Friday 19 August 2016

Headshunt ballasting

Two days later, the 300yd headshunt ballasting is almost completed.

No dust today, it rained most of the morning, and Dan, in shorts and T shirt on Tuesday, is now in full wet weather gear. What a change.
Here he is, setting off from Little Buckland to cross the bridge and take another 6 ton load to Laverton.

This is where today's drops were taking place, the connection between the former headshunt, and the start of the newly laid and welded section. We're looking towards Broadway here.

Another 6 drops here should see the end of the ballasting of the old headshunt, then the sleepers, laid to one side, can be put back and we are ready to receive the first load of rail! It's due on September 2nd.

Stepping back to the beginning of the old headshunt, you can see the fruits of our labours over the last 3 days - a nice smooth bed of new ballast, laid on Terram. The sleepers can be glimpsed in the weeds on the right.

Looking back towards Toddington from the same place, you can see the end of the ballasted part of the loop (which was left in place as in good order) and in the distance the pilasters of Laverton bridge, where the new rail laid so far stops at the moment. All traces of the loop have now been removed.

When the rail is laid over Little Buckland bridge and beyond, it will no longer be possible to use that area as a ballast delivery point.

This makes it interesting, as the next ballast delivery point will be the lower 'car park' field at Broadway! That looks like some time away yet, but we're getting nearer! Ballast will then be shuttled down to bridge 4 at Peasebrook Farm, about 1/2 mile away.

Mechanical things....

If, like your blogger, you are interested in mechanical things, you might be interested in this new piece of kit in the loco shed at Toddington. When the floor was concreted and the pits built, room was left for this fascinating installation and here it is, an axle weighing machine.

When an axle (in this case from the newly rebuilt tender of Dinmore Manor) is placed on the mobile piece of rail, sensors underneath transmit the weight to these two screens (left and Right).

We tested it with a volunteer on the 'Red' set - the weight registered 25Kgs ! Either this volunteer urgently needs feeding with burgers and coke, or the machine still has to be calibrated. (the latter was the case).

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Ballasting the headshunt

Things are definitely stirring now on the Broadway extension.

The Laverton loop has been completely removed, and both turnouts replaced, with the northern one still waiting for the replacement rail. Now attention is being focused on the old headshunt, and indeed also on extending the track beyond the current railhead. Things are really moving again now.

Your blogger played a small part in all this today, driving the 6T dumper from the store of ballast at Little Buckland, down to the bed of the former headshunt, which is now being provided with Terram and new ballast. Here is the first load of the day.

The half mile journey with 6T of dusty ballast takes us over Little Buckland Bridge (bridge 5, the subject of radical repairs a while back).

What strikes the eye straight away is that the line of concrete sleepers has been advanced from the rail head near the bogie flats in the distance right up to Little Buckland bridge, about a 7 length zoom forward. This now awaits the new rail.

Here on the GWSR we are lucky in that we have a double trackbed, with only a single track on it, so we can drive down the other side. But it ain't half bumpy! The only way to travel is standing up. To see, to cushion the relentless blows from below (there is no suspension), and to look over the top of the numerous dust clouds that arise when the whole load gets shaken in the wind.

What we see here is the start of new rail laid earlier in the year, the trackbed of the temporary headshunt (in green), Steve clearing said greenery and levelling the bed, and a start in the distance with the new ballast.

In this close up, Steve is shifting piles of dirty ballast and levelling what is behind.

It took him all day, but Steve has now completed this job, and it's ready for the Terram.

Back at Little Buckland, fresh supplies are brought in by lorry, a whole fleet of them.

This is what your money is paying for, dear supporter. Thank you to those who have already helped, and 'please help' to those that are still thinking about it. We need a lot more fresh ballast like this, but you are getting a quality railway for it.

At one point during the morning, it was like Piccadilly Circus, with lorries coming and going and beeping, while the dumper was being loaded by the little 360 with crashes and clatters.

After a brief lunch, in the only piece of shade, which was on top of the dusty ballast pile next to the 360, Steve was reaching the end of the 300yard or so stretch of the old headshunt. The Terram in the middle distance is rolled out piece by piece, and piles of ballast are dumped upon it. Later they are levelled.

6T (one load) seem to go about 3yds, so you can work out a lot from that.

Way back you can see the DMU that has reached the stop board in its shuttle from Toddington.

On the return journey, you cross the bogie flats that are now empty of concrete sleepers.

The new line of sleepers, laid only a few days ago, now extends to the telegraph pole, which marks the position of Little Buckland bridge.

Returning with another full load, one of 25 transported today, or 150 tons by dumper, we find that Steve has turned his attention to pushing out the piles of ballast recently deposited. That suddenly makes it look much more like a railway line. And much longer looking.

Looking north, we can see the results of Steve's labours today, a freshly cleared former headshunt. Beyond, the start of the new track laid earlier this year. We need to meet up with this, then we can move on beyond Little Buckland and on to Peasebrook farm.

Dan, the 360 operator, had a go on the 25th and final dump. It looks quite impressive from ground level, that's a lot of stone being shifted. Behind him, we need a lot more of the same.

In this telephoto shot, the bit still left to be done doesn't look too bad, but it could be another 3 days work. The camera can lie...

What's next?

As you will have read, there are two shipments of new rail coming in, during the first fortnight of September. We need to avoid double handling these lengths.

The first shipment will be used to replace the headshunt track, so it's imperative that the ballasting is completed, and the sleepers, laid to one side, returned to their positions. The rail goes in, the track now extends back to just short of Little Buckland, and the bogie flats, now empty, can be recovered. These can then be filled with further concrete sleepers that we have in store.

Relaying the headshunt with fresh rail not only allows you to recover the two wagons for further loading, but you will then have used up most (all?) of the first shipment of new rail. This releases the two flats used for storing the rail for the second shipment, only 10 days later. They have to be available to stand on the unloading road in order to allow the lorries bringing the rail to unload. Hence the urgency also of the works outside Toddington shed.

From mid September, we would be in a position to commence track laying beyond Little Buckland. The Terram and ballast are already down for that portion, so it could go quite quickly. In the meantime there are various holidays, so if there's a gap, that's why!

Monday 8 August 2016

More removals at Laverton

A quick visit today to see the state of play. The Saturday PWay gang have taken out all the remaining rail now, so that nothing more needs to be taken out to be replaced.

The two and a half remaining lengths over the bridge are out, as is the northern Laverton loop turnout. A bare bed remains; this needs to be filled with concrete sleepers and new rail.

The turnout is quite large, and its removal left this not inconsiderable gap.

The pile of sleepers was positioned there earlier, with precisely the purpose of filling this gap. Part of the first shipment of rails in September will go in here.

Looking north, you can see that the fresh ballast soon peters out, after which the temporary head shunt was laid on the bare trackbed. A first load of sleepers has already been removed from here and stacked nearby.

The length that needs relaying extends approximately to the bushes on the left. All the available second hand rail from Laverton has now been removed, with the final lengths taken up to Broadway by the contractor today.

Another day of sleeper removal is due to take place here, and then the process of rebuilding the headshunt can start. It will be done in three chunks, in order to avoid double handling of the sleepers - they will go out of the second third, straight back into the first, prepared beforehand, and so on. The area of the former northern turnout will also be graded to the correct height to accept the plain track sleepers.

Friday 5 August 2016

Rail removal at Laverton

All the remaining clips on the 20 length headshunt at Laverton have now been removed, and the rail tipped out.
Today Steve took out pairs of rails and dragged them up to Broadway for further use there in due course. In this picture you can see the end of the northern turnout, with the first pairs of rails of the old headshunt removed. The JCB is returning from Broadway in the distance.

After quite a few shuttles up and down over 2 days, almost all of the headshunt rail has now been dragged up north.

Here Steve is attaching the last pair of rails to go.

The headshunt section is now ready for removal of the concrete sleepers. These will be stacked nearby, the trackbed graded, Terram and new ballast added, and the sleepers, together with new rail, relaid back in their places. Plenty for the PWay gangs to be getting on with.

Here you can see Steve just passing over the road bridge at Laverton, with a pair of rails from the old loop in tow.
The 2 and a half lengths between the bridge and the turnout in the picture still need the rail replacing, and then the turnout can be disassembled and also taken up to Broadway.

New rail for all this is arriving in two lots in the first half of September. After that has been laid - and it needs to be laid quick, as we need the bogie flats for the next delivery - then the push towards Peasebrook Farm can begin.

This is how the rail is taken up to Broadway. It's basic, but very economical, and it works. The pointwork may need a trailer to take it up.

Broadway canopy construction

Little by little this is becoming an attractive reality. Over three weeks, three trusses have been assembled. Excellent progress!

The first two are in a pile, one on top of the other, in the loco workshops at Toddington. Our Broadway painters have been down to inspect the extent of the work required from them.

Nearby, a fascia board was being made up.

Outside the loco workshops, the third of the seven trusses was being assembled.

Underneath are two more fascia boards. Three purlins are in the loco shed

It will be very interesting to see what the central arches will look like, with their characteristic curves. None have been started yet; they will be done last.

Note that the car park is full, and should translate into fare paying passengers. The trains certainly looked well used - well, it was P&O in charge - and so was the cafe in Winchcombe, always popular.

With Mrs. Blogger stationmaster at Winchcombe today, a quick trip was made down there to say Hello and enjoy a cup of coffee in the Coffeepot.
P&O trundled in, and what a magnificent sight that makes too. Winchcombe, with its cafe and passing place for trains, is a great place for people to linger.

This magnificent main line loco pauses to allow the DMU to arrive, get the token, clang the signals, great 'business' about the station.

Then, off she goes past the bracket signal by the C&W shed. Great stuff !

Finally, this flew over Winchcombe today:

Strange how those propellers rotating at speed give the impression there is a segment missing.

Is this one of the new A400s?