Changes of Address
Cottage News (by Chris Crowley)
As you will no doubt know, I have been working on fitting the oil boiler donated by Colin Grange (thanks) and the oil tank from Allan Ockenden (more thanks) into the existing coal system. At the time of writing the system has been successfully run for short periods and only awaits the filling of the tank. Hopefully by September it will be fully operational.
In addition to the usual thermostats that you get on a central heating system to control hot water temperature etc, the system is controlled by an electronic delay timer which is activated by the 'system on/off' switch on the control box in the main room. This can be set for up to 4 hours and is intended to limit the potentially catastrophic situation where the heating is left on for 2 weeks with nobody there. This method has been used successfully in a number of other caving huts. There is also a seven day timer so that the system can be set to come on at, say, 9pm on Friday evenings. The exact setting of the delay time will be experimented with this winter.
The boiler is a bit larger than one would normally use for the size of building and should therefore provide a better hot water service than was the case with the coal system. If the oil boiler is activated, please do not continue to use the electric water heater as this comes off peak rate electricity and will be a gross waste of money.
Given the problems that we often get with cars not starting with the damp, it may be possible that we get similar problems with the spark ignition on the boiler, so the coal boiler has been left operational. Although at the time of writing it is anticipated that this will function more or less as before, the hot water will however be pulled through the oil boiler heat exchanger (otherwise the oil boiler wouldn't heat the radiators) and this would reduce the output of the coal boiler considerably. A wheel valve has therefore been fitted in the boiler house to shut off the flow of water to the boiler. If you use it you must open it afterwards as ignition of the boiler with it shut could rupture the pipe work (does anyone have a 2 port motorised valve they don't want?)!
Should the boiler fail to ignite for any reason, or if there is some safety device shut down, the boiler will go into lock out mode. Instructions for dealing with this will be left in the boiler house, and basically involve removing the front white cover of the boiler and pressing the big glowing button on the burner assembly after the 2 minute purge delay is completed. Obviously endlessly repeating this procedure will be pointless, but Colin is fairly certain that the spark is so hugely powerful that all dampness will be overcome, so keep your fingers out of the works while the boiler is being powered up!
If the boiler has been running OK and stops and there is plenty of fuel, the most likely problem is that the lens of the photo electric cell that prevents unburnt fuel build up has sooted up. This can be easily rectified by gently pulling the cell from its socket, polishing with a piece of tissue, and replacing.
For the seven day timer and the frost protection device to work, there will have to be a permanent power supply. This will be clearly marked and should not be turned off except for boiler maintenance or some emergency as there will then be no frost protection. Similarly, nobody should adjust the frost stat setting as the person who did this at Red Rose cost them œ400 in unwanted fuel consumption. Anybody doing either of these things could risk achieving 'tree pruner' status
! The additional power of the boiler will enable us to optimise the system to our needs. Until we know whether we can afford to run it, please do not turn it on unnecessarily, and turn it off when going out.
To my memory, hut fees were last increased 8 years ago, and although last years funding was reasonable, we had a substantial reduction in use last January and February, mostly as a result of university clubs either cancelling or only turning up with about 6 people. It would therefore seem not unreasonable to mark the upgrading of the cottage with an efficient heating system with an increase in the hut fees. I intend to suggest to the Executive Members of the Committee that we increase the guests hut fees to œ2.50 from 1 October and to propose an increase in members rates to œ1.50 from 1 February so that this can be discussed at the AGM. These increases will bring us into line with other huts. If you have any comments on this, please let me or another committee member have them.
Caving Diary (by Helen Wray)
So far it has been a successful year with all the trips away from Wales being well attended.
January saw us in the Mendips with trips down Eastwater, Manor Farm, GB Cavern and Swildons. A skittles match on the Saturday night against Wealden (unfortunately they won) provided evening entertainment.
At Easter a Yorkshire trip was organised staying at Bullpot Farm. This was not such a good turnout, but the six who managed to make it enjoyed trips down County Pot, Bar Pot/Gaping Gill and Juniper Gulf.
Over May Bank Holiday weekend, several Croydon members visited Slaughter Stream Cave in The Forest of Dean for the first time. An excellent time was had except for the effluent in the streamway near the entrance! A return trip is planned for Bonfire weekend.
June saw us again on Mendip with a trip down St Cuthberts Swallet as well as the old favourites GB and Swildons. Due to the success of these Mendip trips and the hospitality of the Hunters, another weekend is planned for October 15th - 16th (see your caving diary for details).
During the Summer, six Croydon members participated in the Matienzo expedition in northern Spain, while at least one other member managed to visit Hugh in the Vercors.
Our efforts in obtaining a permanent Aggen Allwedd key continue with the final two trips planned for Bonfire and Christmas dinner weekends. Please, please make every effort to come on these so that we won't have to book trips in advance in the future. In the same area, a trip into Craig-y-Ffynnon is also booked for Bonfire weekend.
The motivation of the club seems to be increasing, so next year there will be plenty on which to feed this growing caving appetite. A return skittles match against the Wealden on Mendip is a must in January. I have also been asked to book a Devon weekend, and so this will take place in early 1995. A Belgium trip is also planned for the late May Bank Holiday.
If there are any other requests, please let me know. Otter Hole has already been suggested. If there is enough interest, a Derbyshire weekend or an extra Yorkshire weekend can also be arranged. One condition however, please, please assist me with booking trips and weekends by ringing to let me know if you are planning to come along.