Diary Blog for 2014.................

January 22nd 2014. Sagitta in Dry Dock for a few repairs.

On January 19th we put Sagitta in the Dry Dock at Caggy's Boat Yard to have her bottom looked at. After Power washing the mud and loose rust off the hull a group of 7 volunteers helped to do the final scraping off any rust that was left on the hull. The Stern tube was also looked at and re-packed, plus 2 new annodes were welded on the rear swim plates. Then the first coat of Black Bitchimum was applied on the hull. Over the next two days 2 more coats of Black was appllied to the hull, then left to dry for three days before we re-floated her on Sunday 26th January to steer Sagitta back to her base at the Black Country Living Museum.

Saturday 25th January. A load of Canoe's paddled through Dudley Tunnel. Here they all are waiting to go down my lock at Parkhead.

Sunken 70ft Joey Boat at the Black Country Living Museum !

On Saturday 18th January I poped into the Black Country Living Museum just to check on the boats.

To my Horror I found one of the Museum's 70ft Joey Boat SUNK ! Apprantley on investigating this problem the boat took on too much rain water over the Christmas close down, found a rotted hole halfway up the side of the boat and went down overnight !

On the 27th January Bernard Halls and Myself (Above) made an attempt to get this boat lifted out of the canal, As we had not got that many sandbags to seal the whole 70ft side of the boat, we tied another joey boat alongside the sunken one. Then we put in 10 electric and petrol powerd pumps to start pumping the boat out. 3 hours later we realised that this would not work as there was STILL to much water coming back into the boat ! So a Plan "B" was needed.

So, 7th Febuary (Above) Howard Worth and myself borrowed around 70 empty sandbags off Canal & River Trust, We went to (Dudley Mix Concrete) To fill all the bags with sand, then ,using my old 1960 Morris Commercial truck we transported them to the Black Country Living Museum, the photo above is us unloading the bags into the good joey boat.

During the 8th Febuary (Above) we started laying the sandbags along the gunwalls of the sunken boat which was about 6" below the waterline. It was taking a row of 4 bags to get them above the waterline. We were doing well until a gust of wind put that many waves on the canal it pushed the lot in !  So plan "C" came into play.

We used the hand crane to lower some 10ft long railway lines between the floating boat and the towpath, using the sandbags to pack the underneath of the steel lines to stop them from slipping. We then put the pumps in the canal to start filling the good joey boat with water to sink it down about 90%.  We then chained up between the railway lines and the sunken boat (Left photo)

The Idea of doing this operation is to try and LIFT the gunwall just out of the surface of the water line......  This was job was now running into Sunday 9th February when we actually started this operation of lifting this boat,  SO we started pumping out the good joey boat with our two electric pumps so bringing the boat up out of the water, the chains tightend up and it started to lift the gunwall of the sunken joay boat. We then put the pumps in the sunken boat and started pumping out with 5 pumps to compinsate any leaks that we don't know about. (Right Photo)

We pumped the boat out for around two hours as it started to float. (Photo Below)

All we had to do is find the holes that caused the problem in the first place and seal them up !

2 hours Later the Joey boat was floating again............Now that's Magic !

During November/December 2013 I started modifying my Dodgem Car running gear.

I bought an electric wheelchair on ebay......Then stripped out the rear driving axle plus all the electrics and joy stick assembly.

I proceeded to fit the rear axle into the chassis of the dodgem car with working suspention. (See Whittaker page for more details)

I then fitted some large castors to the front suspention arms to steer the car !

Yes....you don't need a steering wheel now !

Everything should just work off the joystick.

During January/February/March 2014 I've started stripping all the cracked up paintwork off the fiberglass body rubbing it all down to the gell coat. Plus filling in all the cracks and holes I've found with some flexible body filler. I've just been using a sander to do this job of fetching the paintwork off and rubbing down of the filler, this has taken some time to get right ready for the two pack primer and paint that will be going on the car soon.

So after getting the body ready, two coats of primer was applied, That found a few faults which was cured, then two coats of Two-Pack White Gloss was applied. Spending a few hours rubbing all the red parts down with 1200 paper then started to mask up the white parts. Two coats of Two-Pack Red was applied, and two coats of laquer to finish the job off, then left to dry and harden off. I've started cleaning up and fitting all the metal work back on the body now.

March 29th 2014. Bittell towing Flying Scott into Birmingham (Photo Keith Hodgkins)

On Saturday 29th March, Nine crew took Bittell and Flying Scott into Birmingham.

We started out from Parkhead at 10am arriving at Farmers Bridge top lock 1.15pm. Because the boats are 40ft long each we can't get them both in the same lock ( locks are 72ft long) So having split the boats up we took the tug down first, the crew setting the locks behind them to make it easier for the joey boat to be pulled on the rope down the 24 locks, onto the Birmingham and Fazley Canal. We moored the boats up at Cuckoo Wharf at 4.45pm. Weather was nice/sunny and dry at 17 deg c. This is to put the boats in the right place ready for the BCN clean- up the following weekend.

April 5th/6th 2014. B.C.N. Clean up. Working on the Grand Union Canal in Birmingham. (Photo Martin Attewell)

This years BCN Clean-Up was in Birmingham. Organised by Inland Waterways (Midland Branch), Waterways Recovery Goup, Canal & River Trust, Birmingham Canal Navigation Society and Dudley Canal Trust.

Around 80 Volunteers turned up to experiance a dirty weekend away in Birmingham ! This year we are concentrating our efforts at the back end of Birmingham around the Saltley and Bordley areas.  

The Volunteers came from all corners of England and Wales just to pull out rubbish from this canal. They were all camping out at The Phoenix Center at Phoenix Wharf at Bordsley. Food/drinks and entertainment was all supplied.

After signing on the Volunteers were given work gloves and a long rope with a grapple on the end, then dropped off at the locks to see what they can fish out and pile up on the towpath, then the boats come along to collect the rubbish off the towpath.

Bittell and the Flying Scott Joey boat started empty at the bottom of Garrison Locks With 8 DCT Volunteers on board they loaded the boat up five locks later we had got this much on, boat was around 80% full.

The BCNS were coming down Ashted Locks with their boats "Phoenix and Crow", again collecting rubbish on the way. both boats met up at Bordsley Junction at 2pm

We started assending Camp Hill locks first with the Joey boat, I held back with Bittell so that Phoenix could start getting up the locks first, then we took Bittell up, there are five locks going up hill. All the time we had Volunteers around us picking scrap out of the bottom of the locks and chucking it in the boat. Nice to see Dean Davies from C&RT who is the Manager for this area getting mucked in with all of us to get the job done. By 5pm we had reached our destination for today at the top lock, this is where the old Fellows and Morton Yard was.....and still is ! We pulled the boats around the corner to the unloading bay where Barry from C&RT unloaded the Flying Scott Joey boat into the very large waiting skips. 

Sunday.......Volunteers walk the towpath in search of more rubbish ! (Martin Attewell photo)

Sunday 6th April soon came around, After doing all those locks yesterday (which was planned to get done over the two days) it was decided to takle the 10 mile pound from the top lock at Camp Hill towards Solihull (we hoped to get a better class of rubbish out of this canal !) Wrong ! it was the same S....t !!

On the right we found a complete toilet pan and tank still bolted together, Wayne decided it was time to try out the toilet in full view of everybody.

Yes, it was the same old rubbish found, Supermarket Trollys, Tyres, bikes and motorbikes, fence panels, gates, wire, you name it we found it !

Richard Parry (Chief Exceitive from C&RT) came down the towpath to help out. We needed an extra pair of hands for loading up so Richard mucked in to help us , we made him a cup of tea later on. We only went around two miles up the canal before the Flying Scott was full.

Flying Scott, Joey boat....... FULLY LOADED...... Heading back to the skips to get unloaded.

19th April (Easter Weekend) Morris at Stoke Prior Vintage show.

I took the Morris out for the first time this year to a new venue at Stoke Prior Sprots Club next to the Boat and Railway Pub alongside the Worcester / Birmingham Canal organised by Shakespeare Promotions.The Weather was dry but clowdy with a wind that went straight through you. It finally warmed up at about 3pm. A nice small show to go to. I was parked next to the Morris Commercial that was with me at the N.E.C. Classic Car show back in November 2012. Amonge the line up of Commercials was a nice 1941 International Lorry.

20th April Bank Holiday Monday (Easter) Wings and Wheels at Halfpenny green Airport.

Easter Bank Holiday Monday I took my Morris truck to the Wings and Wheels event at Halfpenny Green Airport, It was a nice sunny day which made the day for everybody who turned up. Plenty of vintage and classic vehicles plus a few vintage Aircraft. TOP PHOTO.... Was a V12 Rolls Royce Merlin engine that was fired up, A lovely noise came from the open exhaust pipes. ABOVE RIGHT.... A WW2 American Submarine fighter plane with its engine running about to take off.

1st May. Kay Townsend launches her new book on the History of Dodgem Cars.

Kay Townsend is taking orders for her new book at £15 with Free Postage and packing (For U.K Only).

Anybody who want's to order this fine book on Dodgems can contact Kay on

kay58@fsmail.net  or  phone  01305 778693.


This Book give a complete History on the Dodgem Car as we all know it from the late 1800's where it was invented in America then soon to come over to England where many Manafactures made the Dodgem car and tracks alike. My Dodgem Car also apperers in the book along with my 1935 Speedway Supercar.

1st May 2014. "AMP" Sink's ! 48 hours before the Tug Gathering ?

I had a call at 5pm on Wednesday 30th April saying we might have to cancel the Tug Gathering because of a sunken 50ft joey boat up the canal arm of the Museum. This was a great Birthday present I thought ! (Not) !! So, having gone back to Lye to collect all my equipment for lifting boats I went directly to the BCLM on the same night just to drop off all the tools to do the job the following day.

The boat was to far away for the crane to reach with the railway lines, so I thought I would try another way. Lucky the Gunwalls had only just gone underwater by an inch on the one side of the boat, using my 5 ton puller block I chained up both boats on the cross beams as tight and as short as I could, then started lifting, okay the good floating boat was going down to start with but eventually the sunken boat was starting to lift slightly, enough to get the gunwalls on the surface of the water, we then put in as many pumps we could find and kept our fingers crossed, within minuits you could see a difference in the water levels, so after about one hour it poped up and all was better again.  I then recitifed the problem that caused it to sink in the first place.

2nd May, Tugs start to Gather.....This Tug built in 1935 is called "TYCHO" Note the very large Ice breaking blade on the bow, also good for doing Bank Job's ! Photo Martin Attewell.

3rd/4th/5th May 2014 saw our 5th Biaunual Tug Gathering at the Black Country Living Museum. This year I had 16 tugs promised but having three drop out we were down to 13. The right photo shows the busy scene we have created outside the Rolling Mills with Tugs continualy towing the joey or Day boats in and out of the Museum over the three days. This year the weather over the weekend was great with 17 deg c tempretures and plenty of Sun made it a brilliant weekend. 

During the weekend  we were presented with a special cake that was made by Mary Wilde. It was tug shaped.....This was to cellibrate Bittell and Pacific's 80th Joint Birthday's Left photo of John Pattle and myself cutting the cake. The real birthday bash happend in the Bottle and Glass Museum pub during the Saturday nights celebrations.

During the weekend we had several vintage commercials come and go. My Morris Commercial was pressed into Action firstly by collecting Bernard Hales Wooden Rudders for his Joey Boats. Right Photo of Derek Harrison using the ex-Jones and Atterwoods Hand Crane to uload the rudders off the back of my truck and onto the rear pivots of the waiting joey boat. Later my Morris collected a load of wooden packing cases which again were unloaded by the crane and into another joay boat, then using Bittell to tow to fully laden boat out of the Museum, this was repeated several times during the weekend as a demonstration of how thing's use to be.

Photo by Canalscene.com  Bittell towing GWR 15 backwards around the tight bend on Lord Wards Canal Arm.

Over the three day weekend the BCLM ran a small competition among the 13 tugs. With tug owners Judgeing evrybody's else's tug for overhall condition of their tug with mark's out of ten for best looking Paintwork, Engine room, Overhall Condition, and how the crew are dressed in their 1930's period clothing , a Winner was declared......First Place of £50 plus a trophy went to TARDEBIGGE.....2nd Prize of £30 and a trophy went to ATLANTIC...................3rd Prize of £20 and a trohpy went to SHARPNESS.

Right Photo is of Bernard Stone with his 1st place trophy collected on behalf of Michael Williams who owns Tardebigge.

Saturday May 10th. Our first Workparty at Parkhead.

Saturday 10th May we had our first WorkParty of the year in an effort to start tidying up around Parkhead Locks ready for the Festival in September.

Today we had the job of cutting back trees and bushes along the offside of the canal along the Dudley Number 2 Canal. This is an important job to do because in previouse Festivals when we have boats moored along the towpath, other boats find it difficult  to get by. Six Volunteers turned out to help.

Saturday 17th May. Titford Pumphouse Summer Boat Rally..............

Over the 17th/18th May BCNS Organised their Summer Boat Rally at Titford Pumphouse in Oldbury. On Thursday 15th May we took the tug Bittle from Parkhead in Dudley via Netherton Tunnel, climbing up 9 locks to get to it's mooring outside Titford Pumphouse in 3 hours. Around 65 boats were entered here, with plenty of sunshine around and 23 deg heat made it a sucsessfull event. I also took my Morris truck and parked it next to the Top Lock of a flight of six.

At 2pm engines were started and a convoy of around 20 boats cut their way up to the pools, this level on the BCN is the highest water on the canal system, Titford pools are a resavior that feeds the system.

Boats in Titford Pools....A very rare sight, next to the M5 Motorway !.

A very unusual P4 Rover at Bidford-On-Avon Steam Rally on Sunday 18th May.

Sunday 18th May, I took my Morris Truck to Bidford - on - Avon Steam Rally.

As soon as I got off the road approaching the main gate I was acosted by a photographer who wanted a posed photo of the Morris by the River Avon !

A lovely nice sunny hot day with a breeze made it very plesent all day. After a good walk around the trade and autojumble stalls it was time to take the Morris in the main arena, around 12 Commercial Trucks came in and drove around before lining up to be interviewed. I got a 2nd place rossett.

The Car in the top photo is a very unusal and very rare 1958 P4 Factory Modified Rover, I belive they only built two of them ever !

TO BE CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE..........................................