Whats Happening ?

All systems GO!

It was a scene of much activity at Sea Lock  today. A crew of seven were on site and busily working away on a variety of tasks. Trevor and Steve stripped down the paddle mechanism of the reed-cutting boat and checked that all was running smoothly.  They then re-assembled the gear box and set about removing the damaged paddle blades.  Having achieved all of that they began de-rusting paintwork and repainting with grey primer. In the meantime Carol assisted by Guy were caulking the gaps between the side planking on the tub boat whilst  Barry was boring holes for the location of towing-eye bolts. Adrian was fixing guttering to the roof of the boat shed while Norman prepared a mix of mortar and began lying stones on the wharf wall.  After lunch Barry wanted the tub boat turned onto its side so that the knees at either end could be bolted through the floor.  All hands were temporarily stopped while attention was given to re-positioning tub boat. With Adrian operating the RB crane the lifting and turning of the tub boat was very quickly and safely achieved. At this point Barry had to return to Bideford, taking Carol and Guy with him.  Steve continued working on the paddle boat whilst Norman and Adrian finished off the load of mortar that Norman had previously mixed. Another very productive day’s work.

Open Day

Starting at 2.00pm over 85 members of the general public visited the site of the Sea Lock today as part of an ‘Open Day’ opportunity for people to see for first hand the  progress of restoration of the site.  Boards  erected at key points along  from the way in from Annery Kiln provided text and pictoral information about the historic and  present-day land usage.

Assisting Hilary and Adrian to guide visitors along was Norman Richards, Barry Hughes and Chris Hassall.  Other friends had volunteered to act as parking wardens and to collect entrance fees (£2 per person which goes towards restoration costs.)  Down at the wharf area refreshments were available including cream teas courtesy of Steve Blazey. (Steve and his wife are the owners of Blazeys of Bideford where great coffee and cakes are on sale).  Two large marquees had been erected on the quayside, one containing a display of pictures, maps and literature about the history of Lord Rolle’s Canal and the works that were being undertaken on it as well as the Tub-boat building project..  The second contained artifacts found on site and some on loan from the North Devon Museum Trust relating to ship building.  Looped slide-shows of the restoration of the Sea Lock and the Tub Boat Project were on display as was a short, vintage tv documentary programme from the 1960s about the working life of the North Devon Trading MV ‘Advance’ barge which now lies sadly, rapidly decaying in the wharf basin.

As well as the full-size, almost finished, replica tub-boat on display was the under-construction lead tub-boat, the under-restoration reed cutting paddle driven narrow boat. Also on loan from the NDMT and on display were two horse drawn ploughs, hand driven chaff cutting machinery and grain crushing machinery; both of these machines being made by Tardrews of Bideford.  The Tardrew family had interests in iron foundry work,  lime kilns and transporting goods along the Rolle canal.

Two agricultural tractors belonging to the NDMT were prominently displayed, one being an old grey ‘Fergie’  (1940s Model T20 Ferguson) and a very rare 1916 Mogul International tractor.  The Mogul had been in storage for a very long time and its engine idle for probably more than 30 years.  Earlier in the week, following considerable degunking,  tweaking, head-scratching  and other such mechanical terms, the concerted efforts of Wesley, Norman, Bob and later, Adrian, finally managed to fire-up the engine and eventually get it running  smoothly (in a relative kind of way!)  It was hoped to have the Mogul running during the course of Open Day but Wesley was unavailable and without his experience of such machines it was considered too dangerous to attempt starting it.

By 5.30 most of the crowd had finished all the cream teas and begun wandering home, hopefully considerably more informed than when they first arrived.  Those attending showed a great deal of interest, asking questions and making comments appropriate to what they saw.      The weather had been cool and dry all day making for a very good event but by the time Hilary and Adrian returned home the weather took a turn for the worse and rain began to fall.  The considerable task of clearing up was postponed until the following day although a lot was completed before the rain set in.





Like Lazarus risen from the dead!

Wesley, Norman and Bob spend the day working on the Mogul.  It has not been running for many years and there is a great deal of cleaning out accumulated debris from its carburetor, single cylinder and clutch bearings.  While they are involved in this Adrian and Aidan erect marquees where exhibitions are going to be mounted for display. Mike continues working on the gate heel posts, planing strips of oak and fitting them tightly together length-ways  to fill the gaps between the post and the quoin stone recess hopefully to stop water leaking through at this point.

Towards the end of the afternoon the various bits of Mogul requiring cleaning are replaced and after a considerable amount of concerted, combined effort  from Wesley Norman, Bob and Adrian the Mogul is finally coaxed back to life.

Starting this vintage machine requires a considerable amount of tweaking and fiddling with fuel inputs, decompression levers and other bits and pieces.  The most scary part of it  is though having to fling the large flywheel by hand in order to get the engine to actually fire-up.  ‘Health & Safety’ east your heart out!  This is not a job for the squeamish!


10 wheels on my wagon!

Trevor and Adrian drive over to South Molton to meet Norman and then they all travel on to the engineering works where Norman had arranged to have the centres of the cast iron wheels drilled out to accept axles.  10 wheels had been cast so that 2 could be used for display purposes.  Just to confuse matters, the engineer who was doing the machining is also called Trevor.  The wheels were awaiting collection when the gang arrived.  Following some discussion as to diameter and length, engineer Trevor cuts some bar to be used a s axles.  Next, following even more discussion, he cuts some tube and flat bar which he quickly welds to form a ‘trial’ bearing for the each wheel. This will be taken back to the replica and  offered up to see if it will do the job for which it is designed.  If this does the job the Trevor will be asked to fabricate enough for every wheel –  2 per wheel!

This bearing is not an exact copy of the originals that belong to Bude Stratton Town Council from which the wooden template was first made but, hopefully, it is close enough to be effective without having to go to some much more complicated and expensive fabrication.

Another brick and a couple of copers in the wall.

The hot and dry sunny spell continues.  Trevor and Adrian carry on where they left off yesterday.  By the end of the day they have managed to finish an eight foot long section of wharf wall including laying on top two more copers.  After Trevor returns home Adrian begins dismantling the scaffolding in front of the completed section.