Thorough research and consultation with Natural England carried out by Mark Sims led us to conclude that the old water tank discussed on UKC here...https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=21647.0
was indeed rubbish and should be removed from the cave. Over the Easter weekend the Buttered Badgers and UKC visited Alum pot with the aim of removing the tank. Based on some rough measurements given to us by recent visitors we had estimated the weight of the tank to be around 150kg (once it was emptied of cobbles and sand of course).
With the hefty weight in mind we took a 12” petrol Stihl saw underground with us to cut the tank into pieces. Three out of the team of five arrived at the bottom of the cave to begin emptying and cutting the tank whilst the other two helped finish off some filming in Long Churn. It didn’t take long for the three of us to empty the tank and roll it over in the chamber, soon after we decided it would be far more fun to try and take the whole thing out of the cave in one piece. I thoroughly enjoyed carrying the petrol saw to the bottom of Alum and out again that day.
We punched several holes in the tank with a large chisel and lump hammer and threaded wire strops through. The three of us had managed to get the tank around half way back to daylight before the remaining two turned up and helped us fight it to the bottom of the entrance shaft. The tank put up quite a fight in several places, getting itself well and truly wedged at one point. Friday’s work concluded once the tank was sat at the top of the short pitch at the bottom of Alum Pot. All that was left for Saturday was to haul it the 80 or so metres to the surface.
The tank gets wedged and the haulers get some encouragement...
Some hanging around was inevitable.
On the Saturday we were joined by around 20 other sport cavers, all making their way into the cave by every conceivable entrance. Great care was required to keep the hauling operation and the sports trips separate but everyone was extremely patient and we soon had the tank lying on top of the bridge. It waited there for quite a while until much of the cave had cleared before we took it the rest of the way to the surface.
A tensioned line kept the tank away from the wall on it's final leg to the surface
Even the most efficiently rigged 3:1 pulley system was not sufficient for two people to make any decent progress so most of the hauling used 5:1 systems.
Many thanks to Tim and Jane Allen for accommodating us for the weekend and to CAN Geotechnical Ltd for lending all the tools and hauling equipment we needed to do a proper, safe job of the clean up. Finally, thanks to Natural England for permission and for supporting the project.
No wonder it was such an effort to pull out!