Saturday 24 February 2018

Back to Toddington

A lovely winter's day today - ice cold but sunny, and our faces felt burned at the end of the day. But still the need to wrap up with that strong, icy wind all day long.

We'll kick off with this picture of the tamper and the regulator parked up at Broadway. The job is pretty much complete here now but for some additional ballast requirements her and there, and subsequent re-tamping of certain bits. The track through the station looks really good now.

However, we were not at Broadway but the other way, at Gotherington. The relaying of the track over the bridge was not quite finished on Wednesday, so we had a lightening visit there to finish off the job.

Here are the concrete sleepers being lifted in at the northern end.

The remaining sleepers were soon all down, and here Steve L is eyeing them in so that they are in a straight line ready for the rail to be dropped back in.
We are now using new Pan 11 base plates with Pandrol clips, whereas the base plates and rails were spiked down before.

Stevie was with us and after dropping in the concretes he lifted in the rail. It all went surprisingly quickly.

From above in this 'drone' type view you can see the track back in its place.

There's a bit of clipping up going on. That was the slow bit of the operation. The Pandrol clips go in quite well but the SHC clips on the concrete are the devil's own work, as the sleeper has to be perfectly aligned underneath, and it never is.


Here is an 'end of the day' shot, although it wasn't the end of the day at all. It was lunch time. We had almost completely finished. There are just 9 pairs of SHC clips to put back in (foreground) and then of course we need to drop ballast in so that it can be tamped.

Stevie was wandering round, looking a bit deflated.

Oh noooooo, it was his JCB that was a bit deflated. No wonder. Out of his cab Stevie was ill at ease, like a fish out of the water.

Then Toddy for lunch.

The class 73 with a partly loaded ballast train was parked in the platform. This cold weather could well pose a problem for us, as when it freezes the ballast in the Dogfish becomes one solid lump and won't come out when you open the doors.

Another interesting thing at Toddington was painting progress in the tent housing 76077.

We heard that the frames will leave within a few days, and that the boiler will be parked out of the way at Broadway in the new siding there.

It is hoped to complete this locomotive in 5 years, but we'll need to put our hands in our pockets because there will be an appeal for funds to do so. So get ready to help.

In the afternoon the whole gang resumed work on the second turnout at Toddington, which also needs to be done.

While we were away the first one was fitted with these very sparkling new insulated stretcher bars. Neat.

More turnout components have arrived on site. There's the crossing in the foreground, and two switches were brought down from Laverton on the flat wagon, one being visible on the ground just next to it.

This is a tricky job, as the distance between the tracks is not standard so we don't have any measurements for the placing of the crossing. It is all done by eye and experience.
Here the crossing is roughly put in place, and then 'tweaked' this way and that until it looks right.

The excess at this end is then cut off, and a couple of long timbers placed under the centre of it

Steve had already prepared a ballast bed, and Alan brought in the timbers in the right order (the size of each is written on them, which helps a lot).
Once a timber has been pulled under with the nips, the different base plates, also marked individually, are brought up and inserted between timber and rail. They are so heavy (up to 60 Kg) that the best way of moving them along is with a bar. Also, there is very little on them that you can grip with your stiff, cold fingers.

We have a drawing of what the whole thing should look like, and it gives all the dimensions of each component, so we now exactly what to go and get next. This we consult for each sleeper and its bits.

There are no instructions though, and no little hexagonal Allan key....

As the ends of the crossing diverge again, we can move from a huge double base plate (the 60Kg one) to little individual ones, as here.

Looking the other way, you can see in the foreground the area of the main part of the turnout, for which the switches have been roughly positioned left and right. But we always start with the crossing in the middle, and work from there.

Towards the end of the afternoon, with shadows lengthening, you can see that we've done pretty well, as this is starting to look like a (second) turnout already.
We're waiting for another sleeper to come here, and have little chats. You get to know each other quite well. 'My wife says I'm a miserable old g*t' said one, whereupon another replied 'She's pretty perceptive then....'. All part of the fun.

It was sunny today, but quite windy, as you can see from the smoke billowing out of the Peak being started up, and going horizontally instead of upwards. Wonder why they are doing that, there are no services?

Looking back at the loco yard and shed, you might be interested in this picture taken from a tad higher up, i.e. from the top of the flat wagon. There are a number of sidings on the right of the yard, while further to the left you access the diesel and steam loco shed. There used to be a three way point from Ashchurch there, but that has gone again. A lot (probably all) of the early trackwork has been replaced over the years.

If you haven't done so yet, take a look at John Lees' 'early GWSR' photographs here:
and you will see all the work that went into the early yard sidings, using well worn components recovered gratefully from places like Dowty Ashchurch and DOWMAC in Quedgley.

While tidying up our tools we were impressed to see Steve L carrying the very heavy rail cutter box all by himself. Steve is no spring chicken, but his physical condition is superb. It's probably all that PWay work he has done over the years, he is one of our veterans from the earliest days.

Later Steve confessed that the box was in fact empty, it just looked very heavy. A case of bringing the box to the rail cutter, rather than the heavy rail cutter to the empty box.

Here's our end of the day shot. You can see the orange coloured timbers neatly laid out under the crossing, which is pretty much in its place but not yet screwed down or plated up to the first turnout. That will be for next week.

A bit of diesel interest at the end of the day, as the Peak ventured out from the yard almost all of the way to where we were working. What an interesting piece of machinery that is, with an unusual pair of three axled bogies and an extra axle in front. Built at Crewe in 1961 it says, so quite a veteran now.


And now for something completely different. And much younger too:

It's a photograph taken by a volunteer friend in Holland who's a main line steam driver there. It's the new Vectron locomotive just acquired by Deutsche Bahn and introduced into The Netherlands. These locos can work in both Germany and The Netherlands, despite the two countries having two completely different current supply systems - AC in one, DC in the other.

There's 8600 HP in just one of these two locos - big muscle on two axled bogies. Admire in awe!


  1. Wasn't 45149 hauling the train that derailed on chicken curve in the 1970s and in effect bought the gwsr into existence? Very appropriate that is now her home.

    1. Apparently not. Records and local material of the accident are not very comprehensive. The loco was a Class 45 but it was 45076. On 25th August 1976 a Toton to Severn Tunnel Junction coal train derailed at Winchcombe, Gloucestershire on what was then the Stratford upon Avon - Cheltenham line via Honeybourne. There appear to be no photos of the loco at Winchcombe (it was apparently not derailed) that was at the head of the train. Quite a few coal wagons were derailed and caused serious damage to the track. Several photos exist of the derailed wagons at track damage but I've never seen any of the loco at that location.

    2. Thank you for putting me right. I'm sure I read that somewhere but it did seem rather a coincidence! 45149 would have been busy on Midland main line passenger duties during that period.

  2. Hello and many thanks for the update.

    Keeping a blog, as well as all the physical PW work ! Trying to do all this, I, probably, would go bananas.

    Well, Gotherington seems to be going according to plan. I've never before (well, before your previous post,) seen "drone" shots of the bridge and the long curve in the line. It's fascinating to see. And the railway will soon be reconnected. Oh, what a clever lot you are, to be sure.

    The second turnout at Toddington is coming along very nicely. It will be interesting to see how you cope with the height difference between the yard and the running rail. There doesn't seem to be much room for manoeuvre, but I'm sure the PW team will manage it somehow.

    As to the Deutsche Bahn's new Vectron, thanks for the photo. All I can say is, trust the Germans to come up with a locomotive which is AC/DC. When I was young AC/DC meant something else entirely. Well, back then, it was the Sixties, and apparently anything went. Or so I seem (vaguely) to remember. Being young ! Oh well.

    Again, many thanks for the post. thanks for the memories. Thanks for the work you are doing. Got to it, my dear sirs !


  3. Memories......Yes. Standing on the platform at Stourbridge Junction having paid 3d for the return ticket from Stourbridge town. 8F running round its goods train on platform 1. Halls or Castles heading to Worcester or Hereford with passenger trains. The town branch with its 14XX (48XX) and autocoach called Wren. Stourbridge South box still very much in use. Semaphore signals everywhere. Carriage sidings. Light engine workings to and from the loco shed. Memories indeed........
    Now you give us back those memories with steam on the GWsR. And steam engines need track to run on. You have provided that too for us. We thank you ALL.
    Regards, Paul.

  4. Jo - thanks for the interesting update. How DO you get those "drone" shots? Is there a convenient signal post to climb, I wonder?

  5. Quick question. Although you relaid track over the bridge using wood sleepers , could you still use concrete sleepers over bridges?

    1. In theory yes, but it’s better to limit the load on the bridge to prolong life of the bridge

  6. An afterthought.

    The Deutsche Bahn's new Vectron, compared with our old electro Diesel, the class 73, is downright ugly. I am most impressed by its tractive effort, but couldn't they have given it a more stylish front end ?

    Happily, the Italians (where I spent many happy years) still believe in "la bella figura", which perhaps is why they still turn out such elegant sports cars.