Thursday, 7 September 2017

Installing Oil Pipeline

Apologies for not updating this blog as frequently as I would like in recent months, but rest assured restoration activity at Balintore Castle has taken priority over blog writing, which is as things should be. Recent work has focused on the kitchen wing to catch that time window before winter weather makes everything much more difficult.

The underfloor heating pipes in the kitchen wing have now been laid by my friend Andrew, and these are currently awaiting the "the big pour" of liquid anhydrite screed by a specialised company. This is scheduled for Tuesday September 12th, and I can't wait for this to happen as it is the major turning point for the kitchen wing. Once the floor is down, we can start building upwards. In fact, everything was pulled out of the kitchen wing in preparation around 2 years ago, so the whole area has been frustratingly unusable.

The other side of the heating system is installing the boiler and oil tank. My previous intention was to install a Ground Source Heap Pump (GSHP) as a heat source, but after contacting a few firms the capital cost emerged as sufficiently high that it would jeopardise the whole project. I still intend to install a GSHP longer term, but in the short term using oil makes economic sense as the installation is so much simpler.

To this end, Andrew was generously loaned a digger for free, and we have been digging in the oil pipe ourselves. :-) We need a 50 metre run, starting in the boiler room (the narrow window with 3 panes); coming out perpendicular to the wall and then turning a right angle northwards to reach the oil tank on the bank by the track - so that it can be filled easily by the tankers.

I have attached some pictures of the trenching work in process. These will also form a useful visual record of the location of the pipeline! :-)




yellow sheathing running from boiler room to 90 degree bend
Andrew has worked as an agricultural mechanic on New Holland equipment, and commented that he has always wanted to work with one of their diggers instead of just fixing them. Andrew: your wish has been granted! You can see the smile on his face.
Andrew in digger action
The metre deep trench revealed that the ground underneath the castle terrace, after a thin layer of top soil, largely consists of a very claggy clay. We suspect that this clay was brought from nearby in Victorian times to level out the terrace.

Bill and Gregor inspecting Andrew's trench from the 90 degree bend to the bank beside the path
Having a digger also allowed us to start landscaping the site around the castle which has been overgrown and neglected for many years. We have pulled out dead tree stumps, carried away fallen branches and trees, buried rubble and cut back overgrown yew trees.

Cutting back the yew trees, in particular, has brought in much more light, and we are starting to appreciate the grounds as the garden they once were. The picture below shows the start of the yew branch bonfire. It is now considerably bigger.

I am a somewhat reluctant gardener at the best of times, but seeing the slope from the east drive to the castle terrace emerge from the overgrowth, made me want to install a feature similar to the iconic water cascade at Chatsworth! Watch this space. :-)


In the meantime, the pruned yew branches have built a respectable bonfire!


yew branches cut away from oil tank location piled into bonfire configuration

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