Whats Happening ?

Bucket or Hook?

Alistair and his wife, Viv’ have arrived for the weekend.  He and Adrian are planning to ‘swop’ the hook block for the clam-shell bucket on the RB crane.  This is not a simple process because it normally entails a lot of time in spooling ropes off and on winding  drums as well as disconnecting and reconnecting the tail ends of the ropes.  Adrian has acquired a quick release connection which should help speed up the process of changeover but needs Alistair to sort it out.

The changeover goes surprising easily and it isn’t long before Alistair is testing the new set up by raising a lowering the clam shell.  He then sets about moving silt from one location to another in order to create  space for dumping more hardcore.

Once he has completed this task he drives the crane to the side of the lock chamber and retrieves a coping stone which had been stacked with another, waiting for the time when it would be replaced in its proper position.  Unfortunately some poor, misguided, misunderstood and unloved yobs decided it would be fun to push it over the edge and watch it splash into the silt!  It was lucky that they only pushed one and not both of them in and that there was little chance of it washing away!

Spring clean?

Trevor and Adrian complete bolting the cat-walk brackets to the sides of the RB.  All that is required now is the actual platform to walk on which hasn’t been fabricated yet.

Since the Sea Lock site is more suitable to planting rice than trying to continue any building work they next decide to spend time servicing the crane.  Adrian starts up the machine and works the various levers to ease sticking clutches.  After having moved the crane from the end of the wharf wall nearer to the storage shed they then set about filling the diesel tank and pumping grease into a multitude of grease-nipples and lubricating variety of moving parts.  Although the engine started easily enough it was losing power when in forward drive.  Dirty fuel filters are suspected of causing this but replacements are not instantly available.  Other than this slight problem the crane is functioning very well.

Working it regularly certainly makes a huge difference to its performance.

Playing with big boys’ toys

Having had a considerable lay-off from working at Sea Lock due to the  intervention of annual holidays and the constraints brought about by prolonged periods of appalling weather Trevor and Adrian set about fixing catwalks to the RB22.   Climbing up and down over the tracks to access the driving cab and engine compartments  has proved to be a considerable inconvenience.

Adrian has acquired two pairs of  support-brackets from a supplier in Urmston, Manchester and they have to be bolted to the sides of the crane to which running boards will be fixed.  The brackets, once attached, seem to be very widely spaced so Trevor and Adrian fabricate 2 more, one for each side,  to split the gap.  Trevor cuts sections of mild steel angle-iron to length while Adrian attempts to arc-weld them together.

Welding is not one of his greater skills and the job is made more difficult because some of the welding rods are damp and the transformer keeps over-heating and shutting down.

Eventually the new pair of supports are fully welded and holes bored for various fixings but at this point the working day is brought to a close  and the new brackets will now have to wait until the next working day in the New Year before being attached to the crane.

2012 promises to be a very exciting year for the various projects underway at Sea Lock and for Lord Rolle’s Canal in general.

Cladding grows

Trevor and Adrian continue cutting to length and attaching cladding to the sides of the tub-boat.  By the end of the day the claldding is 2 boards high on either side. Despite pre-drilling the holes, driving the galvanized nails through the boards into the Oak ribs proves very difficult and requires applying considerably ‘welly’ with a very large hammer.

A very hot place!

Hilary,  Adrian and Trevor travel to Telford to take the tub-boat wheel pattern to the foundry at Blist’s Hill Victorian Town Museum. When they arrive at the foundry, Roger Fewtrell, the forge master and his assistant are hard at work tapping molten iron from the blast furnace flask and pouring it into a variety of molds. When eventually all the molds are filled and all the tools cleaned and equipment shut down in the appropriate manner Adrian and Roger have a long discussion about how best to cast the wheels.  This is not a straight-forward task because of the large, central boss on each wheel and the hole through which an axle has to pass. It is decided to leave the pattern with Mr Fewtrell who will give the problem more thought and probably have a go at casting a wheel the following week. Later the three meet up with Tony Mugridge, the museum’s itinerant brick-maker and they are given a very interesting tour around the derelict brick and clay processing plant on the museum site.

Hilary and Adrian met Tony several years ago when he offered to run a field-based brick-making course, using Victorian methods at Sea Lock .

 This is a wonderful idea which is still being considered although there are number of problems to overcome before it can be made a reality.