Saturday 19 May 2018

(Wish I had a) beer today

It was hot today - 21 degrees C - relentlessly sunny, and the railway had a beer festival on. We worked in the heat, and had to watch all those trains go by, with faces pressed against the windows all holding beer glasses. We wish....

To finish off our turnout project at Toddington we needed to spot resleeper a short section beyond the main line turnout. Last week we did 11 sleepers, and this week we did - well, read on.

At Toddington the S160 has arrived, a fascinating machine.

Did you know the letters 'U S A' are not painted on, but bolted on in shiny metal (chrome, or stainless steel?). What an interesting touch.

The loco itself was by the goods shed, and was about to be propelled out to collect its tender.

While they were apart, we were able to take this photograph of the cab controls. LH drive, and two gauge glasses. Were they not originally supplied with just the one?

Out at Toddington south Tony and Graham looked at the list of sleepers to be replaced here. The quality of sleepers along here is patchy - it's some of our earliest track - and we were to take out the worst ones.

As we don't have a pile of spare wooden sleepers, we had to dismantle those left over from previous jobs at Broadway and Gotherington skew bridge.

Here Hayden uses the animal (aka a 'Bance' on other railways) to unbolt the chairs, which we then stacked and later took down to Winchcombe for storage.

These sleepers are Jarrah and of the highest quality.

That means that they are extremely heavy, and it took 5 gangers to lift one onto the back of the Landie for transport to the actual work site.

The team of 13 today was stretched out over the site, and we were able to have two separate gangs on the job. Until the next train comes along.

Here it is just setting off from Toddington, with a plume of steam like a genie from a bottle.

There were three kettles out today, and if you were lucky, you got this magnificent beastie - Bulleid pacific Peninsular & Oriental. As it was a steam and ale festival, centered on Winchcombe, there was also a DMU 'beer shuttle' between Toddington and Winchcombe, to spread the car parking out a bit. The car parks were rammed, a good sign.

Today both teams were doing the whole job (division of labour last week) and here you can see Tim hammering a key back into the chair of a sleeper just replaced. Neil is holding the chair steady, as without that extra resistance you can't hammer the key in. It's all very springy and wobbly with this old way of supporting rails.

Then it's a question of positioning the sleeper right under the holes of the chair we just clipped into place, so that we can get the chair bolts in.

Steve is already hovering with the animal, ready to finally do up the chair bolts.

Then it's time to back fill the void, and tamp the sleeper by hand. In this heat it's hard work.

The new warmth has also brought out the Hawthorn blossom, a wonderful sweet smell. In the background is the farmhouse along the Toddington - Winchcombe road.

When we find a GWR throughbolter to replace, it's really hard. The sleeper needs to be split in two to release the rusted up chair bolts.

David and Tony give it all they've got.

And then a bit more....

Meanwhile, Geraham is our lookout, and with 4 trains about today, it's a very worthwhile job.

As we were working near two sets of signals, we were often alerted by the 'clang' of the signal, but it's nonetheless good to know someone is looking out for you.

Especially with a big tender in front of you, and on a curve, the driver of the big pacific has a hard job seeing everything in front of him.

Neal had a go on the animal, surrounded by a group of experts who did not hesitate to tell him where he was going wrong....

Others sat by the wayside, as the heat began to take its toll.

Lunch was in the mess coach at Toddy, probably for the last time here. Will we find it at Winchcombe next week? We are wrapping up the job at Toddington south. On the way we crossed a supply of boot scrapers, here in bright red primer. And we thought it was because they were LMS !

Another interesting find in the loco shed was this engine. Reminds us of a VW flat four - how about this in the back of your beetle? That should pep it up a bit. Might need a slightly heavier clutch, is our advice.

Outside the loco shed the S160 has been put back together again. Here it is, engine and tender. It looks very purposeful, should draw the crowds at the gala. Don't miss it - our 8 coach trains should make it work for its living.

After lunch, a deputisation was sent off to Southam to attend to a reported broken fishplate. As we needed the Landie at Toddington south, they went there - with all the tools in a VW campervan! With the small engine.

Actually, we suspect that this engine was destined for the 'beer shuttle', an extra DMU today that ducked and dived in between the three steamers to take people from the Toddington car park to the beer stalls at Winchcombe. It was well used.

We did another 11 sleepers today, thereby going as far as we had planned. We felt quite good about that, given the number of times we had to stop to let traffic past. Then again, that traffic earns money for the railway, so we can't complain.

After lunch, we also had a clear up session. The 22 sleepers we had removed were taken to a nearby pile for further treatment.
These are easy to lift - they weigh next to nothing, as they are rotten through.

We also loaded the TB2 Geismar chair screw machine. This is too heavy to lift by hand really, so we used the Telehandler to lift it on to the Landie, carefully avoiding the small hydraulic lift with which the Landie is also equipped.

We also took 30 chairs with us. These are still useable (3 bolters) so they will go into storage at Winchcombe.

The plucked chicken
Then we walked back to Toddy, our pace quickening at the thought of a refreshing pint after work. On the way, we passed the class 20 parts donor, which is getting smaller and smaller.

A quick glance at what's outside the loco shed showed the King being bulled up, and here fitted with a very suitable headboard for 'THE BRISTOLIAN'.

Then it was a wash & brush up, into our civies, and a 'secret shopper' test of what our customers were getting in the beer area at Winchcombe.

We were impressed. 20 - 30 ales to try, plus ciders, and for the money you got a free pint glass thrown in as well. Platform 1 became one long public bar, with a BBQ to one side to boot. It looked like a very popular event.

Friday at Broadway

No public services, but that doesn't mean no trains. The sylvan peace of Broadway station was disturbed twice by a footplate experience train, the full Monty with all 8 coaches.

GWR heavy freight loco 2807 rumbled in here at four o'clock. New GWR style BEWARE of TRAINS signs, and the signal rodding has almost reached the southern turnout. The northern one is somewhat further away though, so still a lot of work to be done there.

Wonder how many levers the box will finally be using, with all that rodding and signal wires?

Looking at the station and train with the sun in your back the colours really come into their own.

Another authentic touch achieved by the BAG lads is the placing of this lamp hut next to one of the footbridge towers. That's where it used to stand, check it out on the picture below:

It's an excerpt from the famous 'Cornishman at Broadway' picture by John Diston. The arrow points to the 'Passengers are requested to cross by the Footbridge' sign that we still need.
The picture shows the layout of the canopy overhang with the bottom of the steps, as it once was. We're having to modify that a bit, as the two no longer align as now built.

In the booking office the bench so beautifully upholstered by C&W gets regular use, as seen here a few days earlier.

On the way home, this pretty shot of what the Cotswolds is all about:

- Sheep
- Lambs
- The Cotswolds Edge
- A Manor house on the hill.

No wonder we get so many tourists.

And now this week's puzzle:

A generous blog reader has donated a set of 12 inch cast iron letters from a GWR running in board...

The question for blog readers is: What was the name of the station?
Take your time, no hurry....

There's no prize, just the honour of being the first. But the gift makes a serious contribution to your blogger's ambition of assembling a complete set of letters in 4 inch and 12 inch size. Once a set of the most common letters is available, we can then take the required letters to a foundry and ask them to be copied for, say, WINCHCOMBE (12 inch), or REFRESHMENTS (4 inch).

We are still missing the following 12 inch letters:

F,G,I, J, L,P,Q,U,V, and W.

We have a spare A, E, R, S, M, and Y, so could swap with any other GWR society, or would gratefully accept further gifts.
The same goes for 4 inch letters, which are commonly used on V boards. If anyone has any spares or swaps, we'd be interested to hear.


  1. Great pic of the S160.
    And the lamp hut at Broadway looks good in its new location.
    Excellent pictures (as usual).
    Regards, Paul.

  2. I believe the station where the letters came from is KEYNSHAM AND SOMERDALE.

    1. Well done, Gordon, right first time :-)

    2. Spelt K-E-Y-N...
      Thank you Mr Batchelor.

  3. Many of you will remember the S160 , Franklyn D Roosevelt, that we had on the Railway a good few years ago. Of interest that one is RHD so obviously built as either. I did some of my Driver Training on it and the "pull out" regulator was interesting to handle.