Saturday 13 July 2019

Timber !

Friday at Broadway

More help from the Broadway gang with painting, much appreciated.

We found this stack of primed and partially undercoated boards on arrival. It was a flying start for us, and during the day we managed to undercoat the lot, both sides.

Afterwards we took the first 5, which were already dry from the Wednesday session, up to the footbridge and stacked them against the scaffolding.

Minutes later a hand appeared from above and hoisted them into the centre span. Inside is a growing pile of light stone coloured boards now, ready to be cut to size for the sides.

Having pulled up the boards, Neal carried on with re-attaching the guttering. Here he is mounting a reinforcement strip behind the dagger boards, and this will hold the end of the gutter up. At the end of the day he had done both ends, and the guttering was intact again.

This being a Friday, we were not that surprised to hear a faint two tone toot in the distance, and the class 47 slowly rumbled in with an empty train
After lunch the same empty train was back. All part of our (fire and-) drive experience.

While we ate our lunch the first side of the boards dried in the wind and sun, so that afterwards we were able to turn them over and do the other side as well.

With both sides of the stack of boards painted, we had half an hour to ourselves and took this opportunity to add a bit of quality to the lamp posts.

The tops were put on a couple of years ago using mild steel grub screws. These soon rust and we replaced them with SS ones, dabbed in a bit of grease. This will look much nicer, and ensure that the fastenings won't seize up.

This picture shows the rusty screw, and the new, SS grub screw in place.

The tops we have on P1 are the cheapest we could find, with a vinyl ' BROADWAY' sticker inside. We could do better.
For P2 (where there are no tops on the posts at the moment) we should aim higher, and get proper replicas made by a specialist firm, like the ones under the canopy.

If that is a success, we can revisit the P1 tops.

An unsung hero is John, who is plugging away at the many metres of primering, undercoating and top coating of the stringers and related steelwork. Here he is applying grey primer to the upper part of a stringer, having put on etch primer a few hours earlier. Much of the P1 stringers is now already in dark stone undercoat, and this looks very nice when seen together with the rich looking light stone on the flat sides.

The towers holding up the centre span are new, as most of you will know. They were made by a contractor, who welded the parts together and used dummy rivet heads to make it look as if the structure is rivetted.

We were a bit sceptical about the dummy rivet heads, as they are just spot welded on with 4 dabs of weld around the outside.

This arrangement allows water to run behind the rivet, and that is indeed what has happened. Streaks of rust are now beginning to appear.

The replacement of the dummy rivets with real ones is thought to be a bit difficult, but perhaps we should just take them off and repair the paintwork. At the same time the towers can be painted in dark stone, as they should be. Dark stone was for structural members.

We liked this little scene on the platform - a GWR poster board, STATIONMASTER doorplate and platform barrow. All new...

Our new 'Edwardian' station has not gone unnoticed, and here is a member of the public who turned up today to photograph his vintage car in front of it.

We ought to charge for this....

Saturday at Toddington

There's been a bit of shunting at Winchcombe, and it's revealed this rather interesting 6 wheeled milk tanker.

The sole bar has an inscription to the effect that it was last repainted in 1997. Wouldn't this look great in one of our gala freight trains? It's a matter of volunteer labour though, there aren't enough hands.

These six wheelers are relatively scarce, not many societies can say that they have one.

The class 24 came early and picked up the third rake. We were quite glad it did too, as the rake was blocking access to our stores vehicles.

Not long afterwards the first train south came by us, and it was hauled by 35006. The third loco out today - it's the busy Summer 3 train service at the moment - was 2807.

With the third rake removed we could fill up the Landies with the gear necessary to change some point timbers at Toddington. It's an area of very old track there, at the southern end of the loop.

We beat the class 24 to Toddington; we went by road. We got to Toddington, sat down, and there it was.

About this sitting, it's what we have to do now under the new rulebook.

We'd like to start, but here we are sitting on a sleeper and waiting until 11 o clock before the signalman gives permission to work on the track. Most of the morning has already passed.

When the class 24 has run round its train it is off for CRC, and when that has passed, we can make a start.

We were working on the southern turnout at Toddington today, which really needs relaying but we can patch it with some spot resleepering.

Watching the train run over this area last week showed where the weaknesses were, so the offending sleepers were marked up and today we started to dig the first ones out.

The area in question is between the two volunteers in the picture.

The hard sleepers are always the throughbolter ones, and today we had one straight away.

You can't undo the bolts (seized, and they spin round in the wood) so the only way to replace the sleeper is to break it in half, lengthways.

Bert Ferule and Neil are trying to do this in the picture, using crowbars.

Finally the old sleeper gave way and obligingly split into two halves, so releasing the chair. We could then drag out the remains. The two chairs went to 2807 for their boot scraper pile.
Another train is announced, and again we lose permission to work on the track, so have to wait. As this is happening quite a bit nowadays, some of us are bringing folding chairs on which to wait.

Our disturbance this time was grand lady 2807. It is a very elegant locomotive. Freight locos can be elegant, can't they?

Just before lunch we had two new heavy hardwood sleepers in place. They're ready to be screwed down here, but before drilling any holes to fix their exact position we are going to tighten up the gauge, which is held in place here, exceptionally, by a tie rod. On the whole of the GWSR track we have only 2 tie rods in place - a temporary patch -  and this is a good sign, just two of them.

Bert Ferrule tightened up the tie rod to get a perfect gauge of 1435mm, then that put us in the position of screwing down the chairs in the new sleeper correctly.

After the new sleepers were bolted down in the correct place we used Kango hammers to pack ballast underneath them. Then we back filled the holes dug out in the morning.

Moving on to the next sleeper we found that this one had been working up and down. With the help of water that is not draining the movement grinds down the ballast and makes an impenetrable barrier, here visible in the light grey area.

That area needs digging out, and the old, non draining ballast removing.

The sleeper goes out sideways here, as the chair is bolted to the switch and cannot be moved.

All day we have had spectators staring at us. First it was visitors standing at the fence line in the car park, then we found the loco department had also got out chairs and seemed to be looking at our work, albeit from a safe distance.

We managed to extract and change the waterlogged sleeper that was seen to be pumping. There are more to do in this area, but our time was up.

By way of a good bye we had the visit of a rather noisy aircraft, a Spitfire. It flew overhead 3 or 4 times; we think it was visiting the fete at Stanway House just down the road.

A look over the fence - Gwili Railway

A three day visit to Southwest Wales brought an unexpected pleasure: An offer of a ride to the Gwili railway, and that in this sports car:

It's a TVR Chimaera. Two seats, walnut and leather, a 4L Rover V8 under the bonnet. And a beautiful, sunny day.

How could we refuse?

We were at the Gwili Railway HQ Bronwydd Arms in no time. The station is named after a nearby pub, which sadly is no more, although there is a new pub in the village, the Hollybrook (not tested, much as we wanted to....)

The current line is 4 miles long and follows the meandering river Gwili. The landscape, especially along the northern section, is very charming and we liked it a lot.

Trains start from the centre and work north, then south.

This is the view you get as you arrive at Bronwydd Arms by road.

Although this is only a modest society, not close to major conurbations of potential customers like some, the volunteers have done well to make it look this good.

Signal box, station building and refreshment room - a pair of old carriages - all come from elsewhere. They look like they belong though.

The signal box is from Llandybie actually, which was a surprise. With the nearby L/C gates and its big gate wheel it looks like it belongs there. But in fact in its original location the road was on the other side - hence a big window on the right - and at Bronwydd Arms the road is in the rear LH corner, at an awkward angle so that the signalman can't see the traffic and has to do the gates by hand.

There's a good fireplace with room for a kettle, a coal scuttle and some authentic GWR cupboards as well. There's also a notice inviting people to come up and visit, which is very welcoming. In fact the signalman probably has plenty of time to talk, as there are only two sections and on the day of our visit, just one train in steam.

The cafe consists of two Taff Vale coach bodies, formerly stood at Redditch since 1926.

This is their initial use and they may well be restored to running condition one day.

Motive power for the day was a genuine wartime 1944 Austerity. (you can tell because it has single gussets behind the buffer beam. In practice they would bend so a double gusset was used on repeat orders - a bit of rivet counter information here, but your blogger was closely involved with the restoration of another WW2 Austerity, a 1943 Hudswell Clarke in Rotterdam.)

Tony the driver made us feel very welcome, and even gave us a short cab ride during the run round at the northern end.

The 0-6-0 Austerity is not exactly a GWR engine, but it does have Welsh coal mining pedigree. And it's an ideal engine for this short line with its many curves. We liked its bark.

Midway up the northern half is this halt, Llwyfan Cerrig. You can stop here, buy a drink, have a picnic or go for a lovely walk.

Again, the buildings have been recovered from elsewhere, but they did a good job.

Look at the ticket office here, with its GWR Art Deco stove, BR (W) strong box and stationmaster's dog. No modern furniture here.

We liked the row of GWR lamp posts in the two shades of stone.

However, there are two types of lamp post, and it is the shorter one which is usually found on platforms. That allows the porter to light the oil lamp without resorting to a ladder.

The taller ones, such as in the picture, were clearly higher and were fitted to take ladder bars (a small hole, usually plugged, under the lamp shows where the ladder bar would go). The tall ones would often be seen in areas that needed a wider pool of light, such as on driveways and forecourts.

The GWSR has a pattern for the shorter platform type, and could cast for other railways if the demand is there.

The view south at Llwyfan Cerrig shows a restored Mk1 mail coach, the picnic area and the bridge over the river. Behind the loop is a miniature railway.

If you watch the river rolling by out of the carriage window, you might spot this home made ford through it, constructed out of concrete sleepers. Part of the charm of this little valley.

A short distance further north is the current terminus of the line, Danycoed. The GWR running inboard has genuine cast iron supports, which are not easy to find.

Beyond lie another 3 miles, also owned by the line. This would take the railway up to Llanpumsaint, also along the meandering river Gwili. A number of bridges need to be refurbished though, and of course the money found.

Despite its modest means, the Gwili Railway has just completed an extension to its southernmost point.

The guard's pocket watch has been replaced by a mobile phone though.

This is Abergwili Junction. It lies on the outskirts of Carmarthen itself. Unfortunately it's not possible to enter Carmarthen itself (and meet up with NR) as the bypass has used some of the trackbed, and there is a missing bridge, we heard.

The platform is still a bit bare, they've only just got here and more funds are needed for the final touch.

Between Bronwydd Arms and Abergwili Junction the river is much in evidence, with a little waterfall too.

We liked the Gwili. Go along and visit, boost their numbers, help them get a bit further. Tenby nearby is also well worth a visit.


  1. Over my objections a steam loco tender tank was welded and dummy rivets added - welded from behind! Sure enough the rust runs from around the heads are a big and constant headache. Difficult to retrofit when in position.

    Excellent blog - Tenby was a favorite of our Family I remember seeing Lake of the Lake one year, the Bride of Lammermoor another year. We had Queen Berengaria hauling us in I think 1949 via Stratford and Cheltenham of course I had real problems with that name as a 6 year old.


  2. Jo, Perhaps, with hindsight, those fake rivet heads should have be fixed with an adhesive rather than tack welds! (And/or made from non-metallic material.) I suppose you could try to fill the gaps with epoxy filler or similar, but you'd still have the problem of the welds potentially corroding over time. Removal may be the best long term option!
    What's next on the footbridge? I am assuming that the moulding goes on the dagger boards, then you will install the treads, remove the scaffolding then complete the sides? Is that about right?

  3. The rivet heads will be bare metal behind; that will always rust.

    Next is painting the mouldings. We are fetching them on Monday from C&W. After that my guess is the sides; I suspect the treads will be last.

  4. The two part adhesive to bed in dummy rivet heads should be
    There's a five minute version & masking tape will hold everything together on vertical surfaces, whilst the adhesive cures.

  5. Will you all be able to remove the tie rod now that new sleepers are in?
    Thanks again for the detailed report, it is very useful to we far-away types!


    1. I've got a few days off sick so won't be able to say for a while. Sorry.

  6. Sorry to hear that; get well!