Dry at last! Our first pleasant day out on the line for ages. When the sun shone (sometimes) it was agreeably warm, although dark, menacing clouds always seemed to hover in the background.
Notice that the gang is being photographed from the cab. Well, it's mutual. Here is our effort ! Better than two grubby old Landrovers and a bunch of guys shuffling their feet.
The first job is to set up the TSR (temporary speed restriction) signs. It means heaving two heavy concrete blocks into the Landie now, every time we go out. Why can't they be made of Polystyrene, we ask?
Then we have to wait for permission to work on the track. This is under new arrangements, and it slows down our productivity a lot.
Finally the gang is unleashed. We are at Didbrook here, between the two bridges (handily called Didbrook 1 and, yes you've guessed it, Didbrook 2.)
Did you know there is a little stream running through Didbrook? It's called The Did. Ah, hence the name....
To kick off, we establish the area of sleepers that need to be dug free. We are addressing a twist here, a drop in the Cotswolds side rail that occurs with annoying regularity. We suspect that the cause is the absence of the usual ditch at the foot of the embankment there. Drainage is key for a good quality railway track.
Red marks the start of the dip.
Jim keeps a good lookout as well.
We Kango-ed away for quite a time, doing about 20 sleepers in a row to remove the dip. It's slow work and the Kango hammers are heavy.
The second steamer then chugged by. We had to explain to a visitor at Broadway the day before what the difference was between 'Steam1' and 'Steam2' on the timetable. It seems perfectly logical to us that work here, but of course we are used to it and to outsiders this railway stuff is all very mysterious.
4270 then came back from Cheltenham. The trains were well filled today (as opposed to Thursday, which was wet and nobody travelled) and we thought we detected a somewhat joyful hen party on board too.
This is one of the items that raised our displeasure at the insulated joint by the signal.
The bolt is not securing the chair properly because the old (wooden) ferrule has failed.
It's a small fault which is easily cured, as today we use much more durable plastic ferrules (although a garish yellow) whereas in the good old days the ferrules were little wooden barrels cut straight from a plank. That's not designed to last very long.
With the impact wrench we can quickly undo the chair screw, poke out the old ferrule, and place a new yellow one. Back on with the 'Animal' and it's job done. Next.
Unfortunately this fishplate is so specialised that we don't have a replacement off the shelf, so it needs to be ordered. Once fitted we should not have to return, or at least less often.
A very rough idea of the sort of lift required can be gleaned by placing some sort of straight edge across the joint. Notice how the LH end of it is free of the rail - it shows that a one eighth lifter is needed here. Insulated, bullhead too.
More mundane work continued, as we dug this suspect sleeper free so that it could be replaced.
Here's the new one, already in place. That didn't take very long; we have an experienced crew and with two Landies on site we had all the tools to hand.
Bert checked the wear on a number of rails in the area. The wear rates are all different. Poor old Pete L was here when the rails were laid back in 1981/2 and felt a bit guilty about all these discrepancies, but explained that second hand rail was all we had at the time.
The extension to Broadway, our latest relay achievement, was done all in new rail on concretes and has given virtually no trouble since.
Before starting, we let 4270 saunter by with a train for Cheltenham.
With this job done too we returned home to Winchcombe. Some then treated themselves to a trip on the last train, 'just to check the track from above' while yours truly ventured into the cavernous C&W shed in search of a firebucket painted for Broadway.
Ah - there it is. A note was left by the kind painter. Didn't they do well?
The whole bucket, a donation from a well wisher, has been repainted and lettered.
Note that at the back the original owner has had his letters embossed - G-W-R.
We are still looking for another bucket like this one ( a tall bucket) and some brackets, if you know of any.
Quality stuff from our very own C&W department.