A blast of warm air from the south - Spring is here, the days are longer than the nights. Monday’s early morning mist on faded away, sylphs driven skyward by the rising heat of the sun. Time to dust off the Polaroids for the drive to the yard.
The log yard is already busy with a Mitzi filling with logs for the first delivery of the day. With all the timber that has been collected recently the space will soon be refilled with logs to dry over the summer for the next cold season. Reg is hoping for a good showing of volunteers for the long list on the whiteboard. The demand for transport is high along with hands to do the jobs. Colin’s shop is already open wide to the east to collect the warmth of the sun. Soon the yard is filled with the sounds of honest endeavour. The cab for the dredger is being readied for repainting after all the rotten sheet metal work has been replaced. The prep is not a silent process with the grinders whisking up a green mist under the barn roof as the wire brushes and sanding discs provide a key for the new paint. During the morning the two volunteers on the job progressively morphed into ghostly green men.
From the office Reg steps down clutching a piece of paper. “The wall at HQ has fallen”. Two volunteers made haste to Bell House to look for and make safe the power point which was on the wall. The wall by the lock had partially collapsed towards the lock but the cable and socket were not to be seen. After much hacking of ivy and buddleia there was still no cable. Even Chairman Jim could not find it. A phone call from Lisa in the BH office elicited the information that it had been cleared on Sunday. At least the condition of the rest of the brick and block work was exposed. And the down side. The café doesn’t open on Mondays.
Meanwhile the dredger boys had some new toys to play with. Air driven needle guns to clear the deck plates of paint. Oh Joy for the rest of us! Fortunately the air line from the workshop was just too short to reach the car park so they had to make do with a small compressor which was rendered wheezy and breathless by the needle guns. A small blessing for the rest of us.
By the end of the day the van electrical upgrade was complete with the fitting of the ‘disco lights’ – LED flashing lights high on each corner replacing the rotating amber lights fitted on the roof.
The frenetic pace of activity continued on Wednesday. Even higher demand for vehicles and volunteers. Benches to collect from the Eastern Depot to be readied for a placement at Bonds mill alongside an information board which was being finished in the Wood work shop. Mike needed to go to Wallbridge lower lock to measure for a new stop plank cradle. Frank had tools and the jet washer to go to Blunder lock to clean the gates and coping stones and clear the spill weir entrance. Richard needed help to continue the scrub clearance around Dock lock and the path there.
And then a new 20 metre long air hose extension was delivered. And it has the correct connectors.
Oh deep joy!
Bob and the dredger boys were in awe. Others were looking for jobs out of the yard. And then it began. No longer held back by the asthmatic portable compressor the needle guns could beat their relentless tattoo on the thin deck plates of the dredger.
The denizens of WD have become used to the whine of the angle grinders providing a musical accompaniment to the working day. A high pitched wail which, in the right hands, can be transformed through a scream to a screech in the bend of a wrist. Fortunately the discs wear out and need to be changed. Needle guns are different; the operator wears out before the tool.
It begins. A few test taps to get the angle right then heads down and boogie. The thickness of the plate and the size of the resonance box under it give the gun pitch, depth and loudness. When two are on at the same time dissonance reigns. Throughout the day the yard echoed to the syncopated rhythm of the drummers. The drummers were focussed and relentless. The thicker checker plate produced a deeper note to boom further across the fields. And all the while the cab was turning purple.
Meanwhile workboat Stuart which had provided sterling service on the Whitminster length was feeling lonely and neglected. Chris, Chris and Jeff took the big trailer to Stonepitts Bridge to collect her. The wergies had thoughtfully brought her back to the bridge where the bank is probably at its highest. Cunning and experience, and a wet arm, soon had her on the bank. Winching Stuart onto the trailer took more time and an awful lot of turns on the winch handle. Arriving back at the yard it was silent. Aah relief. And was that really the purple cab hovering above the yard floor? Well yes, but it was supported on the tipper ready to be slid onto the dredger where it now sits waiting to be fixed into place next week.
The capability of WD to support the activities on the restored canal is only limited by the numbers of volunteers we have. We expect numbers to increase as people return from their long winter breaks to sunnier climes but we can always find work for the willing. If you are a volunteer with another team on the canal and would like to be kept busier than you are WD can keep your idle hands from wandering. We are open on Monday and Wednesday from 08:00. Why not drop in to see what we do and learn some new skills.