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Pipeline – mixed feelings

Thursday, 26 May 2011

After the miserable, cold, rainy day yesterday it was a pleasure to be out at Van Stadens this morning. We were suitably impressed with the furrow the guys dug for us, no messing about through the fynbos by the road and all the way to the end inside the nursery by the drums.

We retrieved another coil from the office, unrolled it and joined it, unfortunately all I had left was a T-piece so I made a temporary arrangement by the rockery, probably a bit too far to be a permanent fixture and laid it along the furrow.

EllieAction We were a bit worried that cars would drive over the pipe so all action Ellie decided to dig the pipe in for a bit and then we routed the pipe into the dam.

Now for the exciting bit, drove to the main valve, first inspected what, from now on, will be known as Neil’s turd (sorry Neil) where he had poured concrete and then turned the water on.



Back to the reserve, no water but we could hear it gurgling when we put our ear to the end of the pipe and luckily we just had put it down again when the water squirted out. Time to celebrate with some coffee and as we were sitting there Wesley drove past so we showed him the result of fovs efforts, very pleased with the strong flow.

After coffee I wanted to check the liters per minute but suddenly the strong flow had changed to intermittent with lots of air, we are not quite sure what caused it, perhaps we didn’t wait long enough for the air to clear along the whole length.


We were running out of time so we quickly drove to the old nursery to close the stopcock and then to the main valve again to check if the water meter was still running and unfortunately it was but ever so slowly. If this means that there is still a small leak somewhere or whether the pipe was still filling up with air escaping through the air release valve we don’t know, we will find out another day.

Pipeline – trench

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Public holiday today for the few workers among us because of election day. This meant that Neil could come out to give us a hand with the latest leak.

On arrival we found Rob already hard at work digging in the pipe along the big drainage furrow from the N2, he had just buried the joint we wanted to tighten, no problem though. We then got the keys of the Fovs room and got a roll of pipe and made a  connection from the N2 to the wetland. While doing that I had left the roof of the car open and we had a visitor:


Off we went to our latest problem, the leak by the “washing line” and dug a trench uncovering the old plastic pipe up to where it was joined to the asbestos pipe. We didn’t have a new join so while Ellie and Neil went to Deon on the off chance that he might have one I prepared the join and fashioned a wooden plug to check if the remainder of the pipe still had leaks.

It was only partially successful because the prop didn’t quite fit so there was still some leakage but the meter was running a lot slower than last time so we hope for the best.

Lunch was had by the potting shed where Rob had joined Jenny to bag the pile of aloes which had been recovered from a building site and afterwards we decided to continue digging the pipe in where it was exposed across the track by the flyover.


Luckily the soil was still moist after the recent rains so the digging in the compacted soil was not too bad and we made better progress than expected.


Afterwards Neil went home and as the weather had turned quite grim we decided to call it a day and went for a walk along the river walk to admire Rob’s latest impressive digging in, soon the whole slope up will be protected which means only the trench section will be left.

Getting there!

Pipeline – track and trace

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Today we wanted to map the whole line with the gps and combine that with connecting the missing bits, turn on the valve and check for leaks.

We were hoping that the Van Stadens staff had at least made a start with the furrow they promised to dig for us and had laid out last week with tape but no such luck.


We connected a short piece of pipe near the fence to bring the water at least inside the reserve, unfortunately it was too short so we just laid it inside the ditch. Then we walked as close to the line as possible and put in a waypoint for each and every join and feature, twenty five joins along the whole line. On the way we also put in a new piece where the porcupine holes were and connected the short, missing piece by the Gibson stopcock. Said hello to the local residents, Ellie pacified the dogs, turned the stopcock twenty turns and started walking back.

Almost immediately bad news as we heard a sucking noise near where Neil had patched the pipe previously, it looks like we’ll have to bite the bullet and take our first join even closer to the manhole. We decided though to keep the water running, carry out our inspection and found no leaks along the entire 2.6km stretch except by the culvert where we still have to tighten the join, got down to the road and what a pleasant surprise!


I was a bit disappointed with the pressure but on reflection it could be that the combination two leaks and only opening the valve halfway may have something to do with that. In any case, plenty supply for our purposes.

After coffee at the old nursery we drove around to switch the water off again and then continued our quest to finish things by filling in all the holes we had previously dug in the servitude to trace the old pipe. Got a bit carried away and at 14:30 realised that the reason we were running out of energy might be because we had forgotten about lunch!

After lunch we did some more filling in and collected more rocks to stabilize the pipe by Gibson’s gully.


Finally, on the way home, popped past Deon to report on progress and he was very impressed with the results so far.

All in all, a good day at the office.

Pipeline – a good day

Saturday, 07 May 2011

Yesterday a quick runout with Neil to reassemble the pesky join and, as we were advised by a plumber, cast the whole lot into concrete so it would be able to withstand the pressure for sure. While we did this Ellie did a quick run up and down Ladyslipper and came back enthusing over the wonderful fynbos up there.

Back to today’s meeting. Wesley popped in for a short while and it was great to see him well and fit again after his operation in Cape Town. First the changes to the constitution got approved and general matters arising attended to, we discussed the history and progress of the pipeline with Dave Raimer who gave us some good tips and then we ventured outside into the inclement weather to lay tape to indicate the pipeline route from the N2 to the new nursery for Goodman who has promised that his guys will dig a trench for us there.

I tried to convince the group that the weather was good enough to go and work but they were more interested in seeing the presentation about our overseas cycling trip last year so I had to fire up the projector and do my talk whilst enjoying coffee and cake. It was good though to talk to an interested audience.

Luckily there was a break in the drizzle just when the official proceedings were over so our dedicated group got stuck into unrolling two more lengths of pipe, connecting them back from the N2, then feeding it into the old pipe and lastly digging a section of trench to bypass the clogged pipe. Lunch was had in the shelter of the hut in the old nursery.

Everyone worked extremely hard and, after last weeks burnout story, it was a real team effort and we made very good progress. In fact we now have connected pipe all the way from source to the other side of the National Road. Now we start believing again there will be an end to this story one day.



The unrolled pipe and Rob going at it to dig the pipe in across the track.


Cutting the old pipe


  Having a rest and a view along the trench 


The ladies enjoyed playing in the sand.

And then, just when we were nearly finished, the heavens opened and in thirty seconds we were totally drenched, about 50mm fell in just a few hours, who said we needed water?

Pipeline – burnout

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Did the runaround yesterday to find high pressure glue for the the join and also had the bright idea to put a shackle around the thin pipe and try and pull it out with the car so we set off with high hopes to tie up a whole lot of loose ends today including rolling out a few more sections of pipe so by the end of the day we could see water flowing out of the pipe at the far end of the N2. As it turned out it was nothing but disappointments.

Rob had promised to help us and Neil had promised to bring the pipe, neither materialized.

We managed to get the shackle around the pipe:



and off I went, low range and bang, the pipe snapped and the shackle whizzed by the car at great speed, so lucky it missed the car, so we gave that up as a bad idea. We managed to gain another 12m though by cutting the pipe completely and pulling the thin one out.

We phoned Neil to find out if he was still coming and learned that he had not managed to get more pipe but would come out and fix the pinhole leaks by the shack so we decided it would be a good idea to replace the join so we could test again by checking the meter.

After a long delay we finally got to do that and same result as yesterday, apparently I had spread the glue too thin or the pressure too great and it was still leaking in the same place. took it off again, went back to Reserve to at least push the pipe through the 12m section but, because it was not washed out it got stuck.

So, after lots of running around, lots of frustration and motivation at an all time low we decided to high tail it home.

Pipeline – the old nursery

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I indicated previously that the number of unfinished jobs on the line was getting a bit out of hand so today we concentrated on finishing a few things and the old nursery was a good candidate. Ellie and I arrived quite early and we dug the first section of pipe in and used the rocks we dug out to cover the join at the start of the path down. Rob and Jenny then joined us and we carried on uncovering the old pipe and putting the new pipe in its place.


IMG_7521 IMG_7517


Lucky for us the soil is very sandy there so we made very good progress, in fact by lunchtime the job was done and we carried on trying to find and unblock the section along the road.







Digging and finding the pipe is a lot harder there, we managed to find the join in the smaller pipe and the place where it disappears under the road though. We suspect that is where the connection to the old tap is, something to follow up at a later date.

We tried to shove a section of new pipe into the old pipe but it got stuck and found that the old pipe had filled up with mud so until we can wash that out there is little hope for success.

Jenny and Rob then left and we went to investigate where yesterday’s leak might be and we did not have to look for long. Near the Gibson’s stopcock the glue in the reducing bit of pipe had become undone and water was pouring out.


We closed the main valve and the water drained quite quickly so we could take the pieces off to take away and re-glue. This was quite difficult because of the black sticky stuff we had sealed the join between the pvc and the asbestos. All in all it got quite late again.

Pipeline – leaks

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

No pictures taken today, just a quick run out with Neil to install the air release valve on the line and to try and fix the pinhole leaks by the shack.

As it turned out the clamp we brought was too big but I applied a temporary bandage with a piece of sling and then we opened the cover with the water meter which should in theory be nearly standing still but to our disappointment was spinning wildly. This of course indicated a bigger leak somewhere and we decided to leave the valve open and look for wet patches tomorrow.