We had a record (well for the current season) turnout of 15 today, what a jolly party it was. Old friends dropped in, and new ones were made.
We were surprised at Winchcombe this morning by this pretty little freight train.
Not everything copper capped is Great Western.
The absence of doughnuts this morning (how did that happen? Stevie was most disappointed) was counter balanced by the news that our department had been awarded a modest budget to try and acquire a second Landie, one with a longer wheelbase. This is great news, it will help us do two jobs at once, and also enable us to transport sleepers around. The deck of our current Landie is very short, and that is further constricted by the little crane it has. So not much room up there.
Now to try and source a good one that fits our budget. Watch this space!.
Here is our valiant little Landie as we all know it well.
We loaded it up this morning with the kit for stone blowing, and as you can see you couldn't get another postage stamp on it. We need more load space, and something with 4wd that won't spin its wheels in the ballast.
Here is our veteran PWay man Steve eyeing in the jacks, which have been placed in the shallow holes we dug under the fish plates last week.
Listening to some people's tales, it seems the very hot weather was quite off putting for some, hence the larger team again now that temperatures have reduced back down to a pleasant 20 degrees.
After lifting the track with the jacks the voids start to appear below the sleepers, and a final detail before stone blowing is to carefully remove any remaining big stones that might be in the way of the jet nozzle.
Today's red timetable is very handy for our lookouts, as there is a train every hour, at the same time. They cross at Gotherington too, so we have two in quick succession, then peace and quiet for 45 minutes. Stone blowing can proceed without interruption.
There is a long concrete wall here, believed to be part of an earlier repair to a slip on the Malvern side of the embankment. It makes a handy picnic bench, although some nonetheless bring their own folding chairs.
Cake was very interesting today: lemon, with poppy seeds. We tried it carefully, and soon came back for more! Mrs. B's two cakes were consumed entirely, in fact the last few pieces had to be defended vigorously for the three that had gone to fetch more stone.
Neil is contemplating his tea. Perhaps it has a strange taste, like the tea brought by Mr. Pugh to his wife in Under Milk Wood:
Here's your arsenic, dear.
And your weedkiller biscuit.
Some of the lifts were quite high, so we used up quite a bit of the larger sized stone that we had delivered erroneously.
We then completed the fill with the regular smaller stone, of which we still had a small supply. Where necessary we completed the stone blowing by some hand tamping with beaters.
The dips should now be eliminated, and the track securely packed underneath, preventing any movement up and down when a train passes over the top.
It was rather quicker to dig out the cribs, than to stone blow the 8 voids that are revealed at each joint. There is still quite a bit more to do in the direction of Bishops Cleeve, so we'll be back here next week.
Construction of the Broadway footbridge steps has started in earnest. On Monday the supply of channels was cut into approximate lengths, and on Friday the same small team returned to continue with the fabrication.
The roughly cut lengths of channel were each cut precisely and cleanly with this bandsaw.
It's an amazing machine. Your blogger has only ever seem a reciprocating saw in a loco workshop until now, but this modern one has an endless circular blade which whizzes around and makes a quick and very neat cut at any angle that you desire.
As the footbridge steps go up at an angle, and have a platform half way up, the ends have to be cut at precise angles to get the right shape of the stringers when they are assembled.
These are the original steps from Henley in Arden. They support the treads, as well as the pillars for the canopy over the top of the staircases. Because at HIA the steps stood away from the station canopy, the rain got in at the bottom and the steelwork here was badly decayed. You could put your fingers through the web of the stringers. At Broadway we will have the canopy overhang here, which will keep the bottom of the steps dry.
The steps at the front have had the woodwork removed, whereas at the back it is still in place.
The cast iron HIA columns have been kept but will not be used, as they are too short for the canopy overhang that rested on them at Broadway. New columns will be fabricated in the same style.
As we cut each piece of channel to the right length, Neal constantly checked the angle of the cut, as that will be crucial when they are joined together. The angles are not all the same, so it's quite complicated to keep tabs on them all.
It's a great pleasure to work with someone who is so good with his hands, and wonderfully at ease with this work.
At the end of the day we couldn't resist the temptation to just lay everything out and see if it fitted, and take some pictures.
Here's a view from above. John on the right has cut and drilled the cleats that support the treads, all 96 of them. It requires great patience. In the picture on the left a few sample ones have been laid on a stringer to show how they will go. The cleats will be rivetted in place with 2 rivets each, then welded round to ensure that there is no water ingress from behind. We will also have the new steelwork zinc plated, again based on experience where it rusted before.
One of our trains is just pulling into Broadway above.
Before you go, don't forget to check out our work at Usk on the Heritage blog:
At Winchcombe today work started to clear the ground where the materials recovered from the Usk building will be stored in the first instance, close to where the building will be re-erected.