Saturday 27 July 2019

A lot of diesel action

Friday at Broadway.

Just two of us on Friday.  It was the first of 3 successive Diesel gala days, so there were more preserved diesels at Broadway than canopy gang volunteers!

The first one in was the 'main one' straight away, our guest Hoover Ark Royal.

It says so on the side....
 A bigger picture for you.

As the trains were top and tailed, they rolled in and then went quiet. Then the other loco pulled them out again.

We carried on with our work (although admittedly it was interesting to see what would come in next, and we did look, it's true)

Yours truly was on painting the P1 stringers in dark stone topcoat. We are gearing up for the removal of the P1 scaffolding on Monday.

With this in the backs of our minds we also did a bit of touching up near the top.

 The Hoover was then dragged out of the station by its opposite number, identity unknown.

Not long afterwards, in fact there was a new train every 45 minutes (and we still have two more weekend days to go of this, if you'd like to come along and see) the next loco rumbled in.

Now we heard this one so far away, going thump..... thump..... thump.... that it must have been near Peasebrook, because we couldn't see it coming.

It was the class 26 with its slow Sulzer engine.

Then our 'Green Goddess', the Growler.....

 .... but we kept on painting and cutting wood.

Here's Neal with the mouldings for the third run, up the Cotswolds side of P2. He's just transferring two measurements across the moulded shape, to get a line for the angled cut.

With a bit of help from Yours Truly, and a cup of strong tea, the upper length of moulding was fettled and attached. It's always the hardest, the upper one, as it has to go behind the cast iron guttering and needs cutting to length, shape  and angle.

 Here's Neal with a screw for the very top end.

Nearly done now.

We've got side 4 of the 4 sides still to do, another day's work then.

The weather has been kind, and all the painting that is sensitive to wetness and damp has been done (for now). A bit more under cover remains to be done.

While the sawing, measuring, cutting, hammering etc was going on, a relentless stream of diesels rolled into Broadway.

The Peak was next...

...pulled out by the class 26. There was a lot of ringing the changes at Toddington, which we didn't see of course.

Then the Growler pulled out the next train south
As the rakes were shorter than usual (5 coaches) the locos ended up further towards the building, so this slightly different shot of Broadway with a train was possible.

The last one in (that we saw, we have a life too you know) came in at about 5. We were just packing up, a bit out of sight, but you can hear something unusual in the air, and its a large diesel engine getting closer and closer.

Enjoy ARK ROYAL on the blog, but better still, come and see it for yourself.


Again, a lot of diesel action, and not a lot about men in orange looking after the track. With the gala it was just too busy for us to access the track. This was a bit frustrating, as we had a good turnout.

Instead we ventured out to Broadway, to examine what had to be done after minor damage to the southern turnout following a run through.

The diesel gala carried on as normal, albeit with topping and tailing, which looked as if it was on the plan anyway - lots of loco action to see for our diesel enthusiasts.

Having had a quick look, we stepped aside to let this class 47 hauled train back out. There's a train every 45 minutes out of Broadway during this gala, a very busy timetable.
 Then came the class 37 - no, wait, it's on the tail end here and moving away from the camera.

The stretcher bar on the turnout had got bent, but a quick look at the locking mechanism seemed to suggest that this part was undamaged. S&T will no doubt give a more expert opinion.

We did a bit of measurement to see what size everything was, then repaired back to Toddington, again on a service train (they are so frequent this weekend, there was hardly any waiting.)

At Toddington, we were momentarily distracted by 37 215, posted outside the yard gates. The top is shiny, the bottom all green and mucky - yes, it's on accommodation bogies.

The cab was open for visits, and we were amused to see a pair of mobile steps parked a few yards away and in busy use by photographers for that special angle.

Another distraction - besides the alluring smell of barbequed bacon from a stall outside the Flag & Whistle - was this class 26 outside the loco shed, unfortunately unserviceable due to damage to the No.2 traction motor.

The loco is based on the Llangollen railway.
 Here we have King Edward II and D5310 together, outside the loco shed.

More measurements were taken at Toddington south, where there is a similar turnout.

We installed this one over a year ago, but it has not yet been used as it forms part of a crossover due to be fitted with point motors. These are nearing the end of an overhaul with S&T.

We returned to Winchcombe for lunch, again by a service train. As it rained pretty much the whole day, in greater or lesser quantities, we were glad to get back to the drier mess coach for a strong cup of tea, and Mrs. B's richly filled sponge cake.

On the way we encountered Bert Ferrule listening attentively to the wise words of Jonathan.

Possibly about sourcing a properly clean set of reflective clothing, as Mr. Ferrule's trousers were noted by all only this morning to be alarmingly lacking in thread in the nether regions.

What caused the accelerated wear in this discreet area can only be left to the imagination, but it quite possibly gave rise to the helpful suggestions given here about reinforced trousers.

We await next week with great interest, when all should be revealed. If you see what we mean.

As the 'Hoover' trundled by, a ganger's voice was heard to enquire why it seemed to take far more men to drive a diesel engine, than it does a steam loco. We wouldn't know, but surely that is not the Modernisation Plan result strived for by BR?

Last but not least our own 'Green Goddess' growled out of Winchcombe, as we went our different ways, some to do a 'dynamic track inspection' by train to CRC, and some to return home to - write this blog.

A look over the fence - Quainton Road

Being in the area on a mid-week day, three of us had a look at Quainton Road, which we hadn't seen since the Rewley Road station building was erected.

It's certainly an impressive building, and the relocation on this vast site is a triumph. The site now has a focus, and entrance, catering facilities and a shop.

Outside is the impressive bulk of an SAR 25NC. Sadly this has been stored outdoors and is now showing signs of rusting. The boiler sheets have been removed. We have seen several locomotives 'rescued' on a plinth, and inevitably the weather gets to them. For LT survival they really need to be indoors.

Those vehicles that were indoors, here inside the Rewley Road station building, were of course safe. Two tracks have been laid and these house a handful of unusual locomotives and carriages.

Many other locomotives and carriages are distributed around the site, but we couldn't visit everything during our admittedly very brief visit (and the siren call of the George and Dragon in Quainton village was hard to resist)

The piece de resistance is clearly the LNWR dining car, a fabulous 12 wheeler. The inside has been laid out for breakfast, with imitation croissants, bottles of champagne and in this picture, even a pipe.

Also stored outdoors (but it is rather large) is this 3 car Sentinel steam powered rail car. Amazingly, it was built as recently as 1951, and through a pair of 6 cylinder steam engines driving two bogies via shafts the unit could reach 60mph! It was exported to Egypt, and returned to the UK in 1985. There are plans to restore it to working order.

As is probably well known, the site comprises two yards, one each side of the former GCR main line, which (annoyingly no doubt) is still in use by an occasional freight train. This picture shows the original main line station on the up line.

From the footbridge by the original station you get a commanding view of the down side yard, from where the tramway to Brill also once used to start. We didn't have time to investigate this part of the site though.

Looking the other way from the footbridge you can - whoa! is that a train coming in the distance? - see the occasional freight train passing underneath on the original main line, now singled. This is a landfill train, hauled by 66 170, headed for a disposal site at Calvert. A lucky catch, there can't be that many in a day.

Interested in lamp posts (as we are) we checked to see what sort of lamp posts there were at Quainton. You can't help doing that once your interest in the matter has been sparked. All this started with the search for original lamp posts for Broadway, their horrendous cost second hand and the decision, helped by a generous sponsor, to cast our own GWR replicas.

Most (all?) the posts at Quainton seemed to be modern, albeit with replica tops, but we found one on the down platform that was an original.

Recognise it? It's a GWR one, in fact a No.2 post, which is a slightly taller one that was used for station approaches etc and which sports the holes for a ladder bar at the top. These are needed because of the greater height.

What struck us as odd is that, instead of burying the post in the ground (2ft of the casting should be below ground), this one was stood on the deck, and then surrounded by a little brick wall.

The platform side of the building was a mixed bag (in heritage terms).  The wall lamps with correct tablets and oil lamps inside were great, as was the poster board with an excellent replica timetable, which gave the times for a quick trip to Baker Street to see the King's coronation. Wonder how they got hold of that!

Less good is the modern cantilevered bench, and the unsuitable miniature advertising sign copies in a row along the top, which have all faded into pink and rusted as well.

The original enamel sign advising caution with beggars was attractive, as was the original gents' urinal on the platform, albeit that the look was somewhat spoiled by the conversion to modern urinal bowls. We too did this at Toddington, first converting the original slate urinal to wall mounted bowls, before stripping the whole lot out and converting the intact original Gents to an empty storage room.

The cubicles on the up platform were also still in existence, and formed part of the lovely atmosphere of the original building of the Metropolitan railway. Just look at the little decorative finial on top of the divider between the two cubicles.

The GENTLEMEN sign on top is quite unnecessary however. In fact it is an outside hanging sign from - the Great Western Railway!

Saturday 20 July 2019

Mouldings, and call for help

Friday at Broadway

A grim day of heavy showers and thunderstorms was forecast. Optimistic, we turned up nonetheless but spent the first hour in the cabin listening to the rain rattle furiously on its metal roof. There was always tea to drink.

We noticed that the rain let off from time to time, so ventured out for a few minutes in lighter rain to park the boards we painted last time, as well as the remaining mouldings not yet used on the P1 side. Neal hauled them in from on top, and they are now up on the centre span, more or less dry.

After that, the rain seemed to let off even more, so John had a go at undercoating a P1 stringer (still dry, as under the new corrugated iron roof) and Neal took an interest in the moulding needs for the Cotswolds side of the P1 steps.

With the experience gained from the slow start on the Malvern side (mouldings up and down all the time) things went a little better on the Cotswolds side. We already knew that the triangular supports needed trimming a bit, so Neal took them off straight away and made them a bit smaller.

He then measured the angles with a bevel (did you know the name for that protractor like device he is holding here?) so that the angled and levelled mouldings would meet perfectly.

The mouldings then went on pretty quickly. You can see here how they already stretch from the bottom - left unfinished as this is where the canopy overhang comes in - to almost the top. The mouldings then have to go back down again, once over the top of the centre span roof.

The sky remained grey and threatening, but not quite raining down on us.

As an extra precaution the overhang on the sheets was also screwed to the mouldings, to make everything quite rigid.

In the background Dumbleton Hill is getting a dose. Would it head our way?

Just for info, here is a shot from one scaffold structure over to the other. Soon the scaffolding will start to come down - the Cotswold side of P1 will be removed in a week, giving us just the time to complete the attachment of the mouldings there, and the application of two more coats of paint.

Mid afternoon we got to here: It's all on, except for the curve in the middle. How will Neal do that, with straight pieces of moulding? Originally the GWR would have mounted a shaped piece. Find out next time.

In fact it wouldn't have been the GWR, but the constructors of the footbridge. We have a snippet of interesting information, found at the Dean Forest railway. They have an E. Finch, Chepstow bridge at Parkend. It has the same panels as ours, but is of the slightly older design where the intermediate landing as a quarter turn in it. The cost, we learned, excluding assembly on site which was outsourced, came to £464 7s 4d. So start saving now, for the new footbridge at CRC!

Miraculously the middle of the day stayed dry, although feeling damp and heavy. The thunderstorms never quite made it to clear the air.

A Fire and Drive train did make it though, with 2807 just pulling into the station here. This view was taken from the part of the scaffolding that will be removed shortly, so enjoy.

After running round, the train left again, and Broadway returned to peace and quiet, disturbed only by a kestrel mother and its loudly squeaking baby, which followed her everywhere.


Sadly cancelled for yours truly, due to an old back injury recurring. The plan was to continue replacing timbers at Toddington.

Instead, we have a call for help with an old photograph. Can anyone help with identifying the people on it?

This picture, and 3 others, came to us via a relative of one of the station staff. Unfortunately she died a few years back, and this underlines the difficulty of preserving our heritage in that the people who knew leave us, and with them goes the knowledge of what went on.

We think that photograph was taken in the last years leading up to WW2, and shows railway staff by the Broadway goods shed, possibly on the platform slope leading to the cattle dock.

Can anyone say more, even identify someone?

A look over the fence - Brecon Mountain Railway

A second visit to the BMR was made for the same reason as the first: to hear the sound of a Baldwin exhaust barking uphill.

The BMR have just completed the restoration of their second narrow gauge Baldwin, Santa Teresa No. 1 . On the occasion of our visit she had started running only 2 weeks earlier, after a very heavy restoration including the conversion from a 2-6-0 to a 2-6-2 and re-gauging from 2'6'' to 2ft. The loco was found in Brazil.

Astounding are their plans to build a further two completely new locomotives from Baldwin drawings. One is a very unusual Forney type locomotive, a 2-4-4 where the tender is fixed to the locomotive, so making it a tank engine.

The BMR is quite different from other steam railways. It's a new build narrow gauge line on an old standard gauge trackbed, the former line from Merthyr to Brecon, over the mountain summit and tunnel at Torpantau.

The terminus building at Pant (just north of Merthyr) is a new build and the first impression is that of a Swiss chalet. Is this really a railway station?

The railway network in the area is complicated. There's the Brecon & Merthyr line, which skips round the terminus, and the L&NWR line, which goes underneath it!

Hence this 'pepperpot' tunnel vent, which is located right next to the station building at Pant, and which leaves the uninitiated mystified...

You buy your ticket at a hatch just inside the front door. The staff (most seem to be paid staff) were friendly and when the plain paper ticket disappointed, they offered to go and find two Edmondson tickets thought to still exist at the back of the shop. That was very kind.

You wander up a long slope inside the building, and pass by a viewing platform of the main workshop.

In the distance is a red Jung 0-6-2 well tank 'Graf Schwerin Lowitz' which did a lot of mileage in the early days since 1981 but which is too small since the opening of the extension to Torpantau.

There's a heavy Russian Tu7 NG diesel too, just off camera to the left.

Walk up a second slope, past a model railway, and you emerge on a higher level where the main railway terminus is located. As there was only 1 engine in steam and we had just missed it, there was plenty of time to wander around. There is a lovely path leading to a picnic table off to the right, and this spot affords great views of the valley below, including the line clinging to the hillside for about a mile. You can see the train coming way in the distance.

2-6-2 Santa Teresa duly emerged from round the corner, passing by the picnic site (and great viewpoint) which is located just above where the loco's chimney is in the picture. The restoration standard looks superb, and we loved the big searchlight at the back, which carries a builder's plate from Chicago. A genuine American...

....but of course the loco had its own builder's plate as well. Constructed in 1897, that makes her 122 years old in principle, although today there isn't much left of the original locomotive, it has been so thoroughly rebuilt.

Santa Teresa No.1
The fireman was friendly too, a former WSR volunteer who retired to the area. This is certainly the way to be retired!

The carriages are in a western style, with a caboose brake van at the end. Those determined to hear the bark of the new Baldwin from as near as possible, and collect some smuts in their hair, can stand on the front balcony of the leading carriage.

The lake in the background is Pontsticill reservoir, built in 1927. Just about half the BMR route follows this reservoir, and the views are superb.

After the line joins a second reservoir and passes a scout camp, it becomes steeper.

You can hear Santa Teresa work hard in this video:

The line terminates at a new terminus, just short of the original Torpantau station and tunnel. This 666yd tunnel, at an altitude of 1313ft, was once the highest standard gauge tunnel in Britain.

Torpantau terminus
The former station, in this wild and remote part of Wales, was only used to tie down brakes and take on water, as no one lived here. It was located near the little conical fir tree in the middle of the picture; the tunnel was off to the right and took the former B&M line nearly 7 miles down Glyn Collwyn to Talybont on Usk, crossing the Mon & Brec canal as it arrived there. It's a lovely spot to watch the narrowboats, and there's a choice of 2 good pubs.

On the way back there's an extended stop by the reservoir. You can get tea and ice cream, but be smart about it, as lots of people have the same idea!

We can't wait to see the new Forney type replica. Work on it has started, including the boiler, cylinders and the bogie, so it's more than just a dream. And you get that wonderful scenery thrown in as well.