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Pipeline – the N2

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Teamwork today, Neil, Rob, Jenny and us. We hoped to give it a good go today and we did, even though some of us didn’t see it that way. It is just such a lot of work that sometimes it is discouraging to see how little one can achieve in a day.

Rob carried on burying the pipe, this time on the slope going up from the suspended part towards the River Walk, Neil did the joints in the Nursery, Jenny bought cake as summoned and we dug some more to try and follow the old pipe under the road and gave up in the end and decided to lay new pipe from thereon.

We discovered that where the smaller pipe inside the old pipe at the beginning was 32mm but at the end was only one inch so somewhere in the middle there had to be a join. It took us some time to find it using the time honoured principle of binary search and then replaced the one inch with new 32mm pipe. We wanted to do the same further on but, even though at both sides the inner pipe was one inch it wouldn’t budge, indicating there must be another join somewhere. This would also be time consuming and more suitable for a more patient approach so Ellie and I will do that on one of our weekly outings, instead we wanted to get a pipe underneath the N2.


The crew is dragging a 100m pipe length to the fence alongside the N2.






I tried to push the pipe through the culvert underneath the road but it got stuck so there was no alternative but to crawl the entire 50m through the narrow pipe, not a job for a claustrophobic person. This is what I looked like after:



A bit muddy, fortunately I had brought clean clothes.



After all this we wanted to see water flowing so I drove around to open the stopcock while the others connected as much pipe as they could, pity we didn’t have enough to get to the N2 but alas, no water coming out. Jenny and Neil had to leave so it was up to Rob and us to find the problem.

Walking back along the pipe (again) Rob showed us where a porcupine had gnawed on the pipe so it is quite clear we need to cover the pipe asap and we found that the water reached only halfway up the slope. I guessed it could be an airlock and by opening a join on the opposite side released the air and the water started flowing. Looks like we need an air release valve somewhere.

We also found that one of the joins on Gibson’s property was leaking badly, by trying to fix it we got totally soaked and had to close our valve first, it is impossible to work against the water pressure.

Plenty to do next time.

Pipeline – were they drunk?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Did the pipe really go underneath the road, that was the question which needed to be answered today so as soon as we arrived we extended the last hole we dug and found that instead of disappearing underneath the tarmac the pipe made a sharp turn back again.


We felt like moles digging from there on at very short intervals, the only way because the pipe meandered so much we were wondering if the people laying the pipe originally were drunk. Even though it was quite windy conditions were perfect to work in and we made good progress until we reached the part where the road starts rising towards the flyover and the pipe once again threatened to go underneath the road.


We decided that was enough for the day and it was time to rather enjoy the reserve so first some leisure time….


…. and then a stroll along the pipe to see what Rob had been up to. Very impressive indeed, pipe covered all the way to where it goes airborne. With the recent rains the plants which we trimmed to make our path are already shooting out so it won’t be long and you will hardly notice there is a pipe at all, just like we want it.

Pipeline – dig-dig-dig

Friday, 08 April 2011

First plan of action today was to connect the water to the two-inch pipe we discovered at the old nursery and we were very pleased when we arrived at the reserve to see Rob already there. After a brief chat he disappeared to work at digging the pipe in between the fences on Gibson’s property on what we now call “our path” whilst we used my heath-robinson connector made from an old glue container to connect the pipes.


We also put in a stopcock be able to switch off the water at the old nursery because driving around to open and close the far stopcock is getting a bit tiresome and also time consuming.

After having done just that and disturbed the fieldmouse who has made a nest in our manhole on the servitude we walked the suspected route looking for soggy patches but no luck so the digging at regular intervals to follow the existing pipe was in order.


At least Ellie seems to be enjoying herself, appreciating to be able to be out here in these wonderful surroundings with wonderful company, lol. Looking at this you can see the terrain is quite daunting.


The crew which laid the original pipe must have been drunk, our marker poles were never in a straight line, even so we were puzzled, frustrated and tired when by lunchtime the pipe seemed to disappear under the road and we could not find where it continued so we decided to go and pay Rob a visit.

IMG_7467We thought we had worked hard but he put us to shame when we saw how far he had already covered the pipe, nearly to where the fallen trees blocked the path. Rob said the wrong thing in that he didn’t think we could cut the trees with his small handsaw so of course I had to prove him wrong and cleared the path in a jiffy.

It was lunchtime and also time for Neil to arrive so we walked back to the Xhosa huts and had a good lunch with hotdogs and caramel cake.

Neil had brought more pipe so the the piece we had shoved through the metal pipe last time and was just too short was duly replaced but when we connected again there was no water. This mystery was solved when we drove back to the main stopcock and found that last weeks connection had become undone, proof that it really needed that missing clamp.

All sorted, return to old nursery, connect to old pipe and drill a pilot hole near the start of the river walk, yippee.

We made the connection at the far side of the old driveway and we had to dig quite a trench to bury the pipe there, major earthworks (for us at least)


We were a bit disappointed that we had not gotten as far as we had hoped but on sober reflection and after a well deserved cup of coffee with the sun setting behind the mountains we could justifiable be proud of what was achieved today.


If you consider where we have come from and where we have running water now (blue) it will not be too long before we have to catch a rat to take the pipe underneath the freeway for us and do the last bit to our destination.

Pipeline – target reached

Sunday,03 April 2011

For our monthly meeting we had the pleasure of inviting Adrian Odgers to come and share his vast knowledge of plants with us and, what is usually just a short walk from the conference centre to the rockery and back, we took over an hour to cover this distance hearing interesting information about almost every plant on our route.

Here Adrian is pointing out the pollination process of cycads:


and we are listening intently:


We carried on the conversation during tea and coffee and eats in the conference centre and then turned our attention to the pipeline. Neil had as usual organized all the parts to fix the leak and while Ellie and I rolled out the new pipe he and Mark went out to the site of the leak and installed the connections.

IMG_7436Jenny, Christy and Rob in the meantime collected rocks and secured the pipeline on Gibson’s property.

It didn’t take long to thread the pipe through and connect and then we turned our attention to cover the remaining section of the pipe near Gibson’s gully with metal pipe, so much easier with some more muscle power to help us, and in next to no time we could join the pipes and, apart from filling in all the holes we have dug and protecting the pipe a little more the job is done on Gibson’s land.




With the water turned on again we were keen to see the water flowing on the other side inside the Reserve so we drove around again to the old nursery. Mark and Neil were disappointed not to see any water flowing out of the pipe until I reassured them that there was still a connection missing but after we fixed that we had a good flow going. Of course that encouraged us to try and get a pipe through all the way to the end of the metal pipe. I knew it was filled with soil near the end but with the water flowing we managed to wash it out and viola!


Pity the piece of plastic pipe was not long enough to go the whole distance, that is why it is not flowing strongly, that will be sorted out next time.



After a very pleasant lunch some of us stayed behind to reconnoitre the next hurdle and solve the mystery of the existing pipe from the old nursery to the N2 and, by digging holes at regular intervals, managed to establish without doubt that it indeed runs in that direction.

Pipeline – mudwrestling

Friday, 01 April 2011

Popped out to find the leak we discovered a few days ago and see what we needed to fix it. It rained quite a lot yesterday and, combined with the leakage, made for quite muddy soil. We duly asked permission from the ‘madala’ who lives on the plot, he looks a hundred years old and did the usual digging across the wet patch, uncovering all sorts of paraphernalia, including an old jacket, wire, glass and plastic. We have developed a sixth sense for pipes though as we found it in no time but it was intact at that spot.

I then turned the valve back on to see which way we needed to dig and it was quite obviously towards the road and soon we discovered the site of a previous repair gone bad. It had been fixed with a piece of pvc pipe and was leaking badly at the joint and on top of it it also had a bad kink so we presume fixing it will also increase the flow.

As we were debating how to fix it one of the local youngsters arrived and he pointed out it was not the only leak and showed us another wet spot further on so we decided the best option is to shove our 32mm mdpe pipe through the asbesos pipe along the entire length and be done with it. Neil will get the jointing materials tomorrow and hopefully we can tackle the job on Sunday after the official outing.

It was just too muddy and dirty to take pictures, we were not too dirty though to pop in at Falcon Rock for a deserved  refreshment.


Nice place to chill on a Friday afternoon, fortunately for us the waiter had removed the evidence just before the picture was taken: