Another major mile stone in the story of our reconstruction of the Burbage Crane has been reached. In July the cranes main frame was ready for road transport to the wharf, we had hoped to use water transportation but unfortunately this had proved impractical. On the evening of Friday the the team gathered at Claverton, our first task was to jack up the frame almost 700 mm which allowed room for George Eycott to reverse the Waterway Recovery Group’s 3.5 tonne trailer underneath. The frame was then lowered to the trailer bed and secured for its journey; all this was done during a very heavy rainstorm. We all stood back while George negotiated the railway crossing then began a slow journey to Burbage wharf arriving at 10.00pm.
The following Tuesday morning found us all up early waiting for the arrival of a very impressive 55 tonne mobile crane belonging to the Ainscough Crane Hire Company, once this was set up in the car park it raised the crane main frame high over the roofs of the cottages with ease. This was quite a sight to see, it almost seemed to be flying through the air. The frame was then lowered over its kingpost with great precision, after checking that it was level the two ballast blocks and the hoist winch were reinstalled. The next and final stage of the project will be to transport the completed jib timbers to site and use the mobile crane again to install them on the top of the main frame.
Meanwhile back at Claverton things are very much running as normal, we do have some concerns that the river level is dropping even after some rain in June. We are using all the water available to us but the wheel is still running very slowly, it’s a good job we are not pumping to the canal at present.
Next winter’s maintenance work is being planned, after a good life the water wheel timbers are beginning to fail at an alarming rate and so the time has come to start a major replacement programme, a serious failure of the wheel boards could wreck the wheel. I was at a tide mill during the summer where, although a fine restoration of the milling machinery had been carried out, I was saddened to see that its two water wheels had been smashed beyond repair. We cannot allow that to happen to Claverton. We need to source the correct type of timber, in the working days Elm was preferred which was fine as the wheel was in regular use which kept the timber wet. These days it dries out between runs which causes rot to rapidly set in, Iroko seems to be our best alternative and has proved to be very durable so far. The cost will be considerable so it looks like we need to look around for some extra funds.