounds it surrendered and lay quietly on the van floor.

At QEII park three gazebos already erected lined the grass at the edge of the towpath. A thoughtfully left space next to a WD installed bench was left for the WD display. With gazebo erected aided by Will from the woodwork team we hunted down the last of the display and the scarce and precious legs. 

With Will shaking out his artistic side the boards were soon filled with photos of work done by the depot Volunteers whilst the heavier elements of the display were arranged. This is what we achieved.
Thanks go to Will for making the mower stand

Anna Bonallack of Creative Sustainability, co-organiser of the event gave a short welcome address to the assembled throng thanking us for what we had done and expressing the hope that whilst this event might not be all that was hoped by those above us we would be able to take away lots of learning to improve the offer for the second event on 29 June this year. 

 After the speechifying we sat back and waited for the crowds to come and we waited and waited and … then we had lunch and waited some more. The weather had beaten our intended audience back to the warmth of home and hearth.
The lull gave us time for critiquing the event.
There was little advanced publicity. 
There was no site manager; but with such small numbers of exhibitors not a real issue.  
Those few who had ventured out for a towpath ramble had to ask what was going on.
Apart from the logos on the hi vis and on the displays there was no mention of CCT. There were banners from Cotswold Canals Connected.

The WD stand needs more work. Will, David C and I will review at the depot. 
As the three hour event dwindled in the sharp wind views were collected by the co-organiser for the next version of the ‘Meet The Volunteers’ show. I understand that a short hot wash-up was conducted and we hope that a longer and more considered review will be conducted before the Mayday bank holiday. 

My thanks go to Will and David C for their help on the day.

Lunchtime in the sun for the very busy Volunteers.

24 April 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Rule 2: When there is rain in the forecast, always ensure that there is an inside job to get on with. [Rule 1: never get parted from your lunch box - of course] We've not had much of that throughout this project, but today, was one of those days.

Connecting various wires and cables to the new Control Panel mounted between the joysticks was the primary task of the day.  Most of the important links have now been made and in theory, we could turn the ignition key.  However, in practice, it would be advisable to put some oil and water in the engine first and tighten the battery connections - this will happen on Monday.
Down in the engine room, we welded some steel piping to the hull in order to add support and protection to the copper fuel lines.  Repairs to the cab floor were also undertaken.

Almost all the hydraulic pipes are now in place.  It is just the links to clam shell bucket that remain and it is planned that these will be dealt with once the boom can be exercised.

Having checked the minimum height of structures on the canal, we ae now setting the exhaust pipe to just clear them. The pipe lagging arrived today and will be wrapped around once all the joints have been set and sealed.

Exciting times to come...

22 April 2019

Latest from the Boat Team

by: Myron

Here is this week’s account of Boat Team activities for the last week. As I said last week, it has become difficult for me to keep abreast of everything that goes on. But I’ve had a few notes from other people this week to help, so here goes.

Monday. I started off with Stuart, which was going to Dudbridge to help clear the fish pass there. Dave was particularly pleased with the new spill kits that have just been obtained for all our boats. I left there with a shopping list from Dave on all the little items we needed for the two new work punts. After visiting Homebase and B&Q,  I then went to Western Depot, mainly to pick up two signs to be put up at Chestnut Lane bridge.  I did speak to a despondent john Sirett, who was very frustrated by the current technical problems on Patricia.  He just wants to get on and shift mud.  Unfortunately, when I got to Chestnut Lane, the signs did not fit.  Basically they needed cutting before fitting, so back to Western Depot, but not enough time to do the work that day.  I bumped into John again, who was much more upbeat, possibly having discovered the problems with Patricia.

Tony and David had what appears to be a challenging but rewarding day, with the strong Easterly winds blowing at the time. Tony says ‘Decided it would be inadvisable to take a hopper down to the Ocean with the exposed waters down there so headed East.  Above the locks it was still pretty breezy but, after a crew conference, the temptation of an idle half loaded hopper was irresistible.  Under the somewhat apprehensive gaze of the dredging crew we made a virtually seamless link up and were away for Ebley.  Reaching Clothmills Bridge we would have liked to go further but prudence prevailed, for with the wind whipping between the buildings as it does along Ebley wharf we tied in the bridge hole to change ends.  David had great fun winding ‘Goliath’ and getting blown all over the cut, you can make the elements work to your advantage but on the other hand get it wrong and life can get a little  exciting! (but all part of the training?)’  The return was just as challenging.  Tony goes on to say ‘An old Captain of mine would remark on the frisson of uncertainty when coping with adverse circumstances would be adequately balanced by the deep satisfaction when everything worked out right. Today was definitely  one of those days!’

Wookey continued with reed clearance West of Upper Mills Bridge.  It’s amazing how this boat crawls its way up and down the cut, gradually eating into the gargantuan task of keeping the banks clear.

Wednesday, I was determined to spend the day with the Wookey crew.  That was a revelation.  Richard has a hernia or something, but you wouldn’t know it watching him drag reeds from the canal.  Iain knows who the boss is.  Judith of course, who is no feeble girl I can assure you.  Her greatest satisfaction is to get as big a single lump of reed from the canal as possible.  A two kebber makes her very happy.  During the course of the day, we temporarily lost the new outboard.  Colin and Dave came to pick it up to take it away for its 20 hour service. It should be back in about a week.

Later on, I was with the Weedie crew in the pub.  They had had a good day, clearing weed from Boakes Drive to Stonehouse Court, taking out a good couple of loads.  The beautiful aspect in this area was enriched by new born lambs in the field next to the canal. The Weedie crew were quite moved by it.  They even sent me a photo.

Chris King sent me a note saying he had a brilliant training day with Tony, Goliath and Warp. They took Warp right up to Dudbridge breasted up.  Tony said a barge had not been breasted up as far as there before.  They apparently didn’t even go aground, not until they tried to turn around at Dudbridge Wharf. Debris of a chair back and bike saddle were removed from behind the flood gates at Ebley (sigh). They then returned, this time pushing Warp ahead.

Tony makes a couple of interesting observations about moving on the river section, along with the shallow water there. All Boat Team skippers and crew may wish to note. I draw from Tony’s own words.

1) When proceedings against the flow in the river section of our navigation one is tending to push water ahead and it gives one some additional depth but, when returning with the flow one tends to reduce depth under the hull which inhibits progress.  In this latter situation only proceeding at very low speed mitigates this effect.
2) The feeling of both myself and Chris was that one has just as good control of ones tow breasted up as pushing, and connecting up alongside is easier and safer.

Margaret and Warp made serene progress to the ocean and back. Good to see Steve back after a lengthy lay off.

Thanks to all who contributed words and pictures

18 April 2019

Resting on our laurels.........(well, sycamore actually)
By: Dave P.

For 4 of the last 5 Western Depot volunteering days you may have noticed that the Logging Team has been conspicuous by its absence in the mornings.

You haven’t? Well we have been, honest.  This was all thanks to Les P - who very kindly donated a felled sycamore tree to us but only if we could be bothered to go & collect it.

Always on the look-out for supplies we said yes like a shot and got quite a shock on our first visit to Les (who lives on the side of a (probably) 1:4 hill outside Uley) where we espied this 100ft long, 4ft diameter tree lying there facing straight down the hill towards the busy road.

The Mitsubishi coped with the first days’ ascent of “Parsons Piste”, no problem, and we removed 3 full loads.  However, then it rained. This made the following Monday’s attempted ascent all but impossible even with the assistance of Les’ quad bike - so we used said bike to ferry the cut wood down to the Mitsubishi instead.  Another 3 full loads removed, but then it rained some more so we didn’t even try last Wednesday; instead we spent the day splitting roughly 2/3rds of what we’d already collected.

Last weekend was glorious so off we went again on Monday for yet another 3 full loads, after which we were left with what was potentially the most challenging bit:

Now then. To give you some idea of the diameter of the wee beastie at its base, bear in mind Maurice is a big chap and he was standing firmly on the ground, as was the tree trunk.....

Wednesday dawned so Maurice, Mike, Derek & I ascended the dizzy heights of Parson’s Piste for the last time.  Chainsaws at the ready we cut here, there and everywhere; all into manageable pieces, resulting in another 2 Mitsubishi loads. “Job’s a good ‘un” as our sorely missed colleague Lionel used to say, all we’ve got to do now is split it.  The 11 loads should be worth well over £1,000 to the CCT in sales revenue.

You may be wondering why ‘only’ 3 loads each time?  Simply because we were totally knackered by the time we’d loaded No.3!

Thanks, Les, for your generous donation, just let me know when you want any other trees removed as we’d be delighted to take them off your hands.....

17 April 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

An exhausting time today - in fact all the bits acquired yesterday, meant that we could build the pipework for the exhaust!.  Various bits had to be made, like a support bracket for the silencer and retention of the pipe stack at the top of the cab.  Then a lower support, hull affixed, to take the weight of the vertical pipe.  There is some debate as to whether the top of the exhaust is too high for  the bridges, but it is easier to shorten things, then extend them!
lsewhere and later in the day, with the metalwork in a warm state due to prolonged sunshine, we were able to apply the second coat of deck paint.  This tends to touch dry quite quickly, although can take a few days to fully harden.  
We don't plan to be working on the boat until next Wednesday, but do plan to be injecting bodily fluids into the engine, radiator and hydraulics.  Getting very close now to turning the key.  Exciting times for the team.

16 April 2019

Ham Mill April 15th 2019
by: Andy P.

5 folks today, with the original plan being to help on the barge and to dig out and explore near the collapsed wall.  However that was done on Thursday and footings were not found.  Lots of messages, phone calls and site visits to sort out why 2 groups seem to be doing the same job. Therefore we set about our to do list and brilliantly succeeded in doing none of them.

Reg sent a crew to pick up the MD but it was fully employed moving type 1 to the dumper and then to the back of the wall.  Then MD started moving stones to build the last course of the wall. Possession ruled so sorry Reg and we continued to find, carry, lift, chip and cut suitable stones.
These were dry placed on the wall and several were swapped, discarded, replaced elsewhere, until we were happy.  Lots of mortar was made and each stone lifted and carefully place, tapped and beautifully pointed into place.  Our new lifting tool was brilliant to pick and place but the most heard topic was mind your fingers. MIND your fingers.

Ron arrived to assess the picker/hammer device and agreed the connection was the wrong size so no doubt this will be sorted swiftly.

We were very pleased with our days work and a good team effort all round. 

Tues April 16th

It’s always good to meet up with other groups so had a visit to the landing stage team at Ham Mill, who were starting on a plan to insert one of their ‘piles’ into the area by the collapsed wall.

It was good to see everyone swing into action, lift and place the metal in place, attach the hammer and start a very noisy banging.  Yes the neighbours were warned and who came out with their ear defenders.

The pile went down about 2.9m and was still going down very slowly when they stopped. This seems to be typical of what happens with piling on the landing stages.

So hopefully, after conversations with the engineer, we can have a signed off plan for what to do next.

15 April 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

The project always seems to take a large step forward with the application of some paint and today we set about washing the decks down to remove the evidence of boot prints and then laid the first coat of slip resistant grey paint.  Elsewhere, interior painting of the area around the controls inside the cabin saw some more purple appear. 

Out on the boom, we had to add a few more pipe clamps for the hydraulics.  This meant welding the saddles on in a number of places and then getting some primer on for now.  The pipes remain to be affixed.

Electrically, advances were made between the battery and the control cabinet in the cab.  Power and electric fuel pump feeds were connected in.  This reached the stage where the floor could be laid back in place and the diesel fuel link pipes between the two tanks could be connected.
The new engine bay cover, now referred as the 'Wendy House' took shape in the yard shed.  The timber construction will eventually be covered in fibreglass and will be light enough to lift giving a good clear access to the engine bay.
For a while, this afternoon, site security took a step up.  Totally effective!

14 April 2019

Boat Team activities last week

by: Myron

Monday saw Wookey and Margaret out as usual. A nice touch was that the two crews combined to put the stop planks away in their new shelter at Ryeford locks. Apparently they needed every bit of muscle the team could muster as they were very (not the word they used) heavy.
As well as this Margaret moved three mud hoppers, perhaps a record actually. And then for good measure they took a trip to the Ocean. This was in spite of having to do battle with a huge length of cloth that had got round the prop.
For my part, Dave and myself spent most of the day in meetings which were very productive. Some quite big changes are in the air for the Boat Team. Eventually around three o’ clock we were let out to play. This took the part of joining up with a team from WD, which had two objectives. First to launch Stuart at Strachans Close and second, to get Chestnut Lane Bridge working. Both were achieved with minimal fuss, resulting in Weedie now being west of Chestnut Lane Bridge and Stuart in the water at Strachans Close. Dave and I then went for a shakedown cruise, but first we had an important job to do. A few days previous Ken Burgin had presented us with evidence that seemed to suggest that there may be a narrow channel up to 1.3 metres deep running through the gas main area. Nonsense I had originally thought, but then reflected that I had not actually measured it. Now was a good time to do so. The results were quite astounding. Basically, there is a channel through the gas main about 1.2 metres average depth and approaching 3 metres wide. This means that we can get our deepest draft boats through here without any great problem. This totally changes the possibilities for travel right up to the sewer just before Wallbridge Lower, which alas, I can confirm gives a depth of just over half a metre. Extremely satisfied with our results we went for a very pleasant cruise up to the Painswick Brook. I am happy to say Stuart has proven to be a very nice craft to skipper.

Wednesday saw Weedie travel down through Dudbridge Locks, overseen by Ian Moody. They went on to have a good day extracting weed at the Ocean, taking out two full loads.

Tony and myself, helped by Ian Moody, took Stuart up to Wallbridge to help clean the lock gates. As we were getting Stuart ready we met Steve Pickover and Iain Tweedie, who were going to spray a load of hogweed that day. Iain said the rest of the Wookey crew were around Upper Mills clearing banks. We handed the boat over to Frank and his team and generally helped where we could. The Lock Maintenance Team soon had the gates and the wing walls free of growth, most of it seemed to be all over the boat. What have you done to our lovely new boat! Oh well, it is a work boat.
At this point we received an emergency via Wallbridge. A mother duck and ducklings were trapped in Bowbridge Lock. So as the team were tidying up, Roy and myself went to investigate. Sure enough, mother and ducklings were in the lock which was empty with the gates shut. How on earth had they got themselves there. No idea, but the problem was soon solved by opening the gate and letting them out. First ducklings I’ve seen this year. When we got back to Wallbridge, everything was packed away and Stuart had been cleaned up. A job well done.

Margaret was out with Jenny as skipper. They pushed Warp to the Ocean and back, and helped Weedie with weed clearance at the Ocean while they were there. They report they all had an enjoyable day, in particular a very pleasant lunch at the Ocean, which is one of the more beautiful spots on our canal.

11 April 2019

Ham Mill April 8th to 11th 2019
by: Andy P.
An early morning planning meeting sounded straight forward.  Build the block walls (Duncan), fill with concrete (Mathew), face with red bricks (Bob and Duncan), pointing (Andy), top with coping stones (everyone).
Mathew kept us supplied both days, with mortar and concrete whilst trying to match conflicting demands for wet (bricks) or drier mixes (blocks).  The first blocks had to be individually cut to match the slope and fit the rebar, but once laid, things speeded up.

Jason and the stone lifter were used to bring a steady supply of coping stones, which were cut and shaped to size.  Kay kept up a steady supply of bricks for the wall.

Lockkeeper Bob wanted to fill part of the lock and overflow into the spill weir for the inaugural ceremonial bypass run.  No ribbon cutting as too wet but lots of happy faces as all the underground works carried the water away. Nice.

Leonie brought cake. We like Leonie. We like Leonie a lot.

Our leader Bob went to fetch bricks and biscuits. We also like Bob a lot.

Dave C brought diesel. We also like Dave.
Jason somehow extracted and moved the large cement mixer into the ‘yard’ to give us space for future tow path realignment.

Joe our resident BD repairer fitted a fuel non return valve and returned on Tuesday with another starter motor.  This enabled Jason to remove the bog mats and create a space for our new visitor, the landing stage barge.
Wednesday work continued with brick work, then fitting individual selected, sized and cut, coping stones, to the longer wall.  We even found some sweeping up time as well as slope reduction and a bit of back filling.  More happy faces.
Bob said his goodbyes as he takes a well deserved big birthday holiday.  Happy birthday Bob from all the ham millers.

We promise we will not be finished by the time you return as we will probably still be waiting for confirmation of what to do with the collapsed wall.  It’s frustrating.  It’s frustrating a lot.

10 April 2019

Not all Stick Twiddling

by: Bob H.

So many folk still think that operating a wet dredger (or a dry one for that matter) just involves pulling levers and dropping mud somewhere.  Let me assure that is NOT the case!!

To show what really happens (apart from the assumed lever twiddling) here’s what happened today aboard Patricia.  We’ve noticed for a while that the hydraulic oil is far from the honey like the colour of new ISO 46 bio degradable oil.

So today we collected some recycled fluid from WD, a new fresh (expensive) 20 litres and commenced swapping old for new.  Draining the old fluid was SLOW (we found later the drain valve had collapsed) and confirmed the current contents were shall we say, past their sell by date!

  Honey golden.... NOT! 

We’re not sure where the colour is from, but we suspect that the steel pipework may have sat for some time empty or with some water in the oil and we’re seeing rust particles in quantity. We removed inspection plates, cleaned out the tank, replaced everything then started up to run the system again.

Bags of rubbish of oily sludge, 80 litres of oil for Jason to filter and recycle and a day of dredging lost - but some cleaner oil in the tank!

Monday next week will see us testing to try and determine why the main boom ram is so sluggish. 

“May all locks be in your favour.”  

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

A thin film of rust due to recent rain had encroached over the deck where paint had not invaded.  It was necessary to skim over the surface with a wire brush before we could complete the red oxide painting.  With the sun warming up the steel, conditions were ideal to finish the job
Yesterday, a new set of battery cables were obtained.  These have helped us progress the cable management system.  Nothing too complicated, but involved preparing cable trays to link the battery isolator to the battery, along side the engine.  Flexible conduit will be used to reach more out of the way items such as the fuel pump.  This work is about 95% complete now.

In the woodwork shop, marking out and cutting of some of the new engine cover components has commenced. More on this story next week.

08 April 2019

Nearly, Almost, Getting Close!

by: Bob H.

Don’t shout too loudly, but we’re nearly there!

Wet dredging continued today with two regular members turning up at 08:30 to board Patricia.  With team briefing completed, and two stalwart dry boys conferred with, we positioned Patricia and waited for the Tug team to collect a full hopper and deliver one emptied early by the dry boys.  While we waited, we adjusted the neat fenders so that a hopper bumping alongside doesn’t destroy the 2 pack epoxy blacking.
Dave Pash. and the Tug Team today delivered our empty so tenderly, it was a joy to be there!  Later, Wookey Hole appeared at the lock en route to Ebley. Their new engine sounds lovely! 

Later, just as we were winding up our day’s work, (hopper about half full after a lot of clearing up and unsticking loads of rubbish from the bucket) Wookey came back and entered the lock as Margaret (now spookily quiet) exited.

After pumping out all the rainwater and excess dredge water from the hopper, Dave Pash. and team moved the hopper away from us to allow us to return to our current “home” mooring. 

At the end of today, we reckon we are less than a day’s work to complete the entry to Ryeford Top Lock.  Meanwhile Alex is close to gaining his “22b” endorsement for Patricia after a great day of progress. 

One dark cloud on the horizon is that the main jib ram is developing a fault. It operation is becoming very sluggish when all other functions are normal. This could indicate either a control block fault or even worse, a cylinder piston seal failure.