Saturday 28 July 2018

Diesel Schmiesel

It's the diesel gala these three days, but nonetheless 6 of us turned up on the PWay to do some essential work on the track today. We could always watch the diesels from the lineside. And it was just as well we were there, as several track faults have suddenly been reported. It's most likely that these are related to the two month heatwave that we've been having.

Out first job of the day was to quickly replace a timber in the turnout main-line-to-C&W-sidings.

We were disturbed in our doings by the class 26 trundling into Winchcombe.

Then it was back to the business in hand. This timber was found to have a hole burned into it, so had to go.

Luckily this was withing the yard, only a short walk from where we had stored a replacement. It came out easily enough; then a replacement was pulled in using the nips.

There was quite a frenzy of loco activity this morning, as almost immediately after the class 26 arriving, the Peak left the other way, heading for Toddington. starting at Winchcombe, don't see that very often.

As soon as Toddy box accepted it, they let go the blue class 37.

It's all fun for the diesel supporters, and we saw quite a few of them today. It's nice to ring the changes.

You can see all the afficionados on the end of the platform here, having detrained from the DMU hauled by the class 73. That has to be a strange combination.

Then of course the class 73 left.

Our gang today was small, and it's no wonder - Dave here is second manning the diesel for example.

Come on, how about wielding a shovel down here with us?

Another member of the PWay gang was spotted on the cushions, two days running! That's very keen.

Notice Neil leaning on the Landie, and the Landie leaning back. Incomprehensible, Neal was on salad rations at lunch too. Our money is on a suspension issue with the Landie...

Finally we had a half hour window and used this to drill and bolt up the replacement timber. We packed it, backfilled it, and it was - Job Done !

As we were packing up our visiting Warship arrived.

'ONSLAUGHT' rolled into Winchcombe, past a  considerable bank of photographers, stationed in an arc from one platform end to another, even peeping out from a gap next to the signal box. Diesel fans also had the opportunity to wander down to the far end of the C&W shed, where an area for them had been prepared. This gave an excellent vantage point for them.

The arrival of the Warship released the road for the class 26 to continue on to Toddington, seen here across the PWay yard with the C&W sheds in the background.

We then retired for a breather and a light lunch. That's what we tell our wives, who don't know about Mr. B's cakes. Vanilla and chocolate fairy cakes today; we sent the box back empty to the bakery.

After lunch we addressed a second issue, this time at Stanley Pontlarge. A small village alongside our railway, with an interesting name. Stanley refers to a stony clearing or field, and Pontlarge refers to the origin of the people that owned it - Pont de L'Arche in Normandy. Not a lot of people know that.
(and it wasn't Michael Cane BTW who coined this phrase, but Peter Sellers)

Here we are on an interminable straight between the tunnel mouth at Greet and the big cutting at Dixton. A twist had been reported here, and we came to see for ourselves, and perhaps even fix it straight away.

The arrival of visitor D7017 gave us an opportunity to observe the behaviour of the track, and indeed the train above it. The problem wasn't so obvious with this method however, as there was a temporary speed restriction so the train just casually trundled over the problem at 10 mph.

Plan B was less practical but more scientific - get the track gauge out and measure everything.

This revealed that there was indeed a height difference for a short stretch, which would give the twisting effect reported by the loco crews.

Of course there is another way of checking the levels, old but always reliable - put your eye on the rail and look along it.

The two measurements gave Nigel all the information he needed, and devise the measures required to take the twist out.

The Green Goddess D6948 also paid us a visit. What a magnificent locomotive, here in the Cotswolds countryside. No wonder people come to our diesel gala.

You might wonder why it is that in the middle of this long straight, in reasonably good condition, the track now has a twist in this precise spot.

We think the answer lies in this small group of 2 - 3 trees, which have been allowed to grow very close to the track. Their roots, which extend as far out as the canopy above is wide, influence the water content of the trackbed under the rails. You can also observe some slight abnormalities in the straightness of the rails, also caused by movements below ground.

Having worked out the exact location and extent of the twist, we dug out all the sleeper cribs along the lower side, jacked  the track up with the 4 pan jacks you can see in this picture, and then re-packed the ballast under the sleepers.

We then waited for the next train and watched what the track did underneath it. The answer of course was nothing, just what we expected. Satisfied with our lift and packing, we back filled everything again and moved on to the next bit, just a couple of yards away.

This was a noticeable dip in a joint, a common feature with second hand rail such as ours. This too we dug out, lifted and packed. The track here was laid in about 1991 on chaired concrete sleepers and bullhead rail, a relatively rare combination these days. You need to keep up to speed with track components, because the big railway continues to evolve and there comes a point when you find that spare parts for your bits of track (eg SHC clips) are no longer manufactured.

Here's our last PWay shot of the day, taken as the Landie returned along the other side of the former double track bed back to the point of entry, Gotherington Skew bridge.

It's taken at 3 arch bridge, well known to photographers, but not from this angle. Enjoy !

Broadway snippets.

Already reported on the S&T blog but without a shot of the end of day result, here is a picture of the space created between two lamp posts following the removal of about a quarter of the concrete ducting that has been stored on P2 at Broadway for quite a while now.

The grass (in fact sown by your blogger) can now regrow in this area, and more piles of troughs will be removed as opportunity permits. Now to find a way of removing the remaining platform copers - they are heavy!

Down below, work has started on the car park - great stuff.

The first job is to remove a top layer of about a foot. This will be replaced by fresh stone. The two ends of the site will be tarmacked, while the middle (the majority of the surface) will be open blocks of stone that allow surface water to drain through, so minimising the impact on the Broadway brook at the far end.

From above you can see the 360 digger slowly working its way down, with site huts in the foreground. The footpath is closed for the duration.

On completion of the works, access to our trackbed via the steep slope will be maintained.

Friday is normally a non-running day, but this time the day was included in our three day diesel gala programme.
The class 26 was the first train of the day.
During our building activities in the future refreshment room there was a succession of rumblings as one diesel hauled train after another trundled into the station. The trains gave Broadway real life. For one who helped in the construction almost from the beginning, from the bleakest days as we scratched around for bricks to lay to rebuild the platforms that had been grubbed out so completely, it was a real thrill to see the station so lively, and with (almost) everything in use.

Next came the class 20 with its train made up out of the DMU.

We were pleased to note that it was chokka, never seen the DMU that full before.

Work for today centered around the installation of the replica fireplace. Don't get too excited yet, it isn't finished, so everything you see in pace is just a trial fitting. It'll probably go in finally next week.

Here Neal is creating a groove down one side. This will receive the side of one of the uprights, and with a dose of plaster will hold it in place. The insert has been put in its future place so that we can measure up.

With the groove cut out, Neal was able to test its position and depth with one of the new slate uprights. Behind him is the hearth, still wrapped up.

More rumblings outside - what is it this time? Ah, it's the green Growler easing itself into the station.

Back inside, Neal has cut the second groove, on the opposite side, and here are both uprights being trial fitted. There's still the panel across the top to go, but we have that too.

Starting to look like it now, with that top panel fitted. If you contributed to the funding for this little gem, give yourself a little pat on the back. Just look what we are achieving !

The mantlepiece will go across the top, but due to its delicate nature, it is still off site until the last moment. It is a solid piece of slate, with a lovely beveled edge to it.

It strikes us that, having seen one in a different refreshment room, a clock would not look out of place higher up on this chimney breast. It would need to look like the one in the booking office, and its function would be to remind passengers when their train was due to leave.

Outside again, our visitor D7017 has arrived. What an interesting locomotive, with a completely different engine sound, almost purring. Look how it compares to the class 26 that came in a couple of hours earlier:

                                       Class 26                        Hymek

Cylinders                      6 in line                          V 16
Horsepower                  1160 HP @750rpm        1700 HP @ 1500rpm
Displacement                133 Litres                       86 Litres

If you'd like to hear it leave Broadway at the head of this train, you can click on this YouTube link:

To compare the style of engine, try this one of a class 25 on the NYMR. They had the same Sulzer 6 cyl in-line engine as our class 26:

Meanwhile, back to the fireplace. As we said earlier, it consists of 3 parts, slate surround, cast iron insert (with slate panels) and slate hearth.

We have a brand new hearth made for it, which Neal here is trimming at the corners to make it fit under the insert.

And here is the slate hearth, in its trial fit in front of the fireplace cut out. It has a lovely smooth finish to it. We also have the original steel hearth surround for it, found buried on site and restored. It will rest on top of the hearth, with its ends touching the two uprights.

Nearer the end of the day, a quick peek to see how the car park contractor was getting on.

You can see clearly now how the top layer is being scraped off.

Another small job done on Friday was touching up the GWR trespass notice (the 40 shillings one) prior to fitting to its post.

Here it is, going on. Everything GWR - except for the security camera on the canopy end. Fingers crossed that there are no other plans to disfigure the 1904 heritage canopy.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Gee, you you guys really are on fire

A generous 8 volunteers today. Landie repaired, packet of Hobnobs present, tea up, we're all ready to go!

Once again, no PWay transport today so (almost) everything was shoved into the back of Dave's Disco, with just the wheelbarrow in your blogger's estate car.

Dave refused point blank to accept the open tin of black oil as well, after on a previous trip it fell over on the back of the Landie. Eeeeuch..... So, no oil out on the track today...

We were back out at Southam, continuing from last week's job of fault repairing southwards from Bishops Cleeve.

Here we are at the northern entrance to the Race Course, where there is a parking opportunity (and a bit of a walk, but hey, we have a wheelbarrow today, thank you, Dave).

Dave also has the master plan in his hands.

Just as we arrived at the well known spotter's location of Riders For The Disabled (RDA) Foremarke Hall trundled by with the first train for CRC. That's the very busy one.

We walked down to the RDA crossing, entered the trackbed, and then walked back towards Southam, where we left off last week.

Here is our plucky little group, walking all the tools (and in some cases, picnic and folding chair; priorities, dear reader, priorities) to the start of the works.

The very first job we did, to replace a broken 'biscuit', was also the hardest. There is a reason the plastics are broken - back when the track was laid and some sleepers were not exactly in the right place for the biscuits to drop in easily, the plastics were rammed in with a hammer.  Years later, you end up with cracked biscuits (plastics) and of course the sleepers still 10mm out of position.

We dug out the offending sleeper and managed to manoeuvre it along a bit, just far enough for a new plastic biscuit to go in. Then Foremarke Hall left CRC again, so we had to step aside.

After that we made quite good progress, being caught up with the DMU working a bit further south of the bridge. Note the white sleepers on the left, not a good sign.

While Martin inspects the next missing clip (a forensic examination in each case - why is it missing, what has caused it to fall out, what is wrong here) the same shot shows a whole row of white sleepers, with a big white area at the end of the length. All this points to poor drainage and a shallow ballast bed. The track is pumping water out, which causes the white stains.

Can you see it yet?

We decided to await the return of the DMU before addressing the next bit, just along from the RDA crossing where three of us are standing here.

Here's the DMU then, picking up people from CRC who didn't get on the first steam train. We noticed a coach tour from Germany in the CRC car park, our fame stretches far and wide.

As we rounded the Southam curve we saw the home stretch before us - CRC with its tea making facilities and ice cream fridge in the distance. It was unanimously agreed we would stop for lunch there.

We bagged a shady bench under the trees and waited for the kettle to come back. It had a bacon butty facility on board, we knew...

Bacon butty secured, we moved on to tea, generously sponsored by Rick with a tray. Nice place to sit with tea, Cheltenham Race Course station.

A Passenger then approached us with the news that there was a fire on the track.

Golly, it was true as well, but just a small one. We did a Mexican hat dance on it, and the pine cone and needle fire was soon out. Little did we know, but it was a harbinger of greater things to come...

As we drove back to the RDA crossing in Dave's Disco, we noticed a cloud of smoke in the shallow cutting between RDA and Southam bridge. Surely not?

But it was indeed true, the bank was on fire, it was well alight. What to do?

John R had remained on site and was already on the case, phoning the fire brigade as we arrived. We jumped out of the Disco and grabbed our shovels.

'Have a bucket of water to douse those posts.' The RDA ladies come to our aid.
By ducking down low under the flames we managed to get in close and beat out the nearest row of flames. Cheered by this success (have you ever put out a grass fire before?) we moved on to the second front, which had quite big flames, which were being fanned by the 'gentle breeze' promised in the weather forecast for today.

We beat that out with our shovels too. High five !

Once we had beaten out the fire both ends, two fire engines arrived. They were pretty quick to arrive, well done those lads.

The fire brigade hosed down the site, and in particular put out the burning posts, which we were unable to deal with. They were dressed in full gear and it must have been so hot inside that.

Afterwards the DMU arrived very cautiously (we did not want a bill for sectioned fire hoses) and passed the site without incident.

Here's what burned today. Just bone dry grass, but the heat and the breeze made for ideal circumstances. We were able to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjoining stable for RDA, and the ladies there came out with buckets of water and even borrowed our shovel to beat out a small incursion.We all worked together to beat it, and there was no harm done.

One of us seemed to linger for quite a long time afterwards, and we think a new friendship was struck up. Every fire has a silver lining, as the saying goes.

Monday on the track

Our usual gang of 3 was on the prowl again. There were a number of seized bolts still to tackle, one on Chicken Curve and the others in the tunnel (Yes!) so we got our trolley out and loaded it up with the generator and tools.

Here is John with the genny and lights, ready to go into the tunnel. Actually, we went north first, to do that seized bolt on the curve.

That one wasn't too hard, it just needed cutting off and replacing. Weird, that there are so many bolts which are seized, about one turn away from being fully tight.

Then it was up to the tunnel, which you can see here from an unusual vantage point. The picture was taken from the bracket signal, which was also used to photograph the adjacent property line following the construction of new housing there.

Imagine how all this was excavated in 1905 with the Ruston Dunbar steam shovel.

The tunnel was great. Even before we entered it, there was a wonderful wooosh of cold air coming out of it. Hmmmmmmm.

Inside, we cut off several seized bolts and replaced them with new ones. Here is Dave on the angle grinder, watched over by Jonathan on the right. The trolley has two powerful lights on it, run by the generator.

Here is an example of a bolt we cut off.

On closer examination it appeared that, while it was fully done up, The unthreaded part was too long, so it never had a chance to be fully tight.

Check out also the length of thread protruding from the top end, that's too long to be normal.

Another reason why we couldn't tighten up some bolts.

This system of fish plate relied on an intermediate plate with folded up edges to hold the heads of the bolts in place. That's the theory. In practice however.... the folded up edges break off or end up flattened, so the heads of the bolts revolve infinitely and you can never tighten it up. Work that out in the dark when you are trying to loosen them with the TB2.

If there is light at the end of the tunnel, it may not be the other end, but a train coming your way!

Actually of course, it's the trolley with the genny and the lights, fear not. Yet this tunnel claimed the lives of 3 track workers at the end of the 1920s. We remembered that while we worked in there...

Broadway snippets from Monday.

More troughing has been removed from P2, quite a big lot this time. The stretch between these two lamp posts was cleared on Monday, using a wagon and the class 37. That's about a quarter of the troughing gone now, more to come. Great stuff, it makes the place look so much better.

More security cameras have been fixed to our 1904 canopy, both inside and out. Surely a more elegant solution could have been found, than to just bolt them on 'in your face' on the end?

Inside the cafe the fireplace has had the back bricked up to reflect the shape of the insert from behind.

On top, a lintel was placed, and the gap with the concrete blocks that were there filled in.

Next, the insert was tested in situ.

This is just the metal bit of course, what we could find that most closely resembles the original that was used about our railway, several to a station. This insert once had coloured tiles for decoration, but we have asked them to be replaced by slate panels. Works quite well, don't you think?

From the pencil lines outside you can see that two uprights are still due to go in. Then there is a slate panel across the top, and finally a mantelpiece across the full width.

The new slate hearth is on the left, still in its wrapping. That goes in the gap at the front.

Meanwhile, our friends at C&W have drawn up a plan for a counter for the cafe in Victorian style. We were excited to see that they had also thought of a large panel for the rear wall, with shelving left and right of a central mirror. That should look great !

Post scriptum:

John Rogers has secured us this aerial shot of the fire at RDA:

John has 'friends in high places' we are told :-)