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Pipeline – it works!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Quite a day of lots of different things, Rob helped us today and at first it was a bit of adjustment for him to fit into the well oiled team. Ellie and I are of course so used to working together that we don’t need to say what needs to be done, we just know.

We started at the old nursery and first we rolled out another coil of pipe and took it down our path and connected it to the 40mm pipe, pleasantly surprised it took us to above the Riverwalk path. Ellie then walked with Rob along the pipe to Gibson’s gulch to show him how we had crossed the river while I drove around to check why we did not have water the last time and I discovered that the main valve had been turned off, the question remained, why?

I turned it back on and joined the other two who had been wondering what took me so long and turned our attention to reaming the metal pipes and put them in position.



Rob shoving the home made reamer up the pipe to remove the rust and mud whilst water flows in the other side. I’m very proud that my invention works so well.

We then carried the pipe sections across the gully and put them in position.












The crossing of Gibson’s Gulch, we secured the pipe with rocks, needs a few more though.

We then fed the mdpe pipe through all the way past the fence and connected it to the section going down. As it was getting close to lunchtime we decided to connect the other side to the running water temporarily to see if the water would make it to the other side so while Rob kindly dragged the left over pipe all the way back along the route to the old nursery we drove around again with baited breath and we were delighted to find the water running strongly along the Riverwalk path. Success at last!

After lunch with Jenny we returned to Gibson’s gulch to cut and ream a few more lengths of metal pipes while Rob stayed behind to help Jenny in the nursery, after all, the nursery makes the money which allows us to play with pipes, and then switched off our stopcock.


Ellie then walked across the field and the railway line towards the main valve to check for wet patches while I drove around again to the main valve and as I arrived there happened to stand some locals there. I asked them if they had spotted some leaks and one of them showed me a big puddle along the fence. This of course means more work for us.

We closed the valve, back to the old nursery and fixed a piece of pipe across the Riverwalk path and managed to get the pipe as far as the firebreak behind the nursery.

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Pity the pieces of pipe we had left were too short to make it all the way into the nursery, perhaps just as well as this bit of pipe seems to be rather clogged with soil and besides, some sundowner coffee in the middle of the Reserve was a much better option.

Pipeline – the crossing

Friday, 26 March 2011

No blogs from the previous two trips, the first one by Ellie and I to make a path from Gibson’s Gulch to the river crossing, not quite your average garden job but we managed and then another one by Neil to wield his chainsaw to cut the offending pine tree down.

We were all getting a bit dejected now with the enormity of the job, especially with the problem of crossing the river, and it was good to share our feelings and to encourage one another. We are determined to have water at the old nursery by Easter but still keep it fun and enjoyable.

The solution to the river crossing was to use the bluegum trees as support and suspend the pipe on a thick wire but first we needed to clear the old pipeline track, again lots of gardening.


Here’s the before and after:

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We started at eight and by lunchtime we had a track down to the river, while we were having lunch Neil arrived with all the goodies, wire, staples, cable ties and all the tools. Down to the river we went and let the pictures tell the story:


Tying the wire to the tree and the pipe to the wire


Crossing the divide, notice the bad erosion caused by the trees


Winding our way through the forest


Quite a lot of debris

We used the 40mm pipe for the crossing because it is stronger and will take the most pressure. It would have been nice to turn the water on but unfortunately there is still the gap between Gibson’s Gulch and the second fence.

After Neil went home we still went there to try the reamer I had made to clear the metal pipes, we had struggled to push the MDPE through because of the buildup of muck and it worked like a dream. Unfortunately the water stopped flowing, a bit of a worrying mystery but we ran out of time to investigate.

Pipeline – connection Take Two

Sunday, 19 March 2011

Last time when we opened the valve we noticed water oozing out of the soil on the road which of course indicated a further leak so we needed to move the main connection to the other side of the road.IMG_7253

I had dug a trench there already the previous outing and had not been able to locate the pipe but when we arrived today Neil had already found it by digging a little further and we helped getting the connection ready.

A nice anecdote: the saw I am using was given to me by Ellie’s uncle in Springbok in 1973. He used it to trim asbestos sheeting when he built churches there. At last I had a use for it.


In the meantime Neil dismantled the pieces on the other side of the road and we shoved the MDPE pipe through.









It all got nicely assembled using sticky tape and brute force and then we moved our attention further down the line to the manhole by the quarry where Neil connected the pipe we had laid previously, ably assisted by Sue, and we started extending the metal pipe and clearing bush to prepare for the crossing of what we now call “Gibson’s Gulch”



Of course we had to turn the water on again just to get the satisfaction of seeing the result of the progress we had made. We will use the metal pipe for as far as we can to protect the MDPE pipe and then a combination of digging in and stones to prevent damage from the inevitable fire.

Pipeline – the pine tree

Wednesday, 03 March 2011

The mission today was to get the pipe to the manhole at the quarry. We got stuck last time at the pine tree and no matter what we tried we could not get the 32mm pipe through.





We still wanted to have something to show for our effort and left the tree for what it was and carried on with the other side, we carefully measured out the 100m distance, found and dug up the pipe and then pushed the pipe through with all our might (no blockages this time, wow) only to find that we had measured 1 meter short which meant a bit more digging and led another pipe the remaining distance to the manhole.




We finished quite early so it was time for lunch and a deserved rest:


Time to tackle this tree again, if you can’t beat it go around was the motto, a combination of pick, small trowel and billy got us this:


Turned the tap on and sweet, fast flowing water by the manhole, another successful day.

Pipeline – connected

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Today a big push, pardon the pun, to get the pipe through to the end of the servitude and to get it connected to the old asbestos pipe by the track. Neil had organized all the connections, unfortunately he had made the connection for a 32mm pipe and we had used a 40mm pipe for the first section. No worry, we decided to rather use the stronger 40mm section later to get across the valley so we pulled the 40mm out and replaced it with a length of 32mm HDPE pipe.



We are tired of having to drive to the main valve all the time when we want to quickly turn the water on or off so we incorporated a stopcock which comes in rather handy.


The first half of the servitude was rather easy compared to the second one. There the route veered off onto the land which apparently had been cultivated before and the old pipe had been ploughed through in quite a few places. This of course meant having to dig it up and route the new pipe into the next section.

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In spite of that we got to the end of the servitude where the pipe went right underneath a large pine tree and we didn’t manage to get the new pipe through. We did however get through with our poking stick and Neil was optimistic enough to go check by the quarry if water flowed through and amazingly enough it did.


Cause for celebration…


Pipeline – the first pipe

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Chip off the old block, so when our son, Nick, was visiting us from Cape Town he wanted to see what we were busy with and he duly got roped in. We had decided that the old asbestos pipe was broken and leaking in too many places to be reliable so we had gotten some polyethylene pipe to replace it. Against the advice of some people who of course are nowhere to be seen when the actual digging needs to be done we shove the new pipe through the old pipe so it is well protected against fire without having to do too much digging.

We collected the pipe and managed to do the first length.

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The roll of wire has nothing to do with us, it was used to make camps for the cattle when the farm was still operative.

Pipeline – the servitude

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Our attention is now shifting to tracing the old asbestos pipe on Mr, Gibson’s property to see if it is at all useable. Our marker is the pine tree at the end of what seems to be an old track and what could be a servitude for the pipe.


To the left of Ellie you see a clump of trees on top of the far hill, that is our destination, you can see it is a far way to go, better not to think of it too much and eat it like an elephant, one bite at the time. Here we look the other way at the servitude and the only way to find the pipe is to dig across it until we find the pipe.


We start at a likely looking place and it doesn’t take too before we hit paydirt, the pipe is broken though and I do a makeshift repair with some black roofing material.


We are curious and drive around again to open the main valve, drive back and yep….


So far so good.

Pipeline – the hidden manhole

Monday, 21 February 2011

We were determined to solve the mystery of the blockage so when we told Neil that we were going out on Monday he suddenly developed a strange illness for which the only cure was a day spent in the open air digging for pipes and he joined us.

The only possibility for the blockage was in the five meters between the manhole and the side of the road and we decided to dig a trench starting at the manhole until we found something. No sooner had I started to swing the pick and I hit metal and great was our surprise that next to our manhole was another one which nobody knew about and had been covered with soil. We frantically uncovered it and there was the cause of our problem, another valve!



Neil got out his bobbejaan and tried to turn the valve which probably hadn’t been turned for more than twenty years. At first it did not want to budge but then we figured that the “L” on the valve meant left-hand thread and we managed to slowly turn it and the gurgling sound from the tiny hole by the air release valve was music to our ears and soon we had another fountain!


After the excitement had died down we fixed the inspection hole, put the covers back on and made our way around to Gibson’s property eagerly expecting water to come out of the pipe by the quarry. No such luck so we walked along the route where we thought the pipe might run and lo and behold, close to the farm road we discovered a marshy patch, opened it up and there was our strong flow of precious water.


Success at last!

Pipeline – search for water

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The previous Wednesday we had gone out to assist with the tracking down of the main connection of “our” water pipe to the main supply which runs along the Ladyslipper dirt road. The people of the municipality with Deon in charge, had located this a few weeks beforehand and now was the time to open the stopcock and get the water flowing.

Alas, no water flowed, so very carefully in order not to break the badly corroded connection into the cast iron pipe they loosened various connections and found that the main culprit was a 2 cent piece which had been inserted into the pipe at the water meter. Someone had made really sure that no water was going to flow to the Reserve. Even so, when we opened the manhole with the air release valve at the other side of the road there was still no evidence of water but now it was our problem, the municipality had done their bit.

During my customary creative time at two in the morning I had the brilliant idea to drill tiny holes in the pipe and determine where the blockage was so today’s job was to do just that.

Neil, Ellie and I gathered and I duly drilled a hole by the valve and….absolutely nothing.


You can see the state of the pipes and the corrosion quite clearly.



We then decided to dig just beyond where the municipality had dug to check the connection to the pipe under the road and make sure we had water there, no problem there.

Ellie made sure Neil was motivated to work hard.






We didn’t really want to but there was no option but to dig on the other side of the road and check there. It was hard going as the soil was compacted and very rocky. We managed though and the result was clear to see.


Well, maybe not that clear, you can spot the fountain between Neil’s legs though. I then tapped thread in the hole and inserted a 5mm screw to block it, that seemed to work well. Still no water at the manhole a few meters away, pity time was up and besides, we were pretty tired as it was very hot.

Pipeline exploration

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Today we had a Friends of Van Stadens meeting. We worked in the nursery and afterwards a select group went out to see if we could find the old waterpipe which used to supply Van Stadens with untreated water from the lower Van Stadens dam. This pipe has not been used for over forty years so you can imagine it will be a bit of a puzzle to find the route.

With the help of the local municipal plumber we had found the location of the connection to the main pipe and it was decided to dig that up at a later date and turn on the tap but today we wanted to see if we could find the remnants of the pipe on Stuart Gibson’s property.


Here Mr Gibson is showing us the location of a manhole about halfway between the main supply and the Reserve. From here two 2” metal pipe lead some way down the slope and then end.


At least it is a start, it will take some sleuthing though to trace the rest of the pipe in this kind of terrain.


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