Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Out and about on the extension

Two blogs in one today - a day loading sleepers, and the regular Wednesday activity on the Pway, and an odd job at Broadway too.


A select crew of three spent the day finding and loading sleepers on to the supply train, based on the area around Stanton.

This rather satisfying activity involved finding odd piles of sleepers, and stacking them on the train for re-use at Broadway. Clearing up, and finding sleepers, two birds with one stone. Here is a pile of 60 odd south of Stanton. It has been here since this was once the terminus of the northern extension.

Here is Steve, 'digging in' into the pile. They were almost all of the SHC type, and of mixed quality, some main line quality, some siding.

Quite a number were found alongside the running line, usually a pair associated with a catch pit. This arrangement dates back to the time the catch pits had covers of discarded concrete sleepers. Now that we have our excellent drainage department, our catch pits have been fitted with their normal concrete covers, and the sleepers were usually found in close proximity.
Here are two being dragged out, with Neil acting as slinger.

As there were quite a few of these 'catchpit sleepers', we became more methodical. We dragged them all out and put them square on the second trackbed, and then Steve could sweep them up and load them on to the Warflat.

Our pile on the Warflat is growing nicely as we approach Stanton, where another, smaller pile was reported.

Indeed - there were 15 sleepers here, but just look at that forkful - three different types in one load.
We loaded them all up, but they will need further sorting at Childswickham to separate the types, and the siding from the main line quality.

We then carried on heading north, finding more 'catchpit sleepers' between Stanton and Laverton.

By the end of the day,we had tidied up this stretch of the trackbed of all the odd sleepers, and found 128 of them for stacking on the train. What a good haul, basically out of nothing!

At the end of the day the train was pushed back up to Childswickham.

At the northern end of our sweep, we (re-) located a sleeper pile that had been lost to mankind, but Steve still knew where it was. It was just to the NE of the foot crossing (just visible top right) and totally covered in brambles. Steve gave it a whack with the bucket, exposing the end of one sleeper, so that it could be found next time. The arrow marks the end of the sleeper - can you see it?

Here is the partially loaded train at Childswickham now, ready for Saturday. There's also a bit more new rail left. Vic from Broadway has walked out to see how we are doing.

The day started with a 'quickie' at Broadway, where the gang wanted to plant the second running in board post and needed some help. This post is our only original, and so being was used as a template to make three replica copies. Two are already up on P2, while the third was planted a few days ago at Broadway.

To move this cast iron jumbo you need between 6 and 8 people. We had 6 of us today, and used slings to keep the centre of gravity low, so that we would not have to bend down.

The post came complete with its own 'ice cream cone' finial, although the replicas had finials specially cast for them. We have one original finial, which was found in the clay at Broadway early on. It almost certainly came off the modesty screen posts on P2, which were bulldozed backwards and it rolled off and into the fence, where it was later re-discovered.

If your GWR project needs finials like these, then get in touch with breva2011 (at), as we can take castings off our original. Profits go to the GWSR.

Thanks to good peparation beforehand, we already had the 70cm holes in the platform into which the posts were placed.

All we had to do was to lift the posts in, and then check the levels and spacing using a former made by our chippie, which represents the final board. In this way there are no surprises later when the actual board is fitted.

The nearest post is a replica, and has a sheet of plastic over the hole where the finial goes.

After a great deal of rooting around the various containers on site, we finally found the 4 finials we had cast, now almost 4 years ago.

Here John has just removed the sheet of plastic, and is about to fit the replica finial on top.

His smile tells you what a happy occasion we all thought this was. We have had the running in board posts for some 4 years now, but were unable to plant them until now, following the removal of the containers off P1.

The actual running in board will now be made up, using the cast aluminium replica 12 inch letters that we have sourced.

Here they are: The replica posts and its new finial casting (still to be painted) and on the right, the original cast iron post that we planted today. This post was donated to us by a nearby supporter of the railway, and we take this opportunity to express our thanks for this kind gift, and our apologies that it took so long to plant. But we did do it, just as promised.

Just as we completed the 'planting', the PWay gang arrived in the Landie. They brought the kit required to drill and plate up the two bufferstops at the northern end, and to raid the site safe for the tools required to do some remedial clipping up at Peasebrook.

After the welders had done their job, odd clip needed replacing here and there, and someone has to patrol the last 1000m of CWR to make sure that every sleepers has two clips in it. If not, then the sleeper will be left behind when the tamper comes to lift and tamp the track.

The track now needs 'tweaking', and then the last 400m or so to the northern anchor point has to be ballasted (the first 600m having been done a few days ago).

On this picture you can see the bit that was 'tweaked' and ballasted a few days ago, and the bit that still needs doing in the foreground. The anchor point is some yards behind the camera here.
The DMU is paused at the Little Buckland limit of operations.

Clipping and verification completed, we moved on to the next job, but not without picking up some of the track laying debris, like this cut off piece of rail here.

It was about 4ft long and quite heavy, but many hands make light work here, and it was soon on the back of the Landie for recovery to the Winchcombe scrap pile.

We then moves south to Laverton, where we met the other half of the gang, who were busy extracting the sleepers we found in the brambles on Monday.

Dave P and Rob had certainly found the sleepers, but the brambles fought back fiercely, until we gave them a slasher that we had brought up in the Landie for this very purpose.

An initial stack was made on the trackbed, to be moved later to a location that was more favourable to loading on the Warflat.

The enlarged gang, save for Dave P and Rob, still stacking, then repaired to the Broadway buffer stops. There was much debate about the best pair of fishplates to unite them with the FB rail, and odd combination with the well worn bullhead of the buffer stop.

We had a great deal of trouble with the bolts for the fishplates too. The nuts on them would not turn. Eventually we worked out that we had at least 3 different threads here.

In the picture one nut was stuck on the bolt ex storage. How to get it to turn? We fixed it in a vice of our own making, by jacking it up under a rail. Then the spanner managed to undo it easily enough.

Here is Peter on the nut runner, doing up the bolts that we could match with nuts. Nuts and bolts debris are scattered about.

Eventually we got the Cotswolds ones done up, although it would probabaly be an idea to exchange the lifter type plates that we had used on one rail with a plain 95lb pair, which worked well on the Malvern side.

Here is Peter drilling holes for the fish plates in the Malvern side buffer stop.

The Malvern side was slightly easier, as Dave D had gone back to Winchcombe to get a newer supply of bolts.

On the Malvern side the issue was that the stops were a bit too far away from the rail to allow the plates to bolt on, and without Stevie it was quite difficult to move the stops around using just the Duff jacks. We got there in the end.

Kilroy is watching you...
Some PWay members do all the hard work, and some give helpful advice, like Doug here. If there is anything you want to know, just ask.

The first passenger train from Honybourne rolls into Broadway
At the end of the day we had cracked about 80% of the buffer stop job. A bit more sleeper drilling remains to be done, and we need 3 more of the special chairs that sit underneath.
We loaded up all the tools, and gave our tired feet a 200m ride back to the site safe. Ahhhhhhhhhh!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The siding grows

A super day today, warm, windy, and dry. We got on with the job, and drank our tea at Toddington so fast, that Stevie arrived too late - with a screech of the brakes in his JCB - and all the tea was drunk, and we were just off. Damned! We'll just have to get to work then.

Last week we laid 7 panels of 45ft rail on the Malvern side siding, and got about half way to the turnout by the signal. Here's where we started today, with Steve in the background moving the site safe further south, as it will soon be in the way.

With both Steve on the JCB, and Alan on the Telehandler bringing sleepers, we soon laid out the first length.

Here is Ivor, a veteran of the railway who joined right at the beginning in 1981, directing two men on bars to bring the sleepers into line to lay in the rail.

Ivor used to drive Antar tank transporters, among his many qualities.

Shortly afterwards, with the sleepers now nice and straight, the first rail is lifted in. We're still on the shorter 45ft rails here.

It's just a siding, was the cry we often heard. Hence second choice sleepers, and shorter lengths of rail. All fine for this purpose.

After the length has been laid in, it gets a prod in the direction of the previous panel. It needs to be a few mm short, to leave a gap for expansion by the fishplate.

This gap happens to be the same thickness as an SHC clip, so Pete here is holding it between finger and thumb while the rail is pushed to a stop.

Then the second rail is lifted in, again with a group of men of a more 'solid' stature pushing the end down, to make the other end more manoeuverable with bars.

Me, fat? As Obelix said in one of the Asterix books: 'There's nobody around here who's fat except me, and I'm not fat'.

Well, someone has to push down that rail though....

A group has spun off now to clip up the first length. Jim here, with only 1 arm for most of his life, is hammering the clips in with his single, good arm. An amazing performance. Way to go, Jim !

On the trolley is our supply of bits, supervised by a beaming Pete.

Need a plastic pad (or 'biscuit')? A bearer? A rail bearing pad? A steel clip? We can help you here. The shop is open for business, and slowly follows the rail head along.

In between deliveries of sleepers by the Telehandler, Steve comes along with a pair of rails, and another 4 sleepers at the same time, loaded on the front.

How are we going to lift these 60ft rails in then? They're longer...

Steve outlines his plan for doing this on a single track, while the Broadway gang decide that this is a good moment to start a fire above us. (cough)

The discussion is a good moment to get an overview of where we are at the moment, taken from the top of the signal with the route indicator. It's at the foot of this that the track in the foreground branches off, and it's where we want to lay to, to finish the siding we're putting in.

Now one of the longer 60ft rails goes in, lifted across on to a fulcrum, from which it is located to its ultimate position in a second lift.

Our work is severely judged by a supervisory committee of veteran PWay workers.

What do you think of it so far, guys? We'll, we wouldn't start from here you know.

Our lunch break was taken under a beautiful sky, with rails for chairs and sleepers for tables. It is rounded off by a slice of Mrs. B's excllent sponge cake, just dripping with raspberry filling. Can't you just taste it?

During an errand into the station complex we took this picture from the P1 railhead, showing a pile of sleepers ready to be brought in, and work going on in the background on the siding, at something over the half way stage from the back here.

Some while later, and seen from the other end, the work looks a lot closer to the P1 railhead here. Tony and Steve are clipping up, while the next stretch is ready to receive its two rails.

This is the moment the Broadway gang open up a second front with another fire (cough-cough) and we hope the smoke will drift over the top of us (it didn't though).

Mid afternoon we had laid 5 panels (as against 7 previously) and while two of them were longer 60 footers, the real reason we stopped here is that we ran out of (second choice) sleepers. Well, we did have some sleepers, but they were good ones, and we want to keep those for main line quality track. We have about another 60 sleepers to go to the signal, and will organise these for next time. There'll be some sleeper loading on Monday.

With track laying completed a bit early today, we took the opportunity of Steve's presence to give an extra tweak to the P1 turnout were were laying. The far end was a tad off, and Ivor is putting it right here. Whoa there, Steve, that's just right.

Here's our overview for the day. Depending on where you stand, we've still got a bit to do, or else we are just about there. Let's say that the siding next to the main line head shunt is looking pretty good, and also long. It's made up out of 12 panels so far (mostly 45 footers, mind you). Just two or three panels to go to the second turnout.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or the station, if you like)...

... you can see the Malvern side siding advancing towards the station, seen here from the canopy and right through the footbridge. It looks brilliant; we even got compliments from today's Broadway gang. Thank you, gentlemen! You are very kind. Even got a cup of tea from them.

Looking the other way, we can see the replica GWR style chimney stack slowly getting taller. It's due another course of bricks, then a stone slab on top, and then finished off with a plain chimney pot. We know exactly what it should look like, and are sourcing the necessary materials to achieve the replica.

The canopy over the front door is not a replica, but will include GWR style elements, such as the dagger boards, Ogee guttering and a moulding underneath, in the same style as the canopy ends.

It will have a flat roof, finished off with a genuine lead sheet. That should last.

Finally, a picture to satisfy our diesel friends. As we came to do some house keeping at Hayles, we noticed several on the bridge waiting for this class 25 to pass. Now that the spot has its heritage halt, it has become quite popular with photographers, as there is an interesting background to the passing train.
The number? Erm, D 5185. That's not one of ours, is it?