Saturday 15 September 2018

Twisting, and drilling

A rude awakening this morning, as we were dozing over our tea and doughnuts - a class 45, parked right next to our mess coach! Huge rumble.

What the?

It had come to pick up a rake of coaches - today was a Thomas day.

We also had a visitor, Chris, who brought an interesting curio:

This is an ancient piece of tram rail - note the groove for the flanges in the right - which comes from a location just 4.5 miles from Winchcombe station. It was for an activity which ceased in 1930 - know where it is from? Chris spotted it while driving past in his car, a great surprise. Who knew that it was still there?

Another great surprise was that work had started on making the two ruined GWR non-corridor thirds ready for transport. They belong to a third party who has promised to restore them off site, but they are so badly decayed that their superstructure needs to be removed before they can be transported by road. Unfortunately they have been stored out in the open for many, many years.

Then we were off to Laverton to address a dip in the Malvern side rail by the foot crossing before Little Buckland curve.
The DMU ran a 45 minute shuttle to Broadway during this Thomas day.

The first thing to do was to measure the extent of the problem with our track gauge.

The DMU - with 'DAISY' on the destination blind, but no face - came back almost immediately, thanks to a minimal turn around at Broadway.

We had the heavy compressor out today for powering the stone blower, and here Neil is responding bravely to a call to just move it along a bit. You can do that - just.

We dug out the Malvern side and blew the stone in from the end. This worked really well, thanks to the smaller size stone we now have.

There was a lot of shovelling involved, and from time to time we would pause to recover, and dare we say, to admire the fabulous view you get from the embankment here.

At 45 minute intervals we would be (gratefully) interrupted by the DMU shuttle, which gave a few moments of well earned rest.

Gorillas in the mist....
Lunch was taken anywhere we could find to sit down. There are 7 PWay gangers eating their lunch in this picture - can you see them?

Mrs. B treated us to a large box of fairy cakes, which soon went. Paul and Jim, sadly, weren't fast enough, until Nigel unveiled a second box of fairy cakes. They tucked in vigorously after that.

There was great pleasure as a small orange clad figure slowly emerged out of the distance.
It was John, away for several months now while recovering from a knee operation.
This seems to have been a success, as he managed to walk along the rough trackbed for a considerable distance. While we gossiped, the other half got on with the job in the distance.

Soon after lunch we completed the job at Laverton and decided to crack on with a second just outside Broadway. As the car park is currently inaccessible, we walked through the station to find that the modesty screen has now been painted. It looks great, and also hides that rather unpleasant plastic gasmeter in the outside wall there.

Here is the car park as per today. A respectable fence has been erected along the bottom of our embankment. The narrow area in the middle, where there is no parking, is now also more defined.

Up on top we met the Landie, which had followed the trackbed with the tools and the dumpy bag of chippings, which were unloaded here.

There are two dropped joints to fix here.

We 'stone blew' these joints, after digging out, and the ride should be better now. The track is settling down after 6 months of pretty intensive use, so it is not surprising that a few improvements can be made.

DAISY came out of Broadway, and this time she had put on her face (which she keeps in a jar by the door....)

Earlier in the week

A quick trip into Broadway to paint the 6 cast iron seat ends for the first two extra benches for the station. Regular services were running, which enabled this photograph, quite convincing, of 2807 pulling out towards Honeybourne with a long passenger train. We think.

Now that the cafe is slowly nearing its entry into service (albeit next season) we can't work in it any more. There is a nice floor down in both kitchen and dining room, and the radiators are going in.

The new workshop is in this steel container.

Here the cast iron ends, in Broadway's special chocolate colour, are having their feet fitted. GWR benches had wooden feet, but not everyone fits them today.

Monday on the track

Four of us attended, to help Stevie load scrap rail from the trackside at Stanton.

As Stevie would be busy first thing on Monday unloading 3 signal posts at Broadway, we repaired to the mess coach for a quick early morning cuppa.

The yard had been shunted, to reveal this lovely 'Queen Mary' bogie brake. We know it's Southern, but it's still a thing of grace and beauty.

We gave Steve the time to finish unloading, then headed off to Stanton yard, to find the drainage gang hard at work in clearing a space for the welfare container for the impending aqueduct repair (you may know it as a tea hut, but these are modern times).  Brambles and trees were being cleared, and two large lorry loads of rubble from accumulated broken drain repairs were carted away.

We were astonished to find that the hornets (?) nest had gone. Just half of an outer shell was left. We cannot imagine someone beating it to pieces with a stick, so perhaps it had been vacated after the end of the season?

In this somewhat blurry picture you can see the honeycomb that you find in the centre, filled with larvae.

Although there were no hornets about, apparently, we were not going to inspect it too closely. Looks empty now though.

Then, to work. The scrap rail has resided deep in the undergrowth for many years, and is now being cleared out. Here John is hacking away the brambles so that we can attach a chain to the first one.

The first rails were then extracted by Stevie. In this pile they were mostly off cuts, so were pulled out in pairs.

This activity disturbed a large toad.

It seemed to be reasonably happy to be picked up. After photography, we deposited it on the other side of the line.

Hop along now, old chap!

We also disturbed a field mouse, and an overly curious black and white mongrel that wanted to know what was in our lunch bags.

Roll over and play dead, go on.   NO!

It was very friendly, and eager to be patted by all and sundry.

Oh, alright then.....

Have you seen a black & white mongrel anywhere?

Later it was claimed by the drainage gang....

Then it was back to work, with Stevie able to extract some seriously long pieces of bullhead from the brambles.

Stevie knew just where to look, and it wasn't obvious to the bystander (if we get any down here that is) that they were there at all.

We also came across the remains of a kit for a concrete linesman's hut, ex Toddington. Any ideas where it might usefully go? Being made of concrete, it is presumably of a fairly late era. It was replaced next to the old acetylene hut by a corrugated iron GWR example.

All the rail we recovered was lifted by Stevie on to this bogie flat, and at the end of the day this was taken down to Winchcombe or unloading.

Friday at Toddington

The vast car park is empty, except for this:

Now release the hand brake....
There seems to be some sort of delivery. GWR too. What's happening?

A second vehicle was also delivered. Information obtained says these are tool vans, currently used as support vehicles for a third party tamper (not on the GWSR).

They are coming to stay with us for a while. We parked them behind the loco shed.

Inside the near silent loco shed work was about to continue on fitting the 8 stringers with cleats.

These cleats will be rivetted on, but to start with they will be bolted.
With the bolts in place, they will be welded - a refinement of our own - to prevent water ingress from behind. The HIA bridge had a lot of issues in this area.
A specialist welder came in today to do about half of them, and a fine job he did too.

In anticipation, Neal has ordered the rivets. Just three sacks, but they contain no fewer than 600 rivets.

Wow !

Here's a sample of what they will look like on a gusset.

Today Neal completed drilling all the holes for the 96 cleats. Is he therefore finished? No sir! He's got holes for 600 rivets to drill, and each rivet has two holes to pass through, and sometimes even three.

Neal reckons he's about half way in fact.

Four of the stringers with their footsteps cleats on are seen in this photograph. Off picture is the same quantity again, it's quite a job. But we are well into it, there are no major issues.

Having finished drilling the holes for the cleats, Neal decided to fit one of the big gusset plates on to the intermediate landing supports.

You may remember that he built them earlier, but today he took them to pieces again and started drilling up the upright stringer to fit the big gusset plate.

At the end of the afternoon, this is what the big gusset looked like.

It's now bolted to the upright stringer, which itself is now fitted with an angle to support the intermediate landing.

Four of these to do though.

As we are all volunteers there is no precise target date, but let's say that what we would like to do is finish off the drilling, send the steelwork off to be galvanised, and on its return fit it to the Broadway footbridge during the non running season.

Looking further ahead, if that goes well, then a second round of manufacture could start, subject to funding, which is not yet in place. We walk with little steps.

That would involve the northern canopy overhang, parts of which are already made, and some of these need modification. A second non-running season then offers itself at the end of 2019. If all goes well, and the extra money is found.

Saturday 8 September 2018

A manpower issue

Not enough volunteers today, just 8. We were going to finish stone blowing at Manor Lane today, draw a line under that activity, but the low turnout prevented this.

Instead, we tidied up the yard to meet requests from C&W and the Usk project team.

C&W wanted access to the back siding behind the mess coach, so we fired up the Telehandler, moved the TB2s and trolleys out of the way, and shovelled back this pile of ballast.

While the Telehandler was out, why not clear up some stuff that had been unloaded, but not yet tidied away?
That went for a pile of fishplates here, and this interesting length of Brunel bridge rail, which will come in useful for authentic signage.

Those Telehandler forks also came in useful for removing this ancient sleeper left in the 4 foot of a siding.
It's ballast now - it comes from lightweight MOD type flatbottomed track, no good for future use with us.
Nigel tickled it out of its bed with the tips of the forks.

On the opposite side the little 03 shunter D2182 was at the head of a short freight train today. A line of restored wagons was being pulled out of the bay, to make room for the Santa coach and the Fruit D, recently restored, as backup.

Did you know D2182 used to stand in a childrens' playground in Leamington? What a tale to rescue that, and make it run again. It's been a faithful runner over the years, first with the PWay relaying team and more recently as the yard shunter for C&W.

In anticipation of slewing 50 yards of siding as part of the Usk shed relocation project, we cleared up the space next to the siding and removed a number of rubber pads that had been stored there.

We piled the pads on to a new pallet, ready for Nigel to take away, and to give access to this plastic stillage, which was also removed.
Trains kept on running today, and they still looked reasonably well filled too. Foremarke Hall and 2807 were out today.

In the afternoon we did a different little job, part of the snagging list for the new turnout at Toddington south.

Here we're fitting a better lifting fishplate, to give a smoother ride over the new joint.

We didn't have a jack with us, but never mind, some well fed gangers on bars were just as good.

Hurry up though, we're killing ourselves on these bars here.

While we weren't working on the running line, it was polite to stop and wave to passing trains. Technically that is 'acknowledging the warning whistle'.

We also fitted a set of insulated joints to the turnout. Here is one - brand new. The point motors are also still outstanding.


 The plucky little gang of fishplate greasers went out along the line.

We've now done Winchcombe to the viaduct, and the other way Winchcombe to the Gretton end of the tunnel. Depending on which bit we are doing, access may or may not be difficult. This time it was difficult, as the starting point was the southern mouth of the tunnel, virtually impossible to reach except by a long detour by road.

We put the trusty Landie on the rails.
You can see how much bigger the steam engines are, when you look at it here, in the mouth of the tunnel at the Winchcombe end. We had all the lights on, and even tooted before we entered it.
We then got swallowed by the whale.

At the Gretton end we found the last fishplate we did, and unloaded the TB2 using the on board crane. This was really handy, as we could put the heavy machine straight on to its trolley, behind the Landie.

Soon we were unbolting, greasing, bolting up again, here at the level of a famous pub. Once, in the early days, we planned to have a halt here, to allow passengers to get off and go straight to the Royal Oak pub.

It's up there, in the background. Try it, you get a lovely view of the passing trains from the garden.
We fishplate greased our way slowly round the bend, on to the long straight.
How disillusioning this must have been when they first laid the track back in the 1980s - that straight looks endless.
And so it is today for the little team greasing the fishplates.

As is our wont, we have our picnic lunch at the 'apogee' as it were, i.e. the point farthest from where we start, the place where we turn round and do the other side. Here we are at the distant signal, sitting on the trolley. It's a dry day,  but humid. At least it's not raining, out here in the wilds.
We were joined for half the day by John, who told one or two jokes. Or three. Or four.
Mrs. D's hazelnut cake remnants came out of the freezer and were lovely, although not when coated liberally with fishplate grease, as everything else was. John was amazed that it got onto his newly washed trousers in just a few minutes. What the.....? How the....?

At the end of the afternoon we arrived back at the tunnel, working down the Malvern side.
This is a very remote area, and very pleasant it is to be out here. To the left is a large cleared area, which we think carried a navvy camp during the construction of the line. It also gave the name to the nearest (very small) road: Working Lane.

Echos from the past.

Monday we're recovering some scrap rail from Stanton. That should put some pennies in the bank.

Earlier at Broadway

A trip to Broadway to fit the wooden feet to the new platform benches was frustrated by a complete blockage of the station drive.

We returned later in the day to ascertain the cause.

The modesty screen at the end of the building has been fitted. That's great, it was being assembled in the cafe kitchen and we need the space there.

The 4 new benches we are assembling for Broadway are in 1904 style, but somehow an interloper has arrived that is from the 1940s.

It has the later period shirt button seat ends.

The reason for the station approach blockage was a large crane, being used to cut down some of the 100 year old pine tress for which this line was well known.

At the end of the afternoon it was just packing up, after working from the adjacent field, to access trees to be felled on P2.

A total of 4 trees have been felled in the area of the footbridge, more along the drive.

The timber was piled at the bottom of the drive, from where it was collected by tractor.

The pile of timber by the garage workshop.

Footbridge steps

Work is going great guns here, with a record of 4 working days this week.

The steel cutting is pretty much finished, so now we are at the pre-assembly stage, with various different bits being bolted or welded on.

Cleats receiving a weld around 3 sides
Cleats fitted to stringers

Some of the cleats were manufactured from angle salvaged from the construction of the canopy. This had primer on it, which was removed with an angle grinder.

The bolt holes are for the rivets, but bolts will be used in the first instance to hold them together.

The angle cut to size for the roof of the steps also had supports welded on the ends to allow them to be riveted to the uprights.

An interesting arrival during the day was a pallet full of gusset plates.

These were cut to size by laser in a factory in Redditch.

Good to know there is a local supplier, the UK can still make stuff.

We were impressed by the neatness of the cuts. They were so fine that you could put two separated plates right back together, and you could hardly tell where the cut had been made.

Neal showed us where some of the gusset plates will go. This one will hold two stringers together. Lots of holes still have to be drilled by the mag drill before we can actually bolt / rivet something together yet though.

Here's the same gusset plate in its original location, in this instance on the HIA steps.

This gusset plate is for the top of the intermediate stair supports. They have already been made up and are standing to the left of the picture.

In this picture of the original Broadway bridge you can see the same trapezoid shape, and where it will go.

With several holidays coming up now, we won't be working 4 days a week for a couple of weeks now though. At our age we no longer have school age children, so we take our hols when the little brats go back.