Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Back to the future

Work has resumed on the extension, and in particular on the remains of Laverton loop, and its lengthy northern headshunt. The PWay Saturday gang made a good start with removing fish plates and de-clipping the rails, while the Wednesday gang today had a session after lunch, leaving a small party to continue the relay of road No.6 outside the shed at Toddington.

Here is the northern end of the headshunt at Laverton, not yet replaced with plain rail. Just south of it there are still 3 lengths to exchange over the road bride, then the turnout, and then further northwards over the old headshunt. This is of insufficient quality and is being replaced with new rail, and new ballast underneath.

The Wednesday gang  (or part thereof) can be seen declipping the rail - which is shiny, as it has had ballast trains over it for the newly laid section further up, and more recently to place two sleeper bogie flats near Little Buckland.

The work involves prising loose the SHC clips, then tipping out the rail. Martin and Lee are having a good go at it. It's repetitive work, as you see the rail still left to do vanish into the distance. We did 5 lengths this afternoon, not bad for half a day and ice cream afterwards as a treat; it was hot again.

The faithful Landie is always present, as an unmissable base for bringing the tools, and taking away the parts we don't want to lose by leaving them lying around. In the centre we can see John trying to get a grip on one of the SHC plates. They need an almighty heave with a large crowbar.

Should your crowbar come adrift while you are giving it that almighty heave, there is always a willing volunteer to catch you from behind. Well, that was his side of the story anyway. From the smile on his face it  looks from here as if Robert has just found John's wallet.

Once all the clips have been removed, inside and out, it's all hands to the crowbars and with another almighty heave, the length of rail is tipped out. It weighs just about a ton.

Now for the other side, or is it?

One small clip is gallantly resisting efforts to tip out the rail, by hiding under the ballast.

Special surgery is required from John, who this time does not have Robert to support him from behind, but rather an unfriendly bed of nettles.

Then, success ! This rail too is tipped out into the four foot, ready for collection.

This rail is not particularly bad, just slightly non-standard, so it is being taken up for use in the layout at Broadway. Once the rail is gone, the old headshunt will be re-graded and relaid with new rail. The new rail, enough for this section up to where the newly laid extension starts, has now been ordered for delivery after the holidays.

Still left to do - 15 lengths of the former Laverton headshunt, quite a stretch. Hard to believe there's a newly laid section further on out there. We need to meet up with it, with new rail on new ballast, and all welded up. Once this is done, we can move on beyond Little Buckland, and on to Peasebrook Farm. All the extension will then be on new rail, welded up.

Here is where the newly laid section starts, 15 lengths further on. The former headshunt had no ballast under it, just roughly laid on the old trackbed.

At the joint, you can see that the rails have a slightly different profile. The new rail is on the right, and has no holes for fish plates, as it will be welded to the other new rail still to be laid to the left.

A last look back over the old headshunt, back in the direction of the former Laverton loop. The black stripe in the distance is a bogie flat parked at the former start of the loop, inside the stop board where the diesel from Toddington shuttle stops.

Small note at the end: It was striking how many bird droppings were concentrated on the rails on this stretch of the line, many more near Laverton than visible on this sample section. Some smallish bird, in large numbers, has sat here to rest on the rails. What could it be?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The first truss

At Toddington, the first truss for the Broadway canopy is almost complete.

It's so big, it's a bit awkward to fit on a photograph! We got it, edge on, by standing on a chair.

There will be 7 of these. This one is basically finished, except for a couple of uprights to be fitted in the centre.

The length of angle being held on here with a G clamp is not in fact a part of it, but the first piece of the next one. The first piece will serve a a template. The uprights still to be placed go on the flat piece in the middle, on the RH side of this photograph.

A nice bit of style is the bend fabricated into the pair of angles here. This brings the diagonals in line with the bottom. Neat.

To give you an idea of the size of the truss, here is a picture of the end of the Toddington canopy. The truss runs from the far left to the far right; it's a big piece. There are only 4 of them at Toddington, which gives you an idea of how much longer the new building at Broadway will be, with the extra toilets on the northern end.

The area that is as yet unfinished in the new truss is on the LH side here, where it intersects with the arches running down the length of the building.

These arches will be made last of all.

Extension track work.
The extension track gang is still at work in the yard outside Toddington loco shed. The loading road is back in place, and already occupied by a bogie flat. Work has now started on the other half of this job, the relaying of road No.6, back into the loco shed.
As of today, the route was half dug out, and a start had also been made on the relaying inside with concrete sleepers and a first length of rail. Outside, GWR 4270 was having a warming fire lit. It's your blogger's favourite engine, and he has a share in 4253, which you can see being rebuilt from Barry condition here:
But if it's having a fire lit, where is the smoke? Well, the firelighter forgot the matches.... true story!

There are still a few more working days required in the yard here, before the team can revert back to the extension itself.

All is pretty much ready here, as the contractors have left. The bright patch of ballast in the foreground traces the line of the replaced culvert. A bogie flat with a partial load of concrete sleepers is now stabled at the rail head, and this makes the proximity of the works even clearer.

The new rail has been welded all the way up here. The northern turnout at Laverton still has to be removed and replaced with plain rail though.

In this larger view you can again see the proximity of the rail head.

Looking north towards Broadway, it is clear that one thing still left to do is the replacement of the ballast bed and terram sheet.
The pile of stones on the left was used to line the entrance and exit basins of the culvert replaced here.

This is the entrance to culvert 5A at Little Buckland, showing the stones used to line the approach to catch any silt being brought along by the water, and to prevent scouring. The embankment is fully reinstated and there is a nice new headwall.

On the other side of the road, the French drain is complete, back filled with ballast and equipped with two inspection pits.

The French drain leads to the meeting pace of 3 drains at once, including the stream that flows from Little Buckland through a pond next to the railway.

This picture shows the pond, the three headwalls emptying into a chamber on the upstream side of the embankment, and in the background, the source of all the water: the Cotswolds Edge.

What you can't see is a large number of swallows circling inside the area of the pond, catching the numerous insects hovering there. Very rural.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

More canopy work

At Toddington the construction of the new Broadway replica canopy is making good progress. Since our last visit, a second length of intermediate purlin has been made up.

It is parked on a trolley by the loco disposal pit, ready for the admiring glances from the lucky few behind our largest locomotive, P&O. Note how the purlin is held together by strips on one side, and angle on the other. This second piece was assembled rather more quickly than the first, in only a day and a half. The canopy consists of several identical compartments. Manufacturing the first item always takes a little longer as you gain familiarity with the structure and process, and the second of the series then becomes a lot quicker and easier to make. It is the intention to assemble one complete compartment first, with the exception of the connecting central arch. These will be made last of all.

We now have two fascia board lengths, three rafters and two central purlins.
Back in the loco workshop, construction has started on the truss, the largest piece. The vertical strut on the left is where the middle of the truss will be. The structure has been placed on one of the fascia boards, as the floor in the workshop (the former goods shed) is not sufficiently even.

In the picture below (inverted for comparison purposes) you can see where the truss will fit:

The central arch, to be made later, curves away to the left. At Toddington, the steel canopy rests on stone blocks let into the top of the solid walls, but at Broadway the canopy will sit on a steel frame hidden inside the walls, as we now need a double skin wall for insulation purposes. Notice also how part of the canopy is covered in corrugated iron, and part is glazed, which gives it a very airy feeling.

The E Finch, Chepstow worksplates have now been lettered, and handed over to the builders of the footbridge and canopy.

We were asked if one worksplate should be mounted upside down, but declined, as that was a peculiarity to Toddington!

A last look at the yard in front of the loco shed shows good progress also with the relaying of the unloading road. The turnout is back in, and the unloading road has been reconnected. Aligning, levelling, ballasting and packing are still to follow; also the relaying of No. 6 shed road, where the inside is still being prepared for a final area of concrete floor. We are almost ready to receive an order for more rail.