January 2017 onwards....................
I entered the Inland Waterways Photo Competition last year and my photo of Parkhead Locks found it's way onto the front cover of the 2017 calender
12/1/17. Sagitta in the dry dock at Stourbridge being worked on.
After getting both Bittell and Sagitta down the 25 locks from Dudley down to Stourbridge which we did the day after Boxing Day, Bittell was dropped off at Dadfords Shed Boat Yard for Ian Kemp to have craned out soon so that the old hul be cut off and a new 8 mm hull to be rivited on which is expected to take around 3months to complte.
Sagitta is now in dry dock having all the stearn gear replaced with new parts plus a strip down and a repaint.
During January I'm getting the body ready for spraying on my Chevy Truck, having lifted the rear truck deck off the chassis so the rear panal can be sprayed on the cab. I unbolted the rear wings so I could work on them better plus do the nessasary repairs. The cab and chasis is now ready to be sprayed now, I'm just finishing off sanding down the rest of the smaller parts.
January 15th After repairing and rubbing down the smaller parts I found a nice sunny day to clean down the rear part of the chassis to give it a good coat of hammerite black paint, I'm now waitiing for my painter to be able to fit the truck in to his busy schedual, it looks like it could be January 30th before he can undercoat and top coat it !
It give's me chance to get the rest of the bit's done and ready.
January 25th. Bittell on the bank at Dadfords Shed, note some of the bottom plates have now been removed.
On Wednesday 18th January Ian Kemp craned out Bittell onto his yard at Dadfords shed in Wordsley, Stourbridge. Whilst the crane was there Ian removed the steel pigion box on the roof to lift the engine and gearbox out off it's engine beds. Then later he removed the 2 wooden bunks which were fixed in the front cabin of the boat, plus the stove had to come out as well so he could get at all the rivets to grind off the heads so to punch them out, then he dropped the bottom plates on the floor, moving them later with the forklift truck. I went around to the yard 7 days later to look at the boat and take some photos. Having a close look at the rest of the hull.
Photo on the right shows the veiw from the front door looking back through the boat, all you can see are the frame rails which will have to be shot blasted and painted before the new bottom plates
are riveted back on.
Monday 30th Jaunuary I drove the Chevy around to Alan's place in Bromley Street Lye for him to be able to spray the cab area in "two-pack" paint.
Alan started preping the truck on the Tuesday by appling a coat of primer then afer a light flat down two coats of Satin Black was sprayed on. On Wednedsay I took the stencil around to him so that he could affix that to the door so that could be sprayed on in white, then it had two coats of satin lacquer over the lot to seal the paintwork up.
4th February, I took the race car around to Dudley Collage foran open day there.
They all gather around to watch me unload the car into their workshop.
I was well impressed with all the equipment they had there plus it was nice a warm in there.
After unloading the race car I had different groups of students come around to me to give them a short talk on the race car, giving them a chance to sit in the car if they wish to, later on I jacked up the rear of the car for safety reasons and fired up for them inside their workshop, It really shook the place ! Above, Clive Dawe,who invited me along to this Open Day had a try in the drivers seat.
6th Feberuary, The truck just been sprayed in Satin Black.
7th Feburuary, After spending Monday collecting the truck from the spray shop and taking the rest of the rear body panels around there to be sprayed I carried on cleaning and painting other parts ready to be bolted back on the truck. I've also strarted putting some of the chromework back on the cab now. Note the Route 66 on the door. This has been sprayed on, the lettering is the satin black that is underneath the white.
18th February. Sagitta now all painted up in Grand Union Colours by Andy Downing from Stourbridge. We are just waiting for the black cloth's to be made now.
I've been spending the last few weeks putting part back on the bodywork. I bought in Hank Redfern to do some more wiring on the truck beforehand, Having fitted a new chrome bonnet strip and new headlights buckets/fittings etc plus new indicators lights, cleaning and painting everything up before being fitted back on.
Bittell's new hull, just tacked in, but looking better than last time.
Bittell is coming on, Ian has been busy having the new 8mm thick plates made up and formed to the right shape before drilling and bolting onto the hull of the tug, most of the hull is covered in the new plate
There's still lots of work to be done now, but it's a good move forward plus it's looking a lot better to see a new hull in her.
23rd February. I collected the rear body section on Tuesday from the spray booth with the Morris truck, this was the last of the body parts that have been painted now.
Wednesday was very wet so I diden't risk moving all the trucks out to be able to fit the body.
Thursday was not much better eathier when Storm "Doris" hit us with 70 mph winds and rain ! But with a little window in the weather I managed to get all the vehicles out so I could lift up the rear section on my block & tack then after getting the Morris out of the way I pushed the Chevy truck chassis under the body, carfully lowered it on the chassis and bolted it down firmley, By then it was Lunchtime, Hank Redfern arrived to do some more wiring in the cab area, I started cleaning up & fitting the rear lights, I also fitted the spare wheel on the new braket I made behind the cab (In the centre) I measured up to have 2 steel boxes made up eathier side of the spare wheel to keep stuff in.
It's coming together now, about 80% done.........................
Sunday 5th March, Essex Raceway American Auto Jumble
On Sunday March 5th Mick and myself drove down about 150 miles to Essex Raceway in the rain, leaving home at 6.30am getting to the Services next to the Raceway by 9am we had Breakfast, it stopped raining, so we shot around to queue up. I bought some new chrome running boards, new tailgate plus other new stuff for my 1953 Chevy truck, we got home at 5.15pm, A good day with about 5hrs round trip driving.
My friend Ernie posted over this Route 66 Flag from over the pond to me. note the new chrome running boards now fitted.
The folowing week I started fitting on the Chrome Running boards plus the new badges, later on I bought some Marine ply to make a rear deck and new black ribbed rubber to cover the deck (antislip)
Whilst down Essex I bought a set of Stainless deck strips with new stainless bolts to fix everything down, in the meantime I had two steel boxes made up to fit eaither side of the spare wheel to keep odds and sods inside, these boxes are bolted down.
Having got the truck on my ramp, I took all the wheels off it and undersealed all 4-wings with wax oil to protect the bodywork, plus undersealed the floor of the cab area, later I pained the underside of the chassis after cleaning it all down then pained the scruffy rear axle and exhaust. It's all looking a lot better under there now.
March 25th. We bought back Sagitta back up the 25 locks from Stourbridge to Parkhead, the new black cloths will be fitted in my lock for ease in a few weeks time.
Saturday 1st April, I took the two old trucks to the BCLM.
A group of Photographers came along to take photos of the trucks.
All these three photos were taken by Martin Attewell.
8th April, Stoke Prior Vintage Show
April 8th. After a busy week trying to get the Chevy ready for this little show, I fitted a new tailgate and painted it plus sprayed the lettering on after spending a lot of carefull time masking the letters up I also fitted some new Stainless steel eye bolts for tying things down, plus I bought a new black spare wheel cover and fitted some new chrome side lights on the roof. I also fitted a new blue carpet in the cab.
The truck is not quite finished yet, but it's usable taking it on a 20 mile run down to Stoke Prior for a small vintage show there gave me a chance to sort out any little problems since the re-build over the winter, whilst there I had a lot of interest in the truck with lots of people taking many photos of it. The weather was great Around 68f all day, I even got a bit sunburnt !
9th April, I popped along to see how the tug was coming along, looking nice.
April 8th, I went around to see Ian Kemp at Dadfords Wharf this afternoon,, Bittell is looking a lot better with it's new paint on the cabin, the hull is nearly finished apart from a few little jobs that need doing. But as the weather this week has been very nice and sunny Ian got on with the painting. I noticed that there was photos and an article put in this week's Black Country Bugle about the restoration of the tug
13th April. MOT Time for the Morris Commercial. Yes I have to get this Truck MOT'D Each year which comes under class 7
You might think that's it MOT Exempt but that only applies to light commecials up to 1st January 1960. this truck was built in April 1960 which it just 4-months the wrong side !
Anyhow it's no problem, it allways passes it's test, it's just the cost at £45 a time.
During this last week I sent away my bench seat to be re-covered, but I did have the broken frame back at one point to weld up the bottom framework on the drivers side where the springs had broken in three places which contributed to the framework snapping, This I put right and promptly took back to the upholsters, not wanting to hold up the job. In the meantime I made and fitted a new roof lining and fitting seat belts into the truck, the seat was deliverd to me on Thursday which I've now fitted into the truck now.
Good Friday 14th April we took Sagitta around to the Portal via Netherton Tunnel and the three locks at Factory.
During last week Garry from "Net's and Covers" came to fit the new black cloth cover to Sagitta's hold in my lock. I spent around 8 hours making up a new engine chimney stack that hinged over which is spring loaded to shut tight, but when coming to a low bridge you can easly plull the chimney over to stop it catching the inside of any low bridge.
16th April. Weston Park Classic car show. I won best American Vehicle there.
16th April. I took my Chevy truck to Weston Park, Wolverhampton where "Gemini Events" run this classic car show there. This is my first time here so it was all a bit strange to start with, after running the truck up the M6 and along the A5 to get to the event I was lined up with around 30 other American cars. I was the only truck in the line up. The weather was a very cold wind, then rain later on during the afternoon, but at 3.30pm I was awarded "BEST AMERICAN VEHICLE" and won this little award on the right. I was very suprised to win this as there were some very nice shiny American cars on show there.
When I do events I don't normally get judged but certain few events I attend I do get judged. In the passed I've won other awards for my Morris Truck. This has made all the work on the Chevy truck over this winter worth it now.
A 1953 Chevy truck been slammed (lowered) to the ground that was in the custom car section of the show.....it looked good thou with its V8 fitted.
Bittell looking better now, not quite finished, there is some finishing off jobs to be done including fitting the engine back in.
April 29th/30th & May 1st.....Tug Gathering at the Black Country Living Museum.
Over the May day Bank Holiday, I started sorting boats out on Friday 28th in advance ready to get the 11 booked in tugs that were visiting the Black Country Living Museum just for this weekend. Bittell was not quite ready for this event but 11 Tugs did make it....TUG 1, PACIFIC, TYPHOON,
ENTERPRISE No 1, TARDEBIGGE, ATLANTIC, NANSON, CAGGY, COVENTRY, GOVERNOR, JOANNA.
After a stettling down period some of the Tugs started towing trains of joey boats in and out of the Museums canal arm, this was going on for the three days of the event which made the canal village come alive with lots of activity happening all around the place.
Not having Bittell to hand I tried my hand at towing again using the Tug Coventry, pulling a joey boat backwards back up the canal arm and into it's mooring.
The weather was mixed with wind and rain showers, we had plenty of visitors around all weekend who enjoyed the spectical of boats doing something they are designed for.
Sunday April 30th. Halfpenny Green Airport, Wings and Wheels event.
Sunday 30th April I took the 1953 Chevy Step-side truck towing the 1940's Fiat Toppolino Race Car to this event, this was whilst the Tug Event was happening, I just left them to it for the day.
They had forcasted wind and rain showers, So I didnt want to take a chance of getting the race car wet I had aranged with Paul (the organiser) to put the race car in on of the Aircraft Hangers for the day.
This we did with no problem, over the week leading up to this show I spent 2 days just cleaning up the car then I made up 4 axle stands to get the car off the ground putting a checkered mat underneath to set it off.......well I thought it looked nice.
The poster on the left shows the race car on the bottom right. A good turn out of classic vehicles and visitors all day plus the apperance of 6 DALEKS and 2 Doctors around the car all day. The Chevy Truck went outside on the grass outside the Hanger.
Race Car on show inside Aircraft Hanger.
Daleks surrounded the race car.
Thursday 10th May We collected Bittell off Ian Kemp.
After an hour delay we got going up the 20 locks to get Bittell back home.
Having left at 10.30am we arrived at Parkhead at 2.30pm
I started work putting the wooden floor back in at 3pm fitting a working horn sorting out the wiring so that the headlamps could work, fitting the feders back, putting all the tools back in plus all the tea making equipment and mugs with freash water ready for this weekend.
Arial photo of Stewarts and Lloyds Tube Works in Halesowen taken in March 1960 which covered 26 acres.
May 12th/13th---5Oth Anniversary of the Shut down of Stewarts and Lloyds (1967 to 2017) Photo by Kevin Maslin. Tugs and Joey boats line up on the wall of what's left of the Tube Works Factory, they ALL used to work here at sometime.
Over the weekend of the 12th/13th May we cellibrated the 50th year shutdown of Stewarts and Lloyds Tube Works Factory at Coombeswood, Halesowen. This was in conjuntion with Coombeswood Canal Trust OPEN WEEKEND at Hawne Basin. I had 3 of the 5 original working tugs attend plus 2 joey boats that all used to work here at some point during it's history.
Tugs in attendance were....Tug 1...Tug 4 (Pacific)
Tug 5 (Bittell) Joey boat S&L No 37 and converted Joey boat No 22 (Squire). Having all battled down the Dudley Number 2 canal due to the water levels being 4" lower than normal made the trip to the event very difficult with boats getting stuck in bridge holes and one tug got stuck in Gorsty Hill Tunnel overnight, where the crew gave up tring to get through the silted up tunnel at 2 am.....they decided to go to bed with a bottle of whisky
Aparantly they did not need to draw the curtains in the tug that night !
Weather was good during both days and we had a good turn out of Ex-S&L Empolyees arrive to see the many archives we had on display.
I took my 1960 Morris truck to the event, as it would have been around those days when Stewarts and Lloyds were open.
Martin bought along his model of VESTA (Tug 3) Shame the real one was not there. the owner was having engine problems at the time ! The other boat missing was Argol (Tug 2) where this boat has just recently been sold on to new owners who could not get the boat to the event.
Tug 4 and 5 are reunited again at the Stewarts and Lloyds event.
The newly restored Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust's Bittell back were it belongs, back on the canal. (Photo by David Williams)
Thursday 18th May
Mike Skidmore and myself took Bittell to Titford Pumping Station, starting from Parkhead at 12.45pm via Dudley No 2 canal, Netherton Tunnel then onto the New Main Line turning up the Gower Branch and up the three locks at Brades, then a left turn onto the Old Main Line, turning sharp right to go up the six locks at Titford......this trip took 3 1/2 hours to do.
May 19th/20th. Tiford Pumping Station Summer Rally. Tug just warming up ready for the onslaught of getting up to Titford Pools which they all managed without too many problems.
Saturday 27th May. "Yanks" Weekend at Shakespeare County Raceway
I took the Altered to Shakespeare County Raceway on Saturday to give it a few runs weather permitting. As it turned out we did have a dry day (Just!) but with a strong tail wind. We ran the 2 vehicles side by side doing 4-runs during the day, the truck's best time was 16:83@77mph whilst the Altered best time was only 13:11@93mph !
Yes, I'm still getting problems with it. Well I did eventually learn something today, after trying diffrent adjustments on the carb I managed to prove that the Vacume Secondary Choke butterflies are NOT opening at all, so I've got a 4-Barrel Holley only working as a 2-Barrel with the engine holding back most of the run, hence it's slow times. But it was all good fun and a good day at Shaky...............