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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Gordon the Gondola has a Manor banner

Manor Coating Systems of Shipley have generously donated the paint for the tank free of charge as their contribution to the project.   They had earlier advised on the paint system to use.
By way of a thank-you we have put one of their banners on Gordon the Gondola. A win-win situation in that Manor get some advertising and we get some protection from the weather - as well as some jolly good paint.

The banner is a perfect fit.   Here's hoping the whole lot does not take off in a high wind.   If the weather is kind this week we may get the first six panels painted.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Record photographs of the tank and tower

Go to

and you will find 62 photographs with captions illustrating the tower in 2010 and its features at the time of purchase and soon thereafter.

I expect you will have to copy the link above and paste it into you browser.

Gordon the Gondola works

The Gondola can be seen to the left. Although its back legs are unsupported from below the chains secure it to the tank and tower plinth. Steve Roberts has ventured round the corner with the needle gun. His safety line and body harness are clearly seen.

Venturing back towards the Gondola.
And safely back inside it.
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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Gordon the Gondola's first flight

Well, at long last here is Gordon the Gondola in position on the ledge on the north end of the tower. He was lifted effortlessly and without incident via the T Davit crane this morning. The crane jib swings through 360 degrees so with one positioning of the crane we can place the gondola twice.

Once up there the gondola is secured to the tank by chains and tensioners. It will also be bolted to the tank for belt-and-braces. The intention is to needle-gun the accessible parts of the tank, then paint that section fully - six coats of paint in all. We shall get an awning so that the work can proceed regardless of rain.

Thanks to Settle blacksmith David Clements for making the massive socket into which the crane is located and to David Stubbs at the garage for welding the gondola together.

The crane has been equipped with an electric hoist which proves very capable of lifting the gondola.

As soon as the weather warms up we can get cracking on the painting of the tank, working clockwise.

Thursday 17th February - having secured the final chains between the gondola and the tank I took a giant leap of faith in my own handiwork, went over the top and into the gondola. It works a treat and feels totally secure. It is fixed to the tank at seven points - plus the crane rope for good measure. My body harness is secured to a horizontal steel rope, independent of the gondola which could collapse from under me and I could not fall. A fixed ladder connects the top of the tank to the gondola floor and provides an escape route even if the gondola was not there. Belt, braces and several pieces of string . . . .
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Saturday, 5 February 2011


Network Rail are being incredibly helpful with this project on all sorts of fronts.

Settle-Carlisle line Track Maintenance Engineer Gordon Allen managed to find a mighty great spanner that would fit the thousands of nuts and bolts that hold the tank plates together every six inches. The nuts measure 30mm or 1 1/4" across the flats. They have not moved for 135 years, have lived outdoors and all are either covered in layers of paint or rust or both.

More in hope than expectation, and in pouring rain, I applied the mighty spanner to a mighty nut today. With one knock from an Irish screwdriver it moved and off came the nut.

The thread looks like new and smells of what I take to be machining oil.

This will enable us to attach Gordon the Gondola (see previous item) to the tank absolutely securely.
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Gordon the Gondola

This is Gordon the gondola under construction. It is being purpose built to be secured to the ledge below the tank to enable access for preparing and painting the outside of the tank. It is made from standard components of a Quickfit heavy duty scaffolding tower with bespoke pieces welded to it. The idea is to hoist it up on a davit secured to the inside of the tank. The front legs - to the right of the picture will sit on the ledge. The whole thing will be secured to the tank by chains, clamps and tensioners. People inside the gondola will wear body harnesses fastened to separate mounting points. Should Gordon the Gondola fail, the people will at least be safe with a coalition of other ropes. That at least is the theory.

We are experiencing delays with the local planning authority who have required greater detail from us to allay concerns on the heritage aspects. Whilst frustrating, this is enabling us to work out in much greater detail how we can do such things as accessing the tower in safety.

Why Gordon? You decide but I was thinking that the gondola will, hopefully, hang about longer than it is actually needed
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