Work Party Report August 2018










Block laying has been 2/3rds completed on length 4 of 7 [L4] thanks to the efforts of a party of gas engineers on a volunteer day. A completion day needs to be planned urgently. Work progresses with the in-fill of the banks.

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26 July

A driver and excavator were hired from A & L Wilsons to finish profiling the canal sides. Our volunteer drivers used dumpers to move the soil. This removed a large amount of soil from the canal which our member Eddie Galbraith very kindly has allowed us to stack in his field alongside the towpath. This will all have to be removed in due course. Except for a small amount of clearance the bed is now clean and flat but needs raking to clear large stones and bumps.

7 & 9 August Working Party

The objective of this was to get length L4 ready to lay blocks in the following weekend.

3 loads of blocks (39 packs of 72) were delivered on the Tuesday and a telehandler, on hire from Dennis Barnfield, was hired to move them into them from the carpark to the site. About 13 packs were put on the lining at the end of L3 to go with the 300 or so blocks already there.

After clearing the bed and banks of loose stones the under layer of geotextile was laid followed by the EPDM rubber. Since it was still dry a reasonably flat lay was obtained. Jointing of the main section was done using the new ‘pasting table’ platform which made it easier. The platform was moved to the off bank but there was no time to do the joint. Further packs of blocks were moved to the end of the section.

11-13 August Working Party

Saturday 11th

The telehandler was hired again together with a mini-digger and 1-ton dumper from GAP.

The sealing of the joint had required the penned up water from the length above to be released. This and the heavy overnight rain required pumping out using the Hartley Hire electric pump. This was not totally successful due to the shallow depth and wrinkled lining surface. It had to be removed to enable the lining to be moved and straightened out.

Jointing the lining on the side banks took most of the day. The offside was fairly straight forward but the towpath side was difficult and took a lot of time. The problems all arose from the very wet weather in which the lining was laid at Easter.

After the minimum drying period (1hr+) the lining could be pulled out to take up the slack at the joint. This was still difficult as surface water prevented the ‘flapping’ technique being effective. ‘All hands’ was called to pull the lining along and up the sides and the smoothness of the surface was much improved.

Other work done included:

  • • Clearance of earth and old lining from the remaining lengths
  • • Improvement of the B172 ramp using the digger
  • • Partial filling in the ‘pond’ at the base of the ramp
  • • ‘Pegging up’ the lining layers along the top of the banks ready for filling with soil.

4.2 Sunday 12th

A much reduced set of volunteers were faced with a significant amount of water in the bed that took several hours to remove with the electric pump.

Work done then included:

  • • A partial roll of geotextile cut in two ready for the next day.
  • • Top geotextile layers at L3/4 join pulled out
  • • Initial echelon of blocks laid at start of length.

4.3 Monday 12th

This was the main day of the working party as six British Gas engineers had a ‘volunteer day’ with us. As these were young fit men we expected them to get a lot done – and they did.

Early attendance to start pumping proved to be not as necessary as on the previous day and as much as possible had been removed by the main starting time.

It was decided that the lie of the EPDM lining was not good enough and with the brain & brawn assistance of the gas engineers the lining was tugged and wafted into position.

The prepared geotextile pieces were then laid on top of the rubber lining so that block laying could start. A task that was left to the gas men who soon picked it up.

Meanwhile a full geotextile roll was laid across the end of the lining by the telehandler. It was then rolled back and forth by hand to create three pieces to complete the top geotextile layer.

As block laying progressed a wheelbarrow trackway was built up to reach the blocks at the end of the lining so that when the blocks at the start of the section were finish the laying could continue from that end.

The only thing that can be said about the gas men’s laying is – wow!! Blocks were laid at great speed and efficiency. The winner of the unofficial block barrowing competition carried 12 blocks in one load (216Kg) and the barrow is still usable!

After the gas men left more blocks were laid by LCT (albeit at a slower rate).

Work continued with pegging out lining. On the off-bank it was confirmed, as suspected, that the lining in L3 fell ‘short’ ie did not get to the right height. This needs to be checked by a level survey and additional lining added if necessary.

Apart from this the whole length to the end of L4 will be completed when the final blocks are laid and a spring diversion pipe is completed to ensure that the outlet flows over the lining, not under it. A very small flow but it will be a feed for the canal.

Above the blocks and the waterline the banks have been profiled to allow plants and wild life to flourish. Having been dug out the whole length has to be filled with soil.

The excavator and dumper were used to move material from the pile by the side of the towpath to fill a section of the upper bank. Some material was moved directly onto the bank but this had to be done with care as material could fall onto the bed, particularly where no blocks are laid. There is still much material on the towpath at the top of the bank waiting to be moved down the bank. When the infilling is completed infill will then have to be compacted to give more stability and probably more material added. A vibrating plate compactor will be hired to do this.

Management of rainwater has again become an issue after the dry spell - more floating blocks!