Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Yardies

Attendance is starting to drop off a bit as we approach Christmas. We had eight today. Well, strictly speaking one arrived late and two left early, so did we have an average of eight, a mean, a median, or what?

With eight you can still have plenty of fun. A small party led by Peter went to Toddington to drive into the ground along the line to be lifted a number of stakes at intervals, which will give Stevie points from which to measure the depth of the ballast bed.

The rest of us decided to have a go at tidying up the yard where the two derelict coaches used to stand.

The two stop blocks have been removed by their owner, thus releasing much needed parking space. However, he left behind two chaired up sleepers, the first thing we removed.

We then fished out four sleepers hidden behind some concretes belonging to a third party and some wheels.

Peter in the Telehandler took the still useable sleepers over to the PWay yard on the other side.

In the meantime, we started filling the tipper Landie with wood scraps lying round the yard, including this half a tree.

We also found some doubtful second hand timbers that were very long indeed.

Never mind, they will go on the back of the Landie too, unless they fall off. One of these candidates qualified, and we had to cut it in half.

Three wise monkeys returned from the tip, seated in the nice warm Landie while the rest of us tried to prise recalcitrant sleepers out of impossible situations.

This pile of 8 sleepers (how did it get there, together with 2 rails parked at right angles to the former sidings?) was apparently out of reach until Peter suggested moving one pallet of slabs out of the way, and in this way he was able to
s-t-r-e-e-e-t-c-h over the top and just about reach them.

Dave took the chairs off to lighten the load, and then we rolled them forward and in two halves Peter was indeed able to lift and take them away.

Another pile sorted OK then.

There are also many rails, both 60 footers and off cuts, scattered about the site.

We got this small pile of short ones out of the way, but any longer ones need to be dragged, and the yard is so full of parked cars that we can't get a straight line through.

The bucket appreciation society. This seems to be a good one.
After a modest lunch of sandwiches and left over doughnuts we collected round Peter's recently attached bucket.

So where does all the scrap go?

Oh, in there.

We got three bucket loads of heavy scrap out of this pile, which all went into the scrapman's skip. With a hell of a rumble too, it turned heads as it sounded like a nasty accident somewhere here...

Work harder! Or feel my Pilum in your Sternum.

Some of the slower workers had to be gently encouraged to work a little harder.

It's not fair when some of us throw in 20Kg cast iron chairs, and others only nuts and bolts.

These bits of GWR spearhead fencing do come in handy.

After removing all the interesting bits out of the scrap pile, we were left with a massive knot of fencing wire, steel binding tape, telegraph post stay wire and other sorts of lightweight stuff that the scrappie doesn't want.

The lightweight stuff needs to go into a skip for general waste, so when adding to this pile in future, bear this in mind. No lightweight metal.

It soon got dark with the low winter sun behind the long C&W shed.

On the way out we paused in the paint shop to find the counter for the Broadway cafe in a well advanced stage.

Do you like it?

The rear is made of plywood, so it's a bit of a facade for the public.

These spaces are for all the things a cafe needs to operate, like storage, a fridge, stock etc.

There will also be some sort of kitchen top on it.

At Broadway the station end bellmouth is finished, and the contractor is well into completing the Childswickham road end too.

You can see that the principal car parking area is here, with just a very few spaces at the station end, and large green area in the middle.

Originally, this strip of land left over after the embankment was built in 1904 was used by station staff for allotments. It fell into disuse, we heard, after passers by would help themselves to the vegetables that were growing there....

And finally, Tuesday saw the PWay Christmas dinner in the Pheasant at Toddington.

Santa came early for Dave, who opened a large cardboard box to find a 1/18th fine scale collector's model of a Landrover 90. Happiness all round! Sadly, Dave announced his intention to move to the frozen wastes of Manchester this coming Spring (for family reasons, we hasten to add, we liked him really) and the little Landie was our way of saying thank you for leading our little team on Wednesdays with such good humour.

Monday in the loco shed

The dynamic duo, except that there are three of us, continued with the preparatory work for the Broadway canopy extension.

Neal got 'Big Bertha' out and cut the 6 inch section length of new box section into three pieces.

Two will be used to support the canopy extension - remember us measuring the height last time? - and one short bit is left over.

The two future legs of the canopy extension were then brought into the shed by Neal with the small Telehandler.

We noticed this trolley just about fitted through the door, so by rotating the legs through 90 degrees we were able to push them in through the door and onto the trolley.

They were then rolled a short bit and stored on the steel storage rack. This is work for later - cutting to exact size, fitting feet, embellishments to make it look like the original casting, angled brackets at the top, etc.

Neal then carried on with work on the two 6m fascia boards. With one long angle now all drilled and bolted (prior to riveting) on one side, we turned it over and he started cleaning off the surface rust.

John and your blogger scratched our heads over the replacement ladder and platform for the recently acquired, bare yard lamp. Luckily we have one that we rescued earlier from a garden near Leominster which was complete, and that one has been cleaned up and is in the loco shed awaiting the manufacture of a six sided yard lamp top. This heritage stuff is very slow to make, we have been waiting ages for the top to be signed off for manufacture to start.

Here is the platform base, extracted from the depths of the shed, ready for study.

When we put the two posts next to each other, we found to our amazement that one was 2ft longer than the other, the difference being eked out in all but one of the different sections of the cast iron post. Who knew? It means that the ladder we will make needs to be that much longer, or we will have one giant step to start with.

We also got the handrail out. This is made of strip with a rounded profile. Fortunately we have some of this, it's amazing what you can still buy from British industry. But how will we make the rounded corners, and the scroll on the ends? The bottom of the handrail is supported by two lengths of bar which fit into the two holes in the upper picture.

After more head scratching and some advice from Neal - he seems to have been making yard lamp ladders and platforms all his life - we started cutting steel. Progress!

It's always a great feeling when you cut the first bit, like the first sod in digging a railway cutting.

Here the saw has been set up to join the 4 frame parts with mitered joints.

We soon had the 4 sides in angle cut to length, and, on the advice of Neal, we tack welded them together before drilling the 12 holes for the bars that form the floor.

This ensures the bars will be straight and parallel.

Meanwhile Neal was reaching the end of the 6m length of angle. This is rather repetitive work, drilling 50 holes for each one.

He explained that we had quite a few more angles to clean up and paint, using a quick sketch made on the steel plate on which he was working.

The angles need to be riveted together in pairs in the positions indicated. Basically it's the tops and bottoms of the purlins, and the top of the ridge purlin (the bottom is curved).

The 'S' shaped items on the ends are the fascia boards.

The way the angles are fitted is by tack welding them into position, then drilling and bolting every 5th hole, then following up with the 4 holes in the middle.

Slow but steady work.

At the end of the afternoon - it's pitch black outside now - he had done the full 50 hole length of the angle on the right.

In the foreground is the pair of platform frames, now with the 12 holes drilled.

At the end of the day the platform had its 4 sides done, including the holes on opposite sides, ready for the bar to be cut. In the front is the bracket for the ladder to be attached; at the back is an opening through which the post rises and where the platform base is bolted to it.

Finally it's been agreed that the Broadway cafe may have a clock over the fireplace. A suitable 'blank' example has been found, funded by supporters. It is of the right period, and has an 8 day fusee movement, similar to the example in the booking office.

In the picture it is hung in your blogger's garage for testing. Does it really work as advertised (yes), does the pendulum need adjusting (not really, it keeps pretty good time so far) and how many turns of the key are needed for the 8 day run. We shall know in 6 days...

This clock will also be lettered 'GWR', the very precise job in the right ink being performed by the same supporter as the now very realistic looking booking office one. It's really great how these things come together.


  1. Even though the clock is 'blank' faced, I bet it wasn't cheap! I have seen the prices asked on Ebay.
    Well done on the facia boards and platform for the yard lamp. Looking good.
    Regards, Paul.

  2. Very Traditional design, what wood is it?

    1. Inspired by one seen elsewhere. I think it is made of softwood and then stained.

  3. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all at P.Way.
    Seasonal regards, Paul.

  4. It does seem odd that Winchcombe yard was used as a storage area for privately-owned sleepers, of all things.

    As we know, it's common for locomotives and sometimes other rolling stock on heritage lines to be owned by various different people or groups, but I had no idea that basic items of track materials, like individual sleepers, also have specific owners!

    1. We're a bit special :-)
      Remember that unlike some of the larger preserved railways, we started with virtually nothing. A lot of stuff was accumulated over the years.