31 July 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

A few odd jobs, whilst we wait to refloat the boat.  The 'jazzy' red & white transit device has now been completed.  Here it is at the point of fitting ready to go into transit mode.
Easily reached from the deck with the boom raised, it can be placed around the main ram.
Once the boom has been lowered, it becomes captive and sets the boom in a rest position where the top point is roughly in line with the cab roof.  We have fitted a chain, which can be dropped over a hook so that, should the assembly get accidentally dropped, so it will not sink to bottom of the canal.  When not in use, the spacer can be stored away in a safe place.

The interior of the engine bay has had a few upgrades.  The side walls have received a fresh coat of white paint.  The floor has been extended under the cab so that the tool box is easily withdrawn and accessed, and an engine radiator air flow diverter has been made to send the hot air up out of the engine cover and not under the cab.  However, in winter, the warm air under the cab may be most welcome.
There is a little bit more to do to secure the air diverter effectively and then check operation with the engine running..

...and finally, to prevent damage to the engine cover when it is closed, we have fitted a couple of plastic door stops, one each side.
A start was also made on a site clearance.  Much detritus has accumulated during the refit.

30 July 2019

Like a Swiss Watch

by: Myron B.

You know you get one of those days when lots of things are planned and all are interdependent on each other to work. The Workboat Team had one of those today. Six boats all in close proximity and a lockside meeting. Also Weedie and a team from WD arranging removal of a pile of vegetation from the fish pass. What could possibly go wrong. Well er, actually nothing. It all went absolutely to plan.

Phase 1 was for some of us to meet at Delilah moored just below the gas main and bow haul it down through Dudbridge Lower. We were joined by Laurence, our H&S Director, coming out to help at the sharp end. Malcolm and David L. had brought up Margaret for later and also helped. Good, that’s what you need for bow hauling, lots of people. The first obstacle was expected to be the silt bank just above Foundry Lock, but it sailed over that and into the lock.  Ian from the council was already preparing the lock, so we were quickly into Dudbridge Lower.

Phase 2 was a vitally important meeting to decide how the Dredgers might remove the silt from the chamber of Dudbridge Lower. John S and Jon P were due to meet us lockside for this.  Bound to have to wait for them to turn up.  Nope, both arrived within 2 minutes of each other.  I’m glad to say that some very thorny operational and safety considerations were ironed out and a plan developed.

Phase 3.  Meanwhile Patricia had been carrying on dredging below the lock and just managed to fill the hopper as Delilah was ready to come out the lock.  Margaret grabbed the hopper and disappeared off to Langley’s field.  With those out of the way Delilah was gently and oh so skilfully manoeuvred out of the lock and passed a now moored Patricia. Alex and Brad now assisting.  It was moored at Wiggal’s Yard and swapped for an empty hopper that we just happened to have handy.  This was brought back to Patricia and the lads carried on dredging with hardly a pause.

Phase 4. Time to check out what else was happening in the flotilla. What was Weedie up to. As planned it was being used by Nick and John F to ferry out a load of vegetation from the fish pass and use its unique abilities to dispose of it. Buffers idea and it worked a treat. Dave and I joined him and Geoff in the fish pass, filling bins to pass to the Weedie team to load into the boat.  Hold on!  First bow hauling, now shovelling rubbish, hasn’t anyone told them I’m supposed to be management.  However, with six of us now the job and mechanisation to help, we soon broke the back of it.  We left after letting the Weedie crew know that they needed to be at Dudbridge Lower by 2:30 for passage or Weedie would be stuck in the upper reaches forever.
Phase 5. Passed Patricia digging away and back to the abandoned Delilah, where Dave and I met up with Margaret and crew to take Delilah to Harper’s Field.  A thoroughly pleasant trip, made particularly interesting by being joined at the locks by a Belgian family on holiday. They were totally fascinated by the whole process and of course, their offers to help were gratefully received on such a hot day. There were plenty of us to keep eye on them. Stroudwater Canal, international tourist destination of choice.  Four lock movements later we continued our idyllic journey. 

Phase 6. Delilah was deposited at Harper’s Field and then an every bit as lovely a return journey to return Margaret to her mooring at Ebley.  Time to check on Weedie, had she made it before the deadline. Yes, she’s now moored at Ebley, to be taken down to her home mooring at Boakes Drive on Wednesday. Margaret arrived bang on 4:00, which was when Dave and I needed to be there so we could get to the Ops and Dredger meeting at Brimscombe. Perfect!

That was my day, How was yours?

Harper's Field

by: Dave C.

A full on day of work was ahead of us as we assembled at Harper's Field. The news that the road roller wasn't coming due to the paperwork not being completed made morale drop as we realised it would be a day of mini-digger, shovels and rakes.  But before all that we had 2 VIP visitors to show around.  For those who have been wondering where the name Harper's Field came from, well it belongs to the Harper sisters Pat and Julie, and I had invited them down to see what we were doing to their field (I know it was a bit risky!), and helped by Reg we walked the field and showed them the plan, which they were both very impressed with.
Once the niceties were over we settled in for our first delivery on 20 tonnes of Type 1 hardcore.
And started using the mini-digger to spread it out
Having has a chat with the driver who express the opinion that, 'he wasn't going to do that again if the grass was wet' having struggled to get out when the lorry was empty, and a quick check with Cullimore HQ .  We decided we might as well go for it, and got agreement for 3 more deliveries, making 80 tonnes of stone to move.  Tonnes of stone then started to arrive thick and fast and say it was back breaking work for Les and Steve, as well as quick and efficient use of the digger by Andy, by the end of the day we got somewhere close.
Still lots to do but we are all hoping that the roller will turn up and we can put our rakes and shovels down for a bit.

25 July 2019

Ham Mill update
by: Andy P.

Quite a few things have been happening over the last few weeks

Screw piles inserted and tied into the sheet piles. All sheet piles inserted.

The bank was weeded and was well received for which we got chocolate biscuits. The small dam inserted to make pumping out quicker.
Samson moved through the lock to start on another landing stage.
A very large and very heavy length of angle iron was sourced and cut at the depot and the now working forklift, put it onto the tipper for Roy and Royston to deliver.

A 5 man lift slowly lowered it on top of the sheet piles. More holes drilled, more brackets cut and more nuts and bolts used to connect it all together. Everything painted before the waters returned.

A pathway was hacked through at the back of the bungalow into the field where Duncan on BD carved a track all the way to Jubilee Bridge.

Lots of measurements, more measurements and checking before Rebar and wire mesh were bent and cut and all fitted and tied together behind the sheet piles. All gaps were filled.
A concrete pump arrived then the concrete and the hole was filled and levelled ready for the brickwork to go on top.

24 July 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Continuation with the Boom 'Transit' device progressed today.  A bit more grinding and welding has resulted in a finished item, which when tested, worked very well.  One particular attribute is that it can be safely deployed whilst stood on the front of the deck.
Probably looks quite confusing, try checking Monday's post.  The paint was wet and it could not be handled.  White stripes to be added.

Labour resources took a leap after lunch, from one to three!  This permitted the inside of the engine bay to receive a clean ready for some cosmetic painting.  Another little upgrade was to take the screw lid of the oil tank, which is a mighty large hexagon, shifted with a corresponding mighty spanner.  The cutting of a slot in the top and the inset welding of a piece of plate, which fingers can operate and has satisfyingly resulted in a far neater arrangement.

22 July 2019

Delilah's Dawdlings: the best laid plans …

by: Dave I.

I'm sure that those of you paying full attention to the blog recall that a long time ago, Delilah went upstream, eventually making it all the way through Griffin Mill Lock.  Well, the good times have to end eventually, so she's been on the move and at work again.

A couple of weeks ago, a few sturdy lads (well, Workboat Team volunteers) set to in an attempt to bow-haul her downstream again.  But she wouldn't move: not stubbornness, but too much rainwater in her hold.  A quick trip to collect the 2" pump, a quick soaking of a couple of volunteers later, quite a lot of pumping, and she's floating again.  Attach ropes, and away we go.  Slowly, of course. Through Griffin Mill, through Bowbridge, and a joyous meeting with workpunt Stuart.  Cutting a long and interesting story short, it turns out a 2.3 HP outboard can tow Delilah, but gosh is it slow; and difficult to turn; and impossible to stop ... Luckily those sturdy lads were still holding the ropes and could keep everything under control.

Eventually we reached her new destination – in the cut behind Jewsons, above Wallbridge and below Dr Newton's Way.  She was to be used as a work platform as an overhanging willow was felled, so we left her to meet her new friends.

Re-visiting her after the tree had been felled ... wow, what a lot of tree you can get in a wide-beam barge: that was unexpected!  And isn't it interesting how much lower in the water she sits ... 

But, not daunted, she had a new destination – through Wallbridge locks, meet with tug Margaret, and down through Dudbridge en-route to Harper's Field.  But you'll have read about the fallen willow tree above Dudbridge Lock, so no tug coming upstream to meet her, and so we're bow-hauling again. 
Having gone through the Wallbridge locks with just a small problem of clearing debris behind the gate, there was a new challenge: with her new found added depth, it turns out she doesn't want to go very far.

She was 'encouraged' over the silt banks, under bridges, through the narrows, by lots of hard work. 
Plus, when she got really stuck, and while keeping careful watch on the upstream pounds, flushing a few locks-full of water downstream to help her over particularly difficult stretches. 
Of course, Chestnut Lane bridge wanted to add to the fun. 
But she cooperated after Reg told her who was boss. 

Finally, and with a very grateful crew, Delilah arrived at the fallen tree. 
There she's moored awaiting (hopefully) unloading and (perhaps) being used as a work platform for the team who will remove the fallen tree. Her trip through Dudbridge and arrival at Harper's Field will have to wait.

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

A team of 1 today, so no communication issues!  Dredger Patricia has a transit latch to support the main boom when not in use.  We desire something like it for No.5.

One simple method we employed when the boat was lifted from the water was to insert a prop between the main boom ram body and the boom.  It acted as a wedge, albeit a poor and temporary one.  A better engineered solution would do the job.

The 80mm cylinder ram needs encasing, so a hinged face tube has been constructed to slip over the ram and act as a prop.  
A double flange at the top end is still needed to rest on the spacers on the main ram pivot pin.  The length of the assembly will determine the height of the main boom when parked, which will be set to the height of the cabin roof. 

20 July 2019

Another fallen Willow

by: Richard A.

On the night of Friday 19th July after a day of torrential rain a very large two trunked willow on the offside bank above Dudbridge Upper Lock decided it had had enough.It split itself at its base. One trunk fell along the offside bank and tangled itself in the next willow.
The other trunk had a much more malicious intent and fell across the canal, across the towpath and across the overhead telephone lines. The telephone lines were as tight as a bow string and supporting poles along the towpath were bending like bananas.
The towpath was completely blocked. Most people had to turn back but a few intrepid bodies managed to follow the Great British tradition of not being stopped by anything and battled their way through.

Luckily a local Western Depot volunteer was passing by and quickly returned home for his hard hat, hi-vis vest, safety glasses and his trusty bowsaw. Thirty minutes of hard sawing made a way through.

Openreach also appeared on the scene to worry about how to take the strain off the telephone wires before they snapped.

Clearing the rest of the trees will be an interesting challenge for someone. Luckily for the Western Depot Logs Division most of them are boating for the next two weeks!

18 July 2019

Aquila receives some TLC

by: David L.

Leaving the house on Monday morning held promises of a beautiful day. After collecting Tony with a boot load of tools and dog we headed for Goliath at Ryeford.  The plan was to renew the deckboards in Aquila.

After loading Aquila with all the kit we moved Goliath and Aquila to the landing stage next to the field and set up for the work ahead.  With no power available it meant good old fashioned hand sawing where I seemed to draw the short straw.  Tony being very busy with kneepads and tape measure setting out the design and giving me cutting instructions. Thank goodness he had brought a new saw as mine was a bit ragged for the task ahead.

As we worked we got hotter and hotter stopping frequently to have a cup of tea and slowly but surely getting rid of all the excess clothing.
Margaret passed on the way to the Ocean and Wookey Hole as well. Colin with a huge number of people on a flotilla of Boatmobility boats also steamed past.
We carried on grafting with lots of grunting and groaning, thank goodness for knee pads.
All the boats returned from their trips while we were cutting and nailing the boards down. 
At last it was complete with barely a yard of excess material left. All that is left now is for me to cut some strips to fill narrow gaps between the boards.  Good job done. 
A paint job next. Any volunteers to help with that?
David and Tony

17 July 2019

Summit Section work party on Sunday 21 July from 10 am

by: Karen Shaw.

Hi All.  We are holding a scythe training session as part of this work party, with a qualified instructor coming to teach us how to fit and use a scythe (thanks to Louise our star scyther). We hope to purchase some to use on the banks, portal and roundhouse garden in the future, as in the right hands they seem to do an excellent job.

Please let me know if you would like to take part in the training session.

And do still come along if you don't want to do the training as we will be continuing to strim and clear the tow path bank as well as the Roundhouse Garden.

Dates for Summit Work Parties for the rest of 2019:

  • Sunday 11 August
  • Sunday 29 September
  • Sunday 20 October
  • Sunday 17 November 
  • Sunday 15 December 

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.

Look forward to seeing you.


Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

When you find yourself cleaning the fire extinguishers and washing the decks, it's probably a sign that there is little left to do!

We only had the morning to play with, so the time was well spent on what could best be described as pointless positioning and repositioning of lumps of stuff.  The real purpose was to exercise the systems over a sufficiently long period for the vessel to reach a stable operating temperature.
The hatches were deployed in 'running' mode and an operator amused themselves lifting and placing the loads and at the same time practicing and learning the controls, whilst temperature measurements were made.
The ambient was 23C today.  The outlet air from the radiator peaked at 54C.  The hydraulic oil normally has the water to cool it, but that reached 42C.  So, we're happy that everything is running well within normal operating limits.  Running time was about 1.5 hours.

A couple of other observations:  Firstly, the air blast from the radiator should be vectored upwards out of the engine cover, as it currently fills the space under the cabin, and the gaps in the floor make for an unwelcome hot updraft.  However, probably a very welcome feature for winter time.

Secondly, as expected the possibility of a hose joint working loose manifested itself in a small leak from one of bulkhead couplings on the cabin.  It was found to be slack and easily fixed with a spanner.  We will continue to observe as the systems are run in. 
A rare sight at Ham Mill

by: David M.

Something you don’t see every day – a boat in Ham Mill Lock.  Having finished sheet piling and backfilling to help stabilise the bank offside below the bridge, Samson is now moving up to make our way upstream.  Happy to report that all the lock gates are as smooth to open as you’d wish.

Before moving out of the lock, the stop planks had to be taken out.
People living nearby were very pleased to see traffic here 38 years on from when it was first mooted!
 Coffee time

15 July 2019

Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

In operation, No.5 runs with both its buoyancy tanks, clamped onto each side.  As the boat pitches and rolls, these can clank around with quite some impact and stresses imposed on the fixings.

To help absorb some of these transitory loads, we devised a shock absorbent rope which will fill the gap.  Made up of heavy duty steel rope covered by two layers of tubing it has been suspended in two locations along each tank.
We designed and machined a ferrule to push onto each rope end and then performed a crimping operation using the 10 Tonne hydraulic press to secure them.  The result worked very well.  Each end was then welded permanently onto the side of the tanks and given a coat of paint.
Later, we fired up the engine, which has not been run for a while.  The primary purpose was to assess the hose lengths coupling the rotating grab bucket and ensure that damage could not occur.  As suspected, there is a position which could cause a problem and adjustments will be needed.  Other extremes of movement were checked, without any issues.  

More running trials will be conducted on Wednesday.

Adventures of Weedie

by: John F.

It's been a busy period for Weedie (or Aqua Flora to give her botanical name). A short window of opportunity opened up to get her above Dudbridge lower before rectification work on the lock begins and to remove as much of the weed that has grown quickly in the warm sunshine from the pounds above.  Myron Burak joined me last Wednesday to move her from her usual mooring at Boakes Drive, up to Dudbridge, cutting as we went.  Thanks to Western depot for meeting us at Langley's field with the fuel bowser to top us up. 
Plans for taking her further from Dudbridge, were put on hold, as the amount of weed that met us meant that three loads removed barely scratched the surface. On Saturday, Nick Carter, fresh back from his hols, did the hard work to help move Weedie up to Wallbridge, taking advantage of the reduced traffic on the bridges at Strachan's Close and Longford Mill.  On Monday it was Richard Farrer who made up the crew, negotiating our way pass Delilah which was being used by tree-fellers (though there looked to be more).  We then cut up as far as Bowbridge, removing a few traffic cones on the way. Several more loads were removed and will hopefully make navigation a bit easier for a while.  Next step is on up to Griffin Mill but that's for another day.

10 July 2019

Harper's Field this week:

by: Dave C.

Whilst Wookey Hole was working along the bank of Harper's Field, Ray and Will took some time out from renovating the Welfare Unit to fit a lasting tribute to a great friend of the Cotswold Canal Trust.
Project 'DNF' - No.5 Refit

Today was a day of exterior decorating, lots of it.  Our early task was to prepare the engine cover for paint.  This involved mixing some of the Chippies finest sawdust into the resin used to for the fibre-glass and poking it into the odd cavities and heads of screws.  Once set, which was not long in today's temperatures, it was then flattened down.  A general clean-up then followed.

The metalwork received a coat of red oxide, then the stunning purple, but the wood was treated to two coats of the purple straight off.  Again, the rate at which the paint cured was bordering on the bit too quick side. Other areas around the boat where odd bits of work had taken place after initial painting also received attention.

Suffice to say, the transformation took place and we are now at a stage most accurately defined as 'essentially complete'!  There will always be odd jobs that can be tinkered with whilst the boat sits in the yard, but now it is time to fire the engine up and set about some sustained testing prior to the big lift.

For the record, here's the pictures....