Being so close to the Christmas festivities no work was planned for today but Barry wanted to get on with fixing the wheels to the lead tub boat. He arrived intending to spend a little time in preparation to fixing the steel straps which hold the axles in place to the bottom of the boat. Having marked the appropriate position for each pair of straps he set about cutting retaining mortises for the side straps. The front wheels are very close to the curve of the bow so these side straps have to be slightly twisted. In order to twist the straps each was clamped into a workbench vice. A very large adjustable spanner is fitted to the strap at a point just above the place where the twist is required. To provide power to make the twist the handle of the adjustable spanner is extended by slipping over it with a length of scaffold tube. Surprisingly little effort is required to twist the steel and in no time at all both straps are twisted to fit. All the is required now is to grease the axles, insert them through the wheels and into their retaining cups and bolt the whole assembly down but this will have to wait until after Christmas.
Trevor and Adrian prepare the RB22 for work. The batteries are installed, connected up, the engine started and the clutches warmed. All is ready for action. Adrian has already jacked up 3 of the previously cast coping ‘stones’ onto battens of wood so that lifting strops can be easily slipped in underneath and attached to the crane’s hook block. While Adrian is running up the crane’s engine, Ian who had already arrived is joined by David and Carol. Between them they attach the strops and, one at a time, with Trevor directing lifting operations three blocks are lifted and laid on the edge of wharf wall in their respective permanent homes. They still need to be tweaked and leveled but it is decided to delay this until the remaining 2 blocks are lifted into position. This lift requires considerable more care since these blocks were only cast 2 days before and are still very ‘green’ and soft. Apparently concrete continues to harden for up to 60 years but, sadly, Adrian and crew cannot afford to wait that long for the blocks to be indisputably set!
Having put 5 blocks on the wall the next step is to level them, get them properly aligned and concreted in, with any gaps beneath the bottom of the block and the top of the wall infilled but this is put temporarily on hold until after a break for tea! Barry, who arrived just at the end of the 5th lift, begins making the final modifications to the wheel recesses on the bottom of the lead tub boat. Blocks of wood have to be cut to size and shaped to accommodate the wheels and their restraining straps. Notches have to be chiseled out for the bosses on the wheel hubs to allow for ease of rotation. The straps which support the wheel axles were made quite some time ago but are lacking fixing holes so once Barry has shaped the wheel recesses to the necessary dimensions he marks and centre-punches the points through which holes have to be bored. Carole and Ian set up a pillar drill and begin the task of drilling 32 x 10mm diameter holes through 4mm thick mild steel which keeps them out of mischief for the rest of the day. By the point at which everyone has had enough and failing light is making continued work difficult, three of the coping stones are dry-set in place and ready to be back filled with concrete and all but one of the 8 wheel straps have all their fixing holes bored. Everyone is well pleased with the day’s progress.
Trevor and Adrian start the day by taking the trailer to the local builders’ merchants and collecting a dumpy bag of silver sand and more cement. When they get back to Sea Lock, Adrian uses the RB to lift off the silver sand out of the trailer and then assembles the mould to cast another coping block while Trevor sorts lifting strops around a previously cast block. Between them they crane the set block onto the wharf wall and level it ready to be concreted in.
Trevor and Adrian have been a little concerned about the lubrication of the main gearbox and drive mechanism of the RB for some time. Whilst the RB has been running very well, considering its age and wear, it continues to make some rather disturbing clanks and groans, and is difficult to steer. They refer to the manual which, in this instance, is not particularly useful. The position of sump drains is shown and the type of oil recommended is given. However the recommended oils are no longer available and the quantity requires is not stated. They decide to drain the sump to determine whether there is any oil in there and how much so they remove the sump plugs. A small amount of what looks like beaten egg comes out followed by a considerable amount of water. What little oil there was has been thoroughly emulsified with water entering the gearbox from somewhere. This is not good! Once the ‘goo’ stops flowing out of the gearbox Trevor and Adrian decide to refill it with the only lubricant they have available at the time which is 20 litres of used engine oil. This has to be better than water! Unfortunately when the engine is restarted oil leaks out from somewhere under the crane. However the crane does seem to be running somewhat easier and quieter. Mike arrives and discusses the problem with Trevor. The conclusion they reach is that a very much heavier grade of oil is required – 90 or even 120 grade, suitable for vintage engines not the modern EP type of oil, which may take some finding. This will have to wait for another day.
While Adrian is removing the shuttering from a block he cast the previous day, Trevor prepares a mix of concrete to cast another block. Adrian rebuilds the mould on a clear pallet and before long this is filled and left to set. Trevor cleans out the mixer while Adrian starts up the RB. Between them they lift a block cast several days ago and lower it onto the wall ready to be leveled up. Barry and Ian arrive and it is decided that while the crane is running it may as well be used to turn the lead tub boat over so that work can be undertaken on its underside. Adrian, Trevor and Ian sort out lifting strops while Barry saws off the tops of the ribs to their finished height,. Once this has been done Adrian begins the lift. The lead boat is safely and easily turned over and set down on to 2 large baulks of timber to keep it off the ground and the base at a sensible working level. Recesses for the tub boat wheels have already been made in the base but have to be refined to allow for the holding straps and wheel bosses so Barry puts his attention to this while Ian caulks the gaps which have opened up between the floor boards. The straps holding the front wheel have to be modified because of the curve of the bows. John arrives and sets to marking out, cutting and welding the straps to the required shape. While all this is going on Trevor and Adrian have levered the last block on the wall into its finished position ready for concreting in. Everything is progressing nicely.