Gang 1 went to Toddington with Landie 1 to fit new insulated fishplates south of the platforms, and
Gang 2 went to Broadway to replace a number of lifting fishplates with ones that were more accurate, after a season of operation.
In Gang 2 there were 3 of us in the new Landie.... it was very snug. Very. Luckily we were good friends, and Bert's gropes for our knees in the vicinity of fourth gear were interpreted most generously.
As the new car park entrance isn't finished yet we took the long way round to Broadway south, entering the track at Little Buckland and driving up.
We're not sure if these have appeared on the S&T blog yet, but there are 3 additional signal posts (S&T can never have enough signal posts) still waiting to be planted in the approaches to our new station.
This one is just north of Pry Lane bridge, and
this one just north of Childswickham Road bridge.
We'd like to say they were the outer home and advanced starter, but won't - GWR signal parlance, like its gauge and so many other things, was a case apart.
You can also see some of that troughing, removed from P2 (320 lengths still to go!) laid out and ready to be installed.
We changed some plates and replaced quite a few clips - they wriggle out, hard to believe - and here at Pry Lane the track walker had found a missing nut on a bolt securing the 'breather'.
The Cockney in your blogger wants to say 'eavvy breaver' to this rail expansion joint, an inclination that is hard to shake off, even a year later. You just are who you are, it seems.
Gang 1 at Toddington also came back and replenished their stock of insulated fishplates, which are particularly heavy. Ade managed this one quite well, although one anonymous poser carried two, one on each shoulder !
We had a specialist gauge which enabled you to measure the exact rate of wear on each rail used. As we need to move these rails around a bit, it is important that we match them, or else find appropriate lifter fishplates for them.
After adjusting the little wheel the gauge comes up with a reading in millimetres.
Bert then wrote it all down in a scratch drawing of the site, so that we know what is what and where.
To get the rubber pads of the crossing in, we need to have FB rail and the correct sleepers here, and the current layout does not quite meet that requirement. Things need to move around a bit, preferably without a train every 5 minutes.
Tim has a go, and doesn't get the same reading. Hence the knowing smile from Bert, who can do this in his sleep.
When back in the mess coach as a group, we reflected on this day a year ago, Saturday 4th November 2017. We couldn't get our mind round the fact that on that day we were laying track through the station, an yet now a year later the track is in, declared fit for running, and we have already had a record season behind us.
Where did time go? Surely it was much longer ago than that?
The date of departure coincided with the date of arrival of the same contractor at the site of the aqueduct. Work started on November 1st and the Bridges Blog should be able to post some pictures of that when it gets interesting.
Meanwhile, in the yard at Toddington....
... the ballast regulator was being loaded by Allelys. It's B&R's machine of course, so no doubt it will be going off to a job somewhere.
The intermediate landing supports have been laid out - inside out we are asked to say, before we get an 'I think you'll find' comment - and connected back to back with cross braces. This arrangement allows the 'Jammer' to prop itself against the other one when we rivet from the outside.
There were five of us today, with John 'on heat' and here Tom is joining up the air supply to the Jammer, held by Baz. Neal keeps an eye on things.
Tom was rivet runner again, and in this picture he has just popped one into its hole and is giving it a few taps to seat it home.
Heating the rivets is not a simple job. Well holding the torch is, but there is more to it than that, such as guessing the correct temperature that makes a rivet ready for collection.
If you overcook it, it goes crusty, and then it won't fit the hole.
We've made it a little grill here, out of old bricks.
It's also an idea to prepare a second one, while you heat the first to the peak of its performance.
The second can then warm up, saving time and precious gas.
After a shout of 'READY' from John, Tom grabs a rivet and comes bowling round the corner, red hot rivet leading. You'd better not stand in the way.
It was great to see how much more coordinated and efficient we became as the day proceeded.
Enquiries made, perhaps also on the part of the readership, revealed that it was a sand box annex cylinder block support. It sits behind the two cylinders, attached to the two frames.
Underneath the two actuators left and right are voids filled with sand, see also the lids attached with chains. But the centre part is not hollow, quite the contrary. It is a massive solid block, and weighs in at around three tons. It took ages to get out, but there it is. What a thorough overhaul for this interesting locomotive.
In this picture Baz is reaming out more of the holes. They have to be a bit bigger than for the bolts as the rivets swell up, and we can't have them catching on the second of the two plates we are attaching together. Sometimes there is a lip; we test for this with a rivet.
A cold one, of course.
All the holes on this side are now free, John is heating up the next batch, Tom is ready to pounce with the nips and here Neal is all dressed up and ready to go with the gun.
It's just a short burp, and it's all done. So quick.
In that case, all you can do is remove the rivet again and redo the job. It has to be perfect.
On the left is a row of perfectly executed rivets. Today we did all the ones in the trapezium here, four times. That makes 84 rivets done, not counting two that we did again.
On the right Neal is cutting off the head of one little miscreant.
Then it's time to drive him out with a large hammer and a drift.
Or an even bigger hammer. But neither did the trick. Although the rivet wasn't seated properly, it was in tight. What now?
Neal knew the answer - get the rivet gun on it, in reverse.
You can see John holding an old bolt into the rivet hole from above.
Then Neal jumped on it with the rivet gun, and RAT-A-TAT-A-TAT the miscreant rivet was out! Simples really.
It was the top one in this picture.
Getting that tightly wedged rivet out finally put a big grin on John's face.
All that was left to do was put a new rivet in again. Here it is just appearing at the business end. This is the bit that Neal will flatten out with the round headed gun.
Restoration of the rest of the Honeybourne line.
As you will know, after the extreme labour of completing our 3 mile extension to Broadway and construction (most of) the station from scratch, we have declared a breathing pause for the next few years.
Nonetheless we need to keep a wary eye on what is happening further north along our line, and something that raises concern has cropped up on the Stratford planning portal:
The two planning applications are: 18/01892/OUT & 18/01883/FUL. They concern the construction of 3100 houses on the former Long Marston airfield, and a (section of) new road skirting the south of Stratford.
It has always been the long-term aspiration of the GWSR to see reinstated as much as possible of the rail corridor between Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham. The two new planning applications pending before Stratford-Upon-Avon District Council however could, if approved, adversely affect any reinstatement of the railway between Long Marston and Stratford. That's not good.
It's very difficult to get all the facts together, and the essential parts are certainly not revealed in the two planning applications.
Have a read of this Rail Magazine article a year ago:
It seems to back up what we have heard from other sources that when the plans to construct 3100 houses on the airfield were initially announced, the developer agreed to put £17m section 106 funds towards the rebuilding of the commercial rail link between Stratford and the Long Marston development. (there is a second already under way, called Meon Vale, also adjacent to the former rail line, with other major housing growth at Honeybourne itself)
With the current planning application, and now as per the developer's own website, this section 106 money is now being switched to the new road. No explanation is given.
What we see is the withdrawal of the financial support for the rail link, in favour of a partial road link. This is what the two applications signify for the GWSR.
Please also do your own research, but if the withdrawal of the £17m for the reinstatement of the rail link is also of concern to you, then make this known to Stratford on Avon District council by objecting to the two applications. You can do this with a simple email to:
Please give this some thought, as it very negatively affects the long term future of our rail corridor. Building more roads is no longer of our time, particularly to provide mobility to two very large housing projects right next to a former railway line that led directly to Birmingham.