Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Inside the water butt...

I'm all in favour of water butts - it's free, and saves using lovely clean tap water - so I encourage my Clients to install as many as they can. What with having to construct supports, to ensure level installations, to calculate heights for joining kits, to employ the syphon effect for watering etc, I am becoming quite the water engineer: but the worst job is definitely installing the tap at the bottom.

The only way to do it is for one person to hold the tap on the outside, while a second person crawls inside the butt and tightens the inside washer.

Bet you can guess which person ends up crawling inside... yes, that would be me. Well, to be fair, I am usually somewhat younger and more limber than my Clients. And, when you think about it, I am being paid to do the bits that they don't want to do, so it's only fair! 

It's not so bad with a new butt, but my heart tends to sink a little when I notice an old waterbutt that is leaking from the tap. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I find that you can just turn the tap all the way round to tighten it, but sometimes it will only go halfway before reaching ultimate tightness, leaving the tap pointing uselessly upwards: or, it just rotates round and round without getting any tighter, which means that someone (ie me) will have to go inside to hold the inner washer.

In these cases, I remove the pipe taking water into the butt, and instruct the Client to use as much of it as they can. Once it is "empty" I remove it from the stand, turn it upside down to drain it, rinse out the inevitable mud and gunge, then leave it to dry.

However, last week I was presented with a butt which was leaking from the tap, and which needed fixing right then and there, so there wasn't time to rinse it out and let it dry. It was full of mud and yucky stuff inside, and instead of the modern wide-topped design, it was a very old one with a narrow neck.

I was not keen to get inside it!

I was just working out how to reduce the amount of filth I was going to get on myself, when Mrs Client appeared with one of those plastic ponchos they give you at theme parks, with the warning "You Will Get Wet On This Ride".


Here I am wearing the oversized poncho.

Halfway inside the butt - as you can see, it has a narrow top which makes it much more difficult than usual to get at the inside washer.

At this point I was thinking that there must be a way to get a large hex spanner of the correct size on a metal pole, such that you can insert it from above while the butt is in situ, then hold it firm while tightening the tap from outside... I'll have to work on that one.

"Right, I've got it, tighten away!"

My Client does the outside bit while I hyperventilate on the inside.

Elegant, eh?!

The things I do for my Clients...

Once I had extricated myself and removed the extremely useful poncho, we re-installed the butt in position, connected up the water pipe, and left it to fill. Next week, I will see if it worked - or not! 


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