Wednesday 30 January 2019

The stringers go up

Tuesday at Broadway

After Monday's surprise unloading, we were back again on Tuesday to start work on assembling the parts for the two staircases, making quick use of the mini digger while it was still available.

Your blogger spent the morning at the dentist, an unhappy contrast with the pleasing and constructive work going on at Broadway.

By lunch time the stringers on P2 were already up, and the train was being shunted to bring the flat wagon back over to P1.

The mini digger was on the Warflat again, and soon scuttled back down on to the platform, ready to resume the lifting of the stringers on P1 this time.

The other end of the Warflat also bore good news: the remaining platforms slabs, ex CRC and not fully used on P2 at Broadway, had all been loaded. This, together with the loading this morning of the last 3 piles of troughing meant that P2 was unencumbered at last.

Look - no troughs, no platform slabs, all is clean and ready for the grass to grow again. Doesn't it look so much better now?

One day these lamp posts will have their tops, and spearhead fencing will line the platform.

On P1 then the second stringer was lifted into place and bolted up.

Once everything is nice and tight, we will replace the bolts with rivets, about 50 of them.

With the second upper stringer in pace, Steve - a loco dept. man but here helping at Broadway, more of that cross department cooperation - is just checking the level of the intermediate landing support.

The presence of the mini digger allowed another item to be ticked off our wish list: the trench that will contain the foundations of the newel posts at the bottom of the stringers. Yes, it's that famous 900m deep trench. There's still only one 'm' on this keyboard.

We got an even bigger digger in to shift the pallet of granite kerb stones that is now in the way. They will be laid in front of the digger's tracks from R to L to the entrance of the B&B. It's a job that can now proceed, as we have completed all the lifting around the steps on P1.

With the two upper stringers in on P1, we can go over to P2 and take this picture of the work so far.

Can you see what it is yet?

It's certainly starting to look like a footbridge.

Then it was time for the bottom 2 stringers to go in. We used the bigger digger, since it was already there. It wasn't doing much, as the forecourt team was fruitlessly waiting for deliveries of more stone, so they were happy to help.

Neal and Steve give the stringer a shove to get it the right way round.

With the two bottom stringers now in, we can take an overall view for our readers of the footbridge steps so far.

Now imagine the canopy extension as well. It will come out from the blank end of the main building canopy for a further 6 meters, nearly reaching where the digger bucket is now. It will create a large, dry circulating area underneath, lit by a large hexagonal lamp, funded by a supporter. It's so good that there are people out there who are kind enough to help us with extra heritage.

After the bottom two stringers were lifted in, Neal, Steve and John spent quite a bit of time wriggling the holes around to get all the bolts in.

Neal was a bit worried in case the angles didn't all meet, but it was fine. These angles are very complicated but Neal did a magnificent job of measuring and cutting.

John is bolting up the stretcher bars.

By this time the trench had been dug, and you can see where the 2 newel posts will stand now.

Wondering how to deal with the bottom of the steps (given the impossibility of reproducing what there was before) we had the idea of using the gate posts visible in the top corner of the picture here as newel posts. So two of these will go in here, whereas the canopy extension will be supported by two much larger posts in holes further to the left. Originally canopy support and newel post were the same.

Steve has a last wriggle of the bottom stringer in an attempt to get the holes lined up at the level of the intermediate landing support.

This wriggling allowed John and Neal to get all the (temporary) bolts in.

All 4 stringers in, as the rain started to become more serious. This is what it looked like towards the end of the afternoon.

A last picture from Tuesday to show you what we did. All 8 stringers are in, and successfully bolted up. Every calculation proved to be correct, that is something to shout about, so we all went to the cabin at the N end of the platform and had a cup of tea to celebrate.

Wednesday at Toddington south

It was icy cold today, minus two after a hard frost overnight.

The first car off the road was only 150 yards from the house!

Toddington car park too was slippery, we sort of shuffled across until we hit the rougher ballast and then the safety of the mess coach.

That too was at minus two, but now indoors. We got the gas rings going to boil the kettles, and this heated the upper atmosphere in the coach, but not the lower half, which quickly became chillingly apparent when you sat down. Due to the lack of activity while drinking tea, the feet began to get cold, despite heavy boots and thick socks. Better go out side and do some work, that will warm us up.

Here the slightly reluctant but well doughnutted volunteers trudge towards the work site with the trolley. We had two jobs penciled in today, to relay the headshunt, and to jack and pack the 2 panels removed and put back in on Saturday.

This is the scene that faced us: jacking and packing on the left, track relaying on the siding on the right. In the background Stevie is collecting the first sleepers.

The two relaid panels were a sort of fairground ride and although we had a possession, S&T wanted to come through with some sort of vehicle and rather wanted the main line usable again, sort of.

We started relaying this headshunt siding, using the best of the sleepers recovered from the main line, starting with GWR throughbolters that still had a tiny bit of life in them - it's only a siding, after all, was the cry. All it will do is stable 4 bogies and a couple of well wagons with diesel engines on them.

Remember that the main reason for this siding relay was to lift it to the level of the adjacent main line, while giving the sleepers a little refresh on the way.

After a while Peter came with the Telehandler which spent a few hours at Winchcombe, unloading the second of 4 lorries of second hand BH concrete sleepers.

Peter now brought the sleepers for the relay, while Steve could turn his thoughts to finding and dropping in the rail. This rail was carefully marked 'C1' or 'M2' depending on whether it was the first one, Cotswolds side, or the second, say, on the Malvern side. Unfortunetely some of the rails had ended up the wrong way up in the adjacent grass, so what were they?

We got there in the end.

After a brief lunch way back in the mess coach - we do our 10.000 steps a day easily - we decided that the jacking and packing team needed a bit of reinforcement, so Stevie joined in and those two panels started to look a bit better.

We've got a tamper coming in next month as well.

With all the jacking and packing it soon became apparent that there wasn't enough fresh ballast in the main line, so Stevie went to get some from the car park and dropped it in.

The sleeper laying team had also done well, so this encouraged us to drop in some more rail.

Here we are with 3 panels laid in. Ready for the fourth too. We've got a total of 6 panels to lay back in, up to the stop block.

You want money? I got money!

The keying up also went well.

It's surprisingly taxing, so much so that we started to throw off hats and open up zips, as we were getting hot in the 3 degree sun.

Suddenly a 'chink' was heard and there we have it: Chrisman has broken a chair while keying up. No worries or feelings of guilt for him though, he just flashed his recently collected pension money at us.

End of the day, the sun is going down, and here we are: Four panels out of six laid in, and the two panel 'rollercoaster' stretch beyond the signal post evened out enough for cautious works traffic on the main line.

Wearily the same gang as in the second picture trudged home again, in the direction of the mess coach and with all the tools to put away still as well. Then the heavy trolley to lift off the rails. That's a four man job.

As we passed the box we could see the reason for our haste in relaying the start of this section: the signal box scaffolding went up today, and a start was made on replacing the windows of Toddington box, one of the very few original remnants on our railway.

Monday 28 January 2019

The steps arrive at Broadway

Monday at Broadway

We said you needed to be patient, but it wasn't for very long as, unexpectedly, the Warflat was taken to Broadway on Sunday.

Many of you supporters will have noticed this via the webcam, and here it is, parked by the footbridge.

We only came to unload what we could by hand but, fortune favours the brave, the contractor working on the driveway had a mini digger of the right size and was agreeable to offering a half hour of his time to unload the heavier kit for us.

He said 'Do you want me to drop the landing support on the deck, or straight down the hole' and we thought - why not?

Yours truly was volunteered to remove two occupants from one of the holes first: a pair of toads. They were re-housed behind the platform.

What is also quite heavy is the stringers, so we lifted those off too.

Four for P1, the other 4 four P2.

The rest we did by hand, being 4 of the 8 'goal posts'.

And here is the first of the two landing supports in its place. It all went very quickly and smoothly. Our neighbour even came out to congratulate us.

Note also the fresh ballast that now covers the forecourt. After digging away, the contractor is now at the rebuilding stage.

On the other side, this is where the second landing support will go (the hole on the left).

The first installed landing support can be glimpsed in the background, with the remaining kit for P2 still on the Warflat.

We had various discussions about how to lift in the landing support on P2, and eventually decided that the mini digger would drive all the way round via the platforms, but this morning we had a brainwave and loaded it on to the Warflat instead.

Later in the afternoon the Warflat was shunted to the second platform, and the mini digger was taken off again and parked up. Problem solved! Such an elegant solution.

With some time to spare we thought we'd make ourselves useful and decided to help the S&T department - we are all good friends - load up more of the piles of concrete troughing that once lined P2.

Only 3 out of the original 40 piles now remain, and they will be loaded tomorrow, together with the remaining platform slabs that are also stacked in a somewhat inaccessible way on P2.

Strike while the iron is hot, or the mini digger on P2!

The class 73 with its chirping compressor then shunted the flat wagon with the troughs on to the Pway train stabled in P1, coupled up to the Warflat further back, and then shunted the whole train northwards, where it could use the turnout at the Honeybourne end to access P2.

With our jobs done for today, there were a few minutes of spare time to photograph the goings on in the setting sun.

Here is the class 73 reversing with the entire train through P1, past our lovely new station building.

The class 73 then entered P2 and pulled the train through until the Warflat was level with the footbridge.

Just 3 piles of troughs still remain to be loaded, and P2 now looks so much better, ready for the new season. No more looking at a concrete wall.

Your blogger's dream one day is to see a steamer enter the station on a day like this, with the glint of the setting sun reflecting along its boiler. Not yet, but he is a patient man !

Here's a bit of glint for the Electro-Diesel lovers among us.

Finally the canopy construction team walked back through the station...

This is why we volunteer on the GWSR, it's the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day that we have achieved something. And of course, Broadway is a beautiful station.

And a PS:

The replica GWR clock for the cafe has had an Ivorine number plate fitted, just like the real thing. It was donated by a supporter. The clock is now in the hands of the FoBS and is ready for fitting in the cafe above the fireplace. It was funded by 2 supporters.

There were 7119 numbers allocated, and this plate is the 7121st. This way, if you know your clocks, you can tell that it is a replica.

No 7120? That's in the booking office...

Saturday 26 January 2019

In-out, shake it all about.

Friday in the loco shed

Four 'goal posts' done on Monday, so we have three more to go. Let's see if we can finish them today.

The day started well, much warmer and an extra volunteer, Steve.

The temperature had changed so quickly that it was warmer outside than in the shed, where we could still see our own breath.

We set off at a good pace, but a bit too quick.

Two rivets got overcooked; they became 'iffy' and wouldn't go in.

By lunch time we had done all of the remaining goal posts, and here all 7 are stacked up against the goods shed, ready to load on the Warflat.

The Dinmore Manor gang wasn't idle either, they split the cylinder block from the frames of 3850 today.

Will the space created be filled by an additional driving axle? We are reliably informed that this is a new build project for a GWR 2-10-0, something never seen before. Aren't these GWR conversions now getting a bit out of hand?

Outside in the car park Stevie was loading the dumper with both fresh and spent ballast.
The fresh went into the space he created at the southern end of the relay by digging out the remaining spent ballast. This latter stuff he used to build up the headshunt we lifted on Wednesday, with a bit extra from the car park.

Over tea the worlds of ballast digging and riveting / rivet removal met, and it was crowded in the mess coach. The Dinmore Manor gang was there in strength today.

After lunch we continued loading the footstep parts.

Here are two of the stringers being brought up.

We moved the intermediate landing supports a bit further apart, and then laid the 8 stringers in between.

When will the Warflat be taken to Broadway? It's rather complicated to arrange, so you'll have to wait patiently.

Saturday on the relay.

Just a small gang of 10 volunteers today, compact but packing a punch. It was grey day, but not too cold, so good working conditions, at least to start with.

Yesterday Stevie had completed digging out the winter relay site, and putting down the final stretch of ballast. This is what we found first thing today.

All nice and level for the next load of sleepers.

Looking south, here is where he put the spent ballast. See how black it is, against regular ballast on the left.

Pete on our gang was there when this stretch was first laid in the early 1980s. The track qualities were not the best even then, but it was all they had. Ballast was scraped together from elsewhere and pushed off a wagon.

Pete added that there was a 24 hour sponsored track laying session. They laid track south towards Didbrook right through the night and in the morning when the sun rose they realised how much they had veered to the right in the dark.

Today's job was a bit different, not the main winter relay, nor the headshunt. We were going to relay a two panel length just south of the new main line turnout. This is an extension really of the job already in hand, with the new turnout in between. This stretch starts at the stop board here.

We knocked out the keys and decided to do without mechanical help to remove the rail - we just jacked it up and tipped it out. Simples.

We did resort to mechanical help when removing selected sleepers - they are very heavy, and reluctant to rise, as bedded in ballast which sucked them down.

After Stevie pulled out the first few sideways, Alan came with the Telehandler and just scooped them up with the forks.

This stretch still has many ancient GWR throughbolters, one of the main reasons we are doing this.

After a stretch of all throughbolt sleepers, they became more isolated, so we got some youth in - Hayden, to wit - and he yanked the offending items clear, so that a gang of 4 could move them sideways.

With the rails tipped out and all the sleepers removed, Stevie got busy and dug out the spent ballast. This consisted of a thin layer of new, on top of a worn out layer of black ash ballast underneath. This was all tipped into the headshunt area, as we wanted to raise not only that but the track running alongside it.

Meanwhile Bert Ferrule used the impact wrench to unbolt the chairs from the sleepers removed, while Steve here walked them over to a pile, for later re-use.

You can see in this picture that the sleepers, second hand when they were laid in the 1980s, are now no longer fit for use. And this was our main line. But that is why we are doing this relay.

The best sleepers from both bits of relay were then laid into the stretch we lifted this morning.

This was manual stuff, necessitating a lot of volunteers to manhandle the heavy chaired sleepers back into place.

Alan got more sleepers from the 'KEEP' pile saved from the main relay site.

Soon we were able to lay the first of the 4 rails back in.

I am not lying down on the job. I am resting.

Refreshed by a light salad lunch (followed by heavy doughnuts and fairy cakes) we laid in the last of the 4 rails in the early afternoon.

Here's the stretch of track we pulled OUT this morning, gone straight back IN. Haven't finished yet though, there is a lot of chair screwing down and keying up to do.

As Alan started bringing fresh ballast from the car park the weather decided to become a bit more hostile. Dark clouds started to arrive, signalling a steady drizzle which rained down upon us.

Here's the whole two panels back in, with Nigel and Bert putting in the last keys, the most awkward. It's getting darker and darker, thanks to the gathering clouds overhead.

We were determined to finish off this two panel relay by the end of the day, and we did, despite the gloom. The rail is back in, all the sleepers laid in and all the chairs keyed up. Just ballasting to go now.

Stevie also increased the size of the raised bed and roadway leading to the headshunt. It's like the proverbial M1 now on the left. Alan is bringing a last load of fresh ballast, before we loaded everything back on to the trolley and trudged wearily back towards our train.