Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Out in the sun

What a wonderful streak of brilliant weather we've been having - hot - hot - hot every day.

We started our day in the mess coach, back home in the siding at Winchcombe.

It was John B's birthday today, and he brought with him Swiss rolls and cake, while Paul brought in the fresh doughnuts.

Which way to turn? It all goes with tea....

A small team of two went to check out a report of a noisy fishplate joint at Toddington (with a doctor's repair kit) while the larger team addressed two excess ballast issues at Laverton and Stanton. Shoveling again...

The Laverton job was handled quickly - it was really just to deal with a small, additional ballast drop, which had covered up the track fittings. Soonest said, soonest mended.

Then we said hello to the first service out of Broadway, a DMU on today's blue timetable (one steam, one DMU)

The next job was similar, but a bit further along next to our ballast loading point at Stanton. Would we clear the ballast here, enough to reveal the track fittings?

This was a rather larger job, which would take us well into the afternoon.

The picture shows the job 'before'.

Here we are now 'during'. Just armed with shovels, we found the job quite arduous and vowed to return after lunch with more suitable mattocks and rakes.
Luckily the team was relatively large, as there was a lot to shovel. Basically, the excesses of Stevie's enthusiastic ballast loading, the stuff didn't always fall squarely into each Dogfish.

The S160 was out today, which was very interesting to see. What a lovely whistle it has.

We had our lunch in our luxury mess coach, doors thrown open to give a lovely terrace on which to sit out and watch the trains go by. It even drew members of the gang that hadn't been for weeks. Was the perfect weather just a coincidence?

John's birthday did not go unnoticed, especially with all the cakes offered, so we had a rousing happy birthday song for him, and a card. It put him into a reflective mood, but it's good to have your mates around you.

After lunch, it was back to work, and now armed with the aforementioned mattocks and rakes. It was true, this is easier, and the job went rather faster from then on.

Robert, the phantom Broadway shoveler, with his observers and supporters.
As the job neared completion during the afternoon, thoughts turned to railway matters and in particular to a planned outing to the NYMR on June 14th/15th. All done by train! Brummingham to Pickering, and return.

Sounds like fun, providing every train is on time, as we only have a 5 minute window for a change of train in the middle. Cripes! Running shoes firmly advised on this trip.

In the distance the S160 appeared under the Stanton road bridge, perfectly on time. We stood to one side and acknowledged its very American sounding whistle.

Your blogger's camera has two camera apps on it. One takes a picture when you tap the shutter release, the other.... waits a bit first. Dang, there goes the loco!

Here's the loco stationary at Broadway, so no shutter speed issues with this one. What an interesting engine this is, and quite a coup for our gala (as well as 6023 of course, but the King wasn't authorised to run yet)

After running round its train, the loco here is ready to go. It blew its whistle briefly before setting off, and there was a lovely echo of it from the trees.
The Broadway platform was busy again, and this due to two coach parties that dropped off their passengers for Cheltenham here. We spoke to one and ascertained that they had come from London and were lodged at a Cheltenham hotel. Interesting to see how and why people come to us.

If you want to see this train leave Broadway, there is a YouTube film of it here:

Then on to Toddington, to measure up a slate fireplace for replication in the Broadway cafe.

Outside the shed, 4903 had been turned to face north, and was pimped and polished, ready for the gala.

Next to it, the King has having all its copper and brasswork polished up.

Sadly this meant ladders on both sides, so we can't offer you a clean picture of it.

Just beyond is Mr. Bulleid's offering for a heavy passenger locomotive.

Here was the object of our desire, an original GWR slate fireplace. A group of supporters clubbed together to raise £2000 (before gift aid) to buy the Broadway cafe a new fireplace. We are currently arranging for a firm to supply a very similar one, in slate, and they wanted some more dimensions. Not easy; it turns out that there were at least two sizes and the beautifully preserved one in the Toddington Ladies' Waiting Room is in fact a bit too small.
A lot of people pass this one almost every day, but did you ever notice it? It is in the goods office in the Toddington goods shed. This one is the correct size. We know this because we have an original fender for it, found in the clay at Broadway and currently off being shotblasted and powder coated.

Then there was a loud toot, and Oliver Cromwell arrived!

Here is the loco on its low loader, just squeezing down the Toddington station drive.

Another magnificent beastie for our gala. Don't miss it this weekend !

Finally, a chat with the driver of a Dutch coach from near Vlissingen. He brings a coach load of tourists once a year, for 5 years now, to stay in the Tewkesbury area and visit various attractions, including our railway.
Had he been to Broadway yet? No, it was Toddington - CRC and back. The driver was waiting for a car (coach) park at Broadway, as not only did he want to drop off his tourists, he liked to go on the train himself.
It's amazing from how far away (London and Vlissingen) our passengers come, in this random but admittedly unrepresentative sample.

Monday, 21 May 2018

A day ballasting

Seizing the chance of a traffic free day, we had the ballast train out today to attend to one or two areas of short ballast along the extension.

Neil brought the ED up to Broadway, where he picked up the Dogfish, which still had some ballast left in them.

He then took them down to Peasebrook, where there were several small spots that needed a bit of muscling up.

Stevie was there too, his usual bouncy self, and this time in shorts.

That can mean only one thing: It's summer! It's official now.

He also sported a new set of slip on, steel toe capped boots. No more walking around with his laces trailing behind. How many times have we told him....

After standing still for 5 months, those Dogfish handwheels were very stiff again. It took three of us to get this one loose and operating.

Our special orange lever for this job was not in the Shark - anyone seen it?

We dropped a couple of wagon loads south of Peasebrook. It's not only hot now, but also extra dusty. The Shark dragged along behind ploughing the ballast out, squealing and crunching as it went a long.

Soon the train was empty, and Neil took it to our yard at Stanton for Stevie to refill.

The 4 operators of the train went off to near Hayles to manhandle some rotten sleepers into a pile. We then bundled into the Landie, after deciding that the shelter at Hayles would be a nice cool spot to sit and have our picnic.

We found Rick and Paul strimming the grass there, keeping it all very neat. It grows amazingly quickly.

After lunch we dropped in at the loco shed for a bit of behind the scenes cabbing. It's a benefit of being a volunteer, after all. Here is the King, seen from the cab of the S160. There is a great deal about the S160 that is different from the GWR locos that we know. Just look at this picture for example. You can see a steam reverser, padded arm rest for the driver, and a pull out regulator. The whistle seemed to be a bit of an awkward handle to lift up (top right) and it was mirrored on the fireman's side. Nice brass dials too, and airbrake controls.

Outside under the running pate is this little steam machine - it's the powered reverser, controlled by that red lever in the cab above. The frames are chunky bar frames, and you can see right through under the boiler.

Then here's the crosshead. What's all that paraphenalia on top then?

It's a central lubrication system. How handy is that? A King has over 120 oiling points, all serviced by hand before each trip.

Here is the same place on a King.

You have to admit that it is so much neater, nice clean lines. But a lot of work. Lots of little oil pots, all marked '6023'.

Here's another unusual item from a King. The King is a 4 cylinder locomotive, with two cylinders between the frames, and two outside. This unusual mechanism passes the valve drives from inside to outside via a pair of rocker arms through the frames. You don't see that very often.

While we had our picnic and poked around the loco shed, Steve reloaded the ballast train.

When the Dogfish were full again, we went up to Little Buckland to meet the train, and continue dropping bits of ballast here and there, further southwards.

Here we are south of the Buckland bridge now. We need plenty of ballast on the shoulders to hold our CWR rail in place, especially now that the weather is getting warmer.

It was interesting to see that the CWR breather still had a fair bit of expansion room today. The outside temperature was a steep 25 degrees!

The Shark did its job very well, although it was painful to have to wind the plough up and down several times. We demand a motorised plough mechanism !

We ran out of ballast by the foot crossing coming out of Little Buckland curve. Job done.

Now for a visit from the ballast regulator to sweep the excess out of the 4 foot and on to the shoulders. We will combine this with a visit from the tamper later this year.

Neil took the train back to Broadway, where Stevie had also arrived.

The lads had just finished the footpath with the granite kerbs, now the full length of the building, and swerving round the corner and through a new gate, in the same place as the original one. In fact in 1904 this was the original, and only, way into the station.
Check out the rounded corner piece on the kerbs. This was unexpectedly discovered still buried on site a few weeks back, and it has found excellent use straight away. The reclamation yard only sold straight pieces, so we were very lucky here.
To the right, and level with the gate posts, the fence and kerbs will continue another few yards, to meet the gate of our neighbouring B&B.

Steve then brought up the remaining granite kerbs from their temporary storage in the future car park.
This area of the station is still fenced off, as the canopy overhang and footbridge steps will be assembled here.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

(Wish I had a) beer today

It was hot today - 21 degrees C - relentlessly sunny, and the railway had a beer festival on. We worked in the heat, and had to watch all those trains go by, with faces pressed against the windows all holding beer glasses. We wish....

To finish off our turnout project at Toddington we needed to spot resleeper a short section beyond the main line turnout. Last week we did 11 sleepers, and this week we did - well, read on.

At Toddington the S160 has arrived, a fascinating machine.

Did you know the letters 'U S A' are not painted on, but bolted on in shiny metal (chrome, or stainless steel?). What an interesting touch.

The loco itself was by the goods shed, and was about to be propelled out to collect its tender.

While they were apart, we were able to take this photograph of the cab controls. LH drive, and two gauge glasses. Were they not originally supplied with just the one?

Out at Toddington south Tony and Graham looked at the list of sleepers to be replaced here. The quality of sleepers along here is patchy - it's some of our earliest track - and we were to take out the worst ones.

As we don't have a pile of spare wooden sleepers, we had to dismantle those left over from previous jobs at Broadway and Gotherington skew bridge.

Here Hayden uses the animal (aka a 'Bance' on other railways) to unbolt the chairs, which we then stacked and later took down to Winchcombe for storage.

These sleepers are Jarrah and of the highest quality.

That means that they are extremely heavy, and it took 5 gangers to lift one onto the back of the Landie for transport to the actual work site.

The team of 13 today was stretched out over the site, and we were able to have two separate gangs on the job. Until the next train comes along.

Here it is just setting off from Toddington, with a plume of steam like a genie from a bottle.

There were three kettles out today, and if you were lucky, you got this magnificent beastie - Bulleid pacific Peninsular & Oriental. As it was a steam and ale festival, centered on Winchcombe, there was also a DMU 'beer shuttle' between Toddington and Winchcombe, to spread the car parking out a bit. The car parks were rammed, a good sign.

Today both teams were doing the whole job (division of labour last week) and here you can see Tim hammering a key back into the chair of a sleeper just replaced. Neil is holding the chair steady, as without that extra resistance you can't hammer the key in. It's all very springy and wobbly with this old way of supporting rails.

Then it's a question of positioning the sleeper right under the holes of the chair we just clipped into place, so that we can get the chair bolts in.

Steve is already hovering with the animal, ready to finally do up the chair bolts.

Then it's time to back fill the void, and tamp the sleeper by hand. In this heat it's hard work.

The new warmth has also brought out the Hawthorn blossom, a wonderful sweet smell. In the background is the farmhouse along the Toddington - Winchcombe road.

When we find a GWR throughbolter to replace, it's really hard. The sleeper needs to be split in two to release the rusted up chair bolts.

David and Tony give it all they've got.

And then a bit more....

Meanwhile, Geraham is our lookout, and with 4 trains about today, it's a very worthwhile job.

As we were working near two sets of signals, we were often alerted by the 'clang' of the signal, but it's nonetheless good to know someone is looking out for you.

Especially with a big tender in front of you, and on a curve, the driver of the big pacific has a hard job seeing everything in front of him.

Neal had a go on the animal, surrounded by a group of experts who did not hesitate to tell him where he was going wrong....

Others sat by the wayside, as the heat began to take its toll.

Lunch was in the mess coach at Toddy, probably for the last time here. Will we find it at Winchcombe next week? We are wrapping up the job at Toddington south. On the way we crossed a supply of boot scrapers, here in bright red primer. And we thought it was because they were LMS !

Another interesting find in the loco shed was this engine. Reminds us of a VW flat four - how about this in the back of your beetle? That should pep it up a bit. Might need a slightly heavier clutch, is our advice.

Outside the loco shed the S160 has been put back together again. Here it is, engine and tender. It looks very purposeful, should draw the crowds at the gala. Don't miss it - our 8 coach trains should make it work for its living.

After lunch, a deputisation was sent off to Southam to attend to a reported broken fishplate. As we needed the Landie at Toddington south, they went there - with all the tools in a VW campervan! With the small engine.

Actually, we suspect that this engine was destined for the 'beer shuttle', an extra DMU today that ducked and dived in between the three steamers to take people from the Toddington car park to the beer stalls at Winchcombe. It was well used.

We did another 11 sleepers today, thereby going as far as we had planned. We felt quite good about that, given the number of times we had to stop to let traffic past. Then again, that traffic earns money for the railway, so we can't complain.

After lunch, we also had a clear up session. The 22 sleepers we had removed were taken to a nearby pile for further treatment.
These are easy to lift - they weigh next to nothing, as they are rotten through.

We also loaded the TB2 Geismar chair screw machine. This is too heavy to lift by hand really, so we used the Telehandler to lift it on to the Landie, carefully avoiding the small hydraulic lift with which the Landie is also equipped.

We also took 30 chairs with us. These are still useable (3 bolters) so they will go into storage at Winchcombe.

The plucked chicken
Then we walked back to Toddy, our pace quickening at the thought of a refreshing pint after work. On the way, we passed the class 20 parts donor, which is getting smaller and smaller.

A quick glance at what's outside the loco shed showed the King being bulled up, and here fitted with a very suitable headboard for 'THE BRISTOLIAN'.

Then it was a wash & brush up, into our civies, and a 'secret shopper' test of what our customers were getting in the beer area at Winchcombe.

We were impressed. 20 - 30 ales to try, plus ciders, and for the money you got a free pint glass thrown in as well. Platform 1 became one long public bar, with a BBQ to one side to boot. It looked like a very popular event.

Friday at Broadway

No public services, but that doesn't mean no trains. The sylvan peace of Broadway station was disturbed twice by a footplate experience train, the full Monty with all 8 coaches.

GWR heavy freight loco 2807 rumbled in here at four o'clock. New GWR style BEWARE of TRAINS signs, and the signal rodding has almost reached the southern turnout. The northern one is somewhat further away though, so still a lot of work to be done there.

Wonder how many levers the box will finally be using, with all that rodding and signal wires?

Looking at the station and train with the sun in your back the colours really come into their own.

Another authentic touch achieved by the BAG lads is the placing of this lamp hut next to one of the footbridge towers. That's where it used to stand, check it out on the picture below:

It's an excerpt from the famous 'Cornishman at Broadway' picture by John Diston. The arrow points to the 'Passengers are requested to cross by the Footbridge' sign that we still need.
The picture shows the layout of the canopy overhang with the bottom of the steps, as it once was. We're having to modify that a bit, as the two no longer align as now built.

In the booking office the bench so beautifully upholstered by C&W gets regular use, as seen here a few days earlier.

On the way home, this pretty shot of what the Cotswolds is all about:

- Sheep
- Lambs
- The Cotswolds Edge
- A Manor house on the hill.

No wonder we get so many tourists.

And now this week's puzzle:

A generous blog reader has donated a set of 12 inch cast iron letters from a GWR running in board...

The question for blog readers is: What was the name of the station?
Take your time, no hurry....

There's no prize, just the honour of being the first. But the gift makes a serious contribution to your blogger's ambition of assembling a complete set of letters in 4 inch and 12 inch size. Once a set of the most common letters is available, we can then take the required letters to a foundry and ask them to be copied for, say, WINCHCOMBE (12 inch), or REFRESHMENTS (4 inch).

We are still missing the following 12 inch letters:

F,G,I, J, L,P,Q,U,V, and W.

We have a spare A, E, R, S, M, and Y, so could swap with any other GWR society, or would gratefully accept further gifts.
The same goes for 4 inch letters, which are commonly used on V boards. If anyone has any spares or swaps, we'd be interested to hear.