Saturday 27 April 2019

A war-time day making dagger boards

Friday at Broadway

War time is coming to Broadway, and it was with some trepidation that we rounded the corner on to the platform.

And there they were, two unexploded bombs! Right under our scaffolding too. Dare we risk it?

The P1 steps were covered in camouflage netting too, bearing various warning notices.

Two volunteers were seen walking in tandem along the length of the platform. Was it a race? An endurance test? Perhaps they were just limbering up for something greater?

And yes! Soon these Superman strong volunteers were seen going the other way with barrows laden to extraordinary heights with heavy sandbags. Is there no limit to their strength? A single sandbag would soon exhaust many of our older volunteers.

Thanks to the heavy duty barrow wheeling of Jules and Dave, Broadway station is well protected against enemy attack, Saturday and Sunday. Do come and see it, by train, or by parking in the car park under the bridge.

And then the train came.... Friday is a non-running day, or is it? The class 26 D5343 rumbled into the station with some goods vans in tow.

It parked itself with its train on P2....

...then ran round...

... and after parking the wagons in the storage siding, came back with the PWay train, trailing two bogie flats, one filled with rail, the other with concrete troughing. This was brought into P2.

After detaching the bogie flat with the troughing, the rest of the PWay train was returned to the headshunt via P1. All to the sound of a Sulzer engine turning at no more than 750rpm.

It has something, that old fashioned splutter.

Finally the class 26 came back from the headshunt and after running round again (what a lot of manoeuvres....) it attached to the southern end of the bogie flat with the troughing, and then finally made off with it, with some lusty acceleration audible.

We could only stand and wonder, but then it was off to work.

The weather was very changeable on Friday, so we worked close to the containers, from where we could dive in and out to miss the showers.

Here is the production of dagger boards in progress - we need rather a lot of them.

Some were laid out outside, to see whether the effect was the desired one.

A start was made on fitting them to the roof timbers of the steps, and they were quickly touched up with primer in those areas where cuts had taken place.

Outside on P2 more T&G planks were primered, so that they could be cut to size for dagger boards. The timbers in the background had a second coat, and one had a length chopped off and was fitted to the roof of the P1 steps to see how it went.

The length was fitted to near the top of the P1 steps - there will be another nearer the camera. Between them will be a length of corrugated iron sheeting.

Neal and John fitted 26 dagger boards so far.

In the picture they are working out the transition from slope to level.

The new cross member can just be seen top right.

From inside the footbridge centre span you can see the dagger boards follow the roof line of the steps downwards. The corrugated iron sheets are currently being primered.

Saturday at Toddington

War time in the Cotswolds! But not for us. The PWay gang had a normal working day, although we did catch glimpses of the festivities.

We kicked off with tea in the mess coach at Winchcombe, outside of which was parked this lovely pair consisting of C&W shunter D2182 and a Mk1 in carmine and cream.

Me push the trolley? No way!
After giving the locos of the day time to exit the yard, we got a possession for siding 1 at Toddington to continue with its repair.

Here's what you get when you try to squeeze all the tools on to a small trolley. There were still loads left on the two Landies off camera on the right, so eventually a second trolley was found (background).

With the second trolley also loaded up, we realised that they were in the wrong order for the two jobs we had in mind - sleeper replacement, and fishplate repair.

The fishplate trolley was therefore shunted to one side, as the sleeper changing trolley forged ahead.

It wasn't long before the first train went by, this time headed by 4270, back from gone away. Here it is just getting the token for Winchcombe.

We had 4 more sleepers left to change on siding 1, and they were all at this end.

As they were GWR throughbolters we could only get them out by splitting them in two down their length. You can then get one half out, while the other half tends to cling on to the bolt under the chair. You have to get that out by applying some violence to it.

Boot scraper in kit form. A tube of Araldite is provided.
The violence works, but can result in a smashed chair, so no good as a bootscraper. We weighed that one in.

The 4 remaining sleepers were all in a little group by the box, so we did them together. They were replaced by new softwood sleepers with AS1 chairs. The old GWR throughbolters were barrowed over to 2807's boot scraper factory, which is only yards away here, as it happens.

All 4 sleepers were soon replaced. The finishing touch is packing and levelling off with ballast. Mostly that is ash, in this area.

We could hear the Wartime festivities in full swing and found that this was the first time we had ever changed sleepers to music. It was certainly merrier, but it didn't make the digging any easier.

At the end of the morning the 4 sleepers were in, and here are the sad remains of the rotten ones we pulled out. They now need picking up, to deliver a tidy site.

Our 15 mile line was busy today, with 2807, Dinmore Manor and 4270 all out with the three rakes. Above, two of them are just crossing at Toddington.

Once 2807 had arrived at Toddington, Dinmore Manor was released with it strain for CRC, and can be seen here accelerating away towards the signal box, where it would pick up its token for the section. Elegant, or what?

At one point we paused with our digging due to a loud roaring noise from the car park.

It was this Spitfire, in which (correct us if mistaken) you could sit with the engine running.

''Is that your tank out there, Lt Gruber?'' ''Yes, I heff just given it a little polish.''
Also interesting was this Hellcat tank. It was a fast tank destroyer, one of 2507 built from 1942 onwards, and equipped with the same radial engine as the Sherman.

You can come and see it on Sunday, when the weather should be a little friendlier. It was biting cold today.

In the loco shed at Toddington the cleaning and painting of the two yard lamp posts has been completed. They are ready to be planted in the yard. Both are in the picture, the second is in the distance up against the side of the shed.

The nearest one has also been equipped with the ladder bars it should have. These were no longer present when installed at Dumbleton, from where we bought it.

The ladders and lamp lighter's platform for both are also ready.

Outside in the yard a mini digger was busy digging a trench for the electrical supply to both posts. The loco department is really getting on with this lovely little project, although we have still not ordered the 2 replica 6 sided lamp tops for them.

The first post will go here, south of the water tower. Some extra light (and heritage embellishment) will work well in this area.

The second yard lamp will go here, a little nearer the yard throat. You can see the mini digger just back filling the trench it just dug. Quick work here!

Outside the loco shed 35006 was attracting some interest from the home guard. The big pacific was in light steam and ran up and down the yard a few times.

Lunch was back in the mess coach, out of that biting wind. We treated ourselves to hot tea and chocolate cake. Hmmmmmm.....

After lunch we returned to siding 1 and the two gangs merged. Improving the fishplates was a tricky job and some extra moral support was very welcome. All the fishplates on this siding were originally done up with two bolts only, and were not always lifters where normally required.

Two bolts, no lifter here
Fishplate completed, not yet started at the back.

This picture shows a rail being driven along to close a gap at the other end. A wedge is used.

Here a rusted up bolt is being removed by disk cutter, after the impact wrench was unable to undo the bolt.

Once all old bolts have been removed, the fishplate is either replaced by a better fitting one, or simply done up with 4 bolts instead of two.

The impact wrench (aka The Animal) is in use here.

Mid afternoon we tidied up and returned, trackside, to Winchcombe.

Mid way, we encountered 4270 chugging along merrily, so we paused briefly to let it past.

Next week, we will try to conclude the fishplate replacement at Toddington, unless we get permission to sort out a number of dips that have been reported.

If you want to see a film of 4270 hacking past, have a look at this brief clip of it (it was windy...)


  1. A query about the Edwardian photo of Broadway in the previous post. The original roof looks to have a wider overlap than the sheets in the present structure (end of top section) and seems to be supported by a moulding, presumably wooden, which compliments the moulding on the station gable end triangle The interesting point is the way in which moulding follows the curve of the roof. Is it known how this might have been achieved and will anything similar be fitted to the new footbridge? Richard T

    1. Stroud has a GWR footbridge in much the same style as Broadway. The curved moulding just below the roof sheets is formed of shaped lengths of wood - I assume cut to suit the curve, rather than bent to shape somehow.

      Probably quite easy for the Great Western to make these components, since they would be standard items, produced in bulk. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a special Footbridge Curved Timber Shop at Swindon, churning out the necessary sections.

      Here's a photo of the Stroud footbridge - if you click to enlarge, it gives a good view of how the timber sections follow the roof. Note that the section at the top doesn't quite line up with the next one. The roof sheets don't overlap at all, but I would assume they're not the originals. But you never know - I'll have to measure the corrugations next time I'm at Stroud, to see if they're five inch or thee inch!

    2. We do have original drawings that we can consult.
      Stroud is indeed the same type, and it would be useful if Broadway had the same half height windows, to keep the drifting rain from wetting the indside.
      However, one has to be careful in referring to a 100 year old structure as an example, as it will have been altered or improved over the years. That was certainly the case with HIA. The tower legs for example are now light stone, whereas they should be dark. They were painted light stone because that is how it was at HIA! The HIA bridge had plywood dagger strips and electric lighting conduits.

  2. Unable to attend the Wartime event. Seeing the photo's made me think weren't station names and similar, taken down or obliterated during that time?