Adrian had hoped to continue wall-building today since the the temperature has risen considerably above freezing and the ground is still dry and firm. However the easterly wind is still bitterly cold and prolonged working in exposed areas is not a good idea.
Once again Trevor checks the RB’s batteries and finds, as is now usual, that one has lost some of its charge. Using the battery-booster they start the engine. Adrian works the clutches for a while and then they use the crane to move some stacked wood to a more convenient position in the yard. Doubtless they will find that this new position is also inconvenient at a later date. Timber temporarily stacked in the tractor shelter is relocated outside so that the Kubota can be parked under cover again but the crane cannot be used this time so they resort to the ‘Egyptian Method’ of rollers and brute strength. Using rollers has proved very successful and easy in the past as it does this time too.
After lunch it is decided to take the trailer to Beam Quarry to collect the last of the walling stone kindly donated by the Setchells, owners of Devon Stone.
Despite the shelter of the quarry walls it seems even colder here but selecting and loading suitable stone into the trailer keeps the boys warm enough. The load is taken back to Sea Lock, unloaded and stacked into piles of similarly sized stone ready for when building restarts. Light flurries of snow begin to fall but with no real intent.
The remainder of the day is spent in re-assembling the hook block for the Priestman Cub crane which, following de-rusting, painting and greasing, is now running smoothly. All that is needed now is the crane to which the block will be reattached. Although considerably smaller than the hook block for the RB22 this one is still very heavy and now that the hook and the pulley are turning easily, it is very difficult to pick up and get hold of.
While waiting for Trevor to arrive, who had been receiving the unwelcome attentions of his dentist, Adrian continues bolting the final bracket to one of lock gates, which will carry that half of the cat walk. Everything is going reasonably well when the 17mm socket slips off the ratchet driver and falls between the gate and the lock chamber wall into the water below. Adrian is not amused! As he looks for another socket Trevor arrives and between the two soon have the bracket bolted firmly to the gate. They then check through the stack of sawn Oak for 2 suitable boards for the decking. As is par for the course, the boards best suited are at the bottom of the stack but are eventually extracted and carried to where required. As on the catwalk on the other gate, one plank has to be notched to allow for an upright which supports the paddle winding mechanism but that is quickly measured, sawn and chiseled out. The board is offered up. bolt holes marked, drilled and finally fixed in place. The second board requires some planing so that it fits better to the first. It is also the drilled and bolted down. To get the correct angle between the cat walk boards on either side the two gates are closed. The mitres are set, the angles sawn and 50mm square battens are bolted across the ends of the boards to tie them together and strengthen them. The brackets still need bolting to the gates underneath the boards and then painting which will be left for another day. The cat walks now enable quick passage from one side of the lock chamber to the other and a safe platform on which to stand when operating the gate paddles.
Trevor continues doing battle with the RB22 electrics What is so frustrating is that its electrical system is very primitive and yet Trevor cannot find out why the running engine does not charge the batteries. The alternator which he removed last Thursday, he has stripped down over the weekend and checked various components looking for breaks, damage, wear and has found nothing obviously wrong with it. He re-attaches it to the crane and Adrian tries firing up the engine. The batteries attempt to turn the engine but it is extremely ‘sluggish’, however the air temperature is very low again which does not help. Using the battery booster, the engine is finally coaxed into life. While Adrian works the machine Trevor tests the electrical output of the alternator. It appears to be working and yet the batteries are still not being charged!
Barry arrive on site and sets to chiseling mortrices and ‘trueing up’ the tenons of the oak ribs for the lead tub-boat. By the end of the day he has completed fitting the 6th rib. only another six to finish and then the process of bending and fixing the side planks can be addressed. But that’s a whole new ball game!
Bob, in the meantime has been working in the loading basin, clearing a channel to help out-flowing water to was away silt.
Trevor and Adrian abandon the crane for the day and continue working on the cat walks. Over the weekend Adrian had stripped rust and flaking paint from the cat walk brackets, treated them with rust converter and painted them with metal primer. Having decided on the height above the side wall the cat walk needed to be when the gates were open, Trevor and Adrian begin boring large holes through the balance beam that the cat walk brackets will be bolted through. Boring large holes horizontally through mature Oak is not and easy task despite the use of a powerful electric drill. The drill bit bites hard into the wood frequently stopping the electric motor and jamming the bit. The bit has then to be released from the drill and turned out manually using Mole Grips. A slow and laborious process. Eventually the holes are finished and the brackets attached and leveled up.
The Oak boards previously selected have to be extracted from their stack and carried to the gate. Although these boards are only 50 mm thick, 250 mm wide and are just short of 4 metres long they are very heavy and Trevor and Adrian are grateful not to have to move them too far. A board is offered up to the gate. It has to be notched to allow for an upright which supports the paddle gate winding mechanism. The notch is duly measured marked sawn and chiseled out. The board is offered up a second time and with a little bit of ‘tweaking’ slides home nicely. It is then marked for bolt holes and drilled with the appropriate drill bit and finally fixed in place. The second board is considerably more straight forward and before long that is fixed in place as well. each end of the catwalk platform is sawn to an approximate finished angle and the whole thing give a coat of Creosote. The angles cannot be finalized until the catwalk on the other gate is fixed and the pair offered up together. However, everything is looking good and Adrian is well pleased with the results of the team’s efforts on the different fronts!
Trevor and Barry are left to their own devises today since Adrian has another commitment elsewhere. The boards which will be used to clad the sides of the lead tub boat have been stacked out in the open air for quite some time now. They have weighted in such a way as to encourage the wood to bend but without significant movement to date. Barry suggests that the timber will bend more easily if it is soaked so they set about re-stacking the boards inside the finished tub boat which is holding water.To increase the depth of water at one end of the tub boat they use Trevor’s heavy duty car jack to raise the other end and prop it. By lunch time all the cladding is re positioned with one end of the boards soaking nicely. Barry has to leave and Adrian returns.
Trevor gives his attention to the electrical circuitry in the Priestman Cub which at some time had shorted out and badly damaged the wiring. Much of it will have to be replaced with new cables. Adrian uses his time to assemble a mold in order to cast another coping stone. Another day in which odd but important jobs have satisfactorily been completed.
Having spent the previous day sawing some large tree trunks into usable sections, there are only a couple of large pieces remaining which have been left for another time. However, as is always the case, they are not in a very convenient place so Trevor and Adrian decide to move them. The crane is required but once again the batteries need the extra ‘umph’ of the the booster before the engine will fire up. In a short time the trunks are relocated to another place which doubtless will prove to be the wrong place later on but never mind! Adrian parks the crane and Trevor begins to investigate its electrics to try and find why the batteries are not being recharged when the engine is running. While he is removing covers to alternators, checking drive belts, prodding various things with his electric meter gauge and other such magic that Adrian doesn’t understand, he sets about greasing the undercarriage of the crane. The grease-gun is found to be empty but after searching the inside of the storage shed two new cartridges of grease are discovered so he gets on with the messy job. Unfortunately several of the nipples in the track jockey wheels refuse to accept grease despite a considerable amount of pressure being applied to the gun. These nipples will need removing at some future time and the bearings checking. Hopefully it is just that the ball-bearings inside the grease nipples are choked with dirt rather than the bearings being seized. Having found no obvious reason as to why the crane’s engine is not recharging the batteries, Trevor disconnects both of them and Adrian removes them to the shed where they are put on charge from the mains. Trevor continues checking electrical connections and circuitry while Adrian returns to what he’s good at – clearing damaged walls of debris and overburden, and lifting ‘ hevvy fings’! The day’s activities have been nothing dramatic but once again have proved to be profitable and constructive.