Saturday 27 April 2019

A war-time day making dagger boards

Friday at Broadway

War time is coming to Broadway, and it was with some trepidation that we rounded the corner on to the platform.

And there they were, two unexploded bombs! Right under our scaffolding too. Dare we risk it?

The P1 steps were covered in camouflage netting too, bearing various warning notices.

Two volunteers were seen walking in tandem along the length of the platform. Was it a race? An endurance test? Perhaps they were just limbering up for something greater?

And yes! Soon these Superman strong volunteers were seen going the other way with barrows laden to extraordinary heights with heavy sandbags. Is there no limit to their strength? A single sandbag would soon exhaust many of our older volunteers.

Thanks to the heavy duty barrow wheeling of Jules and Dave, Broadway station is well protected against enemy attack, Saturday and Sunday. Do come and see it, by train, or by parking in the car park under the bridge.

And then the train came.... Friday is a non-running day, or is it? The class 26 D5343 rumbled into the station with some goods vans in tow.

It parked itself with its train on P2....

...then ran round...

... and after parking the wagons in the storage siding, came back with the PWay train, trailing two bogie flats, one filled with rail, the other with concrete troughing. This was brought into P2.

After detaching the bogie flat with the troughing, the rest of the PWay train was returned to the headshunt via P1. All to the sound of a Sulzer engine turning at no more than 750rpm.

It has something, that old fashioned splutter.

Finally the class 26 came back from the headshunt and after running round again (what a lot of manoeuvres....) it attached to the southern end of the bogie flat with the troughing, and then finally made off with it, with some lusty acceleration audible.

We could only stand and wonder, but then it was off to work.

The weather was very changeable on Friday, so we worked close to the containers, from where we could dive in and out to miss the showers.

Here is the production of dagger boards in progress - we need rather a lot of them.

Some were laid out outside, to see whether the effect was the desired one.

A start was made on fitting them to the roof timbers of the steps, and they were quickly touched up with primer in those areas where cuts had taken place.

Outside on P2 more T&G planks were primered, so that they could be cut to size for dagger boards. The timbers in the background had a second coat, and one had a length chopped off and was fitted to the roof of the P1 steps to see how it went.

The length was fitted to near the top of the P1 steps - there will be another nearer the camera. Between them will be a length of corrugated iron sheeting.

Neal and John fitted 26 dagger boards so far.

In the picture they are working out the transition from slope to level.

The new cross member can just be seen top right.

From inside the footbridge centre span you can see the dagger boards follow the roof line of the steps downwards. The corrugated iron sheets are currently being primered.

Saturday at Toddington

War time in the Cotswolds! But not for us. The PWay gang had a normal working day, although we did catch glimpses of the festivities.

We kicked off with tea in the mess coach at Winchcombe, outside of which was parked this lovely pair consisting of C&W shunter D2182 and a Mk1 in carmine and cream.

Me push the trolley? No way!
After giving the locos of the day time to exit the yard, we got a possession for siding 1 at Toddington to continue with its repair.

Here's what you get when you try to squeeze all the tools on to a small trolley. There were still loads left on the two Landies off camera on the right, so eventually a second trolley was found (background).

With the second trolley also loaded up, we realised that they were in the wrong order for the two jobs we had in mind - sleeper replacement, and fishplate repair.

The fishplate trolley was therefore shunted to one side, as the sleeper changing trolley forged ahead.

It wasn't long before the first train went by, this time headed by 4270, back from gone away. Here it is just getting the token for Winchcombe.

We had 4 more sleepers left to change on siding 1, and they were all at this end.

As they were GWR throughbolters we could only get them out by splitting them in two down their length. You can then get one half out, while the other half tends to cling on to the bolt under the chair. You have to get that out by applying some violence to it.

Boot scraper in kit form. A tube of Araldite is provided.
The violence works, but can result in a smashed chair, so no good as a bootscraper. We weighed that one in.

The 4 remaining sleepers were all in a little group by the box, so we did them together. They were replaced by new softwood sleepers with AS1 chairs. The old GWR throughbolters were barrowed over to 2807's boot scraper factory, which is only yards away here, as it happens.

All 4 sleepers were soon replaced. The finishing touch is packing and levelling off with ballast. Mostly that is ash, in this area.

We could hear the Wartime festivities in full swing and found that this was the first time we had ever changed sleepers to music. It was certainly merrier, but it didn't make the digging any easier.

At the end of the morning the 4 sleepers were in, and here are the sad remains of the rotten ones we pulled out. They now need picking up, to deliver a tidy site.

Our 15 mile line was busy today, with 2807, Dinmore Manor and 4270 all out with the three rakes. Above, two of them are just crossing at Toddington.

Once 2807 had arrived at Toddington, Dinmore Manor was released with it strain for CRC, and can be seen here accelerating away towards the signal box, where it would pick up its token for the section. Elegant, or what?

At one point we paused with our digging due to a loud roaring noise from the car park.

It was this Spitfire, in which (correct us if mistaken) you could sit with the engine running.

''Is that your tank out there, Lt Gruber?'' ''Yes, I heff just given it a little polish.''
Also interesting was this Hellcat tank. It was a fast tank destroyer, one of 2507 built from 1942 onwards, and equipped with the same radial engine as the Sherman.

You can come and see it on Sunday, when the weather should be a little friendlier. It was biting cold today.

In the loco shed at Toddington the cleaning and painting of the two yard lamp posts has been completed. They are ready to be planted in the yard. Both are in the picture, the second is in the distance up against the side of the shed.

The nearest one has also been equipped with the ladder bars it should have. These were no longer present when installed at Dumbleton, from where we bought it.

The ladders and lamp lighter's platform for both are also ready.

Outside in the yard a mini digger was busy digging a trench for the electrical supply to both posts. The loco department is really getting on with this lovely little project, although we have still not ordered the 2 replica 6 sided lamp tops for them.

The first post will go here, south of the water tower. Some extra light (and heritage embellishment) will work well in this area.

The second yard lamp will go here, a little nearer the yard throat. You can see the mini digger just back filling the trench it just dug. Quick work here!

Outside the loco shed 35006 was attracting some interest from the home guard. The big pacific was in light steam and ran up and down the yard a few times.

Lunch was back in the mess coach, out of that biting wind. We treated ourselves to hot tea and chocolate cake. Hmmmmmm.....

After lunch we returned to siding 1 and the two gangs merged. Improving the fishplates was a tricky job and some extra moral support was very welcome. All the fishplates on this siding were originally done up with two bolts only, and were not always lifters where normally required.

Two bolts, no lifter here
Fishplate completed, not yet started at the back.

This picture shows a rail being driven along to close a gap at the other end. A wedge is used.

Here a rusted up bolt is being removed by disk cutter, after the impact wrench was unable to undo the bolt.

Once all old bolts have been removed, the fishplate is either replaced by a better fitting one, or simply done up with 4 bolts instead of two.

The impact wrench (aka The Animal) is in use here.

Mid afternoon we tidied up and returned, trackside, to Winchcombe.

Mid way, we encountered 4270 chugging along merrily, so we paused briefly to let it past.

Next week, we will try to conclude the fishplate replacement at Toddington, unless we get permission to sort out a number of dips that have been reported.

If you want to see a film of 4270 hacking past, have a look at this brief clip of it (it was windy...)

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Hotter and hotter

Monday at Broadway

Easter Monday, and lots of people on the railway.

The first steamer rumbled in under a strangely grey sky, whereas full sun was forecast.

It paused on P1, seemingly intent on carrying on up the line.

It looks like that, doesn't it?

Double track disappears under Springfield Lane bridge (well almost).

The canopy team was making dagger boards today, using the T&G boards primered and undercoated last time.

Neal cut himself several lengths, and then proceeded to trim the bottom ends to a sort of off-set triangular tip.

We said before that these dagger boards are a bit weird, as they rise and fall on the steps.

We put a few test ones together. On the right you can see how they rise, and the holes sort of bounce up and down as they go up. Each board has two half holes in different places.

Put two boards together though, and suddenly you see how it is meant to work.

There was a remark about bending the corrugated iron on Saturday's blog. To explain - a pictures tells a thousand words - we think it easiest if we show the 1904 opening picture (which isn't the opening day at all, but the day after, when there was an excursion to Stratford, hence the queue).

Here it is:

Check out the roof line of the steps, it curves. The dagger boards follow it down, with alternating holes that level out at the intermediate landing, and then resume.

This picture also shows the original canopy overhang, and a vast crowd underneath. It was the original entrance to the station, and you then had to go down the platform to the booking office to buy your ticket, then come out again through the same door. Not handy when there are crowds (which Broadway only ever had once, on this day!)

Under the canopy overhang you can see a quad poster board. That has 4 standard posters on it. We can't replicate that, as the builder put a window in that wall. A similar quad poster board can be glimpsed in the same spot on the P2 building end wall, just visible under the centre span.

The surface of the forecourt can be seen to be gravel. The forecourt was big enough to drive up with your pony and trap, do a U turn and set down your passenger. That's all - no parking in those days.

Our platform today was a bit less busy than the day after opening, but our business is regular... this is the second train coming in (Red timetable, two steamers, and one DMU).

Neal is cutting to boards to size, while John is cutting the holes. Those two activities took quite a lot of time to set up.

Brian (in the shop today) came over in between trains to try out what we had already made.

For example, they made this guide up, which also shows what sort of bits they cut off from a square end.

John on the column drill, finally equipped with the right sized bit. It was worth waiting for.

It's just like  'Balham - Gateway to the South' and Peter Sellers explaining his craft of 'Toothbrush Holesmanship'...  John here displays dagger board holesmanship.

With the T&G painted last week and used on Monday, it was time to ready the next lengths of wood that we will need.

These are stout timbers that will form the cross members of the roof of the steps, and on these the corrugated iron sheets will rest.

They were primered today, and once that was dry, we put on a first coat of light stone undercoat.

The last train to rumble in was the 17.06, which would do a return to Toddington only.

There's no glint, OK, but still a nice reflection on this late afternoon shot.

Tuesday at Tyseley

An unexpected opportunity came up to acquire some big bull nosed edging bricks for a friendly price. Tyseley had salvaged them many years ago, but now can't really see a use for them. We have some ideas for them, although we are also pursuing other options. Ultimately they will go either along the Usk goods platform, or round the turntable. You have to seize the opportunity when it comes up, as they don't come up so often (in a state where they are actually available).

We are going to have them collected by a haulier, but as they are their pallets have completely disintegrated and are in no fit state to be moved, let alone lifted.

The purpose of the day was therefore to re-pallet all 470 of them. Quite a job, they weigh 25 Kg each!


In the top picture, we are starting out with a new pallet.

In this picture, you can see a whole row of bricks that we have to shift. It's probably 12 tons of them in all.

How long would all that take? Perhaps 2 trips over 2 days? Better get going then.

The state of the existing 'pallets' can be seen in this picture, after we took off the bricks it once carried. Just dust and mouldering wood remains, and a dead rabbit under one. Yuk !

Half of the old pallets were on the wrong side of a large pile of cobbles, but we had thought about that, thanks to Jim's prior site visit. We had brought with us two sack trucks, and they were just the thing.

We decided to take one new pallet home, to get the ball rolling. It's all our transit can take.

Luckily it had a tail lift, so several sack truck journeys ended up with a comfortable ride up.

Jim is receptionist (of bricks), Roger is on sack truck duty and Neil - well, he put his finger to good use with the 'ON' button.

Dave climbed on board the truck and shrink wrapped our take away pallet. Normally we gave a pallet 40 bricks to make a ton, but watching the rear tyres compress we thought better of it for the Transit and gave it only 28. You never know.

 On the stacking side we were making good progress. We had an amazing 7 volunteers (after a slow start and some pleading) and thanks to this good number the job didn't take two days, but two hours. yes, hours! We were finished by lunch time, so had a good picnic, a good old chinwag, and the opportunity to feel very pleased with ourselves.

Picture by Jim Hitchen
Here are all the new pallets, 11 of them, and a 12th on the Transit. They are shrink wrapped and ready to be loaded.
Each pallet was carefully labelled, we didn't want any to go missing.

Here is the team of 'lifters' who lifted 470 x 25Kg bull nosed bricks and stacked them somewhere else.

The faces are: Ray Hughes (Broadway), Roger Johnson (Broadway), Dave French (PWay), Jim Hitchen, (Construction & Maintenance) and Neil Brooks (PWay). Yours truly and John Simms were off camera. Truly a multi departmental team, with one aim: Creating a heritage railway!

For Wednesday's activity, check out the Heritage Herald blog.