Saturday 30 September 2017

Turnout completed, back on the straight

Our target for today was to complete the second turnout, and start laying plain track again. There was pressure on, as rain was forecast for later in the day. Would we make it? We'd certainly give it a damned good try!

Where did we leave off?

Oh yes, we had built three quarters of the second turnout. Two closure rails remain to be inserted.

This is the opening shot today.

Steve came by to level and slightly drop the ballast bed on the down line, as from here on we will resume laying plain track, in concrete, up to the barrow crossing at the platform ends.

Between the barrow crossings, north and south, will be bullhead rail on hardwood sleepers.

Having measured the gap for the closure rail, the rail intended for it, previously brought up, is marked up for cutting to size.

Measure twice, cut once. But even that has its pitfalls. Read on.

While the measuring and cutting was going on, the through road needed to be drilled and screwed down to finish it off. Gauge is particularly critical on a turnout, and here you can see Mike checking it carefully, before we drill holes in those valuable hardwood timbers. Nigel checks that the gauge is correctly set up.

Sure that the track and base plates are in the right place, Alan on the left then drills the holes, allowing Phil on the right to quickly screw the plates down tight.

We have a second nut runner on the go, as with a different socket on the end they can be used to tighten down chair screws, or alternatively tighten the fishplate bolts.

With a turnout and its double track there are multiple points where a nut runner is needed, so Steve here fires up the second one.

Or not. The damned pull cord has gone again. Don't they always go just when you need them?

Steve effects a lineside repair here. Fiddley stuff.

At the southern end of the turnout the two rail ends need to be cut off and re-drilled. Once they are level with each other, and with new holes, they are ready to receive plain track into the platforms.

There will be a barrow crossing at each end.

A new gauge has been sourced to measure the thickness of the second hand bullhead rail we are going to use through platform 2. To avoid the use of (too many) lifting fish plates, the second hand rails will be paired with similar rates of wear, and to do this you have to know the degree of wear on them. Hence the gauge.

In the meantime, Bert switched his attentions to the closure rail, which, having been measured and marked, is ready to be cut to length.

The first of the two closure rails was lifted in, and Leigh here is cutting the bolt holes in the end that was cut.

This turnout marks the start of the curve towards the platforms, so the closure rail needed to be curved as well.

Men with bars weren't enough to bend it sufficiently, so the JCB was asked to assist. Simple really.

That was the theory, but the practice was that even once bent, it wouldn't quite fit. Dang! And we measured it twice too.

This was an embarrassment to the gang, we couldn't figure out what was wrong. We measured the gap again, and the closure rail that was cut to size, but all was correct. So why wouldn't it fit? What was going on?

After some head scratching, we figured it out. The nearest rail, to which it was to be bolted, had an angled end, at some time in its past it had been cut off crooked. So it wasn't square.

Bert cut off another 1/4 inch, and this time it went in.

Rather than men with bars, we cheated a bit to get it curved correctly, and used a Duff jack. And why not?

It kept the rail in position, giving time to drill the holes for the chair screws and to bolt it down securely.

Then the other closure rail was lifted in. This one went in easily, and using the track gauge again we made sure it stuck to gauge with its twin on the other side, screwed it down.
Then we felt we deserved to break for lunch.

With our achievement behind us, we sat down on at our 'dining table' of spare point timbers and enjoyed a picnic in the now warm sunshine. Mrs. B treated us to a well filled sponge cake too.

Above, heavy clouds started to form, pointing to the rain that the forecast told us to expect.

Whadyer reckon mate? How far to Honeybourne?

After lunch, with minor work still to go on the turnout but the rails now in, we decided to make a start on laying plain track again. Steve was dispatched to the Childswickham Road to get the first 4 concrete sleepers for this.

Here you see him traversing the newly installed stretch of fresh ballast between the platfoms, carefully astride of the catch pits so that the rings won't get disturbed by the passing wheels.

In true Stevie fashion, he not only brought 4 sleepers, but also an extra gift of two rails behind. Good on ya, Steve ! Don't waste those trips to the far end.

Quickly a line of concrete sleepers appeared on the down line (into platform 1).

Once we had 26 (equal to 7 trips down the trackbed to fetch them) we lined them up, and were ready to lay in the rails positioned on the right.

Hats started to appear because, the forecast was true, it now started to rain.

Just one more rail to go, quickly clip it up, and let's get out of here before we're soaked.

We did achieve our objective though. The rails on the second turnout are in. Some more minor drilling is required, and the checkrails need to go in. Not a big job. And we laid the first panel of plain track again, just as we hoped. Result!

So what's it look like now? Here are two end of the day shots to show how we are doing.

Looking south into Broadway station

Looking north, towards Honeybourne.
Next week:

Rail sorting for the loop in bullhead, ready for transport by works train
More trackbed scraping, and replacement with fresh ballast

Friday 29 September 2017

Further into the platforms

A very showery morning was forecast today, and at Broadway, only the ballasting gang appeared. Out on the road on the way to work it was absolutely bucketing down, so to start with we decided to have a cup of tea and see what the weather would do. It cleared up! No worries then, got to stay optimistic.

We then had a fine old time, and advanced the job further.


It's stopped raining, but have you still got those waterproof trousers?


To kick off, we finished scraping out the third section of the 8. This is now ready for trips with ballast. We're rather further into the station site here.

The catch pit in the foreground above needs raising now, and the top ring replacing, as it is broken in several places.
Thanks to our excellent drainage man Andy P we now have access to a supply of these, as well as the necessary concrete covers.

Here is Steve manhandling a new one on. It can then be surrounded by ballast, carefully so as not to push it over. It's a fact of life in railway preservation that old things are imperial, and new kit is metric, and so it is with the catch pit rings. They don't quite fit each other!

After the first few loads of ballast were dropped nearby, Steve came along to spread it around, so that the catch pit top was level with the surrounding ballast just dropped. In this way it's nice and snug, and less likely to move.
From now on we are going to run astride the catch pits, instead of down one side of them, to avoid the rings being pushed over.

Just as you drive down that narrow alleyway, you meet an oncoming vehicle. What? Don't they know there's a dumper about? It did a 3 point turn on the trackbed too.

After sorting out the catch pit, we tackled the serious job of ballast ferrying.

We were just starting to make a hole into the pile in the 'car park',  (pat on the back here) when the first of several more loads arrived. No pressure then...

This is what the site looked like, after back filling to the concrete rings (see the road cone) and adding several more drops in the foreground. Another catch pit is just off camera in the foreground; after that, it's the scaffolding.

Before finishing the day's work, Steve came up from the car park to level the piles, and create a slope at the southern end, which will allow PWay vehicles to reach the railhead in the background.
Another reason for the slope is that Steve will be dragging rail up past here tomorrow.

Looking the other way from the same spot, you can see how far we've come. We have nearly filled the third of the 8 sections.

The dumper in the background is parked hard up against the scaffolding, which we hope will come down in a fortnight or so.

Tomorrow: track laying aound the second turnout.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Advancing between the platforms

Another fine day today, perhaps an Indian summer? It enabled the ballasting gang to crack on, unhindered by rain or punctures. We did well today.

We ballasted between two catch pits yesterday - that's 30 yards, out of 220 or so between the platforms. The next stretch was already scraped, so we could start tipping ballast here straight away.

It's a long journey from the car park, and the dumper has to go down this narrow channel, faultlessly, every time. And back in reverse!

At the narrowest point there are barely 6ins each side of it.

That part of the scaffolding that stands on the trackbed should come down in a fortnight or so.

Interesting also is the wetness of the wheelmarks, which illustrates the lack of drainage that we are curing by scraping off the spoilt ballast all the way through.

No punctures today (there are many traps for the unwary tyre) so we got off to a flying start, as you can see here.

Approaching lunch time, we had filled in the second 30 yards, and we see Steve here doing a first pass with levelling the piles.

There are 9 centre drain catchpits, with 8 stretches of 30 yds in between. The road cone is on the third catch pit, so you can work out for yourself where we are.

This is a shot from the platform 2 starter signal, and it shows Steve at work levelling the first 60 yards. The conclusion was - not bad, but there are still a few low spots. A job for tomorrow.

After completing the second 30 yards, we set about scraping off the third section of the 8. Behind is the footbridge, which is getting nearer and nearer.

To illustrate the quality of the spoilt ballast, take a look at the vegetation and caked clay in this bucketful!

Some flowers like well drained soil, but so does a track that wants to last a long time. We are on the case.

An overview of the first 60 yards. Not quite ready yet to take track, but a great start. We still need to fill in some low spots, and when we get to to the area with the scaffolding, we're going to hire in a roller to compact the sub sleeper layer. We don't want any settlement here later on.

In this picture Steve has nearly completed scraping off the Malvern side of the third section.

We decided to dump some of the dug up spoilt ballast in the 'car park' below, and quite a bit of it by the former hole in platform 1, which currently has a big void behind it which needs a lot of infill. From here it will be ladled in over the wall, once the Broadway gang is ready for it - they are still sorting out some ducting and drainage arrangements on the other side.

This is the view from above: void on the right, infill piled up today on the left. All the lorries that used to access the trackbed to bring building materials, erect the footbridge etc. used to drive through here.

The end of the day picture, after 8 hours on the job. And it only took you 2 minutes to read! The Malvern side of section 3 has been scraped clean, and after this picture was taken a brief start was made on the Cotsolds side. We'll finish that off tomorrow, and that will bring us right up to the scaffolding on the trackwork. We already had to move the permanent steps that were there. From there we're going to jump to the other end, and do the middle bit last, when the scaffolding (on the track) has been built back.

All day long there was a knocking sound from the canopy, which came from one valliant member of the gang hammering down the waterproofing between layers of roofing sheets. Inside, the building is getting drier and drier. S&T were here too all day.

On the other side of the canopy Neal and John spent an afternoon fitting more sheets. It's very satisfying work, seing the building on which you have worked for so long gradually becoming watertight, bit by bit. And another sheet, and another.

Here they have passed the first chimney and are on their way to the second.

As the light fell, they reached the second chimney on the lower row. Isn't it neat? Way to go, guys!

Next week looks like a busy one trackside too, with several mid week days planned.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

On shed, and out in the field

On this warm but grey day a pleasingly large number of seventeen volunteers came to Toddington, to play 'find the mess coach'. Troublesome trucks had ursurped its place in the Parlour Road, and we had to hunt around to find it. It was behind the steam shed! See, that wasn't so hard.

Haven't you forgotten these?
As Foremarke Hall rumbled off shed, PWay volunteers found someone had parked some wheels on the bit of track we were laying. Oi! Luckily the mess coach was right next door, so we didn't have far to walk.

Today was the first day of the winter season in which maitre d' Paul is cooking again.
What's cooking today, Paul?
''Faggots! And I'm in a bad mood''.

Paul had told and told the members of the gang that he needed to bring the food with him (our freezer is at Winchcombe) and that they had to register on Doodle beforehand to know the exact numbers for which he would buy in.

16 registrations
16 faggots bought.
17 diners
One maitre d' peeved.

Paul very graciously then declined to eat, so that all 17 volunteers could have theirs. Julian had a brainwave, got a spare plate and went round the room collecting contributions. Everyone gave something, a potato, a forkful of peas, a slice of faggot. And so Paul ate too.

An important moment in our day - the potatoes are delivered by Rick, while Paul follows close behind with the (16!) faggots.

After our morning briefing we split into two gangs. One went to Peasebrook, where Martin had taken the Jacker Packer first thing in the morning. Here they spent the day lifting and packing the worst dips in the last 1000m of CWR to be stressed. This will make life easier for the tamper, which will have less work to do and can crack on. The tamper is pencilled in to arrive on Monday.

The other half of the gang remained at Toddington, where, with Stevie, we carried on installing road 6 into the shed.

This time Steve was able to come first thing, so we got going straight away. His first job was to scrape out and extend the bed inside the shed.

The mess coach was then moved to road 6, to clear road 5 which Steve needed to use to get at the rails and sleepers we needed to relay.

Here he is with the pair we will lay inside the shed. To get them further inside is tricky.

Steve got them half in, the turned round and pushed them the rest of the way in. He then managed to squeeeeeze the JCB between the shed door and the pit, and using the chains, was able to lift the rail over on to the Cotswolds side. It all went quite well in the end.

Outside 2807 was undergoing a steam test, and for this a tray full of hot water (with tea bags in it) was brought over at about elevenses.

To get the mess coach and van over from road 5 to 6, we had our own little train, headed by the yard shunter.

Steve then got the remaining sleepers. A lot of time was spent getting them low enough, and measuring levels this way and that. Quite a slow job there.

It was decided to fill the gap outside next time, as we wouldn't have enough time to complete the job in one day, and we didn't want to leave a gap where the loco guys were walking an driving about.

Faggots. Hmmmmmmm......

Al this was surveyed by maitre d' Paul from the back of the mess coach. With 4 gas rings on the go, it was hellishly hot in there, and refreshment was needed.

We do not know what brought on his pensive mood.

After the communal lunch we resumed work in the shed, where the rails were now in, but the fishplates left for us in a wheelbarrow were reluctant to go on. We discovered that two would have holes with different spacings, which themselves would be different from those on the rail. That's what you get when you work with second hand material, it's not nearly as fast as working with new in a systematic way.

Eventually we got one set on. Now for the Mills keys with dirty rail in dirty chairs. All this was previously buried in the shed, and was taken out to be relaid and then concreted once and for all. It took 4 of us to get one Mills key in, levering the sleeper and its next door stablemate upwards so that the rail could be barred over properly into the chair.

Then came the 'tweaking' bit. Of course the bit of track we laid was not parallel to the road next to it, and it refused to be barred across. We had to get the big guns out (i.e. the JCB) to move the track into position. Once encased in concrete, people will be looking at it for a very long time, so we didn't want any kinks in it.

6 mill too low? How many mills in a quarter of an inch then?

We measured from all sorts of presumably fixed points, to arrive at a consensus for height.

This did result in some head scratching.

At the end of the day we had to stop as the rail saw had run out of fuel, and the petrol can was with the guys at Peasebrook. We got one rail end sawn off, to match the other. Next week we will saw the two closing rails to length to suit. No more time for that today though.
In the background 2807 has finally reached full pressure and has started to blow off.

More ballasting at Broadway tomorrow.