Wednesday 23 January 2019

If you want to get ahead, get a headshunt.

Monday on the steps

The landing supports are loaded, but the Warflat is still at Toddington, so today was a chance to carry on riveting, this time on the smaller parts.

We have a total of 8 'goalposts', of which 7 need to be riveted together. These are attached to the stringers, 4 on each side, and hold up the corrugated iron roof sheets that keep passengers dry.

When all is done, people will be able to walk, in the dry, from the booking office with their ticket, up and over the footbridge and along P2 to the waiting room there, all without ever being exposed to the weather.

In the upper RH side of this old picture, taken in the car park site at Broadway, you can see the 'goal posts' and the brown stringers to which they are attached.

This close up shows how the originals have rusted away at the bottom, as did the stringer on the RH side. Note also the rivets.

We were late starting today, and even later starting with the rivets as our first idea to put the 'jammer' on the floor to give counter pressure to the rivet gun didn't work. The rivet jumped about, and had to be cut out again. It became an 'iffy rivet'.

Heads were scratched during lunch.

The solution as seen in the picture was to bolt together two 'goal posts' and put the jammer in between.
Meanwhile one lonely rivet remained on the BBQ, waiting for John to fire up the flame thrower. Of course the lighter had vanished - there are several groups working in the loco shed, on different projects - so a private one had to be organised. And where is the Fruit D - our store room - which suddenly moved down the line by 100 yds. But we found you......

To hold two sets of 'goal posts' together Neal first had to manufacture 4 strips with bolt holes in the ends. You can see one in place on the far left.

Just before we start riveting, Neal checks the right angle with a giant set square. Neal has everything...
And then the first 8 rivets went in. Neat, aren't they?

We did the first 2 'goal posts' as a pair, then took away the top one and put on a third. This avoided us having to turn the whole construction round and round.

Here another upright is about to be bolted on, prior to final riveting.

At the end of the day we had done 4, and jolly tiring it was too. Despite the freezing weather, we gradually found ourselves actually sweating as we ran round with hot rivets and struggled with the jammer.

Three are now parked outside, one is indoors and 3 more have to be made for next time.

A couple of little extras, there's always something going on, on the railway:

The headshunt at Toddington south has been cleared, and it is now ready for dismantling, and raising with spent ballast.

Four spare bogies that were in that line have been temporarily parked in the unloading road.

They shouldn't be there for very long though.
At Winchcombe Stevie cleared the area formally occupied by the two ruined GWR coaches. This is so that we have some storage for a supply of S/H concrete sleepers with chairs that we unexpectedly found. Thanks to Alastair for the picture.

96 sleepers arrived on Wednesday and were stacked here. Another 3 lorry loads are expected as part of this acquisition. There may be more.

Wednesday on the winter relay

And winter it was too.

Headlines this morning: Chaos, victims, compensation...

Meanwhile, at Toddington we enjoyed the slight wintery sprinkle and looked forward to some hot doughnuts in the mess coach.


The gas oven wouldn't gas. Although Martin spent several long minutes stretched out on the floor with the lighter, we could not get any life out of it. Something seems to be clogged.

What's a volunteer to do?

Well, the kettle was on and at least one doughnut got warmed. Well done that man for initiative!

Then we were kicked out by Dave to go and do some work.

The southern headshunt was cleared of diesel engines and wagons on Sunday, and today we attacked it with hammers and the impact wrench to remove keys and fishplates.

It's quite a wintery scene, isn't it? We were split into two teams, of which one here on dismantling the headshunt, while the other, nearer to the nice warm mess coach, carried on clipping up and bolting down the rails laid on Saturday.

Once everything was loose, Stevie came in to lift out the rails. They were all quite short - it's a siding after all, no need for the highest quality here.

We jacked up the turnout end to give us an idea of the height we needed to achieve with spent ballast.

You can see the difference, and this is only the start. Aka 'The Ski Jump' by some volunteers, it's really quite a sharp drop down here.

Also busy this morning was Neil from S&T who came in the Baguley Drewry rail car to fettle the two turnouts with a view to installing point motors.

The sole plate as supplied strangely had some holes in the wrong place under the chairs and in the end we concluded that we had to drill new holes, there was nothing else for it.

Installation of the point motors is not exactly imminent, as they need some work doing on them as well. But there is progress.

Stevie made short work of getting the rails out, leaving just a string of dubious second hand sleepers behind. We're going to replace many of these with the best taken out of the winter relay section. The rest can be sold as 'garden quality'.

A bit further along the difference in height between the headshunt and the main line became very plain. There must be 18 inches in it along here.

The very end of the headshunt had concrete bullhead sleepers and these we will keep for use in a more deserving place than this siding.

Stevie scooped up the wooden sleepers with the forks and took them to our storage area a bit further along.

Here a gang with strong arms pulled them off the forks and stacked them, unsorted as yet, in piles 5 high.

Apologies for the poor light, it's that low winter sun again.

An AS1 you say? That made my day.
All sorts of different sleepers came out of the siding.

Here are two that look the same, but are not. Some of the differences are very subtle, but the experienced among us can identify them in the bat of an eyelid.

In the foreground is an S1, behind it an AS1. One has jaws of different heights, the other has jaws the same. When you carry them around you though don't really care though, they are both equally heavy at 46lbs apiece.

Meanwhile, the other gang made good progress along the relay. They are now well away from the signal box. The TB2 is fired up to screw down the chair bolts, while others insert Panlock keys to hold everything together.

It's fascinating stuff, true, but you won't get very warm that way.

After a while the Telehandler came back from Winchcombe, where it had unloaded the 96 sleepers, and took over the lifting of the old wooden sleepers. This released Stevie to pick up the concretes at the back.

Finally all the sleepers were gone, a great step forward.

From now on things get better, as we start adding the spent ballast back and shortly after that, relay the track.

First to be addressed is the stop block.

Dave lifted the far end with the Telehandler, whereupon three of us pushed the first load of spent ballast underneath.

The Telehandler then went to the other end and lifted that up too.

Stevie came and threw some ballast in that as well.

And finally - the lucky 3 volunteers who had wisely thought to bring shovels were allowed to shovel the ballast under the sleepers of the stop block, so that it ended the day more or less equal in height to the main line running behind it.

We called it a day there, as a lot of digging out of spent ballast is now required, and Stevie will be doing that tomorrow. The relaying of the siding tracks can then be started the following working day.

The bolting down and keying up gang were also coming to a close, as the sun began to disappear behind the mess coach. They did the whole of the stretch laid so far, so that bit is now ticked off.

This section is now ready for more sleepers, and more rail.

A quick look at Broadway

The contractor here is making good progress, working every day of the week.

During the brief visit the coach turning area was being prepared. More kerbs need to be laid here, once the levels are correct.

The station forecourt has now been completely dug out back to the natural clay underneath, and a layer of ballast added.

The whole site has a slight slope to the left, where the stormwater drain and gullies are situated.

The line of the granite kerbs is now much clearer.

More granite kerbs need laying on the left here, and the area has been excavated in readiness.

There's also a more noticeable lift into the B&B.

Despite a big notice asking people not to turn in there, a surprising number of people do, so it's good to make the difference in properties clearer.

The private footsteps for the stationmaster (as was) have had a refreshing refurbishment with newer sleepers.

This is how the Broadway stationmaster, and indeed the 4 staff that lived in the cottages behind, had a short cut down to the station entrance by the footbridge.

The steps are no longer used very much, but they are part of the history of the station.

A last look at the forecourt here. It looks so much better now that the granite kerbs have been revealed. The original plan was for no kerbstones at all, but heritage supporters were able to argue the case after a source of supply was found in Leamington.

Original kerbstones can still be seen at Hall Green for example.

The end of the canopy is temporary and the space on the right will receive the canopy extension currently being fabricated at Toddington. This will give a 6m overhang, a big circulating space underneath and accept the bottom end of the footsteps. We hope to bring these to Broadway during this winter season.


  1. How many sleepers are required from Broadway home signal to Honeybourne station loop.... ;-)

  2. A great and informative blog

    1. Michael Slipper,

      I agree with you. There are three separate reports written by Jo.

      Well done on all the activities.

      Marvelous work done by one and all.


    2. Agreed x2. This is by a country mile the most informative, detailed blog of any preservation project in the nation. And there are some pretty good ones out there. Please keep it up Jo, it's inspirational to us armchair types so must be even more so to you guys who actually get your hands dirty

  3. Fab!! (in a hurry too visit Lago Maggiore Jo)

    1. 'Cannobio, Cannobio, prossima fermata Cannobio'

  4. I wonder if there is some kind of mechanical sieve that can be hired in for jobs like this to sort the re-usable balast from the soil & ash...

    1. Network Rail has ballast cleaners, which are basically massive vacuums which suck up the ballast, screen out the rubbish, and deposit the cleaned ballast back on the track. Here's a video of one in operation:

      The Cambrian Railway at Oswestry has a static ballast screener, which is a slightly more primitive machine...

      By the way, the Cambrian Railways PW blog is a good read, if you're interested in relaying projects. I'm fascinated to see they've got a section of slab track:

      Ballast does wear out eventually - it can't be cleaned and replaced indefinitely. Over time the sharp angles of the individual stones smooth off, and don't lock together so well. This allows the track to move about too much as passing trains exert forces on it.

      You can get away with rounded ballast if you're only running lightweight and/or slow trains. The Volks Electric Railway at Brighton uses beach pebbles for ballast. But for most railways new, sharp, granite ballast will be needed in the end. This is why buying 'spent' ballast from Network Rail is a false economy...there's a reason they're getting rid of it!

    2. On the KESR in the 1970s we had a short stretch of track where we tried beach shingle from Dungeness, where it is plentiful.

      Not a good idea. It was like laying track on marbles, it didn't hold the track together at all and it wobbled about.

      To add insult to injury, the area where the beach was tried was henceforth called '(insert name of person whose idea it was)'s slip'!

    3. Something like the Cambrian's static ballast screener would be ideal for this kind of job... could have set it up in the car park and it could have processed the spent ballast as it was dumped!

  5. Excellent work! Both on the Broadway footbridge additions and on the track!
    With the wintery pics ( i.e. SNOW), you could think about a new seasonal set of cards/calendar for next Christmas!
    Regards, Paul.

    1. You have nearly hit the nail on the head.
      In fact another volunteer asked me to take a picture of a signal box, should there ever be snow.

      Happy to oblige!

  6. Hi Jo. Thanks for the info - looking forward to seeing those footbridge steps being installed! And we can keep an eye on progress with the new webcam which I've just found. For those who haven't stumbled upon it yet, it's available on which is a new blog (I think by Vic).
    The camera works perfectly on my computer, but not on my Samsung Smart TV frustratingly!