30 May 2019

Margaret crew find treasures
by: Rob W.

On Wednesday 29th May Ryeford upper lock was very empty (where did all that water go?). This allowed Myron to spot some treasures lurking below. He valiantly went on an errand to fetch us a grappling hook from Wookey Hole, and this allowed the crew to recover some goodies from the deep:

PS Lodgemore Lane pound has some new residents, seen on 28th May:

27 May 2019

Dredgers - It is Monday, so you're expecting a story!

Whilst cruising out of Gdansk towards the shipyards, we spotted the vessel below moored up, clearly a new craft.

A tad large for our canals, but nevertheless most impressive.  Here's a link to it in operation, and a few words about it.

Reimerswaal Dredging has just released this amazing video shot during the sea trials of their new multi-purpose 5.450m³ trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) DC Orisant.
The vessel was built by Royal IHC for joint venture consisting of Den Herder (Reimerswaal Dredging) and Group de Cloedt.
According to the shipbuilder, the dredger installation has been designed to dredge marine aggregates (sand and gravel) for the construction industry.
The TSHD will also be extremely suitable for performing regular dredging projects, such as maintenance dredging and beach nourishment.
The launching ceremony took place earlier this year at the IHC’s shipyard in Krimpen aan den IJssel, the Netherlands.

Would look better in purple!
Bank protection at Arundel Mill

by: David M.

One of the tasks of the landing stages team is to secure the canal banks in places where a vertical edge is needed, for example for permanent moorings, or where the bank is unstable.

We use interlocking profiled steel sheet piles, 4m long and 60cm wide.  At Arundel Mill (between Bowbridge Lock and Capels Mill) at a gentle curve in the route, the bank needed stabilising beneath the towpath.
The curve meant that the piles would be set ‘freehand’, in a groove we dug out in preparation.  By placing the whole run to half depth, we can ensure that the piles stay vertical in both planes, essential to be exact as a slight lean towards the inside of the curve causes the error to increase with each successive pile.
On the second pass, most of the piles went in full length, but a few went to refusal and we cut off about a metre.  Physically this is one of the lighter of our jobs, as the crane is used for all the heavy lifting.  The hard part is backfilling with soil and aggregate – and slicing though several metres of 5mm thick steel at towpath height with the 23cm disc cutter.
We left a newly stabilised bank, and most of our work buried in the ground.

Meanwhile Ron and Nick were finishing the new steps at the Bowbridge landing stage.  We have the railings, and will fit them in a few days when the fixings arrive.

24 May 2019

A bit of publicity and lots of fun!

by: Rob Wilson

I was one of a motley crew who helped CCT to a solid 40/50 score in the BBC Radio Glos morning quiz this week.

We consisted of folks from many teams within CCT that you might never see, such as our book shop, admin, trip boats and fund raising. 

We ended the week by singing "Build me up, buttercup", slightly behind the music (we were singing too loud). Do you know the connection of that song to Gloucestershire?

Oh, and did you know that Saul is north of Stroud?

(Go to 'listen again' and relive their fun moments of fame!  - about 08:45   .....Ed.)
Gas main – what gas main?

by: Dave I.

For a long time, we’ve understood the upper limit of navigation for vessels deeper than about 2 feet was the gas main, understood to be too high in the water, and identifiable by a narrows just downstream from Chestnut Lane bridge. A while ago, we were challenged to confirm that restriction, and despite repeated prodding with poles, the whole section seemed to be between 1.0 and 1.5 metres deep. Strange. The powers that be deemed this a trigger for a bigger investigation: please could you sit in a boat in the middle while we empty the water out? Of course we can!

Various folks from WD arrived, folks from the gas main owners arrived, we arrived on Stuart, Ian M opened the paddles, and down we went. Slowly, of course – there’s a lot of water to remove. And down we went. And down we went.

Still no sign of  gas main, but the concrete and stone edging finally emerged on both sides of the cut. Eventually the water level stabilised, grass was hacked down to give better visibility, and various folks used the boat to cross the cut and do the same on the other side
The official gas main markers emerged, and the gas main folks confirmed where the ends were before it dived under the cut.

Still no signs of where and how the main actually crosses the cut, so much discussion ensued. Eventually agreements were made about what we (CCT) could and could not do, and where we could do it. We’ll do some preparatory work, then remove much of the edging, cutting back to the required channel width; then we’ll need to remove debris from the bottom to get to the depth we need – seeing whether that exposes the main in the process. If we still can’t see it, this should be job done, and another obstruction removed from the navigation. If we need to get closer to the ‘keep out’ area, the gas folks will come back to help – time will tell.

It turns out the water level reduction was limited by a large silt bank across the lock entrance – if we need to lower the water further, we’ll need to remove it, or at least cut a channel through it.
After we’d finished, some of us took the opportunity to go further up the pound and look for the sewer – and we could see it this time, just 2-3 inches below water level (it’s the light coloured line from the post in the foreground, going between the 2 posts in the background):

Thanks to Steve for the photos.
Tall Ships Festival - this weekend

This scene may look quite tranquil, but around the corners the sight of frantic activity with very many stall holders setting up their pitches for the weekend.

Included, of course, our Canals Trust Book Shop team who arrived with two loaded vans of books, video's, CD's and puzzles for sale.  This afternoon's job was to transfer them to the provided tents ready for display to the public.

Well worth a visit, however, beware....it can get a bit noisy when three guys with jet pack on decide to fly around the basin!
The Boat Team

Here are a few snippets from my week in the Boat Team.

Monday was the date of the first of two forums that are being held for the Boat Team. Every aspect of life on the canal has change over the last year or two and those changes have been reflected in the Boat Team. We felt it was time to reflect on exactly what that means for the Boat Team and its volunteers. Along with Dave and myself 16 volunteers came along to see what it was all about. That was a wonderful turnout. Also attending was Reg Gregory, our Maintenance Director who was tempted along by the promise of tea and biscuits. Many things were discussed over about a three hour period and just about all comments received were very favourable. The proceedings were completed by a short course on rope work, admirably presented by Tony Jones.

Tuesday, I’ve had reports that Goliath was out training with Tony with Chris and Steve. Unfortunately this coincided with some water problems in Ryeford pound, grounding Goliath. So, they spent the day with the outboard on Aquila, which can navigate in a puddle.

Wednesday found me at 9:00 am preparing to assess two of our skippers for their Margaret with hoppers endorsement. For those who don’t know, your basic training in the Boat Team gives you a ticket to command Goliath in all its operations along with some small boat authority. But to drive anything else we operate a system of endorsements. With boats as diverse and complicated as Weedie, Margaret and Wookey Hole, you cannot just jump from one to the other without some serious familiarisation. I’m happy to report that Rob Wilson and Ian Nie are now fully fledged skippers on Margaret. Floyd Baker was along too, to make sure it was all done right.

Managing to split myself in two, I also spent some time with the Wookey crew. In theory, they were without a skipper for the boat, so I went along to make sure it could be moved. I was quite astonished by two things that day. The first was that Richard Tanner volunteered to be a boat skipper!!!!

The proof is here. Something a lot of people never expected to see. Well we put him through his paces, and straight off the wharf he executed a perfect 180 to proceed Eastwards. That’s a pass then. Not that Richard really needs a formal assessment. If anyone has grandfather rights on Wookey it is him. Seriously, we’re very grateful to him for agreeing to step in as skipper when needed. Jerry Caesar then did a very passable job of taking Wookey onto its new mooring. Just a few formalities and he will have his WRG 21b on Wookey.

The second thing that astonished me was that an awful lot of the work on Wookey is done by the girls in the team, which is where most of the physical work of the Boat Team is done. Come on fellers, they’re showing you up. I also suspect they had some influence in persuading Richard to drive the boat. It was a real pleasure to work with Heather and Rachel.

Other in the team were messing about up above Dudbridge. The pound was lowered to take a good look at the gas main obstruction and also the leak on the lower gates of Wallbridge Lower. I don’t have much detailed knowledge of how they got on.

All things considered, a very good week. I wonder what next week will bring.

23 May 2019

Silt sampling - part the second

by: Bob H.

Tuesday 21st. 
A bright start to the day with a beautifully sunny day in prospect. 
With the workboat in place, four dredging team members prepared to sail to The Ocean.  Our techie guys Tom and Matt from Sanctus boarded with their many sample pots and we began taking samples every 100 Metres. 

The tide on the Stroudwater was of a Neap series and the level was rather down on normal. Great for sliding under Bonds Mill Bridge, but not the remains of “Hoffman’s Dam,” where we needed the dreaded pole!  The old Mercury outboard behaved better than normal.  Brad H. was our engine minder and did a brilliant job all through the session.

Sue C trundled the trundle wheel, indicated the sample site and an anchorage was made using boat poles by Andrew R. and Brad while the samples were extracted by Bob H. 

And placed into sterile jars by Tom and Matt and stored in cool boxes. 
We continued right down to Blunder Lock taking 15 samples and then prepared for the next phase, West of the A38 roundabout. 

Wednesday 22nd 
Another Lovely day in prospect, the team was a little smaller, John S instead of Andrew R and Brad H.  Matt from Sanctus was flying solo today.  With fantastic efforts and a masterpiece of organisation and sheer hard work, Buffs and Chris P moved our available workboat from Pike Lock Slipway to Stonepits West of the A38.  We are very grateful for their invaluable help, so willingly given. 

After the spectacular launch and subsequent pumping out, we variously motored, poled and hauled as far possible towards the A38- but we still had to walk 400 metres for our first 4 samples of the day.  John S was definitely challenged by the reeds on the first bit, under the reed mat was water. Lots of it!  And no reachable samples! 

With these 4 samples eventually in the pots, the final 6 samples were easier to obtain- but VERY smelly!  One sample looks like this. 
The tray is 2 feet long! The sample at top of the picture is the very bottom of the canal, close to the blue clay liner. The bottom brown and very smelly bit is nearest to the surface of the canal. 

Our last observations at Stonepits Bridge is that the water is. Much deeper than we expected. Normally we dredge to 4 ft. 6 (1.5 metres)  Here the possible depth is 9 feet (almost 3 metres!). 

“May all locks be in your favour.”  

22 May 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

This morning suffered from what could be best described as staff shortages, however, once the dredger guys had completed their tasks, the afternoon proved to be more productive.

With the arrival of the aluminium tread plate for the engine cover ventilation hatches, the holes could be cut in the cover over which they will fit.  A locking mechanism is required to fix them in place when not in use, a design is done, but that is an action for next time.

Like any project, detail matters surface once the major jobs are complete.  In this case, it was a matter of how Annette 2 is secured to No.5 when in use.  Certain issues concerning the retention of the moorings during operation directed us to mount a new piece of 'I' section steel which could be used both as a lashing and also double as a rest for when the engine cover has been slid open.
Also during the day, some time was spent checking hydraulic line pressures and the response of the controls to movement.  We have an area to address relating to the behaviour of the boom and jib when commanded to move together.  
Tuesday silt sampling and Patricia investigating obstruction at Ryeford.

by: Andrew R.

The day was preempted by a work boat being put at Bonds Mill bridge.  Agreement of two wonderful Santus guys to be on site at 8:30 am. 4 budding CCT volunteers willing to get dirty, but in fact it was a very clean operation.

One kind lady setting out regular distance with the trundle wheel. One  outboard operator. One anchor man and of course our resident/willing silt extraction tool operator. The two young men from Santus came with pots, jars, labels and of course gloves. 

It was quite enlightening how the sample differed from the railway going west towards depot. Varying from sloppy to grainy to solid and in one place blue clay at a 1.2 m depth. Under a bridge.
The Dredging team have this of to an art now and did it in record time.
The Santus team was made up of and experienced sampler and a new boy who will be left in charge of sample gathering on Wednesday west of the A38.

As this finished by 12 two Dredger volunteers went back to Ryeford to explore the large hard objects 100 metres east of Ryeford lock. It became clear how large the area was and seems to be a concentrate layer of rubble which can’t be picked up easily.

The trainee on Patricia is showing a high level of skill and care and should get his WRG 022 authorisation very soon.

20 May 2019

Dredging CCC

by: Bob H.

As we progress our plans for the dredging of the “In water” sections of Cotswold Canals Connected (AKA phase 1b) we have masses of preparation before we start mud slinging!
One vital task is to ensure that the silt we need to remove contains no “nasties.”  To do this, we need to extract a sample of mud along the 2 sections needing dredging (East of the A38 and West of the A38.)

Today, we began our latest stint of sampling. We take a sample every 100 metres, working from a small workboat, in this case Jasper. She (he?) was located at the slipway at Pike Lock, but was needed above Bond’s Mill Bridge to start tomorrow.

John S and Bob H duly got the reserve old Mercury 2.5 HP outboard (it has “characteristics!!”) and with assistance from the always helpful WD staff (Colin P and Chris C) got underway.  Ascending Blunder and Newtown (Old Name “Top Lock o’Five”) Locks they cruised gently to Bonds Mill in Glorious sunny weather.
John S flew the first leg, Bob H the second.  No volunteer got wet in undertaking this journey!

Tomorrow an early start from Bond’s Mill to extract the samples. More later!
Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Pretty well a one job day today, that of the engine cover.  Following on from last Wednesday, we completed the fit of the six rollers to the boat.  Then it was time to affix the angle to the cover and profile the edges to permit it to slide backwards, thus exposing the engine.  A couple of slots needed cutting in the upstand to let the angle through.
There's a bit of welding to add some retaining brackets to prevent the lid being lifted off when closed,  We also received the aluminium tread plate today which is to form the ventilation covers in four locations.  Once all the bits are in place, we can get on and fibreglass the complete cover.

Very close to end of play, we decided to cut off the two very substantial steel posts that protrude from the rear of the boat, removal of these will permit the cover to slide that bit further.

19 May 2019

The Boat Team

by: Dave I.

The Boat Team has now blanked off the water pipe that has for some time been leaking into the cut at Ebley. ‘Aquila’ was taken across the cut as the work platform. After clearing nettles and digging out the bank the fun really started: investigation having failed to locate where the pipe came from, and with no sign of a hoped-for stop-tap, the pipe had to be cut with water still coming through under pressure so a tap could be fitted. Paul got extremely wet but achieved his objective, and we now have a potential cut-side water point for future use. Thank you Paul and the rest of the support crew!

 Evidence of unhelpful canal enthusiasts was unearthed (should I say unwatered?) when a training crew drained Ryeford top lock while removing debris from Goliath’s prop. Tyres were found in the bottom, with suspicious bits of rope attached. It was eventually decided they came from the tyre-based support cushion made some time ago to dock Warp for welding. They had been stored as a really-difficult-to-move (but obviously not difficult enough) assembly on the offside of the lock. As well as the tyres, there was a lot of accumulated silt and rubbish, presumably dislodged by dredging just above. Presumably there will be even more in the lower chamber, which will need to be cleared in due course.

For those who’ve been near Ryeford Locks recently, you may have seen an excavation on the north side, and the start of clearing a path on the south side. This is to install a large water main that goes between the reservoir on Minchinhampton Common and Whaddon and Westrip. The cut will be closed while the pipe is installed: it’s supposed to be open again by the start of June, but we will wait and see if this is achieved.

Goliath arrived at the closure site to find a crane driver trying to measure the depth by dunking a bag of gravel across the cut. The team helped out by doing a snap profile survey, which seemed to be appreciated by the local site manager.

The day’s training ended with a quiet trip to The Ocean, seeing much wildlife including wagtails, swimming grass snake and Swan cygnets. Golith has been left at Ryeford Wharf rather than Ebley, so we have 1 tug either side of the blockage.

The team have been practicing towing ‘breasted up’. This is a well established alternative to pushing, which provides much the same level of control but results in a shorter overall configuration. One major advantage of it on our wide canal is that the tug and hopper can navigate through the lock while remaining attached – something not possible when pushing, where the combined configuration is over 90 ft long. The tightest challenge seems to be the swing bridge at Ryeford, but the tug and hopper still fit!

With thanks to Chris for the photos.

16 May 2019

Wet Dredging with Patricia week 13th to 15th May

by: Andrew R.

After a good discussion at the depot around the nearly refurbished Dredger No.5, on Monday, some stayed to continue the great work whilst others went back to Patricia.
Patricia has been feeling bad with hydraulics causing issues  - ‘old parts’.
But overall now we are back up to speed. 

To improve safety we now have van wing mirrors so the operator has all round vision and can stay in the seat when operating the rear legs and reversing, let alone know if crew are near the sides or legs.  As always aiming to make the vessels on the water safer.


Another training session.  First the jib slew locking pin was modified to enable its removal from the cab.  Up till now members of the crew had to be trapeze artists walking around the spud legs to remove the pin whilst tethered to cabin rail with safety restraint.  A foreseeable risk was identified and now removed from operations, another brilliant improvement to make crew safety better.

The trainee had a good day and we filled a hopper.

Still finding interesting things, sawn off bicycle parts and large plastic pipes as well as the known builders rubble and grit from the dumping era on this section.

Again started at depo, modifying Annette2’s Swan neck in readiness for the return of No.5. Also an engineer removed some material from the slew lock pin to make it lighter. 
Then helped the Refit team by modifying a brass nut to the filters to stop a leak of hydraulics.
Back to Patricia and another good 4 hours Dredging. Feel a lot safer now during set up processes.
Another water main to be aware of and lots of silt and rubble east of Ryeford locks

So we are back into action now so dredging and training can continue.

15 May 2019

In other news

Various project received attention in Western Depot.  There were continuous sounds of metal cutting, grinding, welding and painting!  Parts for another secure stop plank holder steadily heaped up in the back of the shed. (You may be able to spot one in the distance behind the 'Closed' sign in the first picture)

Out in the yard, the slow but determined efforts to fire life into the old fork lift continues. Most of the bits have worked recently at some time or another.  The main lift cylinder is away for repair just now, but there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel for this venerable beast - we could really use it at times.

The HIAB, destined for Samson (or is it Delilah?) , which has been suspended from the 'A' frame gallows for some time now bust into an area of activity around lunch time when new hydraulic plumbing was screwed into place.  It is looking quite tidy and mostly complete.

In common with roads around Woodchester, Selsley and Minch', a 'Canal Closed' sign has now appeared on the towpath around Ryeford Double Lock.  The trunk water main which is passing through the area, but under our canal has finally resulted in some serious action.

A bund has been installed, over which heavy plant can travel.  This will be a serious blockage for a few weeks.  There is no diversionary route signposted! 
There will be more on these stories to follow
Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Time to apply some more paint, amongst other things.  It was out with the cabin floor boards so that the numerous primed faces could be given a top coat.  The opportunity to finish the front bulkhead was also taken.  There is some second coating to do another day.
Our sawn off ladder is now fixed in place and cleverly hinges up so you can gain access under the cab.  Speaking of which, there are two indicators in the high pressure hydraulic oil filters buried in a dark place, one of which spurts oil!  Since neither can be seen, the decision was taken to extract and plug the dials so that they cannot leak. 
Later in the day, the various fermenting ideas for the engine cover took a definite stride forward when a team decision materialised to go for the sliding option.  This permits access to all the key engine check areas, it will also permit quick and simple complete removal should the need arise.  
We are in the process of making the components for the fitting of 6 rollers which will run on rails secured to the frame of the cover.
As you can imagine, the question most often asked is 'When will it go in the water?'  Well, the engine cover is the most important job and then there are all the little ones like, labels for the controls, paperwork, insulating hot surfaces, plus the odd paint jobs etc.

It is our intention to run the craft for a couple of hours, or more, dredging air to exercise the systems thoroughly before putting it back in the water - oh, then there's that pile of ballast to install.

….and finally - This craft is out of the water just now, so a naming opportunity exists, preferable with a bundle of sponsorship.

Ham Mill Update May 15th 2019

 by: Andy P.

The locks full
Still waiting .....Patiently
Landing Stages Team too busy to blog . .

by David M.

With lots going on, sometimes it is easier to await the next milestone - or the next one.  However, an update from the Landing Stages team is overdue.

The stage below Bowbridge was complicated by the need to rebuild the high stone wall retaining the towpath.  We also found that the steps platform comprising several tons of hardcore had a tendency to shift, and a new construction was required. Therefore, we have removed the original steps, the sheet-piled edge and hardcore, and replaced with steel OBB piles to support timber steps, which are being made.

On up to Griffin Lock, where we had to dig out an exceptionally large bank of dredging spoil, and deposit it on the opposite side, pushing the barge across for each clamshell load and hauling it back again, keeping us fit!  We found that the best solution for steps from high towpath is to place a square of four piles for the top platform, then wooden steps down to the stage deck.  The job was finished off with railings salvaged from Dudbridge.

Getting to Ham Mill was interesting, as a bund was in place for offside access for an excavator.  Our crane lifted out the bog mats, and the excavator made a channel to get the barge through with a gentle push.  Below Ham Mill Lock, the towpath is only about half a metre above water, but the stage is tucked in close so we used more steel sheets to retain the towpath.  The deck frames have been constructed, but we are delaying completion until the under-deck weed reduction strategy has been reviewed.

The team has also become a key part of the solution to fix the Ham Mill landslip just below the bridge, with a combination of screw piles angling a few degrees below horizontal, faced with a vertical wall of sheet piles.  While materials are awaited, the barge was hauled through the bund and back down to Bowbridge, where replacement of the steps platform was done.  Our next job will be bank protection using sheet piles at Arundel Mill, before hauling back to Ham Mill Lock.