Saturday 21 October 2017

Tracks past the cabin

Track laying resumed at Broadway today, but with a smaller team. We were a dozen today in all, and half went to Winchcombe to chair up sleepers, and half went to Broadway to push the track on up to the platforms.

The forecast was for strong winds, followed by rain in the afternoon. Our compact gang hastened to Broadway after only a single cup of tea and a single (well alright, two) dunking biscuits, to try and get something down before it all got too miserable.
You can see here the fruits of Steve's preparatory labour yesterday. Anticipating that the Telehandler would be in use at Winchcombe with the 'chair persons' there today, he brought up these two stacks of concretes yesterday afternoon, and we were glad of them. This morning he arrived with two rails for them as well.

At the other end of the JCB Steve had grabbed three units for the barrow crossing that we will install about where he is positioned in the photograph. They're in the front bucket.

We were soon busy laying out those stacks of sleepers. First on the Malvern side, where 26 laid in a row were enough for that pair of rails Steve brought in.
Just the 6 of us today then - four on the ground, one in the JCB, an one behind the camera (sometimes). It's best to stand well clear when the rail is lifted in. Rail is moody, and does funny things.

We got the first length in on the Malvern side, and then had to go back to the Cotswolds side to lay a parallel piece. We now have to keep alternating, otherwise the JCB will be too far away to lift the rails in end on. It's already a challenge, but we manage by using a fulcrum to move the far end about, and then lifting the near end into place. Clever stuff.
In this picture we are laying track right across the entrance to the Broadway group's container - that must have been a surprise!

Here the first two lengths of the day are in, one on each side. They still need clipping up, a long and slow job, and with our small gang we could only do the bare minimum to make the rail secure, in between JCB arrivals.

After adjusting the direction of the previous length a bit, we carried on with the next one. It's important to get the end of a length in the right spot, as the next sleepers laid will follow it, and if it was say 6 ins out, all the next length will be too. Of course the whole thing has to follow a curve, and hit the right spot as we arrive at the platforms.

The sleepers are brought in by Steve and slid off the end of his wobbly forks. Because of this, they end up higgeldy piggeldy on the ballast, and in this picture you can see the next job, which is to eye them up and bar them into a straight line (or curve, in this case).
The next pair of rails has already been positioned in the six foot.

While we were doing that news came of a piece of welcome heritage just placed at the bottom of the station approach. It's a 'GWR PRIVATE ROAD' notice. We have been hunting around for two of these for a while now, and were successful at one of the railwayana auctions recently.

Our station approach is a private road too, something we would like to remind people of. And it adds to the atmosphere. We even made sure the post was bullhead!

Back to the farm. It now gets a bit tricky, as we are approaching:
a. A barrow crossing requiring special hardwood sleepers with FB base plates.
b. A change of rail from FB to bullhead, requiring a different type of wooden sleeper, and cast iron chairs.

The concrete and red hardwood sleepers in the picture will bear a single FB length of rail.

The steel plate protecting one of the catch pits was also removed at this point. The pit will be built up with more rings, and finally covered by new concrete lids. From now on, there is no longer a risk that road vehicles will fall in.

Here are the hardwood sleepers for the barrow crossing laid out in a row.

The spacing between them is different and has to be very accurate, otherwise the rubber crossing units that go on top won't fit.

By now we have attracted the attention of the Broadway gang....

We also had a special visitor today: Garry Owen, former head of PWay, and former chairman of the company.

Garry was in on the earliest days, and saw many track extensions built under his management. He was impressed by the quality of our work, better than anything in his days, he felt.

With enough sleepers in for the third length today, Nigel checks the alignment so far.

Are the sleepers in line enough to bed a rail down, and is the curve correct to meet the space between the platform ends? Hmmm....

Those sleepers under the barrow crossing are brand new hardwoods, and the base plates on top are brand new castings. First class quality materials in use here. Once under the barrow crossing, we don't want to have to renew anything for a considerable time. Bert Ferrule here screws down the chair bolts with one of the 'animals'.

Under an increasingly threatening sky a shaft of autumn sunlight illuminated our site as the third length is readied to receive the next pair of rails.

Then, in they go.

One rail is already bedded down on the right, as the second is prepared for lifting on to the left.

The 'Pan 11' sleepers for the platform 2 side of the barrow crossing have also been brought up now. This will go where the JCB is standing here.

They're in! Both rails on the third length are down, as well as the timbers for the platform 2 side. Steve walks over to see Nigel for a shake down of the day's activities. We can see rain approaching up from Winchcombe, it won't be long now. What's on next Saturday then?

Here's the same shot from the other side. The sleepers are now just about touching the catch pit in the middle. They need their ends sawn off to fit as they are slightly longer than the concretes.

As the catch pit has a rather deep maw, and although there are still 2 more rings to go on them, we decided to fit the covers for the time being at least.

The last shot of the day. The crossing seems quite far back already, as we are about to enter the Broadway platforms. Two timbers are nudging the catch pit and need sawing to size, while on the left we need to find two lengths of rail to match those on the right, as from here onwards we will proceed in bullhead. Second hand on the left, and new on the right.

The new bullhead rail is being delivered on Monday, when we are also doing a pair of ballast runs. Before that, ballasting will continue at Broadway. Busy, aren't we?

And finally, a big thank you to our blog readers:

For the first time ever, the monthly page views on this blog reached over fifty thousand. That's a hell of a compliment! Thank you for your continuing interest in our activities. You can always come and join us, or if you can't, send something to the GWR Trust with gift aid to help us financially.

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  1. It may seem a facile observation, but, as I have watched this blog for several years, certain moments have provided vivid snapshots of what Broadway was going to be; the first photgraph showing the completed length of both platforms; the construction and completion of the signal box - a wonderful structure with one unmistakeable purpose; the footbridge, and now the near - completion of the station building with its distictive canopies and valances. All of these achievements and the excellence of the workmanship, all give life to what is to be: but nothing states more emphatically, than a ballast bed through the platforms, and track reaching the base of the platform ramps, that Broadway is within weeks of being re - born as a Railway Station!

    All the best,

    SVR driver

    1. Beautifully put, almost poetic!

    2. Indeed, couldn't agree more. A picture (or blog photos) paints a thousand words but in this case a few words paint a wonderful picture.

  2. Would creosoteing the timbers give them a longer life? The cut ends at least

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I suspect that they're pressure-treated before delivery, as is most wooden fencing nowadays, but stand corrected.

  3. The map for the rail head dates back to July. Could it be amended with two arrows to show both the rail heads as they move inexorably towards on another please?

    1. Bit difficult to do in Street Map - the present arrow is the default arrangement which shows the current position - I'm not sure you can add another one easily. You might have to look on Google Earth and check where they are...

    2. That's true. Anyway we all know where Broadway is, we don't need a map!

    3. Streetmap allows only the one arrow, but you know where we are now, we're just about there!

  4. I, too, have followed this blog for years and would suggest it is we, the readers, who owe you a big votes of thanks. These now almost daily comprehensive and quality reports are eagerly anticipated, a pleasure to read and continue to inspire the GWR's members, shareholders and supporters. On display, for the world to see, is the dedication, skill, commitment and tenacity of the volunteer workforce, the high standard of their workmanship and the undiluted passion for recreating a first class heritage railway. If you don't need a small building to house the many awards, which will surely be deserved upon completion of Broadway station, I will be dumbfounded. A couple of questions, please: what is the hardwood? The rich red colour hints at mahogany. Responsibly sourced no doubt. I notice the ends have been treated but not the exposed upper surfaces; will that be done once installed? Again, my thanks and best wishes. Richard.

    1. If you look closely at one of Jo's pictures in this blog, you'll see a paper label with the name "Calders and Grandidge" - the suppliers. Look on their website and you'll see some interesting details of their sleepers. It says, for example, that the only pressure treat softwood sleepers, not hardwood. The treated softwood ones last up to 60 years (with creosote) so I expect the hardwood ones are similar, even without treatment.

    2. We have not had a good experience with treated softwood sleepers. A lot we used in 2006 had to come out again earlier this year. Hence we have gone for hardwood, which is cheaper in the long run. What sort of wood it is I don't know, but we were told it would last 50 years.

    3. BR and it's successors used Australian Jarrah and Karri red hardwoods for sleepers,crossing timbers and level crossing surfaces. I'm not sure if those are still in use today, but the red colour of those at Broadway suggest that's what they are.

    4. They are certainly heavy, and have no smell.

  5. Does anyone know where the new bullhead rail is being sourced from, and how it compares in cost with new F/B?

    1. I assume the rail used at Broadway is from British Steel (previously Tata, previously Corus, previously British Steel), which still supplies bullhead rail - it's advertised on their website. Off the top of my head I would say it should be a bit cheaper than FB, since at 95lb per yard it's got less metal in it than standard FB. But apparently it's now considered a 'special' rail, so it may have a 'special' price.

      There's a lot of bullhead still around on the national network, and new bullhead is laid quite frequently in places where changing to a different type of rail would mean too much expense/work. There's some brand-new bullhead track at Richmond in west London - with chairs dated 2016!

      Meanwhile, Network Rail is selling some CS1 concrete sleepers with two-bolt chairs attached. I must admit I'm slightly amazed there's still any of that around...

    2. Very interesting post, I wasn't aware of that!

    3. Thanks for the reply Michael, that's all very interesting. With sleeper prices being very similar whether they be timber or concrete it does make me wonder why when heritage railways are replacing their permanent way they nowadays almost exclusively opt for FB. Unless BH really does have a premium price attached to it.
      I suppose it might also have something to do with FB being less prone to developing dipped joints. I don't know.

  6. Iv'e only been following this blog,for the last 18,months,or so!.But boy!.Is'nt it good?.Track,allmost up to the platforms.Great stuff!.From your pics.Looking towards Springfield Lane bridge,the double track,seems to stretch into the distance!.One can imagine,that it goes on,through Willersey Halt,and on to Honeybourne West Loop!. Anthony.

  7. We look forward to the daily blogs with great anticipation. Thank you so much, we look forward to it opening at Easter.

  8. Bullhead rail is more expensive than 113A flatbottom due to limit small runs of manufacture at British Steel, at around £64 more per 60' rail.

  9. I hope that "Private Road" has been secured with thief-proof bolts, as unfortunately there are a lot of unprincipled, unscrupulous "collectors" out there that will soon have it away if it isn't!

  10. WOW! I was so dumbfounded by the excellent progress of (track) relaying that I omitted to post a comment!
    What wonderful times we live in, to see the tracks approaching Broadways platforms and the station building in a dried in state! I really am grateful for the photographic record that is produced for us armchair supporters.
    Unfortunately, due to my location in Cornwall, I cannot assist on the GWsR, but only watch as the great rebirth of the station and , indeed, the rest of the line unfolds.
    Regards, Paul.

  11. If you want to see Jo at work, look at Nigel's photo site and he hasn't escaped the camera there!!

  12. As Aardvark11 says above, they look very much like Jarrah sleepers. I had 35 years of working with them on the Severn Valley P. Way gang. They are very tough and hard to drill into for bolts, consequently very long - lasting. The only better ones I encountered were oak, and you soon knew about them, because they were so bloody heavy!

    In my thirties, I could carry a Jarrah sleeper on my shoulders, but I couldn't do it with an oak one. B. R. used to buy sleepers by the tens of thousands, (obviously), then they went through conveyors, with spiked rollers, into ponds of creosote for six months, after which, dependent on local trackbed conditions, they were good for 30 - 50 years.

    It's also why they make extremely good firewood, if you can saw and chop them, of course!



  13. Jarrah (more properly Eucalyptus marginata) is the Aboriginal name for the wood and the tree, which is a plant in the myrtle family. It is a dense wood with a specific gravity of 1.1 when green. Its long, straight trunks of richly coloured and beautifully grained termite-resistant timber make it valuable for cabinet making, flooring, panelling and outdoor furniture. When fresh, jarrah is quite workable but when seasoned it becomes so hard that conventional wood-working tools are near useless on it. It is durable and water resistant, making it a choice structural material for bridges, wharves, railway sleepers, ship building and telephone poles. Because of its remarkable resistance to rot, jarrah is also used to make hot tubs.

  14. Oh what a site to behold, never seen so much activity on this blog with all the talk about the sleepers and rail types! getting to be very exciting times at Broadway with all that is happening there. Keep up with the reports and story please, we are now checking twice a day so as not to miss the excitement!
    Paul & Marion