Luckily we were able to work in the carriage sidings at Winchcombe, which was close to home and near to a bit of tea and warmth.
Not us though - we had to work to keep warm. This was OK, as long as you didn't stop.
We thought that perhaps a handy and relatively swift job could be the replacement of some sleepers in the carriage sidings that were very dubious indeed. They were laid, second hand already, some 30 years ago now.
Here David is just setting off with a trolley packed with our tools and materials for the job.
We hadn't got far to go in term of yards, but in terms of track miles.... it was backwards and forwards, until we were finally on the rear side of the sidings in question.
During this the C&w shunter trundled up and down with lots of different carriages. The track layout here does not seem very rational, and there was much 'zig-zagging' to get to where you wanted.
There is an option being considered to put a carriage shed here, over the three roads on the left. There is a considerable depth to the stretch of land to the left, so it could be a good place where all 3 rakes of 8 could be stored in the dry. However, other projects competing for the limited funds we have explains why we haven't made an immediate start on this interesting and useful idea. We are not rich, despite the clear success of Broadway.
The road we need to resleeper is the middle one, the one to the left of the group of three.
Removing the rotten sleepers here was surprisingly easy, as there is no ballast! That saved a lot of time and effort and was a great relief. It also made us far more productive; we did 12 sleepers by the end of the day.
Here David is removing the chair screws from a sleeper we are going to replace, as Paul and Jim look on.
In this picture you can see the issue reported by the shunters from C&W - some of the sleepers were so bad that their remains could be pulled out by hand.
We hasten to repeat that this is a back siding, used for parking stock awaiting restoration, it's not a passenger running line
At first David was going to pull this one out with the nips as is usual, and then he thought, I can just pull it out with my bare hands. Note that it's also a throughbolter, but undoing that seized bolt is no issue here as the sleeper has split in two.
Because this siding had at some time in its life been slewed intact, most of the sleepers were also askew, and with the passage of time the stresses this imposed on the cast iron chairs meant that many had broken in half. Makes removal that much easier though.... we put the new ones in straight, sorted out most of the others.
Before lunch we did 6 sleepers, and zig-zagged them off back to the Telehandler, where they were exchanged for better ones.
After lunch and as the steady rain started, we did 6 more.
The C&W guys were so grateful, one even came out and helped us push the trolley. Very friendly that.
Having completed the replacement of 12 sleepers, all the ones we had brought, we were about to retreat to the mess coach for a warming cup of tea when we noticed a bit of a dip in one of the first joints of this siding.
We thought we'd have a quick go at that dip, in passing as it were.
We put it up on some bricks and then packed it with anything we could find in the area.
It did the trick, the line looked much more level when we did finally go home.
Gretton slip - finale.
The work is now complete, as forecast last week. The contractors have reinstated the site, and it looks pretty neat.
Our outside correspondent Jonathan has sent these pictures for you:
The top edge of the slip, with slip repair and new fencing.
The bottom of the former slip, with our line just beyond.
The ditch from the field, thought to be the source of the washaway which caused us the slip. Very neatly handled; it now drains into a concrete pit.
Fencing at the top, with the concrete catch pit and in the distance the home signal (in GWR parlance, other refer to it as the outer home) just outside Greet tunnel.
Just to the right of the picture above; the corner of the two fields involved.
Reinstatement of the temporary road leading to the site. The Royal Oak pub is at the back on the right.
An exit to the Gretton road, with fencing and gate.
A riveting story
Friday saw a large crowd gathered at the entrance to the yard, and Dimore Manor simmering away by the pit. These were participants in a fire and drive day.
Inside the loco shed there was evidence of the next step to Neal's measurements on the centre span last week.
Friday there were 6 of us, Neal having recruited 3 extra volunteers Jeff, Tom and Baz to carry out the all important preliminary riveting.
The first job was to see if the rivets would fit into their allocated holes. Some didn't. The holes were good enough for the temporary bolts, but not for rivets, which are a bit fatter.
Neal therefore took to reaming a number of holes out with this air powered drill. That sorted them out OK.
|John waiting for the first rivet|
Here's rivet going in, heated to bright orange.
We're doing this with a compressed air hand held rivet gun, with a compressed air powered stop block on the other side.
Here are the first 4 in place - aren't they neat? They're not going to move any more.
John in the background has just started heating the next one, while Tom here has grabbed one in the tongs and is making a dash for the beam.
Stand clear - it's hot!
With a bit of a wriggle the red hot rivet is aimed at the hole.
It's not that easy to get it in. There are 3 layers of steel to get through, and often it catches on the inside edge of one of them. Wait too long, and the rivet goes cold and stiff again, and gets stuck.
If you think you have got it right and properly lined up, it's OK to give it a tap with the hammer.
If you judge that wrong, it bends and gets stuck in the hole.
This time we did it right. Jeff on the right has the air powered stop block, while Neal has the rivet gun on the left.
Now to lock the stop block in place with some air pressure - there's a shout of 'air on'.
As soon as the air is on and the stop block jammed into the channel, Neal jumps into position and hammers the rivet head to seal it in. There's a short burst of rat-a-tat-a-tat.
We had a great and very successful day, completing all 4 intermediary supports as we had hoped.
Next is riveting the cleats on the stringers. For this we would like to use the 'Squeezer', that giant magnet shaped thing suspended from the A frame. We have to borrow that from a generous supporter, so here's hoping we get it on time. We have until the end of the year.
Oh, and if you want to see a video of the Growler growling, look here: