Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Contractor's third week

A quick survey of the extension finds much work in progress since the last report a week ago.

First of all, the track:

The removal and relay of the loop has progressed well. With the loop road now gone, as well as the southern turnout, attention has focused on the through road. Here the through road rail has been removed and replaced with new, slightly heavier gauge rail from stock.  You can see the change of colour, as the last few yards of old through road rail are still left to do on the right. The location is Laverton bridge, just short of the northern turnout.

Here you can see the join - new rail on the left, old rail on the right.

With this point reached, we have run out of new rail to use, and need to buy more. There is still the rest of the loop through line, the northern turnout, and several hundred yards of headshunt to replace, before we can start on more of the actual new track laying beyond bridge 5.

Have you bought any shares yet? This is what the money is for. Please help, we're not half way yet. There is a link to the prospectus on the right here.

Here's an overall view of the location of Laverton Loop. The actual run round line on the left has been lifted, and the ballast scooped back into Dogfish and used at Toddington. A stack of concrete sleepers has been positioned, ready to replace the northern turnout with plain rail. In the upper centre you can see the pilasters of Laverton bridge, the point at which the new rail now ends. There is none left on the bogie flat in the foreground, just some short IBJs.

The other bit of news at Laverton is that the welding team has already been, and started welding up the new rail laid, as well as the acceptable rail near the stop board, which had the ends cut off for CWR.

The picture shows a new welded joint in the foreground. The location is near the site of the former southern turnout

The welding took place in blocks, leaving other welds still to do in the middle, so the team will be back for these, and more.

The PWay train has been pushed up and down a bit and here it is on the old Laverton northern headshunt.

This roughly laid bit of track (say 300yds) needs relaying in better quality rail, until it joins up with the start of the extension proper, which you can identify with the lighter patch of ballast in the far distance.

This bogie flat is also empty of new rail...... there's really none left now!

Then, on to the works being carried out by the contractor. We left him at Bridge 5 last week (Little Buckland). The centre of activity has now moved on to the two culverts north of Peasebrook Farm, but at Little Buckland the brick layers were still at work. The Malvern side headwall has been done, and here they are finishing off the Cotswolds side.

The gap has been largely filled in,  but still needs the ballast replacing before track can be laid across it. This picture also shows the Cotswold side headwall, but in a view designed to show the context with the bridge. It's right next door. It's strange to have a culvert under the line right next to a road bridge, but that's because the road dives down 6ft to get under the line, and while the road comes up again the other side, the water won't do that!

There are loads of drainage issues around our 15 mile line, which cuts right across the rainwater runoff from the Cotswolds seen here behind. Andy P and his drainage team have done brilliantly to repair all the problems, and indeed even to find them. An example can be seen here - a damaged headwall, and the discovery of a hidden pipe following the foot of the embankment on the left, which they have given a new headwall (just visible as a red stripe). The pond seems to postdate the drains here.

This picture of the same culvert shows the improved headwall (the headwalls are always under pressure from debris rolling down from above, overwhelming them and even pushing them over) and also the newly built headwall for the extra pipe discovered underfoot. To add to the complication, that same new pipe was then found to have been penetrated very crudely a few yards back, leaving a big hole in it, which is not conducive to freely flowing water.

On to Peasebrook Farm. This telephoto shot compresses the distance and shows:

- The current end of the new ballast bed at bridge 4
- The curve towards Broadway, with the red brick goods shed visible
- A hint of yellow, centre left, which locates the 360 digger working on the next culvert.
- A sleeper built PWay hut, in very poor condition, and a tank at the sewage farm at Pry Lane (bridge 3)

Here is the yellow 360 digger, showing where the contractor is now working. The embankment is very high at this point, and it's another case of a culvert that needs the end rebuilding due to damage from above.

The other side (Cotswolds) also needs doing, part of this contract.

In this picture a concrete ring has been delivered and is being lifted off the truck, ready for building into the new chamber at the foot of the embankment.

A few moments later the 360 had carefully picked its way down the slope again, and was ready to lift in the new ring.
A new pipe has been laid at the end of the culvert; beyond the ring it empties into a ditch in the field, identifiable by the irregularity in the grass.

This is where the water comes from, on the Cotswolds side. Trees have collapsed on to the stream on the other side of the fence, where it runs through a shallow mudbath. What happens on our side of the fence is not clear, and will be sorted out by the contractor.

Where there should be a sturdy headwall to protect from debris from above is just an end of a pipe, with plenty of silt around. You can imagine that a backing up of storm water here in heavy rainfall will do the embankment no good at all, so this end of the culvert will also be addressed.

Some people like mud.... like our neighbours here. Two huge hogs had just vanished inside the shelter followed by much grunting; the third was standing guard outside.

Our contractors will be on site for about 8 weeks in total, so there are still several more jobs to do. One of these is the Malvern side of another culvert nearby, which has been enveloped by a tree (since reduced to a stump, but the roots are still down there.) This is quite a big one, with a brick built arch over a fast running stream.

More news in a week.

Finally, here are 2 videos you might enjoy:

A Broadway 'Last Mile' promotional video, made by a member of the PWay gang:

35006 P&O on a train with 14 on:
It's been a 33 year wait, but worth it. What a magnificent job they did with this former Barry tenderless wreck.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Contractors' second week

Little Buckland

Good progress is being made by the contractor at Little Buckland. The culvert has been fully excavated, the old salt glaze pipe removed, replaced by a new double skin pipe and at the time of the visit was being back filled again. A road roller dropped into the hole is used to compact the infill.

In this picture the Malvern side outlet is being rebuilt by a brick layer, who is standing in only half an inch of water. Lucky with the weather there, it could have been a lot worse, so conditions are pretty much ideal.

The Cotswolds side still remains to be done. Despite several dry days, there is still water here. Whether this comes from the (raised) ditch along the road, or from the fence line along the foot of the embankment wasn't apparent to yours truly.

Infilling continued this morning, and at this rate the contractors will soon move on to the next job, which is at Peasebrook farm, where two culverts will be repaired.

Laverton Loop

The plucky PWay gang continued on Saturday and took out the remainder of the southern loop pointwork.

In this picture you can see the ballast removed from in between the timbers piled up on the left, and concrete sleepers and new rail from stock laid in the gap. All the rail between here and the foot crossing by the stop board in the distance has now had the fishplates removed, been cut to remove the bolt holes, and dragged up to close the gaps. It's now ready for welding up. One of the special insulated block jointed rails with the 6 bolt fishplate lies on the left.

Looking north, the lighter rail is the new material. The joints in the foreground are ready for welding.

This detail shot shows how an IBJ has already been inserted; it's quite fast progress.

Next, the existing rail in the former through road will be replaced with new from stock, and used elsewhere. The current stock should take us up to the road bridge, just short of the northern loop point, in the far distance. The gang also has some work to do in the yard at Toddington, so there may be a short break on the extension while this is done.

Harvest Home inn.

Not an extension item, but no obvious place for the news and it is of interest: The Harvest Home inn at Greet, close to Winchcombe station, has been pulled down!

A developer plans to build three houses on the plot.

The new house owners will have a grandstand view of the railway - check out the bracket signal just visible across the former car park in this picture.

The history of this building is sketchy, and if anyone knows more, a comment on the blog would be welcome.
It was built, apparently as a watering hole for the labourers of the new line, in about 1905. It was not unknown for railway employees to nip over the bridge and into the pub, providing it was a quick one!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Contractors start at Little Buckland

Yesterday a contractor arrived on site at Little Buckland, to start work on repairing the blocked culvert just south of the bridge.
This is the work that is necessary before the track laying can proceed past bridge 5.
A salt glazed pipe passes through the embankment here from the Cotswolds to the Malvern side. It is blocked/broken somewhere near the middle.

Half of the embankment was already dug out at lunchtime today. The entire pipe will be replaced by a new one. The concrete sleeper wall on the left marks the edge of the bridge wing wall. The yellowish stone towards the LH side of the new hole is the infill placed by the contractor that rebuilt the bridge abutment here.

Looking down from the top of the embankment, you can see that the old pipe has been reached. The drain carries on beyond in a straight line, following the line of the road but above it.

The lie of the land is strange here. The embankment is not quite high enough for a bridge, so when built the road was lowered by 6ft here, so that it dives under the line. The drain on the other hand is at the level of the original ground, so has to run above it until the level of the road is normal again.

Turning round the other way, the excavator is taking out a few chunks from the Cotswolds side, in order to make himself a ramp for the Malvern side. While digging, a piece of Brunel bridge rail emerged from the weeds, and was put to one side for future recovery.

Back to the Malvern side, and the excavator is dumping a bit of spoil into the hole in order to create the ramp.
In the background you can see the railhead. It's so close that it's not worth spending only part of the day to bring it up to the site. Once this hole is closed again, the PWay gang will be able to resume track laying - the next obstacle isn't until Peasebrook farm, where two more culverts need repair. This forms part of the present contract, as does the establishment of a drain parallel to the embankment.

Here comes the delicate bit. Having armed itself with a heftier bucket, the excavator carefully makes its way down the ramp it just built. The skill of these operators is quite fascinating, all very calmly executed.

Happy with the position on the ramp, the operator starts to scrape away the clay on top of the Malvern end of the salt glazed pipe, aided by the signals from the banksman at the bottom.

We will report further progress here from time to time. The cost of this work is being funded from the share issue, so you can see that your contribution is being used very well indeed. In fact it is the first item on the share issue budget that is being applied.

Broadway Signal Box

The S&T gang work to a different daily schedule than the Broadway gang, and the two do not necessarily overlap. Here they are on a Tuesday, a non-working day for BAG, busy in the locking room.

The work in hand there is the fitting of angle cranks and signal wire wheels for the signals and points operated by the levers above in the operating room. Downstairs they change direction from vertical to horizontal, pass through the tunnel and at the mouth of that, turn left or right depending on the job that they do.
Although the second loop originally intended for the area in front of the old goods shed has been put on the back burner for budget reasons, the layout of the box and hence the arrangement here in the picture is being constructed so that it can easily be fitted at a second stage.
The wheels in the picture are bolted to 'C' bars attached to the concrete floor. The point levers are arranged to be positioned in the middle of the frame, with signal wires to the left and to the right. The job today was to fit the first of the rods that operate a point. In this case, the rod will operate a locking bar. Initially, there will be 3 points at Broadway, two for the loop and one for a siding at the headshunt.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Laverton Junction is no more

The sun brought out a pleasingly large PWay gang today, which set out to continue cutting the rails on the former Laverton loop, and moving them along south to be ready for CWR welding.

The gang split into three groups:

- Cutting the rails so as to remove the bolt holes where the fish plates used to be
- Declipping the plain track along the former loop through road
- Removing the fish plates along the same section

This is the scene on arrival - a cleared embankment, new fencing, fields growing fast, larks singing. There's a track down there, but it's that temporary headshunt, that still needs to be replaced.

This is where the gang started - 6 panels north of the stop board. The rails concerned have been cut and dragged south, correctly spaced for thermic welding, and clipped up using G clamps. Now there's a gap. As we cut more rails, and drag them south, this gap will get larger and larger.

Competitive disk cutting here - I think Steve is a nose ahead of Alan, but it was a photo finish ! In the distance are the two gangs declipping, and removing fish plates with the nut runner.

You may well ask - what do they do with the off cuts? Well, we keep those, if you have enough of them they make a useful contribution to the scrap pile. Here is Paul with a pair. Although they are quite heavy, it's somehow easier to carry two, as it gives you balance. They get flung into the back of the ever indispensable Landrover.

Once the 4 ends of the rails have been cut off, the next set of rails can be moved south. Stevie Wonder does that for us. Formerly, in the good old days, this would be 12 men with cloth caps.
You can see that quite a few ends have to be cut off. This costs one disk per cut, so we got through about 16 of these, then ran out. A new supply has been ordered, but did not arrive at the requested address, despite numerous reminders. What can you do. More cutting next time then. We shifted 4 panels today; 6 the previous week. The gap is getting larger now.

Here we have the former turnout for the long dismantled cog railway up Fish Hill, and on to Adlestrop. Another page of history turns. Laverton Junction is no more. Cog railway, you ask? Well of course, Fish Hill is very steep.

A piece of railway memorabilia bears witness to this long lost cut-off line to the OW&W. Did you know?

Time for lunch! It is cold enough for jackets and sweaters first thing in the morning, but by lunch time, it is hot and bare arms are the order of the day.

The gang retreats to Winchcombe for a two course cooked lunch in their 'air - conditioned' mess coach. Fish & Chips today, with a strawberry sponge cake from Mrs. B. Delicious it was, and washed down with a number of mugs of tea. Then quickly back to work at Laverton.

There we find these curious rails. They have been specially brought up.

These are 'IBJ's - Insulated Butt Joints. Although we are using CWR, a pair of these will be included at Laverton to separate the track circuits. Note the length of the fishplates, and the little gaps left for the track fastenings to fit in, they are that long.

Your blogger and three others spent most of the day doing this - extracting the SHC clips from their hoops, all along the loop through line. There is a specially shaped bar for this, with a shepherd's crook arrangement at one end, and a plain chisel end at the other, in case the first end doesn't work. And often it doesn't! SHC clips are wavy in shape and rectangular. Alas, some wag has invented a weight saving clip with a swallow type tail, and this is murder to extract. The bar keeps slipping off the tiny purchase point that is the end of the swallow tail. Easy to insert they are, but then the trouble starts.
This type of fastening is now extinct, as the industry has gone over to Pandrols, which are simpler, and easier to insert/remove. Even a machine can do it now. However, almost all of our sleepers are of the hooped type, so it's SHC clips, and like it. At least we can report that we completed the job all the way up to the northern turnout. (one in two where instructed)

Having temporarily run out of disks, the cutting gang took to dismantling the southern loop point. This is another mile post in the removal of the loop, and rebuilding this part of the extension. Great to see this happening.

Here we see Steve lifting out the crossing. The turnout has already been numbered for reassembly, and the parts were taken away for removal to Broadway.

Here one of the stock rails is being lifted out. Soon the turnout was no more, and it was time to gather up the tools and loose pieces such as the fishplates, which were all taken back into the stores at Winchcombe.

This current month will see more work at Laverton, while hopefully, the bank balance will build up with contributions to the share issue until we are confident enough to order some rail, perhaps as early as June.

During the next few PWay working days we will continue with the cutting and repositioning of the through line rails. By the time we reach the position of the IBJ rails, the gap created by cutting off the fishplate holes should be big enough to insert them, as well as plain rail where the two turnouts were.

During the month of June the gang will be working at Toddington, where the loco loading ramp is due for some attention. In the meantime, contractors will be repairing the three culverts at Little Buckland and Peasebrook farm. As they complete that job, the PWay gang will have finished at Toddington and we should then be in a position to start laying some new rail and driving the rail head further north.

If we have enough money - have you sent your cheque yet?