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.


  1. It's a great start with the steps. I suppose putting in 50 rivets will at least keep one or two of your warm in this winter weather! Am I right in thinking there's a whole bunch of carpentry to do for the sides of the steps (plus the dagger boarding!)??

    1. Yes, the steps had a considerable wooden element to them. Unfortunately where it touched the stringers, both surfaces rotted away over 100 years, hence the galvanising this time.

      The roof will go on first, in corrugated iron.

  2. Astonishing amount of work at both sites and brilliantly described.

  3. So the sleepers finally made it after their long trip from Green End.
    On to their 3rd reincarnation at least.
    We laid them in the early 80s as second hand then.
    Not sure where they came from before that.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. It looks as if they may go south of Greet tunnel during a next relay.

  4. Excellent Broadway pics, and well done on the relay at Toddington. Some railways would accept the result as good enough without the aid of a tamper!
    Regards, Paul.

  5. Great to see the footbridge coming together, like a giant Meccano set!

    I was on the central wales line recently, and was interested to see Network Rail had been carrying out sleeper renewals on much the same basis as the GWSR - taking out throughbolters and replacing them with brand new three-screw chairs on new sleepers.

  6. Well Done the team, and another great report from Jo, Broasdway stairway to heaven (Platform 2) looks realy good, can't wait to see it finished and in the flesh, so well done to all. BTW we had a problem with wooden panels and steelwork causing not only wood rot and rust, the replacement was built with a small gap enough for the water to fall away. It too was a bridge, no one noticed the small gap and 5 years later no problems!Keep up the good work one and all.
    Paul & Marion