Whats Happening ?

No holes in our floor!

Barry wasn’t due to work at Sea Lock today but  decided that  he would so he and Trevor continue fixing the bottom boards down but first Trevor connects his charger to the crane batteries which were flat last time they were required..  By lunch time the remaining boards have all been planed to a tight fit and only a couple require bolting down.  Both Barry and Norman, who has been clearing more of the wall,  are unable to remain after lunch so Trevor and Adrian are left to fit the last boards and remove excess bitumen from the squeezed joints.   Next the base is given a good dose of coat of creocote, especially the wheel recesses.

Having tidied up the base and cleared away tools no longer required Trevor and Adrian finish the platform and begin jacking up the base in order to lay scaffold-tube rollers underneath the boat.  Although it is getting late in the day they decide to see how easily the boat will move on the rollers.  Everything works surprisingly well and within a very short time and with minimum effort they manage to push the boat out from underneath the roof ready to be turned over the following day.  Brilliant!

More bottom boards go on.

Barry continues planing and setting the bottom boards in place.  Trevor drills and counter-sinks holes for the bolts in between continuing the  mucky job of  applying bitumen and sizzle between the joints.  As usual it is not before cutting tools, clamps and people have a liberal coating of the stuff.  While all this is going on Adrian is running his circular saw along edges of damaged planks in preparation for planing.

Carol decides that he will separate a pair of lifting strops which were knotted together.  When the joined strops were last used for lifting the knots pulled up extremely tightly and undoing them will take considerable effort but before the end of the day he succeeds, rolls the separated strops up and tucks them neatly away in the shed.

Norman and Bob begin setting out a platform which will be used to roll the finished  but up-side-down lead tub-boat base out from under its shelter so that it can be lifted by the crane and turned over.  This cannot be completed until the bottom is finished since the boat needs to be jacked up and scaffold planks laid in underneath it on which rollers will be eventually placed.  I the meantime Adrian tries starting the crane which needs to be moved alongside the new platform.  Unfortunately the batteries are flat and the engine will not turn over.  Trevor attaches an emergency Battery booster quick start to thew batteries and Adrian tries to start the engine again, this time successfully.  He runs the engine for a while, working the various levers and clutches  and once happy that everything is functioning well begins to travel the crane towards the position required where it can lift the base.  Although the crane is woking well it still proves difficult to steer bu eventually it is in the right place where it is switched off until required again.

Once they have completed a as much of the platform as they can Norman and Bob direct their attention to removing overburden from the next section of wharf wall to be rebuilt.  Norman starts up both Kubota and dumper and begins digging.  Bob  sorts the reusable stone from the debris which is taken to the far side of the site and dumped.  Having finished crane driving and sawing Adrian lends a hand and takes over driving the dumper.

At the ‘close of play’ a considerable amount of progress has been made on several ‘fronts’ and the gang go home tired but satisfied.

Getting it all together.

Trevor and Adrian sort through the stacks of boards that have been cut from the redundant balance beams and select ones suitable to cover bottom of the new tub-boat.  Whilst they now have a large stock of timber, a lot of it is suffering from splits and rot or have bolt holes running through them.  All the boards will require edging and planing along their lengths but first Trevor and Adrian need to know that they have a sufficient  number of good boards for the job in hand.  By the end of the day they have laid out enough boards to cover the base and have begun cutting them roughly to the length required.

And yet more big boys toys!

Adrian has managed to acquire not one but two Priestman Cub cranes which he intends to put to work at Sea Lock.   The cranes are at present standing in a yard at Devizes so he and Norman travel there to meet up with Alistair.   Although both machines have been idle for many years, with the help of an experienced mechanic, Alistair has already managed to get one crane working well.   The second, which has stood unused for considerably longer than the other has a seized engine. Its drive chains are completely rigid with rust and whether the tracks can be turned is anyone’s guess.

It is intended that the non-running machine can be cannibalised for spares for the running machine but both have to be removed from where they presently are, to the Sea Lock site.  Getting the non-running machine mobile  is a problem.  After considerable thought and discussion it is decided to cut its drive chains so that the machine can be moved independent of its engine. Following the use of a cutting torch Alistair manoeuvers the working crane up close to the non-runner.  He connects a heavy strop to the non-runner and the drag -line rope of the runner, takes up the slack  and after a couple of tentative tugs, pulls hard on the drag-line.  Much to everyone’s surprise the seized crane begins to move and its tracks start to turn.  Alistair then begins to alternately push and pull the ‘dead’ crane with the worker.  Steve, the mechanic, gives the tracks a liberal sprinkling of diesel and before long the crane is moving smoothly and its tracks turning relatively easily.

Having cut the drive chains the problem of steering the seized crane now arises. It has to be pulled forward its own length and then turned 90° in order to clear a large tree.  Eventually, after employing a combination of blocks to brake tracks, and pulling at an angle, the machine is eventually turned to face the way out.  The tree has proved particularly uncooperative and has received a bit of a pruning from the running crane’s boom with which it got caught up in several times..  Falling branches have just been another hazard with which to contend.  Fortunately the tree was not a particularly fine nor rare  specimen to start with.

By the end of the day both machines are neatly parked and await collection from a low loader to be arranged asap.  All that has to be done before this can happen is that their booms need to be removed for transport.  This will have to wait for another weekend sometime soon. 

Waste not, want not!

Adrian has arranged with John Bowden to saw the latest delivery of redundant balance beams to sizes of boards that can be used to clad the base of the lead tub boat and today  he arrives on site bringing his portable band saw with him.  Roy Morris, another of Adrian’s friends, has recently acquired a very similar saw and is keen to learn from John the ‘tricks of the trade’ and has come along as well.  Adrian, John and Roy are later joined by Barry and Bob.

John and Roy set up the saw while Adrian uses the Kubota to transport sections of balance beam from where they have been previously stacked and lift them on  to the saw bench.  Barry and Bob give their attention to the remaining balance beams, removing nails, screws and any other metal work which would damage the saw blade and then cutting them to more manageable lengths with a chain saw.

By the end of the day a considerable number of boards have been cut and stacked ready to be sorted for use and the floor area surrounding the saw is beginning to resemble a beach since it is now covered in a thick layer of very fine saw-dust.

Unfortunately not all of the boards can be used since over the passage of time the timber has been affected by rot and cracking but nevertheless a large quantity of useful timber has been salvaged. The off-cuts will not go to waste either since they will be used to fuel Adrian’s wood stove at home.

The weather has been kind to the gang today, enabling a considerable amount of work to be achieved and also allowing the site to dry out a bit.  Adrian and John plan to resume planking on Friday providing the weather continues to remain dry.