29 June 2019

Ham Mill lock gets its landing stage

by: David M.

Just getting workbarge Samson up to Ham Mill is an interesting challenge.  The barge fits nicely into our double-width locks, but to get our papyrus raft KonTiki aka Plastic Pig through as well (to save time, and precious water) requires some ingenuity.  It will fit sideways at the top of the lock but not down in the taper, so we have come to lifting it with the Hiab onto the barge.  In the case of Bowbridge Lock, it won’t fit under the bridge, so a pirouette is needed during the bridge-to-lock transition.
With the bund above Griffin Lock removed, there is just about enough width and draft to get through, with a bit more help from the Hiab in self-propulsion mode.  What a versatile piece of kit this is!
The Ham Mill landing stage was relatively straightforward, with about 70cm depth to dig out below towpath level, but still needed backplates to retain the towpath behind the back piles, which involved cutting a number of 4mm-thick steel plates lengthways down the middle.
Some digging-out of the bank was required, the profile sloping down from the towpath side.  We have used more of the industrial felt material to deter weed growth, though this is hard to fit, and we’ll seek a more practical solution in future.
The wooden frames went on without a hitch, Armco too.  We have decided for this landing stage to fit the green Fibregrid deck on top of the Armco, making a neater finish especially where the deck cranks down to the lower canoe level.  Bollards were cemented in, and an extra pile and Armco fender fitted at each end.  We made a platform with a step down for access, but it is not high enough to justify a set of railings, and actually gives a convenient access point for higher boat decks.

27 June 2019

Ham Mill June 24 to 26th

by: Andy P.
A joint crew operation with the landing stage team of Alan, Dave, Mike, Jason and Kay joining Bob, Duncan and Andy P.

BD moved a stack of shiny sheet piles over to the barge which was spilt up, to transfer into the barge.

Some pulling and pushing of the barge and plastic pig before everything was in place.  Following a briefing session we were off with the first pile.  Careful positioning and delicate boot manoeuvring and lots of shouting then the hammer started.  If you don’t know it is very, very noisy.  The neighbours all come out to view.

The first pile went in fairly easily but stopped at a metre plus depth into the canal bed. Then it was a case of repeating until, by the end of the day, 5 piles had been inserted.  We also took the opportunity to remove stakes and material where the remaining piles were going to be inserted on Thursday.

Even the nearby tree surgeon wanted to watch

24 June 2019

Harpers Field Update

by: Steve. Ph

Team Strikes Water in Harpers Field.

The Western Depot team lead by Dave C with support from dry dredging continued to make good progress in Harpers field with the first services trench reaching the bottom of the field near the current landing stage.
By the time we finished on Monday the water pipe and blue duct had been installed, and the first manhole fitted so that water and services can be provided for the current and planned moorings along the canal.  While the mini digger was working on this the rest of the team decided to check out the water supply at the top of the field and having eventually found the right manhole cover turned on the tap, with the result than no water came out of the end of the pipe near the original horse trough!  After some headscratching and hand excavation we managed to find the end of a working waterpipe plus a cut off section of the original plastic pipe and several sections of older steel piping.
Work continued on Wednesday with a second manhole being installed at the top of the field, and the original & new piping being connected up – we then managed to prove that we had water at the bottom of the field but so far not at the pressure or flow rate that we had expected;  – the investigation continues!
The team also managed to measure up some of the key dimensions in the field, and prepare an updated sketch – when completed the plan is to have 9 moorings (5 in the CCT part of the field, the others closer to Horsetrough Roundabout) plus a concreted dock (yellow in the sketch below)  for unloading dredged material which will be allowed to dry out in the field before being moved off site for disposal.
Work will continue this week on the services trench along the bottom of the field while we continue to investigate getting an electrical supply into the field, the design scheme and planning approval for the concrete dock and better water pressure and flow rates.
Sitting down on the job

by: Will F.

We are used to Chris having an Angle Grinder, but who would have thought he would be sitting down on the job? 
Still, the excellent work he and Geoff have done in welding up the rust damage to the portable Welfare unit is coming on a treat.
Inside the “Groundhog”, Will and Ray have fitted new seating, a new worktop and a posh cupboard for mugs. Geoff has fixed the electrics, so now need some painters!!

Ham Mill June 17th to 20th 2019

by: Andy P.
Well things are starting to happen this week.

On Monday Jason, Kay, Vince, Richard and Andy P returned. Jason fired up BD and set about rebuilding the dam across the canal-lost count of how many times this has been done.

Kay was punting us across with ropes and chains and enjoying herself as the bog mats were attached and put back in place. After a few hours BD was back on side.
The newly made spill weir grill was placed in position to help stop large pieces of debris getting into the pipe.

Roy returned with the tipper and 3 large sheet piles were delicately placed and positioned and then driven to Harpers field via the petrol station.
On the return 6 very long and brand new stop planks were also delicately placed and positioned and driven back to the depot.

On Weds, Bob, Richard and Andy P who arrived early to accept the new shiny galvanised sheet piles. Navigating the large lorry down the narrow lane, squeezing passed parked cars, waking builder to move their van, finding a very heavy 3 man lift steel plate to cover the hole for the new water pipe to the houses and finally removing gates, the lorry drove into the muddy yard.

Bob on BD lifted the 36 sheet piles and placed ready for the barge to start its work.
Lock Maintenance

by: Frank L.

Back in 2013 I took on the job of painting and greasing locks as there seemed to be a gap in anyone regularly carrying out this task.  We now have 10 operational  and 3 partially restored locks. There are now two volunteers to each lock who keep them tidy, and report faults or issues as they arise. This has been a real success story as far as we at Western Depot are concerned, as it takes the load off our mobile team at the Eastington Depot as we need to respond to SVCC,SDC, and CCT requests for tasks to be dealt with (grafetti being just one example).
This month has proved to be very productive with Maurice, Les P, Royston, Colin, Richard A, dealing with various tasks - subject to weather of course.
This year so far we have cleaned down the bottom gates of 3 sets of locks, painted where necessary at most of them, and dealt with other issues as they are reported to us.  Grass cutting, scrub clearance and weeding around spill weirs is always ongoing - especially from Spring onward.  This sort of job is time consuming and man power dependant, and anyone who would like to help out is more than welcome at the depot.
With the increase in CCT's fleet of vessels, we can now ask for them to provide platforms for maintaining the gates when necessary as they have the high cabins which is required when trying to reach the upper levels of the taller gates (the punts are unsuitable for that job). 

Although our team is not high profile, we get around and spread the word to passers-by about what is happening with the regeneration of the canal, and also get a lot of satisfaction from leaving a lock looking well kept and serviceable.

An interesting find in a field

by: Andy J.

Whilst excavating a slit trench for a new water supply in Harpers Field these two very corroded "rivets" were unearthed very close to the location of two Trows that were stored in the field as shown on an old mid thirties photograph that is in the Western Depot.
The rivets (rather than nails, as both ends of one piece are peined over) are approximately 14" long.
Normal service will now resume.

Sorry for the distinct lack of blogs, best blame the weather.  Whist out on the boat we got trapped on the Erewash canal for 5 days due to flooding.  Since then, every mooring has been well away from  a Wifi.

Now, expect a flood of blogs.......

17 June 2019

Dredging Monday -Rain, rain, rain.

By: Andrew R.

As a Team of 3 we arrived at Ryeford Upper and after investigating the possible points we could turn Patricia by using a very long rope with two knots in representing the length of Patricia. We discovered only where Perseverance was moored was the only place in the pound we could turn.
So we trekked back to Ryeford and started Patricia up after safety checks. By this time a tug team arrived.
We manoeuvred steadily backwards which was a new experience for one of the dredging crew over such a distance.

Then with Margaret following behind with a hopper at a distance, we steadily made our way to Wiggles Yard. On the way we did continuous depth checking and clearly the river section was silted up more since a year and half ago when No 5 came through last. We were surfing the silt which slowed us down considerably.

We set up just before Dudbridge road bridge next to the tow path and Margaret pushed the hopper up next to us. A new technique was developed because the basin was a extended concrete platform.

Straight away we were finding the remnants of the flood that washed the wall and towpath away in recent past on Dec 30th. Shale, bricks, chunks of stone, large coping stones, reed bar and of course silt.

Tuesday - Rain
The morning was slow as the gas bottle ran out before the kettle boiled and we had to find a local supplier. The problem solved we made progress.
This was training day for a more accomplished trainee. This was a new challenge as mentioned above, needing new skills. We now began to find other interesting things cloth, builder sacks, more reinforcing bars, the shale was more evident but the rocks were slowing us down as clam shell couldn’t shut. Progress was steady. Stability was a slight issue as we could not lock the latch on the jib as the road bridge was to low. As the jib and dipper were slightly extended the was a tendency for Patricia to roll when moving forward and the importance of having the feet outward facing was more important. The problem was the silt was too high touching the hull and therefore very difficult to rotate the feet.
This was good experience for the trainee as he saw how the vessel reacted. Another reason why training takes time as a wide experience is needed so prepared for eventualities. The hopper was nearly full and long 5 inch water pipe fo pump found with hessian bag on end, more stuff left behind by team who restored the lock.

Wednesday -rain!
Boat Manager paid a visit and discussions were held whilst newly qualified operator of Patricia set up and practiced new skills (as above).
More interesting materials and objects found. 4 x 1ton builders bags still partly filled.
Margaret came and took a hopper away and Wookey appeared.
With no hopper we were ask to find the large steel sign post that was knocked down that warns of a 2 metre ledge on the offside.

Started to hunt and found a massive coping stone. Repositioned and then found the sign. Hadn’t travelled far as so heavy. After careful repositioning we managed to get the sign onto the tow path. 
Still no hopper after 1 1/2 wait so explored nearer the lock gates. There’s a very large quantity of material to remove.

A hopper arrived back at 2:30 so the new operator worked continuously for 1 1/2 to get as much into the hopper as possible. A lot more to go.....

We really now need to ensure hoppers are emptied and returned ASAP so continuous dredging can happen on work days.

As Patricia takes on lots of water we now wrap her up in known bad weather and when near trees because the debris or bird muck goes down into bilges through big spud leg holes either side of cabin.

15 June 2019

Summit Working Party

by: Karen Shaw

The weather looks ok (light cloud and breeze) for Sunday's (16 June 2019) work party from 10 am to 3/4 pm, when we will be continuing to clear the Roundhouse garden in preparation for planting trees, shrubs and bulbs etc later in the year, as well as strimming the banks and towpath with a bonfire. Plus, if time; continuing to board the edge of the towpath.

New members are very welcome to come along for all or part of the day. I usually provide tea / coffee and Christine a cake, but please feel free to bring along your own hot or cold drinks, and a packed lunch or have lunch in the pub.

As usual, please wear sturdy (preferably steel toe capped) footwear or wellington boots and stout clothes. Long sleeves and trousers are recommended to avoid nettle stings and insect bites. Gloves and all other PPE are provided along with all necessary tools, apart from chain saw equipment.

The site is reached by a well sign-posted AND NOW TARMACKED track to the Tunnel House Inn on the right, as you come down Tarlton Road out of Coates and after a tight bend under a railway bridge. Postcode is GL7 6PW. On arrival at the pub car park, please park on the right.

Dates for the next work parties are:
Sunday 21 July 2019
Sunday 11 August 2019
Sunday 29 September 2019 - apologies for big gap from early Aug to late Sep but hoping to go on my travels again + have another commitment on 22 Sep.
Sunday 20 October 2019 with Butterfly Conservation volunteers

Any questions please contact me: Karen Shaw shawk30@gmail.com.

Look forward to seeing you.


Dudbridge Dredging and Lock tidying

by: Chris K.

Three boat's out today at Dudbridge. 

Patricia was dredging and filled the barge warp with silt, rubble and a four inches flexible pipe the length of the barge warp. 

Margaret was collecting full barges to off load at ryeford. 
Wookey hole crew of five were clearing up floating plastic and general tidying up from Ebley wharf to upper and lower Dudbridge locks. 

12 June 2019

Playing Catch up

by: Myron

There are a couple of things that happened last week that are really worth a mention.

The first was the Nicer on the Water event at Ryeford on June 1st. The workboat Team had a presence of 4 people there. Tony J, Nick C, Brian B and myself. We were amazed at the riot of people, colours and music.

The canal had innumerable small craft on it. It was wonderful. The weather was also fantastic.

Brian soon settled into Aquila with his Ukulele, and then spent his time serenading passers by with some very pleasant music.
 Brian was then joined by his wife and after a while the rest of us decided we had better leave them to it and take Goliath for a little voyage. It was great fun slowly motoring up the cut with all the small craft milling about.
 The next thing to mention was the second Workboat Team forum on Wednesday, June 5th. I think the people that attended thought this went down well. Between the two events we had 26 or so people attend, so I hope we managed to get our message across to the team and vice versa. Of course by the time we got to the second forum the whole situation had changed in that we are now a much bigger team. From the beginning of the month we have welcomed the Wet Dredging Team into the Workboat Team. This was so new and such a big subject that we decided to stay with the original format for consistency. Some may be aware that John Sirett has become Deputy Dredging Manager, and we were very happy to have him at the forum, not just as a stalwart member of the old Boat Team, but also in the capacity of his new role. As we speak the new Workboat Team is evolving.

Harpers Field June 10th 2019
by: Andy P.

A gang of Dave C, Mathew, Maurice, Kay, Jason, Andy P assembled at the depot and discussed the plans for the day. Some considerable time later we set off in a range of vehicles.
The mini digger had already been left by John P who was also going to bring the repaired wacker plate for us. Jason began digging out a small trench 1 m deep down towards the canal, for the water pipe along with a services duct. Andy J arrived with the red van full of pipes and other materials for future use. This was all stacked into the empty, apart from 1 stanley knife, storage unit. Another crew with Frank, Colin and Maurice, arrived with more pipe. We then went off to collect the water and duct pipes, after several depot vehicle changes.

We managed to get into the very nice on site amenity vehicle, but with a large wasp nest inside, we decided outside was better, until the nest was dealt with in a kind and caring manner. However heavy lunch time rain helped to regain our confidence and a very nice it was too inside.
Jason’s trench was slow going, as the small bucket would not empty as the sticky clay would not release from the bucket. After several metres the ground was stonier and so things speeded up, until a very large concrete pad stopped play for the day-as well as the rain.
The water pipe was laid in the bottom of the trench and we unwound the ducting which somehow twisted itself into so many tangles we had to spend a lot of time trying to straighten it. The draw cord inside managed to snap. Ooops. Numerous discussions took place before a D ring was tied and fed through the pipe to solve the problem.
The trench was refilled and we probably got 2/3 of the way down the field.

It was now raining a lot, so we packed up and drove the mitsi and digger out of the field onto the new whacked type 1 surface. Well actually it took 40 mins of trying different angles, speeds and trench plates before unloading the digger, so the 4 wheel drive vehicle could get unstuck and get out of the mud.

NOTE-keep out of the field if it’s wet.

06 June 2019

Harper's Field

by: Dave C.

This week saw the start of a 6 month project to develop Harper's Field, CCT volunteers had previously constructed the fence that separated our bit from the proposed Stroud Auction site.. The field is situated close to Horse Trough roundabout off the Ebley Road B4008. The long term plan is to provide 10 mooring berths with provision for drinking water and electrical hook up points, a winding hole and a slipway.  In the medium term the field will be used as silt off-loading and drying facility, the silt being removed once it has dried out.
Now we know where we are going we set out this week to start to break ground. The first job was to construct a 'hard' entrance. So on Monday with Bob A on the digger and Kay and Andy P on fencing deconstruct and reconstruct as well as Type 1 stone shovelers, and Jason construction the massive new gate and taking turns on the digger, and me driving the tipper, we set about digging a hole and filling it again, after 4 tonnes of Type 1 we realised it was a bigger hole than I first thought. Wednesday saw the job finished with Mathew and new Bill (not to be confused with Old Bill) on shovels and Bob back on the mini-digger, and 6 more tonnes of Type 1. 
The second task on Wednesday was to persuade the new storage container into its planned position, after it had been dropped in the wrong place 4 weeks before we were ready for it. With a nudge here, and a gentle push there, Bob it slid into position. 
There is much work to do, so if anyone fancies being outstanding in their field, why not make it Harper's Field.

05 June 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

If you think you are finished, then just take a few minutes to chat over what else might need doing and hey presto, a list of 14 little jobs soon appears.  

However, it is the big jobs of completing the engine cover and the exhaust shield that occupied our time today.

Our original intention was to fibreglass the engine cover.  Whilst we had some material, it did not want to sit flat and further debates concluded with the fact that our cover is quite capable of supporting itself and what we are actually trying to do is seal it to the weather.  So, a couple of coats of resin were applied, this will be followed by paint.  That ought to do it.
The cover runners were first painted and then screwed back in place.  After a short walk, the cover was positioned on the dredger and operation checked - it did.  

A couple of weeks ago a drawing for a cupboard/seat in the cabin was produced.  Today, our chippies completed the job which was set in place.  It will need fixing to the floor and some paint to make it look pretty.
Our magnificent exhaust shield was taken into the workshop for a spell of surgery.  Where it resides alongside the engine cover, a section required cutting and flattening so as not to impinge on it.  Some gentile angle grinder cutting, followed by a session of bending gave us the required profile.  A scheme to support the assembly top and bottom was devised and the necessary clamps manufactured.  These were in the fitting stage up to close of play today.
More pondering over a cup of tea about the locking and ventilator hatch catches resulted in a modified plan.  Some of the components for this have been machined, but more to do next time. 
Another Matter - Harpers Field

by: Andy P.

A different assignment as we loaded up to go to Harpers field to help with excavating the entrance and adding type 1. Also on the agenda was to fit a very long gate and realign the fence panels.

The top surface was scraped away with the mini digger, transferred to the tipper and deposited in the field. A membrane fitted and type 1 added to the top. Think we will need a lot more of this to get up to the long gate.

A vehicle entrance and a pedestrian entrance were also assembled and moved twice so we could get it to fit in with the long gate.
The services trench will have to wait another day

04 June 2019

The pipe …

by: Dave I.

As expected in the Boat Team’s previous blog, we have now re-visited the pipe leakage above Ryeford.

Checking the surface of the canal, there was no sign of a torrent leaking away, no sign of a whirlpool – great! But checking the other end of the pipe, where it empties into the river, it showed the leak continued, and was taking water from the canal – which probably contributed to the pound being  6 inches or so down. 
 We needed to do something. So the team gathered, covering the leak area with a tarpaulin, in preparation for adding more silt & clay to stem the flow further. 
 Patricia swung into action, with Weft in close support, propelled by Margaret.

 … to ‘un-dredge’ spoil from Weft onto the top of the tarpauline. There’s some pretty sticky stuff in there – just what we want! 
 Eventually the pipe was well covered
But while the flow is definitely reduced, it’s not yet been stopped completely.
The owners have now been contacted, and we’ll be waiting for their input before we do any more.