by: Peter A. For the second time this week it was an 06:00 start for the Boat Acquisition Team. This trip up to Staffordshire was to prepare the floating facilities cabin (known as 'Bob' - something probably due to its..... Please go to new Blog
The big news from Harper's Field on Monday was the Big Digger was working again following the replacement of the push-rods; there were in fact 4 separate faults on the machine and credit goes to Joe Blackwell for his diagnostic and engineering skills. First order of the day was to try the refurbished piling hammer on the piles that had refused to move. Unfortunately the piles won again, and we all simultaneously reached the same conclusion, 'get a bigger........
After a successful session yesterday (19th Nov) getting stop planks in and near perfect seal today the lock was emptied fully and finally, look at the problem!!
This isn't the bottom of the lock
Remember the dredging team had taken silt from the nearest end and then the lock was filled partially washing the metre deep silt bed back across the gates. Now volunteers and managers know why the gates don't shut and the need for the dredging teams to dig so much silt out of 1A.
If you want to help or watch, Ian M. is taking down Scaffolding Thursday. Then guess what, the stop planks come out next week and Dredging of lock so scaffolding stands on firm surface plus anything dropped is easy to find.
My thanks to Dredging crews / Tug crews and a couple of general volunteers from Ian and Andrew
Stop Planks at Dudbridge set by: Andrew R. Stop planks at Dudbridge now set after many points of view and efforts. The combined efforts of Dredger and Tug crews +1 general volunteer made JP very happy as with team work we reset the stop planks.
Patricia, Margaret and Aquilla tried a new technique to pass by Annette2 whilst the strong current from the hydro bypass pushing hard. We set to.
The yellow boom at the Hilly Orchard bridge near Wiggles had collected rubbish, twigs, logs, balls, a vessels walking plank, and much more.
Patricia gave a gentle push down and the planks obliged moving down. Several checks and new hard wood wedges applied we set the pump going. Watching for 20 mins whilst eating lunch it was agreed the lock was emptying, 1 1/2 hours later all agreed no apparent leak, so home time for tug, then Patricia. A bag of saw dust applied in corners to help seal the slots.
Pump left going and when I got back at 4pm it was good to see the level had dropped 6 1/2 planks in the lock. A good day’s work Jon P is so glad it’s finally done.
Was that a disapproving Kingfisher glance? by: Peter A. Today, perched on the hedge above Hilly Orchard Bridge sat the resident Kingfisher, brilliantly illuminated by the autumn sun. But below, following the recent rains, lay a collection of detritus washed down and caught by the pontoon placed across the canal just in case of an oil leak from the unfortunate Annette II. In amongst the plant matter sat numerous examples of today's single use plastics - a sorry sight.
Speaking of Annette II. She now rests right side up with her bottom on the bottom awaiting falling water levels and plan B to kick in.
Ocean to Bond's Mill Silt Testing by: Peter A. With Jasper moored up at the east side of Bond's Mill lift bridge, it was just a case of removing the canopy and loading in the kit needed for the sampling task. The weather was perfect, although a complaint about the temperature of the water was later recorded.
Seven samples were scheduled to be taken either side of the Hoffmann extraction pipe, which is completely overgrown. The outboard is quite able to push Jasper, but not drive it through the weeds at the constriction, here it was a case of man the poles and ropes and push hard. Passage was achieved.
Each sample was taken at 10m intervals, spaced either side of a previous measurement point. As mentioned on Monday, the original sample recorded some contamination.
Suffice to say that there was a distinct smell of machine oil on some samples, together with a thin film on the surface of the water. Quite what when on with this pipe line during the war years is presently a mystery. The results of the detailed analysis eagerly awaited.
Having developed the procedure for getting Jasper under the lift bridge on Monday, we quickly set to with the pumps and floated him under the bridge. The Autumn run back through Newtown & Blunder Locks to the slipway at Pike Lock was delightful, made even more so by a Kingfisher following us down.
With a growing crowd of CCT and SDC onlookers, the professionals of River & Canal Rescue started the job of raising Annette II.
Winches were attached to whatever hitching points could be found and the first task of righting the vessel gradually progressed.
Once she was on an even keel, the aft cabin was pumped out and the extra buoyancy meant she was only resting on her bow.
Unfortunately, the available lifting capacity was insufficient to raise the gunwhales above the water level to allow her to be pumped out and with daylight fading and the divers having been immersed in cold water most of the day, the decision was taken to lower the boat back to the bottom to await plan B in a day or two.
I love to ride the towpath near my home, just outside Stroud.
I’m much too young to use the roads; my mum says, “Not allowed!”
Instead, we talk about the birds and plants along the way
And wave to all the volunteers we meet from day to day.
Sometimes we stop and chatter to the friendly high-vis teams.
They answer all my questions; they know everything, it seems!
But one thing has been missing on our journeys into town.
My favourite boat, Augustus Gloop, was nowhere to be found.
One morning, though, was different; “No bikes today,” Mum said.
“We’ll have to wait around a bit,” and so we walked instead.
The day was cold and damp; my sister wore her snuggly hat.
My mum had brought hot chocolate – we were very glad of that!
We stopped alongside Wiggal’s Yard and through the fence I spied
A massive crane, a lorry and much busyness inside.
A man said, “That old dredger had so many parts to mend.”
I knew at once which one he meant; Augustus Gloop, my friend.
“She’s going back to work,” he said, “That crane will lift her in.”
We both looked up and waited for the lifting to begin.
The crane reached up into the sky; I couldn’t see the top.
I hoped the chains would hold and poor Augustus wouldn’t drop.
Then slowly, from behind the wall, I saw my friend appear.
But what a change there was! I hadn’t seen her since last year.
A brand new purple paint job and a vivid yellow boom.
A splash…not in the water, but of colour through the gloom.
A perfect, gentle touch-down. The chains were gone and then
My dredger friend was ready to start gorging gloop again.
Now, when my family and I are cycling down the track,
I smile inside, because I know Augustus Gloop is back.
Inspired by two young children who had come along with their mum and spent a few hours, waiting patiently in the cold and rain to see Augustus Gloop being put back into the water. I found out later that they are regular users of the canal towpath and even at such a young age, show a great deal of interest in what the volunteers on their route are engaged in. Future volunteers, maybe?
Following a sampling session some time ago between Pike Lock and the Ocean, there has been a requirement to do some additional sampling around the area of the old Hoffmann extraction point just west of the railway bridge.
This testing will be taking place in two days time, so today, we set about getting work boat Jasper up there to assist with the work
Jasper was residing down at Pike Lock, so the covers were removed, the outboard attached and then the leisurely journey towards Bonds Mill.
Blunder Lock was no problem, despite the fairly leaky top gates, however, Newtown Lock proved a bit trickier in that the towpath gate sill seal was not good and the lock would not fill up enough to open the top gates.
We drained the lock and did some poking around along the sill line. A large piece of bedding was removed, but nothing else seemed to be in the way. The water is very deep and difficult to feel exactly what was going on.
Anyway, 'take two' was more successful, with less water surging from the foot of the gate. The lock filled and we were able to pass through.
With the recent heavy rains, the canal level is quite high at the moment, so much so, that Jasper was not going to go under the non-lift lift bridge without some weighting down. After some debate, the best option chosen was to remove the contents, pump in a sufficient water to 'sink' it to a level where by it would slide under.
This all worked very well and the passage was quite simple. Just a matter of pumping out the water the other side, oh, and cleaning out the detritus that had collected under the boards.
Wednesday, the sampling should take place and then we can reverse the procedure for the return journey.
Blast from the past 8 - Bonds Mill by: Richard A Bloggers might be interested in these pictures from the celebration of the opening of the world's first plastic lift bridge with a trail boat rally. The event was organised by the Western Branch and as the pictures show was a great success.
The green welfare
unit was ready for its move to Dudbridge in anticipation of the work we hope to
be doing, to rebuild the lock wall, probably in the new year, when it is really
wet and cold. First job was to collect the unit from Harpers
field having had instructions for coupling it up and moving it as well has how
to lower the wheels when at Dudbridge.
We soon arrived at Chestnut lane and progressed well down
the tow path. Our first obstacle was a small wall by the landing stage. This
proved a bit harder to reduce in size, as it was a reinforced granite material
structure. Taking great care to avoid the fence, the unit wheel dropped into an
unseen gap at the start of the wall. It
was stuck. Thanks to Ian M for collecting the bottle jacks and blocks and the
unit was slowly lifted and carefully driven onto the top of the wall. It seemed
that most of WD were about, but helping hands prevailed. It was a tight fit.
All the towpath users were very supportive and friendly as
we made their progress a bit tricky at times. Arriving at Dudbridge more
helping hands from the folks working with the stop planks as the unit was moved
back and forth into its final spot. It took a few goes to get the wheels to
retreat and the unit dropped to the ground (hence the name). The units
facilities were tested and found to be working.
It is nice to know that there were no voices of dissent. No,
I told you so and it cannot be done. Team work and positive help and support is
a good thing. I was also a case of
you put a stop plank in, a stop plank out, in, out, in, out, will the water
by: Andy P. The last time on site we saw a cycle time of 1.5 minutes
vacuum pump off and 1 minute pump back on, to regain the vacuum.Water does flow through the pipe sooner, even with the high
tech little Henry sucking away.As an experiment we shut the inlet valve to see if vacuum
held for longer. No difference. Oh dear.
So on the return, all visible joints were taken apart and the
pipe relayed in some sections, to help straighten the pipe run.
The collars were freed and moved up and down stream so
Marine mastic could be applied on both sides of the flexible seal, as well as
your hands, face and clothing-it just does not come off. It was a case of, put
your right joint in, your left joint out, in, out, in, out, there’s mastic all
Eager anticipation as we drew the vacuum. No difference. Oh
dear. Time to go home.When the vacuum pipe is turned on manually a lot of bubbles
were seen immediately. Therefore, after early morning ponderings, at the next
visit, we focused on the collar and small pipe work to the pump. The collar
being removed and mastic applied liberally. Eager anticipation. We reached the
heady height of 2 mins off. Progress.
More dismantling of the float switch grey box and more
mastic applied to the internals. Eager anticipation. Wow. We got to 18 mins off
and 15 secs back on. Real positive progress. Still work to do though.
Another attempt at correcting stop planks at Dudbridge Lower
by: Andrew R.
The ongoing issue with stop planks. After two attempts and revisits to assess I was asked to lead a team to try again to reset the Stop Planks at Lower Dudbridge.
A tug crew of 4 plus Myron agreed to help Ian and Myself. Armed with a range of equipment I met the tug crew at Dudbridge. The tug had to pass very carefully the sad Annette2 to ensure no disturbance to hydraulics.
We set to and with great team work after the first couple of lift all worked well to remove 8 planks. These we measured and were 3 found to be slightly different in length. Initially putting nails for numbers then renumbering with shallow saw cuts 1 to 8
This was discovered not to be the main issue but contributed to the problem. With a range of tools and poles we cleared a 5 inch pile of waste brick material etc from the bottom of the vertical channel slot and then with a long scoop tool scraped the bottom to remove other small objects and sand / silt from the seating position.
Then the task of replacing after most managed to get some lunch.
Not seen in picture but 3 people were working together with sequential calls to lift on the ropes, each time 4/5 big efforts to raise the plank so it would fit into the tow path side where two people lifting slightly to get in slot. Another volunteer on the scaffolding roping up each plank. All the time two are on the water helping reroute on the other end another rope and position each plank. A massive effort by all because of the height of the walls.
In the next days we will see if it has worked but all the signs and tests say it should with most probably some sawdust/shavings to help.
Well done everyone, I’m sure there would have been some aching muscles.
A Black Sheep? by: Bob H. A short while ago, we heard that a sheepdog trial style adventure had taken place as our BAT squad rounded up two mud hoppers which are now safely on our canal. Today, lone sheep, possibly with a dark fleece, returned to the fold after being missing for several months.The reason for the long absence was said to be an extended holiday - but we on the dredging team suspect it was more homesickness being away from Patricia, and the return of Augustus Gloop.
After a leisurely (for the wet dredgers) start, and tidying the decks (and the obligatory brew) the team leader shooed the black sheep into the operators cabin and checked how much he had forgotten about operating the controls.Very little it transpired, as mud, bits of concrete, bigger bits of concrete, bikes, fence posts and dumped tree roots found their way into the hopper.
Oil Mills bridge in a few days will be properly cleared for normal full depth service. Hopefully, the black sheep will stay in the fold for a while until wanderlust (or some BAT squad activity) takes him away again.
by: Andrew R. Dredging duties leading up to Oil Mills Bridge on the east side. For those who don’t know this section was filled in with builders rubble and when the bridge was rebuilt a bund put in. More recently the very centre channel was navigable but if you veered of course you’d come to a stop ✋.
We are clearing the approach to near full depth but it like many places near past construction sites is taking time. As soon as we grab a block/stone/ bike/ 8in diameter posts/buckets/bricks most of the silt/ballast/fine rubble falls out and filling a hopper becomes a long task.
It’s amazing what we find!
A thought! There is a need to ensure in future all construction site Canal channels are cleared fully as soon as project comes to a close because once items and rubble become settled they are difficult to remove and this mix of numerous objects become a risk for vessels and people who enter the water accidentally or otherwise. Let alone the environmental issue.
A bit of fun. What a find!! The Duo of the day were head over hills about this!!
Finally, another first this Monday, one of new little hoppers was trialled. Filled- taken by tuggers, new task for Dry Dredger’s to empty a small hopper and then today returned to us by Goliath Tuesday. Very successful.