Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Back from gone away

The holidays are over, now it's back to the shovel. 
Four extra kilograms of Pizza, Pasta al Funghi, delicious Italian ice cream and wine by the litre have to be worked away too. The PWay is your free gym, if you care to join.

Here's a little round up of progress since Sept 2nd:

This is the classic shot you wil have seen on Nigel's Flickr site. The second turnout is coming along nicely, and with the crossing now in you can see really well how the track will run at this point. Locos that came in with a train from Toddington will proceed to a point beyond the inner home at the top, and then reverse on to the loop in the foreground, and run round.

Saturday will see more work here.

We're also thinking ahead, where do we go after the two turnouts are in?

In fact the whole area in the foreground here has now had its foundation of ballast, to bring it up to track laying level. This used to be a big hole, occupied left and right by BAG storage sheds.

All the container storage on platform 1 in the background has gone, and the space filled with the running in board posts, and lamp posts, that belong there. We're still waiting for some additional 12 inch lettering to make the name boards.

Stevie has now ventured into the space between the platforms for the first time. This surface here is contaminated with clay and building waste, and needs to be scrapped off back down to original, clean ballast. It will then be back filled with new, probably next week (these dates change, so don't write in)

Proceeding down the trackbed, we see the station building now coming along really well. One complete row of heavy duty, powder coated sheets has been completed on the platform side. The second row awaits the contractor that will fit the glazing, with glass of the correct original colour and glazing bars of the GWR type. On the forecourt side the sheeting has, in both rows, reached the level of the first chimney at the time of writing.

Further along, by the former goods shed, Stevie has laid out the remaining new rail, more or less where it is going to go. The main purpose of doing this was to release the rail wagons though.

The extension train has been out and about ballasting, but is now parked back up at the rail head. Rail and sleeper wagons are currently empty, pending delivery of further supplies for the platform roads.

South of the extension train the line has had several drops of ballast on it, so that we are now have a first level of ballast, ready for tamping, all through the third 1000m stretch of CWR, past the breather and almost up to the Childswickham Road bridge.

Tamping and stressing this last stretch is pencilled in for October. No doubt we will await a nice rainy day for the massive clipping up after the stressing!

The sewage plant can be glimpsed on the right, and before the trees at the rear you can see the pilasters of Pry Lane bridge. It's just a short hop to Broadway behind the camera now.

And so on to today's activities.

As usual, we started the day, not with a plate of Special K, but with a lively discussion over tea and doughnuts in the mess coach. Officially this of course is a briefing session, but we all know what is most important here. Dave, foreground, is deep in thought about the relative advantages of Asda against Tesco sourced delicacies.
As we munched and slurped Andy held forth at length about a pet project which, if we lift the veil a tiny bit, involves large supplies of scrabble tiles and strong glue. We can say no more, except to point out Paul's reaction (rear centre) where facial expressions can say so much more than words.

We decided to split into 3 gangs today. A plan to recover more sleepers was scuppered by a potential bearing issue with the Telehandler, so two gangs set off to effect track repairs at Toddington and Winchcombe, while a third prepared to lift and pack the Cotswolds side road leading into the loco shed, where a last area of floor remained to be concreted.

This was to be a good opportunity to use the jacker packer now stationed on the GWSR, and a large supply of ballast was ordered in, which also provided a good, elevated base for your cameraman to take this photograph of the area to be treated.

It was agreed that Steve would bring down the JCB from Broadway, and 'tweak' the track for us. This meant removing some spoil from the side, and ladeling the ballast over and into it, ready for packing.
While waiting for Steve to sort a small unloading job at Broadway first thing, we filled the time by measuring the size of the dips to be filled.

A steady hammering and scraping nearby revealed that members of the loco department were cleaning off the remaining sleepers that still needed to be laid to connect the outside track to the inside.

As there was still no sign of Steve (which was unusual, as his tea was getting cold) we used the time fruitfully by measuring up the inside as well.

It turned out that the floor prepared for laying back the sleepers was a tad high, and needed further scraping.

It's not easy getting a sleeper in place to sit any lower. You can lift and pack, but you can't drop a sleeper down any further. Or at least not easily. We levered this one up, and dug around underneath it, with mixed results. It went down a bit, but not enough.
And where is Steve anyway? He should be here by now.

Your tea is cold now....

Clive finally cracked and gave him a ring.  It turned out that Steve, expecting a 5 minute job, was spending all morning waiting for the supplier to arrive. Very frustrating, he was chomping at the bit.

The loco department were supposed to relay the inside of the shed, and us the outside. In the absence of Steve, we decided to make it a joint action, using the loco department mini Telehandler to further scrape the trackbed, and bring in the sleepers cleaned earlier.

Here's an unusual sight from the top of the steps by 2807 - this season, safety valve bonnets are being worn the other way up. Very fetching.

Finally, finally, in the middle of lunch time Steve turned up, flustered.  The delivery lorry came at the very end of the morning, and he was finally released. He set to work immediately, and our spirits perked up with this flurry of action.
The side of the approach road was quickly dug out, and in a few minutes this length of track was lined up with the loco shed door, and made properly straight. Clive (PWay) and John (Loco dept.) survey the scene in the centre.

Steve then dropped in the 40 tons of ballast from the big pile. He is such a good judge of this, the size of the pile was just right. Julian raked the ballast off the rails so that the jacker packer could pass along, while John (left) winked to the cameraman about his dastardly intentions, to punish Julian for not laughing at all of his jokes.

With all the ballast dropped in, Martin was able to bring in the jacker packer and lift the track according to the information shouted over by Peter and Doug.

Seen from rail level, you can see the machine working to bring the track level up to that in the centre. Next week you'll get a link to YouTube which will show this curious little machine in action. It takes about 3 hours to upload, which would bring the posting of this blog way past your bed time. It took 3 hours last night for example to upload this video of a hydrofoil spotted while in Italy - a magnificent machine:

Back to the PWay - this is as far as we got at the end of the afternoon. With only really half a day available to work with, we tweaked, ballasted and packed most of this stretch of track, but not quite all. There's a bit more to do.

The short stretch of approach road needs to be straight and level, as it will shortly form part of the apron outside. Gone will be the time of walking around and working in clouds of ash.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Track laying resumes

All the materials needed to complete the two turnouts at Broadway north have now been delivered, and today work resumed on the complicated interplay between them, as the two tracks gradually converge.

 Laying out the two turnouts needs a fair bit of thought. We have a drawing - only one exists for left and right - and if your turnout is the other way round, you just have to treat it as a mirror image.

The turnout to the loop is ex Laverton, but there it faced the other way. It was labeled up, Malvern and Cotswolds, but this is now the other way round at Broadway.

Are you still following this?

First thing Steve started to bring in some of the new timbers. We cannot use all of the old ones, as this will be a pair of turnouts linked together, and a number of the timbers will be different. These new ones here are nearly 6m long, this length being necessary to support both tracks at once.

Here the first new timber has been laid out, and it is followed by a second, which is one of the originals again, in alternating order. They have to be so laid out that they are a precise distance from each other, essential as the position of the base plates on them is critical for fitting the rail that is on the curve leading away.

While one team lays out the new timbers, a second is engaged on alignment of the siding. This needs 'tweaking', in this case moving over towards the Cotswolds side by an increasing amount, terminating in a  move of 300mm at the crossing.

We've got a battery of Duff jacks going here, placed at an angle to move sideways as well as lift the track.

You can see the track suspended on the right, as Leigh gives it an extra heave on the jack. When it runs out of ratchet, we move the last two forward, leapfrogging the first two, and so on down the line.

All this is surveyed by John (whom you may know as one of the regular DMU drivers) who delighted us today with a special event: the christening of a new pair of overalls. We had been pleading with him for weeks, as on the old ones the cloth was so thin that they had split across the rear end and were surely no longer legal (we felt).

Here we have a first rail in for today, the one on the right. The siding on the left however still has to be shifted further right, so that the concrete sleepers start to intertwine with the wooden timbers. The session with the jacks was completed, but on reviewing the result, it was felt that bigger means were needed. More of that later.

After checking with the plans, Alan was instructed to fetch one of the new timbers with the Telehandler.

It will go on the end here, the third new one of the day, with ex Laverton ones in between.

In the meantime, Steve has been instructed to fetch two more turnout rails from Laverton, and is being interrogated by Bert on arrival here. Has he got the right ones? Is he sure? They all look the same. Steve is sure.

With Steve back, he becomes our secret weapon to move that storage siding a decent bit over. It's just too slow with the Duff jacks. He's already given the end a push, and you can see here how far it has to go. The concrete sleepers have been loosened and moved forwards or back a bit, so that they fit in between the timbers that were added. Bert gives Steve the hand signals, while the others look on in a semicircle. Well, it's interesting, isn't it.

More nudges from Steve on the right, and on the left you can see the main line to loop turnout clearly starting to diverge, with the site of the future crossing in the middle where it stops at the moment.

Steve is working his way down the siding for about 100 yds, watched by Peter with the bar.

The convergence between the sleepers is now plain in the foreground. It's all beginning to take shape.

As Steve finishes the 'tweaking', Nigel has a quick measure up with the tape to make sure everything is in its place.

With Steve free again, we can now lay in another rail. This is a tricky one as it's on a curve, and the rail on the right, clipped up, may have fitted, but that doesn't mean that the second rail will automatically fit its curve.

There was a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing with the sleepers before that curve rail went down into its bed. It was very satisfying to clip it up, and prove that the sleepers were now in the right place.

Time to consult the master plan again. What number did you say was on that base plate? What number sleeper is under it? It's quite tricky to assemble the turnout right, remembering that there are two, we are in the bottom of a cutting, and as it's double track, we can't stand next to the rail with the JCB. You have to think ahead, and bear the logistics in mind. We have to build the two turnouts in an order that makes it possible for the handling machinery to continue accessing it. The stuff is heavy, not just the 6 metre hardwood sleepers or the 1 ton rails, but even the base plates that go under the rail. Those in the middle weigh 60kg each ! Throw me a base plate - yeah, right...

Mid afternoon it's time for the crossing to go in, the 'moment supreme' in any turnout construction.

Here Alan has brought it down with the Telehandler, and is manoeuvering it into place so that it can be lifted in the right way round.

With Steve lifting the northern end a few inches off the ground, Alan slowly pushed it along from behind using the forks. All very controlled and precise.

Here the crossing is almost arrived at its destination. Bert waves it on the last few feet.

With the crossing in place, 'tweaked' and clipped down, the last two big timbers can be laid under the end. Again these are so heavy that the JCB has to be resorted to to lift them. Bert guides one into place, as Nigel instructs Steve in the foreground.

With this crossing in place, we have reached the place where the other turnout, from the loop giving acces to the siding and facing the opposite way, meets the turnout we have been building, a sort of half way point. We felt that this was a good achievement, and agreed it was time to stop on this very hot day. The final result can be seen below on the overview:

Can you imagine a second turnout on the left, meeting the first one in the middle? The position and need for the new timbers, coloured tan, is also clear here. They reach right across and join the two turnouts together.

At this point it's time for a service announcement, to say that your blogger is off on his annual fortnight's holiday now. You'll have to be patient for two weeks until the next instalment. That is not to say there will be a pause in the work, quite the contrary. The construction of this crossover is estimated to take three working days, so it should be just about complete when the next post goes up, on or around Sept 20th. In the meantime, we commend to you Nigel's excellent Flickr site to follow progress:

Until then, Ciao !

Friday, 1 September 2017

Ready to resume laying track

A one-off day today, involving three locations - Broadway North, Broadway Central, and Hayles Abbey.

In this order then:
We had 100 tons of ballast delivered last week, and today Steve rode it up to the future pointwork at Broadway North. It didn't go very far, but far enough for us to resume extension work on Saturday.

In this picture, the 100 tons have all been tipped. Can you see them? Where have they gone?

Steve here is spreading it all out, to make a base so that we can complete the two turnouts that are planned here.

The extension train has been brought up again with the necessary bits, including all the materials for the second turnout - loop to siding.

At the same time, two volunteers made a start on removing the last of the street lamp posts that were still in residence on platform 1. In this picture the last remaining street lamp posts stands towering over the replica ones further back. The replica replacement lies, in primer, just behind it. Steve is bustling about in the far distance. Until you say 'Tea up' that is!

We've now taken all but this last one of the street lamps out. One of them even had an aluminium notice on it: 'No waiting between 8am and 6pm'

Now we will have the real thing, with our replica GWR castings. We are quite practised at doing this now, and soon there was a trench around it, and a test to see if it had a wobble yet. It did.

The Neal joined us, and sharpened the wobble test to a 'will it lean right over test' It did that too, so it's definitely on its way. Just need to carefully cut the ducting with the supply line through, ready for re-use later in one piece, please.

Napoleon once said ' I don't want my generals to be just good at battle, I want them to be lucky too' and so were we, as Steve came by and asked if we wanted any lifting done with his JCB. We certainly did! Those street lights are heavy, and while 3 people can just about carry one of the replicas around, the much taller street lamp posts are just too heavy.  We've got two of them for sale by the way, they're not much, and any proceeds go to the railway. We parked this one with its twin further up the platform.

With the lamp post gone, we had a big hole left in the platform here. This we filled with a former and a lean mix round it, which will make a socket for the replica that we will put in next time. That's a relatively simple job, and will complete the lamp post placement at Broadway. Were you one of the 10 sponsors? Then one of these is yours ! Thanks guys, this is what we did with your help.

Post removed, we went on to Hayles for a check up, and a re-supply of the delicious Hayles Fruit farm apple juice.
We were delighted to see a passenger there, waiting patiently for a DMU to stop. The passing 35006 with its train heading south raised little interest, as it wasn't going to stop. 10 minutes later the DMU did arrive, and a small wave was enough to get it to stop. Tickets please!

Quite a busy little halt this is. Other people had stopped to take photographs, certainly a good idea with the sunny weather we had today.

After Hayles we had a look to see if we could spot Hayles Abbey halt from the hill above and to the south of the Abbey ruins. There's a lovely footpath that runs along the crest of it.
The sun didn't want to play ball for this picture, but you can see the Vale of Evesham stretching away to the horizon, and centre right you can make out the white triangular sheds of Toddington, and the line running south.

Just south of the sun here, centre right, you can see the DMU heading towards Winchcombe again. It's just between the bridges of Didbrook 1and 2, which is also the limit of the first ever operation of trains way back when we started in April 1984.

You can see the first train on our 'early GWSR' Flickr site here:
.. and we plan to put more early pictures on, as people share them. There should be another bunch of them in a month or so, holidays permitting.

Track laying at Broadway resumes tomorrow, so tune in to see how we did.