Our major project in 2016 was the replacement of the rotting right-hand stringer of Jill's rear steps. Following research and discussions, we decided to use laminated European Whitewood (Picea Alba), shipped from Denmark. Each of the 22 treads had to be supported on 2" x 4" timbers so that the old stringer could be detached. Due to variances in ground levels, all work was carried out with the Mill facing precisely South-west, so as to ensure consistent measurements. One of the stones in the step track was marked up accordingly.
On the agreed delivery date, a number of our volunteers made their way to the Mill at 8 am to assist with off loading, as we had been advised that the 110kg beam was being transported on a curtain-side lorry without a HIAB. An hour later, we contacted the courier and were advised that the lorry was just passing . . . . . Cambridge. They offered to telephone us when the lorry was 30 minutes away, which they did - advising when the lorry reached the A23.
Some two hours later we rang again and were advised that the lorry could not get up our lane, so we set off to meet it, only to see it coming up the hill. In the course of offloading, we blocked in two tractors, one horsebox, several cars and a lady on a horse. Offloading was clearly not the driverís problem, as he just stood to one side with his arms folded !
One end of the 6.8 metre beam was placed in the back of a van whilst we walked behind, supporting the other end as we headed up the Mill track. Next came the fun of turning round the lorry, which proved to be too long to back into the car park. Luckily a farm gate was open, and the lorry eventually managed to drive into the car park and to reverse through the open gate. This process was somewhat hampered as the lorry driver spoke no English and we spoke no Lithuanian. To protect the beam from the rain, we wrapped it in a tarpaulin and then asked a visiting scout group to handle the ropes and knots.
A new beam was measured, then shaped and morticed before treatment with both knotting and preservative.
Vertical supports for the step treads were cut to length and we exposed the top hinge bolt that is usually hidden behind the stringer. Once the stringer was painted, we secured Jill facing South-West and installed the vertical supports. Scaffolding was erected, then the old stringer was removed and the new one was fitted. The whole operation was completed over four days in dry, but cold weather. It was pleasing to note that all our detailed planning work and meticulous measuring paid off.