Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Block Shelf Stabilisation

Tuesday 12th Sept.

Off to Broadway again - 3 of us plus Andy D who has been slaving away at Toddington machining the couplings to join the tappet blades to the electric lock bars, but more of this later.

The Block shelf  in the signal box needed additional support to remove its tendency for lateral movement and a central column for vertical support. This central support doubles up as a cable duct to cover the multitude of wires that will eventually feed down from the shelf. Here's the wooden box support which has been assembled and painted since lat week - note that it has a hinged cover to provide access from the window side

Some holes needed in the floor to feed the cabling through, John P in action with a 25 mm dia cutter - 2 holes should suffice - after measuring , a pilot hole tells us that we are missing the joists below

Then into position and adjust for vertical. A couple of screws through the Block shelf  and two into the floor to  secure it into place.

Having now got a pretty sturdy vertical set up we now need a bracket to stop horizontal movement. Here's one we made earlier

This has been attached to the side of the Block shelf and the central window frame and provides a very rigid fixing - it is now impossible to move the shelf in any direction even with a hefty push.

Meanwhile down below in the locking room Malcolm and Andy D were checking the fit of the newly machined couplings and pins to the tappet blades at each position where an electric lock is to be fitted.  

The bars which operate the locks and attach to these couplings  have to be lined up for the coupling holes to be drilled and dowel pins fitted - note that these are then  secured with split pins 

This jigsaw to be continued.

I found a spare  signal wire adjuster before departing for Broadway this morning and took a shot to hopefully give a better view of what one looks like. The central screw has a length of about 2 feet and provides  a significant amount of adjustment. Operated by a removable handle on the top (not shown) which raises or lowers  the looped bar  below. 


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

More Tension

Tuesday 5th Sept

Four of us at Broadway today to make a bit more progress under the Signal Box in the locking room.
It has been decided to add two more signal wire adjusters to the lines for the Direction Indicator (the most northerly signal at Broadway). This on the face of it was a relatively straightforward job but took us most of the day to sort out.
Upstairs John P fitted the adjuster bodies to the floor. This required a bit of repeated measurement (measure at least twice before cutting and drilling holes!) to ensure that the tails to which the wires attach line up with the  wheels on the levers and to avoid the floor joists.

and here they are eventually poking through underneath .

The end of the signal wire will attach to the loop with a shackle. The wire will then pass under a pulley down below and then up and over a second pulley on the lever tail up above. Finally the wire will come down again and pass under a third pulley before going out through the tunnel. The raising or lowering of the adjuster then tightens or slackens the signal wire to compensate for excessive variations in temperature. I think I mentioned in an earlier blog that this mechanism is used for signals further than 300yards from the box- the direction indicator is about this distance away.
So, to complete this installation we need to fit an additional steel plate to the floor channels to mount the additional 3rd pulleys.
We positioned this first to mark out and drill the mounting holes to attach it to the  front C-channel the additional holes required to re-mount the existing rollers had been pre-drilled back at the workshop and matched up well.

Then to  mark out and drill the 3 holes to mount each of the two new pulley assemblies:

And then bolt the whole lot back into place. We just managed to get the nuts onto the bolts without having to  take out the lower "wildlife proofing" board which would have been impossible to get back in with the plate in position.

The next board up needed a small slot cutting for it to sit comfortably over the plate - so now all secure again - job complete until we come to fit the signal wires - more slots needed for these!

While all this was going on Malcolm was continuing with the locking ..........this will continue for a good few weeks yet!

And outside for most of the day  Steve W was going through the platforms with the dumper carrying new ballast up to the north end - should give P-Way a good day's track laying work tomorrow!


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Braised Off

Tuesday 29th August

Three of us off to Broadway again while three more went to the approaches to Gotherington to dig/pull out some redundant lineside cable.

So, what were we up to. During the week Malcolm has sawn one of the large tunnel blanking planks in two to facilitate the cutting of individual notches for the point rodding. This will significantly reduce the possibility of wildlife ingress. To ascertain the correct height for this a length of point rodding has been attached to one of the angle cranks and then levelled on blocks to simulate (hopefully) how it will sit. A view from inside:

And from the outside

Quite a good sliding fit. 

A few thoughts about the following stages under here in the tunnel. There are currently some steel channels cast into the concrete floor onto which will be bolted (parallel to the track) some further C-channels . On top of these will be bolted two substantial steel plates which will then hold all the angle cranks and pulleys for the rodding and signal wires. The plates will protrude approx 12" out from the platform wall - but this will only be done once we have ballast and track in to get the best positioning of the rodding stools through the platform. The horizontal length of rodding you see in the picture is approx 12" above the concrete floor. We are hoping that with all the steelwork installed we shall have enough vertical space to use our magnetic drill for all the holes required! Otherwise a lot of sweat with hand held kit!

Meanwhile work continues with the mechanical locking. We now have one of the proof machine couplings which will connect the vertical tappet blades to the electric locks

A bit of fettling is required to get a nice cosy fit on the blade with the dowel pin fitted. John P in action with drill and angle grinder

In between our Tuesday visits to Broadway, Malcolm W , Ian and George have been making steady progress with the locking. There are about 100 brass locks to fit altogether and several new slots to cut in the tappet blades. The various combinations of locks are connected together with horizontal locking bars. A lot of mounting and dismounting to mark hole positions and then drilling. Here's a close up:

Having a bench drill at our disposal here is a great asset

Keeping tabs on what locks are required where and what has been completed is kept religiously up to date on Malcolm's master plan. Otherwise a great muddle would ensue.

So far 36 brass locks have been fitted. A lot of filing required to make sure that everything moves easily but without slack. We did trial pull combinations  on levers 8, 20 and 21 and the locking worked perfectly with little perceived effort. Going to be significantly harder with a few hundred yards of point rodding and points attached! It's all in the technique I'm told!

And finally, another electric Lock being tested for position. A bit more drilling required to mount this  once it has  been lined  up with its coupling.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Heritage Threads

Tuesday 22nd Aug

Another jaunt to Broadway for us today. A bit more unfinished business at the wooden signal post at platform 1 south and continuation of the mammoth task of mechanical locking.

But first a view of the wooden post in all its glory with the scaffolding removed. The only remaining task up top is the fitting of the lamp case - we can do this off the ladder when we bring the right bolts for the job!

And just to prove that it works here's Peter B lifting the balance weight

Meanwhile down below we have to fit an angle bracket to bring a signal wire out towards the track. This produced a fair number of expletives because the attachment of this had to be made to the steel boot. Four 1/2" BSW tapped holes required in true heritage fashion. First of all we broke a drill with just enough of a flute sticking out to eventually remove it with an adjustable wrench - phew!.
A bit of an awkward position with the ladder in the way but John P succeeded valiantly:

Then Keith L achieved his tapping badge after we managed to find some tapping grease among the kit in the signal box- what a difference a bit of grease makes .

And then the angle bracket in position - just a splash of black gloss required to smarten it up:

Meanwhile back in the locking room Malcolm was busy doing some trial fitting of an electric  lock to determine where the bolting has to go to ensure correct alignment with the vertical tappet blades. There are sixteen of these to fit to the bottom rail and will be connected to the tappet blades with couplings which are currently being made in the machine shop at Toddington.

And finally , we now have the rodding stools back from zinc plating - all looking rather fine and weather resistant - as soon as track and ballast are in through the station we can make a start at laying them out


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Set in Concrete

Tuesday 8th August

Five of us off from Winchcombe to Broadway today with the main objective of setting a vertical pulley wheel on a new concrete block at the base of signal 39 (end of platform 2 north) - hope I'm not going to get my norths and souths mixed up this week!
This pulley will re-direct the signal wire from the balance weight arm of the ground  (shunt) signal through 90 Deg towards the track. First a bit of pick-axing and digging to remove some stubborn ash sapling roots (of which there are many on this embankment) - must say the task has been made much easier following a major embankment clearing job by the Broadway group last week.

and then with a bit of on the spot shuttering in place the "pouring" of the concrete followed. It took 5 large barrow loads to fill it. Jim P is on the shovel here

The pulley is mounted on a fabricated bracket which is pressed into the concrete, it sits on a small wooden frame to prevent it sinking any further than the desired height.

The alignment and clearances were then checked using a length of rope. 

Them back to the signal box for a few more tasks. The cabinet I mentioned in last week's blog has now got some substantial shelves fitted. Jim P, Richard C and Peter B exercised their carpentry skills in sawing, drilling and screwing. We now have an enviable storage facility!


Meanwhile I walked off south to the wooden post to finish off its waterproofing with a liberal coating of black sealant round the top of the steel boot 

An update on the locking system under the box. John P and Malcolm have fittted the missing locking tray so we now have a full set. 

 Malcolm is now pushing on with the lengthy process of fitting locking bars, cutting slots, drilling and tapping to attach the brass locks, etc, etc. I will attempt to explain an example of what is going on here.  A-channel locking (the row at the very top of the trays) means that when lever no.2 is pulled (route indicator signal) this locks all levers of opposing signals coming in from Toddington, and locks the FPL and point levers - we tried this out and it works - quite a jigsaw - glad Malcolm is on the case!
Here is a close-up  of the Lock for lever 2 on A-channel

You will note that there are some redundant slots on these tappet blades from a previous "life" - some new slots will require cutting in  different positions. 

While I'm in the explaining mood here is the extent of the signalling installation that we will be putting in at Broadway for the current layout. You should all be familiar  with the north end by now, but the  additional signalling up there will be a double  ground signal  at the route indicator  and one in the 6ft.  north of the points. 

Going south, the platform 2 starter will be the LH arm of the existing bracket signal (the RH arm will be taken off).  

 Platform 1starter is the wooden post.

Then there will be a new bracket signal approx 100yards south of Evesham Road Bridge with 2arms and 2call-on arms for the approach from Toddington.

Then an Advanced Starter Signal just north of Childswickham bridge.

An Outer Home Signal 720 yards south of the box 

A Working Distant Signal (motor operated) a further 600 yards south 

So in summary, we  have one bracket, 3 posts and 3 ground signals still to instal. Plenty to be going at. 


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Bit More Finishing off

Tuesday 1st August

Just a very short blog today. Several more things to do to the signals at Broadway. Signal 39 (platform 1 north) needed a bit of fettling. Malcolm did a trial fitting of the disc to the ground signal to ensure that the red stripe was exactly horizontal - luckily OK ( sorry no picture as I was up on top of the wooden signal at the north end). The disc won't be left on until the signal is fully operational.
Then out with the paint brushes to touch up bits of scuffing, bolts, etc. And finally removal of the scaffolding - any further work up top can be accessed via the signal's ladder. Here's the finished job (well almost)

Bit more touching up of the paintwork on no.38 opposite and here are the pair waiting to control the headshunt and siding

There will be some further work required here at no.39 to instal vertical pulley wheels to orientate the signal wires to the correct alignment - another concrete block to cast!

Meanwhile back at the south end we are giving the wooden post another coat of white gloss - this is the fifth coat of paint it has had now so should be well protected. Keith L makes a start at the top - having got up there we saw that the safety hoop needed a top coat of black gloss - what shall we do first , black or white?!

Hope to get a picture of the finished signal next week with scaffolding removed.

Finally, Carl S has acquired a large metal cabinet which we have manhandled into the locking room. This will be used for the storage of tooling. It is extremely useful to have a kit of basic tools at each signal box.


Monday, 31 July 2017

At long Last!

A big push last Tuesday to see if we could find the elusive cable fault effecting the pair for the Box to Box circuit between Winchcombe and Gotherington. We speak as if it is just one fault but since it doesn't test the same from each end, it is probably several different ones.

With Mike holding the Fort with his trusty 1960's SA9083 tester at the cable head in Winchcombe, Kevern and Paul set off to firstly check out  a possible just before the Tunnel.  They then moved on the Far Stanley and found some crimps that could be improved.  There is no truth in the rumour that Paul met Dr Livingstone whilst exploring the undergrowth!.  Mike then moved to the other end at Gotherington. A quick test and, why should we be surprised, it worked!!

So after two years of reports of gradual stages, we now have a full set of similar Concentrators throughout the system. And a fully operational Box to Box system as well (not that our Strowger kit ever lets us down!)
Hopefully this standardisation  will make life easier for the Signalmen as well as being more attractive within the Signal Boxes themselves

Heres a few pics of the finished installations, sorry there's no pic of Cheltenham. I'm sure there's one somewhere

As the waitress says " Enjoy"