Wednesday 27 March 2019

Whoops !

Whoops ! We missed a post on Saturday. This was due to a 3 day mini break to Scotland, of which more later.

First, back to the matters in hand on the railway.

Friday at Broadway.

We're waiting for the scaffolders to arrive, so that we can make a start on the roof of the steps, and other woodwork related to them.

In the meantime we are putting up the spearhead fence and cast iron posts along the forecourt, to complete our frontage up to the B&B.

The spearhead panels have long feet (in a slight departure from the original) and here John is digging out a hole for one of these.

The feet will stand in plastic tubes in this area, and in the picture Neal is cutting one to length, before settling it down into the hole John dug.

Three holes were required. The first inches below ground are difficult to dig through, as you have to break through the slagstone blinding the GWR laid in to keep the underground clay at bay.

Once through the slagstone you are into the solid blue clay, and here Neal's auger comes in jolly useful.

A smaller hole needed here? Neal has a smaller auger. Of course.

At the gate end Neal drilled the holes for the bolts that will hold the first fence panel in place.

These gate posts, cast from a pattern specially made for us, a very useful. They are multifunctional, and can be used to attach either gates or spearhead fencing panels. Or even act as a newel post, which is what we are doing at the bottom of the steps.

Just before lunch we had enough holes dug for a test fitting.

What do you think of it so far?

Two panels were placed with their feet in the two holes dug. They were removed again later, so that we could clean and paint the two rails for the cast iron bridge notice.

The blue tube in the middle is for the canopy end post.

Hi there!
Monday is a non-running day. Until a train comes in, here for a fire and drive experience. Nice to have the platform free of people, but it won't be long. The season has got going again, and so far, so good.

Yes, Hi There! Nice to see you too.

Having cleaned the posts with a wire brush, we put on a protective coat in the afternoon.

There, the first 3 panels are in. They do round the frontage off beautifully. Now Peter of the Broadway gang will measure up the actual distance remaining, and will make the last two panels to fit. These are both one-offs, including the return to the left which ends in the last post by the tower for the bridge. One day it might go further, along the back of the platform.

Wednesday at Manor Lane

Our PWay train brought to Manor Lane by the Winchcombe yard shunter.
Today Wednesday was our last chance to do any fishplate greasing on a non-running day with the Wednesday gang. As we have a lot of kit to get out we asked for the train to be brought out, which saves a lot of loading and unloading with the Landies. As a result, we did exceptionally well today, three quarters of a mile!

It's a lovely view of the Cotswolds; but turn to the left and the advancing housing estates are just 2 fields away.

We commented on that last week, and here is a picture.

It's a long road with a 25Kg Animal stretching your arm.
We had a team of 12, and allowed ourselves a little luxury by splitting that into two groups of 10 (fishplate greasing) and 2 (correction of minor defects along the loop).

The track walkers produce an excellent report which details precisely where even the tiniest fault can be found. One of these was a report of a fishplate fitted upside down (years ago, it must be said) and this was located at the north end of the loop. We loaded the heavy stuff into a wheelbarrow and pushed it as far as we could, but the nearer we got to the target location, the harder it got to push, so eventually Dave picked up the heavy Animal and just lugged it to the site.

A wrong'un, obviously upside down, see.

Arrived on site, we looked and we looked but couldn't find the upside down fishplate, which was spray painted to help us.

Eventually we made a phone call, to discover that the location was the other north end.

Well, who knew. With that vital piece of information we found the plate soon enough, and put it the right way round without problems.

Job done, now for some broken plastics.

Next, several broken plastics on the list. How long do these things last, we wondered? They were all replaced with new without problems, even this one, worth a photograph because the issue is one we have never seen before.

The plastic 'biscuit' isn't broken at all, but hanging half off to one side. How on earth did it get like that?

Our little team of two deals with an upside down fishplate

After lunch we united and became a team of 12, except that two gang members dropped off, so the greasing team stayed at a net 10 volunteers.

We started by the PWay train stabled in the far distance, can you see it?

We had the three vehicles out, a TB2 to undo, the trolley with the compressor and the greasing unit, and the second TB2 to do the bolts up again. Three men on each, and one to 'prep' the bolts with a large spanner if they were too stiff.

Some of the nuts were really very hard to undo. Too much for the power of the petrol TB2, and too much for the spanner too it seemed, as a lengthening of the leverage was required by means of a bar stuck in the end to get this one off. Plus two men to pull on it, Jules and Paul.

But, mission accomplished, and we got this one loose too.

Greasing the CWR breather at the beginning of the CWR section.
We were a bit under time pressure, but were very keen to reach the outskirts of Bishops Cleeve, where a section of CWR started. How good it would be if we could tick that off. Then, beyond the CWR through the former station, it is just a short hop to CRC to complete the entire railway.

With just half an hour to go before our train was due to be picked up again, we finally reached the breather.

We had just done three quarters of a mile, from the PWay train parked way back at the beginning of this long straight. We felt good.

Time for a 'selfie' of the proud gang. Here we are then:

Martin, John R, Jules, John B, Robert, Dave D, Paul and Dave P. 
Alan and Mike could only do half a day, so didn't make the snap.

All that remained then was the long trudge back to the train, three quarters of a mile. This stuff certainly keeps you fit.

Saturday - Monday in Scotland

If you love trains and good food,you might enjoy this: a three day mini break by private train to Fort William and back. It's called The Statesman.

The luxury train is made up out of 7 Mk2s in Pullman style, a Mk1 full kitchen and top-tail haulage by two class 47s. You eat and drink all the way there, and all the way back.

The train is based at Crewe, but started out from Milton Keynes.

To keep the carriages fully watered up there are occasional water replenishment stops, such as this one at Penrith. This is an opportunity for a quick visit to the front to see which loco is pulling the train.

Here it's 47 593, with the beautiful name of GALLOWAY PRINCESS. Despite the 14 hour journey, she remained immaculate throughout.

In Scotland you are welcomed by a pipe band, here at the start of the West Highland Line.

On arrival at Fort William, the train reverses and hence the leading loco is the other class 47, D1944, CRAFTSMAN.

Another immaculate turnout, here in BR two tone green.

The scene is Glenfinnan viaduct, on the way to Mallaig.

From the viaduct you get a moody view of Loch Shiel, with the Jacobite Glenfinnan monument just visible on the shore on the left.

The return journey is also in the care of D1944 CRAFTSMAN. The train paused briefly on this stunning curved viaduct leading to Rannoch station, with the snow covered Highlands in the background. It's only March, after all.

Loch Treig allures with its black, peat laden water, just under the distinct snow line a short walk up the mountain.

Elsewhere there is just emptiness and wild nature.

Thanks to the train, you get a brief view of this secret landscape, here off the horseshoe viaduct.

A final glimpse of The Statesman, here at the lonely outpost of Rannoch. There's a half hour to photograph your own train, while it waits for a regular service to cross.

Now it's back to earth with a bump, and fishplate greasing today. But it's good to be among friends again on the gang. Custard doughnuts today too, a real treat.

If you like the class 47, you might be lucky and glimpse our very own 47 376, which carries the name FREIGHTLINER 1995.


  1. Interesting blog, as usual Jo. Rather envious of that trip to Scotland - looks like fun! I wonder what that 3 inch drainpipe is for that goes horizontally from the edge of the blue pipe with the canopy foundation in?
    Another question - do you know what's happened with the S&T blog? No posts for a month now. Hope Curly is OK.

  2. The 3 inch pipe will take the water from the downpipe by the canopy support to the stormwater drain. You have to think of these things in advance - they're slabbing away behind us.

    Don't know about the S&T blog.

    However, there is a new blog just set up for the drainage gang, in replacement of their Flickr site.

    You can see it here:

  3. Thanks, Jo. I had already stumbled across the drainage blog!

  4. The spear fencing does set the frontage off nicely. Is there a set time for when the canopy extension gets under way?
    Well done on the greasing. the weather looked perfect.
    It looks like you had a wonderful time on the Statesman. The scenery tells it all.
    Regards, Paul.

    1. We've penciled in November for the canopy extension.

  5. The scaffolding has arrived on platform 2 - and it's blocking the view from the camera! Any chance of getting it moved? (the camera, that is!)

    1. Worse was yet to come, the camera went dead whilst the bridge steps were being worked on this afty (29th)

  6. So the Pway outing for 2020 is sorted , The New Statesman ! Great work on the Fishplate greasing down to B.C. Sunny in Cornwall today and every day this week ,now taking STEAM timetables to the Bodmin and Wenford en route home . john M.

  7. I wonder if the plastic insert under the rail clip moved out of position as a result of track creep. Trains tend to push rails in the direction of travel, and maybe that particular rail moved enough to take the plastic bit with it.

    Having said that, rail creep isn't usually a big problem on a single line, because trains passing in opposite directions cancel out the effect.

    Maybe the plastic insert is being pushed a relatively long way out of position by very small movements of the rail, because the rail clip has lost its springiness and isn't holding the plastic down firmly enough. As time (and trains) go by, the least firmly-fixed component moves...

  8. And the best livery for a 47, two tone green, yellow panel, does anyone know if 47105 will be panel this way?