At last great weather, not a cloud in the sky and our first chance to do a full day’s work on the lake. We planned to use the digger to clear the silt at the road end and to start removing the snags from the banks. A pack lunch with both Tom and I in a very enthusiastic to get ┬áto work.

We arrived at 10 am to find Jean Pierre and a friend trying to dig out the concrete at the outlet by hand to lay the new pipe for the siphon system. Tom immediately offered the digger’s help to Jean Pierre and tracked it down from the gite. Tom tried to scrape out the concrete with the large bucket but it was not breaking up. So he stopped to change buckets, changing to a smaller bucket with teeth. I was chatting to Jean Pierre’s mate. He spoke a little English and with my very poor French we managed to have a decent conversation over a relaxing cigarette. We were both enjoying the sunshine watching Tom do all the work with Jean Pierre supervising.

Tom seemed to be having trouble changing the bucket. My heart sank!!! Was this a mechanical problem!!!! It was neither. What a relief!! Tom hadn’t seen this bucket release mechanism before nor had Jean-Pierre. After 15 minutes with no success Jean Pierre made a phone call. Jean Pierre’s friend explained that he knew someone who could help and would be with us in 10 minutes.

A van pulled up at the gite, bang on time, and a young guy and a teenage girl got out. I wish I had a camera to capture the look on Tom’s face when the young girl went to the cab. She lifted the seat and took out a specially designed spanner. Within seconds (okay a slight exaggeration) she had unlocked the bucket, changed it over and began digging out the concrete. My new found friend and I were giggling. I didn’t need to say anything to Tom, I just had to look at the expression on his face but I couldn’t help myself!!!!! “Taught by a 15 year old girl”, who turned out to be Jean Pierre’s daughter. She certainly was very good with the digger and to be fair to Tom he had only used one type of machine at work. But of course I was not fair at all as it was hilarious!!!!!

With his pride still in tact Tom tracked the digger back to the entrance end of the lake. The water level was still down at yesterday’s level so it gave us an opportunity to get down to some serious maintenance. Tom was using the digger to remove the silt from the margins at the end of the lake, he was confident that he could get the digger down the shallow bank without any problems. While I started clearing snags from the south bank. One handed of course!!! At least I had managed to find a right hand glove that fitted over my finger. which at least gave it some protection.

It was hard work, in HOT SUNSHINE, on a steep sloping bank and one working hand too. Tom was busy, he had the digger on the lake bed at the far end busily clearing silt from the banks. We stopped for lunch under the shade of the big oak trees. Yes we needed shade, it must be at least 25 c. Oscar loved the sunshine, sun bathing until he was so hot he could barely walk. Into the shade for a cool down then the whole process is repeated throughout the day!!!!

Back to work. Now I should have known it was not a good idea to get the digger in the lake this soon. I have had previous experience and knew how carefully this operation has to be tackled. Tom had been working for 10 minutes when he realised the digger was stuck solid in silt.

Where he had been clearing a small underground spring had been diverted underneath the digger by the silt he had dug out. Turning the lake bed into a deep pool of mud. He tried in vain for twenty minutes but it wasn’t moving. Moving the bucket from left to right to shift the weight from track to track. By now the digger was stuck in a meter of silt. Then devastation occurred!!!! The right track came off the front cog.

The silt was so thick it pushed the track off. Tom hadn’t had any experience of this and I had certainly no ideas apart from consulting the manual, which was obvious. Tom went back up to the gite to get some tools. After two hours in the hot sun up to our knees in silt we were still wrestling with the track. Out of nowhere two women appeared. We must have looked a sight. Covered from head to foot in mud, some of it dried by the sun turning it gray. The rest different shades of black to light brown. Tom was red with sunburn and my protective glove had filled with mud some two hours ago. Oscar was covered too!!! As he always has to see what’s going on. Sometimes up to his ears in mud!!!! It was now late afternoon and we were both very tired.

After a quick chat we found out that the women were friends of Jean-Pierre. One of the women immediately phoned him for help. Now we understood the problem from the information given by Jean Pierre over the phone. He was to far way to come to the lake but suggested that there was not enough grease to keep the cog against the track. Making the track slack in between the two cogs. It meant nothing to me but Tom knew exactly what he meant. It was now 6 in the evening, both very tired, hot and we had run out of drinking water. Tom had that look on his face that said he was getting very angry and frustrated with the situation. As his Dad I knew straight away!! We both decided to try again tomorrow morning. I was pleased Tom agreed with me as it was not a good idea to carry on as we were both exhausted and this causes accidents. The ladies were very sympathetic and we thanked them for their help.

At home Tom looked up the digger problem on the internet. The Americans seem to have a web site for every machine tool in the world. Within 5 minutes he had found a video clip for the whole process of  removing and replacing a track. So after we had a hot shower and something to eat we agreed that armed with our new found knowledge we should be okay. In fact the process seemed very easy.

Tom and I both felt confident we could sort the digger tomorrow. A sudden thought, I hope it doesn’t rain and that it doesn’t sink any deeper. Although it was a very difficult afternoon we did have a laugh about it. Early days and it can be fixed!!!!!!!!!






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