After the torrential downpour and sleet on Thursday - during which, of course, your blogger was out on a 4 mile walk - the outlook on Friday morning was a little more hopeful.
We arrived early, in anticipation of an 8am start by the scaffolders.
As we cleared the site for them, we admired the excellent slabbing work around the P1 steps. It's almost finished now, certainly good for the scaffolding to go on top. It's opened out the whole area.
The pavement extension will also be slabbed, and to deal with the difference in height there will be a step under the spearhead fence along here. An Arco drain was also installed to collect any standing water.
At 9 o'clock the scaffolders finally came. How can you tell? The radio was installed on the platform. It's the first thing that comes off the van. Scaffolders can't work without a radio. Turn it off, and they stop. A curious phenomenon.
With the scaffolding rising around the P1 steps now, work continued on the P2 steps and here you see them with the newly installed boards in white primer. Just the top LH one is still to go.
Meanwhile Neal was cutting the next timbers for the P1 steps to size down by the containers.
When we do these on Monday they will be ready and should be mounted in no time.
The prepared timbers were immediately put into primer on P2, just as 2807 rumbled by on its second trip to the station.
Saturday at Toddington - and Didcot.
A late arrival on site at Toddington, due to an early trip to Didcot, of which more below.
|Hurrying to work|
At 10.30 the gang hadn't actually started, due to some last minute shunting occupying the line.
The class 47 was going, the class 24, an 03, lots of hooting and tooting in the yard. Finally we were unleashed.
We were back on 'Siding 1' where our mission was to change 24 failed sleepers, as well as review all the fishplates from 1982.
We did 6 sleepers last week, and another 6 today. So we're half way there.
The worst bit is the digging out, it's really a young man's job. If only we had a mini digger!
This is the first sleeper used today, it has a 'K' on it for 'knackering'. It's a hardwood one.
Diana had a go on the impact wrench, and did very well. It's only used very briefly, but it saves so much work with the T spanner.
The word is that this trailer vehicle, formerly on the WSR, will be refurbished and used to make up a 4 car DMU, thus creating more capacity for those trains when it is quite full (which has happened in fact).
We use the DMUs quite a lot; there was one out and about today, despite there being two 8 coach loco hauled trains as well. Very busy, and quite fun.
|Yes, we love you too.|
Among our many duties is compulsory waving. There is a lot of waving necessary with a full 8 coach train trundling by at a steady 10 mph, the station limits speed. We now know how Her Majesty feels.
|Three jumbo jets taking holidaymakers from Wolverhampton to Benidorm.|
|Doctor, doctor, I can't get to sleep. Read this new rule book then.|
Our team was small today, so there was a bad miscalculation in the cake consumption, pre-funded by yours truly.
16 slices of chocolate, and chocolate and caramel cake were purchased, but only 10 consumed.
A quick calculation reveals that 6 slices returned to the Blogger Country Pile for mopping up. Not something to be repeated every week. And yet 8 days ago the gang ate all 16 slices. It's a challenge, that.
|Photograph by John Lees|
Note the interesting wriggle at the top end of the yard. That isn't there any more, although one of the turnouts is now laid back to front, which achieves its aim but isn't very neat.
The yard throat was connected to the main line. That was later taken away, and refitted by us a year ago.
The two signal posts may well be originals to the line.
The rail head stops just beyond the yard throat. That's all the line we had in 1982. Slowly the track was extended down the long straight and if you read old numbers of the Cornishman you will see the jubilation when the newly laid track finally disappeared out of sight round the curve.
One member of the PWay gang, still here today, predicted gloomily that we would never get past Didbrook 1 bridge.
We are happy to confirm that he was wrong!
Looking at the second hand track laid in 1982, we saw just how varied the sources of the rail were.
This fishplate reads:
xx 1923 xxxx 00 GWR MILD O.H.S xxxxx
Can anyone complete the text?
The '00' refers to 'ought-ought' rail, a GWR speciality which means normal 95lb fishplates don't fit. Of course.
Rail used for a cast iron sign at Broadway says 'Crewe 1899'.
These are of course not in our main running line, but all on a siding.
One of the sleepers we dug out had this water underneath, what we call a 'wet bed'.
It results from the initial laying of the track on to a ballast bed that had already been scraped clean once (by the demolition people) so in places the track ended up on a clay bed, or at best an ash one.
The new ballast seen on top is a thin layer added more recently.
Again, this is siding 1, not the main line.
All in all we did 6 or 7 sleeper digs and replacements, that was enough for today. Two more beds were excavated, so that will give us a flying start next time. There are 24 to do in total and at the end of the day we were half way there. The fishplates will be sorted out after that.
Other heritage stuff.
That trip to Didcot this morning.
A couple of blogposts ago we made a plea for a cast iron sign that goes at the foot of the footbridge steps. You can just make it out in the picture below.
|Broadway Cornishman, by John Diston.|
It then changed to this one:
Having read the blog appeal, reader and supporter David Barnard offered us his for a very kind price, reasoning that it would be better seen by hundreds by an actual GWR bridge, than by one person in his back garden.
This all in classic dodgy style, between two cars in a public car park at Didcot.
David then went to inspect 'Lady of Legend', while your blogger went on to dig ballast. David clearly got the better deal there.
The new cast iron sign is for the P2 side at Broadway, and was dropped off straight away at a shotblaster's for cleaning up, prior to repainting in black and white.
In other heritage news, the yard lamp post at Toddington (one of two) has been primered and today received a coat of paint.
It's really great to see this little project actually get under way. The loco dept. have made new ladder bars (which were missing on one of the posts), there is one original ladder with platform and another copy has been made for the second post.
Holes have been dug and cable for the electric supply found, so we are ready to go.
A design for replacement hexagonal lamp tops has been agreed, but the actual order is still pending.