Whats Happening ?

Out in the cold!

Today it’s a even colder than it was yesterday .  Adrian is thinking that he may have the day off when Carol arrives.  They decide to go to Barnstaple to collect a pair of towing eyes and shackles for the tub boat.  On their return they insert the bolts into holes previously bored and countersunk by Barry.  Theses eyes and shackles are attached through the stern of the boat and will be connected to a chain bridle which is employed when the tub-boat is towed up the inclined plane.  When this is completed, Carol retires to the relative warmth of the storage shed where he continues the task he started the day before of wire-brushing and lubricating used scaffold clips.  Adrian works out in the cold laying cladding boards onto a sort of trestle.  These boards are to be used to clad the sides of the lead tub boat but have to be bent.  He arranges the boards so that they are heavily weighted at one end and in the middle. The other end is over-hanging the trestles and unsupported.  More weight is applied here to encourage the wood to bend over.  Heavy rain is forecast overnight and soaking the wood will help it to bend more easily.  It is ultimately intended to steam the wood to make it more supple when fixing the boards to the ribs of the new boat but a suitable steamer has yet to be designed and constructed.   Just another little problem to be overcome!

Where’s the tea boy?

Trevor has telephoned to say that he has caught a cold and is not feeling well enough to work at Sea Lock with Adrian.  The fact that the temperature has plummeted makes Adrian secretly suspect that  Trevor’s is ‘skiving’!   Anyway, Adrian plans to ‘struggle on’ without his faithful side-kick and goes to work with David, the new volunteer, who has just arrived with Carol.  Having already cleared the foot of the wharf wall beyond the existing scaffolding Adrian decides that he and David will extend the scaffold in preparation for the next section of wharf wall rebuilding.   Carol works steadily away at revitalizing old scaffold clips by cleaning the threads of rust and cement, and giving them a good dose of lubricant.  By the end of the day Carol has cleaned a whole gang of clips , David has a frozen foot (he didn’t appreciate that the rising tide would eventually make the water level within the lock chamber where he has been working,  higher than the top of his wellies), and the scaffold platform has grown considerably.  Not a bad day’s work considering how cold it has been!  Adrian knows that sadly Trevor is not feeling well  and  not actually ‘skiving’ but if he is, he’s not as daft as he looks!

Steve for Chief Test Pilot?

First thing in the morning Trevor and Adrian return to Beam Quarry for a second load of facing stone.  Having underestimated the quantity collected before this time they load what they think is substantially more into the trailer.  this time the weighbridge states a load of 1.75 tons.  Still not as much as they though but a good load never-the-less.  Just as they are putting the last few stones into the trailer Carol turns up.  Good timing!  The three return to Sea Lock.  Adrian and Carols off-loads the stone whilst Trevor makes a cup of tea.  Following the tea break, Trevor attaches the Kubota battery to the paddle boat engine and provides Adrian with a demonstration of how well the engine starts and runs.  The gearbox turns smoothly in forward and reverse gear, easily driving the paddles and the cutter bar. This is all very exciting but Trevor has decided that he is not really man-enough to be test pilot once the boat is in the water, (no sense of adventure!).In his absence, Trevor and Adrian take the executive decision of electing Steve as Chief Test Pilot.  He’d better make sure his life insurance is up to date!  After lunch Trevor sets about removing the modified cooling system and reinstating the original system Adrian finishes removing the last bit of debris from the bottom of the wharf wall.  Next Tuesday will be spent on extending the scaffold along this stretch of wall so that it can be cleared of rubble and weeds in preparation for more rebuilding.

Full paddle ahead?

Adrian has to attend a meeting in South Devon today so Trevor and Steve are left to their own devices which is not necessarily a good idea!  They get up to mischief!  They spend the day working on the paddle boat.  Mike has provide an old solenoid which Trevor wants to use in order to start the engine.  He has been using jump-leads and other scary things but at least he knows what he is doing. Adrian doesn’t ‘do’ electrickity; he says it bites!  Once the solenoid is fixed in place and the battery, borrowed from the Kubota, is wired in Trevor and Steve manage to start the engine and before long have power to the paddles and the weed-cutter.  Everything is going fine although the modified cooling system isn’t working efficiently enough.  They decided to remove their isolated system and return to that where cold water is drawn into the engine from the canal.  Water in the loading basin is likely to be salty which will eventually create problems of corrosion.  The engine will need to be well flushed through with fresh water after it has been run in the canal.

The crew gets bigger.

A new volunteer, David McAspern,  joined the gang today and for a while he and Adrian are at a bit of a loose end because the wet weather is preventing them from working outside.  Barry and Carol in the meantime aere cutting and drilling two lengths of timber to fix to the bottom of the lead tub-boat while Trevor works on the paddle boat.  First he fixes  in place the driver’s seat (very important) and the replaces some protective covers the shield various moving parts.  Finally the weather brightens sufficiently for David and Adrian to begin work on removing debris from the foot of the wharf wall where Adrian wants to extend the scaffolding.  The debris is a mixture of subsoil, coal dust and clay.  The coal dust is an accumulation of what has obviously fallen into the canal as boats were being unloaded but over the years it has set into a very hard, concretion.  He and David work hard to shovel away at this but are hampered by the very wet and muddy surface that they are standing on which is made worse by the clay sticking limpet-like to the blades of their shovels.  Eventually Adrian decides that the back hoe of the Kubota tractor could be usefully employed to speed up this process.  He is pleased to find that the fully extended boom will reach sufficiently far down the wall to attack the offending material and soon have a clear, level surface upon which to build the scaffold.  By this time however, they are both very wet and plastered in mud but it’s time to go home anyway!