Whats Happening ?

Ropes and drums.

Thanks to Alistair, Adrian is given the contact details of  David Jones.  David was employed by RB  as a driver / mechanic.   Following a long telephone conversation between him and Adrian the solution to the  boom problem is made clear.

Trevor, Norman and Adrian begin the slow and laborious task of pulling off the holding rope from the front drum so that the clutch mechanism behind it can be accessed easily and freed off.  Unfortunately the drum does not want to run freely and the offending rope has to be attached to the Kubota tractor and towed off.  This rope was  recently given a fresh coat of oil consequently unwinding it was a particularly slippery and messy process.

Having pulled off the rope the power-lift chain-wheel and the hoist-drum laggings have to be removed.  These are very heavy and awkward lumps of  machinery that are not easy to manoeuvre but eventually the seized clutch bands could be seen easily and everything was ready for the next stage of releasing them and hopefully, lowering the boom.

Still no wheels on my wagon BUT!

Hilary and Adrian make the long journey to Blist’s Hill Victorian Village Museum to collect the cast iron wheels for the tub-boat construction project.  The Foundry master, Roger Fewrell, had earlier in the week ‘phoned to say that he had finished casting the wheels, (ten of them),  and they were ready to be picked up.

It was quiet a foggy start to the journey but soon the sun burned it off and the rest of the day was bright , sunny and pleasantly warm.  When Hilary and Adrian reached the foundry they found Roger and his colleague in the process of re-ling the internal walls of the blast furnace with fire clay, a process which has to be undertaken at least once a week   If molten iron comes in contact with the steel casing it will burn right through it.

Roger stopped what he was doing in order to hand over the wheels and explained how he had made them.  He said that because of the thick boss at the centre of the wheel it was very difficult to get an even cast because of the way in which molten iron flows and the speed with which it sets.  Several of the wheels he first made were disasters and he had to rethink how to go about successfully casting them.  Although he did explain how he achieved success I got lost in the technicalities.  The wheels are fine though, which is all the matters.

The next task is to have holes bored through the centres of the wheels to accommodate axles.

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Trevor and Adrian spend the day digging silt away from the outer edge of the western wing wall.  The silt is incredibly sticky and clings to the blades of their shovels as well as their boots.

Unfortunately the RB with its clamshell bucket attached  cannot be used since the nearest  solid surface where the crane can work  is still too far a reach.  Had Alistair and Adrian attached the drag bucket instead of the clamshell this problem wouldn’t have arisen.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Trevor and Adrian decide to use the back hoe of the Kubota tractor to try and speed up the excavation.  The tractor is somewhat precariously perched on the edge of the wing wall edge and has to be anchored to a nearby Oak tree to prevent it pulling itself over.  This is not a good idea so it is abandoned.  Trevor tries to drive the tractor away and it becomes bogged down.  After some pushing and shoving using the back hoe Adrian  manages to extricate the Kubota and he and Trevor decide to pack up for the day.

Despite a lot of energy being spent the effort was well worth while.  The outer edge of the wing wall is now clearly defined and its reconstruction can be planned more definitely.  What is rather disappointing, however, is that although the remains of the wall buried beneath the silt id still in very good condition Trevor and Adrian were hoping to find  indications of a boat-building ramp somewhere along the edge of this wing wall but the sheer edge discovered indicates that there was no ramp at this point.

Repairs and servicing.

Having started  the dumper where it was last parked  and begun driving it towards its usual parking space Trevor finds that he is suddenly stuck in gear.  Unfortunately something has happened to the clutch. Trevor and Adrian find a sheet of plywood that can be used to lay under the machine so that Trevor can get underneath it without having to roll around in the mud.

He discovers that a bracket connecting two linkage rods has broken due to rust finally eating its way through the metal.  After some head scratching it is decided that the problem can be overcome be fabricating a new bracket.  This solution requires Adrian  to do some welding; not his greatest skill!.  However all goes surprisingly well and a section of box steel is welding to a threaded nut for adjustment, drilled and cut to the required size and shape and reattached to the machine by Trevor.   All works again perfectly.  ‘Job done!’ as the expression goes.

Following lunch Trevor and Adrian decide to spend some time in servicing the crane.  Adrian  starts the engine and lowers the boom until it is nearly horizontal.  Trevor paints some of the diagonal boom struts, which are a little rusty, with red oxide whilst Adrian coverings all the ropes and himself in a good  coat of oil.

They then set to applying the  grease gun to the multitude of grease nipples about the machine, particularly those on the pulley wheels high up on the boom which cannot normally be reached.  Some don’t accept grease and will at some time need to be removed and investigated.  just another little job to be done.

Follow that wall!

Adrian asks Alistair to excavate some of the silt from the mouth of the canal to see how much of the original wall exists and to look for signs of where boats may have been built and launched.  The ground on which the crane is parked is not very firm and after a while Alistair has to stop excavating since the tracks are sinking quite deeply on one side and there is a danger of the machine ‘bellying out’ and become stuck.

The course of the wall is now much more obvious  and the remains of a mooring post has been uncovered but no clear indications as to whether this area is where the shipyard once was.