Whats Happening ?

Snake wrestling – a new sport!

The replacement link is easily fitted to the broken chain which is laid out on top of the right hand track.  Trevor and Adrian give it a good dosing of oil and check that it and all the other links, which have also been liberally dosed, are moving freely and independently.  The problem now is that not only is  the chain extremely heavy it is covered in oil, very slippery and very flexible.   Manoeuvring it from the top of the track and in and around the drive and track sprockets proves to be very awkward.  The limited access space does nothing to make the job any easier.  Adrian likens the job to wrestling with a large and uncooperative snake or giant eel , not that he has had either pleasure before!  In an attempt to make more space available Adrian starts the RB engine and rotates the cab until it is at 90° to the undercarriage and then after considerable pushing and shoving Trevor and he manage to get the chain in underneath the crane and in the correct  position to get it back on its sprockets.  The pulling power of the Kubota is next employed to take the slack out of the chain so that the two ends of the chain can be connected.  Following more grunting , groaning and the occasional ‘blue’ word the chain-link is finally slipped into place and its linking pin inserted. Unfortunately the pin will not slip easily fully into the link despite being heavily greased.  Hammering it in the last few millimetres is a problem in itself.  The track is in the way and prevents getting a good swing on the hammer. Eventually the pin is hammered home and its roll pin fixed in place.  One chain sorted!

Since there is still half an hour or so before lunch Trevor and Adrian decide to begin the process of reinstating the undamaged track.  They now have a fair idea as to how to do it  so it is retrieved from the shed in a wheel barrow and laid out on the opposite track.  This time the process works well and within a very short time the second track is back on and connected up.

Now that both drive chains are back on the crane Trevor and Adrian decide that the crane needs to be started again but this time put into travel mode.  Everything goes well.  Unfortunately both drive chains and tracks are very slack but there is no way that this can be adjusted.  However, the chains are nice and flexible now and sit comfortably on the sprockets, turning easily. The crane moves forwards and backwards very nicely.  Steering it has always been difficult due to excessive wear on some of the gearing.  Short of a massive and very expensive rebuild this is something that has to be tolerated.  At least the crane is once again mobile and easily copes with the minimal work load that is expected of it.


After lunch a happy Trevor and Adrian are joined by Norman.  Since the crane needs no more attention for the moment they set to advancing the scaffold along the wharf wall.  Adrian is keen to get back to rebuilding this wall but the excessive wet weather is now being replaced by more season very cold weather neither of which is any good for setting mortar.  At least everything is getting prepared for when the time is right.


The missing link? (Apologies to C.Darwin)

Following a telephone conversation with Mr G. Sanders from Urmstone yesterday from whom various spare parts for the RB22 have acquired in the past  including the replacement 50ft boom and the main clutch, an order was placed for a new drive-chain link to replace the one which snapped when the chain came off. Much to Adrian’s surprise a package containing the new link was found waiting  on his doorstep this morning where the postman had left it.  Putting the link to use would have to wait until Tuesday however when Trevor and Adrian could attach it to the broken chain and then try to reassemble the whole chain and put it back on the crane.  This is not going to be an easy task.

Working in a chain gang?












Adrian has been talking to John about the problem arising from the snapped drive chain.  John decides to lend a hand to help Trevor and Adrian repair the damage.  After some consideration and discussion it is agreed that the only way to remove the snapped and entangled chain from the main drive sprocket is to reverse it off by using the crane’s engine.  With great trepidation Adrian starts the crane up and engages the track drive levers.  Everything sounds okay so he begins to edge the machine backwards.  With Trevor and John watching carefully for further signs of problems the crane inches backwards but is gently turning to one side.  This is only to be expected since only one track is being driven.  On the other side the damaged chain unwinds itself perfectly and drops to the ground.  Despite now being covered in mud at least the chain is now free and has come off remarkably easily especially when considering how tightly jammed it had got itself.  Trevor, John and Adrian drag the chain from underneath the crane and lay it out on a level surface.  The chain is exceedingly heavy.  Unfortunately one of the links is snapped in half and is irreparable.  Several of the links are very badly twisted and some of the rollers are seized.

John is not at all concerned about the twisted links and sets about straightening them out.  He uses his oxyacetylene torch to heat up the twisted metal.  While the metal is still red hot Trevor and Adrian use crow-bars to apply leverage to bend the twists out  and John encourages the metal to move by applying a very large hammer at the same time.  Within a relatively short time the damaged chain is straightened and the rollers running freely again.  It is then subjected to a thorough cleaning with a wire brush and left to soak in paraffin to lubricate and ease the links, some of which are quite stiff.  It is hoped the it will be unnecessary to replace the broken link since the chain was very slack before coming off.  Being one link shorter may take up the slack and make the chain drive more efficiently.

It is decided that it is sensible to remove the other chain and give it a thorough clean in preparation for the possibility of having to shorten it to the same length as the other. While Trevor and Adrian take up the slack in this chain, John very quickly punches out a link-pin which disconnects it.  It is dragged out from underneath the crane and taken to the shed for inspection and cleaning.  Once on the work bench it is easy to see that this chain is in far better condition then the other and only a small amount of straightening is required which John accomplishes very quickly.   Despite the potential complexity of the problem resulting from the chain break, the repairs have been achieved very easily and with the minimum amount of frustration and effort.

John, Trevor and Adrian next give their attention to the required lengths of chain and come to the conclusion that unfortunately they cannot be used if shortened .  Although both chains were very slack, taking one link out will make them too short to connect the main-drive and track-drive sprockets.  The slack has resulted  from the chains being stretched over the long years in which the crane has been used.  In the design of the crane adjustment was made available to take up slack in the drive chains but this has all been used up.  A replacement link, complete with pins, a roller and side plates, now has to be sourced which shouldn’t be too difficult but that has to be left to another day.  In the meantime the crane isn’t going anywhere.

Into the New Year with a BANG and a CRASH!

When the Kubota tractor was last used, just before Christmas, it was not running vet well and kept losing power.  Fuel starvation was suggested and since the fuel tank was nearly empty this seemed a likely explanation.  Trevor and Adrian venture off  to acquire a quantity of diesel which they duly fill the tractor tank with.  Unfortunately the engine continues to run unevenly and so they take the fuel filter cover off and find that the filter itself, which although  is very loose and refuses to removed, is clogged with black gunge.  Trevor and Adrian clean the filter as best they can in situ and reattach the filter bowl cover.  The engine is restarted and runs perfectly.  Trevor and Adrian then spend quite some time using the tractor to move and spread a load of hardcore.  The hardcore is spread across the surface of the wharf-side which as a result of very poor weather has become extremely wet and muddy.

Later in the day a tarmac lorry which was being used by contractors on the Tarka Trail by the entrance of the drive down to the site, got stuck and had to come down the drive to the bottom and onto the site in order to turn around and get back out.  To give the lorry room to manoeuvre Adrian has to start the crane and drive it to a place where it will not be in the way.  The engine starts beautifully.  Adrian engages the main clutch and slews the cab towards the direction in which he intends to drive the crane.  The appropriate levers are pulled and the crane begins to track forward when suddenly a strange and rather ominous creaking and clanking is heard. The crane begins to shudder a little and Trevor  shouts to Adrian to stop!  One of the drive chains has snapped and wrapped itself back in around the main drive sprocket.  The chain is not only broken it has tied itself in a knot around the sprocket which is tucked in underneath the cab in a very awkward position to get at.

The lorry driver manages to squeeze his vehicle around the stricken crane, do a several point turn and then get stuck in the mud which his vehicle has just churned up.  So much for leveling the yard with the hardcore  The day is turning from good to seriously bad!  Eventually, with the assistance of Trevor and Adrian, the lorry driver manages to extricate his vehicle from the mud and with many apologies finally drives away from the site.   Trevor and Adrian call it a day and plan to attack the chain problem the next day.

Bits and pieces.

While the weather continues to be frustratingly unreliable, trying to get much done outside somewhat haphazard.  Trevor, Barry, Carol and David all turn up for  ‘duty’ at Sea Lock today and Adrian can’t decide how best to use their time.  Eventually   Trevor and Barry begin measuring up and cutting the donated balance beams which will be sawn down to make cladding for the second tub-boat.  While Barry uses a chainsaw to cut the beams Trevor employs the power of the Kubota to lift, move and stack the lengths in readiness for the arrival of a portable band saw.  The Kubota is not running very well especially when driving up the slope to where the balance beams are.  Fuel starvation is suspected   The fuel tank is certainly very low and more diesel is required but not instantly available.

While Trevor and Barry work with the timber Adrian and David level a pile of hardcore and Carol finishes cleaning and oiling the threads of some rusty scaffold clips.  None of theses jobe are very exciting but all help progress the restoration project.