Monday 30 October 2017

Movin' stuff about today

Three of us on moving ballast and other stuff around today, and an 8 man crew from the station at work - we intermingled a bit here. Not unusual, we are now working on the same site.

First, PWay stuff.

Those nasty men from the quarry dumped a load more ballast on us when our back was turned, so we started the day by loading up these piles and taking them to the platforms, with the exception of one load.

This last one was taken down to the road crossing near Pry Lane bridge, to fill in the 4 foot and make that crossing more useable for the Landie, Telehandler etc and those vehicles that buzz up and down the track.

We dumped all the rest in between the platforms. At the same time Steve was working on creating the exact levels that we need to lay track. Eventually he found that there was an excess at the northern end, and started taking it further down towards the middle in bucket loads.
At the same time the Broadway station gang were erecting a final lamp post, in the middle of the access gap that used to be there.

After some pleading Steve was persuaded (with two slices of carrot cake, double his usual bribe) to lift the lamp hut away from the top of the drive where it had been used to supply stuff for the platform closure, and into the compound by the picnic area.

Adam, also at work on ballasting, was likewise bribed with carrot cake to bring up 24 tons of spent ballast, all of which was tipped around the new lamp post, so that it no longer stuck out.
It became apparent that this former access area needs a lot of infill.

The 6 ton dumper even ventured on to the platform, and dropped the spent ballast while reversing, thus saving the chaps a lot of digging (we are not so young....)

Well, some digging was still required, but a lot less than with a random dump.

This area is looking quite good now. A lot of it will be hidden by a much larger than before modesty screen (outside the kitchen, originally the toilet) and this is planned to receive large Grundon bins in it.

Finally the area was rolled once more. It will compress further during the winter.

While out and about with the JCB, Steve gave the southern platform area a bit of an extra scraping, to make sure the barrow crossing will fit in, with ballast underneath it


After a while Steve gave up on shuttling the ballast around with the JCB, so he took in the tractor and trailer and hauled trailerfuls of ballast from the middle of the platforms roads down to the south.

The trailer has a tipping function, so a big pile of ballast whooshed down on to the site of the future southern barrow crossing.
With this we have pretty much finished bringing ballast into the platforms, and soon we will be looking to further extend the ballast bed northwards from Childswickham.

Before we can do that we have to address a wish to remove the bund in this picture:

Although this bund has been here since the station's demolition in November 1963 it was felt to be too heavy for the embankment and we were asked to remove it. We got about half way along it today.

Costs savings required

Due to the heavy cost of the Broadway extension, the knife has to go deep and savings have to be made where the public won't notice them.

Will our passengers be intelligent enough to notice that this is not a genuine GWR article?

Secondly, the high cost of loco hire fees has caused us to look elsewhere for motive power for the opening train.

In a test run today, this tractor train pulled in to Broadway station, platform 1. Many tourist destinations already have such tractor trains, so it is felt there is already general acceptance, and few people will notice the difference anyway. All they want to do is buy a ticket and go for a ride. We did hear some mutterings from the heritage fraternity about the Southern green livery, which we may have to review in due course.

Humour aside (you did realise that was a spoof, didn't you? Didn't you?) here is the close of the day shot for the ballast runs. This is the area of the southern barrow crossing, and the three dumps in the foreground, now almost at the bridge, are from further up between the platforms. Generally speaking Steve declared himself happy with the levels passed fit today, so we should be able to lay more track on Saturday.

As you can see in this picture, the sun is going down - the temperature suddenly dropped like a stone - and we took a couple of additional atmospheric shots to complete today's posting.

Steve has one last run with the dumper by himself, all the others having gone home a few minutes earlier. He is that motivated, isn't that great?

The orange winter sky can be seen through the signal box windows as the sun drops below the horizon. Night falls over Broadway.

Saturday 28 October 2017

Advance into the platforms

A modest team at Broadway again today, with half the gang at Winchcombe continuing with chairing up. Early morning reports say they were doing very well, we should be over two thirds home now.

First thing at Broadway was to find an odd length of rail, about 50ft long, to cut in half and to use the two halves to equip the Malvern side track up to the end of the barrow crossing.

I wonder if this rail would do? Stevie checks the wear on it with the replacement gauge, the original having vanished from inside the Landie. Mysterious.

Next we dragged the rail up to the northern end of the platforms, where it was cut in half.

Lots of white bags of clips are scattered about, we have quite a bit of rail to lay and clip up here.

One of the halves was then lifted in, followed by the other here. A 25ft length is much easier to get in than a standard 60ft one, so Steve was able to just drop it in in one go.

We're looking at the site of the barrow crossing here, on top of the Jarrah sleepers with the shallow Pan 11 base plates.

Over to you then, Bert Ferrule, to cut off the odd lengths of the 4 rails. Everyone else has retreated off camera, although there are in fact just the 6 of us up here today to lay the track. It's a small team, lots to do still.

In this shot you can see Bert cutting off the last length, so that all ends beyond the barrow crossing are level with each other. From here on we continue with bullhead rail. The rail drill is already positioned to cut the holes for the fishplates on the newly cut ends.

Sleepers? What sleepers?

Then it was time to start laying the first lengths of bullhead, in between the platforms. We will start with the up platform, where second hand rail will be used.
Steve has brought up a load of the sleepers chaired up at Winchcombe, and has paused for a chat with Bert. How are we going to do this then?

The two S/H bullhead rails Steve had in tow from Childswickham are positioned in the 6 foot, and the method chosen to place the chaired up Jarrah sleepers was - manual. Argh !!! They are so heavy.

Steve offers them up in fours on the wobbly forks and we then push them off either with bars, or as here with the nips. In the end the bars were friendlier on the back. Two bits of wood cut to length are used as spacers, after some headscratching as to the length of this space.

We are using a slightly lower number of sleepers per length through the platform (24 instead of 26) as an economy measure, and so we can't use the white wooden spacer bars you may have seen during concrete sleeper laying sessions. When we got to the 24th sleeper, we just checked how long that was (measure twice.....) and it was just right.  Well done Bert, and his mobile phone calculator. Then we had a pow-wow about lifting in the rails - the space between the platforms is cramped, and takes certain freedoms away that you had, e.g. turning a rail round that is worn on the wrong side.

Here's the view at lunch time, with the two barrow crossing rails in and cut to size, and the first sleepers for the first bullhead length laid out and straightened, ready for rail to be dropped in.

The sun then came out, which made everything a bit friendlier, although a threatening sky remained in the background. In principle, when it's over there we've already had it.
Broadway gang members had a grandstand view up on the platform they built, and often came and stared at us.

After spending some time on cutting rails for the barrow crossing, and getting the first length in, things went a bit faster and Steve plied us liberally with shuttles of sleepers to lay.
We were soon past the first of the 8 catch pits, but of course this is double track, so we need to come back and lay the other side as well.
That will be in new rail.

Here's the second pair of rails going in. It's after lunch now, we've had Mrs. B's cakes, are things a bit more sluggish now?

Two full panels laid now, looking quite good, don't you agree? They need keying up still, that could be for the Wednesday gang again.

The unsung hero of the day was Leigh again, who really gets his teeth into fitting the fishplates. This means drilling the holes often as not, and then working out what he needs. The choice of fishplates is surprisingly large, and he also had to remove some fitted earlier to be replaced with better examples. Once he's located the correct model, it is hammered home with the impact wrench as seen here.

At the end of the day we had laid two panels of rails, fitted the two short rails for the crossing, sawn it all to size, and laid out another 24 sleepers for the next bullhead rail. Wew are now clearly well into the platforms.

Broadway is such a good place for an evening shot. Here's a moody overview, which shows precisely how far we got today.
Next week we will be ballasting again between the platforms, and remodeling some of the embankment by the station road bridge. There's always something to do.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Ballast, and a beauty revealed

We split into 4 teams today:

- One at Winchcombe, chairing up wooden sleepers
- One on the goods shed embankment, preparing the levels for the track there
- One at Broadway north, clipping up the track laid Saturday
- One small one on ballast running duties at Broadway


A vital part of the track lay is the chairing up of the sleepers, which today were confirmed as Jarrah. Quality stuff then.

As from Saturday we are going to be laying these, so a good supply following on behind is critical.

At Winchcombe the gang was busy chairing up, as well as loading the extension train.

Here it is, half loaded just after lunch.

The chairing up is repetitive stuff, with a bit under 750 sleepers to be done and us about half way there at the moment.

The sleepers are drilled at the supplier's, but the wood around the hole is hard and quite a bit of force is need to get the chairscrews in an initial bit, to give the nut runner a purchase to get started.

The Telehandler hovers nearby, ready to pounce and take a set of 4 away.

At lunch time, the gang had done 48, perhaps double that for the end of the day? At least the weather was fine for this work, so that it could proceed speedily.

At the end of the day, the extension train was taken to Broadway again.

Broadway goods shed:

Two members of the gang worked on determining the levels of the track to be laid here.

This is the site of the through road. The gate is redundant now, as it and the fence panel need to go to let the track through.

A fence will be erected along the LH edge of the site. The bits are in the middle distance.

The ballast loading mini digger was purloined (we think 'borrowed' was the term used) to drive in two stakes at the bridge end, where there was nothing to which the lateral bars could be attached.

At the end of the day the two stakes were in, lateral bars attached and painted white, and these stretch all the way along the fence. From here downwards the future height of the rail and ballast level can be measured.

Broadway north:

An optimist was still in summer shorts. Well, admittedly it was unusually warm, some people were seen in shirt sleeves.

Lovely boots too. Hope they don't get dirty.

That damned contact lens has fallen out again
A vast array of tools was extracted from the site safe, to lift sleepers, bar them across and pull in the Pandrol clips. You can't have enough tools.

Clipping up then got going with a vengeance. To do this, you need one man on the Pan Puller, and an observer.

At the end of the day, the three panels laid on Saturday were indeed fully clipped up, except for the short stretch across the barrow crossing.

Eleven Broadway volunteers assembled to stare intensely at one PWay gang member laying out clips. There's something about Pandrol clips that is really interesting...

Ballasting crew:

Steve is on furlough this week - he does have another life beyond the railway, and yes, another customer. Adam therefore filled the dumper today, and we ran it up and down the loop side of the track through the platforms.

We have now almost finished, as you can see here in this gloriously sunny shot. We have not yet levelled this area, and more will be needed once the piles have been flattened. They represent a first pass.

Lunch - always enjoyable with the gang, and noisy Maitre d' Paul.

What's cooking today, Paul?
I don't like faggots, can I have sausages instead?
NO !!!

Back at Broadway, the huge piles of ballast (remember how they stretched all the way to the gate?) gradually disappeared, until there was none left. We called the quarry first thing to order more, also for Stanton where the Dogfish will be loaded again.

The first wagon came just in time. Behind him a large flatbed artic with a large brand new tractor on top stopped dead in front of the bridge, then reversed slowly back up Station Road towards the town centre. That was a close one! Don't they read the signs?

The 20 tons of stone rushed out of the trailer, and were soon loaded and brought up to the platforms.

At the end of the day we were close to the southern end. We should reach that tomorrow, then go over the low spots.

This is where we were at the end of the day, as the sun was going down.

With no more ballast to load, Adam brought the mini digger up and started to level off the piles.

After a while, stones got under the rubber caterpillar tracks and one of them came off as he turned. That was the situation at the end of the day. Let's hope we can 're-rail' the little machine tomorrow morning.

Looking the other way just before the sun went down, we can see the station building revealed further, as another layer of scaffolding was stripped off today.

A see of fresh ballast takes up the foreground. This area still needs work on the levels, but at the northern end it's now ready to start laying bullhead track on wooden sleepers.

Here are a few more sunset photographs of the building, with most of the scaffolding trackside now gone.

From left to right the rooms are:
Gents', Disabled, Ladies', Store Room, Ticket Office, Booking Office, Refreshments, (Kitchen)

A close up of the Ticket and Booking Offices, with the foundation stone covered by the sheet of blue plastic.

The play of light illuminates the arched ridge purlins which characterise the heritage canopy. In the foreground the platform will be covered in 2'x3' slabs, as at Toddington.

In the last shot from the other direction the sun has gone down, but we do not want to deprive you of it, as all the scaffolding poles have now completely gone. The arch accommodates the doors to the Ladies' and Disabled toilets.

The exterior is a superb heritage effort, let's hope they do the interior with the same care and attention to detail.