Whats Happening ?

Full steam ahead!

Trevor and Norman complete stripping down and cleaning the  8horse power, side-valved Ford engine from the paddle boat.  They decide that the only way to check if everything is okay is to reassemble it and try starting it on the bench.  Adrian gets on with planing timber for the tub boat.

A battery is connected and Norman rigs a kill switch in case the  engine over revs.  They quickly discover that they  have connected the battery terminals to the engine the wrong way around resulting in the starter motor working backwards and not engaging properly.  They swap the terminals and the engine turns and actually fires!  Following a little fiddling with the carburetor and choke they try again and the engine starts and runs beautifully despite no silencer or  governor being attached.    Everyone  is delighted and Trevor is keen to put the engine back in the boat and reconnect  it to the main drive but Adrian wants to clean and de-rust the engine housing in the boat first.  Engine installation is put on hold.

While all this is going on Barry arrives and, having inspected the engine, lends a hand with planing and fixing the floor boards.  Norman has to return home so leaves them to get on.  Concern is expressed by Adrian as to whether there is sufficient boarding to complete the floor but following a measure-up Barry thinks there should  be just enough.  Rain once again stops play.

Unexpected visitors.

John calls in on Adrian to tell him he is about to catch a boat!  A sailing yacht ,with a mast of at least 20feet in height, has slipped her mooring just above Bideford New Bridge and has drifted up river on the rising tide, nearly as far as Ha’penny Bridge.  The boat has managed to pass beneath Bideford Long Bridge despite none of the arches having sufficient clearance and then continued her way passing under Iron Bridge (railway) sustaining almost no damage. John sets out into the river on his surf canoe and manages to get a tow rope onto the yacht and he then laboriously and somewhat painfully manages to tow her downstream, against the tide and into the shelter of Sea Lock. Adrian arrives in time to see the boat, moving into the mouth of the lock chamber and secures her fore and aft.

The owner of the wandering boat had been driving along the Bideford /Torrigton Road, searching for her where he could see the river. He is already at Sea Lock watching John rescuing his boat.  Having moored the boat and attached large plastic jerry cans to act as fenders all that can be done is to wait for the falling tide to ground the boat so that the owner can get aboard and assess the situation.

Once a ladder is secured to the boat the owner and John let down the boom and mast and tie them to the dick so that the boar can easily clear the bridges on her homeward journey.

While all this is going on Adrian continues selecting and attaching boards to the floor of the tub boat.  Norman, who has been helping with the mast then joins Adrian in fixing down the boards.

High tides and seized drives

The tide levels have been rising over the past few days culminating on a 6.7 metre high this evening.  The gate and ground paddles have been left open overnight and Adrian closed them this morning just after the tide reached its high of 6.4 metres.  Trevor and Adrian wait for the tide to fall to see how much water the gates are retaining.  A lot of water is leaking between the quoins and the edges of the gates but a substantial amount is being held back.  Once the water level within the chamber has fallen to that of the cills the ground paddles are lifted.  Even with the reduction gearing on the winding mechanisms the pressure of water against the gates makes them incredibly difficult to lift.  However the gates are eventually wound fully open and water rushes through the ground paddle tunnels and scours out a huge quantity of silt and debris.

Once the water had flowed out Trevor begins releasing the  engine -bearing bolts and Adrian lifts it out and transports it into the shed where it is mounted on the work bench.  While Trevor continues dismantling the engine Adrian cuts to length and bolts in place some floor boards onto the tub boat.

A little late Barry arrives to inspect the paddle boat.  He, Trevor and Adrian spend some time in oiling and releasing seized gears shifts and steering mechanisms.  After Trevor and Barry have packed up for the day Mike Chambers arrives and manages to release two jammed ratchets.  This has been another day of small but successful events.

Collecting paddle-boats

Adrian arranges for a flat bed lorry with a Hiab crane to collect the weed cutting paddle-boat from Bude.  He and Trevor set off to meet the lorry driver at the prearranged time but the driver is 2 hours late due to having a puncture first thing in the morning.

They eventually arrive where the boat is at 5.00 pm and then the driver has to manoeuvre his lorry into a very narrow and awkward lane in order to pick up the boat.  Fortunately the boat has lifting ‘eyes’ so chains are quickly attached and the boat is lifted onto the lorry quickly and easily.

They journey back to Sea Lock where John is waiting to help unload the boat.  The driver is able to drive straight down to the site and do a 3-point turn there and unloads the boat in a very short length of time.

Trevor is desperate to start work on restoring the engine but he’ll have to wait until another day!

Ground paddles now working

John and Adrian set about assembling the second paddle-gate winding mechanism.  It is a much more straight forward process than before because they know what needs modifying. Finding a means of attaching safety pawls to the gearing created some difficulty but this was eventually sorted.  John spends a lot of time cutting, grinding and welding various bits of metal and eventually the whole assembly is ready for connecting to the ground paddle gate.  John has already fabricated a new lifting rod which needs to be cut to the correct length.  The head of the lifting rod has to be reduced in order to fit inside the rack and a key way has to be drilled into it.

Once all this is done Adrian uses the Kubota tractor to carry the lifting winch from the shed to the top of the lock wall where the mechanism is to be fixed.  The assembly is incredibly heavy.  John climbs down into the mouth of the ground paddle chamber and bolts on the new lifting rod.  After  a considerable amount of ‘tweaking’ and grinding, The rod slides home and is locked in place.  The up-stand is manoeuvred into place and bolted to the ground.

The bolts holding the up-stand are set into holes drilled in the ground and fixed with a very strong adhesive.  The efficiency of the winding mechanisms cannot be tested until the next day after the adhesive has hardened but they both look good.  After applying a generous measure of  grease to all the moving parts John and Adrian pack up for the day.