Saturday 10 November 2018

North carriage siding

A good crew today, and a lovely sunny day to greet us. We had a special job on, which was to rectify mismatched fishplates on the north carriage siding at Toddington.

How to get our kit there though? As always, it's heavy. We worked out that the white Landie was just big enough to hold the Permaquip trolley, so we loaded that up, and had the road-railer Landie bring the equipment. At Gallery crossing north of the viaduct the two were combined. Then the Landie was put on the rails as well, and both vehicles moved south.

Note the ominous clouds in the background on the left. That doesn't look too good...

As we got to the work site first with our trolley, we had the opportunity for a special PWay 'run-by'. You don't get many of those. It's not a Castle, but it's the best we can serve up in this department. Enjoy then.

In the foreground is the end of the north carriage siding, which is long enough to take two sets of 8 coaches. With the opening to Broadway we have made more use of it, and the unevenness between some of the rail ends became too noticeable to ignore. We were to repair that today.

Here is one of those mismatches. The LH rail is more worn than the RH one, but the fishplate used does not take this into account. There is a step, and the carriage wheels have hopped from one rail to another, leaving a gap of say 2 inches (shiny rail, and rusty rail). It needs a 'lifter' here.

Here is one such drop cured. Yes, we know it's not the same one, don't write in. It's for illustrative purposes only. Here the lift is on the right, and you can see the step in the new fishplate, with the rail tops now level. Smooooooth....

Three gang members split off and checked the north end for missing keys. They seem to come out here a lot, and we replaced the missing ones with Panlocks that don't come out.

This north end has not yet been ballasted.

Hayden and John replaced the fishplates. Young and old working together, there must be 50 years between them. Nigel's well aimed boot holds the head of the bolt in so that it doesn't revolve.

As we were quite numerous today, we had the luxury of two teams, and like this we were able to complete the whole job in one day. Great!

Some nasty clouds have arrived overhead though, and it's getting noticeably darker round here.

At one point both teams were working opposite each other - that felt like real progress.

Any seized bolts - there are always a few after all these years - were cut off by Chris. Chris hadn't been for a few weeks, so we had this pleasant little job for him. Way to go, Chris!

It then started to rain in absolute bucketfuls. We had no shelter either, just the hope that our jackets and trousers would withstand the onslaught.

You could tough it out, like these brave souls here, or....

Sorry - there's no more room.... what's it like, out there? proceedings from the sidelines, under John's umbrella.

Poor old Pete thinks he's getting the benefit, but to stay dry here, you need to cuddle up together a bit more, Pete.

Activity at Winchcombe

Thursday saw the arrival of a large lorry, which came to remove one of the two derelict GWR carriages which have been parked near the yard entrance for many years.

The nearest of the two carriages had previously been tidied up into a sort of 'flat pack' to make it feasible for transport by road. The superstructure was in such a bad shape that its structural integrity could not be guaranteed as it went along.
The trailer, which was fitted with standard gauge track, had a rear steering feature, very evident in this picture. It was invaluable in getting the trailer parked up in front of the track, which was a short stretch isolated from the rest of the railway.

The end of the isolated piece of track was jacked up until it met the height of the trailer bed.

It was then reversed in with a remote control, and communication with the rather distant driver by mobile phone.

Here is the whole combination in place in front of the isolated piece of track, ready to start winching.
Both carriages were winched together. This was to bring the second one to the end of the stretch of track, while the first, 'flat pack' one was loaded.

It is the owner's intention to rebuild the carriage, once a rare GWR non corridor third.

The second carriage, also of GWR origin, was left on site for the time being, but should leave us before the end of the year, as this area of the yard is required for the carriage shed planned here.

Pulling the second carriage forward one length uprooted a number of saplings which had grown very close to it.

As soon as the second carriage is removed from here, the siding will be dismantled by the PWay department, as was a parallel one that used to lie next to it.

By lunch time the 'flat pack' carriage had been loaded, and at the end of the day was on its way to the owner's private site.

The second carriage was moved to the sidings by the end of the C&W barn, waiting to be collected.

Note that the far end roof has now fallen in, after its little adventurous journey across the yards.

The removal of the two ruined carriages has left a short piece of track, which will no doubt be dismantled shortly, as its twin was.

This leaves behind a large free area:

This area is earmarked for the carriage storage shed, but first we need to source the funding for it.

The two stop blocks, formerly at the ends of the two sidings, have been lifted out as well and await collection - they are also private property.

One out, one in.

At Toddington, there was a new arrival.

It's a Mk1 TSO, numbered M4867. Built at Wolverton in 1959, on B4 bogies. The previous owner was at Quainton.

It needs a lot of TLC, but it's nothing our C&W people can't fix.

TSOs are getting scarce, so it's quite a find for us.

The other side has broken windows, but again that is something that we can handle.

Meanwhile, back in the loco shed, a smaller team of 4 carried on riveting, still in anticipation of the squeezer becoming available, but we can't stand still.

We had 4 of the 8 stringers set up, bolted together in temporary pairs.

The objective was to rivet the cleats on, with the 'Jammer' working against the other stringer of the pair.

So this is not the future width of the staircase, just an arrangement to facilitate riveting.

You got that air on? I said 'air' !
With just the 4 of us on Friday, some of the jobs split between 6 earlier overlapped. Yours truly was rivet bringer, as well as air operator.

Here is Baz with the 'Jammer' in place, waiting for the next rivet. Neal has the rivet gun.

After a bit of setting up and fiddling around with items that got in the way of the 'Jammer', we turned into a well oiled machine and did loads of cleat rivets in a row.

Here are the first two stringers done, that's 48 rivets.

After a while we got them in so quick that the slowest point on our production line was John on the 'BBQ', heating the next rivet.

The record from picking up a hot rivet, inserting it, air on, rivet gun does a burp and back to picking up the next hot rivet was - 31 seconds ! How's that!

Of course it wasn't that fast all of the time, as stuff happens. Two rivets didn't go fully home and had to be redone, we kept having to stop to clamp down the whole construction to stop it moving about, and once the airline disconnected itself, just as the hot rivet was in its hole waiting to be hammered.

But all in all we did 4 of the 8 stringers, and that's 96 rivets, a daily record.

This is one of two we had to do twice. We decided to leave it in place, and heat it up again for a second dose of hammering. That sorted them out OK. Now it all looks very neat.  We even had a request for a rivet on 3850.

Have rivet, will travel!

The intermediate landing supports have also been completed and have had their 4 feet attached. Here they are in stock, ready for galvanising.

We're going to carry on riveting by hand, with or without the squeezer, as we need to get the stuff away to the galvanisers. There is still plenty more to do, about 650 rivets in total. Not all will be done in the loco shed.

The 'riveting' tale will resume on Monday.


  1. Wonderful weather for November. Not so good down here in Cornwall. Dark, wet, windy - that's what we've had all day.
    Nice to see that the GWR carriages will be restored as they look only fit for use as bolsters in their present condition!
    It also frees up the yard for that proposed carriage shed, which is much needed by all heritage railways these days.
    Great to see the footbridge stairs coming along so well and so quickly.
    Regards, Paul.

  2. Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that more stop-blocks are required on the railway, but (just in case) did anyone else note that there are two old ones for sale from Paddington? They were mentioned in 'Rail' magazine recently. Seems that they want to do a bit of extending at Paddington, & the blocks are redundant.

  3. Many thanks for another comprehensive update. The "new" TSO will definitely be an asset to the GWSR as will a new carriage shed to protect these increasingly valuable items of stock. It needs to be built yesterday! When not protected, coaches just end up like the 2 heaps of scrap at Winchcombe which thankfully have been removed. Although both vehicles are unique GWR types, they have about as much chance of being restored as I have flying to Mars! Unless the owner has very deep pockets, the only things worth keeping are the bogie sets and some of the brake gear, which working GWR coach owners would probably find a use for. I love GWR coaches but those 2 no-hopers are best forgotten. They serve as a very good example of how not to store valuable stock.

    1. That would be a very sad end to a coach type that played a significant role in GWR suburban operations. Where I was brought up in South Wales sets of 5 or 7 of these made hundreds of daily journeys across the region radiating to and from places like Cardiff and Newport - usually 56xx hauled. Unfortunately their early displacement by DMU introductions in 1958 made preservation unlikely. They still made occasional appearances on very early morning workings , DMU failures and weekend seaside excursions but I didn't see any steam hauled examples after 1963. For a few years after the disappearance of steam a Brake car was sometimes attached to the rear of DMUs, presumably as additional baggage capacity. The doors of the passenger compartments on these coaches were always locked and any attempts to use them was met with stern glares from station staff (remember them?!) It does seem unlikely but hopefully they can be rebuilt in the future.

  4. I'm amazed those old carriages could even roll. It's nice to think the intention is to restore them, although I do wonder how - or if - that will be done. What's the betting they'll spend the next 10 years sitting on another siding somewhere?

    Interesting to see the rail joint being improved, even though the track is only a siding. I was at Birmingham New Street station the other day, and I noticed that every time a train pulled out of the platform a series of loud BANG noises could be heard from the track.

    I went over to have a look, and found a stretch of bullhead rail with a joint that was even worse than the one on the Toddington siding. Trains would lurch over it, giving the rail ends a series of hefty blows. That's a broken rail just waiting to happen, I thought...

  5. It's most enjoyable to follow the progress of the GWSR in all its myriad guises & marvel at the achievements. Patreon enables me to receive videos from Keith Appleton & there are always other gems to watch on his links. This LMS film below explains the processes involved in renewing junctions & underlines how hard the PW teams work to support the GWSR

    Keith has posted over 970 model engineering videos, which have been a real education.