Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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There's the ballast!

Mark R, TomTom
29/07/2014

It was a surprisingly cold evening when we met in the field which was good for walking around in fury suits but not so good for starting in shorts. Mark had a treat for me tonight, we had two tackle bags and a transport (mammoth!) bag between the two of us. As I dreamed of what manner of lightweight material could fill these bags Mark produced 2 Lead acid 12v batteries, an electric pump, a drill, and some metalwork....

Tonight's plan was to divert the water from the Milky relief dam into the pool under the Ice cream trail. We would then run a trial experiment in pumping out Rowter sump using the electric pump sending the water also into the ice cream trail pool.  This would require us to attach several lengths of hose together and to support its weight down Milk relief with bolts, and some awkward jiggery pokery. But first we had to transport some oversized heavy bags carefully down 135m vertically and through two chokes.

We left Rowter field after confusing the locals who suggested it was a bit late to be climbing and headed across to good old Rowter. After Mark had adjusted my oversized stopper knot he descended down the entrance pitch and made like a whippet towards the first choke with me scrambling to catch up. Whilst we were going downhill it wasn't all too bad with even the chokes not putting up to much of a fight as we fed the bags through. In no time at all we found ourselves at the top of Milky relief where Mark started the drilling to eventually secure the pipes from our little dam.

I headed on down to prepare the pipe work for attachment using a classic Tom knot to attach the  flat line pipe to the end of the rope to be hauled up to the dam. I worked on attaching the lengths of pipe together with plastic tubing and jubilee clips (will need better sealing eventually) whilst I listened to the buzz of Mark putting in some hangers above.  There's four lengths of piping from the dam to the Ice cream trail pool with a tap along the way (which we may transfer to the sump emptying pipes some time).

Mark had put in two bolts to support the pipes and to avoid putting any strain on the dam itself. The piping starts off with rigid piping so that the cord holding it in place doesn't choke the flow. One bolt and line holds the pipe to the dam attachment whilst the second bolt supports the weight going down Milky relief. Once at the bottom of Milky relief the pipe rests on some rocks to stop too much of a drop (or kinks) before climbing uphill through Decisions Decisions and into position at the head of the Ice cream trail pool. A marker was put in place to see how much the pool would fill and then it was time to the moment of truth, attaching the pipe to the dam.

It's pretty dry down Rowter at the moment and so once the pipe was attached there was a bit of a wait to see if it was all going to hold. I kept on checking the pipe, seeing it bulge as the water oh so slowly worked its way along. The joins soon showed to be not entirely waterproof  but the amount escaping was pretty insignificant and after a wait of six or seven minutes water finally started pouring out of the end and into the pool, success!

Mark headed down with the batteries and electric pump and came to inspect the set up, pleased that it seemed to be doing what it's meant to he headed to Rowter hole sump to set up the electric pump. I did what I could with the remaining pipe but it wasn't enough to reach from the sump to the pool, but it didn't matter to much, we just wanted to test out the setup for now.  The roof above the sump was still pretty drippy even with the Milky relief flow redirected so Mark was getting a bit of a soaking as he played with the electricity. After some struggles the pump was submerged and the test began. After some time nothing much seemed to be happening so I brought the head of the pipe lower down to see if the lift was just too much for the pump. I got lower and lower until I was only three or so metres above Mark where a trickle just about managed to make it out of the end of the pipe. We debated some physics for a while about the problem and seemed to put doubt into each other's ideas of what the equation in hand was, but as things stand the pump with the current setup didn't have enough poooower.

The ceiling above the Sump was still dripping at quite the rate so after packing the pump and batteries back up we went to investigate where it was coming from. Mark followed the little steam past where the waterfall from Milky relief used to fall until he got to the end of the passage sort of under the pool at the bottom of Two left wellies. The water was just oozing out of the walls and so it seemed that some water had found its way through the floor in two left wellies and ends up joining where the rest of the water used to go. This was a issue if we wanted to drain this sump and so future plans were hatched for laying down some sheeting in the pool on a future trip (make a feature pond, maybe add some carp?).

Whilst Mark was eyeing up the problem I went to see if the Ice cream trail pool water level had changed by any noticeable amount (unlikely).  I noticed water flowing into a little dip at the side so assumed the water had risen enough to get over a mud bank and flow into this dip. As I watched the water flow I noticed that this dip didn't seem to be filling up at all which was odd considering it was pretty small with a reasonable flow. As I inspected closer I noticed a small hole in the mud where the water seemed to be flowing into. I went to fetch Mark to show this discovery and as he had a closer look he spotted a small gap between the mud and ceiling just next to this hole. It seems there's some sort of space the other side of the mud bank, possibly linked to where ever the hole/oxbow we dug some trips back at the foot of Milkly relief goes.  It will be interesting to see if this hole opens up at all with increased flow, yet another little lead!

Sadly it was probably time to leave now, which meant carrying all of the weight up 140m.... We transferred the batteries into the extra large daren drum so that at least they were inside a container if they were to accidentally be banged into something and then made our way up the Milky relief. The gear was far too heavy so we promptly gave up at the foot of two left wellies to have a play. We dug out channels within the pool of water and managed to widen the exit channel that sends water into the dam. We smashed some troublesome rocks out of the way and lowered the channel through the mud and gravel bit by bit. We didn't seem to be at it for that long but we managed to lower the level of the pool around 6 inches or so. What was a large pool now had a island in the middle, so hopefully this means theres less water to force through the floor to the sump.

Now it really was time to head out so we packed up for good. I took the transported bag with the two batteries whilst Mark took the two bags with pump and drilling gear. In my mind this was essentially rescue practice as I felt like the bags weighed the same as a small person. Slowly I climbed up and up, enjoying the awkward pitch head at the top of Two left wellies with all of the weight hanging off me. In retrospect the chokes were easier that they could have been, it's pretty difficult to lift and pass through the gear whilst off balance with only one free arm but we made it happen. The worst part in my mind is that Bad Badger choke marks 100m vertically to the surface! Up and up we struggled with Mark reassuring me by taking cover in Fosters faith whilst I climbed gin shaft with a mix of Lead and acid in a bag on my back.

Upon reaching the foot of the entrance shaft I was warm! I decided that prussiking up the entrance shaft would not help matters so I decided to take off my oversuit to aid cooling. Mark kindly took my oversuit in his tackle bag and started the climb. I followed on slowly but surely, bit by bit edging up past each rebelay. I heard Mark above scrambling out of the entrance shaft and into a lovely cooling breeze (all of the hate). In surprisingly good time I found myself sprawling out onto the surface to freedom, hauling up and coiling the rope before putting  the hatch back in place.

Quite a good nights work all things considering. The water diversion is now in place with only a small amount of extra piping needed to finish off the route to empty the sump. We found out the electric pump wasn't sufficient (and I don't fancy hauling those batteries out again!). Mark has two hand pumps ready to go down which he intends to mount to some boards. We will have them set up in series  with one to lift out of the rubble climb to the sump (5m?) and then a second to lift the final 3m or so and most of the horizontal distance. Exciting times ahead!
It was also a evening full of head, in the sense of friction and pressure through the pipes of course.

For now through the Badgers are off on their summer holidays so this will have to wait for 2 weeks, any pump volunteers?

TomTom
xxx