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Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks: Cliff blogs about his T4TS Plumbing Course: October 2011

Hi to all sorry I haven’t posted for a few weeks I have been taking a break having finished my level 2 course work and practical’s.

Now it’s time to start level 3 and its quite a shocker starting right in at the deep end with Gas Installation A, which is Module 33.

I still don’t have a mentor but time waits for no man so I am getting on with the theory regardless, this first module of gas is mainly an introduction to gas and is quite daunting in the fact that there are lots of new regulations and BS to reference from, The advice given to me at my last practical training session was to forget the plumbing while doing the gas, as it’s a completely separate discipline and it is easy to confuse yourself with too much information.

The reference material for this module is as follows.

Gas (installation & use) Regulations 1998(GSIUR)

• Utilization Procedures IGE/UP/1B Edition 2:Tightness testing & purging of small natural gas installation.

•  BS 6891: 2005 Installation Pipework in Domestic Premises.

• BS 6400-1 Installation of domestic sized meters. Low pressure supply

•  BS 6400-1 Installation of domestic sized meters. Medium pressure supply

• Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

So as you can see this is a lot of reference material to gather and read and also as usual British Standards Institution publications are extraordinarily over priced and outside the of the reach of students such as myself at about £300 for BS 6400 1&2.

Also copy right laws mean you can’t find these documents to download. Personally I think it is a complete con and will never pay such outrageous prices for any such publications even if I was on gas installer’s income and I think that is the general fact in the industry nobody bothers to purchase them.

You can read all of Cliff’s blogs about his plumbing course and practical training diaries at




Cliff’s Train4TradeSkills Practical Training Diary – Week 6


Well it’s Week 6 and the beginning of the end of level 2 this morning. There’s another group of students arriving for their practical, whether it be plumbing or electrics, week one or eleven all are mingling around the canteen chatting about their journeys, meeting new people or even some familiar faces met on previous visits.

I already know what I have in-store for me this week it’s my bathroom install assessment, and I am looking forward to getting on with it. The ATL centre is still down one tutor due to sickness so Robert is going to have to spread his time between two groups again, which is not a problem as we are supposed to do the install without any help from the tutors.

Nevertheless he spends twenty minutes with us explaining the requirements of the task, which include designing the layout, a full materials list, a written summary description and photographic evidence. So a good part of the morning is spent planning and setting out, we are to use plastic pipe and John Guest Speedfit® fittings below floor level and copper above floor level so it is going to be quite a quick install and I have almost finished the first fix by 4.30pm so I call it a day.


Not feeling so good this morning as I am aching all over and have the sniffles first signs of man flu -just what I need this week! I get down to work regardless and soon complete the first fix and notching of the floor boards and proceed to pressure test the first fix.

Out in the real world this would be no problem as all my fitting would be new but here in the centre we re-use old fittings, so after changing several faulty service valves I manage to complete a successful pressure test and with the help of another student take the first of my photographic evidence photo’s.

I have been trying since I arrived yesterday to get Robert to read my updated summary description from last week so that I can sign the work off in my portfolio, but he is hard to pin down for long and I have to literally stand in front of him with my work and a pen to get him to check it and even then he only has time to scan it briefly before we are informed that we have exams in five minutes, Ouch wasn’t expecting that Wednesday is the usual day for exams but due to the amount of exams to get through this week they had decided to start earlier in the week.

So I have two exams Environmental Awareness In Plumbing and Effective Working Relationships In The Plumbing Industry, It feels very thrust upon us and my head is banging with the onset of flu, I Have a real problem keeping focused in the exam and am not happy when I leave the examination room and with good reason as it turned out.

I flunked the environmental awareness exam which surprises me as it’s a bit of a pet subject for me, re-sits Thursday before I can sit the end GOLA exam. So a bit disconsolate I return to my bay to continue with my bathroom install, “at least that is going well” Robert has spotted that I am not at my best and comes and spends a bit of time with me going over the environmental awareness with me, I really like Robert and his teaching methods and I am feeling much better when I leave for home.


The Flu has really got me now and I am avoiding contact with rest of the group to avoid passing it on, fortunately I am working in a bay on my own so they should be OK as long as they keep their distance.

I get my head straight to finishing my installation and have it completed by lunchtime with no problems at all and took the other photo for the supplementary evidence and had Robert in to check and appraise the installation. I am not the first to finish this week but I am very happy with the finished job.

The sun is out today and I enjoy lunch sitting out in the fresh air and it makes my flu feel not so bad. The afternoon was spent methodically decommissioning the bathroom, counting and listing all the fixtures, fittings and pipe work used in the bathroom as I can use it to make a the accurate material’s list needed for supplementary evidence. It takes the whole afternoon to strip out, recycle and return the bay back to the blank canvas it was to begin with, I would of liked to get away early today to revise but it 5pm by the time I leave the centre tiered but satisfied that I only have my write-up left to do.


Big day today as its re-sit and my GOLA Assessment End Test, and there is no waiting around were straight into the exam room at 9.30am I have fully prepared myself with max strength flu capsules this morning and am feeling much clearer in the head the re-sit is easy and I have no problem with 18 questions then its straight on with the GOLAHOO!!! Lots of good vibes going around everyone’s done really well nobody needs to re-sit.

So congratulations to all my fellow students who completed their Level 2 plumbing. I can now look forward to starting my level 3 course work and I will be back soon with a week 7 training diary many thanks also to my friends and family for all your support, especially my partner Carmen without you none of this would have happened.

Read the rest of Cliff’s practical training diaries on his plumbing blog at

Train4TradeSkills Radio: Nick talks about his T4TS plumbing course and business plans

Nick Chandarh is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. Tom Jinks from T4TS Radio spoke to Nick  to find out how he was getting on with his training:

You can listen to Nick’s  interview on the Train4TradeSkills Radio Blog at or download to iTunes from the AudioBoo app at

Cliff’s Train4TradeSkills Practical Training Diary – Week 5

Hi and welcome again to my diary of practical training. This week’s assessments will be sheet lead weathering’s. Also I have two exams:one on Electrical supply and earth continuity and the other on sheet lead weathering’s .


As with every other first day I am not sure who is going to be in my group or who my tutor is going to be, when I arrive at the ATL centre in Featherstone I get straight down to business finding out who is in my group and introducing myself.

There are 14 other students in my group again made up of people mainly from the northern counties and Scotland of varying ages, everyone is pretty calm as we have all been here to this centre before. The group is split into two immediately depending on whether individuals are there for one or two week stints but as this would make the groups uneven I am put with the group who are only doing a one week stint. We are to do our sheet lead while the other group will be doing their final bathroom assessment.

My tutor for the week is Mike. It’s the first I have had Mike as a tutor but he is from the same area of Bradford as me and we hit it off straight away. First he does an introduction to the health and safety issues concerning lead it being extremely heavy and toxic so barrier cream and careful handling are a must. We are then introduced to the welding equipment which would normally be an oxyacetylene and oxygen torch but because lead is going to be dropped from the syllabus soon, we are to be using a miniature propane torch; they are much cheaper if somewhat less accurate.

We spend the rest of the morning practicing welding techniques, and I have to say at this point it is very different from what we learned in copper jointing and also much more an acquired skill that takes patience and a steady hand. In the afternoon we are given our first assignment which is a lead slate to go over the soil vent pipe protruding a roof plus a written summary description, materials list and two photographs for supporting evidence,

It is a more complicated task than it may first appear, getting the roof pitch onto the upright cylinder is a 10 stage process that I’m not going into now as you will be guided through it by a tutor, needless to say the task takes all afternoon to complete.


We start the day with a bit of welding practice just to make sure we haven’t forgotten everything overnight and I find it much easier than I had the previous day and are introduced to lead bossing and spend the time up until morning break beating bits of lead into various shapes.

We are then given our second assessment task which is manufacture and install a full chimney weathering set, written summary description, materials list and two photographs for supporting evidence. The first part of which is the front apron this is to be formed using bossing only and takes a whole hour to form the required shape, hopefully this would not normally take that amount of time with more experience I would expect to half that time, but we are in no rush as we have the rest of the week to complete the assessment.

The roof and chimney we are using for this task is a low level purpose made facade so the whole installation can be done without leaving the ground and the manufacturing of the parts can be done on the bench and be taken out to check how well each part fits and or final adjustments.

As it is nearly lunchtime I take an early break and spend a long lunch chatting with other students in the centre as there are people at various stages and trades within the centre and I personally think it’s good to spend time talking with them also. After lunch I set about manufacturing the side flashing’s again this is quite complicated and takes several hours to make fit snugly, so even though I start to make the back gutter I don’t get far into it before it’s time to pack up for the day.


Got off to a bad start today and I don’t arrive at the centre until 10am this turns out not to be to much of a problem as our tutor has been taken ill in the night and won’t be back to work for several days we are now handed over to Robert whom I have been tutored before in weeks three and four.

So I get on with completing the back gutter this part is made with a combination of bossing and welding but by now I am really getting the hang of forming lead and have it finished very quickly and set about get all my parts installed on the low level chimney (in the rain) I was very pleased with the end result and Robert gave me a nice appraisal, there is just enough time before lunch to dismantle the installation.

During lunch I can feel the tension in the air as Wednesday is exam day starting straight after lunch as there are lots students we can’t all fit in at once so I have a little time to wait before I can get in to the exam room to do mine but I eventually get in at 2.30pm and start with my Electrical Supply and Earth Continuity exam which goes very well and I know I have done well even though I will have to wait for my results. However with my second exam Sheet Lead Weathering


Feeling tired this morning but all my practical assessments are complete and I just have my summaries to write up, this to me is the hardest part and I more than expect it to take all day in the centre because of the constant activity and people wanting to chat. But I like it that way as it forces you to take regular breaks which I find allows me to concentrate better during the time I am writing.

Robert my tutor also spends some time with me one to one on sheet lead theory which was an excellent way to revise, as a home study course it is something I don’t really have access to other than down a phone line which is definitely not the same. Anyway I decide to leave early so I can get my photographs and write ups printed ready for tomorrow.



Last day all ready the week has gone very quick as always, I have my re-sit at 9am so I just sit chatting with the other students who also have re-sits, the time soon passes and I am in and out again in 20 minutes and I am pretty sure that it’s in the bag, so I spend some time with Robert reading through my summaries and he is not impressed and request me to expand them as they are not even half long enough and would be failed by the City & Guilds examiner.

We go through the rest of my portfolio and make sure everything is signed and up to date, and then I get the result of my exam (PASS). So knowing that I have lot of writing to do to expand my summaries I decide to get off home.

That’s it for my practical training diary for this week except to say that I have re-written my summaries before I wrote this diary and I am quite happy with them but we will have to wait until next week to see if Robert feels the same way.

Thanks for reading, Kind regards Cliff.

Want to read other practical training diaries by Cliff about his Train4TradeSkills Course? Then head over to Cliff’s Plumbing Blog at

Train4TradeSkills Radio: Megan talks work experience and her T4TS Plumbing course

Megan Morphew is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. Tom Jinks from T4TS Radio spoke to Megan  to find out how she was getting on with her training:

You can listen to Megan’s  interview on the Train4TradeSkills Radio Blog at or download to iTunes from the AudioBoo app at

Cliff’s Diary of Practical Training – Part 1

Day 1:

5am Tuesday 3rd May

The alarm screams and it is time to be up and about today, as it’s day 1 of a 4 day training week I’m due to be at ATL training centre Featherstone by 8am and I have to get there by public transport which means a 5.45am bus into Bradford and then another bus to Wakefield that takes 1hour 15mins then yet another bus to Featherstone and 10mins walk to Green Lane, industrial park were the centre is situated.

It is a beautiful sunny morning so the journey seemed to pass quickly. The training centre is a smart new industrial unit and already a hive of activity. The canteen is full of students, some like myself for the first time, others are there for later training weeks also there is a mix of plumbing and electrical students. It soon becomes apparent who is in my group and after introductions we are approached by our tutor for the week – Neil Linely.

Neil takes us to one of the centre classrooms to give us the induction and explain how the week will pan out as we only have 4 days to do 5 days work because of the May day bank holiday. There is also paperwork to be done before we can get started. With that completed we were out to the practical training area where we are issued with our tool kit and asked to list the contents and check the condition of each item before signing for them.

The rest of the morning is taken up with Health & Safety Boring but essential as not everyone in the group is used to a workshop environment.

Lunch is taken up with more in depth conversations with the other students the group is 12 people from all round the north of England and Scotland mainly and as one would expect from many different working backgrounds but all seem to key together well and everyone is keen to get the most out of the week, so the 30min lunch goes in a flash.

In the afternoon we were give the task of soldering and fittings practise, much more enjoyable not making anything in particular just getting used to soldering and using fittings, with Neil taking 3 students at a time to go and do safe ladder techniques for this we also need to take photos for our portfolio’s, again the afternoon is gone in a flash with all feeling tired and ready for home or to lodgings for them that are staying locally for the week. One of the students offers to drop me in Wakefield which takes 30mins off my travelling time. “Thanks James” I am home at 7.30pm, tired and hungry.

Day 2:

After another early start and long journey we are straight on with more soldering practise but this time to actual specification drawings with Neil showing us how to use our pipe benders correctly and accurately, by this point it is more apparent who is used to working with hand tools opposed to them who have come from a more office based background. The group seems to be splitting into smaller working groups with the people who picked it up quickly helping others who needed a little assistance. As I have worked in a workshop setting for many years I find this really easy to learn and start helping others until lunch.

In the afternoon we are given the task of forming specific bends ie: Passover, Cranked Passover, offset and bridge, (again some people get this quicker than others) we are also informed that we will have our first exam tomorrow – Health & Safety in Plumbing, also that we have summary of our task on the safe use of ladders to write for our portfolio’s. By this time it 5pm again so I will have to do my summary at home.

Day 3:

Today our given task for the morning is to fabricate a rig to a specific drawing and pressure test the rig at working pressure and everyone is heads down to the task, during the morning the student on the City & Guilds 6129 course that includes me, were taken off to do our Health & Safety in Plumbing Exam the given time for the exam is 1hour but I have done in 30mins so after a quick break i am back to pressure test my rig.

“No Leaks!” , says a very chuffed Neil, who then gives me my main task for the week which is a hand basin and WC fit in one of the many work bays that are there to simulate a real room but I am required to extract a materials and fittings requisition list from a drawing before we can start. We are given a catalogue to fulfil this task and as this task is marked we have to be accurate to within 2mm on all materials there is also a written summary to complete for this task and 2 photos.

I spend 2hours compiling my requisition list then set to work in the bay setting out the drawing on the wall of the bay and only have time to fix the pipe clips before its 5pm and time to leave.

Day 4:

It’s the final day and I get straight into my bay and start to fabricate my pipe work, Neil keeps coming by to check progress and give advice. He also informs everyone has passed the previous days exam, apparently this is the first time that no one has had to resit so he is as happy as the rest of us.

By morning break I have the first fix completed and checked, so after a quick coffee I set about pressure testing the rig and with a little leak on 1 compression fitting that just needed a tweak with a wrench, I could get on with the second fix, a final check from Neil just before lunch and its passed much to my delight.

After lunch I decommissioned the task and re-painted the bay and wrote my summary in rough. All done its 2pm and everyone wants to get off home soon as possible. There are 1 or 2 people still doing the task but I am finished and so is James who has given me a lift into Wakefield everyday so we leave it to Neil to help the stragglers.

I am tired but feeling on top of the world as I travel home I have not been on my PC all week so when I get home I set about sorting through my email.

I get an even bigger buzz when I find an email from Plumbzine to say I have won £750 worth of Dewalt tools in a competition I entered last month that will go a long way towards starting my own business. So all in all it has been a fantastic week for me and i am looking forward to week 2. Thanks for reading I hope it’s useful for anyone about to do there practical training,

Cliff’s next blog about Week 2 of his practical training will be up next week. In the meantime, check out some of Cliff’s other posts on here or at