09 October 2019

Western Depot Manager Spreads His Wings

by: Chris C.

The air was heavy with the prospect of heavy rain as the depot filled with expectant volunteers. Yellow jackets were the order of the day. Today was the day that Lodgemore Bridge would rise again. The bridge had become increasingly reluctant to close after it was raised until it required a van to rise on upon the span like Silver dancing to William Tell’s overture bring it back to horizontal. At this point the bridge was closed to water traffic. Not that there is much demand at the moment whilst Dudbridge is blockaded.

Jeff had wired up an electrically powered hydraulic pump and had installed it in the new control box on the plinth by the bridge. The manual pump which had improved the aerobic capacity of many volunteers was returned to Western Depot where it stands sulking in the corner of the barn.

The old hydraulic pipes had been drawn back across the water and coiled and hung on the fence like a pair of spectacles which gazed on the water watching the damsel flys dance.
The team assembled at the bridge and set up the exclusion zone whilst Reg collected the cherry picker from Chestnut lane. Reg’s progress was marked by the chirping of the bleeper warning that he was charging along at just 5mph.

New hoses were run and measured, with Arthur dangling from the cherry picker at the top of the operating cylinder, only to be pulled back through the pipe-bridge for Arthur to fit the end couplings. Running the first hose back through the pipe was as easy as pushing spaghetti through a straw – it kinked and wriggled and made slow progress. After some firm wrangling by Arthur the hose completed its journey across the water.  The second hose was lashed to the first and pulled through. The spaghetti wrangling continued as the hoses and cables were worked though more pipes and bends until they emerged in the control box. 

Then Reg went flying for the second time, piloting Arthur up to the operating cylinder to make the top connections. You never know when a PPL will come in handy.  With the connections made Arthur was safely brought back to the ground and Reg commenced to taxi off the bridge. With just one wheel left on the bridge the cherry picker stopped and gave a plaintive cry and refused to move. As is usual in these circumstances buttons were pushed and switches were wiggled until the fight was won and Reg drove the beast to safety and the WSP delivery driver could pass through to get his lunch.

After lunch, with the tank filled with hydraulic fluid, the first turn of they key to start the bridge lifting. There was a judder, then a small hop and then a massive jump to at least 6 inches. Swiftly followed by a clang as the bridge was ‘lowered’. Adjustments were made and oil added to the tank and off again. More height and more controlled lifting but still came a louder clang as the bridge sought the safety of the ground. Humphing and ha-ing followed. A diagnosis was made and new parts tried which increased the lift control but not the lowering. Stumps was called but a solution was apparent to be tried once another part was obtained. 

Thanks to the team of Arthur, Chris, Jeff, Reg and Vince the bridge will be back in full service soon but until then there will be no waterborne traffic through Lodgemore Bridge