Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Ground Frame Resurrection

Tuesday 9th Jan
A good turnout today with 10 of us in action.
The main task of the day was to re-build the ground frame that will be installed temporarily to operate the points at Broadway South. This is the frame that was previously doing service at Laverton and has since been dismantled and stored in various locations at Winchcombe.
First we have to extricate the base (a heavy lump)  from the back of the yard with the aid of the telehandler at maximum reach :
 Then mount it on two concrete blocks to fix in the two levers in position. The blue/brown lever to operate the FPL and the black lever the points:

Then attach the lock which prevents the FPL lever being operated. This can only be released with the staff carried by the train crew when operating. We have a key which we can use to make sure that the system functions OK. It all works well.

Now we need to fit the  rails. The two  top rails appear to have gone missing so two new ones have been screwed on. The two couplings sitting on the walkway will attach the bottom of the levers to the rodding:

A coat of creosote finishes the job off. 

We hope to transport this assembly as it is to Broadway on a pickup and get Steve to lift it off with his JCB. While it is up in the air we will attach four concrete legs and then lower it into prepared holes in the ballast. These are two of  the concrete "legs" which will support the frame approx 15" above ground level. A step or steps will be required :

An update with the cabling required between Toddington and Broadway. 
A 20 pair armoured cable is required to carry all the necessary connections for signal lamps, repeaters, track Circuits, telephones, etc. To protect this cable Steve has been busy excavating a shallow trench between the aqueduct and Laverton to install the next length. These lengths of cable correspond to the lengths of continously welded rail each section of which will be track-circuited. The opportunity was taken earlier (last week before the trackwork south of Toddington stopped us getting through) to spool out the cable between the tracks using the diesel railcar with the cable drum mounted on a flatbed.  Life made easy here:

So today, Neil C, Carl S and Keith L were despatched to lift the cable from the four foot into the trench and instal a lineside cabinet at the end of the run. I believe Steve followed on with the JCB to perform the burial.
There will be two more lengths of cable to dig in before Broadway is reached and communication can begin. Sorry no photos of the burial and cabinet installation, but I did get a shot of it after Len had attached the legs before it was carried off from Winchcombe

And to finish off today, a piece of kit that you would not associate with phones. Mike S and Paul are in the process of installing a phone at the crossing at the south end of platform 2 at Toddington. This piece of rail we heaved out of the yard will do nicely to mount it on and will match one on the opposite side!

I believe that whoever turns up on Thursday will have the job of cleaning and painting it!

We spotted a coach passing by in Winchcombe yard this afternoon. Being delivered from the Avon Valley Railway


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A Few More Connections

Tuesday 2nd Jan

Six of us at Broadway today firstly to do a bit more work under the signal box.
The levers for operating the
signals furthest away from the box have the adjusters on the floor of the box upstairs (to allow tightening or loosening of the signal wires with extremes of temperature - as explained in a previous blog)  . The other levers operating the shorter wire runs are connected using (what I call Turnbuckles - with one LH and one RH thread). These allow for the initial tensioning of the wires and for any small adjustment that may become necessary. Here you can see them hanging down from the "lever tails"

They are attached to the levers with shackles and will eventually have the signal wire attached with a shackle at the bottom. The wire will then pass under the pulley below and out through the tunnel. Here's a view with them all fitted

Also fitted today was the final down rod connecting lever 19 to its angle crank down below. This now gives us a full set of connections for the point rodding - four going north and three going south - although No. 19 will not be used unless an additional set of points is fitted for a future layout!
No. 19 is 3rd from the left.

The mechanical locking has now been tested and functions well but with one additional  lock being required. This will be carried out by Malcolm and George on Thursday - then it will be complete. To facilitate  the testing of the mechanical locking combinations  the electric locks were disconnected - so just those to re-connect and the covers to fit and hopefully this stage is then complete.

To increase the reliability and brightness of our signal lamps along the railway we have now fitted warm white LED's. So far Cheltenham and Gotherington have been converted - Toddington and Winchcombe to follow.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A Few More Odd Jobs

Tuesday 19th Dec

Seven of us kicked off at Winchcombe today with various tasks allocated.
Richard C, John P and Len went off to Gotherington to replace a rotted plank on the foot crossing from the signal box. Here's the before :

This wooden planked crossing is covered in chicken wire which is held down with copious numbers of staples. These had to be removed before we can insert a new plank. They prove to be a bit of a challenge to prise out. Some of them are well hammered in and require some serious attention!
Anyway, patience is rewarded and our pre-prepared plank is inserted and screwed down with the chicken wire re-stapled.

Then back to Winchcombe to install the new coach battery charging connection between the tracks at the Cheltenham end of the station. This will connect to the armoured mains cable that we put in a couple of weeks ago. Keith L on the shovel (our experienced ballast technician!)

 and Paul making sure we're in the middle and vertical:

It has a barrow load of concrete under the ballast to secure it so it should withstand a bit of  manhandling. 
The number 8 marker denotes the stopping point for an 8-coach train. 

And so to a bit more woodwork. The last remaining signal we have to install at Broadway North is a ground signal to be positioned in the 6ft between the headhunt and Siding. This will be mounted on a concrete block for which we need some shuttering and a template to position four securing studs in the concrete. 
So step forward the carpenters:

This will give us a two foot square lump of concrete  The securing lengths of screwed rod  are M20

We have earmarked the signal which is  currently in storage in the MSC shed at Winchcombe 

Meanwhile Len has been beavering away cutting up lengths of  M12 screwed rod which will be attached to the bases of the fabricated rodding stools. This will help secure them

in a concrete base in the ballast.

And finally, may I introduce the S&T entrant for the 2018 Turner Art Prize:

A compilation of hardened paint skins entitled "A Study in Black and White"
Other suggestions for a suitable title will be considered!
Should this be nominated I will airbrush out the background!

May I, on behalf of the S&T dept.,  wish all our blog readers a very Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Odd Jobs

Tuesday 12th Dec

A bit thin on the ground today with only three of us in action at Winchcombe.
It was a question of how many uses can you find for point rodding!
As reported previously we had cut up two of our 18ft lengths into 7" lengths for mounting the signal wire rollers along the platforms at Broadway - that was enough for one platform - we now need another similar quantity. So this kept us warm with the angle grinder and file. John P in action cutting :

And clearing the outside bench ready for filing off the burrs (we don't let a bit of inclement weather get in the way - just have to hope we don't lose any of the cut - offs in the snow!)

And here's the completed pile ready for drilling. A total of 58 from the two lengths plus 3 more from a short piece found under the bench

Oh for the new workshop!

The next use for bits of rodding is for clamps to mount a warning sign to a post at the crossing at the rear of C & W at Winchcombe. This post had suffered a recent "dislodging" so the opportunity has been taken to give the sign a face-lift with fresh paint - the white gloss needed a steady hand

And here are the rodding clamps at the rear

Then off outside to the post

And finally mounted. A bit of touch - up painting required on the post.

I did manage to put a coat of silver paint on the new "shoe box" lineside  cabinet opposite the signal box. Not the best of days to be painting outside but it appears to be OK

And now for the technical bit that I would like to share with you. I did say in the last blog that I would get a picture of a point rodding compensator - so here goes (those of you with a nervous technical disposition look away now)
This first picture shows the compensator as it is set initially with its two arms at right angles to the rodding - ideally on an average temperature day

The compensator is positioned at the centre of the rodding run between the signal box and point. This means that on a hot day both lengths of the rodding will expand equally pushing the arms of the compensator inwards as shown here

The two arms of the compensator cannot move independently from each other so the point can still be operated in the normal manner. 
Conversely, on a cold day contraction of the rodding gives us the following :

This cunning system prevents  unwanted point movement with extreme changes of temperature. 
It is the same problem experienced with long runs of signal wire (see a previous blog) 

Hope it gets a bit warmer for our last working day  (next Tuesday) before  Christmas 


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A Few More Preparations

Tuesday 5th Dec

Five of us at Broadway again today to do a bit more finishing of the preparatory work on the point rodding and pulleys.  We are now going to have to wait to make any significant progress until the track is tamped and ballasted.
We have a selection of connecting rods to connect the cranks to the rods. There is a bit of trial and error to make sure that all four of the northward facing rods are at the same height and equally spaced:

 So that there is the minimum of misalignment of the rods running over the rollers. We have temporarily put two 4 wheel sets of  rollers in the ballast to achieve this:

The distance from the signal box to the blade of the Siding Point is 696 feet. So with a roller support set every 9 ft (77sets) this is going to be quite a pull.
We measured this distance accurately because we need to establish the exact mid point of the rodding run so that a compensator mechanism can be installed to negate the effects of expansion/contraction of such a long length of steel. Here is John P with the tape (I am on the other end). We have marked 50ft intervals on the sides of the rails.

I haven't got a picture of one of these compensators - quite a clever mechanical device. I will dig one out for next week.

A couple of other "woodworking" jobs were going on in the background.  To minimise the amount of final ballast shovelling between the sleepers where the signal wires will cross under the tracks we have cut some boards to cover the central gap.

And then to mark out and cut the final 5 slots for the signal wires. Carl S in action with the saw 

And then with the board back in position. Not quite small rodent proof, but will stop the birds from nesting in the lever frame up above. (we had a blackbird in there last year) 

Just a final note on the locking frame. The links holding the upper and lower tappet blades have now been fully adjusted and tightened. The copper washers allow just enough compression to get the split pin holes to align with the bolts fully tightened.

Testing of locking still to be carried out. Best done when there is nobody working underneath the box to avoid casualties! 


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Telephones at Tunnel South again

Started off working with Neil looking for another intermittent fault, this time on the Toddington to Winchcombe Block Bell circuit. Out came the cable tester, we couldn't really see a major fault on the display but whatever was not happy it was probably hiding at 470metres, that puts it  somewhere around Chicken Curve- we decide to leave it until the next time it raised its ugly head, when it rains.

Next job was to change the faulty phone we found last week at W2 Tunnel South, and here we were really fortunate -the DMU was available and they happily dropped us off right where we needed to be.
They then went back to school chidren duties at Winchcombe until we rang them.
Even better luck Tony, the Driver is also a Signalman and he happily popped up into Winchcombe Box and so we were able to have  a proper test call before we left the site.
Oooh it was a lovely loud ring on that reconditioned phone! ( the old one had a seized bell striker)

You Rang Sir!

We had done the job and just had a couple of minutes to wait for our lovely warm transport, Mikes' on his phone because the Garage had just rung to say his car was mended- even Tony wasn't that quick!  

Thanks to everyone on the DMU, made the job much easier for us.

Afternoon was over to Todd to check out and prepare a cable pair for the new SPT at Platform 2

Mike S

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Telephones, Telephones

Whilst a lot of the workers are up at Broadway having fun with things mechanical. There were still four others around Winchcombe getting on with clearing away the old cabling- thats Carl and Keith. Paul and I had decided that an inspection, particularly of the lesser used Signal Post Phones would be a good plan before the intensive Santa Season. Particularly the two at Gotherington where the Concentrator System may well be the only effective communication in the event of a problem  either with the line or the train, even Vodaf... don't work everywhere on our line!

The result was that we had to change a phone at G20  whoever would put a poor old Sweeney phone (706L) in an unheated cabinet and then leave it there for ten years!,

 It did work when last tested in April Now I suspect the damp has got at the old carbon Transmitter Insert- there's little point in changing them as the carbon granules are all over 30 years old. So we change the whole phone with an electret type, when we pulled it out we found a mouse had tried to have dinner on the handset cord so it was a failure waiting to happen. Then it was over to Winchcombe to look at W3/5 Tunnel North and the W36, the Outer home which were all OK
Much later in the day, Paul got a lift in the rail-car "Malcolms Buggy" driven by Neil whilst they were pulling out old cable and so he was able to check out  the phone at Tunnel South (W2), all working but no incoming ring. Hopefully we can get back to that next week and Santa will complete all his trips without a problem

Since the last report, the 5th and final Concentrator, for Broadway, continues in new build in Kevern's workshop. I gather it is close to Final Test but presently we have a problem with the bench power supply, anyone got a spare 50v one laying around?

Watch out for Santa

Mike S