Today was that hot day, with 30 degrees C forecast. In fact it became 33 degrees, C, measured at Broadway on the way home. What do do? We couldn't dig out sleepers for packing, that was too hot, so we decided to replace 4 sets of fishplates under the road bridge at Winchcombe.
As it was a Saturday in the summer, we had 3 trains out, and one of these was the class 47, which came to Winchcombe to pick up the third rake.
We loaded the tools, everything we might need and then a bit more, into the Landie and took it round to the kitchen of the Coffepot.
From there we barrowed the stuff along the platform to the end by the bridge.
We then waited for the class 47 to come back.
One of them ought to go in here, by the starter signal. The trouble was, it was so hot already that the rails had expanded and there was no way we could get the insulating End Post in between the rail ends.
Plan B was to remove the old insulated joints, located where the starter signal used to be, and replace them with plain fish plates.
This is one here, just by the end of the platform.
|Sawing a rail in half...|
The answer is not work creation, but the removal of the old End Post (a piece of plastic inserted between the rail ends) by unusual means, as it is stuck in tight due to the higher than normal expansion of the rails. We couldn't get it out in the normal way, so desperate measures were resorted to.
Eventually both insulated fishplates were successfully removed form the P1 road. We replaced them with plain steel fishplates.
Here we are, standing back to let Foremarke Hall through with the second train.
Here the gang is waiting for the train to pass, before we attacked the second pair of joints, on the P2 road.
We should have filmed this departure, because Foremarke Hall really barked to get her train away up the hill and into the curve out of the station. A great performance.
Not like C&W, they have a parasol. You just sit in the cool shade and wave at passing trains, taking an occasional bite from your packed lunch. Some people have it made.
We had a problem with the replacement plain fishplate too, as the holes didn't match. Normally the spacing is 4 1/2 inches, 5 inches, and 4 1/2 inches, but here of course we had hit an exception, where the spacing was 5 inches, 5 inches, and 5 inches. It meant we had to flog all the way back to our stores to find a set of plates that matched this.
As we were tidying up the tools, the class 47 rolled back into Winchcombe. All the trains were passing at Gotherington today, all the trains at Winchcombe pulled into platfom 1, from whichever direction.
A look over the fence - Kent & East Sussex Railway
On Thursday 7 members of the PWay gang went to Kent for one of our annual visits to fellow steam railways. This is a social event, but it also helps us to understand how others work, and to make contacts with our opposite numbers.
Paul, John M, John R, Bob, Martin, David. Yours truly behind the camera.
We were well received by the KESR, and took away fond memories of our visit.
The KESR has a problem in that most of the line is flat, requiring a long legged locomotive, but the Tenterden end is very steep and requires a locomotive with a lot of pulling power. Not many can do both. On top of that they are working on extending the line by a further 3 miles, which means larger coal and water supplies will need to be carried.
This brings us to something they have in common with the GWSR, which is GWR steam locomotives! They have four, believe it or not. A Pannier tank 1638, two 0-6-2 tanks, and a heavy duty Welsh coal train hauling tank 4253, the same type as our very own 4270.
|Picture by 4253 Ltd|
The latter was bought as a complete wreck after 25 years at Barry and another 25 years on top of a Welsh mountain, so you can imagine what sort of work is required to get that one up and running. And yet progress has been remarkable. The rebuilding team gave themselves a 9 year rebuild target, and they are ahead of target. Amazing.
Meanwhile,we continued our shed tour.
As we stared at the pot of boiling something or other, a loud chopping announced the arrival of this Chinook.
It was flying at 'tree top height', and they weren't kidding either.
You could almost reach out and touch it, it was so low.
We took the next steam hauled train from Rolvenden to Bodiam, passing Northiam, where this very large pile of concrete sleepers was waiting to be used to make the final connection between Junction Road and Northbridge Street at Robertsbridge. It's a very exciting project, to complete the original line back to the main line connection with the London- Hastings line.
The KESR runs a combination of older and newer coaches. Our train had Mk1 stock, but there was the option of sitting in this lovely family saloon above.
A nice touch at Bodiam was this coal office. It was built in the vernacular style with a corrugated iron roof, wooden finials and shiplap sides.
If you look closer, it is in fact the toilet block.
This detail could come in useful for when we dress up the Usk building into a goods or coal office ourselves.
Huxford was a local coal merchant (anyone know which was the one for Winchcombe?) and this board was made with cast letters.
Your blogger's love for preserved railways pretty much started here in the 1960s when his father's car paused on the level crossing. The line was closed and there were no gates of course. It was most intriguing to see rails lead into bushes on both sides - what was that all about?
The track at the rear had a railway gun parked on it during the war. It fired only a few practice shots. One blew down an adjacent hut, another landed in Rye Bay. Take that, you hun !!!
The KESR also has some rolling stock jewels.
Most interesting for us GWSRistas was this 1940 GWR rail car, built at Swindon:
It's W20W, one of only two like it to survive. A third (at STEAM) is an earlier model, aka The Flying Banana.
This one is about two thirds through a very thorough overhaul. All the rotten woodwork has been renewed, new platework made, engines and gearbox overhauled, and a rewire done.
The driving ends and interior still remain to be done.
Two of us stayed behind to visit the KESR C&W workshops, where we were received most kindly.
The KESR also has a fabulous set of Pullmans, based around the former Hastings line pair BARBARA and THEODORA, two of six that were built that survive. With them, supported by a Maunsell NBO and a Mk1 RU they have run very successful Wealden Pullman dining trains for many years.
Just check out this paintwork, it is quite mouthwatering.
Your blogger was lucky enough to secure a pair of tickets back in the 1970s, paying the princely sum of £4.50 per seat, dinner included. We can reveal that it costs a little more than that today.
Just look at the splendour of this interior. It is so luxurious (or perhaps the restriction of the Hastings line so narrow....) that there is only one armchair seat on each side of the central corridor. Now that is class.
The walls all have the original marquetry panels
Outside there is matchboarding and the Pullman crest.
The car with the lovely interior is BARBARA.
The panel with the name is signed 'Meg' in the bottom RH corner. Clearly someone who is proud of her work (and rightly so).
This was made possible by the restoration of THEODORA. With two Pullmans and the Maunsell NBO in the rake it was possible to dedicate the Mk1 fully for staff and preparation purposes.
Another RU is about to take its place, also as a full kitchen vehicle, but upgraded to meet the increased demands for gas boiler safety.
Finally there is a plan to replace the Maunsell NBO with a third Pullman, ARIES.
|Picture by KESR.|
ARIES is a much newer model as it was built in 1952 (the others were built in the 1920s). As you can see it was based on a private site before being purchased in 2012 for restoration at Tenterden.
You can see it being hauled there in this video:
ARIES is currently undergoing restoration and when completed will replace the NBO, so that the Wealden Pullman will consist of a kitchen car and three Pullmans for the dining customers. We can't wait.
All in all our visit to the KESR was a great success, and we were made most welcome. What a nice little country line it is.