Saturday 15 September 2018

Twisting, and drilling

A rude awakening this morning, as we were dozing over our tea and doughnuts - a class 45, parked right next to our mess coach! Huge rumble.

What the?

It had come to pick up a rake of coaches - today was a Thomas day.

We also had a visitor, Chris, who brought an interesting curio:

This is an ancient piece of tram rail - note the groove for the flanges in the right - which comes from a location just 4.5 miles from Winchcombe station. It was for an activity which ceased in 1930 - know where it is from? Chris spotted it while driving past in his car, a great surprise. Who knew that it was still there?

Another great surprise was that work had started on making the two ruined GWR non-corridor thirds ready for transport. They belong to a third party who has promised to restore them off site, but they are so badly decayed that their superstructure needs to be removed before they can be transported by road. Unfortunately they have been stored out in the open for many, many years.

Then we were off to Laverton to address a dip in the Malvern side rail by the foot crossing before Little Buckland curve.
The DMU ran a 45 minute shuttle to Broadway during this Thomas day.

The first thing to do was to measure the extent of the problem with our track gauge.

The DMU - with 'DAISY' on the destination blind, but no face - came back almost immediately, thanks to a minimal turn around at Broadway.

We had the heavy compressor out today for powering the stone blower, and here Neil is responding bravely to a call to just move it along a bit. You can do that - just.

We dug out the Malvern side and blew the stone in from the end. This worked really well, thanks to the smaller size stone we now have.

There was a lot of shovelling involved, and from time to time we would pause to recover, and dare we say, to admire the fabulous view you get from the embankment here.

At 45 minute intervals we would be (gratefully) interrupted by the DMU shuttle, which gave a few moments of well earned rest.

Gorillas in the mist....
Lunch was taken anywhere we could find to sit down. There are 7 PWay gangers eating their lunch in this picture - can you see them?

Mrs. B treated us to a large box of fairy cakes, which soon went. Paul and Jim, sadly, weren't fast enough, until Nigel unveiled a second box of fairy cakes. They tucked in vigorously after that.

There was great pleasure as a small orange clad figure slowly emerged out of the distance.
It was John, away for several months now while recovering from a knee operation.
This seems to have been a success, as he managed to walk along the rough trackbed for a considerable distance. While we gossiped, the other half got on with the job in the distance.

Soon after lunch we completed the job at Laverton and decided to crack on with a second just outside Broadway. As the car park is currently inaccessible, we walked through the station to find that the modesty screen has now been painted. It looks great, and also hides that rather unpleasant plastic gasmeter in the outside wall there.

Here is the car park as per today. A respectable fence has been erected along the bottom of our embankment. The narrow area in the middle, where there is no parking, is now also more defined.

Up on top we met the Landie, which had followed the trackbed with the tools and the dumpy bag of chippings, which were unloaded here.

There are two dropped joints to fix here.

We 'stone blew' these joints, after digging out, and the ride should be better now. The track is settling down after 6 months of pretty intensive use, so it is not surprising that a few improvements can be made.

DAISY came out of Broadway, and this time she had put on her face (which she keeps in a jar by the door....)

Earlier in the week

A quick trip into Broadway to paint the 6 cast iron seat ends for the first two extra benches for the station. Regular services were running, which enabled this photograph, quite convincing, of 2807 pulling out towards Honeybourne with a long passenger train. We think.

Now that the cafe is slowly nearing its entry into service (albeit next season) we can't work in it any more. There is a nice floor down in both kitchen and dining room, and the radiators are going in.

The new workshop is in this steel container.

Here the cast iron ends, in Broadway's special chocolate colour, are having their feet fitted. GWR benches had wooden feet, but not everyone fits them today.

Monday on the track

Four of us attended, to help Stevie load scrap rail from the trackside at Stanton.

As Stevie would be busy first thing on Monday unloading 3 signal posts at Broadway, we repaired to the mess coach for a quick early morning cuppa.

The yard had been shunted, to reveal this lovely 'Queen Mary' bogie brake. We know it's Southern, but it's still a thing of grace and beauty.

We gave Steve the time to finish unloading, then headed off to Stanton yard, to find the drainage gang hard at work in clearing a space for the welfare container for the impending aqueduct repair (you may know it as a tea hut, but these are modern times).  Brambles and trees were being cleared, and two large lorry loads of rubble from accumulated broken drain repairs were carted away.

We were astonished to find that the hornets (?) nest had gone. Just half of an outer shell was left. We cannot imagine someone beating it to pieces with a stick, so perhaps it had been vacated after the end of the season?

In this somewhat blurry picture you can see the honeycomb that you find in the centre, filled with larvae.

Although there were no hornets about, apparently, we were not going to inspect it too closely. Looks empty now though.

Then, to work. The scrap rail has resided deep in the undergrowth for many years, and is now being cleared out. Here John is hacking away the brambles so that we can attach a chain to the first one.

The first rails were then extracted by Stevie. In this pile they were mostly off cuts, so were pulled out in pairs.

This activity disturbed a large toad.

It seemed to be reasonably happy to be picked up. After photography, we deposited it on the other side of the line.

Hop along now, old chap!

We also disturbed a field mouse, and an overly curious black and white mongrel that wanted to know what was in our lunch bags.

Roll over and play dead, go on.   NO!

It was very friendly, and eager to be patted by all and sundry.

Oh, alright then.....

Have you seen a black & white mongrel anywhere?

Later it was claimed by the drainage gang....

Then it was back to work, with Stevie able to extract some seriously long pieces of bullhead from the brambles.

Stevie knew just where to look, and it wasn't obvious to the bystander (if we get any down here that is) that they were there at all.

We also came across the remains of a kit for a concrete linesman's hut, ex Toddington. Any ideas where it might usefully go? Being made of concrete, it is presumably of a fairly late era. It was replaced next to the old acetylene hut by a corrugated iron GWR example.

All the rail we recovered was lifted by Stevie on to this bogie flat, and at the end of the day this was taken down to Winchcombe or unloading.

Friday at Toddington

The vast car park is empty, except for this:

Now release the hand brake....
There seems to be some sort of delivery. GWR too. What's happening?

A second vehicle was also delivered. Information obtained says these are tool vans, currently used as support vehicles for a third party tamper (not on the GWSR).

They are coming to stay with us for a while. We parked them behind the loco shed.

Inside the near silent loco shed work was about to continue on fitting the 8 stringers with cleats.

These cleats will be rivetted on, but to start with they will be bolted.
With the bolts in place, they will be welded - a refinement of our own - to prevent water ingress from behind. The HIA bridge had a lot of issues in this area.
A specialist welder came in today to do about half of them, and a fine job he did too.

In anticipation, Neal has ordered the rivets. Just three sacks, but they contain no fewer than 600 rivets.

Wow !

Here's a sample of what they will look like on a gusset.

Today Neal completed drilling all the holes for the 96 cleats. Is he therefore finished? No sir! He's got holes for 600 rivets to drill, and each rivet has two holes to pass through, and sometimes even three.

Neal reckons he's about half way in fact.

Four of the stringers with their footsteps cleats on are seen in this photograph. Off picture is the same quantity again, it's quite a job. But we are well into it, there are no major issues.

Having finished drilling the holes for the cleats, Neal decided to fit one of the big gusset plates on to the intermediate landing supports.

You may remember that he built them earlier, but today he took them to pieces again and started drilling up the upright stringer to fit the big gusset plate.

At the end of the afternoon, this is what the big gusset looked like.

It's now bolted to the upright stringer, which itself is now fitted with an angle to support the intermediate landing.

Four of these to do though.

As we are all volunteers there is no precise target date, but let's say that what we would like to do is finish off the drilling, send the steelwork off to be galvanised, and on its return fit it to the Broadway footbridge during the non running season.

Looking further ahead, if that goes well, then a second round of manufacture could start, subject to funding, which is not yet in place. We walk with little steps.

That would involve the northern canopy overhang, parts of which are already made, and some of these need modification. A second non-running season then offers itself at the end of 2019. If all goes well, and the extra money is found.


  1. An excellent blog as always - thanks for an interesting read
    Is the rail from the Cheltenham and District Light Railway Cleeve Hill line?

    1. That's it. Amazing, isn't it. There were road stabilisation works and if you looked into the dug up area as you drove past you could see lines. I too thought, hey, could it be that....
      Chris actually persuaded the contractors to give him a length.

  2. I suspect Malcolm is bang on the money, some pictures surfaced the other day of the line having been dug up during the slip stabilisation works near the Rising Sun. Incredible that they've been there all that time in situ. Just annoyed that they didn't find them until I went back up to uni, I'd been driving over them several times a week all summer!

    I confess I was slightly bemused to read of the 2 GWR tool vans arriving at Toddington - they only left the railway a few years ago! Ho hum, at least it looks like they've been returned the other way around so the weathering will even up...


  3. Great views indeed! The Cotswolds has always been one of my favourite areas of countryside.
    Thanks for the update on the HIA bridge work. The rivets will make it look really original as bolts just couldn't do.
    Regards, Paul.

  4. Could we have your permission to use your photo of 2807 for the next 2807 News please?

  5. Super blog as usual. A great job you chaps are doing

  6. Are the longer bullhead pieces good for any rail use, or is it all just post/scrap?


    1. We may be able to use some of the bullhead in sidings, so there will be a further sort out.

  7. Really sad to see the GWR coaches, I took a look at the Cotswolds event. I fear they have become basketcases and most of the material would have to replaced.

    Even sadder given that long term I would love to see a genuine GWR rake, but the level of effort would be immense.