5th March 2015
For eighteen long months Python has been sitting on the dock waiting. Waiting for us to manage to persuade the great and the good that she is worthy of saving and they should help by throwing some money in her direction. I suspect there were a few pessimists who thought pigs would fly before that happened, but thankfully they never voiced it to us. The Pythoneers have always remained committed to ensuring she gets the attention she requires to safeguard her future. Then, just as things were really starting to look bleak, the money started to appear. Python will go to the ball! Now it is time to wake up the slumbering crew and see if they are still as keen and motivated to do some work on her – daft question! They were all clamouring to make a start. Someone put the kettle on and let’s have a brew while we make a plan.
While we may not be able to make pigs fly (yet), we needed to find someone who could make Python’s Lister engine fly. Paul at the boat yard has been very generous in allowing Python to take up his precious space for so long, but, knowing she was likely to be there a while, he found a corner to tuck her into so he was not tripping over her too often. Python is now in the queue for the workshop and work is due to start in early summer, but we needed to get the engine out now, so work can commence on its rebuild. Python is currently boxed into a corner with no way of accessing the engine room with something that can lift the engine out and move it to a waiting van. The only way was to get a crane to lift the engine out from the other side of the fence. It needed a 20’ reach to do it.
No problem is ever insurmountable. What I needed was a very nice accommodating man who happens to run the boat yard where Python is. I also needed a nice man with a big crane who was not going to have to come from the other side of the country and charge us a fortune for the pleasure. I also needed some enthusiastic crew with some experience of disconnecting boat engines. Oh, I also needed someone to be there when it all happened to take some photographs for posterity. I then needed to get them all coordinated so the operation would run like a finely tuned machine. Time to put the kettle on, this make take some organising.
Sitting at my desk in Chesterfield with a computer keyboard, a phone and a big steaming mug of coffee, I set about getting it organised. I needed to liaise with Pythoneers David, Helen & Eddie to disconnect the engine. Then I turned to Google and a couple of phone calls later I found Richard of Nottingham Crane Hire who could do the job for us, but more importantly was prepared to slot in in around other jobs in the area to try and keep costs to a minimum for us. I then had to make sure Paul at the boat yard could be on hand to assist at the time the crane was coming and check with the crew that the engine had been fully disconnected and the panel in Python’s cabin top loosened so it could be lifted off…..oh and I almost forgot to check that Paul had somewhere he could keep the engine for us until we could get down there to move it to the engineers. I thought I would have to drive down there myself to take the photos and was not relishing the thought of hitting that great car park they call The M1 at a time suitable to get me to Long Eaton for the lift, but hey ho, it was a job that needed doing. I also had to check with Chesterfield Canal Trust’s treasurer, David that we could pay the nice man with the crane and…………… time for another mug of coffee. I debated whether I had earned a biscuit with this one or not.
All my ducks were in a row. The nice accommodating man with a boatyard, Paul – tick; a nice man with a massive great big HIAB on his lorry, Richard – tick; a group of volunteers who were able to travel down there and get the engine disconnected, David, Helen & Eddie – tick; a treasurer who was primed ready to pay the man with the crane, David – tick; and finally a Pythoneer who lived close enough to the boat yard to rock up there at 8am to play at being David Bailey before she went to work, Karen – tick.
The date was set, 8am on Thursday March 5th. I could do no more than sit and wait and hope it all came together. I sat at my computer desk fingers clenched around my mug of coffee. Our intrepid roving reporter on the scene, Karen, kept me updated with text messages, “The Lorry has arrived” was the one I was waiting for. I was then sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for “The Engine is out” closely followed by another text tone to alert me to the arrival of a photo of Python’s engine sitting on the ground. Phew it all came together! Not only did we prove that Lister engines can fly but by doing so we marked a milestone, Python’s restoration has started. I think I deserve another mug of coffee, no – scratch that, a celebration is called for, I will make it an Earl Grey and really push the boat out by having a Garibaldi too.