We make a start on the waterwheel restoration

The first bucket to come out.

Waterwheel restoration is now underway. This Thursday we were able to make a real start on the enormous task of restoring the waterwheel.

Now we can turn the wheel we have begun to remove the corroded buckets so that they can be replaced. We are lucky to have a well qualified welder, Hedley, amongst our team who has experience of burning out rusted bolts because there are a lot to do. Even when all the bolts are removed the buckets are a very tight fit so it is easier to cut them in half to get them out as you can see.

The wheel moves smoothly on its jury-rigged bearing but is badly out of balance. As a result it took the combined efforts of Hedley, Colin and Richard to move it round to each new position. The idea is to remove buckets at intervals round the wheel and replace them the same way so that the two sides of the wheel are always securely connected. We don’t want to risk getting the wheel distorted.

The section of the wheel that spent the last 80 years at the bottom of the pit buried in slime has hardly rusted at all and we have made a discovery. The buckets have holes in them, clearly deliberately drilled. After a little bit of thought it occurred to us that these are drain holes so that the wheel does not start to turn unexpectedly if rain fills the buckets. Each bucket has two half inch holes in the bottom, not big enough to reduce the force of the sluice but enough to let rain drain away harmlessly. The new buckets will have these holes drilled before fitting.

Needles support the culvert

A large team meant that several jobs were being tackled as well as the waterwheel restoration.

Derek and Martyn worked on the culvert wall, inserting needles through the brickwork to support the roof while the barrier to the tailrace is removed. Suitable pre-stressed lintels have been identified and ordered. Once again we are lucky to have found the right kind of skill and experience in our team for the task in hand.

David and Max did what they seem to like to do best which is landscaping, David with the JCB and Max with a spade. The amount of roots that they are digging out has to be seen to be believed. Spring will reveal if they have got them all!

John spent the day bricklaying again. The practise is definitely paying off because he is getting good at the tricky bits.

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