Monday 25 February 2019

A busy day with Tarmac

Brilliant sunshine this morning, an ideal day for tarmacing at Broadway. Four days have been earmarked to apply a base and a finishing layer to the station approach, the 'hammerhead' bus turn around, and the forecourt. Today was day 3, Friday being largely lost to further stone filling outside the station entrance where a bed of clay had come through.

The day started with a large lorry loaded with hot Tarmac just turning into the station.

Volunteer cars were parked in the new council car park just under the bridge. The last day for querying the proposed daily charges was 22nd February, so activation of official parking can't be far away now.

A second large lorry of hot Tarmac almost immediately joined the first one.

It's busy here!

The lorries turned round in the 'Hammerhead' turn around, and then reversed up to the paving machine. The Tarmac was filled into it bit by bit, so as not to make the front of the machine too heavy.

We're still on the first of two layers here. Having done a strip on the right on Thursday, the machine then did the middle and along the front of the station building.

Here the middle strip has been laid, and it's the turn of the last one in front of the pavement. The roller follows closely behind.

It was really good to see the Tarmac go down, after years of potholes, rubble and dust. For a whole operating season little bits of grit were being walked into the booking office and this scratched the floor and often jammed the doors.

The back of the paving machine was very mobile - it could go up and down, but also sideways, stretching out to meet the kerb exactly. An Archimedian screw propelled the hot Tarmac to the right spot where it was wanted. This part of the operation was controlled by the man on the left.

The main body of the machine was controlled from high up under a sun roof - logical, as the machine was Italian...

The control desk and chair could be traversed to whichever side suited the operator. Behind him two gas cylinders fed the heating mechanism that kept the Tarmac hot and fluid.

While the Tarmac was still hot, two rollers whizzed about the site to compact the layer. This one did the edges and around the gullies.

Sunshine poured into the cafe today, where red tablecloths had been laid out, with bunches of flowers on top. Very pretty it looked too.

This is the corner by the fireplace. Can you see yourself enjoying a scone and a pot of tea here? Does it look as if it's always been there? We think so.

Looking the other way, the cafe is now pretty much equipped. There is a small kitchen behind. The cafe will seat 28 customers.

A distant toot announced the arrival of the class 73 light engine - this is a railway station, after all - and it trundled through on its way to pick up the PWay train of Dogfish in the northern headshunt.

It was soon back with the empty Dogfish, which the loco was taking to Stanton for loading with ballast. This is needed for the Toddington relay.

Note also how clear platform 2 is now. The area on the left will be re-seeded within the next few weeks, before the weeds take control again.

The train stopped briefly in the station for a chat with the volunteers on the platform, before resuming its journey to Stanton. Then all was quiet again.

Soon the paving machine was down by the end of the station approach. It's amazing how quick it is, when all is set up and there are no obstacles.

In this view you can see Tarmac right down to the bottom of the road. Everything is covered now, there won't be any more dust. But it still needs the finishing layer. This should include three speed humps, which will also help to divert the surface water to the gullies along the side.

After lunch, and given the excellent progress made in the morning, the machine came back and added another layer near the top end, where a bit of a dip was perceived. Then there was even time for a short strip of the finishing layer, which was laid around the gully on the right.

The canopy team spent the day making the roof hoops on the footbridge steps ready for riveting.

Here Neal is drilling out the holes, to make sure that the slightly larger rivets will actually go in on the day.

We have found a compressor to hire at a reasonable rate, thanks to the contacts of one of the Broadway volunteers.

After re-drilling the bolt holes, the roof hoops were adjusted for vertical alignment.

In the booking office, the HRA award plaque has been mounted on a specially made wooden base and fixed to the wall over the opening ceremony plaque. On the right is an original poster board, and two copies of these are currently in production, next to another four for the platform side.

The last job of the day was to straighten the newel posts. You can see that the one on the right was a bit off, but at the end of the day it was straight.

These rather crudely bolted on strips of wood are just there to hold the hoops into position. They will be removed again once the rivets are in and the hoops in their definite positions.

Finally, if you'd like to see the asphalt paving machine in action, you can do so in this video taken today:

Saturday 23 February 2019

A day at the race course

Friday at Broadway

Tarmaccing has started and Friday was the second day of four scheduled.

At the end of the day this is as far as the machine had got, i.e. half way down the station approach on one side.

Note that the machine has wheels, whereas the one that did the platform was a tracked one.

Further up, in front of the building, more stone was being added, while in the background a good strip of tarmac has been laid down.
The extra stone was needed as the wheels of the tarmac laying machine ran into soft ground and part of a sub surface conduit, so a hurried reinforcement job in stone was required.

Nothing was done on the footbridge steps, as Neal and John were drafted in to help the contractor repair the conduit.

As the tarmaccing is now a day behind schedule an extra day has been slotted in; to wit, Monday. Hopefully footbridge work can then resume, and the tarmaccing completed on Wednesday as originally planned.

Saturday at the races.

We met at Winchcombe, where the mess coach is now stationed again.

Stevie was there to greet us, chirpy as ever.

The white Landie would prove its worth today, as we needed a tipper, and we now have one!

Nigel drove the white Landie underneath the back acter of the JCB, and with a crunch a ton of fresh ballast was deposited in it.

Now to drive up and over Cleeve Hill!

Having completed the assembly of the Toddington relay, we all went to the RDA crossing at CRC to address a twist and, in the picture above, a badly pumping joint.

Bert Ferrule is checking the levels, with the white evidence of pumping clay in the foreground.

Under the bridge is Stevie just arriving with the digger, which he brought down via Manor Lane.

The main body of the gang went up to the foot crossing, about half way up to the station. Here a twist was noted, caused by subsidence on the RH rail. The presence of chain link fencing laid out on the side of the embankment suggested a previous burrowing issue, and we are dealing with the consequences now. No fewer than 6 jacks were inserted in a row.

The cross level was used to indicate to those on the jacks how far the Malvern rail had to be lifted back to the correct position.

Jacks were in every 4 sleepers and 28 such positions had been noted in red paint along that rail.

Note how the track points straight at the pass on Cleeve Hill here. If, as once proposed, a tunnel were dug here, the line would come out at Winchcombe village itself. However, due to the cost and objections from a land owner (we heard today) the GWR decided to divert around the hill, picking up Gotherington, Gretton and and ending in much shorter tunnel at Greet. The deviation resumed the original line outside Winchcombe village by a long sweeping curve, ending on the far side of Chicken Curve.

There, a bit of history for you.

We had Jack, the youngest, on the jack handle on the right, while Pete, our oldest volunteer today, observed the bubble in the cross level. Up a bit, up a bit more. Whoa! Next jack please.

The hard work was the digging out of the sleepers to a level low enough for the packing of the ballast to be done.

We are having a tamper in this year, but it will focus principally on the Broadway extension.

Hence the hand work here.

We did 20 of the 28 marked points (about 100 yds worth) in the morning, then broke for lunch.

On the way back we saw the other team had done well, by digging the pumping clay out of this hole here on the left, and pushing the sleepers over to one side.

The completion of the hole meant that the Landie with the fresh ballast could be reversed up to it, and its cargo dropped.

Stevie would then ladle it into the 4 foot with the back acter.

Today would have been a good day to deal with this graffiti under Southam lane, but we were on other duties. Luckily the graffiti here is not as offensive as the other at Gretton was, but we have a plan to remove it nevertheless as we need to be seen to deal with it. With a bit of luck we hope to do this in a couple of weeks or so, now that the weather is drier.

Steam replacement services at Winchcombe - think of the saving in the coal bill!
Back at Winchcombe we made a bee-line for the mess coach, where Mike met us with a steaming pot of tea.

What matters most on the PWay gang.
After consuming a certain quantity of Mrs. B's excellent fairy cakes, and washing these down with copious mugs of tea, we drove back to CRC to resume the day's work.

The main gang completed the repair of the twist, by lifting the remaining 8 points.

We then walked over to Southam lane to help Bert and Steve.

A second load of fresh ballast was brought down by the white Landie and in the picture has just been tipped into the four foot.

Chris and Bert here are just completing the filling. We also clipped the track back up, the sleepers loosened in the morning having been pushed back into their proper places.

A bit of a lift is still required here; a job for next week.

As Neil prepares to return the blue Landie with the tools back to base, the race course behind him languishes in a beautiful green under an azure sky.  They are getting ready for the first season's races.

Spring is here, no beast from the east at the moment, and on Saturday 9th March we start running trains again.

Race specials follow a few days later, it's all coming together.

On Friday your blogger was on a social call elsewhere in the country, leaving the canopy team to their own devices. It's tough, but someone has to go out for an extensive Italian meal and a concert in the evening.

Travel by train was involved, and this astonishingly beautiful platform indicator. The attractive tile work is not unlike that on the central section of the Piccadilly line in London, and both are still there. Aren't we lucky to have this?

But where was it?

No prizes offered, except perhaps the honour of being the first to guess correctly.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

The last hoop

Monday at Broadway

Work on the footbridge steps will slow in the next few days, as the station approach and forecourt are finally receiving their tarmac topcoat.

Steve came with his JCB and gave the surface a final scraping. It's quite a delicate job. Leave any dips or holes, and these will fill with tarmac and this won't make the supplier happy at all.

The final levels were all determined by eye.

You may laugh (titter ye not!) but this is how we did the extension ballasting too. None of dem new-fangled lasers for us.

Stevie is extra prone here, just for the camera. Or maybe just returning from a visit to the Crown and Trumpet?

The bus turn around is also taking shape. Kerbs have been laid right round to show where it is.
There will be a tarmac 'undercoat' as it were, and then a tarmac 'topcoat'.

All this is happening on Thursday and Friday this week, then again on Tuesday and Wednesday next week (if our memory serves us right). Not Monday then, that's binmen day.

So don't come to Broadway and hope to park your car here.

Inside the cafe the counter has been fitted. It looks the biz! The front actually has 4 panels but for a reason your blogger does not understand it is very difficult to see that.

And so to work. Our job today was to fit the last hoop on the P1 side.

This hoop is the one which sits right on the outermost edge of the canopy extension, so we left it as a kit of parts to make sure it was the right height.
Neal only had to trim 10mm off the top of the upright, so its length was pretty much correct. He then used the mag drill to drill the holes to allow the cross member to be bolted to it. Once we had the right length and all the holes, we fitted the uprights, and then the cross member on top. John's putting the bolts in here. They matched the holes. Of course.

At the end of the day the fourth roof hoop was on. We also tightened up the tie bars to get the stringers straight.

During the day we also got out the original HIA handrail supports, caked deeply in paint and old rust. These were taken down to our friendly shotblaster in Northwick Park nearby. His father was a fireman on our line! Now that deserves our business.

Still do to next time: Secure the newel posts to the concrete, and connect the tops of the posts with wooden spacers to get them all the right distance apart, ready for riveting. We might also make a start on tidying up the wooden treads, also originals from HIA.

Wednesday at Winchcombe

The PWay support train has been moved back to its siding at Winchcombe, and that is where the PWay gang met this morning.

Four of us went to Broadway to continue fitting insulated fishplates, part of the signalling there.

They took this interesting piece of kit with them.

It's a gap adjuster. It can pull two rail ends together (OK....) but can also push them apart.

This second option sounds like a wind up at the expense of the blog, but maybe...

Most of the rest of the gang decided to change some timbers in the running line just north of the platform. Fishplate greasing was not possible today, as there was a works vehicle out on the line.

The timbers needing changing had already been marked. That's the easy bit. Now comes the replacement, which is a lot harder as they are heavy old things.

See how the chair has sunk into the wood, which is hollow inside.

Just to prove how rotten the timber was, John started hacking at it with a bar, with some success.

When we started to pull it out with the nips, it duly separated into two pieces.  At least that made it easier to manipulate.

We then went back to the yard to retrieve two good second hand replacements of the right length. As there was Telehandler training going on today, this was a welcome opportunity for the trainee to show his skills.

And what if I pulled this lever here....?

A scene of intense concentration...

The two replacement timbers were (sort of) welcomed by the crew on site and hauled into the now scraped out bed of the previous occupant.

Then for a short period there was a furious rattle as both sleeper drill and impact wrench did their jobs.

We did the two timbers, then broke for lunch in the nearby mess coach. We found two large plates of cakes, which went very well indeed with our mugs of strong tea.

Why the cakes? It was Clive's birthday. How very kind of him, and we gave him a rousing 'Happy Birthday' too.

After lunch we attacked a third timber, this time loosening the chair screws in the traditional manner with 'T' spanners.

It was discovered that there are two sizes - short and long. This matched Rick and Dave P perfectly!

Another second hand timber was located and brought up on the trolley. Dave D is laughing as someone told him to lift one end. Ha! Have you any idea how heavy this thing is?

Before dragging this little baby into the crib we plugged up the numerous holes from its previous existence somewhere.

Dave D on the keying hammer knocked them in, a bit like a carnival game, it seemed to us.

After securing our third timber down tightly and packing it, it was time to tidy up. We had three old timbers to trolley away. Even rotten, they were so heavy that it took 6 men on the nips to lift it on to the trolley comfortably.

Phew! It's on. Just two more to go.

Last picture of the day, a delve into John Lees' treasure chest of trackwork pictures since 1981:

This was the head of rail as it reached the road bridge to Stanton village in 2006. The size of the volunteer team is modest, just 7 of them in the picture, and an eighth behind the camera.

From L to R: Dave French, John Lees ( a rare 'selfie'), Nigel Black, Phil Vincent, Charles Martin, Pete Reagan and Alan Miller. Four of them are still active on the gang today, 13 years later.

Thanks for getting us this far, guys! Think about them next time you travel over this stretch, we wouldn't be there without them.